India’s shameful Legacy

The legacy that left 1 million dead and 10 million displaced from their ancestral homes. The partition of India.The folowing comment from Abdul Munim is such resonance on the day we are remembering Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi :
I am a Muslim for 1400 years….
A Punjabi for 2500 years…
A Pakistani only for 55 years…
BUT
I am an Indian since last 3300 years…
Where should my loyalties lie?
With Islam?Punjab?PAKISTAN? Or INDIA?
Partition is India’s legacy of shame, a wound that never heals, an event so scarring that it will never truly be removed until every Hindu and Muslim accepts it as a “COLLECTIVE FAILURE” and a “COLLECTIVE SHAME”….

World Habitat Day

Liza Peiffer, On behalf of Habitat for Humanity writes in to inform about the World Habitat Day on October 05, 2009 as chosen by United Nations.
World Habitat Day is a day for everyone to stand up and let it be known that affordable, adequate housing should be a priority everywhere.
What can you do for the World Habitat Day?
Advocate, Educate & Donate. For more information, photos and videos, you can visit
http://worldhabitatdaynews.com

Images from a lost Glacier

IMG_0353.jpg
Rubbish at Rohtang. Did they destroy the glacier by ZZ category explosives ?

IMG_0333.jpg
me trying to be bird

Message on ‘Gobal Warming and Glaciers retreating’ gets accross

This is from an old friend I have not met in years, who saw my speech to the UN live in a screening in Seattle. When you have something passionate and from the heart to say, the Universe ensures the message gets accross to the people :
“Shekhar,
In a film screening in Seattle, I saw you on the mountaintop with a message to raise our voices regarding climate change. Very powerful and it reminded me once again how much I admire your dedication to what matters most in life. Stay well my friend,
Reagan ”
Thank you, Reagan, and I hope people like will carry the message forward. For we need to save our planet despite the politicians, not through them
Shekhar

Rohtang Pass, lost Glaciers and the hut that saved my life

IMG_0348.jpg
IMG_0346.jpg
i thought it was a dream. A fantasy of my mind.
I was in high pass that was completely iced up, snow was thigh deep. The afternoon winds had picked up, and though we were warned not to go to the pass in the afternoon, we were foolhardy boys looking for any challenge that even nature could throw at us.
The wind was so high that it threatened to blow us off our feet. Temperatures dropped dramatically. It started to snow and visiblity was merely two or three feet. We realized that we had challenged nature to our cost and were now panicking. Then mysteriously we saw a hut which we thought first was an illusion. Then as we struggled through the thigh deep snow, every breath made to count, the hut turned from illusion to reality.
Once inside we struggled to keep each other warm. The threat of freezing to death in this hut in the middle of nowhere loomed large in our minds. Darkness was not far away, as exhaustion set in, and we fought the overwhelming desire to sleep by telling each other of fantastical sexual experiences that were complete fabrications of the hormonal fantasies of 16 year old minds.
Then this much older man came in. I do not remember him as a mountain man. He looked like he was from the plains, as he carried something that looked like a briefcase. He sat down and huddled next to us for warmth, and we were happy to have an extra warm body.
The man opened what looked like a brief case and brought out a half bottle of very cheap whiskey. I remember that clearly, for I was surprised it was not rum. In all my fantasies, the drink that somehow turned up magically to save you was not whiskey, but rum. In any case we were happy to share it, the mind being numbed to the fear and the cold. And then I remember the man doing the most extraordinary thing.
He started laugh. A kind of senseless laugh that we had heard was part of mountain sickness. A light headedness that came through the starvation of oxygen in the brain. And as he laughed, the man suddenly opened the creaking and half broken wooden door and ran out. The cold hit us like a hammer as the below freezing wind came howling in. The temperatures below a figure where it ceases to matter. We were not covered or prepared for anything under minus 2 or 3 max. Wind factor must have dropped it to minus 20 at least.
The man ran out laughing and trying to dance in the wind. We looked aghast and shocked. I think bravery only happens when you have no time to think or consider the results of our actions. Foolishly we ran out after him as he ran further and further away from us. Exhausted and our bodies stinging from the cold we finally brought him down in a tackle that even professional Rugby players would be proud of. Dragged him back to the hut, while he kicked out struggling to get away. The laughter giving way to a peculiar wail. The mountain sickness had got him. It could kill him inside an hour.
I do not remember more. I know we must have been rescued. I cannot even remember who the friend was with me. And often thought that this was a “fantasy’ ‘adventure young men often make up about their ‘adventurous’ past.
And then as I went to Rohtang Pass two days ago. To speak live to the UN conference on climate change from the Rohtang, I saw the hut. It struck me like an emotional bolt. It was not a fantasy. The hut now in ruins, was still there. Exactly as I remembered it.
But gone was the ice, the freezing cold. The Glaciers we struggled with, the ice that was an essential part of the landscape. I asked my guide why the hut was in ruins, and he said that there was no longer needed as the thickness of the ice never formed to danger levels. He said that he never saw the Rohtang without glacial ice on it till a few years ago. Now it was bone dry.
He told me that many years ago a man was found frozen to death clutching a brief case. He had apparently been in that position throughout the winter. Had we forsaken him ? Did we walk away from him saving our own lives ? I cannot remember, and maybe somewhere the friend with me will read this and complete the story for me. Did my mind just block out a great act of cowardice that we both committed by leaving a man behind to die ? I cannot tell,
But one thing is certain. The Glaciers are disappearing. We are killing our planet.
shekhar

Swarovski’s Passage by Shekhar Kapur and A R Rahman : “Feel aya, boss, feel aya”

Kedar has been one of my severest critics on this blog. And is never never afraid to express his point of view. So it’s nice to see that he really appreciated Passage, a short film I made for Swarovski Entertainment with a score by AR Rahman, and starring Julia Stiles, Lily Cole and Haley Bennet. Here is Kedar review ::
“Dude…just saw PASSAGE…mind blowing visuals…after a long time i saw FEEL expressed visually…
didnt get the story but fortunately saw ur interview on the same web page…and great u were not trying to tell a story…now i can derive my own personal story out of it every time i will see it…
amazing!…
one small point- i also saw the making and in the dance sequence shoot what were you doing running here and there? hahahahhaahaha…were you motivating the actors or were guiding them?…u are just amazing…
please talk more about PASSAGE not in terms of THOUGHT or THEME…but in terms of MAKING!…( how u designed it once the thought was in place? how many days? budget if allowed? shooting ratio? post production? anything everything…i learned so many things just by watching film then interview then making…i always refused to go to film school…because experiences like PASSAGE is like a special course…thanks)
THE VISUALS are stunning…
and this time i was mesmerized by the MUSIC and Sound design…wow…just wow…
i am so overwhelmed that now i dont know what to type…
FEEL aya boss…FEEL aya…
thanks again…”
Kedar, I promise to write about the experience of making the film.

Raise your voice against Climate Change at the UN for the 22nd onwards

Do you want to send the political leaders at the UN that are dithering about making the most fundamental changes that are required to save our planet ? If you do, then write back on this blog asap and I will make sure that all the messages are sent to the UN before or during their conference on Climate Change.
Be sure that the rich and powerful will not give up their need for greed and political imperative. Be sure that the interests of short term politics will fight hard against legislation that hurts their positions of power. Also be sure that the common claim that ” Climate change is something that the original polluters of plant (read : the West) have caused and therefore must be responsible to clean up” is stupid.
Climate change will affect Asia the most. Our populations are far far larger here. We need more water from our rivers, more food from our land to sustain us. Our Glaciers are in retreat, and so will be our rivers. Our Forest cover is almost gone, as is our sustainable ground water. Uncertain monsoon patterns are/will wreak havoc with our crop growing patterns and bring down our overall growth.
Be realistic and think. We stand on the brink of social upheavals over water. This is something none of us can ignore as it will be hitting faster than most people realize.
Write, shout, make your voice heard ! Our lives depend on it.

21st September – Global Wake Up call to world leaders on Climate Change

Tonight I go to Rohtang Pass to speak live to the UN along with with Kofi Annan, and a bunch of other well known people from different walks of life across the world. I will be at the receding Glacier speaking on the horrific effects of Climate Change caused by the supremely stupid way we are treating our planet, and all our messages will be beamed live to the UN minutes before they begin their conference on Climate change on the 22nd. This is a Greenpeace initiative. Here is a message to all of you from Greenpeace :
On Monday September 21, citizens across the world will unite to give a “wake-up call’ to world leaders to get climate change talks on track and deliver a “fair, ambitious and binding” new climate treaty.
The “TCKTCKTCK” campaign – a unique global movement bringing together NGOs, community groups, faith-based organizations and a wide cross-sector of society for action on climate change – is leading the campaigning effort. Groups will raise their collective global voice at actions around the world on the September 21 – dubbed Global Wake-Up Call Day.
The global outcry comes amid expert warnings that a UN climate pact in Copenhagen in December risks failure unless world leaders revive bogged-down negotiations at a UN Summit in New York on September 22.
Over 1000 events organised in more than 100 countries will sound the alarm with people gathering in public places, ringing cell phone alarms and making actual ‘wake-up’ phone calls to politicians.
We’ve teamed up with the film makers behind the new docu-drama-animation ‘Age of Stupid’ and the tcktcktck campaign to deliver the world’s biggest film premier. And we want you to be there.
Age of Stupid stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, looking back at “archive” footage from 2007 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?
Between September 21 and 22, Age of Stupid will open at more than 600 locations in dozens of countries, on every continent, right around the world. The premiere will feature the showing of the film, and a broadcast from the Green Carpet in New York, where actress Gillian Anderson will lead luminaries including Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson and James Hansen in a discussion about how we can stop catastrophic climate change. In India, Shekhar Kapur will be present at the premiere after bearing witness to the glacial retreat in the Himalayas and speaking LIVE to millions watching the global premiere in New York & in more than 600 theatres across the world.
Greenpeace and other tcktcktck partners will be contributing live feeds from the front lines of climate change, and are backing efforts to get the film seen by as many politicians and diplomats as possible.
In Delhi, the film will be screened in an exclusive premiere on Tuesday, September 22, 2009, at the PVR Select City Walk in Saket. We hope that you will attend, be interested in being part of this event and that you will help us to spread the word about the importance of addressing the climate crisis now!

Why does ‘the moment’ not last ?

In response to Kavita’s inspiring story of how she is meeting the challenges of battle against Cancer, Trupti asks a very valid question :
“You live as routine…
You breath as routine..
One day you come across such inspiring story and it stirs your soul and makes you feel inferior, you get excited and restless.
Next day you become normal…
Shekhar, why does this feeling lasts only till we hear another story? Why can’t we immerse this feeling in our soul forever and really live life with the thought “every day could be your last”. After all that will help you to get over all your inhibitions”
Very valid question Trupti, that questions the fundamental way we learn ( and that is important because I do not think we were born that way) to live. Living in fear of what may be, unable to let go of an interpretation of the past ( and it is only a very prejudiced interpretation). Is it because our mind is afraid to let go of that fear, because if it does, the ego will lose control of ‘us’, for a fearless mind is a mind that is able to live completely in the moment, in the present. Probably with much more humility than the ego will allow. As in Kavita’s case, as she says, the one way she got over the fear of death from Cancer was to concentrate on the joy of creativity of the moment. So Trupti’s question is very valid. Why do we need a near death experience to learn that the moment is the truth ?
Not always though. The first time you fall in love (well, every time), you feel a release from the constriction of time, of the future, so lost are you in something completely extraordinary that is happening to you. Or a musician at the moment of composition, or a singer lost in his/her song, a dancer lost in the dance so much that that the dance and the dancer become one
The word ‘lost’ keeps coming up. To lose yourself. To lose your identity. Your individuality. Like a person of great faith lost in worship. All moments when you experience moments of fearlessness – and are pulled into the eternity of the ‘now’.
But why can it not last ? Anyone care to take up Trupti’s question ?