Wednesday, December 17, 2008


There are some people who follow great trends and there are others who set these great trends. There are some who dream about the stars and the sky, and there are others who achieve beyond the apparent !

Guru Dutt, in totality, falls in the latter category. The Man, the Magician, a visionary far ahead of his times and a film-maker of his own unique class!!

Born as Guru Dutt Padukone on July 9,1925,in a saraswat family of Mysore, He finished his early education in Calcutta, a city which left it's unmistakable stamp on his young mind, and he kept going back to the socio-culture atmosphere and the landscapes of Bengal again n again in his movies. After learning dance with dance maestro Uday Shankar, Guru Dutt finally got his break in Bollywood, surprisingly, as a choreographer, at Prabhat Studios, in the film 'Hum ek hain', the launching banner of friend and star Dev Anand. Rumor goes that Dev and Dutt met at Prabhat when their shirts got mixed by the dhobi and remained friends thereafter !

Dev, now a star, invited Guru Dutt to direct a film for him.1951, thus saw the release of "Baazi", Guru Dutt's directorial debut. The film was a trendsetter, regarded as a forerunner of the spate of urban crime films that followed in Bollywood in the 1950's. 'Baazi', along with success brought love in Guru Dutt's life. He met Geeta Roy, the well-known playback singer during the sound recording of 'Baazi', and fell in love with her marrying her later in 1953.

While Guru Dutt made his acting debut with "Baaz", it was with "Aar-par" that Guru Dutt entered his most celebrated phase as an Actor-Director-Producer. Followed some of his best works Mr.andMrs.55 (with Madhubala), C.I.D.( with Dev Anand, introducing the beautiful Waheeda Rahman), Pyaasa (his absolute masterpiece), Kaagaz ke Phool, Sahib,Biwi aur Ghulam, Chaudvi ka Chand etc.

Apart from being a very sensitive, poetic and passionate director, Guru Dutt was technically a very advanced filmmaker. He had a unique knack of integrating the song into the story and making the film move forward even through the songs (Recall the amazing video of the song ‘Kahin be nigahen kahin pe nishana’). His strength lay in his excellent sense of music and the choreography of his songs. Guru Dutt also mastered the effect of shade and light to create romance and other delicate moods. He gave India it's first cinemascope film with Kaagaz ke Phool. But the movie was rejected by the audience and a dejected Guru Dutt never directed a film again! Guru Dutt also revolutionized the close up shot, using lenses with higher focal length. He strongly believed that 80% of acting was done in the eyes alone. He never repeated himself and his achievements almost made him a cult figure. His castings were very thoughtful. Johny Walker was one of his favorites, and He specially crafted roles for the comedy king in his movies!

But though at the peak of material success and fame, his personal life was in broken shambles. He had separated from wife Getta Dutt, allegedly due to involvement with his discovery and the leading actress in his films, Waheeda Rahman. On Oct 10'th 1964, Guru Dutt committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills, though doubts still linger as to whether his death was accidental.

The mind-blowing genius of Guru Dutt was brutally snatched from us, and decades later, Indian Cinema still remembers and misses one of its most gifted craftsmen! His films have not lost their mercurial charm and he stays with us through His legendary work done with the true spirit and passion for filmmaking!!!!

‘Jinhe naaz hain Hind par voh kahan hain.

Kahan hain, Kahan hain, Kahan hain’?’!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Euthanasia and the right to die….

A 79-year-old man visited his 62-year-old wife in a nursing home. Once a successful businesswoman, the wife, now suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease, screamed constantly and was unable to speak. The man pushed his wife's wheelchair into the stairwell, where he killed her with a pistol shot. The district attorney who prosecuted the husband called his action "classic first-degree murder", but the jury refused to indict, and he went free!!

The husband as far as we can tell was practicing 'Euthanasia' or 'Mercy Killing'. All Megadeth fans must be familiar with this term as Euthanasia (Youthanasia) was one of their best selling albums, but what does it really signify??

Euthanasia is basically of two types:

'Active Euthanasia', is an action deliberately taken with the purpose of shortening or ending life in order to end the suffering of a terminally ill patient.

'Passive Euthanasia', takes the form of 'Mercy Killing’, which takes the form of withholding treatment that might extend life, such as medication, life support system etc.

Although active euthanasia is extremely controversial, most people are in favor of it. The question here is pretty much the same like,’ Is abortion a medical procedure, or is it murder'? Do people have the right to take their own lives? If so, under what circumstances? What is the legal liability of someone who helps a person commit suicide? In 1984, The Dutch Medical Association issued guidelines for doctors to participate in euthanasia: -

*The request must be made constantly and freely by the patient,

*The patient's condition must be unbearable and without any hopes of recovery whatsoever,

*Another physician must agree on the advisability and the method of euthanasia.

Active Euthanasia remains a criminal offense in Netherlands if these guidelines are not followed. But in India, with the law and order situation in a mess and corruption on peak, most doctors feel that euthanasia will be devastatingly misused, which, I'm afraid is absolutely true. Of late, people have woken up to this issue, and have started to take help of what is called a "Living Will". A Living Will is a document that simply explains the measures a person wants, or does not want, to be taken if he or she ever faces a situation where in he or she is terminally ill or mentally incompetent.

With the mind-blowing progress in medication, we have technologies that can keep a person alive indefinitely, after the brain has, for all practical purposes, stopped functioning. Wouldn’t it be fundamentally correct then, to allow such a person to die in peace, if there is no possibility of recovery? Even if such a person is kept alive, what is the point in living such a life??

This problem is so fundamental that it has moved beyond the boundaries of medicine. In my opinion, Euthanasia (if implemented properly with the right intentions) is all right. After all, human beings were created by God to live, not to 'Exist'. And by the law, if you can't force anyone to die, you shouldn't be allowed to force anyone to live either!!

PS: Someone asked Guruji this time if Mercy Killing was right or wrong – and He pretty much said the same thing, that if done with right intentions, it is ok! I was relieved!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My First Namaz'!!

It was a Friday. The one on the Bakra`Eid day. A very special day for the Muslims.

They looked surprised, both Basha and Malik. Although they hid it well, I caught an under-pulse of surprise on their faces. Their surprise was on my request. My request (a very casual one) went like this, "Hey Guys, today being such a special festival for you, I was wondering if I should come along with you to the mosque to offer Namaz". I thought they will be thrilled and happy. They were plain surprised.

Anyways they took me along. Basha had to stay back to finish some urgent work in office, so I went with Malik. Malik is an Indian Muslim, born in Bihar and raised in States. The mosque was in Bellevue downtown, and hundreds of Muslims, from India, Pakistan, Middle East and some American Muslims too, had gathered for the afternoon Namaz. I got reminded of my school days in Delhi when I used to go to Jamma Masjid to play with some of my Muslim classmates.

The mosques (and even temples for that matter) in the US do not quite look like the mosques and temples here. Many times you find regular buildings converted into mosques and temples, and hence you miss all the lovely religious architecture we enjoy in India. Yet you feel a sense of purity and sacredness as soon as you enter such a place, for the prayers of devotees can turn a ‘Khandar’ into a ‘Mahal’!!

As we entered the mosque I sensed an uneasy feeling drawing over Malik. The reason, I learned was that non-Muslims were not always welcome to enter mosques. Its different with Dargas. Anyone is welcome at the hundreds of Dargas around the world. Sufism in that sense comes very close to Hunduism! I was born in Ajmer and have been to the famous Darga of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, and have loved it. But this was different. I caught on to the uneasiness and was soon wondering if I did the right thing by coming along.

Then suddenly, this thought came over me, 'Hey! Wait a minute! What we do say on the course!?! 'I belong to you'! Every human is One. God is One!'. The next second i was flashing my 1000 watt Art Of Living smile and walking like I was entering the Vishalakshi Mantap in the Ashram!!

As we entered the mosque, Malik whispered in my ear, "Do exactly what I do". "Ok" I said. And so I watched him closely and copied him move to move, word to word. We first went to wash-up. And it was quite a wash-up. Folded our pants to the knees, folded our shirt-sleeves to the elbows - washed our faces, hands and legs. I was impressed with the diligence with which each person was cleaning the physical body before we entered the holy mosque.

Then we went inside and the namaz started. Many times we bent down and stood up again, many times we looked to the left and then to the right, and many times Malik looked at me to make sure I was not goofing up! I noticed that just like in temples or churches, no one was smiling! They had a serious appointment with God and were busy prioritizing their demands from the Almighty. I sat down and meditated for a few minutes. I remembered the stories Michael Fishmann had told us about Guruji meditating in Mecca and some of the oldest Jewish synagogues in His trips to Palestine.

The old noble Maulavi explained to us the essence of Islam, and encouraged all to do kind things to others. In my head, lines from the Indian Ocean song popped up.

"Vo hi baat madina mein hain, Jo hain baat Shivalay mein". So true. All faiths preach the same old ragged truth, and yet humans cleverly succeed in misunderstanding and manipulating the truth!

We got ready to leave. I was disappointed to realize that there wasnt any "prasad"! I was hoping to find some hot sevaiyas!! I bowed to Allah once again and exited.

.................Today is Ganesh Chathurthi and the commencement of Ramzan, a day which marks the beautiful blend of these two faiths. India alone is a nation on the planet which can boast of a cultural heritage that peacefully allows all traditions to express their beliefs without any conflict (unless provoked politically)!!

Bismillah al rahman al rahim

Ganpatti Bappa Moriya!

Monday, September 1, 2008

To the Americas and Back!!!

Warning: Long sentimental Write-Up!

4th August, 2003. It's about 1am in the morning…….the scene is abuzz at the airport. Mom n Dad, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, friends, cousins, neighbors, ex-girl friends, more friends – all there to wish me good luck. Amidst the never ending lines of advice from elders, and the continuous reminders to keep in touch from friends, I steal the last glance of my motherland as I bid farewell to my family and friends. I leave a part of me behind in India. I make a promise to myself – I will return one day. Come what may!!

Within a few hours, I enter another planet. The US of A. I am living the American dream!

Time goes by….I learn new things….and forget few old ones……I train myself to roll my tongue when I say "r", I learn to call it the 'skedule' and not the 'schedule' (who cares what the Queen said), I change my DNA to throw in as many 'thankyous' and 'pleases' as I possibly can in every sentence. I am amazed by the roads, and by the sizes of things……

We create a mini India where we live. I return every evening to old bollywood songs and chai….we discuss cricket and Indian politics over tortillas replaced for rotis, we spend hours chatting with family and friends online…we graduate from school….join the IT army in the US.

There are times I cry and times I laugh….times I regret I left India and times I feel glad that I am not in India……..but there never is a time when I feel shaky about my decision to return – never. I know I will go.

And one fine Jan morning, the day comes for me to implement the plan…… bid farewell again…..I buy, for the first time, a One Way ticket to Bombay!

I come back with dreams and apprehensions……there is a shine of hope, mixed with a cloud of uncertainty, there are fears (some real, others unfounded), and there is excitement and happiness. Mostly, there is contentment. I am keeping the promise I made to myself. I come back to contribute to my country, for it needs good sons. I went as a boy and I come back as a man! I come back with skills to blend the Orient and the Occident, I decide to take the best of both the cultures and make my own. From the quick NY head nod of 'wassup, to the authentic folded namashkar, from pesto salads to bhel-puris, from Starbucks mochas to Nukkad Cuttings, from Minus 20 degrees to + 40, from bald eagles to peacocks………..I can do it all!!!

28th August 2008: Today, its been 6 months that I came back……I now live in Bombay.

As I sit by my balcony on this rainy wet night, I see the city wrapping up for the day. Although it never sleeps, Bombay does quieten up a little towards the night you know!

Tonight, there are approximately two thousand one hundred and fifty seven thoughts in my head!!! I take a stroll back to the Orange streets of Syracuse on a cold October evening, and I can still smell the hot coffee as I walk past the big old tree in the quad!

I catch glimpses of my life in the US while I do my mundane bits in the routine day. It’s just the same feeling that we get when we move to the US for the first time and keep seeing flashes of India now and then!! There are times I feel like running back to Seattle – and there are times I want to just be here. There are times when I feel like walking to the middle of nowhere and just vanishing into thin air!!

As I said, it’s been 6 months now. India has successfully swallowed me, just the way it does to anyone who comes to its shores. Some people pat me on the back and proudly call me a ‘True Indian’, others think I made a wrong decision in moving back to the rut of the Indian life. I take both and make nothing of them.

I have learnt that it’s not the place where you live – it’s how you live!!

"Mitti ki jo hain khushboo, tu kaise bhoolaayega
Tu chaahe kahin jaaye, tu laut ke aayega"

"The greatest journeys are the ones that bring you home"!!

Jai Hind – In God We Trust!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Trek to “The Valley of Flowers"

Trek to “The Valley of Flowers"

It was a blessed day when I decided to take this journey, and blessed be 'Nisarg’-Nature and Adventure Club, a voluntary mountaineering organization, with whom we had gone. It was a trek to The Valley Of Flowers, in the Garhwal hills of The Himalayas and 30 excited hearts were rearing to go. Most of us were college students, with 4 odd couples, the group leaders and the cooks!

The route we were supposed to take was B'Bay-Delhi-Rishikesh-Joshimath-Auli-Govindghat by train/bus and from there trek to Ghangharia, Hemkund Sahib, Valley of Flowers, Vasundhara Falls n back to Badrinath-Haridwar-Delhi-B'bay in 15 days.

Joshimath to Auli was an enchanting trip, via the longest ropeway in Asia, displaying the awesome skiing grounds of Auli, which are deeply snow-covered Jan onwards. Our actual trek commenced from Govindghat from where we climbed 14 kms in 7 hours to reach Ghangharia, where we had our base camp for 3 days. It was drizzling the next day when we left for Hemkund Sahib, the holy shrine of the Sikhs, situated at 14,000 feet above sea level. It was freezing at 3 degrees, n the rain n the fog did not allow you to see anything farther than 10-15 meters! And yet, the indomitable Sikh kids took their clothes off and jumped into the freezing lake for a holy dip, among loud exclamations of ‘Jo kahe so nihal, Satsssssrriyakaaalll”!

The next day was the big day, our chief destination The Valley of Flowers (or Phoolon Ki Ghati) awaited us. Surrounded by the river Pushpavati and other small streams, at an elevation of 10,000 feet, The Valley of Flowers is nearly 10 km. in length and 2 km. in width and concave in shape. The best time to visit this world of flowers is during the rains (mid July to august) when the flowers are full in bloom, covering the hills in a thick carpet of flowers, and the gentle cold breeze spreading their infectious fragrance throughout the Valley, setting a majestic picturesque in front of these human eyes! It is a land ablaze with a bewildering variety of the richest and the rare-most flowers in the world - orchids, asters, Brahmkamals, bluebells, lillys, marigolds, sunflowers n many more. Beyond the realms of human imagination, away from the polluted commercialization of modern day life, lies this lush green valley, with white, ice-cold glaciers and beautiful waterfalls, snow clad peaks in the background, and a sea of multi-colored flowers, as if God took a fancy to colors n beauty and splashed these heavenly hues from his unearthly palette! Among the clicks of the cameras, I clicked with my eyes, and the impression registered permanently in my mind!

Other places we visited were extremely wonderful too. Badrinath, on the banks of Alaknanda, the Vasundhara Falls on the Indo-China border, where we saw the "last tea stall of India' before the Indo-Tibet border begins, and the origin of the mysterious holy "Sarasvati". Amazing too was the trip to our cook's native village, where we joined the beautiful Garhwali women in their traditional folk dance, dressed ourselves in their traditional attires!!

15 days flew away in no time, and sadly we took the train back home, but each of us a better person, carrying in our hearts the rich memories of the unforgettable walk through Mother Nature's divine paradise, and a continuous urge to return to the mountains again someday.

The magnificence of the glorious Garhwal hills, and the Valley of Flowers, can be truly summed up in an old Pharsi saying: “Gar firdaus bar rooh~e~zameenast, hameen-ast o hameena-ast o hameen-ast – loosely translated as ‘Agar zameen pein kahin jannat hain, yahin hain,yahin hain,yahin hain"!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Virat Waani aur Baarish

Pyaaren Doston,

Phir haazir hain aapka dost, Virat.
Shanivar ki suhaani subah hain aur aap sun rahen hain "Virat-Waani" ka seedha prasaran Bombay kendra se!

Today we'll talk about one of the best things in life..........RAIN!!

Baarish.......................sunte hee kya yaad aata hain..?? Garma-garam chai aur pakode....thandi hawa.....Chap chapak....koi purana kissa......springs up, in front of your eyes, the face of your loved one...the memory of that beautiful rainy day u spent with him/her..........grey skies.........Freedom.........Angdai.......Purane Hindi gaane.........hills and treks........( and if all you get reminded of is traffic jams, road blocks, sticky wet clothes and overflowing gutters, then you should stop reading this mail...)

Maine Baarish ko ek naye roop mein dekha hain, uski shakseeyat ko ek nayi roshni mein jaana hain, n today i wanna share my feelings with u......lets go for a "Walk in the Rains".......

Tumne kabhi socha hain ki paani ka rang kya hota hain? Saagar neela hain, Raqt lal aur doodh shwet; lekin baarish ka kya rang?

Rang hain.....lekin barsaat ke paani ka yeh rang dekha nahi ja sakta; kewal mehsoos kiya ja sakta hain...haan, rangon ka bhi ehsaas hota hain...ek netraheen manav baarish ko is ehsaas dwara hee dekhta hain....

Aur baarish ka sur kya hain?

Baarish bhagwan ke geet hain...aur yadi tum is geet ko nahi sun paate; to tumhe sangeet ki parakh nahi bandhu. Baarish prakrati ka tabalchee hain...alag alag cheezon ko chookar, bhin bhin prakar ke taal janmtee hain. Teen ki chat pe barsaat ki boondein "Teen-Taal" main sunai deti hain, peepal ke ped ke patton se takrakar "ped-pat malhar" banti hain, aur ghar ke aangan ki bhoomi se milkar "Bhoomi-Bhairav" see jaan padti hain!!Aur baarish ka yeh sangeet uski har ek boond mein itna jaagrat hain; ke koi behra vyakti uske sparsh matra se is geet ko sun sakta hain!!

Aur Baarish ki sugandh kya hain?

Ek gehri saans mein kheechi gayi hawa ki khushboo baarish ki asli sugandh hain!Kai saalon ke bichade do premiyon ke milan ki tarah; jab baarish aur mitti gale milte hain; to dharti se uthti saundhi khushboo baarish ka mehakta vastra hain!!

That is the true smell of the rain; and once it creeps into a man's blood; it shall make his life fragrant forever!!

Aur Baarish ki aawaz kya hain?

Kya tumne kabhi boondon se baaten kee hain? Agar kee hoti, to jaante, ki baarish kitni meethi aawaz mein kitni pyaari baaten karti hain! Agar baarish ko apna dost mankar kabhi Chai pe apne ghar bulaya hota, to pehchante baarish kaunsi bhaasha bolti hain!

Yadi ek diin achanak, Bhagwan tumse kuch baat karna chahen; to kya tum Ishwar ki aawaz pehchaan paoge? Baarish Bhagwan ki aawaz hain; barsaat ki dhwani Prabhu ke bol hain.....Dekho, tumse paani kuch keh raha hain! Itne saalon se Bhagwan tumhari sookhi, pyaasi aatma ke darwazen pe baarish ki dastaq de rahe hain......darwaza kholo pyaare!!

And when you can sing like an intoxicated devotee, or an innocent child, one with the voice of nature, you shall sing in the voice of rain, and the whole creation shall celebrate your song!!

and last of your 5 senses;

Baarish ka sparsh kya hain?

Is your skin sensitive enough to differenciate between the touch of ordinary water and the touch of rain?

Agar barsaat mein bheeg kar, sirf tumhara jism hee geela hua, to tumne baarish ko chua hee nahi dost. Kabhi anjali bhar bheegta pani ikatha karke apne chehre pe chidakna...tumhari palkon se aankhri boond tapakne ke baad; jo thanda geelapan aankhon mein mehsoos hoga...vo baarish ka ehsaas hain!

Kabhi gali ke bachon ke saath; with child-like enthusiasm, sadak pe jama baarish ke paani mein koodna; jo khushi ki tarang tumhare man ko choo jayegi; usse baarish ka sparsha jaanana!

And on a rainy moon~lit night; when you embrace the rain and dance with it; and your heart fills with the warmth of love, and the atmosphere echoes the ring of your laughter; you would've touched, and been touched, by the Divine that resides in every single drop of rain!!

That is, the touch of rain!!

And when you are matured enough to completely comprehend; with the limited capabilities of your 5 senses of perception; the phenomenon we call "Rain", you will forever be in a state of bliss!

Aur haan, baarish ki ek bejod saathi hain; ek bachpan ki saheli; jiske bina, baarish, mere liye, aksar adhoori se reh jaati hain....uska naam hain "Chai"!! dar~asal, baarish ka doosra naam hain chai.

Next time we shall explore the intricacies of this phenomenon called "CHAI"!!!

"Baarish se jo rishta hain, Paani pe man khichta hain,

Pichli koi pehchaan hain" - The Blue Umbrella

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Beginning

Hello All,

And finally I start blogging.........
a long due activity....

Thanks for the inspiration Bawa...