Thursday, 14 December 2017

Pictories #5 ~ Of Pictures & their Stories: Blog #323

Pictories #5 ~ Of Pictures & their Stories

How bland would our lives have been without pictures, isn’t it? More so, in this day and age of cell phones and social media! Some of us click great pictures. Some of us click moderately awesome ones, like I do. Here are a few pictures that I took and what was going through my mind when I clicked them.

I couldn’t stop wondering how beautiful a festival Christmas is. I love both the colors around Christmas – Green and Red. The reindeers, the sleigh, the Santa and all the other paraphernalia around the festival are so warm and endearing. 

Fascination with food doesn't look like it is going to stop any time soon. Look at the variety! I am sure the tastes will also be as varied as the colors here. I felt like grabbing a handful and running away. I even asked my wife if I should do it. Luckily, we decided against it. 

Yet again, I chance up on a lone tree. Standing majestically amidst all the greenery. I did not know how to perceive it. I was wondering if it was being untouched by the thriving ecosystem around or if it was being different inspite of the much liked and loved lushness.

I have always wanted to go to a literary festival. And I did. The first session I went to was happening under this vibrant roof. I looked up and saw this bright, beautiful and happy canopy. It was so in sync with the spirit of the festival and I was glad that the fest lived up to the first impression and the expectation. 

Look at those tender leaves. And the tree that allows them to climb on. It reminded me of a lovely embrace. If only as much love remained between humans, the world would have been a much better place.

Like the above pics? Want to be bombarded with such images on a regular basis? ;). Please follow me on Instagram. My Insta handle is roamdworld .

Check out the earlier Pictories:

Find Pictory#1 here
Find Pictory#2 here
Find Pictory#3 here
Find Pictory#4 here  

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A letter to the United States of America : Blog # 322

A letter to the United States of America

Dear America,

On behalf of rest of the world, (well, most of rest of the world; there can be exceptions) I would like to write this brief letter to you. You guys have made a horrible choice of electing a President for yourself. But considering your choices in the past, it isn’t much of a surprise. Remember some blasts from the past? Or should I say blasts from the bushes?

Here are a couple of things we would like you to know: 

Trump is an American problem. The world couldn’t care less.

Unlike in the past, world doesn’t revolved around the United States. There are multiple power centers. Trump can do only limited damage.

Countries much more powerful and large have outlived much worse leaders. Stop hyperventilating.

We have had enough of your whining on Twitter and Facebook and other media. Grow up!

Now, does this mean we have anything against America? No. We love you. We empathize and sympathize with you. But at times, some of you guys tend to overstate your importance in the scheme of the universe. The world has more grave problems to deal with.

Much Love,
Rest of the World(Well, most of us).

Sunday, 3 December 2017

‘Tumhari Sulu’ ,the Movie ~ A letter to Vidya Balan : Blog # 321

‘Tumhari Sulu’ ,the Movie ~ A letter to Vidya Balan

Dear Vidya Balan,

I must begin by saying how happy I am for you. I have always admired the way you have shaped your career. There has never been a doubt in my mind about your ability as an actor. But the last couple of films did not meet with much commercial success. I, among your many admirers were feeling sad that those films met with such fate. 

Yesterday, I watched ‘Tumhari Sulu’. The theatre was packed to its capacity. What a delight of a film it is! Right from the first scene to the last, there isn’t even one frame that is out of sync. From the extended family to Sulu’s dynamics with her husband and son, everything is spot on. The characters in the work place, be it the receptionist or the RJ Albeli Anjali or the Poet or the boss played by Neha Dhupia are so life like. I loved the lady who played the cab driver – How she kept gauging your mood through the rear-view mirror. That is exactly how it happens in real life too. The brilliant actor who plays your husband – Manav Kaul - what a nuanced performance! And a special mention to the little power house of a talent, the kid who played your son’s role. His reactions and responses are so natural.

To talk about your character, not even in one scene did I see Vidya Balan. It was Sulu all the way. I did not even see a familiar expression or emotional reaction that you portrayed in any of your past films in any of the scenes of this film. The way you react to your extended family’s constant attempt to contain you or even tame you is nothing less than beautiful. I particularly liked the scene between you the boss, Neha Dhupia and the poet, Vijay Maurya towards the end. It is so full of heart and brimming with innocence. Not to mention how perfect your comic timing is when someone compliments you on your voice and you say “Woh to hai!” :).  Equally admirable is when you ask with all earnestness, if you can get a TV in the place of the pressure cooker.

What I loved about the film is that towards the end of the film, neither did it showcase Sulu’s character doing something unrealistic nor did it shy away from retaining Sulu’s spirit. The scene where she rushes to her husband and her husband says, “Not another idea!” with a smile is testimony to this. The story is neither preachy nor trying to be populist. It stays true to its soul right from the word go till the credits roll. How beautifully each and every character is etched to perfection! We the audience are indebted to the director, Suresh Triveni for this.

Thank you Vidya for making Sulu so memorable. May you have a lot of critical acclaim and commercial success in your long fruitful path ahead in movies.
Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Things to learn from Abhishek Bachchan: Blog#320

Things to learn from Abhishek Bachchan

I feel Abhishek Bachchan is one person we all have been unfairly unkind to. He is made fun of, for no reason at all. Is it his fault that he is the son of a stupendously successful father? Many of us pale in comparison to what our parents have achieved in their lives. How will we feel if someone were to draw such a comparison! It is so unfair to do this constantly.

So what makes this sudden outburst of support for Abhishek Bachchan? There is a twitter handle @juniorbaCCHHan which is the parody account of real Abhishek Bachchan’s twitter handle (@juniorbachchan). I enjoyed following the parody account for a while. It really is humorous. But for a moment, I wondered how it would feel if someone were to make fun of me to this extent? Social media has this strange ability to dehumanize even the best of us. It makes us say the meanest of things which we wouldn’t dare say in person.

Now, why do I feel we are being unreasonably mean to Abhishek? He was born in to privilege. To say that he belong to the first family of bollywood would be an understatement. Inspite of that, have you ever read anything scandalous about him? Has he ever made a misstep whenever he has appeared in the public domain? Has he ever boasted about his lineage? The answer is No.

In the instances where he has addressed an audience or press, he has always been polite. In a couple of instances where he has addressed an informed audience, he has been able to make an intelligent conversation. In all the interviews that he has given, he has been polite and never has he come across as brash. There have been many instances where some of the journalists have tried to instigate him by comparing his career with that of Amitabh Bachchan’s. Inspite of those occasions being numerous, never has he lost his cool. I think that is really commendable.

About his career in movies, all those who make fun of his films should remember Guru, Yuva, Bunty aur Bubly, Bluff master, Dostana, Sarkar, Sarkar Raj, Dus and the likes. Of course, there are flop movies too. But which actor doesn’t?

He is married to one of the most beautiful women (certified with a title that holds across the world over J ). She is far more successful than he is in the field of movies. Inspite of the overwhelming media attention on these qualities of his spouse and the constant comparison with him, he manages to be level headed. He is always appreciative of his wife and proud of her achievements. What more is expected of a spouse?

He is a doting son, devoted brother, caring father and a great friend to his loved ones, if one were to go by the interviews. Now, he is garnering great success in his chosen field of sports management. I think it’s time we cut Mr. Bachchan some slack.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

What do the Saudi arrests mean?: Blog#319

What do the Saudi arrests mean?

An unprecedented string of events have unfolded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Some of the very high ranking princes have been arrested by the crown prince's regime. Whether it is a consolidation of power or suppression of an attempted coup, the jury is still out. Some of the princes who are arrested are wealthy, influential global investors. The world of business needs to be worried. Let us have a look at the list of global companies that Prince Al Waleed bin Talal has investments in. He is just one of the many princes who have been arrested.

Prince Al Waleed's investment spans across multiple sectors varying from Technology to Financial Services to Hotels to Media and lot more. Some of the renowned firms include Apple, Twitter, Citi Bank, Motorola, AOL, Hotel Plaza in New York, News Corp and eBay. Scroll down for the full list.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Sorry Quentin & Marie : Blog# 318

Sorry Quentin & Marie - India

Dear Quentin & Marie,

We Indians are extremely sorry for what happened to you at Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, India. We apologize to you with folded hands.The shameful incident shouldn't have happened to you or anyone for that matter. 

You are our guests and you have come to see our great country. According to Indian philosophy of 'Aditi Devo Bhava', we treat our guests as Gods. Clearly, some people of our country failed to live up to the customs we ought to live by.

We are collectively ashamed at the way some of our citizens behaved towards you. It shouldn't have happened. Is there something that me or any ordinary citizen can do for you? Sadly, I don't think there is much. But we promise that if we see anyone , be it a tourist or otherwise being harassed by rogue elements of the society, we will stand up to them.

 We also request our Government to put systems in place so that incidents like this do not occur in the future.

Once again, we are sorry for what happened with you both. Please take care and get well soon.

Big Hug,

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Solo, a Movie Review: Blog#317

'Solo', a movie review

*No Spoilers

I was waiting in anticipation to watch ‘Solo’. The posters, teasers, trailer and everything about the movie screamed style. It promised substance too. Solo is an anthology of 4 films – not something that we usually see on the Malayalam silver screen. Yes, 'Kerala cafĂ©' and '5 Sundarikal' have done them before. But those movies had different lead actors and actresses in each story. Solo has Dulquer in all the lead roles.

What I loved about the movie is like I mentioned before, the aesthetics about it. The whole presentation is so stylish. Be it the introduction of 4 elements, the pace of storytelling and Dulquer’s different appearances, there is a lot of class in the way the movie is presented. The actor in Dulquer shines through all the 4 stories. One cannot see any similarities in the 4 characters that he has played. If I were to choose a favorite, loved the character of Shiva wherein there is hardly any dialogue. This means that he had to convey all he had to say through his expressions and he did it really well.

What I felt could have improved are the below factors:

1.      Better actresses: I really feel that the movie should have had better lead actresses. I understand the business behind it. One cannot get A-list heroines in an anthology of films. Having said that, may be a little more effort could have been expended in finding better lead actresses.

2.      All the stories were sad stories: Personally, I am not a fan of sad stories. Please don’t get me wrong. I like inspiring stories with a tinge of sadness about them. But, not stories that are just sad. All the 4 stories were sad. Given that it is an anthology; it could have had 4 ‘different’ stories – different in emotions at least. If sadness had to be there as per the director’s vision, at least 2 of the stories could have had an end that was uplifting.

3.      Stories had similarities in the plots: There were too many accidents and too may pregnancies. I could be wrong. But I was expecting an anthology to have 4 different stories in every sense of the word. If not vastly different from each other, at least no repetition in the narration. There were multiple accidents which were pivotal to the stories and the heroines were pregnant which was again pivotal to the stories. The plots could have been different.

4.      The issue with Rudra: I understand that the director has a vision and it is his/her prerogative to treat the movie as per the vision. For instance, in the first movie, there was a lot of shuffling which is fine although it requires some effort on the part of the audience to keep up. But in Rudra, there was a bit of incoherence. The scene with Suhasini and Dulquer. Personally, I did not get it. I also did not understand how what she said related to the context and the struggle Dulquer’s character was going through. Even the climax scene was addressed to the groom’s party. To me, it would have made sense if it were addressed to the leading lady.

     *Finally, I saw the part of Rudra when Solo came on Netflix. I do not know if it was an issue with the print I watched at the theater. The whole dialogue between Suhasini and Dulquer was cut. It was incoherent. And the climax suddenly showed Dulquer folding his hands to the groom. Now that I have seen the scene in entirety on Netflix, it makes sense.

Having said all the above, ‘Solo’ is a brave attempt. Appreciation and gratitude to Bejoy Nambiar & crew for that. We should have more such movies on the Indian silver screen. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Men are not superior to women: Blog#316

Men are not superior to women

Please read the title of blog again. Men are not superior to women. Having said that, women are not superior to men too. They are two genders of humans. Are they the same? Absolutely not. They are evidently different. It is this difference which we should celebrate.

Now, have a look at the picture given here. It is from an advertisement brought out by a firm that makes suits for women. It is wrong on so many levels. I don’t think many people understand feminism in its true sense. Many tend to think that feminism is about showcasing women as better beings than men. At times, some people think it is about falsely emulating all things bad about men. For instance, if some men choose to use abusive words while talking, some women who have a false understanding of feminism also use abusive words. Abusive words are unpleasant, be it used by men or women. To my mind, feminism is about equality for the female gender. She should not be discriminated against, in any regard due to her gender. Men and women are different beings but not inferior or superior in any way in comparison to each other.

This Ad is a perfect example of using feminism in the wrong way. It showcases women in suits with naked men in the background. What is this Ad trying to say? If one wears a suite, will they become powerful? Does having naked people in your house mean power or wealth? Does having power and money give you the ability to hire people? Does having power and money give you the ability to do anything you want to the people around you?

Some people might argue that this is just a role reversal of what we see in advertising. Well, this is lazy and irresponsible creativity to say the least. By that logic, imagine an Ad against child abuse - The picture has a child abusing an adult. How is it justified? It is exactly that which is happening here. Should advertisements stop objectifying women? They must. But this is not how you make them do it.

Now, let us look at the race here. All men featured in the Ad have white skin. Why? Reverse this and imagine the furore this Ad would have caused. If that is wrong, this too is wrong. We need to look at people and provide them opportunities for who they are as human beings and not for what their skin color is.

This Ad is a very uneducated, provocative take on issues which needs to be dealt with taking time, effort, context and finesse.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Want to burst crackers on Diwali? Go ahead: Blog #315

Want to burst crackers on Diwali? Go ahead

Christmas is the major cause for deforestation. Are you laughing? Then you might want to laugh at banning crackers on Diwali too.

Every year, there is a lot of NOISE around how we must stop bursting crackers for Diwali. To fight for this is, to use the gentlest of words, plain stupid. Here is why:

Below are the main pollutants of air in India:

 Fuelwood & Biomass burning        
 Fuel Adulteration
Vehicle emission 
Traffic congestion

The above factors contribute to the poor air quality throughout the year, 365 days a year!

Do we do anything about reining in the above factors? Absolutely not!

Now how much does bursting crackers on Diwali contribute to the pollution?

Let us look at some statistics -

Now, how many days are the crackers burst? One day. Let’s assume it goes on for 2 days.

% of days in a year where crackers are burst for Diwali
% of hours in a year where crackers are burst for Diwali – (Assuming over a period of 2 days, we burst crackers for whole of 24 hours)

% of Hindus in India
%  of urban Hindus living in poverty (Urban & Rural)

(Source: )

Number of Hindus who don’t come under the poverty line
829 Million

So 829 Million out of the 1.3 Billion is the amount of people who might burst crackers. 

Number of households 
(conservative estimate)
829 million/4 = 207480000

Let us discount the below households from the above figure. 

% of households with old people
% of households with dogs and who choose to not burst crackers
% of households with babies
% of households who choose to not burst crackers
% of houses close to hospitals
% of households in states where Diwali is not a big festival

Number of households that might burst crackers(94%)
Area of India
Square Kilometres
60 households per square kilometer

Impact of burning crackers during Diwali is as below - 
Per square kilometer, only 60 households burst crackers for 0.55% of the time of an entire year of 365 days. 

This is not going to contribute drastically to the pollution. By this logic, avoiding it will not have a major impact on the air quality of our country. So relax, burst crackers and have fun people! 

If we really want to make a change to the air quality around us., here are a few steps:

             Till your land instead of burning the crops.
                       Choose to take a shared cab instead of taking a prime.
            Pool your daily office rides
 Plant trees.
 Walk more.
 Maintain your automobile well &Get a PUC certificate.
 Use a solar powered generator instead of the diesel powered one that you use now.

The point I am trying to make is that if  we ban crackers on Diwali, all we are doing is taking a populist, ineffective measure which doesn't have any considerable impact on the outcome. Imagine this. There is a water tank with 4 walls. There is a pinhole sized leak. We focus our energy on fixing the pin hole where as one entire wall itself is going to break and we are least bothered about this wall in peril!

My friend, Raghunath was kind enough to make an infographic out of this blog post. Here it is. Thankful as ever for his time, effort and encouragement :)