Monday, March 27, 2006
Indian babe, videshi aebs?
When I started to watch the film, I was aware of the bad reviews this film had got for its excessive nudity and bad "acting" by Tanisha. I had read how the film puts off family audiences used to the sweet desi love stories that are a trademark of Yash chopra and Aditya Chopra films. And, the reviews said that Uday Chopra has a big Shahrukh complex.
So, when I started watching the film, I didn't have high expectations, I was quite prepared to switich off the DVD player and go to sleep if the film got too bad.
The film is indeed bad, but not in the way, the reviews in India explained it. And, I didn't switch off the DvD, I watched it right till the end.
Lets start with the story. Neal is going to get married and wants to have some fun, so decides to go to Vancouver, where he meets Nikki, who throws a spanner in his wheels everytime he is getting in the pants (or the skirt) of girl. Then Nikki asks him to act as if he is in love with her, so that she can take revenge on her ex-boyfriend, Trish. Finally between Neal and Nikki kuch kuch hota hai and they end up in bed, but the guys don't communicate very well and go their separate ways. Destiny brings them together because Neal is engaged to Nikki's cousin, who conveniently loves someone else so that finally N&N can clarify all their doubts, get married and live happily ever after.
Comments: The film is for testosterone high adolescents and there are any number of raunchy films like that with corny jokes and double meaning dialogue. The only difference is that they are american films. In Indian films, when they do have raunchy films for adolescents (and repressed men), the wives are all nice bhartiya naris and the naughty sex element is provided by other women after whom the men lust.
I can understand their dismay that characterization of a pure bhartiya nari, a wife material, has been mixed up with the sexy other woman. She swigs vine from the bottle, points at the man's crotch and says that she wants a cork-screw, threatens that she is going to cut off his tiny little ... Not only, she wears skimpy clothes like the ones worn usually by the videshi blondes, doesn't mind showing off an oral sex misunderstanding & goes to bed with the boy she likes without marriage! And, then comes back to kiss her man hard on the lips. Must be a nightmare to the fragile male ego!
Films like this are very common, except that they are all american films and not desi films. So if it is such a liberation film for the bhartiya nari, why didn't I like it?
Because, it sucks. The story I mean.
6 May 2006
I was supposed to finish this mail long time ago. Any way, I didn't and now I have forgotten all about Neal & Nikki! Perhaps, it is better this way.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Falling sick in UK?
I went to see Pam at her home. Pam had been in the hospital for back pain. Pam told me about her experience in the hospital. She saw the doctors only on the day of her admission. After that for the next two and half weeks, she never saw her house officer.
The British NHS, national health services had such a reputation with people coming from all over to benefit from the British standard of medical care, what has happened to it?
In the night, the news on BBC mentioned a Mr. Gonsalez, who had killed many persons and the court has sentenced to a mandatory prison for life. There was also an interview with the grandmother of Mr. Gonsalez, who explained that if her grandson was guilty, the state was guilty as well. It seems that she had been complaining about the deterioration in the psychological condition of her grandson for months without any response from social services or the psychiatric services. In one of the letters, she even wrote, "Would you do something only when he kills someone?".
In the morning, flying back to Bologna, I saw the headlines in the newspaper, a private hospital in London is "forced to cut 1000 jobs because of lack of funds".
But UK has the most booming economy in Europe, how can this happen there? While rest of Europe is fighting recession, only UK seems to be going strong, then why did they cut their health service so drastically? It sounds more like a government hospital in India.
I am afraid for our health care services in Italy. With all these magic words of greater efficiency, reducing wastage of resources, more autonomy and privatization, the future does not seem very bright.
I have a new Hindi-Engligh photo-blog, Chayachitrakar. There are mornings, when I don't feel like writing much. It would be simpler to stick in a nice picture and it will be done. That is the logic behind it. I have just one camera, a digital kodak, and I don't know about apertures and time of exposure, etc. I can't even take very sofisticated pictures and I don't like special effects, most of the time. But I think that my pictures have good human angle. May be that is not very modest, but I like the pictures I take!
Here are some pics from London, wishing all the Britishers good health so that they don't need to go to hospitals and if they do, I hope that they are all rich and can go to one of those ultra-modern private places! Cheers.
The typical London red telephone cabin in Leister square
The Star-wars costumes near Piccadilly circus
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
In fact tourists have all but disappeared. Thammel, the old part of Kathmandu full of narrow alleys bursting with tourist shops frquented by europeans and americans, seems a little desperate. I was told that guest houses and small hotels have been forced to close.
Maoists have declared a complete block of Kathmandu from 13 March and some big action by 4 April, so things may get even worse.
This means that it is easy to find a cheap room in a good hotel.
People speak about the BBC interview of Prachannda, the head of maoists and his assurance for maoists' willingness to renounce the path of violence and to be part of the political system. Yet, everyday there are news of new fights, bombs, and people dying.
I have been told that from some angles, I look like Prachannda. That really makes me afraid. I am suppose to travel in far away rural areas, some of which are close to maoists strongholds and theatre of their fighting with police and military. If they decide that I am Prachannda and decide to shoot me?
In the some of the rural areas that I visit, poverty and oppression are deep-seated. Most of the maoist boys come from these homes I am told.
With some friends, I discuss the revolution of maoists. I agree with their desire of human dignity, social justice and equity. But I don't think that violence or revolutions change things. Because, human beings are human beings and they want comfort, money, good things, power, etc. A few committed and idealists don't run the revolution, it is ordinary persons in villages, small towns and communities, the frontguards of the revolutionaries, who make a new system, replacing the oppressors of the past with new oppressors.
I understand their impatience with slowness of change and yet, I don't think that there is any alternative to dialogue, empowerment and slow change from within.
Lovely green fields with women in colourful clothes makes for pretty pictures. The women mostly wrap the saries over the lower half, keeping the upper halfs covered only with blouses. To Indian eyes, it makes them look more defiant, less shackled by the veils of modesty.
This picture was taken after a meeting with a women's group in Chaimalle. The women were from Danuvar community, struggling for survival.
The bridge hanging over the waters is on Bhagmati river, about 35 km from Kathmandu. It is made of iron plates with gaps between them, and as you walk over it it moves and shifts like a sleeping snake, waking up and moving under your feet. Looking at the boulders and rushing water through the gaps gives me vertigo.
In Kathmandu, the river is filthy drain. Behind Pashupatinath, as people give the last bath to the dead bodies of their near and dear ones, before placing them on the funeral pyres, it seems that they can't see the thick filth in the holy waters, folding their hands in the sacred prayers.
It is like Jamuna in Delhi. Not the Jamuna of my childhood, when we played in the sand behind I.P. college. Wonder if Jamuna is still like that or they have been able to clean it!
Any way back to the frothing waters of Bhagmati, away from Kathmandu, crashing on the boulders, raising up a spray, it seems like a paradise. As I cross the river, I realise to my horror, the shining white froth on the water is like thick soap, probably coming out of some factories or drains.
Some persons stand in the middle of the river. Are they fishing, I ask. No, there is no fish in this river, not any more, according to the two women accompanying us. Those people are mining sand, they will sell it.
Do their legs get sores and rashes, standing in the middle of the soap foam of the river for hours, I ask. The women shake their heads, not understanding my question.
Why do they carry things this way, holding the strap on their heads, I wonder.
Men, women, children, all of them. Small bags, big baskets full of green vegetables and fodder, bundles of wood, sheets of iron, logs. People walk bent forward, the straps straining on their foreheads.
It has been years since I trekked in the mountains. I feel fat and undignified, moving like an elephant while they move quickly and nimbly as goats or deer. The stones push through my Italian shoes and hurt my feet, they walk in rubber flip-flops careflessly. They chatter and I gasp like an asthmatic.
I look up with despair. The climbing never seems to end. Far away I can see the ribbon of the path, hugging the mountain, going down towards the river bed. We walked all that. Now this path going up.
They, the women, they made this path, Sarmila tells me. It is a narrow path on which stones have been placed. It is not a paved path, they have just been thrown there, one above another. I can understand that in rainy season, walking on these paths must not be easy and to have stones under your feet that stop you from slipping down, must be helpful. If you fell down, obviously you have greater chances of breaking your legs over them, I remind myself.
Each stone must weigh half a kg, how much time did it take for them to do it, to line this path? I imagine myself, going down the path, down to the river where we started, pick up a few stones and then climb up to this place. It is too tiring, I give up imagining.
Has anyone ever had heart attacks while climbing these mountains, I want to ask, but I am afraid that asking such questions brings bad luck. So I keep my mouth shut. Rather, I am too busy gasping to ask stupid questions.
We are staying with an old woman in her hotel at Biplate village in Okhaldhunga district. Her hotel has two rooms. A big room where she has the kitchen and the women's dormitory. The next room is men's dormitory. For breakfast we get roasted potatoes with chilli sauce. The toilet is a bit lower down, behind the house. After dinner I have taken my usual diuretic for the blood pressure and I need to pee, holding a small torch, I go out. It is pitch black and the idea of going down the hill to search for the toilet makes me shudder. I finally decide to cross the road and pee over the deep valley below. Above, the sky is full of stars. I feel like a naughty child, peeing in the open like that.
In the morning, there is a procession of donkeys going up on the mountain behind us. Tens or twenty of donkies with bells around their necks. Followed by a lonely man or sometimes by a boy. It is a 3-4 days journey they tell me, going to the Salu, some place in high mountains in Himalaya.
A man carryng a huge bundle of boxes who had slept in our hotel comes out and starts walking on the same day. For four days of walking to deliver those boxes he will get 450 nepalese rupees. For food and sleeping on the way he will spend about 400 rupees and after four days of back-breaking work, he will earn 50 rupees. I can't belive it. One Euro is about 81 rupees.
Then came this boy following his buffaloes or are they yaks?
It is the day of the sex workers they tell me. I am curious to see the sex workers, so I go their meeting. Where are the sex workers, I look around. I don't see them. I see young women, sitting together. Some of them have their children with them.
They talk about the difficulty of convincing the clients to use condoms. They talk of violence. They talk of discrimination, of being blamed for spreading AIDS. They talk of selling themsleves for a plate of momos, when children are hungry. They talk of dignity. They talk of coming out and raising their voices.
Do you want to say something, they ask me. I am used to talking but for once, I can't find the words. I mumble something, feeling inadequate.
They sit on the ground, patiently for hours. I squirm and shift. Move my legs this way and that way. I wish there was a chair. How can you eat this way, I ask myself, trying to reach the thali on the ground.
They talk of domestic violence, alcoholism, poverty, hunger, saving money, second wives, going ahead even if men of their communities do not agree.
Her husband cut the big toe in her right foot with a knife, Sarmila points out towards the woman who is speaking. He was drunk and angry. She is talking about the importance of her women's group, importance of her chicken raising, importance of not giving in to the threats of the men from the village.
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