Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bombaypolis Moments.... Part 4

"Mall ratting" is the in-thing now. The established malls are having amazing footfalls , while the newer ones are struggling to survive. The crowds throng malls, on weekends, not only for shopping, but also for window-shopping, "timepass" and live shows....

I often wonder what proportion of the foot-falls in a mall would be genuine customers? Very few, I guess. That's why stores are not able justify the cost of their existence in malls, are rentals remain high. That's why stores barely survive for about a year and then move out....

In womenswear boutiques, males always have a harrowing time while the women spend hours and hours on their "retail therapy". This photo shows a chubby kid, sitting beneath hangars of women's wear at the Biba store, visibly very bored and irritated, while his mom and sister shopped away to glory..... It was a scene I would never forget....

Little kids have a great time mall-ratting - demanding balloons, ice-creams, toys, Happy-Meals, etc. This little boy was thoroughly enjoying his Happy-Meal and Coke outside one of the malls at Goregaon. All this, while this patiently waited..... Such things are a treat to watch.
But, all this if you are lucky to get parking space for your car....

While we may have graduated to glitzy glass and chrome malls, foreign brands, designer wear, fast food chains, some of our communities remain extremely sexist, with a marked preference for the male kid. One can see such a discrimination by practised by supposedly well educated parents. I came across these interesting stickers during a recent routine medical test at a suburban laboratory recently.

Yes, pink or blue, we still love you.....

With the onset of the Monsoon, Bombay has suddenly become very pleasant and green. More on that in the next edition of Bombaypolis Moments.....

Bombaypolis Moments.... Part 3

Bombaypolis Moments is back, with the third in the series of mobile grabs.
Commuting in Bombay has always been and continues to be a pain, especially when you have to pass over large potholes on roads considered the best in the city. I have heard of people developing bad backs, women having abortions because of bumpy rides. Is the BMC listening?

Traffic jams have always been a part of life in the city. But the rains make it worse. Expects traffic snarls all through the day. Trust me, it could take you as much as 2 hours to cover a stretch of 2 kms. I have been through it.

Two traffic menaces one has to be careful about - the BEST buses, which are the bug red bullies on the road - they don't even think twice before braking hard just a few inches behind you.

And who can ignore the autorickshaws. They come out of nowhere, like swarms of bees (black and yellow), with noisy drones and get right into your path. What the hell is lane driving?

The Bandra Worli sealink is ready and to be opened shortly. But will it do any good when you are sure to expect jams at both the Bandra and Worli ends?

If you are brave enough, have strong bones and need a massage, travel by train. Its the fastest. But the uninitiated can get minced to the bone, like sardines in a can!!!!

Bandra station is never this empty, except after 11 PM. Wish train rides during the day would be as convenient as at this hour.

For those who choose to walk, another menace lurks on the streets - stray dogs. Sometimes they really get aggressive with hapless pedestrians, without any provocation. Animal lovers may not like, but the menace needs to be stopped.

And who says jams are only on the ground? Ever tried landing into Bombay airport at any hour? You are sure to find "jams" in the sky too with endless hovering..... That's what they call going around in circles!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Air Force One, Singh is King, etc. etc.

Air Force One is here. During an interview to CNBC earlier this week, Obama was pursued by a persistent fly. Obama reached out and swatted the fly. Fly swatting is fine, but what about swatting out the Taliban and the al Qaeda from their cave hideouts in Af-Pak? How the hell can he do that when he coolly lets out terror suspects from Guantanamo Bay into exotic locales like Bermuda, as The New York Times reported earlier this week? Perhaps, he thinks these guys deserve a paid vacation, right?

Our Prime Minister is truly a King. Without battling an eyelid, he told Zardari that terror from Pakistan has to stop. Finally someone from India had the guts to do it. Zardari apparently is so pissed off that he has decided to give the NAM summit a miss. That is what has to be done. The Prime Minister has again proved that Singh is indeed King..... But there will challenges ahead and best wishes to him to tackle the challenges that he would face ahead.

I was saddened by the off-colour jokes that our FM channels have been playing about Shiney Ahuja allegedly raping his servant. Whether it's true or not, I am not going to debate that. Rape is indeed an heinous crime, but till the accused has been proven guilty, he remains an accused. Who has thought of the trauma that the families of both the accused and the victim would be facing now? But the media in a grave display of insensitivity goes on and on ad-nauseum.


A lazy Sunday afternoon. Dark Monsoon clouds have come into the city. As I look, out of my window, at the dark clouds float in the sky, blocking the bright sunshine, I think of the past few years, the good and the not-so-good experiences, the sunny days and the rainy days.... and I come up with quite a few simple, yet unanswered questions....

We begin our lives with an eternal optimism, hope and excitement. Why do we lose it on the way?

We know what we want. But why do we let cynicism take over? Why do we let ourselves get anchored to the past? Why do we merely extrapolate the past?

We look to the future with hope. We hope for a bright future. But then why do we lose the present? Why do we lose the moment we live in? Why can't we approach each day as if it were to be the best day of our lives?

We meet people who pain us all the time. Yet, why do we waste time thinking of these people and forget the people who love us?

We love people. We want to be loved. Yet, why do we make the people who love us bang their heads when they try to "course-correct" us?

We look for big joys in life. But then why do we ignore the small joys that each day brings us, which are the building-blocks of the bigger joys that we look forward to?

We desire great careers, successful jobs and professional success. But do we ever think of remembering those who made us reach where we are today? Do we ever think of giving back to our "support-system" that breathes life into us?


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Movies to die for....

And who can do without movies?

These are some of my favorite movies that I can see over and over again without ever getting sick and tired of them are:
The Ten Commandments: A wonderfully picturized Biblical tale of what today's managers would term as 'Strategic Intent', of how Moses led his people out of slavery to the proverbial land of milk and honey. Jerry Macguire: The story of Jerry (Tom Cruise) who stood up for what he thought was just, took a stand and engineered success through a 'soft-approach'. The most memorable scene in the movie was when Jerry tells Rod Tidwell to play from his heart and not his head. And who can forget the amusing Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki) saying "D'you know that my next door neighbor has three rabbits?"Cast Away: A guide on how to survive when the chips are down! What use is the beauty of the uninhabited South Pacific island to Chuck, without his companion. But he keeps his spirit alive, finds his companion in Wilson and sees his way through to civilization. Forrest Gump: The travelogue of Forrest leads us through the war in Vietnam, anti-war demonstrations at Washington, ping-pong in Beijing and lots more. And Forrest's simplicity and southern drawl makes the flick a must watch. My favorite dialogue here is the way Forrest describes his childhood sweetheart - "Me and Jenny was like peas and carrots!" Ben-Hur: And miracles do happen, and time is great leveller - this is what Judah Ben-Hur's story has to say. To pick a dialog from the flick - "You may conquer the land, you may slaughter the people. That is not the end. We will rise again." is some attitude one should live by.
You've Got Mail: A delightful romantic comedy is a real treat to watch after a hard day's work, especially Kathleen Kelly or Meg Ryan's child-like banter. Ghost: There are some things that transcend the recurring cycles of time, of life and death, for some inexplicable reason, which is better left unexplained. There lies the beauty of it all. The magic of Whoopi's acting was amazing but the clincher is the scene of Sam (Swayze) and Molly (Demi) on the potter's wheel, with the Unchained Melody playing. When I see this movie, I am reminded of my blog, Zindagi Ke Saath Bhi, Zindagi Ke Baad Bhi!

Surely, these are movies to die for....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Old Wine, New Bottle...

I have never been a fan of Obama.
My status messages on Facebook during the US elections, a couple of months where I had expressed my concerns on Obama and his policies attracted a lot of attention, and of course angry criticism from friends.
I had often argued, with these people that Obama is too much of an idealist. He seems to to be far detached from reality. He is undoubtedly a great orator, but there's more it than making good speeches.
He started off by projecting that America under him will be different for the rest of the world. but he's falling into a trap that the United States has been falling into for the last 2-3 odd decades. Pakistan continues to blackmail and coax the United States in funding their nefarious and sinister activities.
Obama started off on a "moral" high-ground by wowing to shut down Guantamano Bay, or Gitmo as it is often called, where suspected 9/11 detainees and other hard-core Islamic terrorists had been held. If hard-core terrorists are to be released, isn't the United States shooting itself in the foot? It was also reported that a released Gitmo detainee found his way back to Pakistan, preaching militant Jihad.
Obama also proposed to shift these detainees to high security prisons within the United States which led to a virulent reaction within the country. Quite a few states refused to accept these detainees. There was nasty debate within the political system, between Dick Cheney on the Republican side and the democrats on the other.
And now, in an article titled "Palau to Take Chinese Guantánamo Detainees", The New York Times reports that a Pacific island archipelago nation, Palau has agreed to accept the Gitmo detainees. Who is going to guarantee the security of these prisons? Does Palau have the wherewithal to do that? What prevents al-Qaeda from getting these detainees freed? If that happens, who'll suffer?
The obvious answer is the United States.
Obama has long advocated transparency in methods adopted to deal with terror suspects. He declassified CIA documents but then turned around and refused release photographic evidence of abuse. So much for transparency, Obama has also been called President Flip-Flop by, again, The New York Times. Other examples of his flip-flop on gay rights, abortion, etc. have also been well documented.

Obama reached out to Iran, in a speech on Navroze. Obama reached out to the Muslim world in Cairo a few days ago. But he has to understand that symbolism of beginning speeches with Asalaam Waleikum and talking of his Muslim heritage is not good enough. He has to understand that well-researched speeches are not good enough. He has to understand Hot-Dog Diplomacy is not enough.
Obama needs to go high on substance. He needs to go high on action. He needs to separate the wheat from the chaff in Muslim world. he needs to know whom to back in the military world. Is he doing a great job by backing despots in Pakistan, Iraq, etc.?

North Korea tested a nuclear warhead a few days back. That was met by muted, whimper of reaction from the United States. Why? Wasn't Obama supposed to take a stand from a morally high ground? The answer is simple. A reaction against North Korea would have invited a swift and brutal reaction from the Chinese. Wasn't Obama scared of that?
Obama's weaknesses and abilities have been very well understood by the Americans in general. No wonder, the Wall Street Journal has been talking of Obama's plummeting popularity ratings, which is regarded as measure of the Administration's success.
As far as India is concerned, Obama is yet to find the true co-ordinates. By the time, he figures out what India is, a good 2-3 years of Administration would have gone by. By then, Obama would have lost considerable leverage in India.
Obama promised America, and the world, a whiff of fresh air, but sadly, what we've got is stale Old Wine in a New Bottle...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bombaypolis Moments.... Part 2

Bombaypolis Moments back now with the second series 0f mobile grabs......

MMRDA wants you to drive safely along the Western Express Highway, but who thinks of repairing the potholes that are as wide as cars, that can be fatal?
A sample flat from a reputed builder looks so attractive. Even if one manages to buy one of such over-priced properties, one is always left with a thought - "Will I get what I am promised?"

A dozing security guard in a residential building. Does that inspire any confidence?

We may be largest English speaking nation in the world, but surely, we need a crash course in English!!!!

A homely, sleepy and green lane in Bandra, off Linking Road. Reminds me of good ol' South Delhi

Bombay is amazing in the rain, especially, if you get to drive from Haji Ali to Worli....

And not to forget, a late night drive along the Queen's Necklace....

This brightly lit advertisement looked amazing against the backdrop of the night skyline, along Lokhandwala's New Link Road.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bombaypolis Moments....

A series of photos, spontaneous mobile grabs, collected over my past few years in Bombay....

The centre of gravity of the city is shifting from traditional business areas like Nariman Point, to newer areas like Bandra Kurla Complex and Andheri Kurla Road. Bandra Kurla Complex, though swanky, lacks the culture and warmth of town!

Not only does Bandra Kurla Complex suffers from a lack of "culture", it looks like a dusty dump, with swanky outcrops, that seem totally out of place.... That's much unlike town, which does have a reasonable green cover, like the evocative banyan tree at the junction of J. Tata Road and H.T. Parekh Marg, at Churchgate.....

But why complain? I am told Andheri-Kurla Road is worse... it's chaotic, crazy, noisy, dusty, you name it, it's all there....

While the commuting lifeline remains the train, some of us are brave enough to drive long swanky cars to work. I guess that would be something like a slow suicide, the traffic kills you....

But commuting by autorickshaws has its interesting moments. Not only do you have to struggle to get an auto to take you from point to point, you also run the risk of getting a bad back as the autos race over the famed crater-ridden roads, which our holier-than-thou BMC would care to repair.

But when you come across graffiti like this on autos, you forget the trouble and laugh it out... But I wonder if the autowallah doesn't want to be kissed or is he warning other drivers to be careful and mot "kiss" his auto?

I once came across an interesting taxi driver, who was playing a crossword while the cab had stopped on a traffic signal. That was real inspiring...

Having India's busiest airport, the CSI Airport is an excellent place for airliner-spotting. Besides the biggies operating out of CSI Airport, one also gets to spot exciting carriers from exotic places like Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, etc. etc.

CSI airport rarely sleeps, but with a slowdown, fewer Indians are taking to the , one is getting to see lesser and lesser crowds at the airport. Sights like this have become common now.....

Landing into CSI Airport has always been an interesting experience. The sight of the mighty Western Ghats is amazing, like this shot. This looks even better in the Monsoons, with a carpet of green covering the mountains. But this heavenly sight soon gives way to the repelling squalor of the slums. While the world-over and closer home, in Delhi, the political focus is on beautification of cities, in Bombay, the elected leaders thrive on slums.

Talking of food, Bombay has quite a few decent options for exotic fare, but does anything match up with a sinful Vada-Pav? Guess not...

Being on the coast, gives an additional dimension to the skyline of the city. The beauty of Marine Drive at night is matchless. Similarly, nothing beats the sunset at the beach...

I hope to continue this blog in the near future with interesting pictures and anecdotes from this city - the metropolis of Bombay, Bombaypolis.....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Life is like a game of Sudoku

One of the memorable dialogues that the Tom Hanks movie Forrest Gump had was "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
That's true.
But my take is slightly different.
Life is like a game of Sudoku.
The game is slow, consumes a lot of patience and gets frustrating at times.
But winning the game requires the energy to go on.
At times, one finds stuck - not being able to figure which digit is to be placed in a box, stalling all progress on the game.
And then the breakthrough come out of nowhere..... that comes alongwith a rush of adrenalin. And you are set to complete the game.
That's precisely what life is, we've got to go on.... unless we go on, we will not get anything out of life....

Monday, June 1, 2009

"You Complete Me!!!"

A few days back, I received this interesting or rather somewhat funny message from Neeti, which said:

Need cheering up?
Watch your wedding video backwards.
You'll love the bit where you the take the ring of, garland off, walk
backwards, jump back in the car and drive home.....

Interesting, but untrue for me at least.

There surely are moments in relationships that majorly test the patience, but nothing beats the joy of being together. I totally agree with what someone once said - Marriage is the only war where both sides go to the bed together!!!

A spouse is really there to complete you – remember the scene from the 1996 Oscar winning movie, Jerry Macguire, where Tom Cruise and Renée Zellweger join a deaf and dumb couple in an elevator. They deaf and dumb boy says "You complete me" to the girl in sign language!

While the wars do go on, while the egos do takeover sometime, only Neeti can bring true cheer to me.... "You Complete Me!!!"
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