Archive for February, 2010

Ek kavi ki kavita

Kavita likhta hoon main,
Phir bhi kavi kehlata nahin,
Hazaron lafz hai likh chuki meri kalam,
Unhi lafzon mein dab gayi pehchaan meri,
Phir bhi main ruk paata nahin

Bahut se khayalaat bayan kar chuka hoon main,
Bade, chhote aur doston mein bat chuka hoon main,
Subah ko likhe akshar shaam ko ojhal ho gaye,
Phir bhi maathe par shikan dikhata nahin

Zamana padh sake meri zubaan,
Is firaq mein hoon ab bhi likh raha,
Har manzar par mere lafzon ke hoonge chiraag,
Is bar Dekho mujhe koi dhoondh pata hai ya nahi

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My wife and I watched an Indian movie recently “Yeh Mera India!” – this is my India. After the movie we got into this conversation about socio-economic problems that India has. This was one of the best movies we had watched in a long time. Then we started thinking of “Crash” – an American movie which won several Oscars a few years ago. Now I am not writing this to discuss how Indian producers take ideas from Hollywood movies.

You watch Crash and see the socio-economic problems in US while Yeh Mera India portrays India’s. These problems are really not very different from each other – they just have a different face in a different country. They are all very complex, have developed over many years and leave a very weird taste in your mouth. Really – we have been doing this in our daily lives? Inadvertently yes, we all have been! Crash portrays a rich lady who is prejudiced against her Hispanic house worker and in Yeh Mera India another rich lady is prejudiced against a lower class house worker. Same thing, both issues are common to respective countries or let’s say societies. Crash depicts racist element in a white cop who has bitter feelings for African Americans. He goes out of his way to satisfy his alter ego and suspects every African American has a dark background or history. What do we see in India, religious hate – Hindu-Muslim conflict which has been going on for ages and people keep hurting each other in riots or protests. A feeling so deeply embedded in these cultures that it will take many years for it to flush out of the society – or is it never? You can keep drawing a parallel with other cultures – suppressed women in Japan, peasantry in China, race/color clashes in Europe, economic warfare in Africa, religion in Mid-east and list goes on! You watch such movies and then turn your head towards world news, its all just messed up – we as humans are messed up. We have developed these complexities which we sometimes tag as culture, sometimes as social issues and sometimes as ethical meltdown. As much as we worry about terrorism and want the world to be united, these issues are far worse. They are in us, in our day today lives, in our daily interaction and are becoming a part of human nature. These are the things we are passing on to our future generations. So how do we fix us? An international summit of world leaders cannot fix this or a small group of activists cannot change it – only we can – you, me and billions of other people! This blog is not to start an internet email chain where you forward to 100 other people and get blessed. This blog is to think, feel the change in your self and pass it on. This is my start!

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Wakayama Japan may not be in your list of places to go or in your travel album. But if you are in the oil industry or interested in seeing the country side of Japan, write it down on your list. I just completed 3 weeks of my stay there and believe me as much as I was initially struggling how I will survive there, I started to like it. This is not a withdrawal symptom but all that time I spent has been a discovery process. The locals were very nice – they could not understand me but always made an attempt to help, using sign language. Sometimes I felt I was in an ancient movie but thoroughly enjoyed the human connection. I stayed near the central train station got to see many authentic Japanese places in walking distance. If you are a sushi lover, Welcome to Sushi Heaven! My colleagues say that they get the best sushi in Wakayama. City has a beautiful coast line marred by oil refineries. Oh well! but that’s the major employment for it’s people. And then the mountains covered in oranges were quite a scene. However don’t go picking one because they are all privately owned and someone will come after you. I learned it first hand! There is a lot of touristy stuff which you can find on the Japan tourism website but none of those sites would talk about Mr. Magic. Mr. Magic Pizza is a cozy little Italian pizza place owned by a gentleman in his 50’s. He is the owner, the cook, the bartender and the entertainer. Not only we had a good dinner, we enjoyed an evening of Billy Joel songs and many others. In a city where hardly anyone speaks English we found an English speaking music major who loved western music. Mr. Magic had never been to US but he knew quite a lot about different states and their history. He asked us questions about economy as he got himself a glass of beer to dine with us. Amazing host! Then he cooked some spaghetti and next, picked his guitar, gave us an evening of “feels like home”. People like Mr. Magic live their life to their pleasure with no regrets. Mr. Magic’s story may not travel too far but if you travel there do see him. And then the cafeteria lady who almost cried as one of my colleagues went to say good bye. Only thing she ever understood in English was thank you. But my colleague’s sign language made a connection with her. Lastly ‘Garam Masala’ – an Indian restaurant run by a dad and his son. Both very quiet, always smiled but cooked the best dishes. One day I walked up to the restaurant and it was closed. As I was about to turn back the dad saw me. He opened the restaurant just for me with a closed sign hanging on his door. I don’t think I would have got that service anywhere – that was truly different! As I leave Wakayama today, I think my business trip had an entire different meaning to it. This is why this is not my travelogue, this is their story – Mr. Magic, the Cafeteria lady and the Garam Masala owner!

and here is Mr. Magic live

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