Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Debonair Hero

The Debonair Hero
I saw the movie on TV. It made an instant impression, especially the Debonair Hero, in Army fatigues. The uniform suited him very well and the subtle action in the film was awesome. Especially the tactics used by him to escape from his pursuers, the flight and then the fights with the hunting dogs, the action was thrilling. "Achanak" was the first thriller I saw and was over awed by the tall, strikingly handsome hero with the prominent cleft in his chin, Vinod Khanna.

Another one his movies, which made a lasting impression on me was where he played an upright professor, with the extra large spectacles, “Imtihaan”. The character played by him was further enhanced by the immortal Kishore Kumar song, “Ruk Jaana nahi, tu kahi haar ke…” and the movie stayed with me for long.

The next movie which was engrossing was “Inkaar”, where our man again made an impression in an uniform, this time, an Police Inspector in the pursuit of a kidnapper. This too was an action packed thriller.

Two movies with Feroze Khan were about friendship and the underworld, where he excelled in histrionics and action. “Qurbani” had everything, two handsome and Debonair heroes, a very sexy heroine, excellent, melodious and foot-tapping songs, and a great story of friendship, mis-understandings and sacrifice. No wonder, it topped the ticket windows as well as the music charts. “Dayavaan” was the remake of the Tamil movie, “Nayagan” and was a landmark of Vinod Khanna’s career, especially his second innings. He proved that he still had it in him to give the younger Heroes a run for their money.

And last but not the list was his Midas like pairing with Amitabh Bachchan. Whichever movie, these two great icons starred in, turned to pure gold. Producers blindly put money in any movie starring the two of them. There were so many of them, “Amar Akbar Anthony” being the most memorable. The fight scene between the two of them was the highlight, with Amar emerging victorious. A start to end entertainer and both of them along with the evergreen Rishi Kapoor, ensuring that the audience came back repeatedly to the theatres. Another gem from them was, “Mukkaddar ka Sikandar”, a money spinner. Whether they starred as friends or brothers, the chemistry between the two of them was always excellent, since they enjoyed a great friendship, off screen too.
Finally his greatest role was the dacoit, Jabbar, who terrorises a village, his smouldering eyes, enough to get the job done. A memorable performance indeed in “Mera gaon mera desh”.
In the twilight of his illustrious career, he shone as the upright father sharing a love-hate relationship with his rebel of a son, played by Salman Khan, in the Dabangg franchise.
In the week gone by, we bid the final farewell to the Superstar and a great human being, Vinod Khanna. RIP.

Yatindra Tawde

Sunday, 23 April 2017

More Indian than you think

More Indian than you think

Recently I saw this very beautiful TVC of the very well known and iconic Airline, Lufthansa. I really liked how it has managed to capture the current pre-eminent position of India in the world affairs, while at the same time, it celebrates the gentle Indian culture and the boisterousness of Bollywood, albeit through a typical Bollywood dance, #MoreIndianThanYouThink. I am sure you must certainly have watched it, but here it is again…

But what this TVC did for me, was to take me down memory lane. Those were the College days when there used to be lots of debates on some serious and lots of trivial topics. Once, in the College canteen, a debate was raging on how India is so backward, it had always been backward, and how the western countries were so far ahead that India will never catch up. I was hearing all this but could not agree with what was being said. I tried to butt in with my contrary views but that day I was totally overpowered by the majority who did not agree. I knew that India had a golden past but centuries of being ruled over by foreign rulers had made her so poor. I was also sure that once Indians started showing respect for their own culture and their past and current achievements, the day would not be far when the whole world would respect India and Indians, just like how it is shown here…

That day I could not sleep and decided to do some research into India’s glorious past. My plan was to give a talk on India during the Annual Day Celebrations of our college. The next few months, whenever time allowed, I would be at the city library, pouring over all things Indian. By the time, the Annual Day arrived I was well prepared. 
Finally the D-day arrived. My turn came, and my talk covered the following topics –
1) The coincidences between Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and the Dashawatar – Just like Darwin’s Theory progresses from the aquatic life, like the fish, followed by amphibians, to the lower mammals, progressing to the primates and then modern Homo sapiens. The Dashawatar, which are the various incarnations of the God Vishnu, also progress from the Fish, followed by the turtle, to the Boar, then the half man-half lion, the Narasimha, who was followed by Vamana, a dwarf and then the various pious and venerable humans. Is it just a coincidence?

2) In-depth knowledge of the cosmos and astronomy and advanced mathematics of the ancient Indians – For the ancient Indians it was very important to know and predict, the timing of various events like the start of the monsoon, the end of the monsoon, the timing for starting the agricultural cycle and the best times for reciting Vedas and other religious activities. A great deal of study of the night sky over many years was put in by them, which resulted in lot of knowledge about the cosmos and repeatability of movement of the heavenly bodies over the course of the year. That the planets revolve round the sun (Heliocentric theory) and earth being round was known. Also known was that the earth rotates around its own axis. Aryabhatta (about 500 CE) correctly deduced that the motion of the planets around the Sun is elliptical and not circular. The year had 360 days. The distance from the earth to the Sun and the moon were well within the acceptable limits of modern times. The circumference of the earth was also calculated. Aryabhatta also worked on the approximation of the pi and the value is again same as in modern times. What the world knows as Arabic numerals are actually Brahmi numerals. Trigonometry was extensively used and so was Algebra and the decimal system and area of a triangle was known before the Greeks and Pythagoras. I could go on and on but time has its limits and I must conclude here.

3) Charaka Samhita – it is a pre second century text and it contains sections on importance of hygiene, medical education, diet, and the teamwork necessary between the physician, nurse and the patient to help in the recovery of health. It also enumerates the attributes of a good medical practitioner. 

4) Long before the current obsession with plastic surgery, it was Sushruta who pioneered rhinoplasty in ancient India. The entire procedure of doing a rhinoplasty was described by Sushruta in his medical treatise.

5) Today John Dalton is known as the father of modern atomic theory but in ancient India, it was Kanada. In the Vaisheshika Sutra, in addition to many other empirical observations, he also mentions falling of objects to the ground, due to some attraction force, today known as gravity.

6) The atomic bomb – when the first atomic explosion was conducted by the Americans, Oppenheimer who was in charge of the project, uttered these famous words from the Bhagwad Gita, “Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of the worlds!”. Did ancient Indians have similar weapons? The matter is subject to debate.

7) The most hygienic cities in the ancient world were in ancient India – Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Lothal, Rakhigarhi and many others had well laid out streets, uniform bricks used in construction and the most hygienic sanitation in the form of covered drains.

8) The non-rusting Iron pillar – The iron pillar in Delhi has withstood the test of time, and is standing un-rusted inspite of being exposed to extreme elements over a period of many centuries. This speaks volumes about india’s achievement in metallurgy in ancient times.

9) “We owe a lot to the ancient Indians, teaching us how to count. Without which most modern, scientific discoveries, would have been impossible”. Do you know who said this? It was that celebrated great scientist, Albert Einstein.

10) The biggest universities which acted like magnets for students from across the ancient world were all located in India.

So folks, that was in the past when I wanted my co-students to feel proud of the heritage of India. Today there are many more success stories. In the field of sports, Indians are making a mark in sports like badminton, gymnastics, wrestling in addition to the ever green cricket. The biggest international conglomerates like Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, are headed by Indians. Indian space program has reached the Moon and Mars. Recently the ISRO program made a world record launch of 104 satellites simultaneously on a PSLV rocket. 
To close, Be Proud to be an Indian and enjoy the pre-eminent position of your country today, on the world stage.

Yatindra Tawde 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

It's a dog's life

It's a dog's life

 ‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda’

To study dogs smartness, owners learn new tricks, I read somewhere. So the world has turned a full circle, and instead of the dogs, the owners are learning new tricks instead of the other way round. Nowadays universities have Canine Cognition Centres and Yale University is one of them. Owners try to find out how smart their dogs are, so they push their dogs into participating in such centres. And these centres then grant diplomas to the participating dogs. And these diplomas are bachelor’s, master’s and doctorates. And the owners earn brownie points and bragging rights in Social circles.

My name is Rocky and I am not a human. I started staying with Sumaira’s family, in the USA, since I was a pup and she was a small child. She was and still is my best friend. When she was sitting in her pram, I loved playing with her and licking her face. In fact, I loved lathering the faces of all humans in my house, with my saliva. Her parents took good care of me and they too loved me a lot. I was served the choicest food, it was a tradition for me to sit below the dining table, eagerly looking for food morsels, which the family was kind enough to share with me. I was bathed every day by Sumaira’s father and involved heavy foam on my body, every two days. Oh! How I loved to play with the foam. And those walks on the campus were bliss. I loved to watch the falling leaves and being surrounded and petted by Sumaira’s friends. Sumaira's father would throw a ball, and I would be off in a jiffy to fetch it for him. But surprisingly he didn't like the ball, and would throw it again. But I did not like to lose it, so I fetched it again. This went on for a while, which made me lose my patience as well as my interest. So I would just sit with my tongue hanging out of my mouth. My days were very well spent in all such leisurely activities. Then two things happened, Sumaira started going to school and her father changed his job, now he had to go to further off places for work purposes. This made him tired in the evening, and he no  longer took Sumaira and me to the playground. I started spending more time lazing around the house and disturbing Sumaira's mother with my crazy antics. In the evening, I started hearing her complaining to Sumaira's father that I am one dumb dog, how I don't do any tricks, so on and so forth.

Once there was a get together at the house and Sumaira's father’s friends alongwith their families had come over, and there was a great racket around the house and I really enjoyed playing with all the little human pups who had come along. It was a great evening spent after a long time. But through the corner of my eyes, I had noticed that Sumaira's mother surrounded by other ladies looking at me and discussing something. But I did not take much notice and continued enjoying myself with the kids. Next day I was to discover!

Next day started early. Once Sumaira and her father left, her mother showered extra attention on me. In a sing song voice, she said, “Common Rocky. Today we are going to rock”, and then she took me in her  car to a far off place, with a big lawn outside. It was a great imposing building with, what humans call, the Greco-Roman architecture. Upon entering inside, my paws were sliding on the smooth as silk floor. I just loved the feeling, and tried to run but was of course restrained by the mother. We then entered a room, where I was given some simple tasks to try out, by a very stout human. After every task, to my delight, I was given mouth watering snacks. I started looking forward to more tasks. After a gruelling session of 2 hours, the stout man told the mother that I was being admitted to the institution. Oh! How happy she was. The next few weeks, this became a routine. I was learning many tricks and my treats were getting better and better. How I loved this lifestyle.

The D-day had arrived. The entire household was now with me in the Greco-Roman building. But there was a difference. Here I was, sitting separately on a pedestal along with many of my own ilk. Whereas the humans were there, making up the audience. My head was held high, avoiding eye contact with the ordinary humans. Yes, ordinary. After all, we the blue eyed denizens of the doggy world, were today sitting on a pedestal in front of the human race. I was so proud when my name was announced, “The next winner is Rocky”. And what was then said, changed my life forever. I was “Doctor Rocky!”

Nowadays I get impatient very fast. After many days, Sumaira’s father took me to the grounds again. He started that stupid game of throwing the ball. Once or twice I fetched it for him, but then I thought, if he doesn't want the ball, why should I bring it back to him and waste my energy. No, I wasn't going to repeat such silly acts now. After all I am smart now. A doctor, Doctor Rock, not Rocky the happy go lucky dog. I no longer sit below the table. Now I try to grab a chair for myself, after all a doctorate deserves a higher ground. The family did not like it at first, but now they accept me as their equal. Previously, when Sumaira was back from school, I used to dance around her and make her pet me. But now, I have realised my foolishness and don't make a scene of myself. I try to maintain my dignity. But when Sumaira or her mother or father, take out the box of puzzles , the IQ Treat box of puzzles, I love to solve those puzzles which are then followed by awesome treats. The family is now getting slowly trained to my new requirements, and I like to be given my space.

So folks, let your dogs remain dogs, don't try to make them smarter. Or one day, you won't get such a wonderful welcome once you get home, tired from work, by your loyal loving doggy. He will start showing signs of the Teenagers sickness, a know-it-all personality replacing a love-you-all personality. Don't say I didn't warn you, or you would start leading a dog's life.

Yatindra Tawde

A visit from a lil birdy

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Edible bottle

Edible bottle

In the week gone by, perhaps the most environment friendly news in a long time, went almost unnoticed.

Till about 35-40 years ago, people were happy drinking water directly from taps. If at home, a small filter was fitted to the tap and water was filled into earthen pots or steel containers. If such filter was not available, the cleanest fine cloth that mother could find, was tied to the tap and the water filtered through it. And if you were on a tour, whatever water offered by hotels, was fine for drinking. If playing in the garden, children would make do with the water from the garden hose pipe, for quenching their thirst.

But then came the first bottled water and along with it came, huge advertising campaigns on TV. It helped that the bottled water brands were owned by the biggest Multinational Conglomerates. Suddenly the microscopic organisms appeared huge under the microscopes, on TV, or so they were made to appear. And slowly but surely the populace was weaned away from these traditional sources and became hooked to the bottled water. And mind you, it was never ordinary water, it was always mineral water which was thus packed.  Different benefits of different minerals, were highlighted on umpteen advertising campaigns.

Now whenever you visit any beautiful tourist place, whether it be a beautiful beach or the cool mountains, what is the first sight at these places? Miles and miles of plastic waste. While majority is plastic bags, there are lots of plastic bottles too. Even previously remote areas like the Himalayas or the ocean depths are teeming with plastic. The less said about the cities and towns, the better. Here it's difficult to find the earth, below the layers of plastic.

Thus it was about time that something revolutionary happened in the research space. That bottled water was here to stay, was a given. People were not going to go back to those good old days.

And then suddenly, this news! A biodegradable bottle has been developed by a postgraduate in the Imperial College of London. It is not exactly a bottle but a globule of biodegradable membrane, jellylike, which is edible, and inside which the drinking water can be held, until the membrane is broken into by teeth. The membrane can either be consumed or thrown off. Throwing it away will not be a burden on Mother Earth, since it will degrade easily under the elements and not stay on for generations like the current water bottles. Thus extremely eco friendly.

So welcome friends to the future, hopefully a more eco friendly one.

Yatindra Tawde

Saturday, 8 April 2017

501 meters

501 meters...

For many years, ‘501’ meant a long yellow bar of soap which used to be in a corner of your bathroom, used every day for washing of clothes. And it enjoyed its reign as the ‘go to’ brand, if you wanted economical clothes cleanliness, for many years. But not anymore…

Today 501 is the minimum distance in meters, beyond which the happy drinks will be available, if you are itching to have something to make you ‘high’ on the highway. Or so the SC has ordered. So all the Restaurant & Bars situated on the highways of India have turned into just Restaurants followed by plastic…yes, plastic covering the bar. Only one article dropped from the menu card, and the negative effect on the business is almost 30% downfall! Ridiculous…

It was a ritual for groups of adult males, to pick up crates of beer from wine shops located along the highways, load them into their SUV’s and zoom off, outside the city limits to the nearby spots, to enjoy their drinks boisterously. The ban is certainly not going to affect their merrymaking, albeit delay it by the extra time taken to cover an additional distance of 501 meters.

But here also there will be ‘Jugaad’ since this is India, meri jaan. Already one has heard about the ‘Jugaadu’ ideas being implemented by some enterprising wine shop and bar owners. One of the wine shop owners has fitted up his huge van with multiple silos for carrying the various types of happy liquids. He parks this van in a side lane of the highway, at the magic distance of 501 meters. Problem solved!!

Yesterday I was surprised to see the board of a very popular bar located on the highway, but this sign board was well within the inside lane. I was very surprised that the enterprising owner had already managed to shift his establishment to another place. I entered…after entering I was ushered into a long winding walking track. Like a maze it went forward and back, sometimes winding to the left, sometimes to the right. After walking for some five minutes, I finally entered the premises. There was something very familiar to the premises, but I could not make out why I felt so. After sitting down, and after downing a pint, the realisation suddenly dawned upon me! I was sitting in the very same premises, the owner had not changed the location of his establishment. It was still bang on the highway, but he had masked it so intelligently, no one from the highway could make out that it was still there. He had only built a welcoming entrance at the magic distance of 501 meters and covered the pathway from the entrance to the old premises. I am sure that he will now have more fitter patrons, what with the enforced walking exercise, both at the beginning and end of their happy hours.

But then, I hear that the biggest jugaad will come from the government, whose coffers are suddenly under stress due to dwindling earnings from restaurant and bars. The last I heard, the highways passing through towns are going to be downgraded to ‘gully’ status to overcome the ban.

So all’s well that ends well.

Yatindra Tawde

Mumbai - 2025

Mumbai - 2025 I am wandering through the lanes of my place of birth, Dadar, getting nostalgic about the days gone by. Hindu colony and my ...