Gujjar riots 2: Revisited

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 11:31 PM in ,
5th October 2007

(Yeah, this happened a lot of days back but I’m penning it down today cause my writings had taken a beating due to what was going on in my personal sphere. Now after the wind has passed and the dust has settled in a fashion I highly favour… the pen was bound to come out soon).

The incident happened on a perfectly chirpy day when the air deceits you into believing that all would turn out to be fine. Here’s a glimpse into what happened:

10:00 am:
The news headlines are playing and I’m sitting lazily in my living room, brooding over what plagues our country over a cup of coffee. I’m home for vacations and the nitty-gritties of daily domestic life are playing themselves around me. Mom is in the kitchen fixing us a quick breakfast and dad is on the phone spelling out instructions to the engineer about how the new kitchen that we’re getting done should look like. I’m taking it all in with quiet satisfaction at the fact that some things never change… no matter how long you stay away from home. One quick glance at the clock and I realize I need to go pick Rahul, my younger brother, from school. His exams are going on while he’s also trying to recuperate from a sorry medical condition. In my quest not to be late, I quickly finish my coffee, grab the car keys and am on my way.

10:20 am:
Now going to the school was not a problem. Neither did it intimate me of the dangers that lay ahead on my way back. You see that’s the ‘beauty’ of living in a small town… you never assume that you’ll ever get stuck in anything even remotely close to a riot.

I made it on time and after some quick questions about how the exam was, Rahul and I were on our way back. Now anyone who is even sparingly aware of the roads and routes in Jaipur should be able to make more sense of what follows. We were coming back from M.I. Road, where St. Xaviers is located, and were going towards Hawa Mahal, the area around which I live. At the Ajmeri Gate Chauraha, I was waiting at the red light. The traffic in the city has evolved and one might be forced to wait for two, even three, red lights before he is finally allowed to pass through. In normal circumstances, I would object to such long waits and succumb to road rage. But today was different because of two reasons. Firstly because I was happy about the homecoming; and secondly because I was getting to drive daddy’s new car. Glasses up, a.c. and loud music on, I was oblivious to what was going on outside. Two red lights down, it was my turn to move ahead. Now this is where your ears should perk up… out of the blue, I see this huge mob approaching the road from our left. The trajectory was such that while the cars ahead of me could just manage to slip away before the mob arrived… I was amongst the unfortunate few who were left behind. As the mob blocked the way, I realized I had crossed the red light (so there was no turning back) and couldn’t even move ahead because the mob now surrounded my car. Lathis and banners in place, for a second I thought it’s all over. The next few seconds were spent in turning off the music and trying to come in terms with the fact that if nothing else, I’m at least losing my windshield today. Looking at the slogan-shouting, banner-flaunting crowd… I knew no mercy would be spared. My brother was sitting next to me, not fully aware of what was going on. The bemused expression in his eyes just gave way to his confusion, but not the slightest hint of fear. Adding fuel to fire was a media photographer rapidly clicking away pictures of the two of us trapped in the once-cozy confines of our car.

Hmmm… I noticed I was leading a blue car right behind me (the rest had stopped at the red light itself) and decide to take a left turn from there. Left… the direction from where the mob was coming. I still don’t know what prompted that decision but my only bet was to stick to my guns. The car behind me followed. So far so good… the lathis hadn’t hit the windshield yet. Behind me, the motorcyclists were being manhandled. Their bikes were history and their faces were a huge red web of terror.

I weaved my way through the mob… tried talking to a traffic cop who, unfortunately, was as baffled as me. Realizing he wasn’t going to do any good… I looked around for an exit and quickly spotted one at the far end of the road. The challenge: reaching there unhurt. Then the added responsibility of taking care of my brother was weighing down on me. Glasses still rolled up… I took a deep breath and started moving towards the elusive end. A distance of roughly 60 meters had to be covered but the pack of people weren’t making things any easier. I had covered a good 35 meters when, inevitably, fury found me. A group of protestors, seeing a car trying to get away, turned furiously towards us and were about to bombard our vehicle with their lathis when something transpired between us and them. The fury in those angry eyes toned down immediately when they saw a hapless girl behind the wheel and her little brother sitting with a quiet expression on his face.

Now, call it fate or luck or providence or whatever you mortals like to call it--- but the protestors actually made room for us to pass through and I, grabbing the opportunity before they changed their mind, quickly zapped my way to the exit. Looking at the rear-view mirror, I saw that the blue car behind us had also been allowed to pass because the occupants were a harried looking senior couple. Letting out a sigh of relief… we made our way home without even turning back once. Let bygones be bygones!

On reaching home, we narrated what had happened to mom and dad who literally flipped out after hearing the whole description. Evening papers later in the day were full of stories about what was going on in the city. For the uninitiated, I wouldn’t mind giving a lowdown on what the riots were all about. These were the infamous Gujjar Riots. Gujjar is a community in Rajasthan that is demanding ST status to increase the ambit of reservations available to their class. The government, obviously not okay with the demands, is resisting the pressure that the Gujjar’s are now trying to create by initiating a spate of unprecedented riots in the state. In the fray are big Rajasthan MPs and MLAs including hotshots like Sachin Pilot and Nathu Singh Gujjar.

Just to bring it to focus, the Gujjar riots have had a bearing on my existence in the past as well. Read more about it here. One sincere request to the people and government alike is to show better cooperation and at least ensure that normal life isn’t affected due to trivial tiffs and disagreements. Its not pretty, its not convenient, and it almost definitely violates the rules of staying together in a harmonious society.



Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 12:12 PM
C.A.T. - the hype and hoopla that this three-lettered word generates would put George Bush (caught in another dopey act) to shame. Come November and the media enters a crazy frenzy - covering every single move that the candidates appearing for the exam make, making documentaries on what it takes to bell the CAT, presenting the already hassled students with institute profiles, vital stats, health tips, stress-management techniques, et al. As if appearing for one of the world's toughest exams wasn't enough, students are made to grapple with all the ballyhoo surrounding this newly christened 'do or die test' (read: CAT).

Its general knowledge that the Common Admission Test, or CAT, is an all-India test conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as an entrance test for the management programmes of its seven business schools (located each in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Indore, Lucknow, Kozhikode and now Shillong). We also know that the number of students taking the exam grows with each passing year. With over 2,00,000 students fighting for the coveted 1200 seats that the IIMs have to offer, the tussle to enter the hallowed portals only gets tougher with time. Even with a top 1% score, a candidate must also cross the equally stringent hurdles of a group discussion and a personal interview. All this taken collectively makes the procedure more selective than all the Ivy League Universities put together. Operating in circumstances like these, the last thing that an aspirant wants is media-attention and critical-performance-scrutinization at every step.

Names like Career Launcher, IMS, Time, PT Education, Roots Education, Alchemist, etc. are synonymous with MBA test preparation and are etched onto public memory. Cut throat competition, peer pressure and sometimes parental persuasion coupled with filling complicated application forms and handling challenging sections like Data Interpretation, Problem Solving, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension define what goes on in the life of an aspirant for months before the third Sunday of november arrives. Add to this taking innumerable mock CATs in simulated surroundings and the mental agitation that surfaces as an obvious aftermath of bad percentiles. All this describes the plight of an average test-taker, though not denying that things can be different for some sections of people (if after reading this line you've broken into a smile, congratulations, you're the 'section of people' I am talking about).

The good part, its not as horrendous as it sounds. The seven-figure salaries, the intellectual stimultion, the 'branded for life' feeling, the institute experience and the useful things that one learns in the process makes it all worthwhile in the end.

One bone of contention though. The 'media hype' surrounding this one particular exam results in a lot of undesirable things. For starters, it results in adding yet more importance to the already illustrious institutes at the expense of their lesser-known coevals. There are other deserving institutes in the fray which the media tends to overlook. With atleast 98-99 percentile as the cut-off for IIM calls, other institutes with even 97.5 percentile as their cut-off are grossly sidelined and their roles majorly underplayed. For the candidates who miss the A+ grade, premier b-schools by even a 0.1 percentile deficiency (and the numbers run into hundreds), its nothing less than spending the rest of their lives in an inferno. This reflects on the extent to which the media generated hype has affected the brand-equity of our b-schools. So much so that CAT is being used as an umbrella term to cover most of the other management entrance exams in the country as well. Acute depression, guilt-pangs, reduced self-esteem, lower feeling of self-worth and a humongous beating to the self-confidence creeps into the lives of those who end up taking the test too seriously and failing even slightly.

The solution to this problem lies in bestowing the other almost equally good b-schools with their due credit and making the junta realize that missing the school of their dream by a negligible margin doesn't make them unworthy in any way. Its all a matter of luck and chance that our contemporaries may get into places that we always thought we deserved to be in. Being too harsh on oneself is not an option and key to a happy life lies in scanning the other options and to continue giving it your best shot. Even getting into foreign institutes might prove to be less mind-numbing!

A parting shot for the media would be to focus their energies on talking-up other institutes rather than putting the spotlight on the already celebrated ones. Some attention to the candidates is good but going overboard with the coverage of everything related to CAT only makes them more anxious and far more jittery...


I'm famous!!!

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 12:03 PM

Guess who got published on CNN-IBN's online news portal http://www.ibnlive.com/ !!! Yes yes, you're right... yours truely got her own blog there! Thats like taking my passion for writing and expressing one step ahead. Ok I'm providing the link below... check and comment!


And keep visiting!


Erratic disclosures

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 2:36 PM in , ,
‘Writer’s block’--- that’s what was keeping me from updating my blog for so long. Faithful readers noticed the absence and here I am trying to shake off the cobwebs. It was more like a mental block, a state where one is so preoccupied with other stuff that writing is forced to take a backseat. Even with my exams now over, things are still quite hectic but I’m taking out time for what I love doing the most… writing.

First a quick update on what has been keeping me busy. First I went through a series of non-ending exams, then a special someone was in town and later I was home for vacations. Now college is open again and the schedule is brimming with stuff that requires attention. Cat classes, college lectures, NIIT training, CS studies, extra-curriculars… my hands are more than full right now. The MBA form-filling season has also kicked in and days are spent contemplating about which institute to pick and which to ditch. Neha, a close buddy, is going to the US for her engineering and we’re busy planning this little surprise for her before she leaves. Then I’m also making room for other essentials like orkutting(indispensable!), returning e-mails, catching up with friends, going places and basically keeping myself entertained. The quest of staying abreast with current-affairs is teaching me new things. A lot has been happening at home as well and thank god for that cause it helps me keep my senses alive.

Harry Potter--- the book and the movie--- was something I had been waiting for for so long. Saw the movie on the first day of the release and would have written a review too… but loads of those are available everywhere. Decided to save redundancy. The Deathly Hallows--- well, words can never do justice to the brilliance that Rowling is blessed with. Fans must have read it by now, so a review seems quite unessential.

Experienced pure bliss in the most unusual of things- morning walks! With excellent company and pre-monsoon sprinklers… there could have been no better way to start my day. A 5.30 a.m. attendance and a 2 hour-long jog did wonders to my body and mind alike. Location? Central Park in Jaipur---- located in the midst of the most expensive range of flats, Royal Ensign, on one side; the famous Statue Circle on the other; and our very own Vidhan Sabha and Rajpath on yet another end; this place was a joggers paradise. Roughly 4-5 kilometres in radius, half of it also doubles up as a golf course. Polo and golf--- two things the city is famous for. Legend has it that the late Maharaja Sawai Man Singh had won his wife, the uber famous Rajmata Gayatri Devi, in a game of polo. But lets not delve into history books now. Lets keep talking about other more random and erratic things in life…

College is different this year. First because I know its my last year here. Second, ragging. It is being seen as a punishable offence and cctvs’ have been installed in most north campus colleges. Posters and banners scream out and warn seniors against ragging the fuchchas but I doubt that’s making much difference. The freshies want to be ragged and show more prudence than the police authorities by reasoning out that the whole ‘college experience’ concept is incomplete and inadequate without a little friendly ragging. It builds rapport and increases the comfort level between two otherwise unknown classes. Atleast it worked for my immediate juniors and me last year. God knows where things are headed this year with so little ragging. All would agree that no ragging means lesser stories to tell your grand-children when you grow old! (The Bombay junta… no indirect reference to your side of the picture, whatsoever.)

Now a little something about teeny-tiny pieces of advice that I’ve folded up and saved deep inside me in the box of golden words for future reference. These helped me sail out of a maelstrom of emotions.

-One includes “Don’t crucify a human being for acting like a human being.” Noteworthy (thanks Ankush).

-Another goes like “Nothing is as important as it initially seems.” Makes sense (Arunabh, you asked me to spread the word).

-Yet another goes like “Your absence should be long enough so that someone misses you, but it should not be so long that someone learns to live without you.” Wow (Jans, this one from you).

-One more “Hold on to the people who are slipping away.” Is quite common (But was recently highlighted by Bodhisattva).
-Last one "If my mind can concieve it & my heart can believe it, i know i can achieve it." (Gaurav read the post and asked me to include this here).

Am putting these up here for common good. If you like some of these… keep them with you.

Ok this will just keep getting long lest I stop. Will put a full stop here with a promise to return again with another post. I’ve successfully beaten the infamous block and man, am I proud of myself!

So long… Godspeed!


Gujjar riots: Life goes haywire…

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 9:40 PM in ,

It’s easy for our vote-athirst politicians to trigger off rows regarding reservations. Following in their footsteps, it’s even easier for a certain segment of civilians to get together and create a havoc to attract media attention and to get their baseless demands fulfilled. Now I’m not here to bash the changing role of the media in today’s India, cause that topic deserves a different post altogether. I’m here to ‘throw light’ on the physical and mental traumas that we, the aam-admi, are made to go through during these times of crisis.

Anyone with a speck of alertness is aware of the whole ordeal that Rajasthan was made to go through recently. Now it so happened that I was in Jaipur around that time and was planning to return to Delhi on 30th may for my exams that kicked off from the 2nd of june. A day before the 30th, I had booked a Volvo ticket and was all packed to leave for ‘the city of djinns’ the next day. When I switched on the t.v. at night, first stir of the ensuing riots was hogging the headlines. Not anticipating it to blow up into a full-fledged revolt, I sat back comfortably and relished my dinner.

Next morning, when I switched on the t.v., reports of a blocked NH-8 caught my eye and I quickly called up the roadways office to confirm if my bus was still going. It wasn’t. Infact all the buses from jaipur to delhi had been cancelled… the highways were blocked with the protestors. The magnitude of the protests soon sunk in and I frantically left home to get myself rail or air tickets for the same day in a hope to still make it on time for my exams. Turned out that all trains had been cancelled as well and I was left with only one option to make it back on time- air. The scene at the airport betrayed the hopelessness of commuters who were virtually stuck in the city because of a ‘transportation-breakdown’. Because I’m very frugal with money, I first checked with the low-cost carriers to know if their flights were still going. Some flights had already left early in the morning and the rest were all booked to the brim. Soon it became very clear that I wasn’t reaching the capital today in any case. A call to my travel agent didn’t help much either. Reluctantly, I asked if tickets for the 31st were still available and fortunately got a reply in the affirmative. Timings for Go-Air were very convenient and I decided to opt for the same. My eyes literally popped out when the guy at the counter told me the prices (withheld to condense public outrage)! I asked him to wait for two minutes while I made up my mind. I started scanning all my options--- there was no way I was reaching delhi today by road, so there was no point fretting over that fact any longer. I figured if it essentially has to be tomorrow, then I might as well just pay some extra bucks rather than swing in the air of uncertainty and wait for the roads and rails to clear up (the riots had gathered steam by then and all fingers pointed in the direction of a political deadlock). While I was scrutinizing all my options, a now-familiar voice from the counter pulled me out of my musings and announced- “Only two seats left on tomorrow’s flight, ma’am, and their prices just went up from rs.x to rs.x + 300. You should make up your mind fast.” Shucks! Zap… I asked him to give me a ticket immediately before the prices shot up any further. With the ticket clutched tightly in my hands, I strolled my way back to the car.

Now to explain how much agony the whole episode caused is out of question. There’s no way I can explain how it feels to see days melt away so fruitlessly just 2 days before your exams and absolutely no way to tell how much it hurts to pay 8 times more than what you usually would to get from one place to another. Seeing airlines cash in on our helplessness didn’t make it any easier. The hole in my pockets just got deeper the next day when I was charged another grand at the check-in counter on account of my bag being ‘20 kgs heavier than the prescribed limit’ (dont blame me, I was carrying my exam books and there was no way I was leaving them behind). On reaching delhi, I had to pay another couple of hundreds to get from IGI airport to my place in a pre-paid taxi. And not just me, I saw a host of people going through the similar not-so-obvious torture. All of this… simply because this one class of people were defying laws somewhere and enforcing a bandh on a matter as trivial as shifting from one backward category, already reserved under the tainted reservations, to another…

Hail the politicians.

Hail the ‘intelligentsia’ who prompt such riots.

And most of all, hail us civilians who actually manage to live through the whole ordeal with no apparent fault of ours! Life cant get any ‘fairer’ than this x-(


Times Global Village 2007

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 4:50 PM in ,
29th April 2007 5:30pm: Sitting idle after the exams, the idea of going to the ‘times global village’ hit me as an excellent one. For the uninitiated, this ad in the Times of India should throw some light on what it was all about:

“16 countries. 50 food stalls.
150 dancers. 900 shops.
1 entry ticket.
Delhi hasn’t seen anything like the Times Global Village before! A month long extravaganza showcasing the best of the world in Delhi. From Czech crystals to African bead necklaces, from Pakistani cuisine to the best of the Thai fare, from Chinese dragon dancers to African drummers, this mega event has something for everyone. The centerpiece of the Dubai Shopping Festival for the last decade, it gives you food, shopping, dancing, entertainment, music, joyrides, arts and crafts, masti and magic, from all around the globe.
Adjacent to DND flyway, New Delhi
30th March-30th April 2007. 2pm onwards.
TOI, Delhi Tourism”

Being a foodie and shopoholic by nature, I grabbed my jingling money bag and cell phone and we were on our way. As we arrived the destination, the eyes glazed with the shimmering array of cars parked outside the venue. It was a cloudy Sunday evening and it seemed like the whole of the NCR was here to join in the festivities. Clutching the passes, we pushed our way through the crowd into the main grounds. The entrance was embellished with imitations of the many wonders that the world has seen. Taj mahal, Eiffel tower, the Pyramids of Egypt, Petronas towers, et al--- it was all there. “Good job” we say and move on. Right next to the entrance were three humongous stalls called Lifestyle, Interiors and Delhi. ‘Lifestyle’ was stocked with high-end stuff that only the upper strata could afford. The many sub-stalls were actually shops scattered all over the country clubbed together for this mega event. ‘Interiors’ dealt with the complex aspect of interior decoration/designing and some of the pieces, though prohibitively priced, were plain exquisite. ‘Delhi’, as the name suggests, was a huge conglomeration of Delhi’s most famous shops brought together under one roof.

Enough with the merchandize and we decided to eat. The food was a feast for the taste buds with Hyderabadi biryani on one side and Rajasthani food on the other. International cuisines were also available but people’s aversion to try out new food was apparent. I tried ‘tamarind juice’ from outside the UAE stall and the bittersweet taste (more bitter than sweet) lingered on even till the next day! After a whole round of biryani and kebabs and jaljeera and gol-gappas, it was time to check out the international good stalls.

African, Turkey, Czech Republic, Pakistan, UAE, UK, Thailand and China were some of the many countries showcasing their products. Each was trying to cash in on the things that made them unique and gave their country an edge over the others. Due to time constraints we were forced to miss out on a lot of stuff, but of the few things that we saw, something from Philippines caught my eye. The whole filipino idea revolved around customization and tailor-made goodies to please the customers. At Rs.120, one could get a colorful name-plate done with his name on it to be hung outside his private haven (read:room). An idea brilliant to the core… I wasn’t surprised to see the huge flock of ready customers willing to dish out the money and take back this customized piece from the other side of the world to flaunt in their respective homes. I got some name-plates made too… and went on to check out the other stuff. Well, if I go on to talk about the wares that were on display, blogspot would ban me for data redundancy! But in a nutshell, what I deduced was that for anyone with enough money in his hands and sufficient willingness to try out new things, this place was like a dream come true.

The event was laced with joyrides for kids and stimulated cricket pitches for the cricket buffs. Fun and merriment were almost tangible in the air. When we finally had to push off after it was quite late, we entered the mode of self-reprimanding for not coming here earlier. Like always, the blame was conveniently shifted to the ongoing exams. With hands full of shopping bags and tummies full to the brink, we slowly made our way back to our parked car…

Though I don’t really like ‘the times of india’, this initiative deserves a virtual standing ovation. With enough advertising in their newspaper and glaring billboards at all major metro stations, the team ensured a heavy visitor inflow and an eventual rollicking success. Hats-off to the times team for a job (very) well done :)


Magnum opus- Deepa Mehta’s ‘Water’

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 5:32 PM in ,
Ever since I was a kid, I didn’t like art movies. I thought these flicks made on shoestring budgets were only for the intelligentsia who had strong opinions on the complex human circumstances and relationships depicted in these films. Most names associated with parallel cinema like Ritwik Ghatak, Bimal Roy, Deepa Mehta, Kumar Shahani, and even Satyajit Ray made me cringe. I developed an acute dislike for actors like Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi at a very early age for the mere fact that they acted in these offbeat flicks. I saw my first art movie when I was nine (name withheld to condense public outrage) and hated it so much that I turned my back on such movies forever. Now after ten years of abstinence, I finally decided to give it another shot, and this is how it happened---

Crisp monday morning and I’m sitting in my college’s seminar room waiting for the screening of ‘Water’ to begin. As part of an ongoing movie festival, the college is screening 2 art movies back to back today- ‘water’ and ‘dor’. Now many people I know had watched Dor and had praised it so much that I was already half willing to watch it if given a chance to (but only for free, ofcourse!). Water, on the other hand, is yet to release in India and I hadn’t been previously inundated with any opinions to watch/skip it whatsoever. What prompted me to watch it was its recent Oscar nomination. So there I was, sitting and waiting for the movie to start and mentally preparing myself for 4-5 harrowing hours of no music and sheer boredom. Click… beep… click… and we started rolling….

I am issuing a standard review of ‘water’ in public interest, for the benefit of the masses (that is for the junta reading this blog).

Directed by- Deepa Mehta
Written by- Deepa Mehta
Starring- Lisa Ray, John Abraham, Seema Biswas and Sarala
Language- Hindi
Running time- 114 minutes

Water is set in the 1930’s when India was still ruled by the British… and Mahatma Gandhi’s movement was slowly, but surely, picking up momentum. The movie is based on the lives of widows around that time and revolves around the story of Kalyani(Lisa Ray) and Narayan(John Abraham). Chuhiya(Sarala) garnishes the movie with her innocent presence and portrays the fate of young widows in the India of yester-years. Keeping in line with the Hindu tradition, girls were married off at an early age to older men and were subject to a life full of misery and servitude after their husband’s demise. Chuhiya is an eight year old who finds herself ‘widowed’ at this tender age. She is sent away to a widows’ home in Benaras where she has a lot of trouble coping up with the new ways and the kind of people that she will have to live with for the rest of her life. Kalyani is her only mate in the ashram. Amidst all the toil, they’re shown to have shared a lot of bubbly moments together. Being the only widow whose hair are not shorn, Kalyani is an outcast who’s sent to ‘serve and please’ the sethjis occasionally. Shakuntala(Seema Biswas) is an enigmatic inmate who has an innate tendency to do whatever is right in a given situation. Enters Narayan who is a stanch supporter of Gandhi with liberated views and believes that widows should be allowed to remarry. He sees Kalyani and love happens at first sight. Initially apprehensive, Kalyani soon drops all inhibitions and decides to marry him. The whole widow ashram is furious and Madhumati locks her away in a dingy room. The lustrous tresses are also chopped off callously. Shakuntala plays the iron lady once again and shows Kalyani to a better and more fulfilling life. But as they say, life is not a bed of roses and this is exactly what happens with the gorgeous couple. The fairy tale soon goes sour due to some unexpected turn of events. Despite this, the movie ends on a hopeful note. I’ll refrain from divulging further details because I want you all to go and experience the masterpiece for yourselves.
Water was an exceptionally well-made movie. The serene and spotless white clothes of the inmates, the tranquil banks of the Ganges, the forceful dialogue delivery of the actors, depiction of a widow’s hardships, cravings of the deprived (widows weren’t allowed to binge on fried foods like puris, halwa or jalebis!), prevalence of prostitution in dire conditions, monotonous existence, the innocent and carefree ways of a young child, et al… Mehta creates a magical atmosphere to showcase her story. The candid Sarala proves to be a child-artist par excellence. Ladoos and pets… water has a lot to offer.
The movie was shot in Sri Lanka after mobs destroyed its original sets in Varanasi in the year 2000. It was later shot using both a different cast and title (River Moon) in 2003. The film debuted in Canada in 2005 and is hitting the theatres in India tomorrow. Critics might argue that the movie is derogatory to the image of Hindus worldwide but I beg to differ. Being a girl myself, all I could think of while watching the flick was that how lucky I am to be born today and not in the 1930s. I also couldn’t help noticing as to how far we’ve come from the days when being a woman was no less than being cursed. It made me appreciate the social developments that we’ve made so far and also gave me a taste of what the generations before me might have gone through. All in all, a great package that needs to be seen by anyone who considers himself even remotely intelligent to appreciate niche works.
After ‘water’ they screened ‘dor’, which again had something to do with a widow, but was much lighter in essence than the former. Time flew while I watched these movies and when I walked out of the seminar hall… my perceptions about art movies had changed radically forever… for good! Hail diversity and intelligentsia. Amen!


Valentine vertigo, veracious me and random panorama!

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 2:11 AM in , , ,
A fresh new post… a clean new slate to put forth my views (yet again!).

Note of caution: To the die-hard Valentine’s Day supporters/fans/fanatics--- this piece is not for you. I advice you to bid adieu asap and not turn back even once.

All said… if you’re still hanging around… I fathom you have the patience and willingness to hear me out. The last thing I want to do is to sound sermonizing, so I’ll break this post into tiny interesting fragments… and spruce it up with real pictures (all taken first-hand by yours truly!).

Ridiculous tactics: Picture #1

Ridiculous tactics: Picture #2

7th Feb:
I’m working out in a gym and the radio is on to keep us entertained. Running on a treadmill… huff puff… beads of sweat rolling down my forehead. What am I listening to? The RJ goes like “Call 64646… say ‘I love radio mirchi’ and win a candle-lit dinner in orient express with your loved one on valentine’s day!” Hmmm… tempting. For the uninitiated, Orient Express in one of the 50 finest restaurants in the world.
Standard reaction 1--- I’m flabbergasted… has it already begun??

8th Feb:
The v-day fever is catching up thick and fast with the other radio stations as well… offers and prizes are getting dearer (and better!) each passing minute. Switch on the tv and all channels are busy show-casing commercials related to the obvious. Not even the news channels are spared. My good old CNN-IBN also shows a ‘deliver flowers to your valentine’s doorstep (with no extra shipping charges)… call xxx-xxxx-xxx… toll free!’ commercial while I let out a loud groan.
Standard reaction 2--- The denial mode is over… time to start sighing! It’s that time of the year again.

9th Feb:
Things are getting worse. Hoardings in the campus have been changed to the ones that scream out and educate the na├»ve junta about the attractive v-day offers up for grabs (see picture #1… it’s a classic!). RJs are still going berserk with the prizes and proposals.
Standard reaction 3--- Aaarghh… for how much longer am I supposed to take this?

10th Feb:
A little birdie comes and coos into my ear that SaReGaMa has launched a new album… something by the name of ‘love rocks’ Even amazon.com has suddenly gone crimson!
Standard reaction 4--- I am trying to masquerade my disgust in the garb of a wry smile and slight smirk.

11th Feb:
D-day is drawing closer and I am happy. Why?? Cause I see an end to the gibberish just close by. Although the constant ranting of RJs and the print media advertising still irks me no end.
Standard reaction 5--- Waiting with bated breath for the 14th to come… and go!

12th Feb:
Things are uncontrollable… the dam has broken to make way for what may be called a sea of red hearts and pink kisses!
Standard reaction 6: I try and turn a deaf ear n blind eye to everything but fail miserably at it :(

13th Feb:
D/V-Day eve! I’m out in kamla nagar for some mobile related work and what I see leaves me all the more cantankerous and even disgusted to some extent (refer to picture #2 for explanation). Even the once faithful comrades have dumped me this time… ahem…. I mean even the shiv-sainiks have softened their stand on the ‘issue’. It was only this morning that I saw a news report telling that the sena run Kirti College in dadra is not averse to the idea of joining in the celebrations anymore. Depressing stuff. Heard a sena adyaksh say something you’d be surprised to hear… something about lesser dharnas n processions this year. RJs continue to be on a roll, still doling out prizes with undying fervor… gym time has suddenly lost all charm.
Standard reaction 7: (Un)comfortably numb…

14th Feb:
Need I tell how it’s like?!?!?

When I was a kid, the scale of celebrations was much smaller. People felt no need to hire limousines or buy diamond rings to woo their dates/spouses. Ways of expressing love were more personal, less flashy and way cheaper! No… I’m not 60 or over-conservative or a wet blanket, for that matter. I’m young, ultra-modern and extremely liberal. I have nothing against Valentine’s Day in particular… nothing so long as the celebrations are confined to one day and one day only. Agreed that true love needs expression and allocating a particular day to do so is not a sin. So far so good. What irks me is the lack of consideration on part of the moneymaking scoundrels who know nothing better than throwing offers and reaping benefits out of the whole situation. Why load people with v-day talks everywhere, every second of the day, for one whole week before the big day?? It gets a little over-whelming and seems kind of ridiculous at times. And if it’s all about love… what about mother and father’s days that often go unnoticed? In all respect… not fair. I don’t mean to demean the whole concept of celebrating Valentine’s Day… infact far from that… all I want to state is that the whole hype and hoopla makes little sense to me. Hold hands, kiss and get cozy, rock each others worlds… alright… but pleaseeee tone down on the celebrations front a little! The amount of moolah spent is not always proportional to how much you love your companion. Things that really mean a lot don’t always come in boxes…

All my arguments aside… I do believe that the expression of love is the headiest feeling on the whole planet. Go ahead, enjoy the day… but go easy with the festivities before/after the day is over. We have a whole assortment of other festivals to look forward to!


A few good things:
YES, a few things have been keeping my mood really light of late… take a look:

1) The government IS making a serious effort towards polio eradication… a polio drops table at the entrance of the patel chowk metro station. Strategically placed… very impressive!

2) An airtel scheme especially for d.u. students… the tariff plan is really economical!

3) The rains! Potholes (hallmark of the place where I live!), wet roads, dark clouds, biting cold, thunderstorms, heavy showers… all the makings of a place called ‘heaven’. A welcome respite for the rain starved Delhi.

4) This amazing t-shirt that I saw at out university centers ‘peoples tree’ outlet.

Ad nauseam! Long post… but still got a lot more to write about. If time permits… the mill will churn out another post very soon.
After-thought: If you’ve read this far… I deduce you don’t have the attention span of a three year old and are capable of putting up with stuff that you might not necessarily agree with or that which can be loosely categorized as ‘purely random, arbit and unorganized’. All I want to say to you guys is… keep visiting :)


Love, demystified…

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 8:58 AM in , ,
The most complex of all emotions, the most prevalent of all feelings… this is an attempt at demystifying the most convoluted inscrutability surrounding mankind… this is love, simplified…

Oxford English Dictionary defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Look around you and you see a major portion of the people snowed under what I call ‘the crowning glory of our short expedition on planet earth’. To reduce the ambit of love to lover’s or spouse’s love would be like doing injustice to its wide and varied scope and coverage. A quick glance and we see love all around--- lover’s love, spouse’s love, parent’s love, friend’s love, family’s love, love in the nature of narcissism, love with a pet, love commercialized on TV and in movies, love with books or one’s job or basically things/places/professions in general, love at first sight, et al. The possibilities are inexhaustible and the list is endless.

Cupid can strike at any time and what’s worse… one loses all control as soon as love comes calling. They say all emotions can be modulated, all except love. When falling in love for the first time, one feels things he’s never felt before. When falling in love all over again, one learns to appreciate things in a different way. Love is all about feeling affection and passion for someone/something, getting a feeling of acceptance… and it almost always involves a lot of thinking and some serious contemplation.

Now we unknowingly use the term ‘falling in love’(I just did!) without giving much thought to what it actually means- ‘falling’ in love. True… some ‘fall’ in love and later pay the price for doing so. Whom are we talking about here? Jilted lovers, divorced couples, wasted individuals, etcetera. BUT lets change the term a little, and I take the liberty of modifying it to ‘rising in love’. Yes, this sounds more positive and is surely more apt. History is redundant with examples of people achieving big because of possessing what we crave for the most- love. It bestows on us a feeling of completeness, sanguinity, and complacence. Sometimes it takes us to a different plane altogether. Often used as a synonym of obsession, attachment, infatuation and even crushes… we can be flexible enough and let it be confused with all these things because life is not always about watertight compartments. Take a bird’s eye view and we see everything is intermingled and interconnected.

Come Valentine’s Day and we see tiny red hearts and roses ALL around… in shops, on TV, on cards, in the newspapers and on the roads as well. The celebrations are notched up a tad higher each year and V day is now a million dollar industry for the people who were sane and sensible enough to cash in on this growing ‘trend’ at the right time (read: archies). Infact new runners in this rat race are also catching up fast and easy by offering more innovative ways of expressing love. Now, I am no shiv saini or anything… but sometimes the whole hoopla makes you wonder how much bigger will this get? I mean all the money spent on going out, messaging and buying cards and gifts can be put to better use. For the people who say it is the day to celebrate love--- why just confine the celebrations to one day?? Isn’t it an ongoing process?

Probably the only pitfall of the whole phenomena is the amount of effort that goes into falling ‘out’ of love. It takes immeasurable amounts of resistance, restrain, anger and frustration to get over that one object of affection. Love in its worst form takes the form of obsession. Sometimes life’s get ruined, people lose their ability to fall in love again, get wasted, need a counselor, eat themselves silly and shop like a maniac… while in other more solemn cases, they fail miserably at the ‘falling out’ bit altogether. But they say there is always a silver lining to every cloud. This cloud is no different. Agreed that some times it all seems very ugly… but at other times, falling out of love proves to be a bittersweet journey to redemption and self-realization. Love is capable of teaching a thousand lessons at one go… imparting the knowledge of a million books all at once… quite capable of transforming a crazy and impractical lover into a sagacious saint.

The movie industry is probably the one domain that has capitalized the most on the widespread predominance of this emotion. Since times immemorial, the moviemakers have cashed in by showcasing the different facets of love on the silver screen. Almost every movie ever made has got love to flaunt somewhere or the other. In most Indian movies, love is often the underlying base of the whole plot… the whole story is centered on the meeting/non-meeting of the two lovers. Garnish this with some running around the trees, a few songs, some foreign locales, extravagant clothing and jewellery, a few thrills… and you have all the makings of a big box-office blockbuster. This is the formula that big movie directors like Karan Johar and Yash Chopra have exploited and earned millions on. Now I’m deviating from course and will stop talking about the cinema, mainly because the ‘movie-matra’ deserves a separate post altogether.

But keeping in tune with the topic, I recently watched the movie ‘shall we dance’ and made a mental note of Susan Sarandon’s immortal lines that go like---
“We all need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on this planet. What does anyone’s life really means? But in love, you are promising to care about everything… the good things, the bad things, the terrible things and the mundane things. All of it, all the time, everyday. You’re saying ‘your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it… your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.’ You can call me a nut if you like!”
--- That pretty much sums up the essence of what we call love. Although here, she’s being specific about lover’s/spouse’s love. But in reality, as I’ve pointed out earlier, love encompasses a lot more than just that... though the degree of intensity might differ greatly. People fall in love with a plethora of other things. Some are in love with themselves (narcissists); some fall in love with physical and tangible things- their cars, books, material possessions; some love their jobs, or their lives; some feel deeply attached to their parents, siblings and family. Love can assume different forms but the whole discussion boils down to one simple conclusion--- love it or hate it… sooner or later, it is bound to happen to everybody. And when the time comes, I suggest you sit back and enjoy the ‘heady’ ride (with a pinch of salt every now and then!) :)

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