Yearly Archives: 2006

Global voices summit

Following the BBC meet, a lot of us bloggers had wondered and brainstormed about organising a large scale workshop where bloggers could discuss myriad topics. We were very sure that we didnt want to set any expectations by calling it a “blogcamp” or a “barcamp” or an “unconference meet” but still wanted a large scale formal “event”. We were also more or less sure of the topics that we didn’t want to hash out anymore like MSM vs blogosphere, how to earn money thru blogs etc. We had brainstormed over a couple of topics and come up with new insights. Interestingly some of the topics of discussion that we shortlisted mapped exactly – as we learnt later – onto the topics that Global voices had selected for its discussions. Moreover it was all that we wanted to organise and more. It was a large scale event spanning the entire world, not even just a city or a country. It also talked about reaching out to more and more people and enabling people to communicate through blogging which was exactly what we wanted to address. So it was with much merriment that I wanted to be a part of Global voices online summit 2006 when I learnt that not only was it happening in Delhi but also that it was addressing two of the things we had discussed – Blogging outreach and multilingual blogging.

The other thing that drew me to the GV summit 2006 was the fact that it was a chance to get to meet many bloggers, not virtually but in realtime. This includes other Indian bloggers as well. Though this meet couldn’t have been called a “global bloggers meet”, for all practical purposes it was that. I also wanted to be a part of something constructive to do with blogging, something that could constitute a “movement”, something that wanted to make a positive change, something where people were actually keen on thinking out of the box and “evolving”.

16th of Dec saw me wrapping up a couple of chores first before finally reaching the venue – India Habitat Centre. One just needed to enter the room to realise that it was blogging at its best. Most people were carrying laptops and were furiously typing away, either writing accounts or uploading pictures. Though I was carrying my laptop, I soon realised that it was practically futile since the wireless connection wasn’t too strong for some reason. The conference discussed the blogging outreach that had been referred to and a presentation was given by some people who had tried implementing outreach somehow. The discussion then proceeded to tools/technology for remaining anonymous on the net. There was a discussion on multilingual blogging and a means to translate things in a common language to things in an uncommon language and vice versa. There were some good ideas in all cases. After the conference everyone got a lovely Global Voices tee. There was some random brain storming on some topics which made interesting food for thought. In the end we all got a group snap taken. Some pics.

Apart from the wonderful lunch, a dinner by the pool side had also been organised for those interested. I got to meet a lot of other Indian bloggers like Neha, Aparna, Peter, Sakshi, Jace, Preetam (though he considers himself chinese), Dina, Parmesh (the “fresh lime soda” guy), Shyam and of course the usual delhi bloggers gang. After the conference I had the pleasure of witnessing a practice session going on for some performance which was being done to highlight the fast dying art of playing the snake charmer been in India (minus the snakes). The beautiful sound with a number of instruments, was very much like hearing bagpipes with a poignant and soulful tinge to them. All in all a day very well spent indeed. It was a pleasure to meet all you guys and a zillion thanks to the wonderful organisers!

Atithi devo bhav

This is the first time I am doing a guest post. And then who else but Aashish to do it with. Old readers of this blog may remember to some extent how he was somehow a catalyst for my ‘entry’ into the blogworld. It’s been a while since Aashish has stopped blogging. To put it more in his style, (in bollywood terms i.e.), he gave up all the glory and fame when he was at his peak, typically like bollywood nymphets (for the sake of parenthood). I suspect his reason was pretty much centered around the same. Anyhow here’s hoping that this morsel of that lovely, exquisite dish, he so loved at some point of time, may revive in him, the will enough for a proper ‘re-entry’ instead of a ‘No-entry’ that he obsesses about below. Over to Aashish. Verbatim.


Opportunity knocks once…

But for me Boney Kapoor knocked twice. Thanks to that and Twilight Fairy’s constant reminders about getting back to blog world – I used to write Ashification once upon a blue moon – I have finally been convinced into doing this one “guest post”, which aptly goes on TF’s blog.

Before I narrate the story, I must admit that I am a reasonable fan of Boney Kapoor’s masala work. Most of his movies fall under the classic Bollywood genre of nothingness – movies with no story, no objective, no takeaways and certainly no intelligence – but still watchable and entertaining – in short, ideally what Bollywood stuff should be. However, after he produced ‘No Entry’, I have elevated him to a different league altogether. ‘No Entry’ to me remains one of best movies ever (so if you are a prude, you can stop reading further).

Ok, so back to Boney Kapoor.

Earlier this year in April, I was flying from Chennai to Mumbai. My Jet flight was delayed at Chennai and we were packed to the airport lounge. There I spotted Boney Kapoor, who was on the same flight. I went to him and said hi and congratulated him on the fantastic effort on ‘No Entry’ and its well deserved success (apparently grossed over 70 crs worldwide). He looked hassled – as if his attempts to genuinely buy rights of few latest Tamil / Telugu hits had failed and he would have had to truly remake them – but he still acknowledged me and my lovely thoughts.

Since airport lounge food is bland and may be because both our bellies needed some rest anyway, we had nothing much to do except for waiting for the departure announcement. So then he asked what I was into and so on. One thing led to another and we talked about things like movie likings of IT folks, why comedies work and how hit movies are produced (in all honesty, I am not an authority on that bit, but then neither is Boney Kapoor!).

That was one day I rued that fact, that I had stopped blogging. Anyway – everyone who should have known, and more – was narrated that story. Most people who know me probably realized I am capable of feeling excited about such a meeting, as if it was a date with Aishwarya Rai, and probably didn’t give it too much of a thought.

Cut to last weekend. I am in Amsterdam, on a short assignment. Sunday was free and I decided to explore the gorgeous Dutch countryside. I was on a bus that takes you around the small country in a few hours. The bus came to its last stop Madurodam. It’s a toy city, a miniature world, which has a replica of all important Dutch landmarks. As the bus was coming to a halt, I saw a familiar figure outside – Boney Kapoor!

I promptly scampered out, hoping he doesn’t leave – went to him, and said hi a second time. This time he was more relaxed. He asked me where I am coming from and the likes. I told him about my trip, Amsterdam base and so on, hoping (and you would have realized by now, I am capable of nurturing such a hope) that he would recognize me from that April evening. It’s also not difficult to guess he didn’t. I asked him if he was shooting a movie (hoping again, that I get to meet more stars), but he told me he was on a family holiday. I was about to ask him, which family – but then – and I should take a deep breath here – I spotted the 1980s Queen of Bollywood herself walking to where we stood.

Since the Kapoors didn’t look in a hurry, I chatted with them for a few minutes about – well obviously – how I loved ‘No Entry’ and their movies and how I was a big fan of Sridevi in her heydays. Between April and now, I have graduated from an obsolete Nokia 3310 to a sleek N91. Intending to make the best use of the new gizmo, I requested for a photograph (I could have clandestinely shot a video but then I am generally conscientious). They refused and refused and refused, saying it was a personal holiday, they didn’t want people to know and be talked about.

While I was genuinely disappointed, it was probably worth honoring the wish, just in case “people who should not know” stood for “creditors who have not been paid since ‘Roop Ki Rani Choro Ka Raja’ bombed big time” (had a 15 cr budget in 1990 or so!). The BIG 1980ish antique looking Mercedes, standing nonchalantly next to them, led credence to that theory. In any case my idea was to click a pic and get it published on Rediffs “Have you spotted a star” section, which the experienced duo might have guessed. I finally bade them farewell before getting lost in the awesome world of Madurodam.

So here I am. Despite having had the distinction (that’s what I consider it) of having spent more than 45 minutes of my otherwise bland life with none other than Boney Kapoor, I don’t have his autograph or a photograph with me. I don’t even have an offer of any roles in the countless new slapstick comedies, tragedies and romances that either BSK Productions or Marwah Studios are currently in the process of churning out. I would have even settled for an Assistant Director – may be third Assistant would also have done – but that would I suppose need a third meeting with Boney Kapoor.

Until then, I would sincerely keep feeling excited about my closest brushes with one of my biggest passions – Bollywood.

One last look

Stop right there.
Let me picture you in my mind for the last time.
Soon you’ll be walking out of my life.
Let me gaze upon you for the last time.

I need something to hold on to.
Something to carry me through.
All I need is one last look before you go.
So I’ll have memories where ever I go.
One last look before you’re gone.
So in my heart you’ll live on and on.

Just one last look before we part.
So memories of you will fill my heart.
Let me remember my whole life through.
‘Cause my happiest days, I’ve spent with you.

—– JUST ONE LAST LOOK – The temptations

The lyrics indicate enough. Though they indicate farewell to a sweetheart, in my case it’s not that. In my case it’s not someone walking out of my life. It’s more of the reverse. In my case, it’s not a person but an inanimate object that I am associating all these feelings with. It’s more of a farewell to a house. A house in which I have spent a lot of my moments, in all these years. A house that I have always associated with my childhood as well as my mom’s. A house which was old and antiquated. A house with an architecture which is now defunct. A big open verandah in between with the house “around” it. All kind of plants planted in a small bed of earth around the verandah. A house which had a “well” inside for a large part of its life. It also had a handpump for quite some time. A house which had been surrounded by “tabelas” of buffaloes for many years, for it was built in the non-glitzy Gurgaon of yesteryears. A house which in its prime was the only cemented, double storied structure around. A house which had those huge metallic “kundee” type bolts which could not be locked. And there was a phase when people never needed to. The almost gigantic wooden doors with that typical arch, would have huge metallic hoops as knockers because there were no door bells then. The house which had these huge, heavy chick curtains to block out a bright sun. The house with the high ceilings and with those huge fans. The house where a lot of tales of partition were retold and recounted.

The house where I played unlimited Ludo, hide and seek, hopscotch and some more imagined games. A house, from the open verandah of which, my sister and I would squint under the sun to wave at every passing airplane (thanks to the proximity to IGI airport) because it was a fun thing to do. The house where we actually made paper boats and then “sailed” them in puddles formed after rains. The house in which we always had one or two kites floating around when it would be kite flying season. The house where my mom had her engagement photos taken. The house where she got ready when she was to get married. People never indulged in beauty parlours then. The house where we had all the table cloths, cushion covers and armrests made by my nani. The house where my sister and I would fight over a particular spoon because it was too round and too cute. The house where we knew we were always welcome. The house which we reached after an arduous journey across a stony path (no road) on a two wheeler! The distances were big in those days and the only things that were the landmarks in Gurgaon were the factories. The house which had pictures of a cute kid who was supposed to be our grown up mother. The house which had a lot of wall hangings made by my maasis. The house which was a typical human nest where the kids had taken off and came visiting now and then. The house where my maternal grandparents spent about 40 years. That house is being sold off after my nani’s death. Soon it would be time to take one last look before we part. So that memories of it will fill my heart.

Shedding light

When one has too many things to write about, one lands up in the kind of situ I am in. Not a writer’s block. Not a lack of time (I have written earlier even with scarcity of time). A mental state where ideas are aplenty but putting them down seems too arduous a task. Especially because of the mental backlog that has already accumulated. Going by past experience, it is best to post some and best to purge some. It has been a whole year today to the day I got back from Finland. I always intended to update Finntimes with travelogues about Paris, Switzerland, Copenhagen, the Arctic circle and best of all – the rest of my experiences in Finland which are definitely worth sharing. I still intend to do it, even though there’s been a substantial time gap. A chronicle is a chronicle is a chronicle. It gives one immense pleasure when read at a later date.

For starters, to break the discontinuity, I’ll finally oblige Atul Sabnis for he had tagged me, more than a month back. His tag says, “It has to be about your blogging experience, link us to what you believe are some of your best posts – tell us (at least now) why they are important to you – what you like about them. Keep it as free form as a possible – tell us a story. Tell us what blogging has meant to you, notwithstanding the opinion of the media (or anyone else).”

So here we go. Straight from the heart. I started blogging 3.5 years back mainly because it was a great way to share one’s creative writing endeavours. It’s a different thing, that today most bloggers would not even know what creative writing means. Though I had always maintained a physical personal diary for most of my formative years, I knew that the internet is definitely not a place for it, but creative writing and constructive feedback – yes. Blogging has been a very interesting journey so far. I never thought I would actually end up not only meeting a lot of people through this medium but also befriending some of them much more than friends met through the real world. I now know a lot of people outside what was my usual social circle – either engineers/ IT people or people from Army background. I have had the chance of seeing how blogging has evolved from a word which had to be spelt out and explained to everyone when I started, to the common word which has almost become a fashion statement now. Blogging has shown its power in terms of a lot of episodes which have rocked the blogworld or which have made the power of blogging have almost as much as an impact as main stream media. Being a part of the blogathon for the blank noise project was a big eye opener for many. The formation of a delhi bloggers group and continuous delhi blogger meets since 2.5 years ago has been a great outcome of this journey too. We have had fun meets and some serious meets like when BBC people have wanted to tap the capital for a feel of the blogger’s pulse here. We have had photography meets and book readings too. There are talks on to get into more serious business like spreading the word of blogging to those who dont know of it yet.

Personally, I have gone from the usual beginner’s point where every comment, every hit on my page seemed like an achievement TO not caring about it all anymore. I have seen ppl come to and go from the blogworld as often as the next bus, and I would be glad to say that so far so good – I am here to stay. I have consciously tried to never let blogging become an obsession. Priority has been over being rooted to the real world, having a life where blogging is not the only thing. It is yet another interesting hobby but not the only one. When I started I had grand plans – a personal (opinionated) blog, a travelogue, a blog only for music (had a beautiful instrumental piece on my main blog for a long time), a blog which would actually have audio/video (at that time podcasting was not even a concept), a blog for pictures (again things like flickr were not even a concept), an everchanging interesting template etc. But obviously doing so many things would need me to be only blogging fulltime. And consciously I had decided that I would never eat, drink, sleep – blogging. So all those ideas phased out in the germination stage. Having a readership, a faithful one at that, definitely gives a high. But then if one is that good, having one would not be an issue ever, whether in the blogworld or the real writers world. I tend to be very low on blog hopping. I barely visit some selected blogs of ppl who have now become my pals in the blogworld. Or people who come and comment here :). Blogging has been of a lot of help to me in the real world too. Though I have not been one of those to find love here (and haven’t even got my first cheque from google adsense), I have landed myself a place to stay in, during my stint in Finland when there was absolutely no other option left but to shift out of company paid accomodation. [Thanks Ankur]. I have also had the pleasure of having the option to show this ENT specialist whenever I have a problem :). [Thanks JW]. I have had a blogger’s kids coming up to me and saying “Oh! you are Twilight Fairy!!!!” :p. Never knew it was a family thing to visit certain blogs. :p.

In terms of selecting some of the best posts, that’s a toughie! Every time I go through archives, I go through yet another journey down memory lane. Reading a lot of posts, makes me feel astounded that *I* could have ever written those, they seem impeccable. Reading some of them also makes me wonder what I was thinking while writing them and how someone could have even appreciated them! When I do write, I try to make every piece worth the labour of reading it. A lot of thought goes into it. At times some research too. So I am not playing favourites here or let’s say I can’t afford to go through the “parental” task of choosing ones favourite child! The archives are all here. I have never deleted a single post till date. Never bothered to count how many they are, but am sure it can keep one occupied for days if one would like to bury one’s nose into this attic. Don’t we all just love going through those books with dogeared pages and dusty smells. :p. Here’s to many more such endeavours.

Camera, action!

Of late there have been some movies which have actually started “moving” ppl into action too. Though the term “movies” was coined to denote movement of characters on the screen like “talkies” denoted talking, it’s good to see that the movement and the impact can be felt outside the cinema hall too. Here I am not talking about a certain Vijay or a certain Gabbar or even a trademark wolfwhistle – “oye oye, oye o-o-wa” – things which are permanently etched into people’s memories due to the movies. I am talking about deeper impacts. When Black was released some ppl went ahead to say that watching it once would change you for life, one would walk out a better person. Well, that’s too tall a claim and may be true only for people who are so far removed from the normal world that they have no idea how a world of darkness and silence, looks or sounds like. It may hold good for people who have had a sheltered life with lady luck smiling down on them right from the day they were born. Anyhow, the kind of action I was talking about is more mass oriented and more prominent in two releases of this year – Rang De Basanti and Lage Raho Munna Bhai.

Both movies talk about freedom fighters and how the central characters in the script are really affected by them. Enough to implement their more than half a decade old principles in today’s world, for it seems today’s generation has forgotten the basis on which independent India managed to free herself. The same principles should ideally be sought in today’s world too. But most people think they are too outdated for today’s circumstances. Both movies manage to show us that it is not so and that by sticking to a line of thought one can indeed transform India. Both movies saw mass public action. With RDB it has become a trend to hold any protest at India gate by lighting candles. Whether it is a dharna for the RTI or a candle light vigil for Jessica Lal’s case. Maybe in emulating those actions it makes them feel heroic because it was the heroes (in the movies) who chose to tread that path. Ironically though it was real life heroes who went down that path in history, public trend failed to form on the basis of just that. With LRMB, again the main character chose to tread a path which has been assumed to fail before it even started. But towards the end we are shown how that is not the case and that patience and non-violence can actually work wonders with a feel good factor to boot. With LRMB, terms like “Gandhigiri” and “chemical locha” have entered our common vocabulary (google it and you shall believe). People have started sending get well soon cards and flowers to get any issues resolved like trying to get a liquor shop shift from in front of a prayer place.

But where both movies differ is the way to protest. While RDB promotes Sarfroshi, LRMB promotes non-violence. Two very opposite lines of thought. Nevertheless people choose wherever they fit, which is what matters eventually. At least an intention to make a positive difference.

A good moral at the end of the stories apart, one thing is very prominent in both movies. Both of them show the advent of radio broadcasting and the extent to which it penetrates our daily life. The video never killed the radio star. It’s an instant formula to spreading information. It’s a very strong tool if put in the right hands. That makes me wonder, observing as I have been, how many years before they show a movie where the same information dissemination is done via blogging.