The KalaGhoda Arts Festival is loved by every Mumbaiite and visited every year without fail. I am one of those Mumbaiites who never misses the festival. Here are excerpts from my visit this year.
I travelled to Dehradun last summer to meet my childhood friends whose parents are staying there and they all come together in the parents’ home every summer. We are family friends with uncle and aunty being very close to my parents, especially aunty and my mom.
When I thought of Dehradun, I was expecting a very scenic and pretty place. But it’s even dirtier, crowded and dustier than our big cities, hotter than Mumbai and Delhi, which was a shock for me. Just before my vacation, I had caught a terrible viral fever with fever ranging between 102-103. I had thought I would have to cancel the trip. But my fever went down and I took the trip though weak. The heat was unbearable to bear with my weakness, but I took the trip. i was meeting my childhood friends after 20 years, not something I wanted to miss out on. Some places I visited on this trip:
Tapkeshwar Mahadev Mandir
Tapkeshwar Mahadev Mandir is situated on the bank of the river. It has a cave with one of the oldest natural Shivalings where the river enters and the water from the river naturally falls in drops on the Shivalinga.
The small cave also has another history behind it. It is said to be once resided by Dronacharya – the teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas. The cave is named Drona cave after him. There is a statue of Dronacharya here, the only one I have seen.
There is also a Vaishno Devi Gupha Mandir which is an exact replica of the original. It’s very beautiful but a very cramped and tiny cave. Go inside only if closed places don’t scare you and you don’t suffer from claustrophobia.
Robbers Cave, Dehradun has a legend behind it that a long time back, robbers would come down from the mountains and hide in this cave from the police. It added the sense of adventure of the place for me. It is a beautiful cave with a stream and waterfall inside it. It should not be missed at all.
Forest Research Institute(FRI)
Forest Research Institute is an institute which researches on the preservation of trees and plants in that region. The entire complex has European style buildings and beautiful gardens in the french style. It is also the institute that served as the college in Student of the Year.
The only other place where I saw such beautiful Buddha Monasteries were in Bangkok. Dehradun has a lot of Tibetan influence in Dehradun. You must try the Tibetan cuisine if you go there, especially if you eat Non-Vegeterian food. The Wok and The Orchard have awesome food there. The Orchard also is located at a very beautiful spot. Go there in the daytime preferably, it has beautiful scenery around.
A doctor is considered a life saviour. But, what should he do when the person whose life he has to save is a deadly terrorist. That is the crux of the movie Haider.
Dr. Hilal Meer is greatly respected in Srinagar, Kashmir. He is trusted as a doctor and the army officials too look up to him. One night, Dr. Hilal is called to check on a well-known terrorist who has appendicitis. There is a curfew in Srinagar and he can’t be treated at the hospital and is in a critiical condition. Dr. Hilal decides to take him to his house and operate on him there. He knew that the army or the police wouldn’t check his ambulance.
The terrorist is operated upon and Dr. Hilal decides to keep him there till he heals. His wife, Ghazala(enacted by Tabu) is uncomfortable in this situation knowing the tense atmosphere in Srinagar. After the operation, they go to sleep. In the early hours of the morning, Ghazala is waken up by the sound of a loud siren. She wakes Dr. Hilal up, telling him there is a crackdown. All the men and women come out of their homes with their I.D proofs. The men are taken in front of a masked man sitting in an army jeep who tells them to keep going ahead when they are not suspected. With those he suspects, he honks the horn once and they are arrested. When Dr. Hilal comes in front of him, he honks the horn continuously without stopping. All his men come rushing down and surround his house. Dr. Hilal is arrested and taken away. In an ensuing battle, Dr. Hilal’s house is destroyed and the terrorist killed.
Dr. Hilal’s son, Haider(enacted by Shahid Kapoor), returns to find his home destroyed, his father’s whereabouts unknown and his mother in a romantic relationship with his father’s younger brother Khurram(Kay Kay Menon). Haider sets out to find his father and leaves no stone unturned in the efforts. He is helped in his mission by his childhood friend, Arshia(Shraddha Kapoor) who is a journalist.
Now, contrary to what you have heard, this is not a movie of Kasmiri extremists against Kashmiri Pandits. This is simply a story of a young man searching for his father whose whereabouts are not revealed to him. Under the army laws, any civilian found guilty of militant activities is to be handed over to the Indian court within 30 days. This law is flouted in Kashmir.
All of Haider’s efforts to find his father are in vain when he is contacted by a mysterious character, Roohdaar(Irrfan Khan) through Arshia. He claims to know about his father and asks him to meet him.
When Haider meets him, he comes to know his father is dead. He refuses to believe it but accepts it eventually. Then, he comes to know of a story of betrayal and treachery. His father had been betrayed by his own brother and wife. Haider has a very complex relationship with his mother. He had always idolised her and adored her. Now, this betrayal has left him shocked. He sets out to reveal the facts. His father’s tomb has been found and they have a prayer ceremony for him. Immediately, after the prayer ceremony, Ghazala and Khurram get married. At some point during the story, Ghazala reveals to Haider that she has informed Khurram that they were giving refuge to a terrorist in their house as he was Dr. Hilal’s brother. She was unaware that he was an informer for the Indian army. Urged by his love for Ghazala, Khurram betrays Dr. Hilal.
From here, Haider is a story of vendetta and a son’s pain at his mother’s betrayal. Even though Dr. Hilal was treating a terrorist in his home, never once do you feel that he is a traitor. Now, this is a very thin line. As a doctor, he feels that his job is to treat a patient who comes to him and not to let him die, even if he is a terrorist. Shahid Kapoor gives an emotionally rending performance. During the song Bismil, there was pin-drop silence in the movie hall, people were so emotionally moved.
The only shortcoming in the movie is that it is a bit too long. If it had been a crisp two hours movie, it would have had more impact. Apart from that, the movie is totally worth watching inspite of the extreme violence. Please don’t take your young kids for the movie as I have seen people doing. It’s not a movie that kids should watch. The movie is too violent for them.
We wake up in the morning to the sound of the alarm, not from the clock, but from our mobile phones. As soon as wake up, even before getting out of bed – we check our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, E-mail( for me in this order). Then, we get up and say a good morning to our family. While eating breakfast, we are back on the phone or the laptop this time. I am completely hooked to my phone and am continuously on the Internet on my phone. So, it is a bit difficult for me to try and stay away from it.
But, there are times when I will completely switch off from the cyberworld. One such time is when I am sick and the other time is when I am on a vacation. I will still do my check-ins to the interesting places. Other than that, I will enjoy the peace and beautiful scenery around and just keep my phone inside my bag and forget about it. I never carry my laptop on vacations.
The one time that I completely forgot about my smartphone was on the Kerala Backwaters cruise. We spent the night on the cruise. It was so peaceful, serene and lovely all around that I was completely immersed in that moment. Even in the night, my phone was kept somewhere and I fell asleep to the sound of water lapping against our boat with no noisy TV, no internet connectivity.
Apart from that, I am trying to have even one whole day when I don’t look at my phone, don’t use my laptop and stay away from the Internet. So far, I have been unsuccessful. I hope that I succeed sometime in the not very far future.
It all started 7 years back when a little angel entered our lives. We named her Mihika, which means dewdrop. Just like a dewdrop, she brings a feeling of freshness, happiness and rejuvenation to our lives. When she was born, incidentally I had taken a break in my career and my sister-in-law was working full-time. So, little by little, I started taking up some responsibilities related to her along with my mom. I spent the maximum time with my niece, playing with her, reading books to her and teaching her children’s songs. Sometimes, I would get a little impatient with her, especially if she wanted to play and was completely chirpy and I wanted to rest. But this time that I have spent with her has almost created a mother-daughter like bond between us. So when she falls sick, I go through the same anxiety like a real mother. The first four years of her life, she would fall sick quite frequently and would be very quiet and low when she fell sick.
At such times, I would start missing her chirpiness and playful ways and would make all efforts to have her well and running about again. Apart from medicines, kids also need a lot of love and care at such times.
Nowadays, with the level of dust and pollution increasing at an alarming rate, children need really strong immunity to withstand the same. Just healthy food doesn’t help with this. We need to give the children additional nutrition to help them have strong bodies to fight germs and all the viruses floating around. With all the new-fangled cures coming up for all sorts of ailments, nature still is the best source of remedies for most of the ailments. Children are also very delicate and hence medicine doses need to be administered to them very carefully. It’s better to build their immunity so that they don’t fall sick and need strong medicines.
The best source of increasing immunity and strength in India has been Chyawanprash since a long time.
Dabur is a household name across India where people place a lot of faith in its products. Dabur Chyawanprash continues to uphold that faith.
Dabur Chyawanprash has many herbs like Amla, known as one of the best anti-oxidants, Giloy(Guduchi) with immuno-modulatory properties and more than 40 other natural ingredients. The combination of Ayurvedic herbs in Dabur Chyawanprash help in strengthening the body’s natural defence mechanism by stimulating the body’s Natural Killer cells(NK Cells). NK cells assist in fighting with virus and bacteria in your body, thus giving us increased immunity from various infections. Dabur Chyawanprash comes in two delicious flavours – Mixed Fruit and Mango, thus making it more appealing to a kid’s palate.
Now, two spoonfuls of Dabur Chyawanprash will keep your child healthy and happy and in turn make you happy.
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Can writing change the world? Can it bring about social change?
Yes, it definitely can. Throughout history and till today, people who wanted to change the world have written books and articles to bring about change, You must have heard the saying ‘Pen is mightier than the Sword.’ It is truly so. It is when we write about the wrongs in the society around us that people start to notice the same wrongdoings and start speaking out against it, that’s when the change happens.
During the pre-independence era, the freedom fighters and revolutionaries would circulate magazines and newsletters, sometimes anonymously or sometimes openly to encourage people to rise against the British rule.
The advent of Internet has made this even more easier. One powerfully written article can be read all over the world and open people’s eyes. For me, it has been a boon to have the Internet where I can express my thoughts freely about the wrong practices in our society and the system. There are people who think I am too outspoken, too opinionated and think I can change the world. They will come and tell me, you shouldn’t give your views on every wrongdoing in society. And I tell them very politely, i am going to do what I think is right – they can block me, unfriend me on the social media platforms, It makes no difference to me.
I want to make a difference to the world and if I am alone in that effort, so be it. But my writing wil always be honest, powerful and I will always speak up against any wrongdoing through my writings. This is the best way to reach out to people and help them open their eyes. I wish there were more people who would do this and then positive social changes won’t be far away.
After a long bout of sickness in the family and then falling sick myself, I am back to my greatest love – writing. Indiblogger’s latest Indispire topic is any ghost experience we have had. This takes me back to my time in Shillong. Shilling is the quintessential hillstation with beautiful bungalows, pine-trees, lakes, mountains, tranquility and peace all around and of course lot of fables and tales surrounding it. We lived in a Bungalow in Pinewalk in Shillong. It had huge gardens all around with a long walkway and a white painted gate at the end.
As in all hillstations, there were a lot of stories of ghosts, supernatural beings and unnatural happenings. One such story really intrigued me as it was close to my home. I was 18 then and still was a child who believed in the magical, the supernatural. In the magical, I still do. So there was this story which my friends and I had heard about a ghost with feet facing backwards standing in front of my house gates everyday at 8 p.m.
Now, since Shillong is in the north-east of India, the sun rises very early there and sets very early. So, in the winters it would be pitch dark at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon, the way it would be in other places at 11 or 12 p.m. No one would really venture out in Shillong in winters after it grew dark, primarily because it is so cold and also because of safety issues.So this story could be quite true.
All of us friends were rather curious to know if this was true. One day, we decided to find out. We took dad’s army car(an Ambassador with a driver, of course) a little before 8 p.m. and waited outside my house’s gate. We were five people in the car, squeezed in,rarely having ventured out at this hour, petrified as the hour grew nearer, jumping at the slightest sound or at the rustling of pine trees. And then it was 8 p.m. We waited with baited breath.
Suddenly, we see someone approaching and we clasp hands in fear. There was only one streetlight and we waited for that strange spectre to emerge. Suddenly, he appeared in full view under the light. And what do we see! He was only a poor guy with deformed feet. We felt terribly relieved and a little ashamed of ourselves.
We turned the car around and went back inside the warm confines of my home. For sometime, we were very quiet and then burst out laughing together, rolling on my bed and warmed ourselves with hot coffee.
So ended my ghost experience :D
All of us have unfulfilled dreams, unrequited passions and desires in our hearts. I am a very imaginative person and I never curb it because dreams are only fulfilled by those who dream.
So here is my #LifeDeathBucketList for Indiblogger’s latest Indispire topic.
1) Travel to each and every corner of the world, preferably alone and if I have someone with me, it should be someone who has the same thirst for travel that I have.
2) Write a book – It will be part autobiography, part fiction. I will write a simple and a touching story which will touch the reader’s heart and make them want to read it again and again.
3) Open a Cafe cum Book Shop: It will be one of those sunny and cheerful places where people feel rested and comfortable, not feel like they are being rushed to leave and empty the space for the next customer.
4) Adopt a child: A longtime dream of mine is to adopt a homeless child who doesn’t have parents to love her – yes, she will definitely be a girl.
5) Find true love – a person who will accept me with my mood swings, independent nature and need for lots and lots of space in a relationship.
6) I want to reach a stage where I support my parents financially without them having to spend a penny.
7) Take my parents on a world tour.
8) I give a lot of value to education, so I want to do my M.A and Ph.D in English Literature – right now, time is a constraint. But, definitely sometime in the future.
9) I have a picture of my dream house in my mind – I will build that one day and it will definitely be next to the sea or mountains where I will spend my retirement years.
10) The dream closest to my heart – Go to Shillong and stay there for a few years again. I stayed in Shillong for a few years when dad was posted there and for me if there is heaven on earth anywhere, it is Shillong.
From a very young age, my parents worked very hard to instill the love of reading in me. I am extremely grateful to them for this as to love reading is to never feel lonely in life. You have a bestfriend for life. So, as a part of the latest topic in Indispire on Indiblogger, here a list of my 10 favourite books.
1. The Malory Tower series: I was in school when I started reading the Malory Tower series. The good students, the bad students, the wicked students – I loved all of them. The midnight parties and all the mad but harmless antics of school girls was something I totally loved and still do.
2. The Nancy Drew Books: The Nancy Drew books are the story of three friends who are detectives and solve mysteries. The books also depicted the bonds of friendship, their romances and their capability in solving cases. In my teens, my favourite birthday gifts were Nancy Drew books.
3. The Hardy Boys: Anyone would consider The Hardy Boys are boys books, but I simply loved reading them. They are the same category of mystery books as Nancy Drew stories.
4. The Diary of Anne Frank: Anne Frank, a fun-loving gregarious girl who was a normal teenager. All she wanted was her friends, school life and fun. She was a Jew in the times of Hitler’s regime who went into hiding with her family. Every time I read this book, I cry. It is a wonderful book of human spirit, resilience and the value of human life.
5. Gone With The Wind and Scarlett: Gone With the Wind is a true classic. It is a book that truly painted a woman who lived life on her own terms and conditions, she is a woman who is practical and doesn’t shy away from taking on a world that was completely a man’s world and being successful at it, hated but grudgingly respected by everyone and the legendary love story of Rhett Butler and Scarlett ‘O Hara.
Scarlett is the sequel to Gone With The Wind where Scarlett is heartbroken after separation from Rhett and goes to Ireland explore her roots. Another awesome book!
6. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist – This book is about following your dreams and believing in them inspite of the people around you making fun of you and discouraging you all the time. I simply love this book.
7. The Harry Potter series: My list of favourite books would be incomplete without the Harry Potter series. I don’t know how many times I read the series and I can keep reading them again. The plot, the lessons you learn in the books, the importance of truly important things in life – the books are simply amazing.
8. The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi – These series of books will have you hooked from the first page of the first book to the last page of the last book. You will look at religion, Gods in a way that you will never forget. This series challenges all mindsets about religion, Gods, good and evil and will shake you up from inside and will have you permanently hooked.
9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – A girl who has lived a loveless life as an orphan and grows up to build a happy life of her own, unconventional decisions and a strong-minded woman – a truly wonderful book.
10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Elizabeth, a sensible and intelligent who is surrounded by her foolish sisters and mothers – a fact that makes her a little arrogant and very quick to judge people. As you turn the pages, you find her perceptions changing, actually starting to understan how people can be different from inside and outside. A book that so many of us women will identify with.
16th December, 2012 – A girl was brutally raped and beaten and her guy friend was also brutally thrashed and both were thrown out of the speeding bus where they were lying approximately for one hour. No one came to help them in that crucial one hour and they were lying their ignored until someone informed the police and they were rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. That one hour had been very crucial for the girl who could have been saved if she was rushed to hospital in time. And the same people who would have seen them lying on the road and ignored them would conduct a candle march later.
A true case of complete hypocrisy. A woman’s chain is snatched by speeding bikers and with mute spectators around, a girl is being abducted in a rickshaw and everyone around ignores her cries for help. The girl jumped out of the speeding rickshaw to save herself, hit her head on the pavement and went into a coma. Thankfully, she is out of danger now. A man will openly harass a girl in public with mute spectators around again.
Once a driver bumped against our car and got into an argument with our driver. Our driver ended the argument and left the spot. The guy followed the driver to our building and our stupid security guards let the guy come up to our house. Our driver had come up and he followed him. He started fighting with us and my sis-in-law was at home with us with my nieces. I told that guy to get lost and do what he wanted to. He pretended to call the MNS from his phone and said he will get our driven beaten up. My sis-in-law got scared and told us to just pay him off. I told him to do what he wanted to and we were not scared. But my sis-in-law just paid him off.
She missed a very important thing that I was trying to teach her. If someone threatens us if we are not wrong, the last thing should we do is get scared and back off. He was threatening us with the MNS. One call to my Complex’s security and he would have been rotting in jail. When you back out when you are not wrong, you are teaching your children who are watching to do the same. And the cycle will continue when they do the same when someone does a crime against them or someone else. The need of the hour is brave people who face up to cowards that the perpetrators of the crime are. Don’t get me wrong. I love my nieces like they are my own children. But the last thing I want to teach them is to be weak women who get scared of anyone who scares them. I am always soft spoken and polite, but God help the person who dares to mess with me. And that’s how I want them to be.
Let me tell you of another incident that happened a few days back. An old lady in my complex was coming out of the bank in our complex after withdrawing money and a young guy came and started trying to snatch the handbag away from her. A lady was passing by in a rickshaw with her 10 year old kid and seeing what was happening stopped the rickshaw, got down and started hitting the guy who was stealing from the old woman and called the police. It was then that the people around who had been mute spectators came and started bashing the guy. A powerful lesson to the guy who was trying to steal from a helpless old woman and most importantly to her son who learnt a live lesson in bravery and courage. I salute the woman everyday.
Let’s take action when the crime is being perpetrated and not when the victim is beyond saving. I end with the saying in hindi that I totally love – “Jurm karne se zyada jurm sehne wala doshi hai.”