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Showing posts from June, 2011

The Piano Teacher

I love SBS and its plethora of world movies which bring the whole gambit of human emotions and drama right before you. Some of these are films I would never had access to in India for their themes, explicit scenes and blatant dialogues, and yet so powerful that they leave you with either a feel good or a feel bad taste.

Last night, I watched a brilliant French classic, La Pianiste or The Piano Teacher, played by one of the most brilliant French actresses Isabelle Huppert. The film had no feel good factor. It only left me thinking and thinking.
Piano teacher Professor Erika Kohut is a plain-looking middle-aged spinster, who lives with her mother who dominates and controls her life in the way young mothers do of their teenage kids. She goes to the extent of going through her stuff - bags, clothes - to find out what she has been up to, which often leads to violent confrontation between the two, only to make up and cry at the end in their shared, claustrophobic bedroom. But Erica‘s only con…

A Good Flight

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls... the captain has not switched off the seat belt signs, so please remain seated.” In a sing-song tune, the airhostess mouths these words, and boy, they sound the same in every flight. On my seventh domestic flight in a month, I had learnt these lines and more by heart. Their rehearsed dialogues and horrible pronunciation come with a stomp - everyone pays a deaf ear and so my co- travellers are all wrapped in their cell phones much against the red, warning signs.

Inside India’s perpetually packed domestic aircrafts, I feel I am in one big playground. Like you get what you paid for. A lady next to me is so busy on the phone, probably she is in a tele-conference with someone in Alaska. With the other she hands her luggage to the steward without even looking at him as he adjusts it in the upper head locker. Where is the ‘thank you’ madam? Now barely has the bloke adjusted his seat belt, he pushes the attendant button. A busy airhostess walking down th…

Demystifying The Osho Ashram

I have always had a romantic vision of Pune – scenic, polite people, few good colleges. I had heard of the Rajneesh Ashram there, which when it came up shook the Indian middle class morality, because Rajneesh propagated free sex. It was a place no decent parents would have his son or daughter seen. I had heard the ashram was thronged with hippies, Hollywood stars and rich bankers from Wall Street on a philosophical quest to the meaning of life. Like the forbidden fruit, at the back of my mind I always wanted to savour the place.
I remember a dialogue of Rajneesh Osho: “If Jesus could walk across the ocean, why can’t the pope walk across a swimming pool.” It was not something I had read, it was something told to me by my uncle, whose avid reading habit did not rub down on to many of us until late. Throughout my adolescent consciousness that statement stood out in memory for the sheer humour I saw in it. It was not the most enlightening of statements, but the strange fascination for Osho…

Oai Delhi

Travelling back to Delhi, which has been home to me for more than 15 years, I was haunted by the same feelings of attraction and repulsion the same time. The city seems ready to explode – with people and vehicles – each year. But the same I would say of my small town Shillong, no longer a quaint, sleepy town, only a concrete jungle now.
Stepping out of the IGI airport, the noise, pollution and people all seemed to spew out a certain warmth. I was excited to be back, excited about changing my dollars to rupees, about tasting my first paan after a year, seeing my old neighbours and many more things
As our taxi drove in to my old Netaji Nagar flat, Usha Didi sprang from behind and gave me a hug. There was a hive of hyperactivity as some others in their nighties that afternoon yelled from the balconies “aagayi tu?” Then there was Shell (I still don’t know why we call her Shell and what her ‘good name is to date) visibly upset that I did not get with me a ‘nanna munna’ despite being married …