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What a memory!

Life’s changes come in all shapes and sizes. Change could be simply organising your cupboards, changing the layout of your living room or change in your career, moving away from home and so on. These are all the changes we go through consciously and with lot of thoughts put in. However as one grows older, change in viewpoint/likings comes silently and you do not realize until confronted on the subject.

I experienced this firsthand few days ago when I decided to show my kids blockbuster movie of the times when I was younger. My kids are big time fans of BTS (the biggest boy band of the world). While they keep listening to their music all the time, my TV time was reduced mostly to Kpop as they hardly let me touch the remote. So this was a good excuse to take control in my hand and reminisce my old times.

Amongst the available options of movies on digital platform , we chose “Raja Hindustani”. I remember the songs of this movie were a rage. There was not a single bus, taxi or restaurants where ‘Pardesi Pardesi’ song was not blaring. The cinemas were house full and Karishma Kapoor was highly praised for her straight hair look and pairing opposite Amir Khan. We had to wait a whole week to finally get tickets and we were quite thrilled to watch it in hall jam packed with people whistling. For me at that time, Raja Hindustani was a paisa wasool movie.

Cut to the present….the movie starts and we see that pretty & rich damsel Karishma along with her two servants/confidants visits Palankhet (an imaginary town) and comes across an illiterate Taxi driver. His antics impress her and she eventually falls for him head over heals. Believe me people, the movie is so cringeworthy in first half that I was afraid to turn my face towards my kids who were equally disgusted. A full grown woman talking and acting like a child was just not at all attractive. Even my eleven year old is more matured than her. There is a scene where Amir khan tries to impress her by putting face powder in abundance and dance and sing….she laughs and he feels humiliated. Obviously one would laugh if you act like joker. But no, in this movie, Karishma kapoor goes and says sorry and they share a passionate kiss. She comes back home all hyped up and bumps into her father who has come to take her back. Ladies and gentleman, she chooses to leave. Okay, fair enough, after all summer flings do happen. Highlight is that this taxi driver only goes to drop them at the airport. No communication between the pair as to why…how ..now what…nothing.

They stop at a midway sort of place where some people are singing and dancing. Here comes our much anticipated song “Pardesi Pardesi jana nahi”. A beautiful girl starts singing and dancing passionately. Clearly dance isn’t her forte. Nonetheless, she sings exactly what the hero wants to convey at this point in time in the movie. Our hero starts singing too and going by the lyrics, he literally curses the heroine that she wont be able to sleep if she goes and will suffer a lot. Another lady with make up from hell, gets up drinks half a litre of alcohol, breaks the bottle and starts dancing absurdly.

The situation is tensed and supremely weird. Hero is sobbing and so is heroine with her goggles on, bottles are breaking and the father of the heroine has no clue whatsoever. He smiles occasionally.

Now I don’t know whether the curses shook the heroine or it was just that ridiculous dance which forces her to go and give our hero a tight hug and put a stop to this madness. At this point the father’s expressions are priceless. The song is finally over and along with it our desire to watch the movie any further.

Experience the song here yourself 😊 : https://youtu.be/i9lB-am_hyY

Little did I sensed that my memory was about an experience and not a movie per se. If this movie was to be released now, it would have met the same fate of Radhe. With time my likings and interests have changed too. Still, I will keep this song in my happy memories. The melody is no doubt super. I feel nostalgic listening to old songs, but my taste has changed surely. Me and my kids had a hearty laugh talking about the movie and proceeded to watch new release of a kpop group.


Continue reading “What a memory!”

Achcha Bachcha

Much has been written about Sushant Singh Rajput’s unfortunate death. Every day a new sensational piece of information is added to the already confounding situation. Each day a revelation and yet inconclusive. Everyone is just speculating.

My heart goes out to his family. Neither they were quite informed about his life when he was alive, nor do they have any clue about his death. There was a tweet where someone said that he was burdened with being a son of a toxic Bihari family. While I strongly oppose the tweet, there is a contestable point for why I wanted to write my pov about it.

While the kids are provided with all kinds of luxuries, the comfort of expressing themselves freely is rarely extended. Kids are taught to be accepting in nature and questioning is hardly entertained. We have always been told to not to talk back to elders. Not even when one has a valid point. The term ‘healthy debate’ is practically non existent. The kids who follow this are labeled as ‘Achha Baccha’ and as a result poor kid tries to manage this label whole life. They continue on the ‘please everyone’ phase in their adult life as well. The frustration builds up in that person as he/she tries to live upto his/her image. I know so many people who are extremely well behaved with everyone but are super angry person in the closet.

There is nothing wise in celebrating parental autocracy. Look at our movies, they reinforce similar ideas. Please read this famous dialogue of the blockbuster Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham…”Mata pita ki aagya ka palan karna hamara dharm hai“. I am sorry if this is right than we will raise robots only and not a human being. The boy who was told to be “good” and study hard for engineering might never give himself the option of ever pursuing a career in arts. The little girl who was taught never to question, could end up in an abusive marriage and not have the courage to speak up or argue because all through her childhood she was made to believe that good girls keep people around them happy. If we need women to break out of the exhausting idea of selflessness, then pressuring them to “be a good girl” is exactly the sort of thing that needs to stop.

The onus is on us parents and guardians to go beyond focusing on their milestones of growth and development. We should ideally raise them to be as emotionally capable as intelligent, if not more. Allow your kids the opportunity and luxury of an argument; let them challenge a perspective before you diss them for not being a ‘achcha bachcha’. I sincerely feel that communication is the key to any successful relationship; be it with your parents, kids or partner. And NO, “aaj kya khaya”, “kya banaya” does not recompense the gap. There is much more than just inquiring whether you have eaten or not for an effective communication. Ask them how they feel, how their day had gone. Participate in their emotions. Do not listen with an intent to reply, listen with an intent to understand the emotion behind their words. Tell them about your experience through the day.

A heart to heart talk can alleviate a depressed mood and leave a heart warm enough to face any problems, small or big.

Grown ups or just Older?

Not so long ago, we all were watching a hollywood super hero movie, a largely safe bet for family viewing. As the climax drew closer, the leading man and his damsel in distress got a little too close for our desi family’s comfort. There was uncomfortable shifting on the sofa. The tension in the room weighed heavy and the kids hardly knew where to look.

I frantically started searching for the remote. The stakes of what was about to appear on screen were much higher than whatever universe-threatening evil force the hero was fighting against! The lovebirds passionately started moving towards each other. I hit the remote button just in time. The screen changed to Patanjali advertisement; Swasthya twacha ke liye gaai ke shuddh doodh se bani cold cream. The channel gets changed again after couple of minutes and the movie skips forward to the fighting once more. Another day our kids did not have to watch two grown-ups kiss on screen.

Indian parents are some of the most vigilant gatekeepers of objectionable content in the world. They can shout at each other in front of their kids and scar them for entire life but would never allow them to watch remotely adult content or any sort of PDA (public display of affection) on TV or talk about it. 90 per cent of kids have seen their parents holding hands only when daddy’s down two pegs at some random wedding dancing to “Ae meri Zohra Zabin”. Most parents see no reason to allow the child to understand the matured content in safe environment, which is their house, as it brings unnecessary awkwardness. I mean, why have ‘The talk’ when you can ignore until your kids grow old enough to figure it out themselves.

Needless to say, we have all grown up in shuddh desi houses where TV watching was a ritual with remote-control, the weapon of defence, in Dad’s hands. Anything remotely adult, change the channel…handled…done!!

Ever wondered why Indian TV shows are mostly about Bahu becoming Makkhi or a Saas turning out to be Zehreeli Nagin. It’s not that there is dearth of creativity in our country. The real reason behind it is this awkwardness between parents and kids. Demand and supply you see. Even the TV serial producers don’t want to mess with the great Indian family time. Forget about kids, even the parents don’t get to see what they are legally allowed! In India, from teenagers to 35 yrs old single men and women living with their parents are referred to as kids for some reason. So these ‘kids’ find other avenues for all the information and poor parents at the max comment on Facebook post, “Comment me 6 type kare aur kamaal dekhe!!”

Thanks to Netflix and other internet based services, things have changed in last couple of years. Our parameters of indecent, immoral and the general sense of hawwness have evolved significantly. Bollywood also has stopped shying away from on-screen kisses, and intimate scenes and bold dialogues have made their way into mainstream cinema, becoming more than just a cheap prop to promote B-grade movies.With flexible timings and multiple viewing facilities, we can watch what we want without getting judged.

Children should be protected, but not made to live in an alternate reality that leaves them unprepared to have a healthy, adult life in the actual one. Streaming has changed the way we consume entertainment. Before the internet, entertainment time meant television time, which necessarily meant family time. But that’s not the case anymore. If there are four people in my family, and at any given time, all can be found in different parts of the house, watching what they want.

But yes, still I can’t sit through an intimate scene on TV with my kids or my parents in the room without itching for the remote control. This awkwardness is just too deep rooted 🙂

 

One Summer Day

Human being is fond of turning back from the present to the past again and again. Nothing is more pleasant to him than memories of his childhood. Childhood is free from worries and has infinite capacity of enjoyment. We cannot remember everything that happened in childhood, but certain events are stored in our sub-conscious mind. I grew up in independent house. We had Mango & Guava Trees in our garden. There was also a small and beautiful tree of Plumeria. Branches of this tree are not very strong; regardless of that we used to climb on it as it gave the best view of the road. It was kind of a ritual for me and my brother to sit on the out wall of our house in the afternoon. The moment mom and grand ma would go to sleep in the afternoon; me and my brother would slip out and play. We were as imaginative, inquisitive and adventurous as any other child would be at that age. There wasn’t a single person whom we didn’t find interesting enough in our colony. ‘I am bored’ was yet to be featured in our dictionary.

An old lady used to come to our house in the late afternoon to clean the utensils. We called her ‘Bai Ji’.  She was very old and her legs were inverted. She wore thick silver anklets, probably her only possession. There was a small water tank with tap and an elevated patio under the mango tree for washing purpose. My brother and I would see her wash dishes with keen interest. We were pretty sure a genie would appear one day as she scrubbed them so clean. Many times we had discussed how amazing it would be and what should be our three wishes!! She was our confidant as well as informer. One day, while cleaning the dishes, she told us that Mr Sharma, the old man from the corner house has a peculiar habit. He collects stones. “Is It?, But what would he do with the stone collection?”, my brother asked. She said, “ Lagta hai usko patthar se sona banana aata hai”. She was obviously joking. The information was not taken lightly and we took it as a mission to find out whether Mr Sharma is a ‘stone picker’ or not!

Next day, when the streets were deserted and all front doors were closed for afternoon siesta, both of us went up to his house. Undecided we stood on the front steps for a while. The door in the house was firmly shut. “He is not in”, my brother said. “Let’s cycle around the colony to catch him in action”, he decided. We peddled off on our little bicycles for a quick round. After about half an hour out in that sultry afternoon, we came back without the thrill we were looking for. Disheartened and exhausted, we told our little adventure to Bai Ji.  She smiled but kept on scouring the dishes. Suddenly there was soft thud on the road. All three of us peeped from behind the tree. Mr Sharma was on the road.  Our excitement was sky high. He had a stone in his hand and was trying to scare a cow on the street.  He kept on making sounds and scare the poor cow but would not throw the stone at it. The cow started moving and so did he. Unable to contain our curiosity, both of us followed him too. Bai Ji, despite of her short height and declining years, dangled from the wall. Mr Sharma kept on his antics till his house came. After standing there for a while, he turned towards his home. The stone was in his hands. Our little hearts were beating hundred times a minute. He was still standing facing the street. He raised his hand and threw the stone, but in his house!!

“He is a stone-picker, he is a stone-picker”, we shouted while running towards home. Bai Ji quickly ducked behind the wall.

Collecting moments

The idea of a New Year is an appealing one, that with another sunrise we are somehow in a different situation than we were the day before. Of course, tomorrow will not instantly change us. But there is no harm in hoping against all odds that the new year, if not just the next day, might bring fresh flow of laughter and an exceptionally bright future to all of us. To celebrate and welcome this New Year, we went for a three day sojourn to Ravangla, Sikkim with our close friends. Ravangla has it all – from unspoilt nature, stunning scenery, waterfalls, mountains, colorful monasteries, unique but extremely affectionate and helping people. It is still blissfully untouched.

We were staying at a beautiful ‘Home-stay’ with adorable hosts. The kids from the family played Football and Cricket with us. Many a times, while playing, the ball would roll off the cliff. These kids would talk in their language but would not expose their displeasure. Our kids had a joyful time playing around with them. One of these days, while we were at a local market, I saw my friend buying shoes which were slightly bigger than the foot size of her son. When I asked her, she said, the kids back at the hotel play barefoot or with borrowed unmatched sandals, these are for them. Honestly, I was little bewildered at my own ignorance. Probably I was too busy to see if a glove had slipped off my daughter’s hand or capturing them playing on my smartphone. She gifted two pair of shoes to these kids. The true value of the gift is the sentiment behind it. Next morning, the younger one of the two kids was all dressed up in football uniform, with new shoes! She not only gifted priceless jubilation to those kids, but also in a way endowed me a new outlook to pursue in the coming year.

On the new year’s eve, we were sitting in front of the bonfire enjoying this little getaway. These couple of days had been spent roaming around and visiting local attractions. In evening we had played cricket, after ages of having forgotten how much fun playing is. Surrounded by lush greenery, we felt energized. The night was dark. The lovely, old trees seemed ghost-like with large shadows dancing across their branches. We were chatting, laughing, reminiscing the passing year. The fire in front of us was crackling. The wood was slowly turning to ashes but was giving it all just before the life fade out of it. Staring into the glowing embers, my thoughts turn to my kids. Their habits, interests and sensibilities have changed as they are growing up. And so are we! In routine, with kids busy with studies and us in our respective works, we hardly had time to take notice of the maturity in our relations. These little getaways, undisturbed  and placid times bring you more closer to each other. There is an immense joy in watching the spontaneity and happiness that a child exhibits just looking at a star filled sky. I wanted to seize the moment of that beautiful clear cold night.The mind and heart was at rest; the soul felt satisfied. It was a perfect beginning of a new year.

The money we spend on experience is always better than money spent on stuff.  Travel can gift you magical moments and lessons that last a lifetime. Unlike last year, 2017 has plenty of long weekends. Let’s promise to use them for the things that really matter—spending quality time with friends, family, even by ourselves. Go on now, start planning!