Friday, May 25, 2012

More Truths...

Another episode of Satyamev Jayate, and this time, Aamir spoke of dowry. As issues go, dowry is an evergreen cause to take up, given how it still needs to be eradicated from out society. A lot of it has to do with societal aspirations. The better placed a groom is within the society, the more value he can get for himself. The brides, on their parts, also aspires for a well earning husband, who has a standing in the society, Into this mix potent mix add money, and you have a heady mixture of dowry.
Watching the show, I was amazed at Aamir's theatrics, his long drawn gasps at hearing the heartbreaking stories , while keeping a poker face through it all. While Aamir must be applauded for taking a stand on issues, his theatrics do get in the way. If his heart bleeds for such issues, then he should not be afraid to show it.  Or maybe he is not to the type to show his emotions, letting his actions speak or him. If that is true, he should not be hosting a talk show.  Aamir later wrote and article in the institution. Reading it, one doesn't find any intellectually invigorating stuff. It may be written with the best intentions, but it is not the best piece of opinion pieces.
The show itself, has been losing its steam. Even Aamir can't force people to watch serious stuff on a Sunday morning, no less.
Aamir has chosen the wrong medium to vent his emotions about the society.  But I am more inclined to believe that he is looking for a far greater role in the society as a politician/conscience keeper.

A trip to Nizamuddin

There is a perception, in Delhi, that a trip to a Muslim locality means lip-smacking non-veg food, and a home grown exotica, as Muslim roam in their skull caps, and the more enterprising even wear the Dishdasha, the long white dress worn by Arab men. On the roadsides are people barbecuing  delicious kebabs, pieces marinated chicken hanging from skewers. Then there is a grand mosque, which usually form the nodal point of the place, where the residents go, and where the visitors (non-Muslims) go, to get a different experience. For all its claims of being multi religious, India is still segregated along religious lines, and Hindu visiting these localities finds them to be exotic, even switching to rudimentary Urdu to show that he fits in.
The most famous of these places, undoubtedly, is the Chandini Chowk/Jama Masijd area, but there are other. Theres the Matka Pir near Purana Qila, and also, Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah in Nizamuddin.
Thursday night, was a get together for a facebook group, which purpotedly meets once a week to visit little known places in Delhi and to taste the local cuisine. The plan was, meet up at 7 pm, go visit the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin, listen to the qawwali, retire to a nice non-veg restaurant and gorge on meat.
Me, my wife and a friend decided to go, but we reached an hour and a half late. By that time, the others had already left, so it was left to us to explore that area. This was not the first time for me, as I had visited the place earlier, searching to the tomb of Ghalib, reaching early morning. I had found the place to be pleasant, though unremarkable for such a historical place. A regular basti.
This time, however, the scene was completely different. When we reached the place, it was thronging with people, all heading towards the dargah. On the sides were hawkers selling flowers and chadars to be placed at the tomb. It was like a visit to any Hindu holy place, except that this was a Muslim place. Lots of crowd, hawkers selling you pooja materials, or ibaadat materials, as Muslims would call it.
To get to the main dargah, one has to go through a very narrow lane, lined on each side with more hawkers selling more chadars. The lanes themselves are quite bright lit, crowded and full of life. If you have seen Rockstar, you know what to expect.
The first view of the dargah is a sight in itself, coming as it does after a long walk through narrow lanes, never expecting to see any open spaces. There is a main dargah an a smaller dargah, which comes first. A long line had formed outside, as people lay chadars and prayed. But there was a shortcut as well, where people could simply touch heads at the walls. The only catch was that the persons who made it happen would then ask for a small donation. The same thing was witnessed on the main dargah as well, where we were able to bypass a serpentine queue by making a donation of Rs 200/-. Reminded me of my Tirupati trip, with its variously priced tickets that can get you faster service. I was able a get a quicker darshan by paying a small dakshina, which I am sure will be used towards the dargah maintenance.
The praying over, no it was time to get down to the real purpose of the visit, namely qawwali and some nice non-veg food.
Unfortunately, the qawwali, which was scheduled to begin at eight, hadn't begun till nine-thirty, and there was no telling when it would begin. Looking at the crowd around me, I wasn't too confident about it starting too soon, so we had to abandon that idea.
The other part of the plan was food. We set out to savour what the galis of Nizamuddin had to offer. The jostling in the crowd had increased my hunger further, and I looked forward to some nice mutton. The first disappointment was that most of the restaurants at the place did not serve mutton. It was only chicken or beef, neighter of which I wanted. Only one restaurant in Nizanuddin served mutton, and that was at the beginning of the street, so we had to walk a long way back, only to be told that there was a waiting period.
We were able to get a table soon enough, and gorge on som nice mutton.
Alas, the food did not live up to our expectations! To be fair, we did not know what to expectation there. Our expectation were solely based on the experience of Chandini Chowk and the Matka Pir, both of which had been good. But the Nizamuddin experience was found lacking. For starters, the kebabs did not have any salt in them, neither did the tandoori chicken. The rotis were too hard, and the mutton gravy was sweet due to too much onion. This kind of food is not acceptable at a regular place, let alone at a place which is a tourist attraction and also a place visited by so many pilgrims. The service was bad as well, as it took more than twenty minutes for the order to come. Even the cold drinks took time!
A simple meal, which could be had in half hour took nearly on hour. Not a good service, and that too, after an exhausting trip.
All in all, the best part of the trip was the walk to the dargah, through the narrow lanes.
Also, I realized that I should not generalize. Just because I am going to a Muslim dominated place that has a famous monument as well, does not mean I will get good food as well. For that, I just stick to Matka Pir.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Truth shall prevail...

I missed Aamir Khan's TV debut Satyamev Jayate on 6th May, but have caught up all the arguments made in its favor and against it. From what I gather, it is a talk show where Amir Khan takes on social issues in the Oprah Winfrey/Phil Donahue mode.  He invites guests who have been victims of the issue at hand, supports his arguments with facts and figures, and also sheds a tear at the right moment.
Aamir being the perfectionist that he is (perfectionist of just plain anal, its a matter of opinion) does everything perfectly. No one is complaining. Clearly, this concept is aimed at making the star seem human, he does not host game shows that offer money to people, but talks serious. He doesn't entertain, he educates.
The reviews for the show have been mixed. People who have liked it say it is refreshing after all the brain dead shows on TV, while people who didn't talk about how manipulative it is. From a vantage point, both arguments are valid. Compared to what passes off as entertainment on TV nowadays, and serious talk is nice, especially on a Sunday. But for it to be successful, it has to manipulate the emotions of the viewer, which all shows do. Aamir alone can't be faulted for it.
I haven't seen Satyamev Jayate, so I can't comment much on it. But the show brings to fore another aspect of Aamir, the social crusader. Of late, Aamir has turned his stardom to 'highlight' issues like the alienation of youth (Rang De Basanti), Kashmir (Fanaa), the education system (3 Idiots), burden of expectation on children (Taare Zameen Par). In addition, he has been his clout on many other non-filmi forums like appearing for coca-cola saying that its drinks are safe, meeting parents of dyslexic parents and also sharing his views on the education system, though these were for promotions. But in all honesty, Aamir has always had a serious side to him, which has never hidden. After the romantic success of QSQT, he did the gritty Raakh, was career suicide in filmy terms. He also did a socially conscious movie, Jawani Zindabad that talked about the dowry system and the girl child. But the entertainment scene of the 80s and 90s was different than the 2000s. Besides, the movies were bad and deserved to fail.
But the social crusader never left Aamir, and the 2000s have been a boon for him. He has been able to bring his socially conscious side to the fore. He took part in the Narmada Bachao Andolan, but when that didn't succeed, he has sought other avenues, albeit ones that are not as emotionally charged.
Which is good for the actor and Bollywood. Celebrities who are vocal about issues are rare in here, so having one who is successful is always good.
Though he has been denying it, in my opinion, Aamir is gearing up for a more prominent role for himself, probably in the political arena. It is one thing to take up social issues, but to follow up on your promise to take this matter further is different. Aamir is clearly seeing this as a stepping stone to a future role in politics, as a conscientious leader. But to be successful leader Aamir has to show not his bleeding heart, but his toughness.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Bored of work...

Working in a low-activity second shift, I never thought that I would actively hunt for work, but is exactly what I am doing, as the novelty of unlimited web surfing becomes a burden, and thinking of newer things to search for becomes a chore. In this scenarios, the idea of back to back work seems enticing. Welcome to my anti-office.

Wish I could write a haiku about it, but I don't know how to.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Effective blogging tip...

To be an effective blooger, one needs to do compulsive blogging - any break in the link, and the blog ideas seem to pile up, so that when it is time to blog, we are not sure where to begin.