Sunday, October 4, 2015

Mumbai Weekends: Slums and Smiles

If you really want to witness the gap between the rich and the poor in this country, you should stay in Mumbai, the so-called city of dreams and observe the lives of people in the tallest of buildings and the smallest of slums..
Mumbai is beautiful yet filthy..It is popularly known as the city that never sleeps..Its just that some stay awake to enjoy the awesome nightlife of this city, some are unable to sleep due to hunger..Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I am in a love hate relationship with Mumbai even now..
I used to go to my office in South Bombay from my place in Chembur.. I used to sit on the window seat of my bus every single day, just to watch people in an area called Reay Road, which happens to be a slum area in Mumbai where families stay in an area as small as your house's washroom, maybe even smaller...I used to stare at all adults- I saw expressionless faces everyday. I saw women with infants crying, I saw exhausted men..

No, this blog post is not about poverty stricken India, this blog post is not about the gap between the rich and the poor..Amidst those slums and the unforgettable sight of people trying to live in places so small that it was incomprehensibly difficult for me to imagine how they survived..I saw children, I saw small kids with ragged clothes, with their stomachs bloating due to malnutrition, with dark skin in the burning heat of May..And then, I saw their eyes..I saw real expressions I could relate to.. Fearlessness was the first thing that I noticed in those small eyes..and then, I couldn't concentrate on anything else throughout..Those eyes were so captivating that no novel, no song and absolutely no conversation could distract me at all..

I was wondering how there could be a difference between those expressionless faces of the adults in those slums and the fearlessness among all the kids..I used to watch them daily..They used to play with tyres, they used to run and run with bare feet, with ragged clothes or no clothes..They used to fight with each other, they used to play with things they used to find in the leaps of garbage around..And I saw the cutest smiles in those slums..I saw fearless dreams amidst rags and filth..They say those kids can steal for money..They say those kids aren't innocent..I call them brave..
And while writing this post, I recall Paulo Coehlo's quote, "A child can teach an adult three things- to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires".

Even though these kids in slums do not have the luxury to demand things, perhaps their fearless eyes tell me that they dare to dream..They find happiness in the smallest of things.. Maybe this feeling, this fearlessness is because of the fact that they have nothing to lose..The sky is their roof and the hot dusty roads where they walk barefoot are their playgrounds..Every night,they sleep without toys and blankets..maybe they stare at the sky and the stars before going to sleep..And when they stare at the sky,when they play with each other and smile, they are not poor slum kids, they are simply children..

There is this Punjabi song.."Bachpan vargi mauj ni labni puri zindagi chon"  (You won't find the joy and happiness of your childhood, ever again in your entire life..And I couldn't agree more..
When I look at these slum kids, I find smiles all around..Even after being poverty stricken and being devoid of basic needs, they are children at the end of the day..They dream,they play,they keep themselves busy and they stay happy..They are fearless..Whenever people tell me about stories of child abuse and child trafficking, rapes of minor girls, I feel so scared that I would never be able to put it in words..Poverty can never take away childhood and childlike spirit of finding happiness in the smallest of things..Child abuse can..

When I look at them, I wish I could be a child again..I wish we could do something to make sure that every child enjoys his childhood..I wish we could add more smiles to these slums..I find an inspiration.. an inspiration to have a child like keep walking, running and playing around.. If only, we could stay like kids forever!

Next Blog Soon :-)
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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Saath Rupaye !

This is not fiction. All characters of this story are real. In fact, I should not call it a story. This is a real experience shared by an acquaintance, who had been traveling across the country for a business stint. Trust me, the conversation is not at all exaggerated. Do read.

"Sahab aapki umar kitni hai?"
"Baais saal"
"Kya baat hai sahab..itni jaldi bade aadmi ban gaye aap?"
"Koi aadmi bada ya chhota nahi hota"
"ye raaste se choodiyaan kiske liye khareede the saahab?"
"Apni chhoti behen ke liye.."
"Koi premika nahi hai aapki? kya kehte hain aap log angreji mei, 'girlfriend', 'girlfriend' nahi hai koi?"
"Nahi, koi nahi hai"
"Kya baat kar rahe ho Saahab, dikhne mei hero lagte ho, achchha khaasa kamaate ho, aap toh jise chaho haasil kar lo"
"Haasil nahi karna chahta..saath dena chahta hoon uska..khush rakhna chahta hoon use"
"Aashiq mijaaj maaloom hote ho saahab.."
"Aisa hi samajh lo..Achchha highway pe koi dhaba aaye toh gaadi rokna..bahut bhookh lagi hai.."
"Dhaba yahan se kareeb 7-8 kilometer pe hai..Peete ho sahab?"
"Nahi..main nahi peeta"
"Aur aapke liye aur koi intezaam karna hai ?"   
"Kaisa intezaam?"
"Yahin dhaabe ke paas..laal batti hai sahab..ek ghanta thokne ke saath rupaye..aap toh ameer aadmi ho, paanch sau bhi kharch doge toh kya jayega"
"Kya badtameezi hai ye..khabardaar jo aainda aisi baat ki mujhse toh..Agar gaadi aise kahin roki bhi toh tum.."
"Arre aap toh bura maan gaye saahab.."
"Biwi nahi hai tumhari?"
"Uske aage toh laal batti wali feeki pad jaaye..par kya karein sahab, hum thehre driver, mahine mei ek baar milte hain apni aurat se..Ab aadmi ki bhi apni zarurat hoti hai saahab"
"Tumne kaha tum laal batti apni zarurat poori karne jaate ho..kabhi socha hai uski bhi koi zarurat hogi..wo agar soche kahin apni zarurat ko pura karne ki..kya karoge tum?Achchha itne samay baad milte ho..Kabhi koi tohfa le ke jaate ho uske liye?"
"Tohfa kya saahab..Uski zarurat hum puri kar hi dete hain, mard se badh ke kya tohfa hai gharwali ke liye"
"Ek kaam choodiyaan rakh lo,,maine apni behen ke liye khareedi thi..tum apni biwi ko de dena..Usko achchha lagega."
"Rehne do saahab..Iski kya zarurat hai"
"Zarurat hai..kyunki tum uski zaruraton ke bare mei jaante nahi..."

Saath rupaye ! Only sixty fucking rupees ! And you can buy a woman's body for an hour..

We live in a country where a video by an actress talking of her choices goes viral in the name of feminism, where a TV actress having sex with a rich businessman becomes a headline...but neither the media, nor these videos for empowerment or the men and women busy talking about these over-rated subjects care about women who do not have choices, who are actually forced into prostitution, who are not even treated as individuals by their husbands, leave alone equals. "My choice" is a ridiculous, meaningless phrase for some women in this country. If at all we could do something for these women, I wish I could think of something.. I thought and thought, I had no answers!

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cooking Together : Life is Delicious!

"It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That's what human life is all about - enjoying things." -Julia Child.

Some days are really unforgettable- the day you got your first salary, the day you got married, your first date.. But same days are special simply because you find happiness in the smallest of things, because an ordinary day becomes fun-filled when you are with friends, when you do something together, when you laugh together, when you cook together and when you eat together.

We had met just a few weeks back- four strangers who had now become friends- looking for a house to stay together. It was our first day in a new flat- a new home with new friends. We were excited, we were arranging things, we were cleaning the place, we were totally exhausted and terribly hungry.

We thought of making maggi, maggi with permutations and combinations of all ingredients that we had. But one of my friends, my first roommate, who is a close friend now, told us that the first dish to be made in a new kitchen or a new house has to be a sweet dish. Finally we made custard and added some grapes to it. We made maggi too. They say, too many cooks spoil the broth. I disagree. If I were ever asked to make a list of things one should do together in a group of friends, it would be cooking.

I know a lot of women who do not like others entering their kitchen when they cook. I really do not understand that. The very definition of kitchen, going by a quote, is a gathering place for friends and family, a place where memories are homemade and seasoned with love. All those who love cooking would be able to relate to it. All those who have spent time with their family cooking, talking about food and eating together would be able to relate to this. Nothing unites people like cooking and eating together does. For me, cooking together could be an awesome date too. Yes, I daydream of that quite a lot. 

It's amazing how those little things in life become so beautiful and unforgettable. A little sweet, a little salty, a bit bitter, a bit juicy.. Life has its own flavors.. One of my friends used to say, "Tasty food is the solution to all the problems in the world". Exaggerated though it may sound, but it's not completely wrong either. When life gives us so many delicious, mouth watering things to relish, why shouldn't we spend time cooking something together, to know each other better, to know our tastes and above all, simply to enjoy cooking and enjoy food.

Life is delicious !! Taste every bit of it !!

Cooking is fun! But when friends cook together, nothing like it !

P.S. Coming back to the memorable day, a new house, new life, new kitchen, new food, new cooking stories. Do check out this link for more.

Cheers !!


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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Miss Dum Laga Ke Haisha!

After watching a frustratingly slow and torturous movie like Roy, I had almost lost hopes of finding a story in a Bollywood movie..
And being away from my blogs for almost one year, I had been thinking that I've become too lazy to write something..
And then I watched a movie that made me smile genuinely..I mean, I felt like writing about it from the bottom of my heart..Before I start writing about it, let me tell you, this is more than just a movie review..

1. Beauty is Simplicity

90s' plot, cassettes, Kumar Sanu's voice, land line phones and missed calls..what else could you ask for nostalgia? This movie is all about small, sweet and simple things that would make you smile..It covers the minutest details of the characters, their lifestyles, their circumstances, their mindsets..
You do not always need a hot couple or a perfect cinematography for a romantic flick. The song "Ye moh moh ke dhaage" is simply bound to make you fall in love with the movie..

2. Bhumi Pednekar as Sandhya

You may call her fat, or you may say that she played the role of a fatso..but she was a real beauty..Sandhya was perfectly confident..And as I say, beauty is confidence, confidence is beauty..She loved herself and knew that she deserved to be loved..She was from a conservative family, but she did not succumb to the family pressure of being a part of a love-less, lifeless marriage..She valued her dreams, her aspirations, her dignity..
Hats off to Bhumi for being Sandhya, for performing with an effortless ease..

3. Marriage is not an event, it is a Journey..

Talk to a random girl in India who is about to get married..She'll talk about a Lehenga that costs more than 50k, jewels, accessories and make-up..I find it totally ridiculous when people tell me that I should marry before I turn 25, varna face ka glow chala jayega, dulhan wali baat nahi rahegi..
Talk to a random parent in India who is looking for an ideal bride or a groom.. They'll talk about a decent job, decent looks, decent family background..and yes, cliched though it may sound.."Jodi achchhi lagni chahiye"

Really??? So you think marriage is all about a perfectly beautiful bride, a grand event, ceremonies and two individuals who look good together? Why is it so important for a bride to look young or pretty or slim? Moreover, what would go wrong if jodi achcchi na lage? Are you buying a product with specific dimensions, features and configurations? No. 

Having said that, the movie talks about romance which is not only unconventional for Bollywood, but also unconventional for people like me and you, and that's the best part..

4. Accepting Imperfections

A not-so-good-looking girl with a not-so-educated, good-for-nothing-types guy..
But the movie doesn't preach about compromising, compromise for family or for marriage..

The story talks of giving time, forgiving for mistakes and accepting whatever seemed to be imperfect in the beginning.. As I always say, the first postulate of love is acceptance..If you aren't able to accept someone for who he is, you aren't in love, you have never been in love with the person..
For when you are in love, you accept all imperfections happily..Togetherness gives you immense support..

Overall, Dum Laga Ke Haisha is a cute movie that makes you feel good and makes you smile..

Rating : ***1/2

1. Ayushmaan Khurrana looks cute as Lappu ! :-D
2.Writing a blog after a long long break of 360 days feels awesome !
3. Planning to write more movie reviews.. 

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