ArpitGarg's Weblog

An opinion of the world around me

Archive for January 2009

Slumdog: An air of million criticism

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A lot has been written and discussed about Slumdog Millionaire. Much like the Obama wave it seems engulfing us all.

From the day it was nominated for the Golden Globe there have been extreme views. So much so that a war seems waged between the for and the against. The criticism more or less seems to follow two schools of thought discussed below.

First one rues the exploitation of poor India for money by the west. More like the East India Company reloaded. Westerners have been accused to revel at the mockery of Indian poverty. As Arindam Chaudhary writes, “Slumdog is a phony poseur that has been made only to mock India for the viewing pleasure of the First World”. The naked poverty of India might be self pleasing to the people of the West, given the time of depression. According to Amitabh Bacchan such underbellies do exist even in the developed nations. This is just a Western production and hence the recognition. These people have launched an offense against the team of the movie, western media and finally the whole of the western world.

The other school of thought is pretty much the same as far as the murky portrayal of Mumbai is concerned. The difference lies in how they are affected. People are worried about the answers they would need to give and ridicule they would be subjected to when they travel abroad the next time. As Preity Zinta says, “Now for the next 10 years of my life every time I travel abroad, I will be told, Oh, you live in Mumbai…where they gouge out eyes in the slums.”

One point missing here is, Does anybody care about the poverty and feel for the slum dwellers? Or it’s just the poverty in limelight which is itching the eyes. At first the movie was applauded. Then the criticism followed. Then there was criticism of the people criticizing the movie. “Isn’t that (poverty and slums) a reality”, says Shahrukh Khan. It would not be long when there would be people who would criticize the people criticizing who criticized the movie. Now, how much of criticism would that be!

Written by arpitgarg

January 28, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Confusingly Chaotic

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During the college farewell, a batch mate of mine asked, “So, where do you see yourself, 10 years from now?” I did what I do best, excuse myself with the sheepish smile. I never had to answer myself this question before. I mean I did schooling coz everybody do. There was no vision or so called planning that went into it. I went for JEE coz that’s what was “the hottest” at the given time. I opted for Computers for no other reason.

I remember a discussion with friends over dinner, “Why they opted for the particular engineering stream?” For most of them the criteria was Rank. I mean come ‘on, if 80 out of top 100 rankers (and more) are opting for Computer Science, that doesn’t mean all of them have such deep interest in it that they would have perished without it Or that the ones who didn’t get it were never interested in it. So let’s get one thing into perspective. What your interests are doesn’t matter during the cut throat competition in a developing world.

I took the job hoping to rise up the ladder along the normal path. As it was about to happen, the elastic snapped. The economic bubble burst and the condition of uncertainty in jobs might have led to the current thought process. Did I really want to be a software developer when I grew up? Was that my dream? If no then am I doing what I never wanted to, 5 days a week 9 hours a day, just to enjoy the weekends of my life. Has my life contracted to mere weekends?

This takes me back to the concept of civilized living. When was the concept of “work” proposed? Who proposed it? Why we followed it? We live on a spherical ball, don’t know where are we coming from, don’t know what’s inside the sphere, what’s outside the view. Just going on working through the week to enjoy the weekends. Working through our youth to enjoy the old age. Something doesn’t seem right. The concept seems flawed. It’s too mechanic, too un-human.

Maybe it’s this mechanics in our life that lead us to a peaceful timely death. Or the chaos would have had us much before.

Written by arpitgarg

January 27, 2009 at 10:59 am

Hangovers!

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You wake up in the morning expecting a fresh new day. Bright sunlight, marking the end of the past and a new path to the future. “Something doesn’t feel right”, you think. The head feels heavier than before followed by a flash of head ache. The nausea and the semi-vomit stage follows. You try to get the things into perspective. Where am I? Home, great! Where was I last night? Oh! Yes, I was dancing in the pub with friends. She dance real well…hmmm… A smile flashes across your face. Then the tough one! How did I get back home? No matter how hard you try, the answer doesn’t seem coming. The head spins faster. You rush to drink water. Had better done that last night after the party. Where is the lemon? Get me a Disprin. Let me try vomiting. How happy was I last night, dancing, partying, fooling around. Hangovers are really bad!

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January 27, 2009 at 9:19 am

Why fear when Obama is here

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Obama! Obama! Obama! This man has been all over for a good two years now. Be it television, news papers or just the talk round the corner. It seems as if no one has anything better to do. Obama keeps a Hanuman with him, Obama lived in Pakistan, Obama has a brother in Africa. Obama this, Obama that. I am simply fed up.

Our national news channels have portrayed Obama as the savior of mankind. As if he is not just the President of United States but of the entire world. Everyone loves Obama talk, his vision, his speech and his charisma. Obama is being seen as once and for all solution to the problems of one and all. So much so that a kid in my locality is quite sure of getting good marks in exams this year now that Obama is the President of US. My colleagues at office, who till now were weary of the financial depression, are looking up. Its like, “Why fear when Obama is here”.

A news channel went as far as comparing Dhoni with Obama. Apparently they both share a desire to win, flamboyancy and a never say die attitude. It went further to comment that both Dhoni and Obama looked similar when in white clothes. It looks as if everyone is enjoying his own bit of Obama. There was a discussion that the “New Leader”, predicted by Nostradamus, has arrived in the name of Obama. I have had it from this Nostradamus guy. Every year the book fattens. Can somebody please decipher what he predicted earlier than when it actually happens?

I sincerely hope, now that he has become the President, he would be busier in running the nation and we would be spared, him all the time on television. I read his book, “The Audacity of Hope”. Regardless of my being fed up with his face, I really liked the guy. I mean it really require some guts to joke about the rhyming of one’s name with Osama. He himself writes that people considered his political career all but over when the two planes crashed into the twin towers. Let me add something to all the hoopla surrounding Obama. I really admired the honesty in his writings, just like the one which was found in My Experiments with Truth and one which seemed missing in the recent writings from senior political leaders.

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January 22, 2009 at 11:49 am

Botha, Who? SA captain. Again, Who?

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A: Who is the guy bowling?
B: Johan Botha.
A: Johan who?
B: Captain of South Africa.
A: Again, who?

During the ongoing ODI series involving Aussies and SA, I was really confused seeing Johan Botha. Where did he come from? How did I miss him earlier? Why have I never heard about him as a player? I scanned my brain for some match winning performance, some feat. Nothing! I cricinfoed his profile to find more about him. Nothing! Tried google. Nothing!

One can easily remember the name of South African spinners, simply coz there haven’t been many. Pat Symcox, Nicky Boje, Paul Adams and the most recent Paul Harris. Where did I miss Botha. Not just the lone spinner but the captain too! A recent article in this regard presented an interesting view. Botha was chosen to bring inspiration to the team in Smith’s absence. What inspiration was the author taking about? Apparently he had been called for his bowling action in the past. The way he handled the situation and came back to the team would prove inspirational and what the players could look up to.

Great! Now players like Kallis, Gibbs, Boucher, Amla would look up to an ex-chucker for inspiration! This is not even a reason. So why was he made captain? A captain, who is not even a selection in the Test team.

Selectors might be repeating their Experiment Smith. They threw in Smith very early into captaincy and look how well he fared. Maybe that’s the thought. Again, Smith averaged 55 in whatever few Tests he had played by then. Botha’s batting avg of 18 and bowling average of 40 don’t even come close. A couple of failures and he would be running from pillar to post for his place in the team, leave aside captaincy.

There should be something more to it. Given Smith’s envious record as a captain and as a player, South African cricket board might be looking just for a stop gap arrangement. Who the captain is as the filler don’t even matter. Again, why Botha?

We might want to have a look around. Marred by power struggles within the team, cricket round the world has suffered a lot. England, West Indies, Pakistan, India. All. SA has been insulated from it for a while now, barring a few hiccups. Selectors might not want to create poles within the team by giving a senior member the captaincy, who might be reluctant to relinquish it later. Look what happened to England post Ashes ’05. Why not select a younger player who is not even sure of his place. Keep him the captain for a series or two, till Smith is back. He can even be disposed off easily, if the plan backfires. This would keep Smith the sole power center within the team. Thus, tactfully avoiding ego clashes among the senior players.

Selectors might be giving an excuse of grooming the captain for the future. Our worry is, Mr. Botha might even not have one as a player!

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January 19, 2009 at 11:47 am

Akshay, Aamir, Awards: A Dilemma

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Last night a breaking news simultaneously bombarded across all the News Channels. “Akshay refused to accept the Star Screen award for the best actor in popular category”. It was said that he was miffed at it not being given to Aamir. Here’s the catch. Aamir don’t attend such award ceremonies as a policy. Would announcing Aamir the winner take the sheen away from the ceremony, given his absence? To some extend, yes. Now what can Star Screen do? I recollect similar dilemma during the time of Gadar and Lagaan. Their resounding success was of so sheer velocity that no award ceremony dare give it to some other movie or some other star. Since Sunny and Aamir both boycott these populist awards, what happened? The award functions looked pale and just a formality. This brings us to the current discussion, Was Star Screen right in not giving award to the deserving, Aamir? Well, answer might not be as simple.

One solution might be to stop nominating them. Make it a policy statement. In the past a lot many award functions have done so, including Oscars. This might in turn end up lending them, a much needed credibility.

So why haven’t they done it already? Most of the award functions are organized by private media houses who need the stars for promotional purposes. Consider a scenario, “Aamir Khan not been considered for Star Screen awards”. Given the size of egos in Bollywood, Aamir (or his well wishers), might take it as an insult. This would open the floodgates, open war b/w camps (already there are no less). No media house wants to end up at the point of no return. So they try and maintain cordial relations. Not attending the award lends the star, a high moral ground. Not being openly considered might be taken as an outright insult. The truth today is that stars such as Aamir are more powerful than any particular media house. Hence they are nominated year after year, should they ever change their mind.

भूली बिसरी यादें

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कहाँ-कहाँ से पकड़ से लाये,
कैसे करतब करवाने को|
बंद कर दिए एक पिंजरे मैं,
आपस मैं खोपड़ टकराने को|

तीन मोर और दो थी मोरनी,
नई-नई पहचान हुई|
पग-पग कर थी राह जोड़नी,
कच्चा था धागा टूटी थी सुई|

प्यार था उमड़ा जिन बातों पर,
वो बातें कड़वी याद हुईं|
एक हाथ से ताली नहीं बजती,
कहावत ये साकार हुई|

मोर-मोरनी लड़े औ झगडे,
अपनों का नाम खराब किया|
होते हैं जीवन में लाखों लफड़े,
पर हाय ये विष क्यों सबने पिया|

नजरें मिला पाओगे अब तुम,
दर्पण मैं अपने आप से क्या|
गिर कर भी उठ पाओगे क्या,
नजरों मैं अपने आप के तुम|

भगवान् इन्हें सदबुद्धि देना,
आगें करतब कुछ ऐसा करें|
सब देखें और गुणगान करें,
कि मोर-मोरनी हों तो ऐसे,
और सभी का ये सम्मान करें|

Written by arpitgarg

January 14, 2009 at 10:08 am

Satyam, Rice, Hayden and me

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Last few days have been quite eventful. Satyam went bust, UNSC voted for ceasefire in Gaza strip, Hayden retired and I lost a kilo or something. All events, huge on their own.

Satyam Fiasco
It might sound a bit harsh but frankly speaking I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that a person from down South could pull off such a scam. Admit it; South Indians are considered quiet naïve by us North Indians. We think they lack the shrewdness needed for such an occasion. For us from the North such things are nothing new, as one of my gujju friend rightly exclaimed, “This will go down as one of the few financial frauds in which no gujju is involved.” Going by the examples of Ketan Parekh and Harshad Mehta, this didn’t come to me as news. Let me admit it, People from South, I have been wrong till now. You guys are not so naïve after all and have full capabilities of performing such a scam and can take us guys from UP, Bihar or the Gujju stronghold, head on. Also there is a need for a personal apology to all my South Indian friends for my considering them naïve and at times un-sansarik. Sorry Manda, Vamsee, Ajay and company. I have been so very wrong.

UNSC vote on Israel
This was another case of male chauvinism post the master and slave poster of Singh is King in which Katrina was sitting on the floor with Akshay as King on the throne. Poor Condoleezza prepared and arranged this whole resolution and Bush, the master made just a call and she had to abstain from voting, being left thoroughly embarrassed. We can be quite sure such an embarrassment would not have been meted out to a male Secretary of State. Die Die feminism, long live male supremacy.

Hayden retired
At last God you granted my wish. I so love you God that I can even give you my dear cell phone, if you ask me right now. Finally someone, other that an Indian player, got not so great a farewell and had to be thrown out of the squad before retiring into oblivion. It used to pain me lot, seeing Kapil Dev, Azharuddin, Ganguly, Kumble etc carrying on painfully, admist calls for their retirement. Whereas Gilchrist, McGrath, Warne chose to retire at their peak. Damn you Australia, now.

I lost a kilo
This has been the story of my life. Losing few, Gaining lot. Still these are one of the few losses,  I love to enjoy.

Written by arpitgarg

January 13, 2009 at 11:49 am

Terrorism Apologist: What does it really mean?

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Recently I was having a discussion with my friends over Mumbai terror attacks. It started from Taj, moved over to the usual Pak bashing to Jehadi terrorism to the sensitive topic of role of Indian Muslims. One suggestion was a stern action against the terrorists wiping out each and every sleeper cell in the country. It supported a free hand to security agencies to do what needs to be done. It was countered by equally deft argumnet that not all Muslims are terrorists and that terrorism has no religion. No sooner was this statement made than there was an off-cut remark about us being terrorism-apologists. I was very much intrigued with the term terrorism-apologist. I tried to Google it out but it seemed to be a relatively new term and not much could be found. I found few articles in which this term was used. No exact definition was found though.

From the articles and reports in which it was used, lets try and find the real meaning of the term terrorism-apologist.

During war on Iraq too, this term “terrorism-apologist” was much in circulation in US. There was a professor at UT-San Antonio who was termed a “terrorism-apologist” in an article. My understanding of the term goes something like this, terrorism-apologists don’t try and justify the terror attacks as the term might suggest. It’s clearly not their intention. What they do is raise some social issues in the support of the terrorists. According to them, it’s we who have made them terrorists (coz agar hum naa hote, toh yeh terrorist bhi naa hote waala funda), so it’s we who are to apologize for making a terrorist out of them. Let’s be fair, they don’t defend and justify the work of terrorists, they try and defend the terrorists instead. They invoke the cause and effect theory as an argument.

To quote the professor from the said article, “It is rejection of U.S. and British policies in the Middle East, not Islam, that has promoted terrorism against America…95 percent of Middle Easterners are Muslims…it is only natural that those opposing the United States and Britain in the region would be Muslims. In India, they would have been Hindu; in Latin America or Northern Ireland, they would have been Catholic.”

Their arguments that, “Islam does not preach terrorism” and “Not all Muslims are terrorists” is well respected and not much disputed, but usually they tend to overdo themselves, create a ruckus thereby posing as a hindrance to the security forces.

I found once such example in India recently. A leading lady from Bollywood tried to connect terrorism with the poor and illiterate state of Muslims, “Injustice to Muslims is the foundation of terrorism”, she commented. To quote her further, “Do you know what percent of Islamic population is living below the poverty line? It’s 40%…There are certain segments of the society which have not got its due, whether you agree or not…When people are poor and have no where to go, they have no choice but to turn into radicals…”.

Ideally her views should have created mixed feelings. However given the backdrop of Mumbai attacks, there was an outrage against her comments and she needed to tender an apology. One may find her to be a terrorism-apologist. After all, Naxalism and Terrorism are two different phenomenons. Let’s not try and mix them. Those who mix them may be termed terrorism apologists.

Some say that this whole idea is nothing but a figment of imagination of the right wing people. But again the issue is open for contention. Maybe next up for discussion should be Naxalism v/s Terrosim for us to get a clear answer to our Holy Grail.

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January 9, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Cricket: A generation lost

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How many times does it happen that you read an article that makes you emotional. I read this article on Cricinfo recently and it really made me feel like crying. How true the article was about the Ganguly, Kumble, Sachin, Dravid, the Fab4. How they made cricket to intertwine with our lives and made us avid cricket fans. The article talks about the vacuum in the life of an entire generation which had grown up watching the maestros.

I feel like an ungrateful having wanted Ganguly, Sachin, Dravid retire at various times. How much we wanted them all to retire after Sri Lanka series. To see two of them leave, its sinking feeling deep down. I don’t have strength to see Dravid retire now, form or not. They were like the founders of the religion. Dhoni’s, Sehwag’s, Gambhir’s are true worthy, but they are just the followers of that religion. Mere mortals. Consider what match fixing did to Pakistan team. Their stocks nose-dived. Had it not been for Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble, Indian criket would have taken very hard to rise from the abyss. Salute to you guys. I will miss them a lot. I have somehow digested loss of Ganguly and Kumble but I am not sure I would want to watch Test cricket sans Sachin and Dravid.

Written by arpitgarg

January 9, 2009 at 11:32 am

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