Thursday, 27 April 2017

Dooor ki Darshan - Kahaan gaye woh din!!!

Dooor ki Darshan - Kahaan gaye woh din!!!

Hi Folks!
Long time...

Happened to stumble upon some TV serials of yore... the Golden Days of Doordarshan...

What fun it used to be!
I was so excited that I ended up watching a handful of episodes back to back of the famous serial "Nukkad"

So many characters set in a simple setting of a Nukkad - it brought alive the unassuming street corners of any big city, which any of us could relate to.

Characters, so down to earth, their life, turmoils, small happiness, their livelihood... The sharing, caring... The festivals and calamities...
I got so engrossed watching and reliving those times... so nostalgic!

One of the main character 'Guru' ( Dilip Dhavan) unfortunately he is not among us today... It's sad... A good actor he was, indeed, and of course with a joyful pleasant voice.

'Kopdi' Sameer Kakkar is for TV, what Keshto Mukherji was to movies, when it comes to personifying a drunkard on screen. Sameer lived his role, I should say, that it impressed Kamalhaasan so much so, that he cast him in his silent movie ‘Pushpak’ as a millionaire drunkard around whom the story is wound.

Pavan Malhotra - who can forget this young lanky lad with his puppy love for Madhu – daughter of sethji. He soon graduated as a Juggler in “Circus” serial.
He has grown thru the ages, his acting getting better… Whether it is Bhaag Milka Bhaag or Jab we met, he excels even in his cameo roles.

The silent love between Maria teacher (Rama Vij) and Guru, the puppy love of Hari and Madhu, the one sided love of Radha (Sangeeta) on Hari…
What a bunch of characters – beggar to sweeper, paanwala to chaiwala, cycle repair to electrical repairs, kirana store to jewellery store, policewala to neta, unemployed to unpad...
Simple episode lines, simple characters…

It’s success was inspiring enough for many such serials to follow…
Manoranjan – life about movie world
Intezar – life around a small town railway station
Circus – life around the circus world
Fauji – life and travails of army men

How exciting it was to watch ‘Yeh jo zindagi’ … We miss you Shafi ji.
Swaroop Sampat, Satish Shah, Ramesh and many more fun filled characters.

‘Wagle ki duniya’ – who could forget Anjan Srivastav ji’ who was famous for calling out to his wife Bharati Acrekar “Radhikaaa”

Not to miss ‘Humlog’ and ‘Buniyaad’.

I should say I learnt more about Indian history from ‘Bharat ek Khoj’ than my history classes.

When it was just Doordarshan we enjoyed more, we learnt more, excitement and looking forward for those few hours of quality entertainment was more.

We have 200 channels of 24 hours service, alas!
I find myself just surfing thru’ half the time… if not, I find myself watching a movie or old serial on Youtube or new ones on Netflix/Amazon Prime.

What’s gone wrong with today’s crop of so called serials, mega thodar, mega serial… It’s grown leaps and bounds in number size and length… but quality???

What are we teaching/showing our kids?

Mothers and Mothers in law in flashy clothes gawdy makeup and big Bindhis plotting against bahus…(No offense meant, whatsoever, on any particular character or serial or actor/actresses)

Men involved in their own business plotting and conspiracies…  

Its either family feud or corporate feud, religion based old practices or ultra modern adultery…

Anything for TRP rating??? It’s sad...

80’s kids were luckiest. No wonder today’s kids are glued to their laptops/game consoles or ipads/iphones/android phones for want of quality entertainment on TV. Choice is more but no water to quench.

Kahaan gaye who din…

Adios, meet you soon…

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Margazhi in today's smart phone era!

Month of Marghazhi was marked with early morning fog. Namasankeerthanams and Bhajana mandalis woke us up with their early morning chanting of mellifluous bhajans and Thiruppavai/Thiruvembavai.

The curiosity to just have a look at the Ghoshti walking past our home, made us wake up and walk to the main entrance.  Greeted with huge Kolams/Rangolis with yellow pumpkin flower in the middle, what a refreshing morning it used to be.

It was so inspiring, that even the not so artistic girls used to try their hand in doing the kolams. Just  an appreciating pause of the passerby, leave alone a gesture or word or two of real appreciation.... That gave a high and made us do better the next day.

Topping this was the Ven Pongal, mothers and grannies made for prasadham.
Evenings were meant for temple visit or concert visit.
All those pattu veshtis and pattu sarees locked up in the Godrej almirahs used to come out of their slumber.
The Todis and Kalyanis, Bairavis and Kambhojis were discussed at length.
A rare case of rushing, to have a word with the maestro or max get an autograph was seen.

Today, in the era of smartphones, namasankeerthanams happen only in remote villages and staunch agraharams. Ven pongal is only famous in Saravana Bhavan and rare brahmin families.

Kacheris are more, with the exhaustive number of sabhas and cultural organisations.
Youngsters and maestros alike, perform to cater to the young and old.
Its good news. Feels great to see many youngsters as part of performers and audience.

Beyond all this... its really heart wrenching to see the use of smartphones in the concert.
Every minute some person raises his hand with the cell phone to click a picture of the artist.
Other minute a Tab or Ipad raises to shoot a video... all this, only to post in their respective whatsapp or FB profile. To tell the world that he or she was there and attended the concert.

Yes attended is the right word.
As we look around, we see so many  disinterested faces, lost in their own world, with their cell phones or in small chatter with their accompanying friends, relatives etc.

I agree every concert cannot be engaging. There could be dull moments and bright moments.
When uninterested, we can  avoid attending concerts. If forced by family or friends or social obligations, kindly stay out in the lobby to freshen up and then get in. That way one would feel connected.

The artist can perform best only when he has an engaging audience.
Every moment, if he or she were to see a smart phone or Ipad rising up on their face, they tend to get distracted.

I remember a concert of the past, 30 years ago, Sri Chittibabu, was in his world, playing his famous Kuyil paattu on his veena.
Audience were mesmerised by his koos and kaavs. They were so tempted to applaud him between.
He gestured "wait" to the audience, till he completed the song and then smiled at them. He was given a standing ovation.

When, even an applause could disturb the harmony of the artist, singing or playing or dancing, these kind of bad ethics would naturally put them off.

Recent personal experience - Bharathanatyam by Shobana, the smart phone clicks were so annoying to us audience and worse more to her. She being a maestro of her bhavas and mudhras, she stepped aside on the stage and in the same language of mudhras, she gestured to the crowd, requesting not to use smart phones and then stepped back to continue dancing. Just think, how difficult it must have been for her to concentrate on what she was trying to enact.

In another recent show in a famous hall, the volunteers were too many in number. Once the dance show started many of them lined up behind the last row. Some sat in vacant seats.
The varied dance forms were enthralling and here I hear the non stop chatter behind, by these men in uniform.
They could not say between kathak or kuchipudi, not their fault. There should have been a minimum decency to enjoy it in silence, if they did come in, to really do that.

Non stop chatter on phone or with neighbour is another annoying factor. Blessed are those who get to occupy the front few rows, where not much of such botheration happens. They are left to enjoy the concert in peace.
The back row audience are not so unfortunate I guess.

Time and again many people, artists and including the famous K Balachander ( Sindhu Bhairavi) have brought forth this nuisance but its pathetic to see not much has changed.

Adieu Marghazhi... Happy Bogi, Pongal to all!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Chennai's Carnatica revelry!!!

Hello from Chennai!

Yea, its special to be in Chennai in December for all the right and wrong reasons...
The tsunami, MGR death, Floods of 2015, Vardha cyclone of 2016 and worst of all Amma's untimely death.

As if to make up for all the natural calamities and to soothe the strained hearts, Chennai more than made it up with its mellifluous music and visually delightful dance dramas.

Those men and women, old and young alike... who were clearing paths strewn with cyclone remains during the day time, were seen with pattu saree and malipoo, zari dhoti and angavasthrams at the sabha in the evenings. Doing an adi taal or humming along a kalyani or bhairavi.
Not to forget the yummilicious  sabha canteens. They were in full force, serving rasikas from 7 am till 11 pm. From breakfast to 'Ilai sapaadu', evening snacks to dinner.

Attracted by all the funfare and hype it did to me, I did attend a few of the concerts. Got bowled over.
The ultimate for me, is and will always be Dasettan ofcourse.
Undoubtedly amazing. As 'The Hindu' rightly captioned "A voice untouched by age".

Dasettan's rendition was divine, interesting, captivating. At his age, I doubt if I would sit cross legged for thirty minutes, and here he is, sitting untouched for three and half hours.

His white beard adding grace to him and age and experience adding a sparkle to his voice, it was like a magical spell.
Chakkani Raja for elaborate rendition and thani aavarthanam, reminded me so much of Sri Chembai, his guru. Bantureethikoluvu, Balakanakamaya, and many more known and mesmerising numbers. His few words of wisdom on being compassionate to human kind and to Panchaboothas was an eye opener. It was call of the day I felt.

Moved on to Shobana's Bharathanatyam. She proved herself worthy again with her swift footwork, bhavas and mudhras. Her disciples did her proud by their energetic and lightning like footwork.
I am not adept with the right terminology when it comes to dance.
The awesomeness with which she rendered Dasavatharam - the expressions, footwork, kept us enthralled. The roudhram of Narasimha, the innocence of Vaamana were highlights.

Finally, as Jaidevar's Radha, the love lorn, yearning for attention, she left the real Radha blushing. Nattuvangam lady deserves a special mention.

Finally the Harikatha concert by Visakha Hari.
Have been bowled over by her narrating style, the bhava, her voice, her comic sense and liveliness.
This time she let me down?? Or is it the new trend? Unsure.

There was more of singing, elaborate enough to make you restless.
Narayana Theerthar's history could have been short and sweet.
His 12 Tharanginis could have been elaborate interspersed with anecdotes of songs.

Instead it was full song rendition with swaraprastharam and thani avarthanams.
Felt like a paattu kacheri and not like a harikatha.
Its absolutely my personal opinion, not to offend the great artists or take away any glory of her prowess, style and expertise in the field.

Last but not the least of the season - Rajesh Chaurasiya and Jayanthi Kumaresh Jugalbandhi.
Open air courtyard at Phoenix Mall. Awesome weather to be sitting out, enjoying your favourite music I felt.

Cool breeze swept us thru, while the soothing flute and veena combo swept us off our feet.
Heard Jayanthi for the first time and got madly in love with her veena rendition.
The beginning notes of Vatapi Ganapathim followed by raag Vaachaspathi kept the audience enthralled.
Seating was somewhat unkind to the rasikas. Veena and flute more than made it up.
Adios to Chennai music season for now...
So long guys!

Amreeka - The dream continues...

Hiii Friends,

Happy New Year!!!

Feels as if 2016 passed like a lightning... Or does it feel like that always, at the end of every year??
So... Coming back to my Amreeka story...

Where were we? haan, at Chicago

On the way back from Chicago, stopped at a Mediterranean food place.
Apart from the regular Falafel, Hummus, Pita bread, their yellow lentil soup - (our Masoor Dal) was especially awesome.

Next week it was Columbus.

Traversed thru Cincinatti, an industrial city, is the vision it gave me.
A small joint, 'Ambar' restaurant was really awesome. Their naan was unbelievably soft, especially in the heart of US.

Dayton, calm city and famous for its 'National Museum of the United States Air Force'.
Awesome collection it holds within. 

'Ohio State University' structure and magnitude is hard to believe. 

'Columbus Park of Roses', kept the rose lover in me engrossed for hours... Loved every bit.

'Hollywood Casino' - a sneak peek into the Casino and gambling world. Spent few $$ earned a few... 
Lunch at 'Olive Garden' - worth a mention.
Veg options are fewer but their eggplant Parmigiana just melts. Do not miss their dessert line up, especially the cheese cakes and sampler - Dolcini. 

'Center of Science and Industry (COSI)' is really interesting for kids as well as adults.

Took a day trip to Pittsburg - the famous 'Venkateshwara Temple'.
So neat and organized. Great darshan without the jarugandi calls and pushing jostling unlike Tirupathi here.
Their cafetaria is as famous as the lord himself...  They did stand up to the reputation.

On the way back we took a detour to West Virginia, to visit the famous 'Sri Prabhupadha Golden Chariot temple'.
The cool woody path leading to the temple, thru the ghat section, is too good to be true.
The temple exteriors have worn out. The multiple exercise to plating it with real gold has now stopped after it proved expensive and futile.

The interiors is maintained and literally holds your breath. The stained glass, the murals, gem stone inlay work and the gilded gold work captures the beauty and workmanship. Its unbelievably true that all the work inside was learnt and done by the disciples themselves with no trained artisans involved.
Life like statue of Sri Prabhupada made me lose my balance in awe.

One point I wish to mention here, rather a special mention, the accessibility for senior citizen and specially abled throughout US.
Every road, every public place, every structure is built with a ramp to give access to mobility scooter, wheelchairs and such.
One can feel so independent and  mobile.

More to come... Its Canada time to follow soon...

Monday, 21 November 2016

Amreekaa!!! - A fairy tale dream...

That's what it felt like, friends... my recent vacation to the USA

Mmm.... where shall I begin?
Okay, let me start with my fairy tale romance with Lufthansa - my flight carrier.
Checked  well in time for my mid night flight. Ground staff looked a bit disoriented...
The In-flight crew more than made it up.
It felt at home, eating hot South Indian breakfast and lunch - not to miss the pongal, vada and mini dosas.  Basmati rice, dal and paneer

I should admit, the airport and in flight experience reminded me of 'English Vinglish' a lot.
Just one Tamil movie and couple of Hindi movies.
The ground staff and in - flight crew of Frankfurt - Detroit, out did the first set of crew by their kindness and assistance.
Man... how do they keep running about, all thru 8 hours of flight... commendable indeed!!!

After the 21 hour flight ( which felt like never ending one) finally landed at the automobile city of the USA - Detroit.
Met with family, felt really relaxing with all the comforts and pampering...
Mr Jetlag went soft on me... didn't trouble me much thankfully.

Lo and behold! it was long weekend and we had to put it to good use...
We drove to Chicago. Stayed at The Residence Inn Mariotte... wow, cool place to be in:)

Drove around the city. Felt on top of the world, from the Skydeck view point, at Sears Towers (Willis Towers).
Visited Navy Pier to watch fireworks for July 4th weekend.
People and more people, as far as the eye could see. The special firework sight seeing cruise - a guided tour of all those structural and architectural wonders along the way, was a visual treat indeed, especially with the evening lights. The momentum picked up as the night ended with the fireworks display.

Chicago and shopping - oh yes!!!.  The many Malls, Nordstorm, Coach, Levis and all the brand names you can think of... The Magnificient Mile, near Dearborn street, it has it all.
Visit to Chicago would not be complete without a visit to the Devon Avenue - The little India isn't it? I should say, I was very much impressed. Have heard in the past, as to how dirty it used to be...
Its very neatly maintained now, the streets, pavements, the shops, restaurants and exclusive parking lots. Being an Indian from India, the shops did not attract me much, but is a good collection for those Indians who miss being a part of India.

Great food options - Italian, Uno Pizzas, Mexican...
So long.... shall be back soon with next city...

Friday, 11 November 2016


Hiii Folks!

Back from the siesta.

Great vacation indeed... Mixed bag of feelings...
Home sick... Missing family...
Interestingly, nostalgia struck hard too...

Stumbled upon Nukkad Hindi TV serial on Youtube.
What a fantastic series it was!!!

Brought back memories of my childhood "Nukkad" experience.

Our home was a corner plot, bound by three roads perpendicular to each other.
Fourth side was the lane. Full of shops, brimming with life and activity.

A tea shop just like Nukkad series...
It was so interesting, to watch over the different kind and class of people, who visited on a regular basis. Early morning meant brisk business.
Could  clearly see across the street, the way coffee was made and cooled, the traditional way. Between two glasses, the coffee flew across like a rainbow.

Roadside benches  had people reading the newspaper, gossiping, sipping their coffee or tea or munching on the ever popular masala vada.

Next to this was a crooked muddy lane winding in to the thatched settlement.

Adjacent to the lane, was a godown stocked with hay and cattle feed. It used to open once a week or so when stocks came in or sent back thru bullock carts.

These bullock carts used to arrive evening around 5 pm. Once stocks were unloaded, the ox were given water and food. The cart men used to relax for a while. They found the huge mango tree in front of our house to be their haven. The barb wire fence made it easy, to tie the ox, which irked my grandpa. He always picked up a fight with them.

It was a sight to watch those guys cook and wash. They used to buy small portions of basics and veggies. Put it all together in a big vessel on a make shift fireplace. Once done, the three or four cart men used to share it. The night was spent under the breezy mango tree, on the hay stack. Early morning, even before sunrise, they would be gone.

The godown wall leaned almost on to the adjacent tailor shop. He made the best of clothes when he really did. Otherwise, he was no better than the "bewada Kopdi" of Nukkad. He was always drunk. People used to say, he cut perfect when he was really drunk...

The petty shop next to this, was the most enchanting one for us, kids. He sold toffees, candy, biscuits, peanut laddus, goli soda, bananas, pencil, rubber, pen, sticker bindhi, colour ribbons.
The most attractive one being, the different coloured cool drink he served. The shopkeeper had atleast 6 different flavours of liquid fruit mixes which he added to water and served with crushed ice to make a huge glass of sherbat. It used to feel like heaven in scorching summer.

Yet another muddy lane here, led into the slum, which also housed a small Devi temple. Momentum picked up during the Adi and Thai months every year. The Thiruvizha (Temple Fair) used to take place with all pomp and show. You could see the entire crowd of the hutment, clad in their best and moving about enjoying the festivity. Loud speakers used to blare into your ears broadcasting devotional songs, alternated with drum beats from the temple.

Next was the laundry. Our only source,  mainly for pressing clothes. Though they did take up washing and pressing, it was always a demanding situation, to get the school uniforms pressed in time.

The barber shop right next to the laundry, always buzzed with men and kids. The man cut, trimmed hair less and filled in ears with gossips more. I used to wonder, when was the last time he sharpened his pair of scissors or a razor, leave alone buying a new one.

The next was a cycle repair shop. This man had a full day business between filling air and replacing a puncture.

Just round the corner was a firewood shop, loaded with all kinds of fire wood logs and cow dung moulds to be used in households.

Later, shops changed with time and new ones came about. These shops met with all the day to day small necessities of everyone's life in the vicinity.
The families settled around the society, the slum dwellers and the shopkeepers all knew each other for ages. The whole family was a known face, which kept the rapport going strong. The camaraderie was worth a mention. Many of the shops were owned by the dwellers so it was also a matter of trust and loyalty.

Its becoming harder these days, to see such settlements, who served from heart and not from sale point of view. Its also heart rending to see, a few such shops thrive, in today's world of supermarkets and online grocery services.

So long friends.... Adios!!!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Hi Folks!
I am back.

Recently, read an article. A much circulated one, in social network.
Its all about, if we wish to be a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean. The conclusion says, we should be like coffee.

This has been in my mind for sometime now. Pondering more, here's what I felt.
This is my own personal interpretation - with all due respect to the writer, who first wrote the article.

Carrot goes in the hot water hard, comes out soft.
Egg goes in fragile and comes out hard.
Coffee bean goes into hot water, changes the water's nature, colour and taste. Makes it a totally different element altogether.
Everyone talks about the coffee. There's no water there anymore.

Is this what we want to be? I agree, we need to make our presence felt. A majestic, worthy impression at that.
We should be a great influence, make Change happen, as that's the only one which is constant.

At the same time, why look to change the other person, be it your better half or superior at office or your own kid or a dear friend. Every person, has the right to retain his or her individuality isn't it??

If not for the water, there wouldnt be a coffee. Even for an instant coffee, we need hot water.
Water adapts to the change so graciously and gracefully. It acts like a catalyst in many a worldly changes.

Why not be like water. Be pliable, compassionate. Compromise, but not without a reason. Be a catalyst in someone's life. Make the better of them and in the process, our self.

Water is so graceful, like I said. It takes the colour, shape, size of the vessel. It gives in, while boiling and freezing. Beyond both points, it becomes a whole new element, but still, water is in there. It proves that its inevitable.
We dont stop using it, just because its frozen or boiling.

More so, water is the only connecting source between the sky and earth. Its never gone and out. What goes up comes back to earth as rain. Filling the water bodies, it goes up again to form clouds only to come back to us.
What a beautiful example, of what life is all about.
If theories are to be believed, isn't this, the life cycle and Darvin's theory all about...

I wish, I could be a cool splash of water on someone, who has had a long day.
A drizzle, on a playful child
A sudden splash of rain, to surprise someone.
A stream, washing away, those long travelled, pained feet.
A cool glass, to quench the thirsty.

Now, do I hear the raindrops in my balcony?? Let me go.
See you soon guys... Adios.