Thursday, April 24, 2008

Of A Love, and A Story

“It will go away” Abhishek said as if feeling the pain of Shivangi himself. His expressions were of a scared child; or that of a hesitant liar. Three days back, Shivangi, his wife had fallen from the stairs. There was only a minor injury in the back but the pain had lingered.

Abhishek had known Shivangi for years. Theirs was the kind of relationship that others call ‘made for each other’ types. They fell in love while in school, went ahead to make their careers, and then got married.

Shivangi quickly controlled her tears, listening to Abhishek’s pleading. She was more concerned about his panic than her own pain. He was still a teenager for her; a stubborn teenager who loved her. He could never see her suffer, he could never see her cry. Her tears made him restless; always………. ‘almost all ways’. So much had changed but Abhishek never grew up.

She quickly took bath and got dressed up in her best to show him that she was fine. After a long time she saw him carefree and she felt the same love she felt for him ten years ago. Thoughts wandered taking her to the marriage and then she remembered Abhishek was her husband...... H U S B A N D

Every time the word sounded so strange!

Life after marriage was same. They were more of friends and the stereotyped ‘man and wife’ roles had not yet emerged. They still were Abhishek and Shivangi.

“You are not going to the office today, right?” Abhishek asked. Her thoughts were broken and she came back to the present. Her project’s deadline was coming near she was already behind schedule.

“I have to go today. The pain is subsiding and I think I shall manage” she announced. Abhishek was not too happy with that. He tried to convince her why she needed rest. It began from logic, then turned into an argument and then went on to become ‘cant you do this if I say? ’

But she decided to go. She went ahead not noticing the frown on his face, not choosing to notice the frown on his face. That day he did not give her a call in office. Some feel restless if they do not read the newspaper and some feel restless if they miss their tea. But for anyone in love, nothing creates more restlessness than not receiving a phone call from the lover.

So in the afternoon, she called. In the beginning he refused to speak. In next few calls there were pauses, long cryptic pauses. She now understood that she had miscalculated his anger. She came home worried, and somewhat concerned. She started with apologies and then she tried to cajole.

His outburst came naturally; something he never controlled. It began from her lack of care for herself. Then he screamed how less his words meant for her. And then the flow took its course. Corpses came out from the closet; the ‘once upon a time’ issues emerged. He reminded her of all her flaws, of all the wrong things she had done and of all the things that were not so good between them.

And then he stopped. There were tears in her eyes and they were more than her injury had caused in last three days. She was crying and he could see her suffer.

PS: Many people have asked me what happened next. The truth is I don’t know but if I have to guess, I will say they they lived (happily/sadly) ever after. But yes, they lived together :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Do We Lack Brain?

Watched ‘Shourya’ on this weekend featuring Rahul Bose, Minishaa Lamba and KK Menon. There are movies that are bad and there are movies that are more than bad. You are disgusted not only while watching them, but they also disturb your calm for coming few days. Shourya is that kind of movie.

Its biggest crime is that it is a ‘bad copy’ of ‘A Few Good Men’. Copying is not good but making a bad copy is obnoxious. Mr. Moviemaker copied and did not do even that job well. First of all they made a complete mess of the story. The accused maintains a constipated face all the time and rarely speaks to enlighten the audience what has happened. Before you make any sense, the intermission comes and you wonder when the movie shall begin. And as soon as it begins, it ends!

There is no case and it is also not solved. You may say that it is also not a movie. Oh yes there some outpours from Rahul Bose and some from KK. Perhaps the reason is that producers vaguely remembered something similar in A Few Good Men. Now Bollywood walas do not have good English, so you cannot blame them from not copying the content. They brought our most clichéd outpour, religious hatred. And bingo, the case is solved, accused not guilty………… Wait a minute, was the case about a murder or communalism?

Now let us come to the actors. Rahul Bose speaks much more than required. He is a bad imitation of carefree Tom Cruise. Minishaa Lamba is there because of the dictum ‘A bollywood movie must have a female lead’. KK is OK because he comes for a small time, so he does not have time to spoil his role.

I feel that they decided to make a copy, and then add bollywood masala to it. So they added songs, added a beautiful female but forgot to write role for her, and decided to bring comedy by Rahul Bose’s foolish jokes. To help the audience in remembering the name of the movie, the characters repeat word ‘Shourya’ in their each second dialogue.

I am disappointed because movie is actually meant for the niche or the multiplex audiences. There also did the producers feel that viewers will not be able to appreciate a solid case. You can neither close your mind thinking it to be ‘David Dhawan genre’, nor can allow it any work as it will lead to only questions, not answers.

It not only is a bad movie but it also brings a bad name to the army. The blame of communalism scars the biggest reputation of the army, that is secularism. To add to the confusion, in the end they show various news reports of human right violations by the Indian army.

Why can’t Bollywood produce one good flawless movie? I rephrase, Can’t Bollywood produce one good flawless copy?

I seriously wonder that do we lack brain.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bharat Darshan Chronicles-III

This is third part of the Bharat Darshan series. If you are a new visitor, you may read the first and second parts by clicking the hyperlinks.

We traveled from Dantewada to Vishakhapatnam by road. The landscape of the region is marvelous spreading across Chattisgarh, Orrisa and Andhra Pradesh. The entire road runs along Eastern Ghats.

The path had ideal setting of sceneries we used to draw as a child. There were beautiful mountains and the river running across them. Then there was that colorful sky at the sunset with various shades and the red ball of fire vanishing in the horizon. There also were small scattered hamlets that dissolved in the landscape as twinkling lights along with sunset.

We reached Vishakhapatnam at around nine at night. Our attachment was with the Eastern Naval Command. A submariner had come to receive us. He introduced himself along with his rank and that’s when we realized that we should have known the hierarchy of the armed forces. Our predicament was to continue for next few days. We were taken to a Navy guest house named ‘Kremlin’, signifying our long defense ties with Russia. Our rooms were in no way less than any good hotel. After dumping our luggage, we rushed to the Mess, to have our dinner. A Mess in armed forces is quite different in many ways.

The atmosphere is formal with a proper dress code. You go there and sit with a stern face and the rest of the job shall be done by the waiters. A plate will appear in front of you along with other items. You try hard not make any noise while eating with the fork and knife. After that you close your plate by putting the fork and spoon parallel and the waiter will ensure he picks it from the right direction. Those three days of ‘formal dining’ were the most stressful part of our attachment.

Next day our Navy attachment officially began with a visit to Maritime Warfare center. There sailors are taught, how to control a ship with the help of computer aided simulations. War games are prepared and trainees learn to use the controls of the ship. After this we went to visit a warship INS Ranjit. The captain of the ship was the only serving Mahavir Chakra winner in Navy. He explained us about defense equipments, materials bought from Russia and the difference from their American counterparts.

Here I have a good news for ladies. Any lady who goes on a warship receives a salute from the officer in command. The reason is that they treat ship as a lady, so it is a token of respect. And then came the visit that we can never forget; the visit to submarine INS Sindhudhwaj.

The difficult life that submariners live has to be seen to be believed. A person cannot stand erect in a submarine. When it ventures out in the sea, the submariners get a ration of one mug water a day to do all their activities. They have no contact with the outer world and no one other than the captain knows where they are, how long the operation shall continue and what is happening in the outside world. Also in case of an accident or attack, the chances of survival are slim.

In the evening we had an interaction with the Chief of the command, a Rear Admiral. He briefed us about the importance of Navy in general and operations of Eastern command in particular. He explained us how Navy is a strategic force which has an important role in the present geopolitical scenario. He also told us about the continuous struggle of Navy to get a bigger share in the defense budget. The official schedule had no plan of taking us out into the sea but we requested him for that and he agreed. The day after was going to be in the sea, on a warship INS Kripan.

Our sea journey started early in the morning. We were welcomed by the captain and the entire crew. There we came to know that in the night at two, they had returned from a military exercise. They had been in the sea for last two months and now they were going to have rest. But then they were asked to take us into the sea. I was really impressed by their cheerfulness in entertaining the forced guests, i.e. IAS probationers.

The weather was good and it was amazing to feel the breeze on the deck Even walking was difficult due to wind but we tried to emulate the Titanic pose. We were treated royally on the ship with juices and shakes being served on the deck After sometime the captain gave a go ahead to the exercises that were simultaneously being planned.

A ship called INS Sukanya came along and then both ships exchanged man and material by rope. They sent us ‘Idlis’ while our ship sent a bag of sweets. Then men were exchanged via rope connecting the two ships. After that an IAF chopper landed on the moving ship and then flew back. Firing on a target was also practiced and there I fired the first machine gun of my life. The day spent on the ship was one of the best experiences of Bharat Darshan.

That day we came back late. In the evening some of us went to the beach. Staring the raw form of nature evokes strange feelings and the philosophical questions come gushing back to me, what is life, what is my aim, and what I want to do. Many times the truth of life is equally simple and complex. When I look back, I feel that everything in life just happens and we are only spectators.

Next day we went to see the ‘Satavahanas’ that was training school for submariners. The training there is more difficult than life in the submarine. And after every three years, everyone has to come back and go through the training again. In the afternoon we had a debriefing session with the Chief of Staff, Admin. It was more of a general ‘Gyan session’. He shared his philosophy of life. Interestingly he criticized the hierarchy of civil services, an element that was more pervasive in armed forces. He told us an interesting story.

A young IAS was newly posted as an SDM in a district. The DM called him for a meeting that was for discussing the arrangements of marriage of his daughter. The young officer had no clue so he took his head clerk along with him for this meeting. The DM asked how many sweets should be present in the wedding. The head clerk prompted the SDM to say that five kinds of sweets will be good.

After the marriage, our SDM received a call from the DM thanking him for the arrangements of sweets. When the SDM inquired from his head clerk how arrangements were made and from which fund the money came, he replied “Sir, didn’t you pass an order for spraying insecticides in the villages. The insecticides have been ‘perfectly’ sprayed and that is where the money came from”.

Well, I sincerely pray that we don’t end up spraying insecticides in such a fashion. Our official Navy attachment ended with this. For most of us, this was the first close interaction with armed forces. I was inspired by the great work they are doing for the nation work and I wish that we, as civil servants are able to emulate it.

Next day we had to move for Rajamundry, and then to Sringarei coalfields for our public sector attachment