Our Uncle

He always woke up in time, served all the meals in time, never took leaves, stayed away from home for months and yet he earned only seven thousand. We called him ‘Uncle’, as if that was his name. Even on his birthday, some girls who had time to prepare a colourful birthday card for him wrote ‘Many many happy returns of the day Uncle’. I never cared to know his name and neither did anybody else in the hostel I presume.

Uncle never called me Lahari, he always addressed me as ‘Jyotsna’. I have not been quite fond of that name as I associated it with one of our house maids back when I was a child. It was sort of a demotion in rank… Rank of what you ask? Well, I could not come up with an answer either…

But the way he yelled out after 10 in the morning, ‘Arree Jyotsna, khana nahi khayegi kya?’ made me feel loved and I gradually started to like the name. I had asked Uncle a few times, “Mera naam to Lahari hai, aap mujhe Jyotsna kyu bulate ho?” (Why do you call me Jyotsna, when my name is Lahari?). But I never got a clear answer. He would just smile and say, “Hum to tujhe Jyotsna hi bulayenge.” Maybe he has a daughter called Jyostna, and I remind him of her…

Uncle hailed from the eastern part of Bihar and knew some Bengali. He would often try to converse with me in Bangla, especially if I made a face at the not-so-delicious-looking-dinner. He’d ask, “Toh tumko kya laga, hum aj muri-ghonto banayenge?” (So did you expect me to cook muri ghonto {a fish preparation} for you?) Being a fond non-vegetarian, the vegetarian dishes served thrice a day often took a toll on my mood, so sometimes I’d stuff my tummy with some chicken outside and skip dinner at the hostel. Uncle, a staunch vegetarian, would come to enquire why I had not stepped into the dining area yet, and on knowing about my fetish for chicken he’d say, “Ha, tumko to wu bahar ka khana hi pasand ayega, hum jo yahan mach bhaja aur chicken nahi banate…” (Why would you like anything I cook, you are so fond of chicken and fish from the restaurants)

Due to some illogical rules, we were not allowed to bring any non-vegetarian item into the hostel premises, and I followed that rule until the last night spent there. When I was almost done packing, I went to get my dinner, but Uncle winked at me and said, “Tu room me ja, thori der baad bulata hu” (Go to your room, I’ll call you after some time). I knew that he was up to something, but I leaped up in joy when hearing a loud knock at my door I opened it to let in the aroma of brilliant chicken butter masala! He handed me a plateful of steamed rice and a big bowl full of chicken (enough for two). He broke the rules to treat me. That was the sweetest gesture I had ever received.

There had been several other perks of owning a room by the kitchen. Uncle would at times prepare special items in less quantity and call some of his favourite hostelites to treat them secretly. I’ve had the luck to taste a very delicious kheer, spicy dish of green jackfruit and some pasta. Being on his list of favourites I also had the privilege of going in late and getting the best of parathas for breakfast (not that I was fond of parathas, but the simple gesture was enough to show that he cared).

I never bothered to buy aluminium foil to wrap my lunch even though Uncle had asked me a few times to buy one roll and keep it in the kitchen so that he can pack my lunch in them. But one fine day onwards I started to get my parathas wrapped in the shining foil!
I don’t know whether “Thank you” is a phrase good enough to acknowledge the gratitude, but I thanked him every time yet a feeling of dissatisfaction remained. He does not need our thank you’s; all the others like him, they do not need our Western formality, neither do they desire money. Paying someone of Uncle’s level would rather be a sheer insult to the person, what they actually need is us to remember them and love them back, something I eventually failed in, trying to be good at the many other ‘important things’ in life.

I bought some sweetmeats for the staff the day I was leaving the hostel and handed the box over to Uncle authorising him to distribute them to all. His face lit up in a very unique way, something I had never witnessed before. He almost welled up as he opened the box, and with teary eyes, he took out the first sweet and forcefully fed me happily. Maybe nobody ever gifted him a box of sweets…

He would often call me over the phone and ask how I have been doing, and then say, “Tu hume bhul jayegi Jyotsna, par hum tumhe nahi bhule. Kitni ladkiya ayi aur chali gayi, par pata nahi kyun tu yaad reh gayi…” (You might forget me Jyotsna, but I won’t. So many girls have come and gone, but I don’t know why I still remember you) Not knowing what to say in return, I’d try to console him by saying that I had been busy with work and therefore could not call him sooner. I remember the last time we spoke over the phone when I was too tied up with work. On receiving the call after a quick chat I told him that I’d call back when I get time. I managed time and remembered to call him back in a week or two, but a female voice on the other end of the line said, “The number you have called is out of service.” And I had not heard from him since. I failed to show him the respect and love that he so deserved.

I do not know whether he lost or changed his phone, or left the city, but I have not had the courage or will to enquire about him to the warden in the fear of receiving a bad news. I hope that he’s back in Bihar living with his family, his daughter Jyotsna.

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I was always taught to be myself: Akasa Singh

Gifting the nation with its selfie anthem last year ‘Tu kheench meri photo’ singer Akasa Singh, shares her story of doing a duet with pop sensation Ricky Martin recently.C4JlbNqUYAAs8Gi

Tell us about your childhood, growing up in a family with musical background…

As my father is a singer, there was always something or the other going on in my family. Growing up with that, before I knew what a career is, I already knew that I wanted to be a singer. I got my dad’s voice, and I pursued singing under his guidance, eventually, I started my career with Mika Singh. He would often come to our home and he used to make me sing and asked me to join the band with him and perform live.

Please share your experience working with Mika

Working with Mika was great. I was in a band at a very young age, I was the only girl in the band which had about 10 male members over the age of 40! Very early on I got to experience a lot. I got a chance to travel the whole world to perform for different audiences. Basically, working with him sort of moulded me, because he is one of the best performers of the country, and I learned a lot from him . Whatever I do on stage today is because of how Mika ji groomed me. I learned the best thing from the best person.

Your performance is quite versatile. How did you work on your charming onstage persona?

I was born and brought up in a Sardar family, I grew up with only brothers. While growing up, I never hesitated for anything,  thinking whether it would be inappropriate to behave in a way since I’m a girl. I did what I saw my brothers do. So, with that confidence, I never hesitate onstage about how I’d look while rapping, or whether I have to behave/perform in a particular way since I’m dressed in a lovely ghagra choli. I was always encouraged by my parents to be myself, I was never taught to behave in any particular way just because I am a girl. Growing up that way I explored many opportunities – if I wanted to rap I could, if I wanted to jump onstage or crack jokes I could – it sometimes does not go with the way I look or with people’s expectation, but it’s because I was always taught to be who I am. People do get a little shocked sometimes when I crack little jokes in the middle of my performance or jump…

Did you ever have stage fright?

I used to have that sort of fright before my exams! (laughs) When I used to study for exams, I would think Yaar Geometry chhodo, main stage mein 5000 logon ke samne gana ga dungi. I never experienced stage fright on the stage, because I felt at home on stage. I always wanted to go on stage hold a mic and interact with the people when my dad used to perform. But I was really young, and I could not sing properly. When my dad asked, what would you sing if you go on stage, I’d say ‘I don’t know, just get me on the stage, give me a mic and let people watch me and I’ll interact with them. Since the time I saw my dad perform on stage in front of a huge audience, I guess that stage fright was wiped off even before I had it.  In fact, I feel more at home on the stage even if there are 50,000 people in the audience rather than meeting new people. All thanks to my dad jinki performance dekh dekh ke woh dar nikal gaya.

How did you get your first Bollywood break?

Himesh Reshamiya was the mentor of a show I did – ‘India’s Raw Star’. When he heard me sing for the first time he promised me that he’d give me a break in Bollywood. After the show, a lot of people asked me whether I got a chance in Bollywood. An acquaintance gave me Himesh’s contact number and pushed me to talk to him. I messaged him ‘Hi Himesh ji, Akasa here. Hope you are well’ and in reply, he texted, ‘Hi Akasa hope you are well, come to the studio tomorrow, we’ll dub a song’. It was as if I reminded him about his promise. When I went to the studio the next day, he told me, Tum apne tarike me gao. That was the best part, and I sang the song, ‘Tu kheench meri photo’ from Sanam Teri Kasam in that ‘masti wala’ tone. He liked my tone and that’s  how I got my break in Bollywood. Kafi filmy kahaani hai meri! (laughs)

How did your collaboration with Ricky Martin for ‘Vente Pa Ca’ happen?

Another break that happened before this break was me signing up with Sony Music. Sony is his label. They told me that there’s a Spanish single of Ricky Martin, and that he was making an English version of it and whether I would like to lend my Hindi voice to it.  I got so excited that I agreed at once. My vocals were recorded and sent. Ricky really liked it and that’s how I collaborated with him on the duet, ‘Vente Pa Ca’.

What have you learned from this experience?

Unfortunately, I have not met him in person yet. When we were discussing the song, we exchanged e-mails where he explained me the feel of the song, how to sing it and a little praise. But the fact that I have a duet with him is a big deal for me. I hope that I get to meet him in future and work more with him.

Any Bollywood heroine you’d like to lend your voice to? Aaj

Aaj kal actually itna talent aa gaya Bollywood mein, that some of them are singing themselves. I cannot decide on any one particular person. I love Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra… In fact, I would like to sing for any of the heroines! They all are absolutely beautiful, I can sing for any heroine. Sometimes I think it’s better to be the heroin and sing my own songs! (laughs)

Would you like to share any memorable moment?

Recently, I did a show called ‘MTV Angles of Rock’ with three other Bollywood singers – Jasmine Sandlas, Shalmali Kholgade, and Anusha Mani. It was a women empowerment oriented show for which I wrote and composed two songs for the first time in my life. I also performed them for the people I had written for. That feeling of them appreciating, getting emotional and loving my songs is something that I’ll never forget in my life, which is why I don’t just want to sing but also want to compose and write so that I can touch people’s lives in more ways.

What are your hobbies?

Well, other than singing, I love to dance and read. I have a passion for bullet motorbike, so I’m trying to convince my mother to buy me a bullet. I’m also obsessed with animals – a pet lover.

 

Products of the Bong Echo-system!

‘Aww ji tussi bong ho?!’ is something that I receive from unbelieving faces smiling at me. ‘Ki khobor?, Kemon achi! Ami bhat khabe! Ami byangla bolte pari! mishteee doi’ and so on it goes as the excited conversationalists try to put to use their knowledge of Bangla.

It is not a bad feeling, as it brings on free amusement and often unnecessarily triggers a smile from within me (I do not quite know whether I smile at the honest mistakes or the pompous know-it-all fails!). Bengali is definitely a language too mishti (sweet) to the ear and instantly reminds one of all things related to food and culture. Bengali or Bangla is synonymous to Mishti doi, rasogolla, dal-bhat, laal-par sada saree (white saree with a red border, traditionally worn on festivals), Rabindra-sangeet, poems, theatre and most importantly films – where else do you think all the stalwarts of the golden period of Indian Cinema had come from?

Yet another wondrous part of the world’s sweetest language (according to popular belief) is the repeated use of phonetically similar words to soothe the ear. Bangla byakaran (Bengali Grammar) calls it ‘shabdadwito’ –

Khabar-dabar, Jekhane-sekhane, Khochor-mochor awaz, habi-jabi, mota-shota, aaje-baaje kotha etc. (The list’s neverending!)

The language also hosts some irreplaceable words like nyakay and dhong to symbolise intolerance towards certain aspects of human behaviour! If someone is smarter than you, or proves you wrong in an argument, you often use the phrase “Beshi beshi…” followed by “…ekdum, jottoh sob nyakami!

Even after all the not-so-welcoming attitude, there’s some sugary taste to every bong’s nature. It can be like a multi-layered candy with certain layers of bitterness and acidity coating on the sweet solid core. They are genetically programmed to be sweet, (well, eventually government jobs and old age owes to the crankiness of many). Sweetness runs in the genes, in some scary but hysterically funny phrases and name calling –

Naughty kids would often get away with a light dushtumi korona threat on the other hand if you have slightly strict elders a little mischief could land you into the world of apes – “Din din bandor hoye jachhe, ekta kotha shone na…” Or “Onek bandrami hoyeche, ebar porte bosho.” That’s how my mother would address me for being naughty, while some of my friends and cousins also had other members of the animal kingdom in store to be compared to!

While the world is talking of globalisation and thinking of venturing into other solar systems, many Bengalis still find solace in hot debates concerning the age-old Ghoti-Bangal, East Bengal – Mohun Bagan, Ilish(Hilsa) – Chingri(prawn) clash. And you thought they were progressive! There might be progress in other fields of life, but when it comes to debates nobody knows how to shout better than a Bengali (even without logic)!

There’s a common perception among Bengalis that they are universally late! I considered that true to every edge watching my peers and myself until I landed up in Delhi – where every event starts an hour late! Being a bong, I was in a dilemma, whether to feel proud to be on time or to feel disgraced on breaking the tradition.

Even though Bengalis are rumoured to be too loud, jhogrute (quarrelsome) and experts in PNPC (it is not an abbreviation that everyone would know, it stands for ‘paro ninda paro chorcha’ – a common colloquial phrase used among Bangla speakers to term ‘gossip’) and very active in politics; there are many breaking free from the stereotype, setting new examples to the world that Bangla is not just synonymous to Mach–bhat or rasogolla.

Some men may break into uncalled for extempores and debates on the political scenario of the country and there can never be leaving a problem unsolved, or lack of a topic to ponder upon, just by smoking, as they say, buddhir goraye dhonwa dewa!

The extensive practice we have of breaking into Bangla with a fellow bangali, often causes discomfort to the others around, but honestly, we don’t do it purposely. The overjoyed souls just seem to chuck out others in the frame on getting an opportunity to express their love for the language in common.

Being a product of this society, I can also vouch for the sinfully infectious laughs we have – some sound like a machine gun in a war while some can laugh out loud enough to bring the house down with their open-mouthed “HAHAHAHAHA.”

A word of advice: The next time you greet a Bengali, be prepared to be blown away either by words or by laughter!!

Ever felt like destroying the world?

The thought of creation is so overpowering that the idea of destruction had often appalled me, and so have the stories related to gods and goddesses of destruction.

“Why would anyone want to destroy anything in the world? The world is such a beautiful place,” I thought. But unfortunately the world is not such a rosy place, rather I’d say the people populating the world are not as beautiful as I had always seen them to be. Whether I am to blame my vision or the innocence and inexperience of tender is debatable.

Being nice to everybody around had been the main motto in life. “If you are nice to them they will be nice to you,” I thought. Hell no! In reality, if you are nice to them they start taking advantage of you believing you can never raise your voice or take a stand. But guess what, a barking dog can be stopped – either bark back and confuse the animal or throw a stone hurting it and run for your life. Either way, you’ll succeed at shutting its mouth up. (I’ve never heard of a desperate man losing a race to a dog, and I’ve never seen a dog barking while running).

Women are considered to be creative beings for their abilities to give birth, be compassionate and a hundred more qualities. Then again some of the scariest stories of violence and destruction also get created by women. Goddess Kali, Durga, Chhinnamasta are but a few reminders.

The point of the above description is to remind people to avoid proximity (physical and verbal) from a lady when she is angry –  she has the ability to rip you off with mere words or even those hands which have seemed too soft, like she can tear a piece of paper into a hundred shards and scatter them at your face. Similarly, I do possess this exact potential, but I choose not to scare people off. I am still the same person inside – the girl who loves all beautiful things even though they are sad – but sometimes creeps just creep into my system and spread the virus of hatred.

I do not know how many of you have come across teachers who’d get frustrated at the hooliganism put forward by primary school children and say, “I’ll throw you out of my class… if you do such and such things again…. or if you talk again…” Back then, I actually pictured the teacher throwing them out of the classroom like the way someone would throw balls of waste-paper into a bin! But I could never catch a glimpse of that action since the chided students would leave the room voluntarily – some happily, some with tears rolling down their eyes.

Now, there are times when I ‘literally’ feel like picking people up and throwing them out of the window. If only I had been stronger and taller… Actually, it is a lot easier if you can just do it in your mind, it’ll save all the hard work. (Since winter makes us lazy unwilling to work out). Like I had mentioned in one of my previous posts – the joys of being a writer, you can kill people in your story – stab them, push them off the cliff or the Niagra falls, feed them to a dinosaur – just get over with negativity. When you come face to face with that character you’d killed in your story, just pass through it like it is coloured air.

‘Ignore’… and you shall have silence.

With Silence comes Peace, with Peace comes Freedom, with Freedom comes Silence – it is an eternal cycle, way beyond many souls’ understanding, but for the ones who know it I can already see them smiling at the screen.

Now I’m happy and can sleep peacefully. 🙂

As the money crunched away…

Warning: If you have strong political views do not bother to read this as this article is a product of my creation and has been executed from an angle of sarcasm and humour.
Many have voiced their concern, inconvenience and opinion about the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations throughout the past few weeks. If you are expecting some thorough and indepth analysis of the issue here you better move on, since I am no Economist or Politician nor do I hold ample knowledge on the same to impart to my readers.
What I am going to share here comes straight from my personal experiences of the major step taken by our Prime Minister. There have been some great developments lately in and around the capital:
One of my dear friends, shares a lot in common with me except that he never bothered to learn how to cook. Back in college he’d prefer to eat out in the college canteen or dhabas during lunch until he got a roommate who could cook! Then moving in a new city for work, the guys would often indulge in elaborate cooking spree and celebrate their successful recipes or chopping skills by posting photos online. Getting ‘domesticated’ by nature and time my carefree friend did develop some noteworthy skills, but it wasn’t until the cash crunch that he actually cooked for himself! Oh yes he did. In the absence of an egg-loving roommate and triple digit denominations printed in papers, he learned to be independent.
Now the krrrrrr… sound of the ATM machines sooth our ears like the way one would be relieved to hear the voice of ‘Bae’ after days! People around seem like fishes out of fish tanks, impatiently flapping their hands and lips gesturing and talking about how they had or had not been successful in extracting out cash from ATMs.
With the world being infested with a lot of good-for-nothing souls, people had wasted time and money for unnecessary material and unaccounted for luxury, and have always claimed that ‘money is liquid asset’, hence cannot be restricted from flowing. What now! Would you call it liquid? I’d rather talk about hard-to-get/spend cash that we all earn but fail to spend in the recent times. All thanks to the sudden blow to shopaholics, Indians are now forced to save up for their future, be it your dream car, house or that pretty bag you have been trying to save up for but just could not because of your spendthrift nature. Now you can easily save that large amount and buy whatever you wanted, if only you still have the attachment to all worldly matters; for the kind of people I have in my peers seem to have evolved philosophically as they have detached themselves from worldly pleasures after being struck by demonetisation.
People have indulged themselves into serious discussions as to what effects the country’s economy will have in the future, rather than brooding over whether that ‘girl in the red dress’ is hot or whether that ‘hunk on the cool bike would offer a ride.’ When was the last time you actually had a meaningful conversation with another adult?
But most importantly people have become so trustworthy and reliable on one another that almost everyone knows their colleagues’ or neighbours’ ATM pin! How can there be any other possible way to achieve harmony in the society? Have you not seen clever citizens sneaking into ATMs with 2-3 cards, and to cover up they carry companions to wait with them in the long queues entrusting upon them the prized secrecy of their pin codes.
Passive passerbys have now gained a friendly tone in their voices and also bother to seek information about others’ well-being and what course their lives have taken (to actually find out whether the ATMs near their residence are working!)
One blow of this government policy has brought tremendous care into mankind and set them into such communicative mode – something which thinkers over the years had failed to do. Isn’t it a matter to actually think upon?

What a joke!

Googly must now be a kid with a pair of glasses on her little nose staring intently at a book or doing her homework for school, but once this little girl was my playmate or rather a live toy living downstairs to our apartment. There was no logical reason to name her Googly, it was simply my obsession with cute little things that drove me and still drives me to call out puchu/puchi/ googly-poogly on seeing something absolutely adorable! And thus I have a couple of cuties under my aegis named Puchi and Googly.

It is funny how children respond to jokes made by adults. It was as if Googly had suddenly discovered that she could rotate her head and she was frantically spinning her head with an audience consisting of a hysterical me and my grandma. Granny stared at her for a second or two and with a concerned layered in her voice she said, “Eki eki, matha ta khule pore jabe to erom korle!!” (uh oh, your head will fall off if you spin it so much)(The translation might not seem very funny, but trust me googly’s reaction was priceless.)

To this, a slightly tipsy Googly stopped suddenly, and lightly tossing from side to side she checked the position of her head with both hands to see if it had fallen off in real!

Being a restless child myself I have heard of my monkeying around from everybody in the family, and to get me seated quietly was quite a challenge until one could come up with good stories or I could sit with some colour pencils and scribble sceneries- my favourite topic for painting. One fine day I remember drawing a large multi petalled flower with a fresh set of wax crayons that I had received from a relative that day itself. Maa came in to check what I was up to, and I showed her my piece of art. Seeing the flower, she commented that petals of a flower are usually one-coloured and unlike the one I had made in order to utilize all the shades of colour in the set. My rainbow flower also had black, since I had run out of other colours to fill in the last petal. In my defence I explained Maa that the flower is how I have created it, so it can be multicoloured, after a pause, she enquired about the black petal. I answered smartly, “Oi papri ta poche geche!” (That petal is rotten!).

I can’t recall what Maa’s expression was to my explanation, but now when I think of my straight cut replies and suggestions given to people around me during my early years of life, I simply can’t figure out how people put up with me or children with similar attributes.

With the fascination for colours that children have, they often tend to create a brightly coloured world around them. It was during one of our science classes at school at the age of 5-6, when we were asked to draw and colour a cat each. “One cat only, mind it! I don’t want to see five cats in one copy,” ordered Shivani ma’am, the strict teacher everyone was scared of. The reason for this command was that we were so fond of Science and Environment classes (particularly because of the amount of drawings we were allowed to do) that we would produce endless masterpieces for the teachers to inspect and give beautiful remarks. But little did the scary woman know that the kids would produce their artworks in a different form. I saw round moon-faced cats being sketched everywhere around me. And then the cats were painted red, yellow, green and blue by their owners! I had been sitting sadly looking at my monochrome cat- other than a pinch of black in her tail and ears my cat was simply white- colourless.

Then started the inspection when the teacher would come around to check everybody’s copy and give marks or remarks for their drawings. Shivani ma’am was furious and maybe she was laughing in her head witnessing the colourful blunders. She pulled the ear of the boy sitting next to me with a red cat, “Where have you seen a red cat? Tell me do you have red and green cats around?” she questioned him and the other rule breakers innocently gazing at her wide eyed.

 

Pink: The power of ‘NO’

Pink : movie review

Director: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
Script: Ritesh Shah
Cast: Tapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Amitabh Bachchan, Piyush Mishra
A woman need not prove her character to a man or stoop to plead ‘not guilty’ when she knows that she comes clean. Even when in Ramayana, Sita was asked to undergo ‘agnipariksha’ the second time she took a stand and walked away, without having to prove anything. When she says ‘no’, it means ‘NO’ and men better get it straight and back off.
The bottom line of ‘Pink’ is how the society perceives a woman’s character by her clothing or late working hours. The story starts with two young men- Dumpy and Vishwa rushing to a hospital with an injured Rajveer to get him treated, while three tensed young women- Minal, Falak and Andrea return home late at night evidently after having a rough time. What follows is a strenuous battle between the two sexes to prove one another wrong. Minal was molested and despite the powerful backing, her molester had, her friends decide to fight back the offenders for mistreating their brave friend.
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Tapsee Pannu has perfectly succeeded in fitting into Minal’s shoes, while Amitabh Bachchan as Deepak Sehgal, the experienced lawyer with frequent mood swings, is an audio-visual treat for movie lovers. Both Andrea and Kirti Kulhari (Falak) have performed to the core of their characters. Falak’s breakdown at the courtroom is something to look forward to. The movie’s script by Ritesh Shah is brilliantly written- every time Amitabh speaks in the courtroom one cannot resist oneself from seconding him or clapping after each dialogue delivery.
The best part of the movie is neither the gripping storyline nor the marvelous acting, but the closing credit verse voiced by Bachchan which talks about how a woman needs no man’s consent to prove herself, and she should set out on a journey to discover herself rather than let others label her as ‘somebody’. Every word in that delivery may give one goosebump.
Overall, Pink is an outstanding venture and a must watch for all. DO NOT leave your seat until you have watched and heard every single scene even the closing credits. More of such films should rule the market now rather than the spicy mindless formula films. The constant attempt and reminder to the society that women are not pieces of toys might actually work out to awaken people and take up the cause of educating and ‘saving the boys’ of the family rather than protecting the girls by marrying them off at early ages or confining them within the societal rules.
Thank me once you have watched the movie! 😉

Demanding Change!

 

“Change nei hai madam, toffee le lo,” (We don’t have change madam, take some candies) is often the well-versed suggestion shop attendants give when you are unable to pay them the exact amount. Now to make the most of your money you are forced to buy a couple of useless toffees which get dumped and forgotten inside your bag until that rare day when you decide to de-clutter it!

Is the availability of change so rare that they always keep a jar or two handy to stuff some colourful wrappers into your hands with a smile? At times there may be crisis of the jingles but there are also situations when some vendors willingly or lazily hand over little somethings to round off the bill. Where do all the coins go? Have they stopped making coins in the mints or are there some voracious coin collectors who desperately grab them all and never let them go? Who are the members of this chillar party?

While a child, I remember to be extremely happy when a shopkeeper used to be generous enough to give me candies rather than unnecessary coins which always used to slip off between the fingers and made me hover around over and after the rolling metals. Similarly now when children are sent to shops to collect some items they come back with some more, happily.

Suddenly the other day I discovered that there is somewhere a child within me that craves for these candies! As the man behind the counter gave me some unknown candy I demanded to know whether he had the ones I liked. He stared at me for a while as if to confirm that it was me who enquired, the same way some websites need you to type irrelevant codes to clarify you are not a machine! Then he went around looking for the one I had asked for and finally came up with a shameful smile declaring that he does not have it. Exactly at that time from the corner of my eye I saw it deep inside a jar full of miscellaneous candies and I pointed it out with great enthusiasm. To this, he looked both defeated and relieved, and struggled to get it out from the jar for me. It somehow felt special, as if choosing the forced gift was a right to be enjoyed by one and all. If they are making you buy one, you better get the best of the lot, uncompromisingly. Yet again, it is not worth it, since you have to remember to have them or they would just rot somewhere in a corner.

There are also some firm customers who stick to what they need and come up with a no-nonsense face declaring that they won’t accept unimportant titbits like candies and shampoo sachets. That is when the hidden treasure comes jingling its way out. Another and very frequently practiced custom is to remember or note down the amount to be received by either parties, and eventually rounding it off on the next purchase. But this practice is only viable when you have developed a cordial relation with the shop attendant.

This menace of ‘demanding change’ is not new and is not restricted to shopkeepers alone. In cities like Kolkata where travelling short distances is easy via autos the auto drivers create a pandemonium in case you are unable to pay him the exact amount. Similar cases happen in Delhi with customers and regular office goers when the vendors and rickshaw pullers complain of not having enough change. Either you keep losing Rs 5 everyday or you argue and find a way out (which usually nobody does, due to lack of time).

With this menace dancing around the country, it is time to get a ‘change’ and control the change crisis before it gets too late and we are left to suffer the ill balanced eco(nomic)-system with the extinction of coins.

Mission Accomplished

Movie- Captain America: Civil War

Director- Joe Russo and Anthony Russo

Cast- Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlet Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Paul Rudd, Anthony Mackie, Chandwick Boseman, Daniel Bruhl, Don Cheadle and Tom Holland

Run Time- 2hr 27 mins

Civil_War_Final_Poster

It is a real treat for comic lovers, when some of the most sought after Marvel comic characters come together in one movie. ‘Captain America: Civil War’ starts off when a collateral damage is caused during a mission in Nigeria, by the Avengers team which puts them in trouble. Talks of clipping their powers arise as the Secretary of State approaches the team to convince them to sign a document, named after the destroyed city from ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron’, according to which the Avengers will be controlled and directed by the United Nations. They will be able to act only when the UN deems it fit for the team’s involvement. This generates a debate among the superheroes whether or not to give in. While Captain America(Chris Evans) believes that they must have freedom to defend humanity without the government’s involvement, Iron Man(Robert Downey Jr) thinks otherwise. This creates a tussle and divides the Avengers in two groups as they have to finally come to a decision even if they have to go against each other.

This mega battle of superheroes is a power packed action sci-fi which will be enjoyed by all action and fantasy lovers. The hero vs hero concept in the movie generates civil war, a fight within the Avengers which lead to the disclosure of some long, pondered upon and lamented secrets. ‘Revenge is never the answer to stop violence’, is what the story talks of. Another very important message one shall carry home from the movie, is the message from Margaret Peggy to Kate that one must never give in to peer pressure when they know that they are right, even if everyone calls them wrong. Captain America chooses to stick to his beliefs and fight off his friends unwillingly. Going against one’s enemy is rather an easy job than fighting a war over disagreement with a friend.

In between this debate, Captain America’s friend-turned-psychologically-controlled soldier Bucky plays an important role, because of whom the war gets more intense. Daniel Bruhl’s character, although not a superhero, is extremely crucial in the search for lost facts which eventually cause an intense war.

‘Civil War’ not only deals with the internal conflict between Captain America and Iron Man but also involves Black Widow, Hawkeye, Wanda, Sam, a young and chatty Spiderman, Ant-Man, Falcon, Vision and Black Panther.

Even though Black Panther’s character (played by Chandwik Boseman) did not have enough screen space in comparison to some of the other super heroes, one will not be able to walk out of the theatre without appreciating his bold intelligence and dedication. Tom Holland’s presence as Spiderman is another excitement as the young spidey successfully portrays every detail of the beloved character in his little screen time. Paul Rudd’s comeback as Ant-Man is one more admirable performance.

Chris Evans’ powerful presence and his awesome physique accompanied with an overwhelming performance may not allow you to blink, so is the case with Robert Downey Jr. even though Iron Man’s more serious and responsible nature has been portrayed here unlike the witty and carefree individual from the ‘Iron Man’ franchise. Scarlet Johansson’s action sequences as Black widow, are awesome as usual, and will keep you asking for more. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay has justified the characters with ample space to perform and display their characteristics.

One must watch Captain America: Civil War in 3D to get the best out of the movie and then sit for a power packed debate on the split between the superheroes and their beliefs. This movies is probably the best in the Captain America movie franchise.

Destroyed

He snatched away the only treasure she had- Happiness

Robbed and destroyed she stood hoping,

Stood there like the tallest tree against the toughest hurricane

Scorned, ridiculed and scared, she waited with hope for change

Impatient, incompetent, unworthy,rude they called her…

She stood tall absorbing the words, still trying

And when she spoke, they marked her ineligible

Destroyed, she curled into a ball with the hardest shell, unbreakable

Then happened the miracle one day! She stopped.

She stopped hoping, complaining, believing and attending.

They had finally succeeded, they thought

But little did they realize that, she had killed everyone of them

Each of them had been burned and chopped and fed to the Devil

Pushed off the limits, she was reborn to murder

Murder everyone who contributed to her death

“You took away the only thing I wanted,” she said,

“I’ve taken away your capability of wanting,” she smiled with her violently sparkling eyes.

Robbed and destroyed she walk away… for miles and miles away form her own kind

To somewhere she can set up a new world…

Hope had yet again crept into her

But she had killed everyone, and every emotion and every light

She had woven a thick blanket of nothingness around her

And she cursed with her fiery eyes and spat with her sharp tongue at every potential threat