Death of a Chief Minister

Everyone mourns the untimely death of Chief Minister of Andra Pradesh, Rajashekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash. But the related Media reports (if true) of Congress party workers scouring the state for recent deaths from natural causes , and trying to report them as ‘suicides’ out of grief for the passing away of the Chief Minister are disgusting. Is there no limit to what politics and politicians in our country will stoop to ?
Imagine party workers going to the relatives grieving for the death of their loved ones, and offering them money, or even threatening them into giving false statements that the death ‘was caused by suicide out of grief over the Chief Minister’s death’. What other sickness exists in the mind of a political leader that can even think of this, and then order the party workers to carry this out ? Of course I am assuming that Media reports are true and not just ‘paid for’ by a rival political party. Don’t know where the morals of Indian Media lie anymore either.
Sorry about putting this in the blog – after I promised this would be a blog about uplifting thoughts for a while, but could not get this out of my mind. I care about my country and these things disturb me, as I am sure it does all citizens of our country.

Voice of an Angel : Kavita Baliga

If you listen to A R Rahman score from my short film Passage, you will hear the most extraordinary angelic voice singing an Aria and touch upon the highest and purest operatic notes. The voice belongs to a young Californian girl of Indian descent, who wrote the following letter to me. Kavita is a member of our blogging community, and is happy with this letter reaching out.
Shekhar,
Thank you for the opportunity to sing in your film and at the premiere.
I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and have since been living an “every day could be your last” kind of lifestyle. When I was ill, I told myself I would take every opportunity that came my way, regardless of fear, or self doubt. And I’ve kept my word now, for 4 years. And as the offers increasingly start coming in, my fear of death is slowly subsiding. And as I walk along the narrow, dark path of life that I have led thus far, I am slowly beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And how immensely fulfilling and ironic that my first major international gig is based on a film about self-realization, development into adulthood, and overcoming life’s hurdles.
Thank You.
Kavita

Venice

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In Venice with A R Rahman, David Adjaye and SadhGuru

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Been traveling so I apologize for being off line for so long. I And then, like excercise, it is difficult to get back into a rhythm, part of which is writing the blog. Jet lag, the avalanche of undone things, and then the post holiday panic and guilt. Guilt ? Since when did writing on the blog become part of something I HAVE to do. It is something that I do because in sharing everything with the world, I find a beautiful release.
I was in Venice to celebrate the opening of my short film, Passage. It was a ‘magical’ evening as after the film was shown, a live Venetian orchestra played Rahman’s compositions from the film. Kavita Bagila, who sang the Arias for his song was there to sing live. She sings so effortlessly in an almost Angelic voice. Kavita is of Indian origin, but born and brought up in California. She is currently teaching at Rahman’s new foundation for International Music in Chennai.
Rahman’s compositions for the film include a new Waltz that he wrote and recorded in about 3 days. It is a stunning composition, and people were convinced that it was composed by an earlier Classical Master. But no, it is from our very own ‘Mozart of Madras’ as the Time Magazine called him – incidentally a name I coined in an interview to the same magazine. Then the evening was capped by Rahman holding the audiences completely spell bound when he played on the Piano.
David Adjay, one of the leading architects of the world and one my best friends came too. he is currently designing the new Smithsonian in Washington. He had inspired a lot of the Design work on the film.
But guess who came too. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev came and swept everyone of their feet. I will write more about my conversations with Sadhguru as we walked down the streets of Venice for hours, and talked about the Nature of Existence, Of Shiva, and the Universe.
I will add some some images that are not quite touristy – but which I found provocative.

Cynicism, the line behind which the elite escape their guilt

Being a judge in India’s Got Talent was a real emotional experience for me not only because I discovered my roots that I had left behind, but the sheer odds that many of the participants overcame with just passion was incredibly moving.
What caught me by surprise often though was the often derogatory reportage and comments by some of the elitist mainstream press, that saw such display of emotion or passion as a source of amusement or cynicism. Many assumed that it must have been scripted. It was not.
I realize that cynicism is the wall that the elite often protect themselves with against the onslaught of guilt they might feel at the completely dis balanced socio economic conditions that exist in India.
How often, for example, does one hear cynical and dismissive remarks about the ability of the working classes, or their own domestic servant class to rise above their own conditions and take responsible and honest charge of their own lives. Remeber how cynical the English language press was of Mayawati before she took UP by storm. Uh oh !
Proffessor Mohammad Yunus of Grameen Bank proved the opposite – lending only to the poorest of poor, he showed that Grameen Bank has the lowest ‘Bad Debt’ ratio in the history in banking. Corporate and rich borrowers were 50 times more likely to default or cheat on Bank repayments than the poorest section of the population.
The Cynicism must go. For it ignores the reality of groundswell movements that are taking place in rural and poorer parts in India. The Cynical elite has often been caught off guard in revolutions across the world. I am not advocating or predicting a revolution in India. But we are ignoring the existence of movements that are fundamentally changing the nature of the ground beneath our feet.
Time to drop Cynicism and look hard at the desires and aspirations of our people. And celebrate them.

another view

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new york’s churning

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my view of new york at night
from deepak chopra’s apartment
no, I am not on drugs
but new york’s soul
exists in it’s churning

If you want peace, take a pill

And the Sage said to me :
The search for the self is not
a search for peace
for if you want peace
take a pill
listen to great music
meditate or breath deeply
have sex
or make compromises
stillness and peace are not the same thing
peace is the opposite of turmoil
and in search of peace you will forever struggle
between turmoil and peace
running away from one
and not comprehending the false nature of the other
the fear of pain
the welcoming of the storm of chaos
the excruciating numbness of of the heart
when faced with loss of what is most desired
the staring into the mirror,
to watch your body
or that of a loved one
crumple into a helpless edifice of death even before it comes
the mind bending anguish at
the inability to find meaning beyond words
it is this that you must comprehend
from a temple of assumed invincibility of youth
into a crumbling edifice of your individuality
before you heave at the squeaky gates
of My kingdom
to face that immense emptiness
more fearful than anything
your unimaginative ego
could have ever comprehended
beyond that emptiness
i will wait for you
with just one drop
of compassion
to fill
your parched soul
From : my conversations with Death

Indian Government censors Google news on riots over water tanker in Mumbai that leave 5 dead

24th August 2010 The following item appeared on Google news and was immedietly suppressed :
” A water tanker carrying water to a building in the posh Malabar Hill in the centre of Mumbai was gheraoed (surrounded) by a mob of about 200 slum dwellers that demanded that the tanker fill their buckets before it moves on. The Driver refused and his guard threatened the mob with a pistol. The mob refused to give up and the guard fired killing three people instantly. The mob retaliated and severely beat up the driver, who died later in hospital. It is not known whether the guard was carrying a licensed firearm, but it now usual for an armed guard to accompany the water tankers that frequently are attacked by people scouring the city for water.
Apparently the residents of the building in Malabar Hill have not any water for one week now. It is known that both the Oberoi Hotel and The Taj Hotel that became a kind of ‘water Refuge’ for those that could afford it are operating far beyond their capacity, but are one of the few places that are still being supplied water”

A proud Mom on India’s Got Talent: Richard and Sneha’s brilliant Salsa act

Dear Mr. Kapur,
I am Richard’s mother and have followed Ms. Bendre’s, Ms. Kher’s and your comments on every act. I believe every performer worked hard to achieve a dream – a goal .. be it the prize or just being part of a national platform.
I do believe that the Prince group were greatly deserving and had the complete backing of their state. I am happy that they won the prize money – which will go a long way in the support of their families. Richard himself said: “Mum, they were the most deserving of the prize”. Which is why, I am glad to read your comment on Richard’s and Sneha’s performance – as being a flawless and a world-class act. Thank you for this – as it is greatly heartening to the effort and dedication that went into its preparation.
My thanks to Ms. Bendre for her fulsome and vocal appreciation and Ms. Kher for her expressive face and eyes revealing a heartfelt appreciation of their work.
What else can I say? It was a show with great talent, high emotional content, sound judging. am a proud mother – just happy that though Richard and Sneha did not win – they danced with soul, spirit and grace – they danced as winners do! And, you saw that. Not sure whether you will read this – should you do so – know that Richard, Sneha and I thank you.
Diana Tholoor
Founder
Chrysallis Performance Arts Centre for the Challenged, Bangalore
(integrating children with and without challenges nationwide)
Yes Diana, Richard and Sneha danced with soul, spirit and grace in a world class act, thank you for your lovely letter, Shekhar