Monday, July 30, 2007

Friendly Foe

Here's my take on Vikram Sakhuja, COO of Group M, who made it to DNA's top 50 most influential people in Mumbai, published today. He emailed me his thanks, truly touched!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pilgrim's Progress

I travel too much.

This last round has been different though. North, South, East, West, all in one monsoon week. Before I post random observations from my travels, here are the lyrics of an Enya song I once liked a lot, which suit the mood of these days :

Pilgrim, how you journey
On the road you chose
To find out why the winds die
And where the stories go.

All days come from one day
That much you must know,
You cannot change what's over
But only where you go.

One way leads to diamonds,
One way leads to gold,
Another leads you only
To everything you're told.

In your heart you wonder
Which of these is true;
The road that leads to nowhere,
The road that leads to you.

Will you find the answer
In all you say and do?
Will you find the answer
In you?

Each heart is a pilgrim,
Each one wants to know
The reason why the winds die
And where the stories go.

Pilgrim, in your journey
You may travel far,
For pilgrim it's a long way
To find out who you are...

1) I often meet the rural folk. In Maharashtra, I find them simple but smart. In UP, just plain stupid. On the four hour journey to Fort Unchagaon driving past verdant fields, palpable unemployment, drab uninspiring brick and mortar houses, children swimming in canals when they should have been at school, and body breaking non-roads, I also spotted several jugaards, which coincidentally I read about in yesterday's Business Standard. Indian ingenuity at its peak, that too in UP. Here's the article.

2) I love Kolkatta. I am always happy in Kolkatta, even when I'm sad. Kolkatta is a friend for life. I think that's because a good Coastal Indian only feels at home wherever there are palm trees. North India is bereft without palms. Driving past both the bypasses yesterday, I feasted my eyes on the light green grassy swamps fringed by dark green brush and majestic swaying palms. Sweet.

3) Bangalore. Once I looked forward to going there, now the traffic and the power cuts frighten me off. Something's just not right in Bangalore. From a bubbling adolescent, the city has turned into a scheming adult. An unnatural darkness is creeping into its soul. Bangalore needs saving.

4) Pune, and the expressway, past Northpoint on the right after the Khandala junction. Smooth, fast, efficient, great looking, that's just like us. How come there are no expressways in the NCR?

5) Money. It's a gas. Wish the journalists would stop bugging me. I hear Edel's voice calling out my name several times on the phone in sheer wonder, it's far away in the middle of UP, but I can feel her joy, I read Premjeet's shy words in his email, I watch the tears welling up in Santosh's eyes, I laugh at Mani's description of DDG's expression when Partha tells him the figure ('have you added a zero?') before he takes out a glass of whisky and counts the amount on each of the checques sip by sip, I lecture my PGPAMMer's - save some of it, don't pour it all down the pub, I hug and am hugged by old people, young people, people who are the wind beneath our wings and need a windfall of their own, people who need some Cheeni in their lives and got it. Balki my dear, don't be such a killjoy.

6) Horror. This is just one of the many pictures framed up at the Fort Unchagaon haveli. A cub, for God's sake, a cub?!

It's a long way indeed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Speaking up for the voiceless

Despite having three important presentations around the corner, I am overcome by a strange ennui, and just can't seem to get cracking on them. Inspiration, where art thou? I have been unnaturally silent this year. No scathing columns about TAM or ABC in the business press, no interviews to the websites. Indeed, for almost four months this is the only place I have put down any thoughts, and most of them borrowed. I was asked to do a piece on radio, which I ignored, but I did send a short number on Vikram Sakhuja for DNA last week, he is coming up in the 50 most influential people in Mumbai list. Noor says I must talk, I say ok ok, next week maybe.

Perhaps it's due to the covert guilt I feel about a completely separate issue - that I have not yet spoken up about the stray dogs issue this year. No ads, no columns, no interviews, no letters to the editor. The news channels footage of the dogs being dragged off in trucks in Bangalore, carcasses piled up and tossed around, the sms campaigns, the WSD calendar, the high court judgement, and the madman Phatak's pronouncement - they all leave me with a sense of 'let it be'. Sound and fury signifying nothing. Bad men will be bad, dogs will be dogs, good people will be good.

My darlings in Torda vaccinated 157 dogs against rabies free of cost this Sunday in a camp conducted for the Merces panchayat. Next Sunday, we will do the same number at Mapusa, sponsored by the local MLA. While protesters shout from the rooftops, we go about quietly doing real work.

Red FM's Malishka did a good show this morning featuring the issue, promoting the adoption of stray pups by societies etc. Sort of similar to the one Radio City did for me last August, which actually went on for a week. While Maneka has sent me this little film, which Pedigree has kindly produced for PFA, to get telecast on all the networks. Am posting it here, in case the film inspires you to do something too.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Ace men

When you serve 25 clean aces, how can you not win?

Still there were some tense moments there, especially in the fourth set when I shut off the TV not wanting to watch Federer lose. But of course he bounced back in the fifth set, how could he not? What a wonderful evening of some really great tennis amid good weather and Borg himself watching.

I found this clip on Youtube today, the song isn't good but the maker has edited together some fine moments indeed.

As a kid, when I played tennis for the state and was nationally ranked (all 35 frailweight kilos of me!) I once played a bet match with an American pro and won. The winnings were a Donnay that Borg himself had used and given him. I treasure the racquet and don't have a picture of it with me here in Mumbai, so I hope this one (taken off the net to show you what it looks like) will do instead.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Raindrops keep falling on my head

Everyone has a favorite cinema moment. Interestingly enough, a really touching personal cinema moment may not be one that was cinematographically pathbreaking, or one that has been written about, copied, referred to, praised or criticised. It would probably just be something that stirs up a sweet memory, or fuels a new dream. There are many cinema moments that still bring out the goose pimples or catch my breath every time I watch the scene.

Appropriate to the weather then, here is a clip of an all time favourite - the cycling song from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - BJ Thomas's "Raindrops keep falling on my head".

As a child, I was 'rained on' several times by older relatives who found creative ways to pour water over my head every time I warbled out the song. Once I was sitting on the potty when my cousin ingeniously emptied a lota of water on me through the grills separating the toilet area from the main bathroom. He himself had to stand on a high stool to reach the grills. Another time, the shower came down from a bucket emptied by my aunt sitting atop a ledge overhanging the balcony I was standing on. That didn't stop me, I still sang the song, loving its rhythm and its lyrics. Even to a child, the message carries a strong meaning. As an adult, even more so. "I just did me some talking to the sun, and I said I didn't like the way he got things done, sleeping on the job.... coz I'm never gonna stop the rain by complaining...."

As for the cinema moment, I'm sure you know which one it is - that cheeky exchange between Paul Newman and the bull of course! Enjoy the goosebumps as you approach the end of the song and remember that no matter what, you're free...