Talent Beyond Good Looks

ardhsatya_youtube            Om Puri in Ardha Satya

It is commonly  believed  that ‘good looks’ are needed to be a film actor.  Om Puri, one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema who passed away suddenly on Friday after a cardiac arrest, proved this wrong.

Every newspaper and news channel commended his talent and recalled his histrionics. Writing on the life or talent of Om Puri, Padma Shri, OBE,  would be  repetition. So I would record only a personal memory. Continue reading Talent Beyond Good Looks

Fight to Stop Perverts

crimes-against-women-in-indMass molestation of women on Bengaluru’s most important streets -MG Road and Brigade Road-during New Year revelry, is a week-old story. Even as the public outrage is still on, come reports of a 24-year-old woman molested in Baghpat (UP) by four men who also chopped off her ears for resisting rape  and of molestations heralding 2017 even in Delhi and many cities..

The Times group, especially its news channel Times Now  has started a campaign to  ‘Stop the Perverts’. Karnataka Home Minister G.Parameswara’s first reaction was that it was no Continue reading Fight to Stop Perverts

Resolve To Dream

New Year Day, January 1, is the day everyone thinks of New Year Resolutions; some make the resolutions and many more recall those made last year but not  implemented.new-year-resolutions.

Some resolve not to make New Year Resolutions. All realise that very few can implement all resolutions. Many know that the resolutions are just the promises you make yourself and not a guarantee of action. No one makes a resolution with an intention to break Continue reading Resolve To Dream

Ugly Start for Happy Year


On January 1, we wake into a New Year – of new hopes and desires, of aspirations and expectations, that would help us overcome the disappointments and failures of the year that has just ended. It is normally a happy, beautiful day.
But Bangalore, known all over the world as a centre of information technology, woke up to reports that hundreds of women were molested, groped and even injured by hooligans on ‘MG Road’. Attempts were made to strip them. They were pulled by hair. Continue reading Ugly Start for Happy Year

Hollyweed and Bottlewood


New Year Happy, or Just Another …?

Last night, just before Zero Hour, I sat down to wonder on the blog whether there was any sense in ‘celebrating’ a New Year with all the fanfare usually associated with it.

Just then my WiFi wailed and put a stop to the attempt. Today it came on as mysteriously as it had gone – making me wonder, again for the umpteenth time, whether all the  fuss was being made over it when there is nothing in our  hands. Did the New Year meant anything more than just changing the calendar?

diwali2009abhinabahttpflic-krp78nuv2For decades I wondered about  this – sometimes in noisy parties to which friends had dragged me, sitting lonely in the crowd making all the noise and attempting to drown senses in booz, waiting for the

lights to go off at zero hour to “usher in” the new year with noisy greetings and hugs, Continue reading New Year Happy, or Just Another …?

Name the Prejudice

Some people, like politicians and film stars, thrive on controversy. Their careers depend on publicity – good or bad. Psychological studies have proved that bad news attracts more attention, and therefore spreads faster and wider, than good. So, to be in the eyes of the public, ‘stars’ (or their PR agents) ‘leak’ rumours or scandals against themselves. They prefer being written against. Being ignored means death.
But to be controversial and become the centre of a raging social media debate from birth is the privilege of the scion of the Pataudi dynasty. Saif Ali Khan Pataudi and his wife Kareena Kapoor, named him Taimur and thereby touched off a debate on the social media like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. What was the right of the parents, to chose a name which an individual has to live with for his or her whole life, has come into the public domain.

rhodes_inida The ostensible reason for the digital storm is that the name happens to be that of Taimur Lang (Langda -lame- shortened. He had a deformed leg). Taimur was an Islamic invader from Mongolia who had attacked and sacked India, especially Delhi, with unequaled barbarity. Over 1.7 crore people were killed and thousands of women raped. But he was not the only one who did it. Other invaders and rulers like Ghajni, Sikandar, Babur, Tipu and Aurangazeb emulated him. Even after that the name Sikandar was given to many in India, without any protests. And yet India is home to the second largest number of Muslims in the word! To get their votes, some call India intolerant!

Continue reading Name the Prejudice

Tomorrow becomes Today

Yesterday I said I will blog today. I lied. That itself was yesterday’s blog. The tomorrow has become today and one more blog is in order. A friend had an objection: You don’t have to blog every day. Write a blog only when you feel like it, he said.

If that is done, half the books, articles and blogs in the world would not have been written at all. An equal number or more would have remained mere concepts in the minds of people, who either did not know the art and craft of writing or lacked the patience and will to go through with it. The unwritten works could have been lost masterpieces, great ideas wasted.

Every potential writer is told that good writing is the result more of perspiration than inspiration. The habit of sitting down to write and fulfilling a target every day must be cultivated, one is told. The need to express may take the form of writing, painting or even singing. Vincent van Gogh, one of the world’s greatest painters and a trail blazer, was said to have sat down to paint every day at fixed hours and even painted on earlier paintings or made self-portraits when he could not afford new canvasses or paid models.

And those who did not write because of the lack of will outnumber those who lacked the craftsmanship or art. “Why write?”, they question, “No one reads. Who has the time? Facebook and WhatsApp have killed reading.”

When I was down in spirits thinking “no one reads”, a social media contact knocked down that argument. She said writing, being read and people buying the book are three differed things. One should write because one wants to, not because someone reads or for the article or book to be accepted.

There are several reasons for writing and someone reading or appreciating is just one of them. Picking up links from the comments on different blogs I follow, I cam across one who blogs “to overcome depression” and another because she lost a child and wants to unburden the grief. I then remembered that the blogging I stopped years ago was started again when, after 48 years of marriage, my wife passed away.

Life deals a deadly blow to many. They suffer unexpressed agony that may lead to depression and even lead to suicidal tendencies or other mental ailments. I then recalled a poem by Alfred Tennyson I read decades ago – ‘Home They Brought the Warrior Dead’. A princess whose husband meets gallant death in war was stunned when the body was brought back. “She nor swooned nor uttered a cry”. Her maids tried to make her react because “a nurse of ninety years” told them, “She must weep or she will die.” When all efforts failed, her child was brought and put in her lap. Then “Like summer tempest came the tears.”  She realised that she must live – for the child.

A blogger sees the beauty of nature around him, captures it with his camera and shares the thrill. Yet another spins a poem a day – around the word suggested by the Daily Post.

Joy, not tragedy alone, may make one want to communicate.

To communicate is an essentially human need. When the cumbersome rules to shape the words into the format required for journalism or a book are removed –and  blogs impose no such requirements–  the writing becomes much easier. The blog may be just a few lines on some current event, an expression of some emotion aroused by the ups and downs of life, a deep, lengthy, philosophical analysis or  a few words with pictures of something that enthralled or shocked the blogger who wants to share it with others. Or it may be a representation in words or pictures of the “summer tempest” of tears that saved the heart from breaking or the mind from losing its balance.

A blog, without the compulsions of commerce, is a peep into one’s heart and soul. Just tbe ‘like’ it. Or ignore  it.

I Will Blog Tomorrow

My last blog was on November 4. Starting to write over 58 years ago and soon making the printed (or written) word my livelihood, I thought blogging was easy. It is not. Especially if you are used to writing 1000-word articles or ‘stories’ with a catchy ‘intro’ and a punchy conclusion.

After the last blog I began umpteen times. And gave up more times than that as some did not go beyond intention.

Delaying action or procrastination has been written about scores of times — sometimes as an ‘art’, often as a problem.  Recently a scinetific psychological study linked it to the process of evolution of human beings. The study has found that procratination has a ‘genetic component’ and is related to “traits like impulsivity and goal management”. Procrastination, it is revealed, is the result of “psychological factors” and “failure of mood regulation”.

This is as good as ‘discovering’ that putting a fingrer in fire can cause burns and it hurts. Everyone knows the causes. What they need to know is how to prevent it.

The Daily Post suggests a word on which the blog can be based. I found many blogs which try to fit that word in whatever was already in the blogger’s mind. Often it is so contrived and laboured that it is not spontaneous or natural.

Failure can be the foundation of a new effort, many inspirational speakers and writers say.So I thought of another method: Think of a title and write around it.

Some titles are so appealing that they will remain in memory for all time to come, like Richard Llewellyn’s ‘How Green Was My Valley‘ and ‘None But the Lonely Heart‘ or ‘Beyond the Darkness‘ by Samira Bellissimo. ‘I Will Cry Tomorow‘, a film on the life of an alcoholic, Lilian Roth, is another example.

The title, many writers feel, is what makes people read.

This is not true. I chose a title for a book 57 years ago – ‘A Town Called Penury‘ – published it last year and found that none of the 5000-odd ‘connected’ people had even their curiosity aroused by it -leave aside buying it to read.

Titles don’t sell. Only the status of the writer as a celebrity does. And (s)he does not get that status till the book sells. The viscious circle is broken only by luck – or good maketing. Both eluded me.

Even then I thought a catchy title will inspire me to write — if not the reader to read.

So I thought of one: ‘I Will Blog tomorrow‘.

In Search of Indians – in India

This is being written in a hospital. During almost a month spent outside Intensive Care Units, Operation Theatres and in wards, there is one thing that made me think deeply about and stirred memories: how we, in India, are not Indians but Kannadigas, Telugus, Maharashtrians, Biharis or……
It brought back memories of an editor, imposed on the local edition of ‘national’ (in reality ‘notional’) English daily, who was being introduced to the seniors there. “I hate Malayalis” was his instant reaction when introduced to a Malayali sub-editor and “I hate Kashmiri Pandits,” when it was the turn of a KP senior journalist.

Old friends occasionally remind me of a conversation piece I used to use 40 years ago to make people at informal get-togethers talk: “Give a Telugu man a million rupees and he would take the first train to Madras (now Chennai), try to produce a film and lose it all. A Bangalore Kannadiga would invest it in real estate and earn enough rent to live on. Give a Marathi manus the money and he would put it in a bank to live off the interest. A Marwari would lend it at high interest to double it in a year or two. A Gujarati would put it in business to make a lot of money, not wealth, while a Punjabi would start an industry, create jobs and add to national wealth.”
What made me think of these silly stereotypes about different communities was the fact that in all the major hospitals, the lingua franca of the nursing station is Malayalam (just as that of Marwari-owned Indian Express group till recently was not Hindi or English but Tamil). Over half century ago nurses in a Vidarbha town agitated, asking for rice which was scarce after the 1962 China war; they ate just rice alone (that too parboiled rice), as all of them – not just most – were from Kerala.
Imagine mid-1960s, when most towns were not as cosmopolitan as they are today. Imagine chuni-bhakar eating, Marathi-speaking Amravati town in land-locked arid Vidarbha and Kerala where it rained, rained and rained and you crossed rivulets every few miles and young girls from there who spoke nothing but Malayalam and even English that sounded like it. Coming hundreds of miles away, they kept hospitals there – and at equally far and unfamiliar places – running.
Some countries in the world today look to India for trained, dedicated nurses. And there would have been no nursing in India but for these young Malayali girls, an overwhelming majority of them Christians.
The argument that they came just because there were no jobs in Kerala is simplistic.That does not explain the tremendous sense of patience, dedication and compassion almost all of them show. Their Christian roots and belief in Jesus washing the wounds of a leper must have something to do with it.
Had Christianity been not so widespread in Kerala, God’s own country, that state may not have been the pioneer in the nursing profession.
Just when these thoughts were in my mind, a man who rose to eminence for a movement against Malayali pavement shop-keepers in Bombay (now Mumbai) was in hospital (perhaps being served by Malayali nurses). His Shiv Sena later spread the hatred to other groups too, but I don’t recollect his ever assailing the near monopoly of Malayali nurses.
The ‘sons of the soil’ could start roadside shops, sell duplicate goods or take up office jobs to end the dominationof Malayalis in these areas, but the daughters were not equally forthcoming to take up nursing, with its night duties and not-very-easy, often unpleasant, hard work.
This is not the occasion to discuss Balasaheb Thackeray, who is no more, or his ideology, but one cannot deny that the very mention of his names brings forth the hate-images most Indians have about communities other their own. It was not very long ago that most people (even educated) in the Hindi belt thought everyone in the South was a ‘Madrasi’, that Telugus used to refer to Tamil language as ‘aravam’ (unpleasant to the ear), that a Marwari was regarded as a ‘makkhichoos’ or kanjoos (miser), a Marathi a lazy ‘ghati’ or a Bihari as uncouth and backward. Sardars in north, Nadars and Chettiars in south have been butt ends of jokes for decades. In UP brainless, dull people are called ‘Balliatic’ – people of Ballia district of former Prime Minister – the late Chandrshekhar. Warari Manse (Vidarbha people) are supposed to be backward, unsophisticated. There are many more such prejudices.
Similar to these prejudicial stereotypes and mutual mistrust among communities, some jobs are traditionally linked to certain groups – like Malayalis and nursing.
In the days of the freedom movement there was a joke about Netaji Subhashchandra Bose addressing a predominantly-Tamil audience in Mumbai’s Chembur-King Cross area. The Congress then was split between the followers of Gandhiji and Netaji. Reportedly,
Subhash asked: “Gentlemen, are you moderates or liberals?” and the audience, in one voice, answered: “Sir, we are stenographers”.
Just as most stenos, at one time, were Tamilians, earthwork was (and to some extent is) mostly done by Telugu ‘Palamoor labour’ (Mehaboobnagar in Telangana was originally Palamoor), foundry work by Biharis, retail shop-keeping by Marwaris and Sindhis, timber trade by Gujaratis and taxi drivers (at least in Mumbai) were men from the UP-Bihar area. Locksmiths and duplicate key-makers are mostly Muslims, mainly from Aligarh (UP) fampus for its lock-making industry. Most of the male cooks, who satisfy the hunger of many IT employees in Bangalore apartments, are from Odisha. A majority of the ‘pourakarmikas’ (sweepers) of civic bodies in Karnataka are from Andhra. A closer look will reveal many more such links. Say you are a Patel in USA and it would be presumed you run a motel,
How wrong today these stereotypes are need not be proved to any intelligent person.
I knew a senior Bihari journalist who was so impressed by the translation of a story by Masti VenkateshIyengar that he learnt Kannada to read his original works. A Tamilian, Viswanathan was a well-known Bengali film actor. Most actresses in Telugu today are from other languages. RangeyaRaghav, a Tamilian, was an eminent Hindi writer. P.V. Narasimha Rao spoke excellent Hindi and Marathi besides many other languages. Yester-year’s J. V. Raman (of DD) and today’s SitaramYechuri and Swami Agnivesh, all Telugus, speak better Hindi than quite a few Hindis. Those resorting to goondaism to “protect” Kannada are ignorant about three Gnanpeeth-award winning Kannada authors with roots in other languages – Masti in Tamil, Bendre in Marathi and Gundappa in Telugu. That is the greatness of Kannada. Such examples can go on and on.
The resources, geography and climate of a region influenced traditional occupations and led to cultural and behavioural peculiarities that created such stereotypes. With changing times the behavioural patterns changed. Comedian Mahmood’s ‘Madrasi’ said ‘ayyo’ in every sentence and spoke horrible Hindi. Today many South Indian politicians speak fluent Hindi (while hardly any northern leader can speak a southern language). Anyone who finds another’s language unintelligible and funny should know that his own tongue sounds just the same to the other.
And yet these stereotypes live on.
They may provide some fun when used for jokes. But they are dangerous if they lead to the “I hate….” syndrome. Someswar1@gmail.com