Friday, October 31, 2008

I am the very beautiful

This is the name of a documentary film made by my good friend and senior (FTII), Shayamal Karmarkar. Before I talk of the film, I gotta talk about Shyamalda. Long back, when I was studying in the Institute, there was a strike and I was in my hometown. Once you have started a life in the Insti, being forced to be home doing nothing was synonymous to being apart from a new lover. Those were the days before emails, cell phones, I think we didnt even have a landline then.

And I got a card from Shaymal. I do not remember the contents of the card. What I cannot forget, is that, on the top-right corner of the envelope, instead of a stamp, was a sketch of Shyamal himself. He had so expertly printed it, with zig-zag edge on all sides, that the post-office had literally stamped the round black thappa on it, without realizing that this aint no stamp.

So up here are Shyamol and his heroine, Ranu. Ranu Gayan. She thinks she is very beautiful. And this makes her so. It's that simple.

And, as is obvious from the photograph, Shyamal thinks, no he feels her beauty. So he shot with her for six years, and made a film, seeing which, even I am smitten. In fact, I started the film again after it finished, because I wanted to continue looking at her.

A few years ago, in the boys hostel of FTII, when I told him that I am Ramakrishna's fan, Shyamal had confessed that he comes from the same family as the master. Like an idiot, I touched Shyamals feet, much to the embarrassment of all the folks around, including Shyamal. Afterwards, I thought, Shyamal is such a nalayak, he must have lied. I regreted touching his feet.

One of the nicest aspects of Sri Ramankrishna is the sweet sweet way he treated women. Although he was celibate, he was most loving to his wife. He never called her 'tu', but always refered to her as 'tumhi'. (Ok, that was a marathi translation, but I am no bengali, and yes, I still own Ramakrishna.) And, when Ramakrishna was sent to a umm, prostitute, he bowed down to her and said that she is Kali herself. It seems they wanted his spiritual madness to 'come down' a little, but the fellow was too far gone into samadhi.

This is a concept that has been used in many a film, but it has always remained a superficial gesture. No film maker ever came ten feet close to the original.

Till now. 'I am the very beautiful' is a film in which Shyamal has bowed to us women. As we are.
And why not, for we are the very beautiful.

I have no idea where this film is available, I got it from the HOD of a film departmnet. Maybe you can ask Shyamal? Pasting below some words that introduce the film.


The film follows a man-woman relationship, the woman incidentally being an "international" bar singer by profession and the man a film maker and also, the director of the film.

If a human being is the best plot, then Ranu is one thick plot. Over the past 6 years of filming, she has moved from one relationship to another, from one home and even one country to another. After an extremely modest upbringing in a refugee family, an abduction, a child, suicide attempts and many failed relationships later, Ranu is a total contrast to Shyamal who is well educated, well to do and of course, well respected.

Where Ranu's predicament as a poor exploited beer bar singer "inspires" a film maker to make a film, the filming of 6 odd years makes it quite clear that she knows her way around in the "male world". In a life, full of men and stories, the director is being just one among the many. But the relationship grows with the film as the two accept each other despite moral archetypes and the film ultimately, turns out to be a sign of their trust and respect for each other as human beings.

The film is a compassionate view of the struggles and dreams of a woman perceived as an outcast and also in which the film maker dares to bare his own dilemmas.

Director: Shyamal Kumar Karmakar

Producer: Sanghamitra Karmakar

Camera: Satya Prakash Rath & Gnana Sekara

Sound: Pritam Das & Bobby John

Edit: Namrata Rao

Music: Chiradip Das Gupta

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How to play a you tube video on a blog

First, click on the play button. The bottom one, next to the line.

You will see a circle going round round in the middle of the frame. Wait for a few seconds, till you hear a sound. As soon as you hear a sound, click on the play button quickly, so that it becomes a pause button, and then again becomes play, after changing color. If you stare at the place next to the button, you should see a red (or any deep) colour spreading towards the right. If this happens, well done. Now your video is getting buffered. Till this happens, keep clicking the play button, it will work only if you click when the sound is heard.

Another sign that your video is getting buffered is that the circular dots in the center of the screen disappear. And the video stops playing.

Wait for a few minutes till the complete line is coloured, This means your video is buffered. A Buffered video is something that plays continuously. Streamlined. Whatever.

Oh, by the way, I learnt this method through trial and error, so I might have got the technical bits all mixed up.

Sometimes, it is not possible to display a video (because the embed code is not available), but a link is given. Click on the link, you will go to you-tube directly, and play stop play till the video gets buffered, the same as above. You can search for your old favourite songs on you tube and do time pass all day.

And if you want the 'link' to the video even if it is posted on the blog, double click on the image, you will go to the you tube page and the url on top is the link.

This is an Abida song that is played quite often in Osho Ashram at Mehsana. I love dancing to it.

And How TO Comment on a Blog

If you feel like commenting, click on 'commnets' below the post, another page will open, write your praise or blame in the box, then dont forget to type in the wierd letters in the small box below, then enter your name, you dont have to be a blogger to comment, and click on Publish.

I also teach how to start a blog, but for that I will charge. My fees are, one comment on my blog per week for an year.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A silent afternoon in Diwali

I must admit I am enjoying an undisturbed, independent Diwali to the optimum. I just saw this you-tube video of Swami Nityananda's instructions on Shambhavi Mudra Meditation, and it was so very beautiful to sit quietly in front of my darling, my computer.

Watch this video if you are interested in learning meditation. This is the beauty of the Internet. The master comes home to teach you, and you don't even have to wash his feet.

A Lonesome Diwali

'Where's the boy today?' the ironing walah asks me.
It is usually Pavan's job to get the ironed clothes.

'He has gone to Delhi. For Diwali.' I reply.

'Oh, you didn't go?' he asks.

'New job, no. Wont get leave.' I crib.

'And brother? He also gone?'

'Yes, Papa also gone.'

'So sad. Very sad.' he sympathizes, as he hands over the clothes.

Walking back home, my cell busses. It's a friend.

'Hi sweetie.... You are all alone on Diwali?...Why didn't you go with your family?' she asks, after the preliminaries.

'Come on, I need a Diwali break yaar. Some time to be with myself, to reflect, to meditate...'

'Man, you are a very different type of person. I really admire you...'

As I open my door, the cell comes to life again. Its mom.

'Happy Diwali, Ai.' I say.

'Happy Independence week, shona!' she says. I laugh. You can fool the world, but you can't fool mother dear.

with a cup of tea,

when something is missing,

all i can do,

is look at the mountain.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

the first song

I must have been ten, or nine, or eight. All I remember was this boy, sitting on a big black cycle, the cycle sitting on its stand, pedaling away continuously, and repeatedly singing this complete song. He sang loud and clear, and there was something in his voice that got to me. He sang like he meant every word.

It was the first song of my life, after nursery rhymes. The first song to become a set of lyrics, and meanings, and thoughts that evoked feelings. I had no idea, at that time, that songs were written and composed and sung by different people. Which is why, even today when I hear this song, it is the boy sitting on the cycle who sings, not for me, but for himself, and that is so very gut wrenching.

healthy advice



n i d  o k i d o s

* Don't smoke- Experiment from experts proves that smoking a cigarette after meal is comparable to smoking 10 cigarettes (chances of cancer is higher).

n   i d o k i d o s

* Don't eat fruits immediately - Immediately eating fruits after meals will cause stomach to be bloated with air. Therefore take fruit 1-2 hr after meal or 1hr before meal.

n i  d o k i d  o s

Don't drink tea - Because tea leaves contain a high content of acid. This substance will cause the Protein content in the food we consume to be hardened thus difficult to digest.

n i  d o k i d o s

* Don't loosen your belt - Loosening the belt after a meal will easily cause the intestine to be twisted & blocked.

n i d o k i d o  s

* Don't bathe - Bathing after meal will cause the increase of blood flow to the hands, legs & body thus the amount of blood around the stomach will therefore decrease. This will weaken the digestive system in our stomach.
n i d o k i d o s
* Don't walk about - People always say that after a meal walk a hundred steps and you will live till 99. In actual fact this is not true. Walking will cause the digestive system to be unable to absorb the nutrition from the food we intake.

n i d o k i d o s
* Don't sleep immediately - The food we intake will not be able to digest properly. Thus will lead to gastric & infection in our intestine.

This was an email forwarded. Below is my addition.

Instead, have a cup of hot water, and chat for five ten minutes.


Maybe because his name was Pavan.

The young man from Bihar who got killed in the recent violence perpetuated by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sainiks in Mumbai. It seems he had come to give an entrance test.

I am reminded of a poem written by my sister, Rajashree.


A Muslim is a fanatic, always on the offensive,

A Sardar is a fool, and a militant one at that,

A Hindu is a cunning bigot, scheming to squash out all other religions,

Images I can see, each time instead of seeing a man,

Images I must see, each time I have a knife in my hand.

Friday, October 24, 2008

And I met the rain

I usually avoid getting wet in the rain. I am too scared of catching a cold. Anyway I wake up most mornings sneezing.

But today as I walked towards the office holding the umbrella for dear life, it started pouring like nobody's business. I started cursing my stupidity for not taking an auto rickshaw, while the trucks happily sprayed me with the muddy water.

After a while, though, the cursing and cribbing became in tune with the rain drops. And then I started singing. Rain drops have such a heart throbbing rhythm, it is impossible not to sing. Even when I finally got into an auto I continued to hum.

And it was perfectly natural for the driver to hum along.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

'Juno' a reveiw

'Lets see a movie no.' I cribbed to hubby, last night.

'Ok. Which?'

'Surprise me. Some thing from your downloaded collection.'


We started with 'City of lost children.' In less than five minutes, I was cribbing again.

'This is too scary. Lets see something else no, please.'

'Ok, lets see this one. Its a very good film from Cuba. It's called, 'The Lost City. This was about Feidel Castro's time.'

About ten minutes later, I gave up. 'I cant understand a word from the dialogues. And I am in no shape for a revolution. Can we see something more feminine, please?'

'Wtf. You think I am a TV remote?'

'Please, please, pretty please.' I begged.

'You are a fake. I don't believe you are from FTII. You don't have the patience to watch a good movie,' he complained, but he didn't leave the bedroom with his laptop.

'Ok, this is your last chance. It's an Oscar winner. Juno. About a teenage girl in US getting pregnant.'

'Lets try.' I said, yawning.

Maybe ten minutes, maybe fifteen, and the sleep flew out the window.

Juno. A sixteen year old who chickens out from an abortion and decides to give her baby for adoption. Digs into a newspaper to look for ads from childless couples, and selects which ones seem the most cool. And then tell her parents that she is pregnant. And then they go meet the adoptive parents. A couple who have not been able to conceive for the last five years. A woman who feels she is 'born to be a mother.'

They sign a contract. The couple will pay for the medical expenses, and the baby will go to them.
What a beautiful arrangement. Somehow, it seemed so very cool. I always thought surrogate mothers were like, strange women, till I saw this film. It is a service, carrying a babe for someone else. Hats off.

The plot moves well, its not all malai shakkar. Some poignant moments, and very well developed characters. The casting is almost as good as the script.

What was worth admiration, was the universal flavor that got preserved in spite of the American touch.

Here is the trailer of the film.

And if you want to down load it, go to Gosh, I must be a fake. I am suggesting piracy.

In fact, I am sure an Indian version is on the way. Infertility and teenage pregnancy is too juicy
a combination to be let off by our masala directors.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

'Hello', a review

Ok, I will start from the beginning. I clapped when Chetan Bhagat's name was the first on screen. The kid was scandalized and he tried to stop me. (I am going to have to send him to the Film Institute to learn to yell in a theater.) How nice, I thought, finally a writer gets his due.
And there the happiness ended.

Why is it always so painful, right from Gone with the wind, to Bridgett Jones Diary, to watch a film and have the story constantly conflicting with the audio visuals? Why cant I let go ? Or, why doesn't the book let go? In fact, it is the film maker inside who has a strong sense of good and bad. Who is alive, and kicking. So, good, kick away ma'am.

The book, One night at a call center, (on which this film is based), starts with Chetan himself, a successful writer who meets a beautiful woman on a train journey from Ahmedabad to New Delhi (or was it Mumbai?) and she tells him the entire story. Train, night journey, writer, meeting a stranger, all very cinematic, very romantic elements. All squashed.

Writer is a rock star, or is he a film star, or is he a film maker? Its Salman Khan, coming off a helicopter, and taking off his shirt (not again!) for the party number. And the meeting happens in front of a helicopter showroom, with four bodyguards guarding the hero. Dhat teri, Chetan! You wrote this script?

The rest of the film was okay, but my heart was elsewhere. My heart was in black and white cinema, where they take the couple on a boat with the moonlight and create an intensity stronger than color. I cried for today's generation who works in artificial lights instead of vitamin A (sunlight). I ached for some mountains and fresh air, at least on the screen. I craved for tall people, for handsome men, for a real fist fight. These guys on the screen were too much like us. They reminded me of my malnourished self, the one that goes to an office, or smiles at her boss, or throws things around when angry.

'Are we watching a TV serial? On a big screen?' Hubby asked me, during interval.

'If it was a TV serial, you wouldn't have needed to shut the kids eyes during the love making scene,' I told him.

The last straw came when God's voice was male. Now I am no feminist, but this was an element that had troubled me in the book. The book got away with being vague about God's sex, at least during the phone call. I was willing to bet it would be a female voice, because the writer is met by a woman on the train. Even in the film, Katrina Kaif is a woman, right? Chauvinist pigs, you Hello makers. What would have gone of your father, if for once you did something for your mother?

Of course, what God said didn't turn me on, either. No Advaita, only positive thinking, and encouragement. Sillier than the self help books.

And if you have the guts to show god in your film, why does the reaction to discovering that she is a god have to be so cool? Like, sure, Salmaan is so sexy that goddesses comes to tell him stories and then do the vanishing act once every fortnight. Or does he have a low blood count?

Anyway, here is the trailer.

And this is Chetan's response to the reviews of Hello.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Karvaa Chauth and the nosy neighbour

Last night we fought, hubby and I. Nothing special, just a bi-monthly ritual. In between the shouting match, his phone rang.

He handed his cell to me.
'It's Dadi,' he said. My grand-mother-in-law.

'Namaste Beta, Sadaa suhagan raho, khush raho. Tomorrow is Karvaa chauth, don't forget to fast...'

The humour of the situation wasnt lost on me. But I was too mad and the fight continued after the call.

'Why should I fast? I will eat double!' I said to hubby.

'Fine. I will also eat.' he replied.

'Don't think I am going to cook for you.'

Cut to :

An hour ago, I was sitting on my doorstep, reading a book when the neighbour walked past.

'Had your lunch?' she asked, as she always does.

'No. I am fasting. Karvaa Chauth.' I told her glumly.

'Really? And bhai? He must have eaten no?' Why was she looking so thrilled?

'No, we fast together. We will eat only after seeing the moon in the sky.'

'Really? How sweet. Very nice.' Did she stiffle a giggle or did I imagine it?

'Ok, bye,' she sang and rushed off, probably to squeal.

Next time we fight, I will make sure I shut all the windows tight.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

when a puppy dies

I was coming home on my scooter and I saw a little brown pup hit by a bus, in the middle of the road. It was going round and round in circles, and it looked like it might get hit again. I stopped the scooter, parked it and by the time I reached the pup, it was bleeding from the mouth, still going round and round on its front legs, making a circle with the blood.
I sat in the middle of the busy road, knowing I wont get run over, and put my hands on her body. She stopped the frantic moving, and breathed out more blood on my hands.
Meanwhile a bus had stopped right in front of me. I refused to budge.
When the pup stopped breathing, I picked her up and put her body on the side of the road. A woman got a glass of water and tried to put some water in her mouth, but I knew it was too late. A silent crowd had gathered. I washed my hands and left the scene.

Little pup, did I help you die?


Music Video anyone? Here is a lovely song by the Manzil gang in New Delhi.

When ever I go to Delhi, I visit Ravi Gulatis home to meet his mom, sis Sonya, and the Manzil gang, that has now become a band. They are the most cheerful and noisy bunch of youngsters that jam up every night.

I feel privileged to have witnessed a group of youngsters practicing music and now to see them as professionals. They might not agree, but me thinks that the bhajan they were forced to sing every night by Ravi's mother at the end of every session must have compelled God to forgive and bless them.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mountain as a man

I knew I had nothing to ask of him. Not because I am completely satisfied in life. And neither because I lack the faith that he can give. But because I knew that the deepest way to experiance someone is in silence.

As I approached the throne on which he sat, meeting the devotees one by one, I wasnt prepared for the melting in my heart. 

The way he touched them on the head, and then hugged and then said something to make them laugh,  the creation of intense intimacy in a public space. It was an art, more lovely than a poem. It was so beautiful that it made me cry.

'Do you have anything to say to me, Maa?' he asked, and the tears rolled down my cheeks, as I nodded a no.
He put his hands on my head, and then hugged me. I felt my body relaxing.
'Know that I am always with you,' he said, after the long long hug.
A fresh bout of tears issued.
'Always,' he repeated, as I turned around and walked away, making room for the others.

This was the highlight of a programme I attended yesterday, called Kalpataru Darshan. Kalpataru is the tree that is by nature, wish fulfilling. It is supposed to exist in heaven. And the Guru was Nithyananda Swami. 

I went to meet him because of two reasons.

One, he is born and brought up (and enlightened) in Tiruvannamali. Second, I was attracted to his healing philosophies, his You-tube videos, and his looks. 

So did I have a deep experiance? Not really, as there wasn't silence within me. I think I am going to have to go again, and again, till the day I can meet him without my eyes wet. And as they say, may that day never come.

Let me keep the bhakti, you take the gyan.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Now I can die in peace

U G Krishnamurthy said, the purpose of human life is to create another  like yourself.

'Ai, come outside.'

'Later, kiddo, I am busy.'

'I am making the Mountain, Ai. Come and see no. I am making Arunachala.'

I rush outside to see what he is up to.

And yes, he has gathered the wet mud in the yard to look like the mountain. We take some pics, though it is too dark and I don't have a flash. Pavan gets a torch, and an orange cloth for a background and we click some more.

'Ai, you will put this on your blog?' he asks.

'Yup, if it is nice enough. Did you say blog?' He is growing up too fast.


'Oh. What is the name of my blog?'

'Mountain find me.'


'Mountain found me.'

'Thats it.'  

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Be depressed and be cool

Where workoholism meets alcoholism:

I am not the only one

If you think I am crazy because I go on and on about the mountain, check out this video.

From the night of Nov 23 2007 to the early morning hours of Nov 25 2007, they came in droves! More than one million (1,000,000) people circled the holy Arunachala Hill on the occasion of the most blessed event - the lighting of the Karthigai Deepam. But this is not something new. Arunachala is home to such devotee throngs on every Pournami full moon night and this was the usual monthly repeat when Arunachala draws so many people for His darshan. As we have said before, circling the Arunachala Hill is the most potent spiritual practice. This video will give you a feel for the sheer human magnitude of Arunachala full moon girivalam. It was shot from and near Agasthiar Ashram on Nov 24 2007. Visit for more details.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Walk barefoot, and be healthy



I have solved the mystery of origin of chronic diseases.
Wearing of footwear is the only reason of Arthritis and Podiatrik diseases.
Please compare walking action, area of contact, and angle of sole from surface while walking with footwear VS walking barefoot.

Contact for details :

(Stamped on the yellow postcard)

Kamal Kumar Agrawal
C/ o Adarsh Gudwala, Gudiyari,
Raipur (C. G.) 492009 India.
tel: 0771-(o) 2523787 (R) 2428281

This is not a joke. I have reason to believe in this person. My grandmother never wore footwear, and she was the most spirited, passionate, hard footed person I have ever hugged.

So chuck those sandals and splash in them puddles.

An advatin's dream

I dreamt last night that I am cooking tehri, (a khichdi with vegetables thrown in), for Ramesh, in his home.

For some reason he wasn't talking, and the satsang crowd slowly dispersed. I stuck on, and he called me to him and told me that he was hungry.

I have never cooked for him, although I have wanted to.

'This is delicious.' he said, in the dream, 'Blogit.'

I must ask Ramesh, next time I meet him, if he knows what is blogging. He probably does.

Anyway, dream or real, Guruadnya is an order one gets when one is lucky.

So here is the recipe:

Tehri : A nutritious, quickly made, complete meal.

1. Wash and soak half a bowl of rice and half a bowl of lentils. (arahar dal works best)

2. Take a pressure cooker and pour two spoonfuls of oil into it and turn on the flame.

3. Start chopping the onion, tomato, capsicum, spinach, fenugreek, potatoes, carots, beetroot, etc, in this order.

4. Put in a few ground nuts as the oil gets hot and fry them on a low flame for three minutes.

5. Put in half spoon of jeera and black rai in the hot oil and let it splutter. Add the onions and fry on a low flame. Add half a spoon of turmeric, cumin powder, garam masala, black pepper, salt, jaggery, and mix.

6. After onions are done, add the vegetables as and when they are cut. Tomatoes and potatoes can be cut in big pieces. Keep mixing.

7. Put in the soaked rice dal inside the cooker. Add twice the amount of water (two bowls) , shut the lid and let cook on a low flame for fifteen to eighteen minutes. If your cooker works like a traditional, then two whistles, I suppose.

8. Serve hot with ghee, or milk, or curd,with lemon pickle, papad, and salad.

Play this video and say thanks to the Guru for making sure you do not forget him. Bonapetit.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

an advaitin's poetry

A man called Sukabrahman called on King Janaka for spiritual advice.

'I am a seeker of truth,' he said. ' What can you tell me?'

'What did you see when you were coming here?' Janaka asked him.

'I saw houses made of sugar.'  answered Sukabrahman.
'I saw streets made of sugar. I saw trees and flowers made of sugar.
I saw animals made of sugar. I saw your palace and it was made of sugar.
Everything I saw is made of sugar.
As I stand here, I can see that you are made of sugar and I am also made of suger.'

Janaka laughed and said,
'You are a ripe soul. You don't need no spiritual instruction. You already are a jnani.'

(From Annamalai Swami's Final Talks, Edited by David Godman)

From bombing to talking to listening

A few days back, I had posted a response to the Delhi blasts. This morning, the newspaper article, 'Terrorists are victims who create more victims', in TOI, Thich Nhat Hanh said the same thing. Talk to them. Listen to them.

How should the State deal with terror?

His answer:

''We should invite those who believe they are victims of discrimination and injustice to speak about it.

We should initiate sessions of deep listening and invite deeply spiritual people, who don't have to be famous, to attend these.

We must televise these sessions nationally.

I am sure you will see a dramatic drop in the level of violence. A war on terror cannot succeed,
because you cannot bomb perceptions.

The only solution is dialogue.''

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen master, who has rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families and for a lifetime advocated tirelessly the principles of non-violence and compassionate action.

"The only antidote for anger and violence is compassion. Terrorists are also victims, who create other victims of misunderstanding."

If any of you are working in a Television channel, do consider this idea. In a country like ours, this kind of a program me is sure to hook the viewers.