Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Telly Tales part-2

If I gave the impression in this post that I've grown up watching only English television, let me not delude you. Fortunately I grew up in times when Doordarshan produced cult shows and Indian television had not been besmirched by the crass commercialization. The private channels too were not the money-spinning, balderdash churning channels that they've become today.
Here are a few personal favorites.

1. Malgudi Days

This is the first television series that sprang up in my mind when I was thinking of good old Doordarshan days.
Who can forget the mischievous Swami ? His Calvin-like unwillingness to go to school., his constant tomfoolery, his best friends Mani and Rajam. A masterpiece penned down by R.K Narayan and the hilarious sketches done by brother R.K Laxman proved to be a lethal combination. Of all the stories I was most inclined to the ones that featured under ' Swami and Friends'. What's more! Even the title tune was so catchy- "Ta na na tana nana na..ta na na tana nana na". :) Malgudi days were fun days.

2. Chitrahaar


Long before MTV came to India in an aeroplane, long before we requested our cable-walla to tune in Channel V,. long before You and Tube became a single word-there was Chitrahaar. And Wednesdays were changed forever. Every Wednesday at 8:30 P.M we would huddle in the living room and watch with rapt attention the Bollywood music being televised. I was quite small then, but my enjoyment was not. I loved Bollywood songs! The captivating music,the dancing around trees, the change of costumes within seconds. It was my first glimpse into the world of cinema, and...Mercy! I was awed by these movie stars at that time. I thought they were really remarkable people as they could  sing so melodiously without catching their breaths while doing those graceful dance movements! Also the fact that they could change their clothes, jewelery and make-up faster than I could untie my ribbon seemed to be a superhuman feat. I don't know how many times have I looked back and thought- "God, I was stupid!"

3. Mahabharat

          Ath Shri Mahabharat Katha
          Katha hain purushaarth ki, yeh swaarth ki, paramaarth ki
          Saarthi jinke bane Shri Krishna, Bharat Parth ki
Mahabharat has always appealed to me. I think it still is the greatest story ever told, scoring above Ramayan or any other epic. Maybe because the characters were so much human, totally susceptible to human frailty. It practically established the adage-to err is human. There is possibly no human emotion that this epic skips. You've got love, lust, trust,betrayal, fear, jealousy, anger, rage, remorse, hatred, disappointment, sadness, humiliation, euphoria, guilt, sympathy, nervousness, forgiveness and many more.
When I was in 7th, along with the regular text book and work book 
we had an entire book of Mahabharat in Hindi. Reading the book, and watching the show side by side turned out to be quite an experience.

4. Potli Baba ki 


The picture of this show is unavailable on the internet. But I vividly remember this one. A wise and shrunken old storyteller would regale me endlessly with stories of Ali Baba and forty thieves, and of Aladin.
               Ghungar wali, Chhenu wali, Jhunnu ka Baba
                 Kisson ka, kahaaniyon ka geeto ka chhaba  :)
5. Chhoti si asha

Now, this one was a heart rending tale. One of those simple and humane stories that show you how very remarkable human bondages are, even the non-blood ones. I miss such story-lines these days. A very well defined, artistically portrayed story that had the power to induce in you beautiful feelings that were happy and melancholy from time to time-that's what this series was all about. This was a story of a newly-widowed, jobless mother who was forced to give away her children in adoption after she came to know she was dying. By the time a good Samaritan helped her through her operation and she came to know that she will survive after all, the children were dispersed in different parts of India and happily adjusted to their new lives. Then, the story shifts to their adulthood, the search, the hesitance of the mother to meet her children and yet a yearning to do so, the non-recognition of her children, the reunion of the mother with their children, the siblings with each other. 
The only show till date, wherein I actually loved 'the leap'. A beautifully written and directed  show! And the actors were a cut above today's hamming actors.
This one too was originally aired in DD National, but I watched it in the re-runs in Sony TV.

6. Hum Paanch

 The Czarina Kapoor can almost be forgiven for torturing the entire nation with her hopeless tearjerkers just for producing this one. When the other world was watching a popular sitcom featuring six friends, India was getting tickled by five rather troublesome daughters. The 'tapori' language popularized by Kajal bhai had become quite a lingo amongst girls, and so had Sweety's rummy habit of opening the door only after singing a song. I remember picking up that habit myself for a short while! All in all Hum Paanch was 30 minutes well invested.

7. Dekh bhai dekh

Before most of them went on to become our favorite telly stars in different serials, Jaya Bachchan had clustered all of them together in Dekh bhai dekh.It was a family comedy, mostly nonsensical .Definitely a good time pass, but more importantly a good family time pass show.

8. Just Mohabbat 

Welcome to the world of Jay. His school, teachers, parents, sister, crushes, girlfriend and imaginary friend. Every school-goer could relate to this show. The unadulterated friendships, playing for hours, the menace of homework, dodging the bullies,standing up to them eventually, laughing at the expense of the teachers, group projects, sleepovers. Sigh! This was also a coming of age TV show for me. I was on the gateway of my teenage. Had just started to look at my male classmates differently. They were not gross and stupid anymore. Beginning of teenage is a time in life when one is very impressionable, very malleable. And this show made a huge impact on my life then .I came to know what dating meant, what kind of hints to drop and what kinds to pick up, what guys talk about, what they actually say and what they mean to say.And of course- how utterly awesome high school was going to be! And then college-Oh my! College was going to be a paradise. I, at times, get jealous of my earlier self. Granted I was a fool, but I was also so much alive, so happy. So hopeful. When I thought of future, all I could see was a world full of infinite opportunities. There was nothing that was improbable or unattainable.

9. Saboot

Years before I had picked up my first Agatha Christie, I knew that Crime was my favorite genre. That was when I started watching Saboot. This little popular serial was absolutely mind blowing. And original, mind you. I still vividly remember an episode about a murder during a beauty pageant-still gives me the creeps. Then there was one about an old man who died in his room and his much younger wife was accused of the murder. What a unique solution that one had! Even Christie never wrote a story with that kind of plot.
And the character of Inspector KC was again singularly superb. I just love female detectives. That's right, I'd any day  prefer Marple over Poirot. This particular character that the supremely talented Anita Kanwar (of Buniyaad fame) essayed was messy, clumsy, sensitive, empathetic and Genius!  
Unfortunately, this series is nowhere to be found on the cyberspace. So either you were fortunate enough to watch it, or you missed a superb series of Indian whodunit. 

Well..that's my list. Did I miss out something significant? Do let me know. I also plan to write a similar post on  90s' long lost cartoons very soon :)
So long!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


With about two months to go for the final part of the final HP movie, my Pottermania is back. I'll be putting up series of  Harry Potter posts till the showtime arrives. This particular post contains some of the coolest wisecracks from this amazing website. 

I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good  :D  


Dear Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,
Please send me my letter already. I'm tired of the Muggle world.
Dear Chemistry,
You are nothing like me. Stop trying.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Blue color is everlastingly appointed by the deity to be a source of delight.
-- John Ruskin
I came across a site that said Blue is the overwhelming favorite color. It has been so, since time immemorial.
Blue and I are of course inseparable companions, as it's half my name.

Sadly, most people when thinking of the color Blue, think of the phrase 'Feeling Blue'. Or at any rate relate it with sadness and hopelessness. As an advertiser and an admirer of the color, I take that as a personal insult. Not that I don't approve of this particular symbolism. I do very much indeed. Being sad is a part of life.Feeling pain is one of those things that makes us living beings. However there's a lot more to the color than plain unhappiness.

The first thing that comes to my mind is Freedom. No boundaries. The blue sky that allows to fly around freely. The blue oceans that enable to drift from continent to continent. And stability. You don't expect the sky to turn brown one fine day, nor do you expect the water bodies to ooze green. Doesn't matter how much we encourage 'Change is constant' adage, the truth is there are somethings we never want to change. An assurance of some constants in our dynamic lives .

Then, there is serenity. It without doubt brings about relaxation. When I'm agitated, I surround myself with Blue.Like stare at the sky, wear a blue dress, go swimming, spread a blue bedsheet, get a blue colored mocktail, paint something in blue.I find it extremely calming.

Trust. That's right. Yet another symbolism. For reasons that I haven't been fully able to understand, I've always linked blue with trust. You really think it's a co-incidence that Facebook, Twitter and Orkut-the places where we interact with friends we trust, connect with people who were hitherto unknown, upload umpteen number of pictures in the cyper space-have the blue element in common? In fact the  it is the dash of blue that I have on my new template that is inspiring me to blog after a long dry spell.

Divinity, of course.I am talking in the context of Hindu religion. Ever looked at the pictures of Krishna, Shiva, Rama, Kali? Noticed the skin-color? Yes. Blue. Some people think it's silly, or pagan. That it proves that Hindu deities  are man-made. I assure you, it isn't so. There are deep metaphors in each and every description. In this case it signifies the infinite expansion of blue sky and blue ocean.Meaning that God is omnipresent, and the higher powers are all-pervading.

Finally, how can I possibly forget the thing that has given 1.15 billion Indians a reason to bask in the reflected glory of eleven victorious men. The posters of 'I Bleed Blue' campaign are still up there on the billboards. Nobody seems to have the tiniest of interest in replacing them. Men in Blue FTW!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lady at the book shop

There is a road in Ahmedabad called IIM road. On this road, some 100-300 meters away from the IIM main gate, sits a woman with her makeshift book shop cum library. Oh, except this "shop" actually is a hundreds of books piled up neatly and kept-on the road. There are books of all types, topics, shapes and sizes. Academic, novels, self-help,comics, magazines, religious texts,coloring books. Even the study material and reports that the IIMA students have given away after passing out can be found. The lady herself sits under an umbrella advertising a certain FM station. Now, the system is like this- You can either buy a book at less than half price, or can rent a book. While you borrow, you pay the full price that she sells it for and the day you return, she keeps some Rs 20-30 for the rent and returns the rest of your money. If you don't return, well, then you've already bought it, haven't you? Simple enough.

And that's exactly how the lady also comes across-Simple. Simple, plain and street vendor types. Hmm..We'll see that she isn't.
So, a few days ago I was so engrossed in browsing through the abundant collection that it was a while before I noticed that she was yelling at someone on phone. About how he's not helping one bit to reorganize the books, about how she has been fussing over getting the perfect setting..yada yada yada...
After giving the fellow an earful she ended the call and caught me looking at her. Now, it might not appear so, but in real life such social situations are awkward for both the parties. I tried to convey 'sorry for eavesdropping' by a sheepish smile. She returned an indulgent one and started talking...
" We were closed for eight days. I had remove all these books from here. Now, having a hard time re-organising"
"Oh, I didn't know that. Why was it closed?"
" Don't you know? The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh came here ( finger pointing at IIM campus)"
Before I could get over my astonishment that this lady on the street knew the name of the PM, she said..
" For the convocation of course"
* Now, eyes wide-opened, positively astounded *. Did she just say Convocation? And pronounced it as Kon-vuh-kay-shen? Hell! I spent four years with would-be engineers who said Kan-vo-kay-son.
This bewildering moment passed as she continued
" So the police made us clear"
" But that's not fair! Just to make the roads look prettier? It must have been such a loss for you. That's so not fair" I replied, morally outraged, expecting her to burst into a rigmarole about how cruel the police is and how the street-businesses like hers have to suffer every now and then. I know her types, a little prod and the outburst starts. Or,I thought I knew. Never, in the wildest of my imaginations I expected the following answer
" No, no. It is very necessary. You see the PM is an important person and his security is of the utmost importance. Now look at these piles of books, somebody can easily plant a bomb here without my notice and he might die. His life can't be compromised. And what after all is a duration of eight days. Itna to hum chala sakte hain. "

I stood speechless at this barely literate woman's unselfishness, solidarity and sound logic.
Here we are- spreading status updates, notes, blog posts about being devoted to country, community and society. And here she is-making an actual difference to the same.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Ranting Indian

So after an extremely hectic day and four hours of sleep I woke up next morning, only to grudgingly get ready for an even more hectic day. I swore under my breath, fully capitalizing on my limited gaali vocabulary, as I bathed. Three dress changes, two re-doings of hair, numerous futile attempts to make my eyes look less red and puffy and a bite of a chocolate later I was speeding away towards the domestic airport-again.

Later that afternoon I was walking up the road reflecting the happenings of the day. Yes, it had been satisfactory. And yet I was indifferent, maybe a little sad too, owing to a day before's debacle. But it was over. End of the mad journeys . I was so happy to walk alone, in an unknown city on a deserted road. It was extremely peaceful. But all these lazy thoughts were interrupted by an auto-rickshaw that pulled by. The man offered me a ride till the gate since he too was going there. No charge. Now that is a sort of thing that makes one wary, not happy. After all Mumbai is a big, bad city and auto-wallahs are actually wolves dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood's grandmas. Not quite so. I hopped in and as promised was dropped at the gate. Yes, without charge.

I had it all planned. The three hours were neatly charted in my mind. Agatha Christie and random roaming about the shops and I'll be done. Except..

" What do you mean a delay of three hours? Back to the old malpractices, are we?"  thundered the middle-aged, pot-bellied man.Slightly balding. This man, in front of me, had the same flight number on his boarding card as I would get in a couple of minutes( that frankly felt like hours). Oh darn! My flight has been delayed, thought I. That disrupts the plan. Ugh.
Meanwhile the shouting continued. " How can a flight that takes less than an hour be delayed for three hours? You people have no respect for the passengers' time. What? I don't care whether you sent me one sms or one thousand. It's doesn't matter. Why do I care that this sort of thing never happens with your airlines, it's happening to me now. Now, shift me to another flight that leaves early. WHY should I pay for another ticket? You made the mistake, you should correct it. It's not my problem. Call your supervisor. I can't see her coming. Are you lying? You are her superior? What's all this bullshit? Oh, you bloody well be sorry. But I don't need your apologies, I need a new flight. Why should I try to understand. FINE I'll wait!  But I will report this. I will file a complaint. I won't let you go away with it so easily". On this threatening note the man finally stepped aside to reveal a much annoyed lady sitting behind the desk and an exasperated one rushing elsewhere. The lady almost stifled a scream when she looked at my flight number. Maybe she was gearing up for another outburst from yet another cantankerous passenger. Which is why she was visibly pleased when I didn't turn out to be one.

Now six hours can be tedious. Even when you do all sorts of things like-reading, watching tv, changing your clothes for the heck of it, doing your hair, redoing your hair, scrubbing your face, getting some caffeine into your system, some more reading, observing the people, hogging at KFC, checking out an expensive set of pearls at a la-di-da jewelery store, going to the handbag store next and bookstore after that, taking more than your usual time in the restroom, walking all over the place. You can do all this and still you'll find some idle time to do nothing. As the boarding time drew closer, I did few of the above mentioned things again, found a nice seat, closed my eyes and waited for the announcement. Aaah...I was going in a trance.. relaxing, peaceful....noisy . Wait..Noisy?
There was someone shouting. Near the departure gate. That voice was familiar.Oh yes! That complaining man again. "But look at the time" I said to myself. "Did I fall asleep or something? It is well past the boarding time" I panicked. It wasn't. Apparently there was some more delay, and man was beside himself with rage.
" First you delay it for three hours. Then you don't put me on another flight. Now you're telling me that there is more delay"
"Yes Sir, I quite understand, but..."
"We PAY for it. Pay for the bloody ticket. Ha ya Na?"
"Sir, please listen to.."
"Tell me Ha ya na?"
"HA YA NA? Yes or No?"
" That is true sir, but.."
"Then! Still you treat us like dogs. Telling us when to get on a flight. I will NEVER travel in this airlines. And I will tell everyone I can to do the same. You are unprofessional. Irresponsible. No respect for passengers. Inefficient. Worst treatment. I will tell everyone. You should be sued."
The guy on the receiving end was twice this man's height and ten times as fit. Someone who'd have any day beaten the rudeness out of this guy in a regular roadside brawl. But at that moment his hands were tied and he could do nothing better than to digest the diatribe with dignity.
Finally half an hour later, I fastened my seat-belt and took out my book. The plot was thickening. I was reading intently when...
"What the...oh crap!" thought I. The rude guy was seated in the adjacent row. The air-hostess came running
"Yes Sir?"
"Shouldn't the flight be taking off for us to reach Ahmedabad?"
"There is heavy air-traffic. We'll take off as soon as we get the signal"
I knew what was coming. I knew I wouldn't be able to read even a word from then on. I was right.
"WHAAAAAT? More delay? Are you kidding me? This is the limit. The limit I tell you"
The air hostess quite taken aback replied " Sir.please try to understand.."
"Try to understand what exactly? That's what you people have been telling me since the afternoon. Unprofessional jerks. That's what you people are. How much time?"
" 20-25 mins" she replied hesitatingly, unable to believe that somebody can be so rude.
The man grunted and she left. Thirty more minutes passed without us moving and as expected..
"Yes Sir?" said a new air hostess. Clearly the old one didn't want to come back
"That other girl said 25 minutes. It is 35 minutes now. Why are we not moving?"
"Sir, the air traffic..'
"Don't give me all that crap. When will we take off? Let me see the pilot"
"Sir the Captain said.."
"I don't want to listen to you (getting up) Take me to the pilot.."
At that moment the the plane moved towards the runway. Ten odd minutes later, it came to a halt.
"Yes sir?" The first air-hostess was back. This time stony-faced.
"I want to get out of this flight. It is unlikely that it will fly tonight"
"Sir we were eleventh in number. Now we are fourth. A little more time sir"
"A little more time? Do you even wear a watch? I should've been at home four hours ago. But where am I? Stuck in this immobile plane. No no, get me out. Now"
"That is not possible sir. We'll be taking off any minute now. Please bear with us. Thank You"
The air hostess left as fast as she could with the man shouting after her. Ten more minutes later we finally took off. All was well. But Murphy doesn't like well. Which is why....
"Yes sir?" said the exasperated air hostess
"Where is the food? I'm hungry. You make us wait for ages to get on this flight. Then it doesn't take off. And now there's no food. Why is this airline even functioning?"
"The food trolley will come shortly, sir"
"Wait. Where are the headphones? I can't find any?"
"There aren't any headphones sir. This flight doesn't have a screen, as you can see"
"Of course it doesn't. Why should it? Because how else will it accomplish its mission of being completely bogus. You should get an award for this. The worst airlines award. Huh"
" Sorry for the inconvenience, sir". But she didn't look sorry. If anything, she looked murderous.
As promised the food trolley arrived after a few minutes.A pleasantly smiling air-hostess was pushing it while asking everyone-"Would you like to buy something to eat?" She slowly approached the rude man and put her extra-fake-smile-mask on.
"So you did manage to bring the food before we landed. Feather in your hat. What all are you giving me?"
"You get to choose, sir. There's the menu"
"Hmm..Ok. Give me a chicken sandwich, a mexican wrap, this salad thingy and coffee"
(Handed over the food) "That'll be five hundred and fifty rupees sir".The man looked at her as if she was mad.
"I am supposed to PAY for all this? Do you think I'm a first time traveler? An Idiot?"
I suspect she certainly agreed with the Idiot part, but refrained from saying yes. She then calmly replied
" Sir, your airfare is not inclusive of food charges. That used to happen earlier. Now you have to buy your food. It is so in all private airlines."
" Which is why I won't be travelling in one after this fiasco. Take the money and get me a complaint form. And please don't tell me I have to buy that too".
"I'll do that, sir"
The poor air-hostess brought a booklet type form and handed it over with a pleasant (fake) smile, probably all the time wishing to kick his ass. Respect.
"This space is too little for my complaints. Get me another form". She pursed her lips and got another form. The man started working on his vituperative feedback form with relish. The air hostess walked away with supreme indifference. Again, Respect.
Finally the flight landed and while getting down the rude guy (who was ahead of me in the queue.Ugh) handed over two feedback forms, now filled with bitter words, and said "Make sure you give them to the right people. I will also mail and call the concerned authorities to report this ill-treatment, so don't think you can throw that away".
"We don't intend to do any of that, sir. Your feedback is very valuable for us and all your complaints will be addressed. Thank You for flying with us."

The rude man went away grunting.. And I was left to ponder about the crassness that the Indian service sector has to put up with to match up to the global standards. The ranting Indian is everywhere around us. Sometimes, even within us.