Wednesday, 12 September 2012


On an average I get about 50 – 60 calls a day, of which, several are from unknown numbers. One such call from an unknown number flashed on my screen at about 5:30 pm today. I should say that the phone call left me feeling very uneasy about myself. The 4 minute conversation has left me thinking if I’m indeed the “forward thinking” guy living in a metropolitan city.
The caller was a guy called Abu who was interested in my renting my apartment in Mira road. Due to the housing society rules and fear of unknown on my part, I ended up telling him that the flat is let out only to Hindus. He promptly apologized for having “wasted my time”

What is in a name? You may ask. Well, if you are a Muslim, try getting a house on rent in Mumbai, The city that never sleeps, the financial capital of India is divided over religion and cast behind the veneer of glamour. It is a daunting task for a non-Hindu, especially a Muslim, to go about looking for a house on rent. While there are enough and more flats available, they are out of bounds for Muslims due to a multitude of reasons.

 In the forward-looking India, secularism has become a slave of religious lobbies. Religious open-mindedness is measured in economic and cultural terms. Ironically, the Muslims who are aired as examples of the ‘good’ ones are not in a position to speak on behalf of a large community  who live lives of abject poverty and fear.

They are also dehumanized by the media. The media creates the larger part of most people’s reality here and they look to it as almost the sole source of their information and reality and wait to be told what to think  The world media has portrayed minority communities as being opposed to modernity, women, and world peace. Such ideas have percolated deeply everywhere, including India, and destroyed the centuries-old bonds of friendship and tolerance. The state should make efforts through the media and educational programmes to change this scenario. Political parties should ask their cadres to propagate Hindu-Muslim unity.  Only persistent and organized effort with a considerable measure of internal order and purposeful orientation, maintaining group solidarity, a successful political activism can yield results.

Just to let whoever is reading this blog, I’m yet to find a tenant L

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Female Sports Fan!!??

Men have historically drawn the lines around sports as male territory. Female encroachment is viewed with suspicion by some. For these gatekeepers, fandom is not measured by affection or loyalty toward a team, but by knowledge of its statistics, plays and history.
It is one thing to be home with a bunch of friends and debate and discuss about the latest in Bollywood, party circuit, office gossip, but completely another to be discussing the latest in sports. The weirdness is thrown to an altogether new level when you realize that the girls are not only involved in these debates but also holds on to their own.
Over the course of 3 years, I’ve overseen debates with women arguing about the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, and more. When I say debate, it’s exactly that. They know exactly who’s playing for whom, where the games are being held, the personalities of their team, the whole thing. It truly is a sight to sit back and stare at watching a female vent and erupt at the sight of her favorite team’s batsman is giving up, or a bowler not bowling well , or anything that suggests he isn’t doing his job. I’d go so far to say there aren’t too many feelings better than that.
Cricket will always be my first love, and for any man who has a particular sport as their first love, you can ask that same man how he feels when he sees an woman share a similar passion for the game and can break it down to a T. During the last IPL season, you had female cricket fans who were just as invested into the games as the guys were. They’d cheer on their team, cuss out a player, motivate them, and anything else it took to be a part of the game, and do so in an authentic way.
So, why is it that this still small group of female fans looked in a different light? Why do they have to prove their interest in the game each time they want to be involved in the game? Why are they subjected to questions about their knowledge each time they speak of their love for the game / sports? Why is it acceptable for a guy to have an opinion on soaps & reality shows and not acceptable for a woman to have an opinion on why Raina should be picked over Rohit??
As a heavy cricket season is around the corner, I’m sure there are going to be loads of friends turning up at my place or vice-versa. I, for one would like the female participation to go up during these meets. Let us create our own fantasy leagues, let us have your perspective on why Dale Styn should play for CSK, discuss why is SA a better cricket team than England etc etc.
Go ahead, make the hardest guy smile, make a grown man cry. We will not insult your intelligence by asking you to name the playing eleven. Let us leave the name game for the college kids. Let us enjoy the sports season together and derive equal pleasure out of it. Let us enjoy cricket the same way we enjoy the 9 am show on a Sunday. Let us discuss the game just the way we discuss Rahman Sir’s music.

Thanks in advance for all female sports fans (my wife, in particular) for enhancing the sports experience of everyone involved.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Mr. Smith goes to Washington – A 79 year old classic

If there is a better movie about human ideals, I’m yet to see it.
The 1930’s were a tumultuous time for the world, more so for America. The great depression had forced millions into poverty. The democracy of America was falling apart and communism and Fascism were on the rise. Just before the official breakout of World War 2 in 1939, Frank Capra’s “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” released in theatres. The movie was a instant hit and provided people with a sense of hope in regard to the past, present and future of the United States and the ideologies for which it stood.
Frank Capra and James Stewart combined to take on the Washington elite with this dramatic comedy about a naïve Washington outsider who gets appointed to the senate and stands alone against corruption and graft.
A classic David v/s Goliath tale, the story is the struggle between good and evil. In typical Capra (And maybe, 1930’s) style, the protagonist and antagonists are exaggerated so that there is no confusion as who is who. A timid and idealistic Mr. Smith takes on the mighty senators. This was probably one of the earliest movies to suggest the government as corrupt.
In this “once in a lifetime” role, he plays the perfectly homespun, intelligent, boyishly good-looking, nervous, senate elect who is thrown into the mix of power and corruption. Stewart is brilliant as the idealistic and awestruck kid from the backwoods who is overwhelmed by the glory of Washington, with its monuments and history. He also brings along a whole treasure chest of bumbling comedic sight gags that make him all the more lovable in the part. The look of absolute awe on his face upon first witnessing the Capitol Dome appears truly genuine, despite the fact that he was merely acting against a projection. As the story gets more complicated, and his character is developed further, Stewart is even better.There has only ever been one human being alive who could play Jefferson Smith, and that is of course James Stewart.
Not to go unrecognized are Jean Arthur and Claude Rains performances, in which they were also nominated for an Academy Award. Both of these actors were incredible and so well suited for their roles. Rains’ performance in the final scene of this film was memorable, as the pressure of Mr. Smith’s honesty and integrity start to wear on his conscience.
The real achievement of the film, though, is to portray a political system that immediately echoes the ones we’re familiar with. Through the antagonist characters: the corrupted Senator Payne (Claude Rains) and Edward Arnold as Jim Taylor, the ruthless tycoon who owns the media and controls the power, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” allows us to revisit the intricacies that still exist today within the political system and how some of the branches involved can lead to spheres that have nothing do with values and ideals. The all-time complicity between the media and politics is highlighted with such boldness that makes us wish we’d had more Jefferson Smiths today. But we don’t, because to be elected, one must pledge allegiance to these driving forces. In the name of progress, of economy, the big guys take the biggest share of the pie and leave the crumbs for people.
Capra’s direction is flawless, capturing the feel of tradition in Washington and producing the best acting from his lead. He had an uncanny ability to tug at our base human emotions and elicit direct responses.Nominated for an Academy Award, Capra lost out to Victor Fleming and Gone with the Wind.7 years later, he would go on to direct James Stewart in another wonderful movie, It’s a wonderful life.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a lovely movie. Age will always remove the realistic qualities of such films, but this remains a worthwhile film to watch, both for the entertainment value, as well as the political aspects of it. Although made over 70 years ago the story is still relevant and maybe even more so today, than it was then.