Saturday, December 12, 2009

Customer is the KING!

We were appalled at the criminal waste of food last night at an affluent Chinese restaurant - dont understand why do these restaurants keep such HUGE portions in their dishes. 1 plate noodle is fit for not 1 or 2 but 6 ppl! More than half the dish was returned unconsumed, not just from our table but from other tables too. So either it goes to the dustbin, or is likely to be 'recycled' and given to the next customer. No wonder, the noodles were COLD when they got served! An why should we pay 'extra' for the leftover that we are Compelled to pack home? They aren't doing any favours by getting it packed. And I really wonder how many people REALLY eat that packed food next day. So again, it is most likely to go waste. The roadside chienese stalls are much better - they cook in front of you, not in the backside kitchen and quantity and price is sensible, moreover it is HOT and TASTY!

I am not sure if other customers sitting there felt the same agitation, felt cheated, the way we did. Not sure if they had an iota of conscience about the food going waste and realised that they were being made royal fools.

I see a similar pattern in many such big establishments. Do you have a conscience? Alright, you are free to go to a roadside thela and eat there. You have 'Choices', you see! You as a customer should have no opinion, no right and no importance to be taken seriously. And it is so Low Society and so Middle Class to raise your voice against such so called sophisticated and affluent establishments! The collective voice of the Consumer is conspicuous by its absence.

I am confident that the written feedback which we submitted was trashed and the business would go on as usual.

Customer is The King!! Yeah, indeed!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

La Vie En Rose - A Pure and Intense theatrical experience

The only motivation I had to watch La Vie En Rose was Marion Cotillard. The beautiful and poised Cotillard in A Good Year won an Oscar for La Vie En Rose. After watching this French film, I am truly convinced that Hollywood is probably only a lucrative pass time for brilliant non English artists, for the talents and passion of artists such as Cotillard are stoked in their regional land and shimmer in the lights of their culture.

La Vie En Rose is a biopic of legendary French singer Edith Piaf, spanning the 1920s across the 1960s. It candidly presents the Paris in those days, showing the parts of Paris sans the towering phallus. I was completely unaware of Piaf until I saw the movie. However, the film was successful in crossing the walls of ignorance and presenting Piaf as she was.

Several directorial surprises elevate the film to a surreal level. The Little Sparrow (Piaf means Sparrow in French) comes on stage, looking frail and scared. She begins to sing, the piano releases caressing notes, and the camera soon shifts from Piaf to the rapt audience. The audience - stiff during her first performance, loosens up, responds, interacts and eventually falls in love with this tiny and bold sparrow. One can’t help but remember Vahida Rehman in The Guide. Rosy begins her on stage career, ascends the legendary echelon, adorned by the critics and the commoners alike. Vahida remains the focal point of this sequence. However, in La we are expecting to witness a similar representation of Piaf’s success, we are stupefied by this alternate expression. The Audience Index becomes the central force through which one extrapolates Piaf’s success journey.

Another such astounding sequence leaves one shaken is when Edith mourns and screams her lover’s death, singing a heart wrenching verse walking out of the room, only to emerge on stage with that very song. The theatrical experience which this sequence invokes makes one feel terribly sad and the sense of loss grips and twitches at places one wouldn’t want.

The soul of the film is its songs. They are all in French, and again, surprisingly without sub titles. The reason I call this film a “pure” theatrical experience is because, as a friend Smriti rightfully puts it, the songs are not translated and transported to a jumble of words. The songs are meant to be in French, to be savoured as they are and not warped by translation, for the scripting and direction is extremely strong to deliver the essence without the meaning. Because there are no subtitles obstructing the visual experience, one can appreciate the sound and the cinematic beauty. Songs undoubtedly reach our core, delight as well as sadden us.

The tight screenplay of the film makes it a quintessential biopic. The non linearity of the film gives a collage of Edith’s life, the 1930s and 1960s Paris flashing back and forth with suaveness. The known bits and pieces of Edith’s life mingle deliciously with the fictional figments. Paris is sketched beautifully, with the backdrop of the shady pubs and grand hotels, dark alleys, cathouses, flowing champagne, the Mob and women in drag. A Marlene Dietrich makes a surprise entry, almost floating in air, whispering words of appreciation putting Edith in extreme awe; another superb stroke of a possible fiction.

Marion Cotillard fills life in this beautiful landscape of sound. Edith’s body language, her bent neck, hands on hips and loud voice marks her persona which Marion handles with absolute panache. There are a couple of instances in the film, wherein Marion sings through her eyes; once when her lover admires her beautiful hands, and secondly, when Marlene compliments her. Marion portrays a bold, rash, drunkard and passionate Edith with grace of a ballet dancer. She has done a terrific job in building imagery of an arthritic Edith as much as presenting a young and aggressive Edith.

The film revolves around the 2 poles of Edith’s life; her penchant to perform and loss in multiple forms which she faces with indomitable spirit. Loss of her Daddy Leplee – her mentor, her mother, her daughter, her lover, her best friend, eventually her ability to sing.

The film runs for two hours and twenty minutes, growing on us with every instance, leaving us absolutely stunned and blank at times with its ingenious crafting. This film is like a “box of chocolates”, one wouldn’t know what a second viewing might bring to the fore; hitherto unseen places and unfelt emotions for sure.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Awestruck were my senses for an instant
Life came to a halt
A Conventional chick, I puckered my nose
And rejected her by default!

The stringless kite, it soared high
Swaying in the sky
A bit cloudy a bit dry
Fully engrossed in the wind
Belying it could fly

Who would have thought
That I would land up next to her abode
My courteous “Hello?”
So formal and oh so cold!

A tress of comfort curled up
My words gradually
Bringing down the “wall”
As she put it playfully
Funny, how we still managed
To not be friends
Weird, how my perception
Slowly changed

‘It’s your childlike happiness…’
She had said searching my face
Exposing a slice of my being
Fingering my inner self

The kite got stuck,
It no more pierced the sky
The kite twirled and danced around the pole
Too joyful that it no more needed to fly!


Friday, July 24, 2009


With droopy eyes and heavy head little Vini came to the living room and sprawled on the sofa. With great enthusiasm she turned her attention to The Newsline, to see the movie listing for the day.
"Vini, milk is here...” Shobha called.
Vini was too immersed in "Today’s special". A minute of enthusiastic page search led her to discover Indiana Jones on HBO. Vini gave a short squeal of joy.
Her reverie was interrupted when she heard her mom shout, "Vini, go down quickly with this pot of rice, Vasudev has come!"
"Really?" Vini let out yet another squeal. She got up at once and ran to the kitchen. Shobha had kept a small pot of rice grains ready on the table.
"Wait, let me put on a decent frock...ah, well, it is ok I guess, it is morning time, so everyone will know I have just gotten up..." muttered Vini and ran downstairs. Heart thumping, leaping 3 steps at a time, that skinny little thing climbed down the three floors in 20 seconds flat.

There he was, dressed in a toga and standing with his mammoth vibrantly decorated bull. Vini walked towards the duo as if possessed by this imagery. Vasudev wore a white toga with a belt like scarf tied tightly around his waist. His head was covered with a hat made of peacock feathers. The hat came well below on his forehead on the brow. He stood poised holding a pair of cymbals, arms wide open. His faithful significant other, the Nandi stood with so much dignity and composure that Vini took an instant awe at this fabulous creature. It was the peacock hat and the Nandi which fascinated Vini to a great extent.
"Come dear..." Vasudev called her in a very affectionate tone and next few minutes Vini tried very hard to make sense of what he was chanting. Once he was done with his prayers, he began the Real Thing.
"You are ten years old; you live with you mother, father and a brother who is elder to you. He is studying in the 16th grade. You are very talented and have a very good family life...” Vasudev began writing Vini’s future.
"How does he know I live with my mom n dad and an Elder brother? How does he know he studies in 1st year of LLB?" Vini tried to suppress the amazement but failed to quite an extent because Vasudev smiled to see her wide open eyes.
"But dear, you have a troubled marriage, mostly because of your in-laws...” Vini was absorbing every word, every comma.
“I wonder what he means by soul mate…” Vini’s face showed a transition from amazement to ignorance to plain confusion.
Vini glanced at the Nandi and couldn’t help but touch his brow. Nandi moved towards her as if wanting that innocent touch. Vasudev finished his recitation and opened a shabnam bag slung on his shoulder.
"Put the rice in the bag." Vasudev pleaded.
Vini emptied the pot in the bag.
"If you wish to get rid of the evils associated with you married life, you will have to fast every Tuesday following your marriage and donate a pot of rice to the nearby temple for 3 months without fail." Vini nodded obediently and receded.
"God bless you!" said Vasudev with a satisfied smile, the Nandi nodding the head fervently in unison.
Vini slowly walked upstairs. She somehow felt special. Vasudev's words were echoing in her head. She felt doubly content to have donated to this noble man.
“You know he also said that brother and I will get along very well...You know he even knew that I am going to get married one day because he said I will have a bad marriage..." Vini was speaking with an urgent tone.
"And you know he also said that...." Vini stopped abruptly. Shobha was looking at this curious little creature with admiration.
"Nothing, it’s just time pass you know…" Vini giggled and moved back to the living room and settled with The Newsline with a coy smile on her face…

…Vini was standing in the balcony of her flat sipping chai. The wind caressed her entangled hair, witness to a night of passion. She liked this moment of solitude. This was the moment for which she woke up every morning.
“Hey, good morning…” Ram came from behind and wrapped her in his long arms. Before she could turn and snuggle up in his embrace, she heard a distinct clanking of cymbals. She leaned forward to find out the source of this sound. Ram smiled at this curious little woman. “Oh, that’s him! I just missed him!” Vini almost shouted her arm stretched in the direction of the bull. The majestic Nandi was taking a turn and moving out of sight.
“That was Vasudev! I missed him by just a few minutes.” Vini said ruefully.
“What’s the big deal about him anyway?” Ram asked baffled. Vini just smiled mysteriously and kissed him gently on his forehead.
“I just DON’T get this woman at times!” Ram thought.

Vini thanked Vasudev for germinating this seed of indomitable hope which showed light at the end of a dark tunnel of her “bad” marriage. She had followed Vasudev’s words unquestioningly; the beggars and the needy had gone back to their shacks with bags full of rice.
Vini held Ram tightly in the circle of her arms unwilling to let go of her soul mate as promised by Vasudev 20 years back. “It’s crazy and kind of stupid. But well, who said life made sense anyway?” Vini mused.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


The Baby I am referring to could be a baby, or anything that we hold precious..anything to which we give our 100%. It's a metaphor for our hobby/passion, our career, relationship, or anything as simple as a painting.... anything that we nurture with our whole heart. Read on, discover whether you have a baby you can call your own...

This is my baby. It's just an infant! I can see its amorphous shape...the eyes aren't opening wide, and toes are the tiniest! I can see it breathe...softly, steadily....once it sneezes and then again goes back to its state of stupor...
I wrap it in a warm blanket. I make sure I don't leave any gaps. I let the face be open. I can't pull the blanket over the face lest the baby can't breathe. I don't wish to wean myself from seeing the slight expressions on baby's face! I don't want to miss the opportunity of seeing baby open its tiny eyes and look at me with some recognition.
I feed the baby with milk. That's all it needs right now. It does not need any fancy nutrients, it doesn't need doctors prescription. It needs milk, more than that an assurance that it will get milk whenever it needs it.
I tend my baby as if its the most important and attend to it as if its the most urgent. People beckon me back to their world of responsibilities, realities and regularities. I give them just enough attention to shut them up. I am the happiest when I retire with my baby in my arms. There are certain independent and self reliant persons jeering at me, I am aware. To see me go soft, and mellow is something they can't accept. They refuse to believe in my mothering instincts! They try to show me a life full of self identity and freedom from rules. I think it's the freedom from Giving they are showing. It is the easy way instead of the right way that they are showing. And I simply smile at them.
Little do they know that there is an indomitable faith and goodness thriving inside me which propels me to give all I have to my baby. To make them understand the joy in limiting my world to my baby is beyond my capacity.
The baby is sleeping. I don't want to rouse it. I cant help touching it either. I touch the curled fingers ever so delicately and instinctively it wraps its fingers around mine. The grip is surprisingly strong! The eyes are closed, it doesnt need to open its eyes to see who's finger it is grabbing. The half curled lips say it all. I look at it with so much amazement. l look at my creation, I look at my flesh and blood. And I cant stop smiling! I exhale contentment, I inhale the smell of creation.
I feel confined. I feel free.