Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The year that was...

My motto in 2009: "I am my competition" and "Re-live and enjoy the intellectual waywardness all over again long after my doctoral studies"

Job, professional
New and pleasantly unexpected creative challenges, geared up to do my best
Exploring social media, its potential for learning, marketing B2B enterprise software
Completed 10 years in e-learning, new media and corporate training- glad that I followed my heart and quit teaching English
The convenience and power of social networking, connecting through Facebook, touch base with old friends
Writing my book and working on a plan to market it
Writing, writing and writing...simply loved every bit of the slog
Movies I thoroughly enjoyed
Kaminey, Wake up Sid
Movies that could have been better
Kurbaan and 3 Idiots
Became a fan of
Ranbir Kapoor (doesn't mean I'm ditching Shah Rukh Khan)
Enjoyable moments
Listening to Sanjeev Abhayankar during those stress-filled days
Early morning 'Moonset' and catching it on my lens
The drive to airport on Expressway
The thrill of seeing 267pages in shape!
Spending at Shoppers' Stop and Woodland and ending up with dresses that shrunk and got discolored and footwear that never lasted for more even 3 months.
Not checking the stepney of my car when the tyre got punctured and I ended up with two punctured tyres
Best buy and ownership
Replacing my kitchen chimney with Faber
Over with EMIs - now I own my car
Finally decided to own a vacuum cleaner as borrowing from Madhu was more of an excuse for not cleaning frequently...nothing much has changed even after owning one:)
Satisfying buy at Fabindia, Bangalore
Parting with my earrings (a collection of 100+) coz of problems with the piercing in the earlobe and for medical reasons... wasting money on a pair of diamond and gold earrings...imagine what a gold-hater like me had to go through, being unable to match my earrings with my dress:(
Several visits to the physician at Care clinic, diagnostic tests etc what with viral fever, swine flu, dengue all over the place
Seem to be on the verge of sleeping disorder because of my erratic sleeping habits to cope with my writing and office timelines
Kept postponing
Visit to L&M for eye check-up and new spects
Bravery or agony or endurance?
Underwent RCT for 3 teeth and one pending:)
Pleasant ones
Meeting Kavitha's kid Vaishnavi
Playing with Shreya's friends on her birthday and seeing her dress up as a fairy on the eve of Christmas
Maansi's surprise visit one morning in the month of May 
Shreya improves her sketching, she writes stories in English and attempts the same in Hindi
Maansi playing "air hostess" and offering us food and drinks while I was in Bangalore
Mostly work related- other than this, well nothing:(
In fact, my reading took a back seat because I concentrated more on my writing
Books and CDs
Books - none, CDs - some Hindi movies
Convenience of ordering movies on Tatasky Showcase
Michael Jackson memorial service
50 years of Doordarshan - a documentary revisiting those serials, songs and sitcoms
General and local elections - voted for the first time from my own house
My presentation at national e-learning event and the appreciation
Driving back home from office on my birthday in real heavy rain, late in the evening
Unable to get started with
My initiative on web based help and counselling for students to 'follow their heart'
The Telangana turmoil and resultant impact on the lives of commoners in Hyderabad and other places in A.P
My city missing a beat again...too soon!

My city is where my heart is, this is where I belong, being born and brought up here. Past few days have been a testing time for the city dwellers gripped by the 'fear' of the unknown and uncertain. Today, I simply wasn't able to be normal self - somewhere there was a lurking apprehension and anxiety, "would I return home safely, will my colleagues who depend on private and public transport make it to office?" and so on... Something has gone wrong somewhere - will things get back to normal soon? My heart overpowering my mind, perhaps my dirve to office today was the most painful one, may remain in my memory for long, as a sad reminder of the day my city missed a beat. The frequent 'bandhs' seem to have paralysed the lives of millions of peace-loving people who have made Hyderabad their home.

The familiar scenes were missing - there wasn't a soul on the otherwise bustling Kirshna Nagar-Jubilee Hills road. Every little tea and tiffin stall is closed. I could empathize with people waiting perhaps for their breakfast at these outlets. People waiting at the bus stops with forlorn looks. People stranded in trains and buses at the outskirts of the city. People waiting to reach hospitals and people faced with emergencies. Vendors who depend on us to make their daily earning. It's the people - we the commoners who bear the brunt of agitations, bandhs, strikes and other similar violent manifestations of public ire. This time it's a region that wants to establish its identity - later it would be another region that wants to do the same and this may be followed by similar instances all over the country- a country that was divided on the basis of linguistic identities for better governance- how ironical! Apparently, this was not-so-flawed a strategy for retaining our regional identities yet understanding and tolerating other cultures and religions.

Scratch a little and it's all over the place - strong feelings of regionalism, casteism, communalism - when provoked come out with true colours-making no difference whatsoever in terms of education and culture. Even the most 'educated' get a pleasure in establishing so-called 'superiority' on the basis of religion, caste, region and other parochial priorities. North Indian? South Indian? From Telangana? From Andhra?From ...endless ways to establish our identities, where are the actual issues of economic and inclusive development? Why don't people explore avenues of cooperation and collaborative development? If these were the issues on the basis of which the 'struggle' was planned, there could have been other means of achieving the goal - perhaps with less agony and destruction to the lives of common and innocent people.I'm sure my city will soon get back to normal, one can destroy the physical assets and cause similar damage but one can't kill the soul of a city that's consituted by its sincere citizens who have toiled to make it what it is today!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

All is well?

Perhaps not, hmm, certainly not...especially with our educational system, social pressure and rat race and all that. Was this the message Hirani was trying to convey in typical Munnabhai style? The message, though strongly intended, got entangled in those innumerous twists and turns and those overly exaggerated 'comic' scenes, like the one where Chatur makes a speech on Teachers' Day and the childbirth on a table tennis table.
Devoid of such farce, may be the movie could have been more honest and fresh in treating the same theme.

If Five Point Someone (the novel on which the movie is  based) is itself a pulpy version of the dark side of engineering education, the movie based on this novel, remotely addresses any issues raised, leave alone developing them, at least in 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' style. In bits and pieces the movie does make some points- student suicides, lack of recognition for innovation and creativity and parental pressure to outperform others etc. But the conviction with which these points could be been conveyed is missing, since there is so much of typical Bollywood mass-appeal kind of 'comedy' that the actual story is lost somewhere in between the witty one-liners that comment on our engineering education and the stereotypical depiction of schools and colleges in Bollywood movies.

3 Idiots can at best make you laugh and enjoy for the moment, if you can ignore the excesses, you will come out with a 'feel-good' that there is more to life than becoming an engineer or a doctor. Other than this short-lived feeling the movie lacks the sophistication and finesse that was evident in handling social comedies like previous Munnabhai flick. What gets proved again is the difficulty involved in conveying a message without being preachy and yet making it comic, likable and memorable- like two extremes - the Gowarikar type and the Hirani type. Or, the maturity with which Aamir himself handled a similar plot in Taare Zameen Par. How does one do a balancing act while handling series of connected themes like freedom of education, creativity in curriculum and following one's heart. No easy answers here!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Innocent, funny and...
Today's four-year-olds have much more at their disposal than any one of us in our childhood - no two thoughts about this! Mostly the wordly stuff they catch from TV - be it kids' programs, movies or daily soaps. I got to see how my little niece Maansi was playing a prank with her papa the other day when she was in Hyderabad. Vinod had just returned from office and they had an hour or so to leave for Bangalore, perhaps he got busy talking to all of us and Maansi felt she didn't get the attention she wanted. She quickly picked up the phone (intercom) and started dialling some numbers to "call the police" saying her papa is a "bad boy" and they should come and take him, perhaps thinking that bad boys are better handled by police.

She seemed to enjoy her imaginary call, and later started playing with the other phone as well. Shreya was watching her intently. We were having fun observing her 'seriously imaginary conversation' with the 'police'.

In the meantime, my landline phone rang and I picked it up wondering who it was. It was Sandip calling from his mobile from the other room, asking me to give the phone to Maansi. He pretended to be the police and wanted to have some fun. I handed the receiver to Maansi saying that the police is on the line. As soon as she picked up the phone, Maansi got the scare of her life...her innocent expression said it all and I asked her who it was. P-o-l-i-c-e!!! "Please don't take my papa away , he's a good boy" cried Maansi, suddenly her cherubic face turning literally scared. Little wonder, her teeny-weeny brain couldn't figure out that it was Sandip who was on phone.

I felt sad seeing her fun turn into something 'serious', she ran to and sat beside Krupa, tears rolling down her cheeks. Like several kids of her age, Maansi loves to watch TV,  I also heard that she likes detective serials like, 'CID' and seems to be clear about what needs to be done with 'bad boys':)