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 ?

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