Saturday, January 24, 2009

Homage to....

Abba's Mama Mia!

This is like a family anthem around our house. The kids trill it all day long. Why I even caught the husband singing it under his breath in the shower.

The movie was such a delight. We laughed, we cried (okay I did), and we totally got caught up in the celebration that is Mama Mia the movie.

I remember watching THE ABBA MOVIE movie, oh so long ago when I was a preteen I think. New Excelsior or Sterling. Smuggled in Vithals Bhel. Sweaty hand holding with objects of our affection. Giggly girls and boys. Even getting dressed for the movie was an adventure. I actually wore too big, borrowed, plastic white gogo boots under my bell bottomed jeans in the Mumbai heat! I was Annifrid incarnate!

And yes I sang all the songs. Badly.

But no one sings more enthusiastic covers than these people.
I specially love it when WING SINGS!

wing sings mama mia

Here is an innovative bunch of Danish (I think) musicians.
I guess there are more uses for bottles than just drinking wine from!

Inflastikas spiller mamma

And then ofcourse the original

Abba sings Mama Mia

Do let me know if you have other interesting versions of this song.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Looking into mirrors with a friend

The last couple of months I have been watching a lot of movies. More movies per day than ever in my life. Amidst the comforts of my home or at a close friends home. There is always heavily buttered popcorn on hand and padded ottomans and footstools to rest cramped legs on. There are familiar looking blankets to snuggle into and silk sofa cushions to hide my face in when the scary or sad bits come on the screen. Comfortable viewing conditions. Comfortable conditions for heart to heart conversations with my friend.

You see, my friend is a screen writer and former film studio executive. She has given up her high intensity and very competitive, movie deal making life for a short while. She is concentrating on her own writing and enjoying being with her growing children. One day in the near future she will go back to the craziness of Hollywood. Right now she is taking a well deserved break, that is turning out to be very creatively productive.

She is part of the screen writers guild (some long official name). Thus she has the privilge to sometimes vote for nominations and/or then the winners for the Oscars and other awards. You remember the "members of the academy" thanked by the gold statuette clutching winners on the podium? Well, she is one of those. Pretty fun job I thought!

As is usual before Awards season, big stacks of dvd's arrived for her viewing and voting pleasure. Some movies barely released, and some had been around for the year.

And so we watched movies, and talked about them and related them to our lives. From her I learned something about movie deal making and screen writing. Rewound some movies to watch parts she wanted to examine some more before making decisions. And then we talked movies and about our lives some more.

It was revealing how many confessions we blurted out, some shocking, some worrying, some even happy. We talked of worries and hopes and dreams and yet more worries.

We watched the actors on screen cry, laugh, love, breakup, be dissatistfied with life, be faithful or not, lie, cheat, steal and commit other crimes, be nasty, be angelic . How many of those emotions we had felt and things we had done that could have been pulled off the screen and placed in our lives without change!

One of the movies we watched was Changeling with Angelina Jolie in the lead. My friend has known and worked with that actress in a strictly professional capacity since Angelina first started in the movies as a very young ingenue. She told me of how she has seen the actress's persona emerge and evolve as girl to woman and as a working professional. She told me how the actress's choice of roles has kept pace with that evolution. Something that I had never before given thought to.

Suddenly, I understood why she took up this movie at this stage of her life.

This role could only have been done by a mother. This is more than just Method acting at work.

It is a movie that I found very difficult to watch as a mother. I have experienced the joys and pains that my own children expose me to. I know the gut wrenching love a mother can have for her progeny. I have never actually experienced the awful aftermath of being seperated from a child but I have and continue to struggle with the fear of going away from my children forever. I can relate. Yes, I can. For the first time I could talk about that with a trusted friend. And then we both cried some more.

My fears are a story for another time.

And to think that we say that movies dont relate at all to our lives!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Historic day!

Today is a historic day. I am so happy to see Obamas inauguration as the President of the United States of America. I am happy to see the rituals of a democracy.

I am repeating a post from November below. It feels right to do that today. Hope and a tinge of some cynicysm.

This is a piece I wrote the night of Obama's victory and I watched him make his gracious and hopeful speech at Grant Park in Chicago.

As the inauguration nears I pause and reflect at the long way American cultural and political mores have come.

Obama Wins!

So my main girl Hillary was not even in the running and I voted for the alternative. But… what an alternative! My muffin man! Yes, I am shallow that way! And yes, he has a simmering low-key hotness that I think is just super.Hotness aside, I am going to be all stream-of-consciousness while I write down some thoughts about the Great Election. No editing, just what I feel. Some cynicism tempered by a sprinkling of hope. A pinch of salt, to balance the sugar or vice versa… whatever makes your pie taste great!

I took my 6 year old daughter into the voting booth, to press the button after my final selections were made. With great gusto, she thumped on the Vote button and ran out of the curtained booth shouting “Mommy voted for Obama”. There were a few cheers, and a few boos but it was all good. I was in my own familiar territory, upper middle class and privileged and amongst friends and neighbors. People who seemingly could ride out 4 years without being decimated whatever the final outcome of the election.

I followed my child out of the polling place somewhat embarrassed by her exuberance but proud that she is on the vanguard of a time and generation where democracy will mean more of a genuine equal chance for a half brown person like her.

She was so excited when we (she punched the button) voted for Hillary in the Primaries. To her 6 year old mind, a woman President was a wonderous thing. She was disappointed when I told her this time around we would not vote for a woman, but the excitement she felt at the process of voting remained the same. Obama didn’t mean much to her, but his name rhymed nicely and was cool name to say and chant. He wasn’t a woman but for her it was enough to be able to punch the Vote button and be a part of the voting process. I pray that she will always be able to punch that vote button without fear or favor.

This flawed but essentially wonderful concept that is democracy will shape her future in good ways. It will always allow her to dream the big dreams, and to believe her dreams can really come true!

To many (I happily hasten to add... not all) white Americans who voted for him, Obama was”just black enough” to be their own special symbol of liberalism. He plays just enough basketball, wasn’t too dark in color, spoke no Ebonics, or had any lasting relationships with traditional black power groups. He is educated, and very importantly had a mother and grandparents who looked just like them. His wife does not braid her hair or have a name which ended with a “sha” or “ta”. Oprah and Colin Powell are his friends, rather than P Diddy and Snoop Dogg and he doesn’t call everybody Girlfriend or Brotha. He probably smoked weed as a student, just like them and wasn’t afraid to inhale. He was in effect “not scary”. For them, Obama was the best first baby step towards a more equitable equation for a racially and economically divided America. Voting for him made them feel good about themselves and their own evolution as thinking people.

For the people of color, (and that by definition includes me, doesn’t it?) it was a very passionate vote. For older African Americans who have experienced the sting of overt racism and have seen how long it takes for change to come about, electing Obama was mostly a symbol of the culmination of their long held hopes and desires. For the younger lot however they were voting not just for a symbol; they were voting for their immediate hopes. It was about decayed inner cities and racial profiling and economic hardship and fathers in jail and breakdown of traditional family structures and most importantly of being on the dole and losing your home. It was about being able to buy groceries without public assistance and paying the mortgage or rent next month and their sons and daughters not becoming cannon fodder in the army because they couldn’t get another well paying job without the right accent or dressing the part of the upwardly mobile.

I wonder how it will play out… these very separate agendas. Very disparate but all so necessary to the conditions that America sees today.

White America is somewhat smugly satisfied that Black America has been appeased. A little self congratulatory back patting is in order. After all White America helped to vote in the Black President and symbol and that there should be no further complaining about racial discrimination or affirmative action. You have your guy, now enough! No more whining and really you are not going to get anymore sops!

Black America wants all their troubles to disappear with the waving of this magic wand. Of course, Obama is going to make it all happen. They will see good times en masse.Everyone who voted Democrat this time around wants their mortgages paid, their retirement accounts brought back to health and for the war to go away. Obama will make that happen too. And he is also supposed to make it happen in 4 years!Can he?

As I see it, the situation will get worse in the short term, before it gets better. But it will get better. After all a start has been made, a new goal has now at least been visualized. The route to that goal still remains to be examined and seen. That will take time.

A child of color or a poor child can now truly believe that he can become the President. After all there is one like him up there. But will the path to that spot be self evident or even open for a long, long, long while? Will a child who knows no privilege right now, know what to do to get there?That my friends will take a very long time. A beginning has been made, but there are many who are going to be disappointed in the short term.

Obama has inherited a thankless job in the worst possible circumstances. So can Obama sustain interest in his vision and sustain support long enough to be the change he seeks? 4 years is too short to do all he seeks to do. He is going to have to be more than clever to do that. He will have to be very, very lucky.I want to send him my lucky Ganesh ring. He needs it. Very badly!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Heir and spare

So the news today says that Rahul Gandhi will contest the elections and his sister Priyanka Vadra... once upon a time heir apparant... will not.

Hmmmm.... lets put our thinking caps on.

Given the history of the Gandhi family, this is very good strategy and smart thinking. One person gets to sully his hands in the business of politics. Someone in the wings keeps thier hands clean. When the political fall comes, as it will and has in the past, the pristine one takes over to keep the seat warm until previous heir redeems himself by allowing pliant aides to take the blame. Long live the King and Long live the Kingdom!

The heir and the spare. And they can play switcheroo too!

Hamari Italian Bahu (HIB) has kept the seat warm for too long. She shall now reign as Empress Dowager.

I am curious what happens when Rahul finally marries that long suffering Columbian (or is it Venezuelan) woman kept quiet in the wings. Will we also get Hamari Columbian Bahu? All these Hamari Gandhi Bahus are making me forget all my geography!

And if you want a belly laugh or a quiet chuckle at some cleverly done comic strips go see this site:

And ofcourse you must not miss this fun desi comics site. This one even does bollywood films as comics. How fun is that!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nuff Said!

Like I said... NUFF SAID! Hehehehehe.

I want to be one of those... Atim Bums!

Oh and are Chammak Challos allowed to be Haseenas too?
Ps. AneelaZ thanks for reminding me about this one. Always lurved this image!
Your post about sexual violence (and by implication gender inequities) was interesting and a subject we need to read and write about more often.
Everyone go read An AtimBum is ordering you to!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Toast with Olive oil and Tomato

Yes, that is what I am eating. Regular Toast, drip extra virgin Olive Oil on it and grated tomato with salt and pepper. Poor mans Bruschetta but soooooo good. A friend in Spain made this for me one summer morning and it has remained my favorite breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack since.

Why do I eat this?

Oh to celebrate!

Celebrate what you ask, my chickadees?

Celebrate the hottness that is SRK. Even if he did wear a sequinned tie inside his unbuttoned shirt, even if his hairline looked painted on and even if he had been too generous with the spray tanner ( or was it just too much make up). He was fun, witty and appeared relaxed when he presented at the GG's. He was truly represnting!!!

Bollywood can only benefit from this kind of exposure.

I am so glad Slumdog Millionaire won the accolades that it did. It deserved everyone of the them and then some.

For those who complained that it was "the generic western movie about India", I have this to say, atleast someone made a watchable movie about the reality that is India. A movie with wit and genuine heart. It told a tale set in India, that people across the world can easily relate to. Cinema needs to be understood the first time it is seen. It does not need reference books to be consulted after the fact. Slumdog did all this.

I hope they dont change a thing in the hindi version of the movie. It is the directors complete work as it is now. It beats with his heart right now. "Cleansing it" and/or makeing it more palatable for the desi audience to accept and appreciate will be doing this very distinct view a disservice.

Danny Boyle showed India as it is.

The India that middle class desis would like the West to see... exists but it is a real and tangible India for that class only. This class of people includes you and me and even the rich and everyone who can afford to see the movie without thought to thier next meal.

The fact is that there are more people who face odds in making a daily living than do not. It takes going away from the milieu to sensitise to inequity again and then coming back to the country to realise that most middle class urban people in India live on an intellectual island that only they have entry to... where thier patch of the sky remains a money green (or whatever color desi money comes in now). And no I do not believe for one minute that the west is only obsessed with seeing poverty in "Have not nations". I say that they are willing to see it ALSO.

People who "have" would much rather just have the "havenots" be hidden away in thier place in the outhouse. And poverty is not a disease. Dont worry you wont catch it if you see the movie. Poverty is just a symptom of a disease, that of indifference. Hiding the symptom does not make it go away.

And MadInMumbai, I have not forgotten. I have asked for Pixote and Salaam Bombay to be sent to me, will report on that later on.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

In which my Kaleja is on fire!

My kaleja is on FIRE....Sunjay Dutt as LS candidate from Lucknow from the SP party!

I am surprised he isnt being fielded from Azamgarh where most of the gun running and murdering "disaffected" youth have come from recently. He would represent them perfectly... like really represent!

What next... Kasab as South Mumbai LS candidate? He has been there for a while in jail so has he got his ration card and drivers license from there already?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Talking back is important

I got some emails that folks who did not have google accounts were not able to comment on my blog posts.

Sorry about that folks. I am sort of new to blogging and am learning something new everyday.

I have just fixed the problem. Anonymous comments are welcome too. If you would like to comment anonymously but wish to carry forward a dialog on a particular point, please feel free to email me @ or leave your own email address in your comment.

I love comments and feedback and want to know all points of view as long as sometimes we can agree to disagree!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

When Gretel ate the Witch's candy house...

How does one tell a neighbour that her daughter might have an eating disorder/is plain greedy/really needs attention (choose your diagnosis)? Does one? Do I keep my counsel? Do I reexamine my own prejduces before I attempt amateur diagnosis? What do I do?

One of my daughters playmates is a very bright, incredibly social and portly little girl, precocious in all senses beyond her tender chronological age. The kid comes over all the time and eats dinner with us atleast 2 or 3 times a week. I keep an eagle eye on the girls as they play... because... well, I have learnt to. She is a sweet kid but one aspect makes me wonder if there is a problem somewhere... with her or my perception.

This child eats, eats, eats, eats and eats some more. She demands, yeah demands.... second, third and fourth helpings at dinner and a big man sized snack every half an hour. She will eat both healthy and unhealthy things in termendous volumes. Without permission, she opens and rummages through and ransacks all my pantry and kitchen cabinets; is the first to open all entering grocery bags and knows the insides of my freezers and refrigerators intimately. In the past year or so, she has begun to sneak food if she thinks no one is paying attention. When she leaves our house, her pockets are bulging with cookies and sundry snacks that she has tries ineffectively to hide. I tell you this child eats much more than a grown man perfoming heavy manual labor. I feel awfully petty saying this, but sometimes I really think she will eat us out of my grocery budget. It has been this way since the kids were toddlers together. The kid displays plenty of energy and runs around but is obviously heavy.

The sneaking of the food really bothers me. It does. More than anything else.

I dont know if her parents will ever acknowledge there is a problem at all. How do I know this? Well, the mom jokes all the time about not needing a dishwasher in the house because the kid cleans her plate at every meal and is not a fussy eater. I tried to bring up the topic a couple of times, but she just kind of laughed it off. The housekeeper cooks a lot.... good, oldfashioned Italian home cooking. I know that she feeds the kid well, and no one is being starved in that house. The household seems quite normal apart from the kids being a little too materially indulged. It is a typical family in our neighbourhood.

I wonder sometimes if it is my own cultural prejiduces that make me irritated with this gluttony and sneaking of food. Then I think ... not... because visiting friends and the husband also see this. So why dont her parents see it?

I have lived in this country for a very long time. I am married into the culture for a very long time. But then I am still wary and sometimes unsure of how to say the difficult things. Unsure of what will be acceptable and what will not. Sometimes cultural rules are so hard. I wonder if I should even say it out. open and loud, or will it be construed as getting into someones childrearing business.

I know that I would like to know if my child had a problem like that. It would disturb me and make me feel somewhat defensive, but I would still like to know.

I am just so disturbed by what happened at dinner tonight. Oh the typical, and then the cookies fell out of her pockets when I walked her back home after dinner.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Felix sit annus novus!


Bhavati api nutana samawatsaryasa shubhashchaya!

Thats the Latin and Sanskrit for: Happy New Year folks!

I know the Latin is right (courtesy the Husband who studied latin for 8 years... yeah his spelling is really, really, really good), but I have no idea if the grammar and syntax is right in Sanskrit? Is it?

I think it is just appropriate that I start the New Year with a question. Isn't that the way our year is going to unfold in anycase? We do live our life in search of all the questions and answers and questions again. It is what makes us humans. So this year I celebrate curiosity and questions! No questions will be taboo and the hard questions will be asked too. On my blog and in my life too.

And now another question...

So what did you do to celebrate?

Over here, I just went to bed at 9.30 and slept like a baby. It felt comfortable to do that somehow. I think 2009 will be about homeiness and comfort and family for me. Oh and questions!

I know this is late, but it is still within the 12 days of Christmas, and it made me smile, and my kids guffaw in delight. I hope it makes you smile too.

Turn your speakers up, click on the link and click the Play arrow.

I do love Jingle Baiils and red and green parandis and sarson ke khet!