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.
India has completed 68 years of independence. But what does this independence really mean? I don’t see any freedom around me at all.
Whenever a girl is harassed by men on the road, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever a couple is killed by their own families for falling in love, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I see moral police beating up lovers for celebrating Valentine’s Day, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I see police arresting adults who are staying together in a hotel legally, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I see someone insulting me on a personal level because I don’t agree with the actions of the leader of the country, I see the death of freedom.
When I see crores of money being pumped into cleaning the River Ganga while the pollution of the river continues simultaneously, I see the death of the freedom.
Whenever I see a student with poor marks getting that coveted engineering seat on the basis of being from a backward class instead of the student with top marks, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I see rapists roaming around scotfree while the victim breathes her last in a hospital, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I read about someone being killed because of Road rage, I see the death of freedom!
Whenever I see people ignoring an accident victim lying on the road, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I see people telling a girl to not to roam about at night or to dress properly when a guy molests her, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I see people keeping their house spotless but dirtying the streets without any qualms, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever my government decides for me what I can or cannot eat, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I see a girl supporting the archaic rules meant for the subjugation of women, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I see a woman getting her son married for the second time because her daughter-in-law dared to give birth to a daughter instead of a son, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I see a bridegroom and his family walking out of the wedding because the dowry was not upto their standards, I see the death of freedom.
Whenever I see people bathing lifeless statues in temples in litres and litres of milk while so many starving people exist in the country, I see the death of freedom.
This is not #RealIndependence and this is not the India of my dreams or of the people who want to see progress, prosperity and happiness for their country.
Today is World Left Handers Day and this is the perfect opportunity for me to share my experiences as a left handed person in India.
In India, it is not considered the norm to use your left hand instead of your right hand. I was a born leftie, a fact that my parents discovered when I was approximately 5-6 years old when my dad was trying to teach me to write. He kept trying to make me hold the pencil with my right hand and write and I just wouldn’t. After some time, he lost his patience, kept the pencil down and told me to write when I feel like and started to walk away. I calmly picked up the pencil with my left hand and started writing. That’s when it struck him that I am a leftie.
In those times in India, it was considered inauspicious for people to use their left hand to eat, write or any other activities which were normally done with the right hand. Today, things are a little different, but not at that time. My parents never tried to convert me from a leftie to a right handed person, especially my father who would say that he wouldn’t try to change me from what my natural habit is.
But I faced really tough times with other people. When I would go to the temple, when I would put my left hand forward for the prasad(a sweet dish which is the holy offering that is given to all the people visiting the temple), the priest would look at me like I had just desecrated the temple with my presence. For an innocent kid who didn’t understand what she did wrong, it was really upsetting. But I would still insist on taking the Prasad in my left hand.
We experienced this many times while visiting temples. One day, my dad couldn’t control himself. When the priest at another temple insisted on giving me the Prasad in my right hand, my dad said to the priest, ” The things that you do with your left hand, she does with her right hand. Do you still want to give her the Prasad in her right hand?” The priest was left speechless. I still laugh my heart out at the expression on the priest’s face.
In school too, I would be asked all kinds of weird questions on being a leftie as it was not the norm. Parents who would have children who were lefties would forcibly convert them to using the right hand, sometimes even resorting to beating them to make them convert – all because it was considered inauspicious.
I hope things are different now. If there are any parents who are still forcing their kids to convert to the right hand, please stop. It is not their natural instinct. You are also messing up the functioning of their brain. There is nothing inauspicious about it.
His death anniversary was yesterday and it’s already been one year since he died. I am still coming to terms with the fact that I won’t see any more Robin Williams movies. I don’t think I will ever come to terms with his death. To me, he was the ultimate actor. No one can take his place. I absolutely loved him as an actor.
The reason for his death came as an even bigger shock to me. The actor who made everyone laugh committed suicide because of depression. It broke my heart.
I have seen many of his movies, but three movies of his are my special favourites.
- Patch Adams
This movie is based on a true story. A suicidal man commits himself to a mental institution. Once there, he finds that using humor to help his fellow patients gives him a reason to live too. As a result, he enrols as a medical student at a medical college and clashes with the dean of the college who believes that doctors must not bond with patients and keep a professional distance. I simply love the movie. Munnabhai MBBS is inspired from this movie.
2. Mrs. Doubtfire
A man loses custody of his children after getting divorced from his wife. When he finds out that his wife is looking for a housekeeper, he distinguishes himself as a Scottish nanny, impresses his wife with his qualifications and gets the job. The movie has you rolling with laughter and has its touching moments.
3. Dead Poets Society
This movie is my most favourite amongst all his movies. It captured my imagination, encourages and motivates me and is simply awesome. A new English teacher at Welton Academy, John Keating, surprises the new students of the academy with his unorthodox methods of teaching. He encourages his students to make their lives extraordinary, a sentiment he explains with the Latin words – Carpe Diem(Seize the Day).
Upon learning that Keating was a member of the unsanctioned group the Dead Poets’ Society while he was at Welton, one of the students , Neil restarts the club and he and his friends sneak off campus at night to a cave where they read poetry and verse, including their own compositions.
This movie is very inspirational and a must watch for all those who have not seen it.
Hollywood and all movie buffs have lost a treasure with the death of Robin Williams.
I have always been interested in creative pursuits. Recently, I developed an interest in learning how to make chocolates. I started with learning how to make plain chocolates. This was my first attempt.
I tried many different shapes and earned a lot of praise from people after they tried my chocolates. One day, I came across chocolates with fillings. I had eaten them earlier, but now when I saw them I was really keen on learning how they are made. One day, I saw a post on Facebook in one of the groups I am a part of. The lady taught chocolates with fillings. I went to her classes and learnt how to make them and I knew I was hooked for life. I learnt many flavours like Pinacolada filling, Truffle with Liquer, Marzipan, Hazelnut, Peppermint. I made them myself later in different designs and colours.
My nieces, like all young girls, are big Disney Princesses fans. So I made these chocolates specially for them.
I made these chocolates for my colleagues and friends in office. These are in Mint Chocolate Ganache flavour.
This is something I enjoy so much that I would love to make this a profession. It is so much fun. What could be better than making a profession out of something you love doing?
In the last 24 hours, a lot of conversations have been happening on the Internet and Social Media on the topic of 800 odd pornographic websites being banned in India. People were protesting all over the Internet against the ban. And there was only one question in my mind – what is wrong if these websites are banned? I agree that we are the country of Khajuraho and Kamasutra. But, for how long are people going to justify this as an excuse to support Pornography in the country?
I don’t buy this argument at all. What happened was centuries back. Why should anyone use that as an argument to support and promote something that’s degrading, humiliating and disgusting for a man or a woman? A lot of people may get a lot of pleasure out of it, but do we spare a thought for the people who shoot for these videos? Isn’t it humiliating for them but the only means of earning money(as they may feel)?
If this mode of earning money is not there, they may think of other options which are far more wholesome. Does anyone agree with me? There is one more aspect that we have completely ignored in our “RIGHTEOUS” fight for people’s rights. What about the videos that are shot without the consent or knowledge of so many couples through hidden cameras? So many such cases have come out into the open. Do we realise how humiliating it is for the unsuspecting couple, married or not?
If the government bans these porn websites, people will automatically develop a fear of visiting these websites and the demand will gradually stop. When there is no demand, will anyone bother to supply the same?
Oh and not to forget the hypocritical angle. I have heard countless number of derogatory comments against Sunny Leone for being a porn star. I have complete respect for her in being honest about it. We don’t mind watching and supporting porn, but we won’t have any qualms in insulting someone who has worked in them. I may be completely wrong in my views, but this is what it is.
As of now, the latest news is that the ban has been lifted from these websites after protests from people, except for the websites that had child pornography. While I am happy that we have a government that listens to its people when they protest against something, it is also raising a question in my mind – If what people watch is their choice, why isn’t it their choice to eat what they want? Why has a ban on beef been forced on people in Maharashtra? Is eating beef worse than watching pornography?
To conclude, I feel that porn videos, content and websites should be banned. These are strictly my personal views.
We have all heard about the beauty of the Taj Mahal, but we can only understand the perfect beauty when we actually see the Taj Mahal. Such technical excellence in those times is absolutely astounding.
We took a trip to Agra in the month of March. The logical order of starting the Agra trip is to start with a visit to the Agra Fort and Taj Mahal after that.
This is the entrance to the Taj Mahal.
When you come close to the entrance gate, this is the first view of the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is right outside the gate, right?
Wrong. This is the actual distance of the Taj Mahal from the Gate.
This is an optical illusion. The Taj Mahal is full of optical illusions like this which were created to make it the a complete marvel.
When you enter the gate, the first view of the Taj Mahal made me feel like I was looking at a painting in the sky. No construction has been allowed behind the Taj Mahal so that the view of the Taj Mahal is not spoilt. This picture doesn’t even do 1/4th justice to the actual beauty of the Taj Mahal. You have to see it in real. It will take your breath away.
This is the famous bench outside Taj Mahal where so many film shootings have happened.
The iconic pose
When you stand facing the gate with your back towards the Taj Mahal, you will see the gate is exactly in the same spot as the Taj Mahal, on the other side. The entire monument is an example of perfect symmetry.
The four minarets around the Taj Mahal are slightly tiliting outwards. Look at the picture.
Do you know why this is so? It is because, if there is ever an earthquake, the minarets will fall outwards and not on the main building.
The architecture of Taj Mahal has all the influences of Hindu, Muslim and Persian Architecture.
A huge kalash engraved into the floor at Taj Mahal.
A beautiful view of the River Yamuna from behind the Taj Mahal. This place is so serene that I just wanted to sit here and spend the entire day.
Another view. That’s the Agra Fort on the opposite bank of the river.
There are 16 gardens in front of the Taj Mahal. There are lot of mysteries and stories surrounding the numbers around Taj Mahal which I am not revealing. That should be heard when you go there. It is absolutely essential to get a Guide for first time visitors.
There is a Jama Masjid(Mosque) inside the complex. It is on the left side of the Taj Mahal. The sides of the Taj Mahal have this design which is called the Honeycomb design. Through each opening, you can see the entire Jama Masjid. This is an optical illusion again.
The main bulding is surrounded by this Persian carpet design on all four sides.
The garden that you see in the picture is Mehtab Bagh which is behind the Taj Mahal.
Shah Jahan had built the white Taj Mahal as a tomb for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. In the same way, he had planned to built a black Taj Mahal as a tomb for himself opposite the white Taj Mahal near Mehtab Bagh, so that his and Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb could be near each other’s and they would be close even after death.
The marked circular spot that you see is where he had planned to build the Black Taj Mahal.
However, by then Aurangzeb(Shah Jahan’s son) had usurped power from his father and he disapproved of such extravagance. He had already put Shah Jahan under house arrest. He stopped the construction of the Black Taj Mahal. Imagine what a sight it would have been to see the white and black Taj Mahal on the opposite sides of the river Yamuna. We have been deprived of something so beautiful.
Shah Jahan was buried in the Taj Mahal next to Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb. You can see the two tombs together. Photography is not allowed inside.
Please don’t believe all those stupid stories about how Taj Mahal was a Hindu monument which was usurped by the Mughals. This is sheer nonsense. Shah Jahan had a Hindu mother and a Hindu wife and Mumtaz Mahal was a Persian. That’s where all these varied influences come from.
Since quite sometime, I have been thinking of starting something of my own. It was sheer providence that I came across Entrepreneur and UTV Founder Ronnie Screwvala’s book ‘Dream With Your Eyes Open – An Entrepreneurial Journey’.
Whether you are just starting out on your own entrepreneurial journey or have been running a business successfully for years, this book is for you. This book will encourage you and tell you that you can do it by sheer grit, optimism and clear thinking. Ronnie Screwvala also highlights the fact that you will make mistakes but it is important to learn from your mistakes and keep moving. The secret is to not give up under any circumstances.
The book tells you that it can be done, however the importance of dreaming with your eyes open is absolutely essential. Ronnie Screwvala takes you through his journey as a budding entrepreneur to the founder of one of the biggest Media companies in India.
Every step of his journey is fraught with risks, some calculated, some uncalculated. Some were successful and some failed. But each step was a learning which he imbibed in his soul and kept moving. As Ronnie Screwvala said “Most people ask me about my successes, not many ask about my failures. It would give me more to talk about.”
Thinking is going through a revolutionary change in India. Earlier people considered havng a job synonymous with security. This is no longer a truth. Today, the job market is very volatile with companies going for quantity over quality. They want people to work for less money, even if it means compromising quality. This is the sad truth. Hence, as Ronnie Screwvala says,”The future belongs to those who no longer teach talented people how to get a job but how to create thriving businesses as entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs/professionals in a company.”
With all his successes and victories, the one thing that Ronnie Screwvala continuously emphasizes on is the importance of having a strong team to work with you and back you. He couldn’t specify enough on the importance of retaining talent and not losing them as that proves very expensive for any organization.
A strong team is half the battle won is one of the key messages that he conveys throughout the book.
To summarise, this book is a must read for anyone who is apprehensive of taking that one step towards their entrepreneurial journey. As the author says in the book, don’t keep waiting for that huge investment to start your own business. Start with a small investment, make it a success and the big money will automatically be attracted to you.
I strongly recommend this book to everyone who wants to Dream With Their Eyes Open.