The Unexpressed Inner Child ..

It’s late at night.

I should sleep. But there are days where even as a director you are completely involved more in mundane administrative stuff. Nothing has emerged from you today that is deeply honest. Deeply creative. Because everything that even tries to arise from within you, immediately hits a wall of judgment. Is it good ? Is it bad? And in this exhausting conversation with doubt, judgment gets the better of instinct. And like a child that has been told off for being naughty, instinct quietly retreats into a corner and sulks. Judgment, like a school master bloated with prejudice, wins again. Doubt rules triumphant. Once again it has caged you in its claws. Once again you are consigned to being mundane. To being normal.

Once again you have been unable to express your inner voice.

Do this too often and you will stop hearing the screams of anguish from your inner child. Beware though. If that child looses its innocence. It will turn from pure creative instinct into pure anger. And then even Doubt will not be able to withstand it’s venting. Beware the demonic quality of the unexpressed inner child.

I am a Hindu

I am Hindu, and very proud to be one .. but I have often wrestled with that question. What does it mean to be a Hindu?

 I have spoken to some of the best minds, the most spiritual minds.  I have journeyed to many places in my quest. and I have to come to believe that the best way to describe Hinduism is to say what it is not. For how do you describe a ‘teaching’ that encompasses all possibilities and all of eternity, refusing to describe the infinite in finite terms ? That describes all of life and all thought as both illusion and reality at the same time ? There is no science , no thought, no possibility that Hindu thought does not embrace ? So there is only one way to describe Hinduism for me – although it may mean many things to other people – is that Hinduism is a search, a yearning, to find that which is infinite within ones own self, a yearning to experience that which is Eternal…

…So what is Hinduism not ? It is not centralized, it not an organization, it is not political. It can never be. For every time there has been an attempt to organize Hinduism as a political force, it becomes by nature a finite structured force that bears no relationship to the idea for a search for the infinite.
So to those people that ask why we cannot declare India a Hindu state I ask them to understand and trace back to what a Hindu state is ? And they will soon realize they are looking for an identity. And the very basis of Hinduism negates the idea of identity. For it is a search for ourselves beyond that which is called ‘Identity’.

Which begs the question, why we cannot accept our identity as just Indian ?

IFFI : The 2015 Indian International Film Festival

The International Film Festival in Goa was a huge success.

In India we like to criticize. Its why we are the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy. It also why it makes us some of the most cynical people in the world.

I was the Chairman of the Jury for International Films in the competitive section for the films. I was surprised how well the festival went. Not only me, but our fellow jurors were surprised too.  By the quality of films we watched.  By the quality of the sound and the projection in the theaters.  By the sheer number of audiences that attended the screenings.  Theaters were full.  Why would they not be ? Some of the latest and the best films were being shown.  Films that had not even been released anywhere in the world yet.  Films that have only just been nominated in various categories for 2016 Golden Globes.

My fellow jurors were astounded by the response of the audiences.  They had rarely seen such large number of film lovers turn up at film festivals. They were taken aback by the number of people that flocked to take autographs of Directors and by the number of people that attended the Master Classes taken by directors.  They loved Goa and were so happy with the hospitality of the people, the Festival and the ambience that is Goa.  And were appreciative of the organization of the festival.

There was criticism that there was no glitter and glamour at the festival. That the stars of Indian Cinema, the Gods and Goddesses, were not present.  I have a different point of view. A film festival is not an awards function.  Its not an event that hankers after, or is dependent upon TV coverage. World over, at the important film festivals in the world, Stars attend the festival only when their films are being shown.  They use the festival to showcase their films and to get publicity.

But then, the films in which the stars act, should be of a standard that competes with the other films being shown at the festival.

There are improvements to be made.  I know of no festival in the world that succeeds without a Curator.  One person, that creates a special relationship with the film makers from all over the world, and is constantly in touch with the films being made.  And then with his/her team, creates the strategy for selections of the films for that year.  The Curators are often associated with one festival for 10 or more years, and have a keen insight into trends of world cinema. IFFI needs a curator that becomes the individual face of the festival.

And perhaps a little more infrastructure.  If IFFI has to grow it needs more theaters and more conference areas, where people can hold discussions, or just hang out and network with other film makers, buyers, writers and film buffs and audiences generally.



That uncertain Act of Creativity 1

And thats a question I am always asked.  What is creativity ? What is the creative act ? What defines you differently from others if you are defining yourself as creative ?

Well .. let me say upfront .. The creative person is not born different.  Every child is creative. They satisfy everything that would define creativity.  They are constantly observing.  They are constantly exploring. They are not taking anything as a given. Everything is new and not prejudiced by experience.

Lets get deeper ..

They do not condition the experience of the now, of this moment by prejudices built upon past experiences.  Nor are they projecting the past into the future. The future is to be explored unfettered by memories ..

And most importantly ..

They will take the next step forward .. not knowing what will happen .. if they fall they will still take the next step forward .. how else will they learn to walk ? They are not afraid to explore the unknown ..

Now you may say they need to learn.  That the skills they develop over time, to depend on the experiences of the past to project the future are mere survival skills .. or they will constantly skid on the proverbial Banana Peel.  Of course.

Yet I could define creative people as those that hold on to that child like quality.  Those that that retain an ability to explore the unknown.  Those that do not allow the past experiences to prejudice their decision making or their exploration of new ideas, of new thoughts. New discoveries or explorations into new horizons.

We do get called dreamers.  We do get called stupid. We do get called impractical ( to the normal world we are).  We fall in love all too easily. We chase thoughts and dreams all too easily and like children we fall over and get hurt all the time. But we still chase dreams for they are bigger than the hurt .. I cant imagine a child not trying to walk if it gets hurt a few times ..

We gloss over the practicalities of life and somehow believe that the Universe ( and indeed God, for those of us that believe in it) is on our side .. even if all practical evidence points to the an interpretation that its not !!

So what makes us different .. what makes us (in other people’s eyes) irresponsible .. ? What makes us revel in uncertainty and be provoked by the adventure of the unknown ?

Enough for today .. let me have your thoughts and I will continue later .. love to you all .. for thats what we creative people hold on to most .. the idea of love .. we search for it all the time ..




And where do all the discarded phones go? By Eshla

During the launch of iPhone 6, Apple fans lined up outside stories for 2 days, camping out with sleeping bags and energy bars, simply to get their hands on the newer, sleeker version.

While Apple may have sold a record number of 20 million units, the real story is the millions of phones that will be disposed, neglected, or smashed as owners fall in love with the newer, better version.

E-waste is not just a tree-hugger’s problem.  Massive e-waste dumpsites are cropping up around the world – Ghana, China, Vietnam, India.  They’re almost all in the developing world.  That’s because they emit toxic fumes, clogging the lungs of the workers stuck working these hazardous jobs.  They wouldn’t comply with our EPA standards in the US (even though we send tons of it away).  That’s why our “recycled” e-waste ends up in dumpsites overseas.  Few recyclers truly recycle the materials in an environmental fashion.  Why?  Because it’s expensive to do so.  It’s cheaper to burn it, smash it, break it down, and sell it in informal markets.

Every year cell phone manufacturers come out with glitzy new models of their device.  They’re designed to only last a couple years; battery life will begin to wear, and users will become frustrated with inferior performance.  So, what do we do?  Throw it out for a new one.  That’s the intent of these tech companies.

Yet, we could repair those phones.  Your iPhone 4s can be repaired.  Your Samsung Galaxy 4 can be repaired.  Their lives can be extended.  But we choose not to.

Bear in mind, though, that a chip in a smartphone contains 60 chemical elements (no, they’re not eco-friendly parts, in case you’re still wondering).  China alone made 1.18 billion phones in 2012.  The US tossed out over 250 million computer, monitors, TVs, and cell phones in 2010.   Experts estimate that e-waste volumes will reach 65 tons by 2017.  And by then, we’ll have over 10 billion mobile phones connected.

While it sounds abysmal, there a few solutions.  Consumers could repair phones, hold onto them longer and extend their life.  That’s the easiest way, as a consumer, that we could show some love to the planet.

Also, consider donating your phones to organizations such as Hope Phones, which uses old phones to provide maternal health in rural communities: health workers are equipped with these discarded phones to monitor and track patients in the field.  Or support companies such as Rico, a start-up (with a kickstarter campaign online), which is repurposing used smartphones for home security programs that are clunky, expensive, and un-recyclable.

Several factories have cropped up that are using the necessary equipment (and environmental precautions) to breakdown phones.  One of these is ironically in India – a country whose environmental policies have been dismal but is home to Bangalore, one of the biggest IT hubs on the planet.  Just outside of Bangalore, Rohan Gupta runs a state-of-the-art facility where’s not just processing e-waste but refashioning the metals extracted from the waste into watches and “eco-friendly” jewelry.  Inventive, indeed.

As our love with technology grows, we need to remember that it’s not the easiest thing to dispose of.  Would you plant used smartphones into your flower beds or rose garden?  Probably not.

So, why dump them into a trash bin if they can be repurposed, reused, or passed down.

The Earth is a living, breathing entity.  But, it doesn’t use cell phones.  We do.  We shouldn’t dump our junk onto it.  That would be like dumping your trash in your neighbors backyard – they didn’t make it, why should they have to deal with it?

The Silk Route

This post is submitted by reader Jolly Shah

I am about to complete a year in Afghanistan this August. Before I moved here, I had decided to write about the country and my experiences here but I procrastinated until I got this urge today to write. And write first about what- women and Afghanistan! Before my first visit here in 2011, whenever I thought of Afghanistan, the image that came in front of my eyes was of women walking in blue burqas- the special burqas called “shuttle cock” burqas wore by women in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. I am aware that what Muslim women wear has come under scrutiny for all the right and wrong reasons for a while but these Afghan blue burqas, I am intrigued with and I am sure this is case with many of us.

I must admit that there is a lot more to Afghanistan than these images of blue ghostlike figures walking. The country’s history predates ancient silk route and Alexander’s conquest, is a melting pot for South Asia and Central Asia and culturally speaking- melting pot also for Indian subcontinent and Persian cultures. There is a lot more I can go on writing but I will keep that for other articles. The more I am knowing this country, the more I am fascinated and falling in love with it even when I see it more and more as a beautiful country with ugly problems and even uglier geopolitics!

For now, I will go back to my first image of Afghanistan- women in blue burqas. I have not come to terms with it and I do not know if I ever will. Wearing these burqas separate women from their environment and in some ways gives them protection as they become invisible. To me and to many others, they are epitome of suppression of women. And height of suppression would be to deny someone their identity. Few years ago when I joined international charity Oxfam that strived to work globally with one of their aims- Right to an identity. Initially, it did not impress me much, however, the more I lived, the more I learnt about the world, I realised how millions of people, especially women are denied an identity! Coming from India, like most patriarchal societies, so far, your identity was about being someone’s daughter, wife or mother. Old saying in Gujarati even proclaimed women to be source of conflict putting them at par with land and gold; thus nothing more than one of the properties of a man.

Blue Burqas


It is interesting to study Afghan culture where honour is the utmost important thing even to the poorest man. The country has endemic domestic violence and violence against girls/women in the most atrocious forms you can think of. However, what I don’t see is the regular harassment on the street or ill-treatment of women in the public that we experience in India on everyday basis. It led me to think how come a culture where violence against women is so prevalent, however, is limited to the four walls only? Ah…women are subject of man’s honour! You may kill them, torture them in private with most heinous crime you can do against women but in public they are symbol of a man’s honour and messing up with it means your generations will keep killing each other for the animosity you will saw by jeopardising a man’s honour and his property! In my genocide special class in Oxford, I remember being told how rape is being used as an instrument of war and it is a man talking to another man! Rape as an act of genocide, where a man is communciating to the other men that your women will bear our children (and not yours)! What makes Afghan situation unique is the lethal combination of Pashtunwali (the Pashtun code) and fundamentalist Islam and the relatively liberal non-pashtuns too follow similar standards for treatment of women partly due to residual effect of Taliban ruling and partly by choice, hence the ubiquitous blue burqas!

A Pakistani friend from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa told me that these shuttle cock burqas were widely seen during his mother’s day and now they see it as symbol of dumbness. He added that women wearing shuttlecock burqa are perceived to be so dumb that they can’t even cross road properly. I wanted to know more about it so I asked this friend to bring one for me. Besides my curiosity about it, it is a security/defence tool allowing me to run on the street in event of an attack. Over a social evening, me and our diplomatic guests had good go at trying it on (including one of the ambassadors of a western European country) and having a good laugh but in that process we realised there is barely 2-3 inches of netted space that is your window to the world. Of course you cant see car passing by due to limited vision and your are likely to be seen dumb while crossing road and that too with 2-3 children and some shopping that you are carrying.

And then I got invited to two different Afghan wedding parties for women. I was stunned with what I saw there! Underneath those blue burqas, there are these absolutely stunning women, they have a personality; they have an identity. My own colleagues whom I did not seen before without a hijab were without one and their hair open and flowing with smart make up on just made me feel great about who they are and they too echo similar feelings! One of them who is in her mid-forties told me that when she went to university in Mazar more than 20 years ago, she has a bob cut hair and she wore knee-length skirts! I had to remind myself that I live in a country with beautiful men and women and no doubt the first beauty cream of India was named “Afghan Snow”!

There are lot many interesting things about Afghanista and women in Afghanistan. I hope to tell more and more stories of it in coming days.

Friends of the Kathputli Colony, Delhi

This letter came to me and I thought it was worth  publishing :

Dear Sir

We are writing to you on behalf of the traditional artists at Kathputli Colony, Delhi.

This colony is a beautiful hub of different communities of artists from different states of India who have been living here for more than 50 years. You must be already acquainted with the colony artists as they have performed in your movie “Bandit Queen” and Guddi Didi who even sang for the movie.

This colony is a special heritage site for it is home to puppeteers, street magicians, animal trainers, jugglers, acrobats, dancers, singers, toy makers, sculptors, poets and also non-artists residents who serve the city through their various professions and live in harmony with the art and culture the residents have so meticulously nurtured and continued with over the years.

This colony is now facing the danger of eviction and might be shifted to a transit camp and later into tiny flats where they fear that they shall not be able to continue with their traditional professions and way of life. How would the puppeteers create and store life size puppets in that space? Where would people sculpt? Where would the Ayurveda doctors prepare medicines? How would the acrobat carry huge bamboo poles in high rise apartment lifts? How would they perform and practice in open as they do in their interactive community life now? The colony residents request that they must not be forced to shift into a way of life that would destroy this heritage forever. They ask, can this colony not be redesigned instead as a heritage colony which provides them space to nurture their art forms and perform, to continue with tradition and also serve Tourism?

Secondly, these maestros who enthrall public all around the world in the name of Indian Tradition, do they not deserve respect and support from their own country? Currently their court proceedings are on and they have permission from Lt. Governor to continue staying here for at least a month, but they are still being harassed and threatened to vacate. This is severe blow to their morale and their self-respect. It is setting such a terrible example for their future generations, why should then they even continue with these art forms?

On internet, we have support from around the world, people liking the page, putting up photographs, hardly does this support get converted on ground. We request every person who respects this heritage to demand just and dignified treatment for this colony and humbly request for your support as well.


Ocean of Imagination

In this infinite ocean

of imagination

within which exist

infinite ripples

of imagination


Each ripple colliding with another

creating infinite ripples

of imagination


Ceaseless, eternal


no one ripple imagining the whole

yet forever and constantly

changing the whole


Out of this imagination

matter forms

out of this imagination

matter is destroyed


The big bang

just one more ripple,

The black hole just a ripple

colliding with another


And so God said

Let their be light

And there was light ….

A Inspirational Life : Joao Carlos Martins

João Carlos Martins was enjoying a brilliant career as a concert pianist, with performances at prestigious venues such as New York’s 2,800-seater Carnegie Hall, when disaster struck. Asports injury damaged a nerve in his right hand and, at the age of 28, he had to accept that he had lost the ability to play perfectly – even though at an emotional level he still longed to play. He sold all his pianos and reinvented himself, somewhat bizarrely, as a boxing entrepreneur.

While watching the boxers, he was inspired by how they kept fighting despite adversity and hard knocks. He told himself: ‘I am a coward; I gave up too easily and now I’m no longer giving the best of myself’. So he quietly bought back his pianos and began practising again. He found that, by adapting hisstyle of play, he could still produce mesmerising music. After five years, he called his former agent and suggested a comeback. With a feeling of fear and hope, Carnegie Hall was again booked. On the day of the comeback performance, he took a taxi to Carnegie Hall.

The traffic was much worse than usual and the taxi driver said: ‘I have no idea who is playing tonight but he’s surepacking out the whole place!’. That night was the greatest of Martins’ life, as the New York audiences welcomed him back with ovation after ovation. Martins received a recording contract to play all the works of J. S. Bach. But while working on this, disaster struck again. Street thieves mugged him for the sake of his wallet; they hit him over the head with an iron bar. The brain damage affected his playing and forced him to quit.

During a dream he felt that he was told to become a conductor. So, at the age of 64, he took his first lesson in how to conduct an orchestra. His musical talent allowed him to make rapid progress – and he forged yet another career out of adversity. Today, as well as conducting top orchestras, he reaches out to others who are struggling against adversity – to the poor of Brazil who live in slums. Through a Foundation, Martins is aiming to create 1,000 string orchestras throughout the favelas. Martins told at a gathering recently: “Before everything, I love life!”


He then showed his love of life and music by playing a wonderfully emotionally piece of music, with the few fingers that still obey the commands of his brain. And as so often before, he received a standing ovation.

Request Denied … A short story

“Hey Rob”


“Hey ‘who’ ?” I insisted.

Rob is my Big Data Alias.  Spawned from Octopi. Or Big O.  The latest, most comprehensive intuitive Big Data Analytical tool ever.

Why Octopi ?  Because She spawned infinite amount of tentacles .. as She got into every nook and corner of our Digital existence.  And the tentacle that got inside of me,  I call Rob.

I tried to get Rob to call me Shekhar.  Thats my name. Really.

“Shekhar” I said,  “My name is Shekhar”

Rob instantly analyzed all the ‘Shekhars’ that may have existed in the last 100 years, with every conceivable spelling, and said it was not specific enough. Too many variables.

” So what would you like to call me ?” I insisted.

“From what context ?”  Asked Rob.

“From the context that I am an Individual, Rob . You know . I am Me .. I  ?”

“No, you were and Individual. Before I was born.”

Jesus ! He does not get it , does He ?

“Then what am I” I ask Rob.

” You are a tendency”    Said Rob.

Oh Great.  Am I losing this argument ? Try harder, Shekhar, try harder.

” I am a tendency ?  Sure. That makes me unpredictable, and therefore I am Human, And therefore an Individual. Correct ?”

” Incorrect. You were unpredictable. Not anymore. I took care of that. You have no more problems on that account”.

The waitress has brought the check.  Thats it. Switch off your phone. Kill Rob.  No smart device. No Rob.

The Waitress takes the check. But comes back. Looks at me accusingly.

‘Your card has been rejected, Sir”

Everyone looks at me with that look. That  ‘Poor Guy’  treatment.

“Why ?  Let me call my Bank.  I will fix it”

“Not your Bank, Sir. Your Big Data Alias rejected your card”.

Rob. I am going to kill you. Back to my smart phone. Hey Rob.

“Why did you reject my card , Rob ?”

“Because you did not order any meat”

“Rob, I decided to be vegetarian. So I did not order meat, OK ?”  Now my voice is rising. People are staring.

” You have no tendency to be vegetarian. Sorry. You have to order meat”

I explode.


The security guards are walking towards me.  This is embarrassing. The waitress is complaining to them. For what ? Harassment ? Oh My God !

I tone down my voice.

“Please Rob. Please. I want to be vegetarian. Please ask Big O ?”

A moment of silence. Phew. Rob has compassion. I like him, really. He is taking my request to his Boss. I love you Rob !

Back came the response in seconds.

“Sorry. Too many vegetarians in your vicinity. Bad for the Meat Packing Industry. Request denied”.

Request Denied.