Sunday, 15 December 2013

Five star rating for What the Fi$# !

I will begin by saying that my rating of 5 stars for What the FI$#! is based on the total delight of being completely  biased and partisan.  This is because our son Mithun Rodwittiya  plays the character of Hooda,  a Haryanvi lout, who attempts to get his lover from Manipur (a boxer and a Mary Kom looker alike!) a professional deal;  and the iddar-uddar tamasha that occurs as a sequence of many events centred around the care taking of a home, a gold fish and a potted money plant, makes up the entire jig-saw  of this film.  This multiple narratives within this comedy has lovely little insights into the India of today, where urban practices and upward mobility leans into street smartness and the altu-faltu of our kismet culture and yaaro ways, and mixes together into the khichadi of metro life. What is refreshing different is that the film never comes across as a pontificating missive or trying to sell a message of any kind. 

The film cleverly allows you to believe you have the upper hand as the voyeur to it all because it lets you know the end right at the start, and then in the end gives it a slight twist,  to spice it up. This is a clever move on the part of the scripting team because it lets each tableaux that unfolds  have its moments of glory without any preamble. It also suggests the typical indian "aisa hota hai na" attitude packaged perhaps rather endearingly wherein you begin to get soft hearted recalling   incidents of irritation from your own back yard from precisely the muddled methods of our quick-fix existences!

Directed by Gurmmeet Singh and starring the affable Dimple Kapadia, this is a definite  must see film. Yes, certainly because you have to whistle loudly the moment Mithun makes his appearance on the big screen (that's mandatory!); but also because it is a film that comes from a type of cinema I want to see more of.  Quirky and with a simple story line, it allows a story-telling of the mundane to be engaged with,  and for cinema to be entertaining without vulgar budgets being involved and gimmicky techno effects to prop it all up. 

"What the Fish" provides vignettes from the everyday that could be anybody's story; and wrapped into the slap-stick humour are some wonderful flashes of what life is all about in the higgledy-piggledy of what makes India this terribly infuriating,  but equally lovable country we live in!

Congratulations to the the cast and crew….Encore! 

And to my Mithun……..

You've come a long way Bebo!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Matters of the Heart ….on at Sakshi Mumbai till the 31st of December 2013

The privilege of birth and the gift of education impacted itself upon me from a very young age. A much desired girl-child I have carried the legacies of a female history with a conscious alertness which led me, very early in my personal journey, to a space of belonging that formulated my feminist ideology and the spirit of deliverance of my energies.

Art is a process of transmutations. Where translations and transpositions trace the outer world to the inner consciousness and vice versa, thereby making an elaborate tapestry of contextualized belonging. It is a space where the recognizable alters to become the receptacle of new meanings, and where human experience then becomes the bridge of empathy that allows the viewer to find their connectivity.

I have often described the territory of my ideas as being like a small garden patch, much loved and faithfully nurtured. This is because I hold a consistent desire to examine the feminine space of survival, the spirit of endurance and the empowerment of pride and self dignity that centuries of feminist oral histories are infused by; and which cast their shadows for me to find my resting space within.

As an artist the most liberating lesson learnt is that ones own sense of belonging is held in multiple histories that form the stories of the world. And it is the curiosity of wanting to know about the unknown that beckons us through the doorways of many new discoveries. But like all sensible travelers each of us needs to carry along in this journey the memories of our own origins. For in doing so we will then never fear getting lost.

The assimilation of a personal language involves many influences gathered and many areas of teachings resisted; and between this tightrope act of balancing what to absorb and what to reject, an informed and critical aesthetical space is finally arrived at. Within this territory of the female world that informs my concerns, I observe the rituals of confronting daily life that require for us to measure our valor and vulnerability with wisdom. Each of us in our moments of reflection will know the value of this double-edged sword.

The energies that we place ourselves central to forms a grid, patterned by incidents and histories that demand our participation willingly or otherwise. As artists we often become the chroniclers of larger narratives that hold both the particularity of our lives as well as a wider world of information.

I believe that a pictorial language revolves around the engagement with re-examining tradition and modernity within the contexts of changing requirements. I delight in drawing and so lines define the shape within my work by out-lining the contours of the images blatantly or by the evoking the line from the starkness of shape itself.  Whilst painting, the magic of conjuring as the brush trails its mark on a blank surface holds both the edge of terror and excitement simultaneously.

The female figure, often in isolation, becomes the presence that bears witness to the passage of time. Embodied through the centuries with the energies that hold the continuums of being a life giving force, I place the female figure as the central focus to be encountered.  

The unflinching gaze and the frontal posture of the female figures demand that the viewer is obliged to participate in an engagement with its presence.  Stark and arresting in demeanor these female figures or large heads with their unrelenting gaze, are like protective guardians of the universe.

The photographic image reappears after I put down my camera twenty-eight years ago. A series of personal occurrences brought back the affinity I once had with the camera and I resumed taking photographs once again. The bodies of my female protagonists now become the site of retrieval of personal histories. Retraced like mapped terrains the contours of these figures are extracted from previous paintings, archived like from an archeological survey. The montage of images lace together to then become the second skin.

What I desire above all else is in fact the deliverance of my own honesty to myself.  Where my art and my life are seamed together and hold the image of representation uncompromised and unfettered. My art exits finally severed from the umbilical cord that initially defines its articulation; to be then placed in a space of interpretation and discourse, unmonitored by my protection.  It must hold the credibility that molded it, if it is not to be felled into wasteful oblivion.  I can exert no control over any external forces that act upon my work, but what I can do is remain accountable to myself at all times. 

There are hundreds of stories that each of us carry with us. These stories are often matters of the heart which are an amalgamation of truths and desires, memories and histories which in turn are fed each day by the pulse of our lives as we live it. As an artist it is from this ever evolving framework of energies that my ideas are born.

Friday, 22 November 2013

A day of deep shame!

What drives the desires of sexual transgressions of educated people is difficult enough to fathom, but the stupidity of conceit that the powerful have in believing that they can get away with such acts of sexual misconduct is unimaginably insane to even attempt to comprehend. The news of Tarun Tejpal's alleged rape of his junior employee, at an official event, left me feeling as though he had personally betrayed my trust. I of course do not know Mr. Tejpal personally, but my feelings of being aggrieved come from the identification that I have of him with the news agency Tehelka, which is an organisation I have held in high esteem from its inception. I  had always attributed and accredited its integrity for  high standards of accountability from public office,  and the desire to unearth any misappropriation of the truth despite all odds, to his leadership and vision at the helm. To therefore learn that he is capable of such gross abuse of power comes as a major shock to those of us who have been champions and supporters of Tehelka all these years. 

You cannot dress up a criminal act to become something that you pass off as a casual gesture of inebriation, and then proceed to atone for your actions by deciding what punishment you deserve; and all the while evading the mechanisms of legal recourse  required by the mandate given by the supreme court, to follow the Vishaka committee guidelines against sexual harassment in the work place; pretending that it is all being done in good faith and with a heavy heart of remorse. For an organisation that has stringently called attention to issues pertaining to rape and sexual harassment, it seems ironical and quite farcical if I may bluntly state, that when it is in your own back yard then it gets handled with a different set of rules and expectancies.

What is imperative to note is that no personnel in any work space, however senior or junior,  should ever succumb to the idea that they can act upon their assumed notions that someone may be interested in their sexual advances,  without duly clarifying (without any physical contact) a solid basis to substantiate that they are receiving the correct signals that may then allow them to move forward by mutual consent, to a development of intimacies or a relationship. However, I for one hold rather strict views which do not prefer romances or any dalliances that involve top management because I believe it will always hold the space of power and compromise.

I also advocate that anyone who has even the smallest public platform should learn very quickly the responsibility of behaving with accountability; and comprehending that their actions will always be viewed with greater scrutiny. Whether inebriated or not, the personal politics that structures our ideas on life and determines the person we desire to be, will always guide our actions. Insisting that misjudgement of a situation was the only reason for any form of imposed sexual misconduct with another person smacks of hypocrisy, and that too coming from an individual who has founded his professional career upon exposing people who indulge in corrupt practises.

It should also be considered that no person offers an unconditional apology for an "alleged" act of sexual impropriety, especially someone with a grasp of legal knowledge,  unless they have committed it. So therefore the law now is obliged to take its course and file an FIR and investigate this allegation of  sexual  molestation/rape because Mr. Tejpal has implicated himself by offering an unconditional apology to the victim against the accusation levied on him of outraging the modesty of a woman colleague. Does every story have two sides….well as a theory perhaps, but then we also know that not to be the case always. So instead of Mr. Tejpal trying to "atone" with the falsities of pretence, he will now have to be judged by the same yardsticks he and his organisation have insisted on all these years from others with allegations of similar improprieties; and be exposed to the censure of a nation that will certainly hold him accountable for his actions and demand  for disciplinary legal action to be taken against him.

Monday, 11 November 2013

A touch of class…..!

I am not someone who owns much jewellery but I am certainly a great admirer of the craft and designs of ornamentation; and from the many design studios and private jewel shops that dot every city and town of India,  I have for years been very impressed with the Tata brand store Tanishq because they have consistently offered quality and value and attentive client service as their calling card.

But today I believe this company has taken their brand-name to another level of excellence. I was completely wowed by their recent add that holds me riveted every time I chance upon it being aired on my television screen. The dusky bride with her little daughter, and the metrosexual debonair man who scoops up his stepdaughter and walks around the marriage fire, talks of the progress of liberal thinking at a time when right wing conservative rhetoric deafens me as the national elections draw nearer. So kudos to the think-tank behind this delightfully subtle advertisement,  that holds the dynamic punch of an imaginative idea that captures both the beautify of pure aesthetics along with the relevance of a social message.

I personally never felt the stigma of being a divorcee and a single mother till Mithun was six years old, but amusingly it was often others who felt the stigma for me! Brought up to always be an advocate of liberal ideas and  taught the value of resistance and the importance of descent to protect ones liberty and constitutional rights, I have protected the wings of my freedom from being clipped by the opinions or attitudes that demand blind subservience to conformity or slavish attitudes towards out dated traditions. It is indeed sad that I still however encounter the desires of some parents to find their educated daughters "suitable boys" the moment they complete their university courses; or that women who are choosing to be single are viewed with suspicion and pity. The space of the woman's voice to arbitrate her future and her right of choice to determine her life is  a theoretical debate that now needs to be the lived and practised norm for all the millions of females across the globe.

That we are opening our newspapers to read about how a father raped his pregnant daughter and also invited his friends to rape her too as a punishment because she eloped and married against his wishes -  and then killed her, seems horrific enough. However that he then went off  to get drunk and boast about it publicly is perhaps indicative of the real malaise where women are thought to be dispensable! These frequent occurrences of depravity and violence against women who are  independent   should indicate to us that gender politics and the comprehension of equality and humanism needs to be addressed urgently today. We took way too long to formulate legislature against the abuse of sex determining  tests that led to thousands of female foetuses being aborted,  and we continue to witness even today propaganda that perpetuates incorrect  gender stereo-types that insist  on objectifying women.

Advertising is a platform that commands the attention of millions of people. When a company understands its power to influence and uses this responsibly, then we have a clear winner where  a product calls attention to focus on significance and purpose.

The Tata brand store Tanishq is a sure winner all the way this time round!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Happy Birthday Mithun!

Having little Mehran at home brings back all the wonderful memories of Mithun's infancy. Today is Mithun's birthday. Born on the 2nd of November which was my fathers birthday too was perhaps the ideal gift any daughter could give to her father! Though thirty-five years have gone by,  for a mother the vividness of every stage of her child's life requires no great effort of recall. That little Mehran bears a strong resemblance to his daddy makes the space of my nostalgia even more heady.

Mithun as a child was exposed to a wonderfully different upbringing. Devoid of religious affiliations and not pegged within regional belongings, we grew together as mother and son,  attempting to find new pathways to define our personal politics with a twenty year age difference bridging our respective journeys. A staunchly feminist mother with a growing little boy with bulging muscles….yet both with heart beats that held a similar rhythm for all that mattered the most.

It was always the small things in life from where bigger lessons were learnt. To hold value for the privilege of birth and education and understanding the  need to know how vital legacies are to uphold and carry forth, is perhaps the litmus test that showcases perceptions that offer deciphering of greater meaning. And to know that each day we need to learn in humility that the universe which contains us is vast and holds lessons for us to comprehend.

Mithun will have to stand taller everyday of little Mehran's life hence forth. I knew that if I had to be able to truly love Mithun then I could never cut corners on any areas of accountability for the unseen or the observed in my life for as long as I live. It is a taxing way to live ones life but one which is hugely rewarding. Today as Mithun looks deep into Mehran's tiny ink black eyes that look up at him with trust and belonging as he holds him close, he will do what I did thirty-five years ago,  without stopping to question the consequences. He will pledge his whole life to this tiny little being who however grown up he gets will always remain Mithun's little Mehran to be loved and protected and nurtured forever, fiercely and passionately. 

Happy Birthday Bebo!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Grand Disaster!

There are some decisions you make which you wish you hadn't .....and seeing Grand Masti was one of them! With time on my hands and nothing to do I decided to catch a movie....and because of the suitability of the timing and having heard that it was shot in Baroda, my city, I bought my pop corn and a bottle of water and settled into my seat believing I would be seeing a slap stick comedy...

Well instead what hit the screen in techni-color was a soft porn film that looked like it had been dredged  out of the era of the 60's with its dated feel about it. With cheap innuendos that scripted the entire film and heaving bosoms, I watched in horror as Vivek Oberoi transformed from being an actor of such potential in his early film debuts into this fat obnoxious caricature of a buffoon who contributed his terrible non acting skills to make this debacle passing off as a cinematic offering.

Perhaps what really disturbed me was that Samarjit Gaekwad allowed for the Laxshminivas Palace of Baroda to be used as the central location of this crude and atrocious film. The city of Baroda is so proud of its heritage and most specially of the educational legacy that the Gaekwad's vision gifted to a nation. And then we have (for the commerce of it all!) the Baroda Palace rented out to be used as  (and please don't miss the irony of it!) a college,  referred to as the SLUT university! Call me overly sensitive but this just made me so very sad. What a come down to the prestige of the legendary Gaekwad state. 

If comedy is about sheer vulgarity than this director certainly made a successful film. A film that debases women and further steers the ideas of sexuality down the road of lust and depravity is certainly what we need as "entertainment"in this age of sexual violence and rape that we are confronting. We have the urban woman portrayed in figure hugging/revealing/boobs pooping out of attire,  and with give-me-sex stamped all over their pretty pouts ( because thats all the mouths do!). So wow!  This is indeed the great maturity of Indian cinema that packages modernity as promiscuity and we are all expected to just all line up and laugh! Wow again!

But the most bizarre aspect of it all was to see the three male lead actors whom I would have imagined desiring to aspire to standards of greater achievement as individuals in cinema, selling  their crotches for a quick buck....Wow for the umpteenth time.....what a come down indeed.....excuse the (h)corny pun!

Monday, 30 September 2013

My nomination for the Oscar is The Lunch box!

I too had hoped that The Lunch Box would be our foreign film Oscar entry. I have not seen the film that has been nominated instead to be the Indian entry (and am sure it must be a good film too), but I continue to wish that the jury had decided upon this precious film. At a time when epic sagas and special effect extravaganzas are what entice an audience into the cinema, it came as a breath of fresh air to encounter a cinematic experience that held such nuanced subtlety and offered the message of hope so brilliantly.

The measured acting of the three main protagonists - Irfan Khan,  Nawazuddin Siddiqui  and Nimrat Kaur is what holds this tender story together and what makes it poetically poignant without it becoming cloyingly sweet. For me perhaps it is the acting of Nimrat Kaur that is the real stellar performance out of the lot. The quiet inflictions that this mature actor gives to the story line injects the credibility that elevates this film into being truly superlative.

Perhaps my only critique would be the initial "wobbliness"of the camera shots that are meant perhaps to be like darting eyes that take you from one part of the scene to the other. Thankfully as the film progresses this settles and the visual flow becomes conducive to the narrative that unfolds so effortlessly.

In the recent context of Indian cinema where many hopefuls wait for their dream moment in the arc lights of filmdom, these three actors are great examples of those who held personal ambitions and yet waited to find their niche within the industry without compromise. The finessed portrayals of their characters speak volumes about how deeply they individually understand their craft.

So yes I'm certainly disappointed that this film was not the choice of the jury and I believe we have once again not known the value of our own talent and how impressive this film actually is.

For those of you who have not seen this film its an absolute MUST see! And I am waiting for the release of it  as a DVD because I intend to send this film as a gift to all my foreign friends abroad.......

Sunday, 29 September 2013

I cringed with shame...

A close friend of mine whatsApped me today asking me to blog my views on this ordinance issue. I myself am perplexed about this entire issue; and more importantly on how a government can ignore the verdict of a court and supersede their rulings without so much as comprehending the wider implications of making it into a Parliament versus Supreme court debate.  You cannot have two types of justice systems in a country, one for the ordinary citizen and the other for the parliamentarian; because as we well know every citizen has the right to appeal.  So how can can you disbar someone and pronounce their guilt before all legal options of appeal are exhausted by them. Especially in the era of coalition politics where the number game is crucial, the entire character of governance will be drastically altered. 

But for me besides this issue of fact I am indeed more disturbed by the brash behaviour of Rahul Gandhi.   I am not what you can call a staunch nationalist or fanatic patriot....I am an Indian with great pride of my nation who however by choice is stringently critical about many things that may be swept under the carpet by other  more tolerant citizens. Yet on this occasion of the great press club scoop ALL my nationalistic hackles rose and I cringed with shame as I wanted to swat Rahul baba for his bad timing on voicing his issues on the ordinance issue. It was such a clear slap in the face to our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and that too minutes before a critical meeting in the United States with Barack Obama. With the current scenario of India no longer being the destination of such interest for business, we are certainly painting ourselves into a corner. And having this type of dirty linen washed in public to embarrass our prime minister when he is visiting abroad on official business is unpardonable. 

You bet your ass that the opposition is going to have a field day with this.... of course they will! And no snivelly "I respect your leadership" damage control letter can undo this insult. The problem I also face is the arrogance of the young man who does not believe that communication is relevant. He is a terrible orator to say the least and always appears uncomfortable in front of a microphone. He abruptly says things trying to always sound efficient, and then rudely walks away from any engagement with real questions. He therefore appears more a mouth piece for others than the leader he is trying to insist he is. So now that the cat is out of the bag that Sheila Dixit Aunty was the voice behind it all persuading Rahul baba to shadow box for her.....well so  much for the man at the helm of the ship concept!

I find increasingly a blatant rudeness amongst the youth of India towards their elders where you can observe thin veneers of superficial etiquette that hide the truth of brash insolence. Rahul Gandhi has unfortunately crossed a line that many find unimpressive. Do we desire for the young man to evolve into an independent statesman with views that will certainly hold dissent from his elders? Most certainly....but then there is a finesse and informed manner to do this. I'm sure his intention was not to come across as a spoilt child but that's exactly what he looked like. 

No astute politician comes out and makes sweeping statements against his government without a well structured analytical explanation to support the conviction of their belief. So do your homework baba and don't take me as your voter for granted. Hissy fits and petulant one liners are for little boys. Wear the mantle of your legacy with more wisdom please.

*Photocredit: Mallikarjun Katakol

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The gift of life....

A long absence from writing my blog....not a deliberate intention but unfortunately just time getting allotted elsewhere with a fair share of travel thrown in.  The most important news of course is the birth of our grandson Mehran. A Persian name chosen by his parents that means kindness, the baby is the spitting image of Mithun at the same age only with a mop of dark velvet black hair! The parents are complete pro's in the Mummy- Daddy department and so the cozy three some roost with great peace in their haven at Palm court Mumbai. The proud grandparents have the delight of being in charge of the  adoration department, which is not a department that we intend to give over to any one else in our life time! Little Mehran of course tolerates us all with the wisdom that all infants posses, allowing the family to be the complete circus that takes care of every whim and fancy from his button nose to those legendary tippy-toes as he feeds and sleeps the clock away!

I am of course transported back to my own experience of early motherhood thirty-five years ago. Mithun was born on the 2nd of November 1978. I was offered the option of having him on my birthday and chose instead to have him on my fathers birthday. I had induced labour that began in the morning at 7.30 and Mithun was born just before midnight! That first night alone with him in the crib that seemed too small for him, were  memorable  moments.

Little Mehran has been born into a space of great love, to parents who have waited with every passing day of the nine month pregnancy with such anticipation for him to be part of their lives. Swaddled up he lies as a complete bundle of cuteness as we watch his every move and take countless photographs and videos of the little mite....

Our lives can never be the same again. Love does that. It holds our  conscience to an accountability of caring and nurturing; and the legacies of life, distilled from all corners of the world, get harnessed to provide the wisdom and teachings that will shape this tiny baby with the necessary faith, hope and  optimism to be the best that he can be.

Little are a special gift of life!

A special moment to cherish...

We are so proud to announce

the birth of our grandson


who was born to us on the

20th of September 2013

at 8.57 am....

Monday, 15 July 2013

My opinion for what it counts for.....

Ok picture me with Brian Adam's summer of 69 blaring in my car as I  drive negotiating Baroda traffic with rain pelting down, all dressed up in a sari - bindi, shindi, churries and a female version of Mad Max  out on the town........ 

OK I must come through as either quite mad or totally sad....! However even sadder than my nostalgic music taste combined with my masala bling dressing up was the three hour ordeal of watching Bhag Milka Singh Bhag! Alright I am not trying to change my profession to become a movie critic  though it is quite tempting when I see Anupama Chopra with all the holly wood hotties that I would die to chuck under their stubbly chins,  but honestly I just cannot keep a lid on this streeeeetccccchhhhheeed out movie ....!

At the outset I will say that I was really delighted that our Flying Sikh's story is being immortalised in celluloid, and I was absolutely wowed by Farhan Akhtar's commitment to get his body into the genuineness of shape of  an athletes.....kudos to that....

The real star of the film was the little boy who plays the young Milka Singh. What a brilliant portal with such confidence and utter credibility. The best scene of all the end when Milka Singh takes the lap of victory and his younger self runs along side him. The young boys face radiates such a light and poetry that it takes your breath away. 

But now comes the "why for" section.....

The narrative had all the potential of being a brilliantly compelling story if only the script writer had been of the standard to comprehend what nuanced story telling requires. You were held to a boring literalness of fact and incidents that left no scope for the understated as everything was over elaborated and long drown out,  setting your teeth on edge. Three hours....what on earth were the makers of this film thinking of in subjecting viewers to this ordeal.

And who cast missy Sonan Kapoor? She was just TERRIBLE. Caked with make-up and with a costume designer who apparently did not do any research of consequence, she became a source of irritation every time she appeared on the screen with her one dimensional acting. Farhan who is normally an actor I enjoy watching somehow fell terribly short in this film, making the "punjabi" character more a popular type-cast image of what sardars are perceived to be. Also the insistence to play back the horrors of partition in the manner of repeated flash backs to the same incident did little to serve the film with poignancy that such facts of history hold. 

I continued through out the film to feel as though the script writer and the director feared terribly that we would miss the point of the film, and therefore like in a class room with toddlers I was being inflicted upon the insistence to be emphatically told something till it got drilled into my head! No doubt the gentleman upon whom the film was being made must have had countless anecdotes and personal stories to recount....but film making must employ techniques that do beyond merely stringing a life-story together ......

If you've had a fight with someone and need to cool down for a few hours then do go and watch this film......otherwise give it a miss.

On the other hand Kai po che which I watched on DVD at home yesterday is a very well structured film and a must watch. So if you've missed it like I did when it was just released and in the cinemas, I urge you to buy a DVD and tuck your feet up for some great acting. Once again the young actor who plays the part of Ali the budding cricketer was superb....

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The bigger plan of life...

You are more likely to succeed if you know your strengths and weakness, your place in society and your worth to others.

Feng Menglong

Planning is essential to the landscaping of ones life. This is the most important canon of all if wisdom and maturity is to be developed, and where informed knowledge provides us the ability to accept the responsibilities we need to in life.

Old age is a terribly shunned subject and old people are often relegated to having to fend for themselves in their old age because their offsprings or immediate family have not factored their dependency needs into their lives. However old age escapes no one unless via the tragedy of an early untimely death, and so therefore it is unfortunate that people are almost always uncomfortable with this subject. Living life in the moment alone has consequences that can be very hard to overcome when the energies of youth desert us. Therefore I firmly believe that comprehending the realities of aging, as an evolving process of life,  becomes the keystone to a safe future for every individual.

Addressing what we require to offer as appropriate governance to the geriatric years of our lives necessitates that each of us structure and plan the life that we desire to live with considered deliberation, especially if we choose to remain active in our careers or professions unless hampered by dementia.  Therefore it becomes paramount to have secure support systems in place, way ahead of time, that respect and nurture these formulated plans; and which are dependable and a surety for one to bank on. 

Being solely responsible for my parent’s wellbeing since my twenties, I have witnessed first hand the flaws of senior citizens who avoid planning for their old age. My parents were sensitive about the issue of aging and hid the truth of the inevitable behind the closed doors of their emotional sensitivity towards the subject. They had an unrealistic assumption that they would be able to remain independent of aided living assistance and believed they would not require monitored attention from me for their needs.  And so it fell to me to create a system of care-giving when the time occurred and it was only because of my mulish anticipation that I was able to adapt immediately to the requirement of the time. Communication is therefore a must as it creates the necessary synergies of bonding with learning experiences that benefit everyone if a tapestry of understanding is woven within a family.

Turning 50 four years ago I have begun to address this issue for my own future as a senior citizen. It has been interesting to view the varying reactions I have received from both family and friends regarding my insistence to not fight shy of expressing my views and anxieties about my future. Planning the modalities of my life two decades from now is essential if I am to preserve the productivity of my energies in my old age. If I don’t I will become an encumbrance to my loved ones which my pride and arrogance will not permit.  Friends and family who have family members who are aging find this communication of immense value as it provides a common space to examine how to approach the changes that aging ruthlessly brings with it. Also in India there are no longer the privileges of a domestic labor force that previously stepped in to look after the aged in the absence of the family. 

Today there are aided living spaces available in India. However they cater more for the rich Indian and the NRI’s. A time will come when this facility will become more reasonably priced with the acute demand that I foresee us as a nation requiring. Our youth today do not always prescribe to the traditions of the joint family and so the Indian nuclear family will shortly find itself out on a limb in matters of familial coexistence. Perhaps the concept of the commune may need to be revisited as a viable option of interdependence. Ideas of friends buying properties together in gated communities, or collective living becoming the alternative to the joint family are ideas that must be built upon today to meet with the reality of the coming generations aging and having not to compromise on their own options of fulfillment.

At the end of the day the cycle of life must be nurtured till the end, where the elderly are embraced by dignity and grace, and above all supported by love and consideration at all times. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Read the writing on the wall...

Flash floods....destruction....and the ineptness of disaster management by the civic authorities makes for tragic consequences. Pilgrim sites are always vulnerable areas with the overload of visitors which as a result become potential venues of tragedy when natural calamities occur. However India never learns  it's lesson. The political tug of wars which always arise  dissipates any possibilities of change or  implementation of new policies becoming a reality. Across party lines politicians  will always seek to stall any and all attempts at better governance,  because the bottom line is that no one ever keeps the welfare of the nation as the real focus when becoming  elected representatives in government posts. We as citizens are left with numerous "battle grounds"  that have no victory to record as all issues are played out to the tunes of vote bank politics. No stand is ever taken because to do so would require guts to perhaps be viewed as unpopular within some sections of an electoral base; which of course no "wise politician" will ever contemplate. 

Death in an over populated country has no meaning. We think of all situations of chaos as part of the great Indian traditions of Karma and Kismet; and so another day begins with no conscience of the wilful wrongs we contribute towards as we absolve ourselves with tokenism rhetoric. 

I wish that incognito visits across the country by influential power brokers within the central and state  governments would become part of the mandate of governance. Why are migrant labour forces compelled to live on pavements? Why is sanitation still an unattended issue in India? Would any public toilet be considered user friendly and hygienic by a politician? Are the constitutional norms for education truly the birthright of all in reality? Why are roads  never well laid? Why is town and urban planning so shoddy? Why is corruption so obviously rampant and yet never addressed ? The list of "Whys" are long, but the issue here is really to point out that accountability seems to slip through every ones fingers conveniently.  Finally there is always the protection of the power brokers amongst themselves that will cover up the wrong doings as well as  manipulate all systems to exonerate themselves. I think the recent BCCI and IPL cricket tamasha  clearly showed how the powerful protect themselves because the code is never to "snitch" on the sacred brotherhood of power ever!

Today the BJP divisions are a paradox of their own mismanagement. When the Gujarat riots occurred the courage to book the leadership under whom the atrocities towards a minority community occurred never happened. Instead L.K Advani lauded praise on his colleague. Today this same colleague has displaced him, as Advani attempts to caution his party from following this same leadership he once stood up for. If you can figure the logic of this, good for you; because for me I am truly stumped by it all. It is so ludicrous that the polity of India is so two faced in all that it does and still believes it can face the nation and ask for its trust through an election mandate.

Yes I'm naive. I want a better India. From every aspect....I want a functioning political system that understands the responsibility of nation building through wise and effective governance. I want a visually beautiful India that blends it's history with it's contemporaneity from an understanding of ecological and social accuracy. Where democratic  methods of planning habitation affords dignity and up-liftment where genuinely required. I want traffic rules to quell the chaos of city life and development to be where financial accountability is transparent. I want gender equality to represent itself not in tokenism but in programs that can punish offenders to crimes such as female infanticide and acid attacks and dowry deaths. I want the farmer to know that his or her plight of a failed crop will not be ignored and that subsidiaries and waivers of loans can be offered to them rather than suicide becoming their only option.

Let us clean up the debris that is strewn around us both literally as well as metaphorically. I remember my friend Pablo giving me a T. Shirt with the Indian flag on it,  many years ago,  just before I boarded a plane to go abroad. I loved wearing it and then later my son Mithun sort of inherited it,  and wore it till it was tread bare. We all hold a national pride and want to flaunt it. But for heavens sakes we need to have things to feel proud about. The way India is sweeping its faults under the carpet is only indicative of the rot of apathy that has set in. How about some proud Indians demanding that wrongs can be about our political service working for us....