Sunday, 21 December 2014

Zubeida, Peshawar, Dec16th : Blog # 201

Zubeida, Peshawar, Dec16th

Ammi came to my room and pulled away the bed sheet from me. I wanted to sleep for some more time. When Ammi came and whispered in my ear what was for breakfast, I jumped from bed. She kissed me and laughed seeing my enthusiasm. I brushed and went to Abbu. Irfan was sitting in Abbu’s lap. Seeing me, Abbu asked both of us to get ready for school.

At the breakfast table, Ammi and Abbu were talking about a marriage to go to in the evening. I told Abbu that I do not want to go. These marriages are so boring. Abbu said “I know Abbu’s Zubi will come”. That was Abbu’s trick to get me to do something which I did not want to.  When he said that, I also never protestedJ. That was our sacred agreement. As usual, Irfan left behind one last spoon of cereal. Ammi came and fed him that. He always does that!

We were getting late. Abbu started his motorbike. I sat behind and Irfan sat in the front. Ammi wiped my face with her duppatta and I screamed “Ammi, I am not a child anymore!”. She laughed and said “Sorry daadima”. We reached a signal. Abbu asked me “Zubi, what are you going to be when you grow up?”. “Abbu, I want to be a pilot and I will fly you around the world in my plane”. I could see in the mirror that Abbu was beaming with pride. He asked Irfan “ Beta, what do you want to become?”. He said “ Abbu, I will become an officer like you”. The signal turned green. I hugged Abbu even tighter. We reached school and we got down. Abbu, “where do you want me to take you when I become a pilot?” Abbu smiled and said “Take me to the doorstep of Jannat and drop me there my dear”. I did not like that answer at all!

After the assembly, we all went to our classrooms. The first hour got over. I saw that Ammi had kept Irfan’s lunchbox in my bag. I stepped out of the classroom and went to Irfan’s class. I gave the box and was walking down to my classroom. I saw some uncles running towards me. They were in the uniform. For a minute, I thought they were Abbu’s friends. Then, one of them ran towards me and held me by my hair. What mistake did I do? I screamed out my teacher’s name. The teacher came out and they shot at my teacher using guns. I tried crying but I couldn’t and my body started shivering. I said “Sorry uncle. I won’t do it again”. I did not know what I did to make him angry. Then before I could say anything, he took out his gun and shot me.

I hope they did not do anything to my friends. I pray to God that Irfan is safe. What will my Ammi do without me? I am the one who always go for shopping with her. Who will she go with now? Who will polish Abbu’s shoes? Who will Irfan play with? How will I take Abbu on a world tour? What will happen to my dreams?
Zubeida, Peshawar,Dec16th

Anyone who has ever been with a child at least for a day would know that all a child is capable of is to Love. Have you seen a child getting scared? Their eyes go wide and they look at someone who can protect them. If you have ever been in such a position, you would give your life to protect that child. Imagine what those children would have gone through in those class rooms. Can you fathom what bottomless trench of grief the parents will be going through? How will they ever overcome the guilt of not being able to protect their children?

There are moments in eternity where the entirety of humanity weeps for the loss of its own self.  16th day of December in Peshawar, Pakistan was one such moment. We shouldn’t let it pass. Even if it suffocates ones heart and soul every time one thinks of it, one shouldn’t forget this blot on the consciousness of mankind.

Keywords: Peshawar,Pakistan,Terrorism,Children,Attack,Humanity,Tragedy,Traversity

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Pushpak Viman chronicles : Blog # 200

Pushpak Viman Chronicles          

If you are a frequent flyer, there are certain things one cannot help but notice about the way people behave in an airport and on board a flight. The pattern is so obvious that one has to be blind to not make a note of it.

            Let us begin with the airports. The first rush is to screen the baggage. Once the baggage is screened, we move to the check in counters. Many a time, this turns out to be a long winding queue. Some of us who are not used to standing in a disciplined queue make the frustration obvious by making random remarks. Most questions are rhetoric. “Why aren’t all the counters open?”, “Are the staff on leave?”, “Do they know what customer service is!” and it goes on and on. The person standing at the front of queue is in an LOC kind of a spot. He/she needs to be really alert and go in to the next counter which becomes free. Delay it by a second and the people standing behind you will start producing random sounds and rhetoric like the ones we saw above.

At the counter, the overworked – exhausted ground staff gives you a forced smile and a welcome greeting. If one is carrying excess baggage, one should pay for it. Instead what do we do? Random rhetoric comes here again “This is not the first time I am flying!”. “I am never flying by your airline again!”. During boarding, the ground staff announce clearly that the rows at the back need to board first so that there is less congestion inside the aircraft. But who are they kidding? Everyone from rows 1 to 16 will be at the counter demanding to get in first, shouting and arguing with them.

            More interesting things happen inside the aircraft. This starts with NOT greeting the cabin crew at the door. Again the over worked – exhausted cabin crew greets each and every passenger at the door. Most of us don’t even have the courtesy to look at them. Now starts the efforts to place the cabin baggage. Ideally, one should quickly place it in the overhead cabin and take one’s seat. But no! We take our own sweet time, place the bag exactly above our head and then look around and stand in the way! After getting everyone seated just when the cabin crew get ready for safety briefing, we feel thirsty and if the water is not served in the next 10 seconds, starts the rhetoric again!

The safety briefing is the most futile exercise I have ever seen. Right at that moment, many of us get occupied like never before. Some of us will be reading the newspaper or a book, others will be busy with the cellphones and some will look anywhere else but towards the person doing the safety briefing. The underlying vibe here is that I am a frequent flyer and I need not listen to the briefing! Don’t even get me started with the food and beverage being served. Yes I agree that most of it is so synthetic that you don’t feel like even chewing them let alone enjoy the taste. But there is a menu card and these are the only options available. Why should one start enquiring about the spread as if it were a 5 star restaurant buffet? Then there are some people who would want to visit the wash room exactly during take off and landing. I do not know what adrenalin rush they get from doing this!

            The funniest part comes during the landing. The moment an aircraft lands, people get up as if they are poked from beneath the seats! They start opening the overhead cabin and pulling the bags with absolutely no concern if the baggage is hitting an elderly person nearby or a child. Everyone knows that the door will open only after a while and until and unless people in the front rows get out, people in the subsequent rows cannot move. But no, neither will they sit down nor will they stop taking out their bags. You might think they are trying to save time. But these people have to go and stand at the baggage belt till their bags arrive. However fast these people arrive there, it takes some time for the baggage to reach the belt from the aircraft. Not to mention, ignoring the cabin crew who thank us continues during exiting the aircraft also.

            We do all this and wonder why the foreigners look down on us at the airports!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Lessons from nature : Blog # 199

Lessons from nature

        The other day, I happened to watch Animal Planet. It brought back fond memories of watching it as a child. This channel says beautiful stories from the wild – some intriguing, some heart breaking and some which can serve as life lessons even. Half asleep, I was watching this episode of a peculiar kind of parrot called ‘Kakapo’ in the dense forests of Newzealand. The body type of this parrot is hefty. Its wings are not designed to fly. I was wondering, what a cruel joke of nature! A fat parrot which cannot fly! Then came the explanation. These parrots have ancestors dating back to ice age. Before ice age set in,these parrots could fly. During ice age, for survival, they evolved. The need to stay alive was more than the need to fly. So nature discounted the need for weightlessness and bartered it with a body with generous layers of fat so that it could survive the cold wave.

            There was another episode on wild buffaloes and zebras. Always, the wild buffaloes follow zebras to water bodies. The reason? It is their tactic for survival. Zebras apparently need more water than the wild bulls. Hence they approach water bodies more frequently and are better aware of the dangers lurking inside those vast water bodies. They are better equipped to be alert and thus avert danger. So if zebras go in to a water body, the bulls assume that it is safe to drink water there.

            More than Nature’s immense intelligence, what amazed me is another fact. How does this kind of intelligent street smartness emerge? In both the above cases, there should have been many generations of those species which went through many experiences and from these experiences, learning occurs. But how do these lessons get handed over to further generations? One might say it is taught down the generations and thus information is passed on. But same species are spread across continents and they all act in similar ways. It is not that the experiences that they go through are exactly similar. A more interesting explanation seems to be the line of thought which says that there should be some sort of collective memory for each species. All of the living beings go back to that collective memory and tap in to that to successfully find one’s way through the labyrinth of universe. This would mean that our future generations would function based on the experiences that we go through and the collective memory that we create for them. Doesn’t that put an enormous responsibility on us, the people of today? It will be based on the way we react to the life experiences today which will show light for the generations to come as to how they should live their lives. So we better be careful!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Why aren’t we happy? : Blog # 198

Why aren’t we happy?

        I have come to learn that many of our generation aren’t really happy. It is not that we don’t have enough reasons to be happy about. Most of our basic needs are already addressed, thanks to the hard work put in by our parents. Almost all of us have a house; many of us have a car or a two wheeler. Many of us have completed the education that we wanted and have landed a decently paying job. If one were to step back a generation and look at this situation of ours, there is absolutely nothing to be not happy about.

            It is not that we are unhappy. It is just that this current situation in life really doesn’t excite us to a level that we expect it to be. In Human resources, there is a theory called Herzberg’s two factor theory. In a nutshell, it says that absence of dissatisfaction doesn’t mean a person is satisfied. Same is the case with many of us. Absence of unhappiness doesn’t mean contentment.

            I recently read a book on Saudi Arabia. The kind of wealth that country has amassed in such a short time is unbelievable. An unexpected side effect of this enormous wealth is that the youth there aren’t quite happy. One of the reasons attributed is lack of a sense of purpose in their lives. Once the basic needs for a person is fulfilled, there is nothing much to strive for. Then, the things one has to work towards aren’t as tangible and direct as food, clothing and shelter. The reason why our previous generation found happiness much more easily may be due to this. They had to work towards building an infrastructure – getting a job, a house and a vehicle were all compulsions of their times. They worked towards achieving these and when they did so eventually, they found happiness in that. For many of us too, these needs do exist. But there is no sense of urgency attached to it. There is a certain degree of choice about it. Unless one is driven, one can afford to lead a life free of much pressure. But again, this leaves one with a sense of void. We start wondering what exactly our purpose in this world is.

Eventhough finding a sense of purpose is difficult; there are certain ways through which we can move towards that destination. One such is to have a job that makes us feel that we are doing something which will make the world remember us for posterity and thus the yearning to do something which requires a bit of creativity. That gives a sense of fulfilment. Pursuing an active hobby also gives one a feeling of doing something worthwhile. An easier option might be to engage oneself in something that is selfless. It can be contributing to a noble cause – in cash or in kind. This should satiate our appetite for contentment even if it is for a while.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

When I woke up a tad bit too early… : Blog # 197

When I woke up a tad bit too early…

I woke up listening to my Grand father’s slippers tapping against the floor. He started wearing to ward off pain in the joints which he thought is due to the cold floor. I could hear ‘Rangoli’ blaring on the TV which meant it is a Sunday. I woke up from the bed and saw the Mosaic flooring of my house and felt something was different. My mother asked me to brush and come for the tea. Near the wash basin, was kept the toothbrush and Cibaca toothpaste. I went downstairs and took up the day’s Newspaper. There wasn’t anything which interested me.

We all had breakfast together and dad told that we will go for a movie in the afternoon. After breakfast, we all sat together and watched ‘Sri Krishna’. When the last advertisement post the program was running on the TV, the power went off. We knew it won’t be back for at least an hour. My sister and I took our cycles and went over to our friends’ places. My friend Ravi’s father had bought a Maruti 800. What a car! It did not even make a noise when it moved. The interiors looked very modern and plush. Both of us reached home for lunch. After lunch, we went to the theatre in a bus. There was a long queue outside the theatre but thankfully, the ladies’ queue was smaller.  We got the tickets and went inside the theatre. We got some chips and a Campa cola. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was becoming a huge hit with relatively new stars, Shahrukh Khan and Kajol. After the movie, we went for a walk on the marine drive. It was a pleasant evening. The road was full of new Maruti cars. The Premier Padminis and the Ambassadors stood the ground even though they were fighting a losing battle as my father often said.

We were home by 6 o clock just in time to catch ‘The Jungle book’. It has always been a mixed feeling to watch this show for it meant that Sunday is coming to an end. Grandfather sat down to watch the 7pm news and we went to check if there is any pending home work. Thankfully, there were none. Turning my Crompton greaves fan to full speed, I went to bed by 9 after dinner.

I woke up with a start. I checked if my cell phone was near my pillow. I swiftly checked if it was connected to net and if I had any notifications on Facebook and whatsapp. The air conditioner was working and the flooring was familiar grey marble. I ran down and asked my mother where the newspaper was. It was the 10th day of November of 2014.I let out a sigh of relief. Father called out to me to book movie tickets for an afternoon show and to connect the laptop so that he could skype with my sister. Before I could think about what had just happened, my whatsapp pinged continually for my attention.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

!=Emotional Exhaustion : Blog # 196

!=Emotional Exhaustion

            There are certain jobs where in people get emotionally exhausted yet the profession demands that they don’t show it. A very notable one being that of airline cabin crews. One long flight for people itself is tiring. Imagine being on a flight like that for a whole day and working too. Add to this, the need to appear presentable and pleasant. On top of it, there are snooty, demanding customers who become snobs the moment they come aboard an aircraft for no apparent reason.

            This might be the reason why they become so very mechanical. If you have paid attention, the way they give out instructions is more mechanical than reading out the catalogue for a washing machine. The way they greet you when you enter the flight, you can see that they are preoccupied about the work that they need to do or something they have to rush to before the flight takes off. Many a time, they get over trained to the extent that they remember the method but forget the purpose. Once my flight got delayed and I was about to miss the connecting flight which was of the same airline. When I approached the cabin crew, the lady told me “Sir, the inconvenience caused is regretted”. I said “Thank you for empathising, but what do I do now?” She said again “The inconvenience caused is regretted” I said “I love that line. But please give me a solution”. Then she realized what needs to be done and offered me a refund.

            Another such job will be that of a doctor. Here, apart from one being not able to be emotionally exhausted, there is a certain nobility attached to the profession. Imagine you going to a doctor and he tells you “You know what, there is no work-life balance in this profession. At times I feel I should just write some random medicines and get the queue of patients done and over with!” A doctor cannot afford to do that even though he/she is also human and is susceptible to such emotions.

            Similar is the case with professors. How will you perceive a professor who tells you that he/she doesn’t feel like taking class or he/she is feeling sleepy. Worse, what will you think of a professor who complains to one’s student about not getting enough hike from the management? Henry Adams says “A teacher affects eternity; he/she can never tell where his/her influence stops”.

Let’s hope that only those people take up these professions who have the ability to be selfless at least to the extent that they are able to do justice to their profession.

Arun  Babu

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Just another “How to" write up! : Blog # 195

Just another “How to" write up!

        I am sick and tired of the “How to..” and “To do list for..” and “7 Successful…” and the likes. All through our lives, we have been told how to attain greatness in Life be it in terms of money, work or life in itself! No one ever told us (at least me) to how to be a spectacular failure! There should be a way around to attain the destiny of failure also, isn't it? I could think of these pointers. Please feel free to add if you  can come up with more of these. 

 Do not take risks: People always say that one should take risks in life to succeed. Some of them say that we have to take calculated risks! But my concern is who will calculate?? If at all someone is willing to do that work for you, ask them to take that risk. They seem to be really interested for they did all the homework J. You go on the path you are in currently, be it by choice or by chance.
Whine & Complain: Our lives aren’t perfect. But why? We all are entitled to perfect lives. Find out the imperfections, fret about them and indulge yourself with a lot of self-pity. Play this on a forever loop. Also, complain to other about your problems and spread negativity. Suck out the last ounce of optimism from people around you and kill that last ray of hope.

 Do not listen: When people talk, especially those who are rational and sensible; phase out. If you even as much start to believe that they are speaking sense, start thinking of counter arguments. Be it about work or life, do not lend an ear to people who are successful. Be a Mr/Ms. Know-it-all. 

Procrastinate: I think this is the ultimate method. Nothing beats this one. Whatever you plan to do in life, postpone it. You may begin by doing this for a day. Eventually you can scale this up to a week, month and then years together. The only thing that cannot be pushed away is failure J.

Give unsolicited advice: Whether you are aware of the subject or situation shouldn’t concern you. Preach others to death! This especially helps if you haven’t done those deeds which you are asking others to do. Take special care to advise those who are more successful than you are. This really helps in keeping people interested in meeting you.

Pass the buck: Do not ever take responsibility. The attitude we are looking for here is “Responsibility who?” Be it about changing a light bulb or something that has a grave impact on one’s life, do not lift a finger. Just focus on who is available to pass on the blame to or to delegate.

Take things easy: We should think differently, shouldn’t we? These days, everyone’s working hard. So why should we also join the rat race? At the slightest indication of your work making you tire or worse bearing some fruit, drop it! Get some fast food, plunge in to a bean bag and doze off.

p.s. Doing all of the above in the blinding lime light of social media will add to the assurance of attaining a spectacularly stupid persona and achieving failure of the magnitude of a mammoth!
Arun Babu

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A Kart emptied? : Blog # 194

A Kart emptied?

        The first time I heard about the ‘Big Billion’ day was when I opened the newspaper and saw Snap deal’s advertisement in Times of India. Yes you read it right. The reason why I saw Snap deal’s Ad first was because it was on the inner front page. Flip Kart’s Ad was on the left side. I guess getting the wrong side of the first page of the paper in itself was an indication of the things to come.

            What could have become a poster day for Indian e-tailing’s booming growth turned out to be a lack luster event marred with technical glitches and stock outs. The same thing happened way back in 2006 when Big bazaar did a live version of this kind of a sale. The next day, they announced that they were keeping the sale open for 3 more days which was quite an astute saving grace.

Flipkart said a sorry and I think they mean it. They could have followed up the sorry with some too sweet-to-refuse offers in the following days. But I think they might have thought that such an offer would again result in the servers getting overloaded and/or a stock out situation. The reason why I think Flipkart meant it when they said sorry is because they really do not need to make money through such shortcuts. If you have been following the news, any layman would understand that they are flush with cash. Add to this, a startup (yes, they still are quite young an organization in that sense which was started only in 2007) would never want to lose their reputation especially when the founders are from a premier institute (the idea is they wouldn’t resort to such simpleton measures if at all they were trying to dupe us all).

What is interesting is that the episode spoke volumes about us as a society. We were just waiting for something to go wrong and pounce up on them and say “I told ya!” Twitter was flush with messages and taunts against Flipkart. What we forgot was how much we were in love with this brand until the day before. We couldn’t stop singing praises of how good their supply chain is! How fast and efficient they are with their delivery process! How wonderful a business model! It is quite worry some to see that very few of us thought of looking at it as a mistake. Of course, it could have been avoided. But they are a team which doesn’t have a sea of experience to learn from. If at all they had people who are experienced in the business, e-tailing is relatively new. This was the first time something like this was attempted on such a large scale. It might have been attempted in other countries. But we all know how unique India as a country is and how diverse customers from different state are with regard to preferences and choices. And lastly, let us not forget, we are a customer base of about 1/6th of the entire mankind!

If not for anything else, being the world’s most vibrant democracy have taught us to gain forgiveness as a virtue. What else would explain some of our political laeaders coming to power time and again in spite of their not-so-saintly pasts? So let us give the Bansals one more chance, shall we? J

Arun Babu

Saturday, 4 October 2014

An Actor’s Diary : Blog # 193

An Actor’s Diary

        My life as an actor started on a Friday and I know that it will end on a Friday. I am aware of the reality that all I can do is to push my last Friday as further as I can.

            I vividly remember my first release day. I have always heard of people talking about being happy, worried and scared all at the same time. That day, I learned what exactly it felt like. It was strange. I wasn’t sure if people would like me. The first time I saw myself on the silver screen, I cringed. All I could see were the flaws in my appearance and acting. My first film evoked mixed responses. Some people liked me but I knew most were being polite when they said I did well for a debutant.

            By the time my second film released, I had a faint idea about the craft of acting and how things worked in the industry and among the audience. That film was a success or in industry terms, a super hit! More people appreciated my work. I started showing up on Google much to my surprise and my social media presence increased considerably.

            I remember feeling awkward while giving the very first interview. I kept on thinking why would people want to know about my personal life! What interest it is for to them? More strange was the first photo-shoot. Having never been an obviously good looking person ever in my life, I had to tell myself repeatedly that I am in a photo shoot and my face would grace a magazine’s cover which I grew up reading.

            I also remember walking on to a stage once and people screaming my name. All I did was smile in wonder. A senior actor standing next to me was kind enough to tell me that I should acknowledge their love. He asked me to wave at them. I did it reluctantly and saw how much people enjoyed the reciprocation! The brand manager of the product that I endorsed was “Your face sells. You need to understand that and start leveraging it”. My manager, a veteran in the field nudged me and told me later. “This is a make believe industry. An actor needs to believe in oneself first. Only then will you be able to make others believe the parts you play.”

            Although I knew I was becoming popular, the realization of it never sunk in fully. Strangely enough, it was the first minor controversy that hit me made me understand the scale of my popularity and the responsibility that it brought along.

            Now I know why people never want to quit acting. There are very few professions which are as gratifying as this. Even fewer where one gets appreciated for one’s work on such a large platform. Yes, the failures are public but then everything in Life comes with a price. The greatest thing about being an actor is that everyday, one gets to laugh, cry, be angry, be lonely, be hated, be loved; all for reasons of not one’s own. Every day, one gets to be a new person. Every day, one gets to live a new life.

See you at the movies!
Arun Babu

Sunday, 21 September 2014

At Home in East ~ Agartala, Tripura : Blog # 192

At Home in East ~ Agartala, Tripura

        Having finished the recruitment process at a college, I was getting ready to leave for home. It was about 7 in the evening. When I saw a message blinking on my cell phone from my colleague and friend, Mr. Pai asking me to call back immediately, I knew I should start packing. I called him up and he said that I need to travel to Agartala the next day morning. To be honest, it took me sometime to place the state on the map. All I knew was that it is in the East.

            The next day, one of the connecting flights got delayed and I had  to stay the night in Calcutta. When the hotel manager gave me the same room that I had stayed in, the last couple of times, I knew that Calcutta was slowly becoming a friend from an acquaintance. On board the flight to Agartala, I couldn’t stop admiring the landscape. There were little water bodies strewn all over amidst lush green patches. The moment I landed, I got a call from a spirited young student, Gangu who was to surprise me time and again over the next two days with his wisdom beyond his age. Enroute the campus, we talked about almost anything and everything under the sun. How Agartala has a large Bengali population to How people tend to think of it as a much smaller city than it actually is to How your phone can go on International roaming due to the Bangladesh border which is about 3 kms away to how sparsely populated the city is!

            The roads and the landscape reminded me so much of my home, Kerala. The similarities were striking. Vast fields, little streams, winding roads in between, cattle roaming about and the tress that lined parts of roads – all of it reminded me of Kerala. The moment I reached the institute(NIT Agartala), I knew I was to stand corrected about many of my stereotypes. To begin with, the infrastructure of the institute was really robust. The college was on an expansion spree to the extent that one of its buildings was turning out to be the largest in the city. What interested me was the fact that local labor wasn’t easily available.  They were few in number and they were mostly interested in Agriculture and fishing. Every home had a small pond in their backyard.

            The next day, I woke up with a start. It was as bright as if it were 10 in the morning, thanks to the proximity to Arunachal Pradesh. It was only 7 o clock and I stepped out to the balcony of the guest house where I stayed in. A spectacular back water view welcomed me. The picture here doesn’t even begin to do justice to its beauty when seen live. What did not quite go as per my expectations was the weather in Agartala. It was quite humid. But I hear it was pouring the days before and the days after I left. May be it was East’s way of making me feel at home. I must say it did make me feel like I were in Chennai of March J.

            Once the drive was over, I retired to the guest house. The placement coordinators joined me for dinner. A bunch of bright young guys – Alam, Nipun, Gaurav and Gangu. Their clarity of how to go about life reminded me of how much in contrast how I was when compared to them. To say I was clueless at that age would be an understatement. I think their sensibility and sensitivity came from the situations that they were brought up in. Gaurav’s father was in BSF due to which he has travelled far and wide. Nipun lives in a joint family and the kind of learning he has had from that ecosystem is tremendous. Alam who comes from a large family with many elder brothers and sisters would have understood the meaning of selflessness from that upbringing. Gangu had his way with words and getting things done which reminded me time and again that this guy like three of his friends is going to do really well in Life.

            Alam and I talked over dinner and he said how happy his family was with his job. His elder brother called from Sharjah and talked for almost an hour and how emotional all of them were. When he said that he wished if his father were there to see this achievement of his, I also had to fight my eyes from getting moist. Then I realized yet again that I was doing a job which had the power to change people’s lives. At the same time, I reminded myself that it was not I who was changing their lives, I am just a miniscule part of it.

            We went on a walk around the campus. It was close to midnight. The night there was so refreshingly different from what I am used to. The silence was strikingly conspicuous. The moonlight was indulgently doing graffiti with the huge trees on the lush lawns. The lake resembled a canvas when it reflected the moon in all its glory. For as far as my eyes could see, it was nature at its best.

            The next day morning, Alam and I started for airport. The number of cars on the road  was countable. It was so relieving to not having to manoeuver through clogged traffic. I badly wanted to take a piece of Agartala with me. We chanced up on an art gallery on the way and I picked up a statuette which looked like a woman at work from that part of our country. When I reached the airport and was about to board, I found myself strangely going to miss  Agartala. In two days, I had grown fond of this place and its people. It is for a reason that they say one cannot help but fall in love with East once you visit that place.  

Arun Babu.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Paradox of a generation, Us! : Blog # 191

Paradox of a generation, Us!

            Having celebrated a birthday at work from early morning till late night, my mind put to me some questions that have been dying for answers over the last year or two. These were questions that I did not listen to or rather did not want to listen to. And happened, the conversation that I had with my friend from work on the way back to guesthouse.

            The conversation we had, gifted me with some relief only to be replaced by the absence of it a while later. I was relieved because I understood the concerns, the doubts and the questions were resonated in his mind as well. The absence of solace came when I realized both of us were aware of what was going right and wrong but we did not want to address them.

            It is with some pride that I say our generation takes work quite seriously. Am I saying the generation before us were not serious about their work? Definitely not! It is because they did, that we have the opportunities we have today. But they were living in a simpler time as far as intrusion of work is concerned. A cell phone wasn’t there which will wake you up from sleep and put you to sleep with a call. An e-mail wasn’t there which will knock on your inbox at will till you answer it. This poses our generation with a challenge as to when and how to switch off the work button.

            Now, coming to the paradox bit! All of us are at our argumentative best when it comes to work-life balance. Our generation wants to live life to its fullest. Having said that, there would have been some instances in all of our lives where our family or friends would have asked us – “Are you the only one in your office?, Why do you bring work home?, When will you stop checking mails/sms-es?”. This shows our inability to keep work at bay. Don’t get me wrong. One should deliver on all of one’s responsibilities at work. But doing that at the cost of one’s life isn’t really worth it.

            Think about this situation. Your phones (official and personal) start ringing. The official call isn’t really critical. But more often than not, you choose to answer the office phone. Since when did we start thinking family/friends can wait? If one continues doing this, we will soon end up not having friends to confide in.One should also realize that success and happiness loses much of its charm if one doesn't have the right people to share it with.

            If one were to compare life to a walk on the beach, work is akin to the waves that keep on washing on to your feet. If you try to dry off the water every single time a wave comes on, you will miss out on the beautiful sunrise of youth, the soothing zephyr of relationships in life, the sand that caresses your feet which is life’s opportunities, the little shells of life’s happenstances that the mighty ocean paves on your path  and the magnificent sunset of life's twilight years too.

Arun Babu

Friday, 29 August 2014

Blog on Dulquer Salman’s Filmography #2 : Blog # 190

Blog on Dulquer Salman’s Filmography #2

          Today, DQ is an immensely popular star who knows the craft of acting. Now that is a combination that isn't easy to come by. Post his ‘5 Sundarikal’ which won him quite some praise from the critics and the audience alike for his sensitive portrayal of a wheel chair bound youngster, there were a couple of movies which did not really qualify to be called a ‘Success’ in the economic sense of the word.
dulquer salman, DQ , dulquer salman films, malayalam cinema, malayalam films

            Not one to shy away from challenges, he did a bilingual (‘Vaayai moodi pesavum’ in Malayalam and Tamil) as a salesman who loses his ability to speak. The film was quite novel as it did not have any dialogue at all in the second half. In Tamil, the film was a huge success where as in Malayalam, it wasn't. But then again, his acting prowess was noted. What this did to brand DQ was that he became a house hold name in Tamil Nadu also which is quite close to being qualified as a ‘Southern Superstar’.  

            And happened, ‘Bangalore days’, the phenomenal success of a movie by much acclaimed director, Anjali Menon. Not only was the movie a huge commercial success, it was much loved by the people for its quality of craft. His effortless, intense yet subtle performance of ‘Arjun’ a biker grappling with the harsh realities of Life won the audience’s hearts hands down. It was the first Malayalam movie to be released with sub titles and the way it was marketed over social media by ‘Iced tea’ was sheer brilliance. A bit of DQ’s popularity on social media which stands at a little over 25 Lakhs likes on FB and about 1 Lakh followers on twitter might be a windfall from that movie and its success.

            Bangalore days was an ensemble cast. His next, ‘Vikramadithyan’ however was solely on his shoulders. This film also was widely loved by the audience. Two movies that have been announced are ‘Njan’ and ‘100 days of Love’. The trailer of ‘Njan’ looks quite interesting. There are reports that DQ will be doing a Mani Ratnam movie next. Now who gets to do a movie with Mani Ratnam, in the first two years of one’s career? The answer is a talented actor does! J.

 DQ’s appearance on the popular tamil show, “Coffee with DD” did manage to pull up his popularity a couple of notches up in Tamil Nadu. He is endorsing a popular brand of shirt which is doing quite well for itself.  By now, he has appeared on the cover pages of many a popular magazine. His interviews though are far and few. Whenever he has given an interview, it was straight from the heart and free of pretentions. Being the tech savvy person that he is, he has quite a presence on Google plus as well with close to 3 Lakhs followers.

What is heartening though is the fact that success has only added to his humility. Also, him lending his popularity for the Anti addiction campaign by Kerala government (Addicted to Life) speaks much about his awareness and understanding of society’s challenges.

I remember chatting with him on twitter when his first movie had released. I felt that he wasn't completely convinced that movies was the place for him to be in. But now, it seems he has found his calling and we are happy that he did! J.

Earlier blogs on Dulquer’s Filmography:

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Worth a 1000 words! : Blog # 189

Worth a 1000 words!

        We are a species which astonishes ourselves time and again by the lack of sensitivity that we show towards each other. I often wonder why do we not feel a kinship with our own kind from a different part of the world. One reason might be the lack of awareness about the severity of their suffering. Being away from the place and being detached from that situation takes away the much needed empathy from our minds.

            Steal a few moments from your busy to breathe lives and look at this picture. I want you to think of a baby that you know of. I want you to think of all that you will do to prevent any harm being caused to that little kid. I want you to think of how you will rush towards the kid at the first instance when the baby cries for food.

This picture taken by the Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Kevin cater stands in contradiction to all that we do to protect our little ones. The vulture at the distance is waiting for the baby to breathe his last. The little one has suffered without an ounce of food or a drop of water. Can you fathom what this kid is enduring? At an age when the child should be showered with love and blessings, she is made to struggle for life. What in the world would justify such a situation! We all wallow in self pity at the smallest of life’s difficulties. I cannot stop my eyes from welling up when I attempt to understand the physical pain and mental agony the kid is made to go through. More so,just because we as a race in spite of all our advancements and capabilities cannot find a way to feed our own kind in a different part of our world. We all have little ones at our own or at extended families and that kid in the picture is someone’s baby. That kid also deserves to run around, laugh aloud, be fed, be loved, go to school, realize his dreams and live through his destiny.

Now, war is something which almost all of us would say ‘No’ to. But apart from the few who are part of the armed forces, we do not get to witness the hurricane of destruction that a war unleashes. We do not realize the pain it spreads. We are blinded to the loss of lives, the suffering that families are made to go through.  A few of you might find it hard to look at this picture taken by Kenneth Jarecke, the American photojournalist. It shows a man who was incinerated when he was trying to escape from his vehicle. This photograph is from a war zone in a country that was devastated by war. If you can’t bring yourself to look at this picture, imagine the plight of this person who went through hell! He is burned from head to toe and pain would have traversed through every cell of his body! That person there is a son, may be a husband, he has a family like you and me. Sufferings like this which are beyond our worst nightmares happen during a war. Whichever side of the imaginary line of a ‘border’ one is, a loss of life is a loss to the humanity. At every war waged across the world, it is humanity that dies a slow painful death.

I believe creative endeavors should be aimed at spreading happiness and should attempt to inspire people. But these two pictures deserve to be seen and talked about. The next time we think of a war or sanctions on the third world, these pictures must bring tears to our eyes. I pray and hope those tears will clear our vision which often gets blurred by the wall of region, religion and race!

Arun Babu