Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tainted Success

“ I want my own identity” my 16 year old cousin told me in all seriousness. (Let’s call her M for now). M is probably one of kids you would want to call ‘incredibly lucky’ – her mother is one of the most respected educationalists and the principal of a leading college in the country, obviously ‘getting in’ would not be any problem what-so-ever. Yet, as we sat talking in my bedroom, I had never seen her more vulnerable, hugging a pillow to her chest she repeats “ If I do well.. then I will branded as the principal’s daughter, If I don’t .. then it will be the story of the principal’s daughter not doing well. It’s a no win situation. I will be under constant scrutiny. My every step will be watched. I am afraid”.

For those few minutes, my heart went out to M, in a way I understand her so well… It’s been three years since I graduated from the same college as a University ranker and the voices saying ‘principal’s niece came first’ haven’t died down. Here is one thing every single classmate of mine will remember – I was related to the principal! Three years of hard-work, six semesters of constantly trying to innovate and three impressive professional internships … (ok, I know I am bragging now) but at the end.. that was all that I was … the principal’s niece. Now, this might have actually been justified if I had gotten even a ounce of that ‘preferential treatment’ – yes, I got to see the college labs beforehand and the library and office staff were rather nice to me … but that’s that .. Every teacher was told to mark me ‘carefully’ and anything above a 90 in any subject raised her eyebrows. Thankfully, the years I studied we were still affiliated to the University of Madras and all the final grading and marking was done at the University – completely exclusive to the college – PHEW! See, I am not saying I was the best or the smartest in class – I wasn’t … but then I worked hard … hard under the pressure of being someone who deserve her success. I was never a school topper and the first time I did well in my life, my success was clouded by a tag, a relationship nature chose for me, so much so that even my own father once remarked “ Oh, don’t think you are so smart, you topped because you are the principal’s niece”. Well, I don’t blame my classmates one bit – it’s so much easier to hate someone and I would have done the same on the other end of the spectrum…

Now, back to M … I can only imagine how much harder it would be for her… her reputation precedes her … no matter what she does … she won’t ever be a deserving candidate of the success in the eyes of her peers .. and if she doesn’t it’s egg on the face for her mother ( something, she can’t afford) . Torn between sides, she sat in front of me … while the rest of the world calls her difficult ‘ becoz she put her foot down about studying in the city, where everyone knows who she is”. Have we ever wondered how blood relatives of our teachers and principal fare at school ? Ill tell you .. terrible .. my best friend (from college) and probably the only person who actually believes that I deserve to be where I am .. thanks to the number of night-outs we have crammed together .. was a teacher’s daughter .. and her school-story wasn’t pretty either. Before we pass remarks (as even I have done ) .. Do we once stop to think of how we would like it if our success was taken away from us .. By just a tag? Before we boycott someone thanks to proximity to an administrator in school or college , do we stop to think how this would affect the person’s psyche ?...

Before .. I ramble and start to whine … my story had a happy ending .. I got a great job ( NOT through my aunt’s influence) and then came Harvard ( now, even SHE can’t get me into Harvard) … 2 years later .. I now believe that I can face any of my classmates, unapologetic about my good grades… as for my cousin .. all I have told her is to be patient .. her day will come …

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Harvard Here I come!

So, it’s been like 6 months since I updated. I don’t blame myself you know .. when you begin to write for a living, you kinds begin to say to yourself “ Not again!” each time you see Microsoft word open!

Lots has happened, yes I got into Harvard. Ok, I am not going to be modest here (though I have been telling all and sundry – It’s not that hard) but believe me, I didn’t expect to. A very close friend told me less than week ago “ Don’t fool yourself, thinking you are intelligent, you are very average”. Ouch, the words couldn’t hurt more and why? Because I know he is right! I am average and yet, less than two months from now, I will be at Harvard.

Harvard! O how I love that word, “ I am going to Harvard!” – it’s like eating a triple layered cheesecake (minus the calories) , every time someone stares at you in awe! Hahaha, little do they know …

Sometime I think, the only reason I got into a University like that is because I applied to the graduate school not the Business school. Yes, here’s the part .. I find hard to explain, this is what I am going to do – Masters in Technology, Innovation and Education! Do you think it’s easier to get into the edu school? Honestly? Maybe, because they aren’t as many people who want to study education as there are who want a business degree ( read, want to make $144,000 on graduation) but you know what ? The acceptance ratio at the Education School is lower than the Business school (what I am trying to say here is that it is just as hard if not harder)
Alright, so I am effectively diverting now.. What I mean is .. or rather .. what I mean to say is … I still can’t belive that I am going to Harvard, I – who got rejected by NID, I who wasn’t on the 90+ bracket in Sate board education, I –the queen of procrastination and the love child of laziness and lethargy , am actually going to Harvard ( with a scholarship, may I add J ) . So Rejoice world, there is much hope for you … and yesh.. it still hasn’t sunk in, It probably won’t until I reach Boston.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Have you ever made a mistake, one you know you will regret all your life even before u made it but then went ahead and followed your heart anyway? Those are the mistakes.. I am talking about, the ones, which haunt you time and again, the ones that suddenly come back in flashes and leave you feeling queasy.

I have made those mistakes, like anyone else, for those few moments of joy, for those few moments of triumph; I have scarified my soul – time and again. It could be so many, many thing, small thing, big thing, great tings, but the point is, the minute you so something, you would hypocritically point as ‘wrong’ if someone else did and then go ahead and unflinchingly do the same yourself, you have lost. Lost as a person, as thinking being.

My point now, is not about those mistakes, it’s about moving ahead. I cheated on a math paper in grade 4. I was always a good student, but could never ever come first in class, no matter how hard I worked or tried, while I consistently delivered a second-third rank, the first was elusive – always. During my second mid-term test, I made an incredibly silly mistake in my paper, one which cost me (yet again) that first rank, while the teacher wasn’t looking, I quickly changed the answer (we wrote in pencil those days) and demanded more marks as I had done the sum right, she wordlessly awarded me the extra 3 marks and I came first that exam – for the first and last time of my life. Noone ever found out, and yet everytime I saw that teacher, I always felt there was something in her eyes, which said – cheater, cheater. It wasn’t just the math exam that day, the incident triggered a life-long aversion towards the subject, one which cost my dearly during my board exams in the 12th.

I’m not sounding like a martyr or a morally policed person (believe me I am not) but the feeling of shame, which wells up inside you, is terrible. Cheating on an exam is a small instance; there have been many more, much more serious. A multitude of times, I have done things, simply because I wanted to- things which fade away as time passes, but one day when u least expect comes back to you with so much force and vigor, that you curse yourself for ever believing that they were a distant memory.

Everytime, I see the people I have hurt in the past, being diplomatically polite to me, my stomach lurches, and yet, I understand that with one stupid act, I have broken bonds and trust which could have taken years to forge. Then I think of something a very special person once told me after a ‘weak moment’ – “One day it will come back and hit you so hard you won’t know what happened”. Oh I remember, what happened. Only remember too well!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

so it 08'!

2007 for all reasons has been one of the most eventful years of my life ... A lot changes, broken promises and unfulfilled desires. In a lot of ways I grew up more in 2007 alone than I had during the first 20 years of my life.

My father, who I always thought was one of the fittest and most able people around fell sick, I was shocked couldn’t react and probably still do not know how to. I guess I realised for the first time in my life that people age, that life aint perfect and that loosing a loved one could someday be a reality.

Relationships were crazy, moving out of college to another city and then moving back and then swapping jobs, I have met so many people – some of who have touched my life and some, who I just want to forget but well, 2007 was the year of people. People who I thought would stay with me till the day I die, left .. people who I wanted to run away from were my support. People who I think too much of, mean the worlds and people – were just being themselves.. unpredictable. This people include people like me – unpredictable, unstable and irrational.

The year of my first job, I finally woke up to reality. Both ins school and college, I have never really put in much effort, especially college, where I sailed through totally relying on the power of bullshit , I had time, I had freedom and I could still do well.. that was life!! No deadlines, no embarrassment and no bosses. I also learnt another thing, college politics is absolutely nothing compared to what you see at your workplace and there are only two ways to survive
1 – Bitch back as viciously as you can
2- Shup up, mind your business and pretend like people don’t exist
I tried a bit of both, think I am going to choose the latter though, it’s easier safer and that the end people just call you a ‘snob’, the former could lead to far more hazardous complications.

2007, the year of my goals- I finally decided to do something about my life. I need to move towards my dream, even if it means letting go for a cushy routine. 2007 is when I realized I could be stuck in a rut if I didn’t take the initiative to move and 2007 is when I started my journey towards my dream- education. I should soon be going to Graduate school to study and this will hopefully put me on a path towards professional nirvana.

Money! I discovered financial independence, of course even in school and college, I was always the type who never had to save, a lot of part-time jobs and the delightful ‘prize money’ earned form several cultures and quite a generous amount of pocket money, kept me quite happy but I finally began to understand what it is to make a good amount of it, enough to do what you want, buy what you want , money that is yours with noone to ask questions.,. well.. bliss.
Finally.. with 2008, I realize me turning another year older is just a matter of 4 months.. I will soon be 22! And 22 does not read young anymore. I can no longer do absurd things and pass it off as ‘cute’ , I can never be so sweetly immature again and tantrums won’t be laughed at. Children will start calling me aunty, I need to be a serious-faced responsible adult and people will now start looking at me as a ‘woman’. Its time I grow up!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

So Where Next?....

I recently took a complete u-turn professionally. All my life, I have steered clear of journalism, simply because, well.. I don’t like writing too much. I have never been able to keep a diary and was definitely the last person around to explore the realms of blogging.
But well, now I am a journalist, in ever sense of the words. I write, report, sub copies ( never said I was good at ant of the above) but the thing which bothers me is that I really enjoy what I do!

Not that it is a bad thing to enjoy work; it’s just that, I have lately begun to question myself if I really know what I want to do in life. Do I know my priorities? Do any of us? A very senior member of the editorial team keeps lamenting that he nothing to show for in his life. Blessed with a good amount of talent and a decently high position, for most people this would seem like a typical case of ‘life is made’ but that’s just the outside. Doubts, more doubts and this stupid nagging lil voice gnaws him (I am sure more often than once) and I am so afraid, 20 years down the line, I will feel the same.

Infact, I am sure. I have this theory that if by 21 you don’t know what you want in life, you will never know. Seriously, you end up studying every subject in school you do your graduation, your post-graduation and then after a point you just stele into anything. After school, I was always so happy that I chose the ‘road less traveled’ – media and design. While I could have prob got into any engineering college or atleast a decent law school but I choose to study the flexible- media. I wish I had not, with a plethora of options in front of me, I dunno what I want to do and what’s worse, I suddenly feel I could have so conveniently stepped into the path laid out for me but an engineering college.

Of course, what takes the cake is the fact that most people assume I am on the road to success ( just like my boss). I have a decent job, good college scores and generally a happy life. But, But But , Am I happy ? I don’t know, Am I doing what I want to do in life? I don’t know . The problem is, I think life has two options open to you

a) You touch peoples lives, make a difference and come out with decent work but make a pittance
b) You are another face in the crowd, you work your backside off as an anymayus work but really rake in the moolah.

The problem is, I want both! I want the routine and easiness of a corporate job, a plush office , standard work-timings and lots of money but at the same time want my flexibility, to be able to have my say and take a stand? Am I asking for too much? Well, apparently it is….

So who will be 15 years from now? A revolutionary with no money or just another face in the crowd who lives oblivious to the surroundings. Time will tell.. But the fact is .. I still dunno who I want to be… Do you?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Aaja ‘Nene’ Nachle!

Movie: Aaja Nachle

Cast: Madhuri, Madhuri, Madhuri and well others...

Rating: ***1/2

3 things to look out for in Aaja Nachle!

1) Madhuri falls in love with a man called “Steve” (Mc.Curry) – A National Geographic photographer, who specializes in Indian and Asian photography. Wonder what Mc. Curry has to say about this!!!

( Note: For the clueless people, Steve Mc. Curry is the famous NGO photographer, who shot the Afghan girl – the one with the purple dress and soulful blue-green eyes)

2) The scene when Madhuri discusses marriage with her to-be husband , she says
“In India most of us get married just once, Do you understand that ? “ SCORE!!!

3) Vinay Pathak’s- Mash of Zorro act …

Ok I gotta stop, before I give away the entire story …..

What are the three best things about Aaja Nachle? Madhuri Dixit , Madhuri Dixit and well…did I mention Madhuri Dixit? Yes, She IS a 40+ mother of two and NO she doesn’t try to hide it. She is definitely not playing a college-student (which many of our Tamil heroes continue to do at the age of 50+)
While Madhuri’s age shows on her face, it has absolutely no effect what-so-ever on her acting or dancing prowess, which is tremendous!

While, it’s worth watching the movie just to see the “original queen bee’ of Bollywood come back with a bang, there is more … Konkona Sen, Kunal Kapoor, Askhaye Khanna (I tried really hard not to like him, but dayem! I end up falling in love with that balding old man agagin!) And the Channel V duo – Ranvir and Vinay!

Madhuri (Dia) a dance choreographer in NYC (cut to flashback - her falling in love with a ‘Gora’ photographer (Ghosh! We are racist), bringing shame upon the family, the family leaving town etc etc .), comes down to her hometown Shamili because her Guruji (the one who taught her to “Deiance” – don’t miss M’s Umercian accent ..) is on his death bed.

Back in Shamili, she realizes her dance school is going to be razed to the ground and her Guruji’s last wish to preserve his place of worship. How madhuri comes up with a plan to outwit the local politicians, the suave MP , building contractor etc. and puts up a
“Laila-Majnu” play with the well artistically-challenged town folk is what makes the rest of the story.

Predictable fare – yet again! If you have been watching movies day once a month for the last 2-3 years of your life, you can figure out what the story is going to be and how the movie will progress. No surprises there.. No great script-writing either..

But I would definitely say .. Watch Aaja at least once .. be it for the songs, or Madhuri’s dancing or simply because of the fact that, refreshingly the movie has no caricatures – no silly villains thirsting for revenge till the end, no extreme mother-daughter crying and sentiment scenes and no ‘bad people’ trying to ruin the climax .. Phew!!

For all you people who actually sat through Om Shanti Om ( I am not even going to mention the people who actually “loved” the movie) and the ones who thought Saawariya was not all that bad – A must watch!

For all the people who actually thinking of taking dance lessons, go watch Aaja- if Madhuri does not have you at your feet at the end of the movie … then well.. Take lessons anyway.. Someday we might all just be able to dance like her :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

After Black it's Blue!

Movie : Saawariya

Cast: Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee, Ranbir Kapoor

Rating: Rediff / Sify / Indiatimes : *1/2

My rating: ****

After Black, it is Blue!! Sanjay Leela Bhansali really has a penchant for colours ( or the lack of it)! Saawariya for many reason is like an under-water diving experience, there is blue , blue and well still more blue! Underwater you see fauna of different colours but here the cast, extras and even the table linen is blue!

Flashback! ( mine )

With people trashing the movie left, right and center! An incredible amount of negative publicity and the movie being not-so affectionately being nicknames Saawariya – Sethuporiya ( which means will you die, if translated into Tamil). I was prepared for the absolute worst!!

The first hurdle was finding company, for some reason noone shared my enthusiasm to experiment a bit with an ‘insipid movie which is almost monochromatic’ … lol.. I did find two bakras nonetheless, my poor colleagues, one even dragged her husband! The final verdict however was mixed, one colleague liked it, I loved it and the other detested it!

There is and believe me there definitely is a way to enjoy the movie! Keep in mind the
three characteristic which are unique to Saawariya, put all logic aside , sit back, relax and enjoy the visual splendor!

· Serial-lights!! You see serial lights everywhere, on the roads, under the bridge, inside the waste-paper basket, on the road, near the chicken coop and even under Sonam Kapoor’s skirt!!

· A ghost township! My colleague along with half the world had the same doubt! Where the hell is this town? I have another to add to that doubt, why the hell does it look like a bad matt painting (for all those who don’t understand that term , it’s used to describe the digital imagery you see in fantasy movies). There are boats which move on less than foot of water, people who stand around like zombies , 3 feet wide lakes so on and so forth!

· The time frame- At time you feel like we are in the present day world, there are times where u feel like you are hundred years behind but what you constantly feel is that you stuck in a monochromatic world! Don’t try determining the time frame!

· I DON'T LIKES Rani Mukerjee!! GAWD I DETEST HER ANS HER FAKE CHIRPY VOICE DIALOGUES...FRANKLY..GET A LIFE WOMAN… WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU PLAYING THE ‘FALLEN WOMAN’ … now could you please retire after you impending wedding to Adi Chopra?

So do the move make sense? Absolutely not! But it tugs at your heart strings, every scene has been canned with emotion, with love with passion and that shows!! Yes, every single frame has been tireless made to look visually splendid … and yet.. the same detail hasn’t been rendered to performance and script.

Saawariya is one of those movies where you take home something with you and one of those things is a absolutely, fantastic, superlative performance by Zora Segal! Her act as lilli-pop itself it worth every bit the Rs.120 ticket! The other is this warm fuzzy feeling, the one who get while hugging you teddy bear . Ranbir Kapoor does look gay but there is a certain sincerity in his performance which melts you.

Contrary to reports “you are NOT assaulted but he music” . The songs are simple, melodious, fabulously choreographed. However what I was pleasantly surprised by is that the songs were all delightfully short, never more than 3 minutes, always leaving us
( atleast me) asking for more.

While Ranbir is a fabulous dancer the same can’t be said about his attempt to act but I am sure he will learn with time, Anyways since when does talent determine success in bollywood ? Sonam on the other hand, is refreshingly un-perfect looking ! I made a few catty comments about hoe she need a lip-job done and a few tweaks on her face but she is an ordinary looking woman well cast in the role, which she plays ..eeeeerrrrrrr. ummmmmmm….. well to the best she can!

The story is a simple innocent boy-meets girl tale. A wandering minstrel falls in love with a fair maiden on a lonely bridge. He falls madly in love with her only to realize she has given away her heart to another man, who she waits for tirelessly. He bowls her over with his charm and exuberance but will she falter ? Will she give up her love for the young man who sweeps her off her feet??? Watch Saawariya to find out !!

If you want a second opinion ( a rather contrasting one at that ) read Neeraja’s blog
(the one who hated it !)

P.S. I say watch the movie, leave logic behind and get lost in a mesmerising, monochromatic azure melange’.