Looking for a hot bath ?

Completely jet lagged from my flight from NY, I thought perhaps that I would indulge in a hot bath in my hotel room in Powai (Mumbai),. And I felt really guilty doing so. I imagined the water lying in the bathtub and looked out of the window and saw a slum. I wondered how many families would be standing near dry taps for hours waiting for water. The water in my bathtub would be at least 20 bucketfuls. I realized when you read and think deeply about issues, like the environment, you really do change your perspective. Its all about re-educating yourself to the changing world around yourself, and re – aligning to it.
All my life, living in India, in Europe and in the US, I have loved the idea of soaking in a hot bath, but having thought about the issue’s of water facing our planet, and especially India, I find I am no longer able to do so. After all my film Paani is just about that. The people in the upper city have swimming pools while those in the lower city are standing in line for hours waiting for tankers to bring them water
The pic above is from my hotel room. The swimming pool against the gradually dwindling lake at Powai. I remember this lake. The late Kaifi Azmi ( Shabana’s poet father) and his friends used to come here and spend hours fishing. It felt like the countryside then. But now of course, it is teeming with high rise buildings, and a gradually shrinking lake.

Bad films justifies harrasment of young girls ?

Here is a comment by Brahmshastra, which I would like to open out for discussion. Bad films (with some good ones too) , and a level of moral corruption throughout every activity in India (including corporate India, Indian justice system, Indian administration system, Indian political system, Indian religious systems) does not justify harrassing young vulnerable girls that are trying to become part of the economic system in India rather than sit at home. It does not make hooliganism moral. But perhaps Brahmsastra has his own point when he says of Indian Cinema and the Indian corporate sector, which we should discuss :
“And of course, the hooliganism you talk of excludes the progressive bunch of Bollywood directors, corporations and such who are ‘abusing’ women on a daily basis by taking advantage of and steering them in one way or the other into promoting lust and materialism in society, and are making all this possible with money from the underworld, while probably cheating on their taxes and engaging in bribery of government officials on a daily basis. Morality is a double-edged sword.”

dancing with Shiva

the impossible dance
of chaos
finding the steps
to follow a pattern
where there is none
seeking harmony
without letting go
of linearity ?
being with shiva
with out
sensing timelessness?
allowing myself
to be
swept into
the chaos
of the dance
not resisting
not thinking
not trying
like a helpless child
in the wave of
a raging storm
of it’s mother’s milk
but not afraid
ad then the breathing
the breath of Shiva
like a cool balm
washing away all the senses
and then silence
beyond the dancing
there is not dance
but stillness
just a gentle cry
from the baby’s last
sense of wonder
then …
the letting go
of the last breath
that mingles
with an everlasting
universal sigh
as the breath leaves me
and my body ceases to exist
as do i
lost beyond the dance
beyond the breath
beyond perception
beyond wisdom
for no reason

Moral Police ? No, just hooliganism

Why is the Media giving so much weight to what really are young hooligans taking out their frustrations on vulnerable people. They are doing it simply because they can, taking safety in numbers. Acts of cowardice really. But one of the so called ‘vulnerable people’ will turn out not to be vulnerable, and some one is going to killed if this does not stop. And then the riots will really start. There are too many other things in India that need attention. Like hunger. Like unemployment. Like terrorism.
The Media must stop giving these people lofty names. This is not the talibanization of India, this is the hooliganization of India>

“Thy Will be done”

Thy Will be done
Is part of the christian prayer
that I always assumed was part of a strict adherence
but then, if you let go
of any attachment to result
as the Bhagvad Geeta asks us to
and if the ‘Thy’ is God
and God is the Universe
then it means the same thing


i ran from the noise
looking for silence
and in my solitude
i heard a single scream
that came from
inside my head
i was the one
the loudest
trying to be heard
above everyone else
like a child
screaming for attention
in a world
where a billion voices
were doing the same

End of Face book

If you have not seen this already, its’ worth a read :
By Steve Tuttle | Newsweek
I was a late convert to Facebook, the social-networking site that
turned five years old Wednesday. I joined about a year ago at age 47,
swept up in the massive wave of people turning the corner to the back
nine of life, and pitifully trying to do what comes so naturally to
our sons and daughters. My own 16-year-old, Grace, literally cried
from embarrassment when I told her I was signing up, and she begged me
through her tears not to do it. When it was clear that I was serious,
she made me promise never to “friend” her. Since I didn’t know what
that meant at the time, I agreed. Last week I redeemed myself in her
eyes, because I signed off of Facebook forever—or at least until
I had one of those Hallmark movie moments. I was sitting here at work
thinking up my next pithy “status update,” which is where you
broadcast to all your online buddies in a few words what you’re up to
at that very moment—and finally came to my senses. “What the hell have
I become?” I cried.
So goodbye 157 Facebook friends, 75 of whom I wouldn’t recognize if I
saw you on the street……

Read the rest of this entry »

A stray thought

when was the last time a lion asked of another
so what’s he doing these days ?
doing what lions do I guess
being a lion
so what r u doing these days, shekhar ?
doing what human beings do I guess
being human
and destroying the planet
by flying to new york
and taking taxi cabs
for in the scheme of things
does an ant see itself as an individual
with an individual consciousness ?
or a collective ?
and as I walk the streets
everyone trying as hard as they are
myself included
to express their individuality
to know they exist
conflicted as we are
by our need to be a part
and apart both
from the collective
do ants need to do the same thing ?
whats going on in their mind
or wherever their consciousness
or their imagination exists ?
do they merely see, imagine
only the collective
or like us
the collective
through the individual
and do we even enter
their consciousness
except as creatures
that trundle around
without purpose
between starbucks
and the little cafe’
for a cup of coffee
and looking down
from a galaxy far far away
at this tiny speck of dust
called earth
an ant
a human
one crushed
beneath the others feet
has no significance
other than
the breathing of the universe
between creation and destruction

Hey Roger Federer ! Big boys dont cry

I saw Roger Federer’s tears as he lost the Australian Open to Nadal. It was quite heart warming to know that behind all that professionalism lay a little boy still trying to prove himself. And once the tears came so publicly, there was no stopping them. Even Federer could not help smiling at his own emotional catharsis. And he gave an insight into the years of struggle that led him to being a world champion.
I have always envied women for their ability to shed tears easily, and not be embarrassed by them. I am too conditioned now with all the training to be able to do that. Even though I as a film maker keep trying to go beyond the viewers intellect, or through their intellect, into something far deeper, into their subconscious, their own mythology, to get them to be emotionally react to what is happening on screen. And usually a provocation so deep is expressed /sublimated in tears. But in order to do that, I must explore that myth, that hidden deeper consciousness in myself. Somewhere assuming/hoping that we have common consciousness and common mythology that I have been able to tap into.
But then I am silently exploring my own hidden tears too, aren’t I ? And what is the emotional cost of keeping them hidden and only expressing them through creative work ? I wonder. I often wonder if I should express myself more openly, not worrying about containing myslelf in order to use ‘hidden tears’ for artistic expression. Poets and musicians have it better – their expression is quicker, a film takes soooo long.
But I guess in one way that is exactly what I am doing right now. Finding public expression to bubbling emotions and trying to make some sense of them as I express. In a way discovering myself and expressing myself in the same moment without too much analysis. Some logical sense yes, but not so much that it gets too logical, too mundane, too analytical.
Anyway back to tears. I do cry incidentally. I go to the Cinema and quitely shed tears in the darknes where no one can see me. That is what makes me go to Hindi Cinema every wekend in London or NY. I actually get an emotional catharsis. So ‘Jai Ho’ to all those Bollywood Melodramas !!
i was reading the NY times today and it said that while the world believed that tears were a great way to relieve deep seated stress, a large part of that depends upon your childhood. Tears are a way for children to express helplessness, and more than anything it is a way for a child to ask/plead for attention, for comfort. If in childhood the response of the parents/others to crying was immediate attention and comforting, then through their lives crying is seen as a comforting and stress relieving activity. But if not – then crying – or the learning ‘not to cry’ leaves emotional wounds that are expressed in other ways throughout one’s life.
So please pity us boys/men that were taught that to be a man meant not to cry. That to be tough meant not to cry. For we are trained to sublimate crying into achievement and competitiveness. No wonder Roger Federer finally broke down. Or footballers routinely sob when they are defeated or they win. We need extreme activity to give ourselves an emotional catharsis.
But do you also notice how different cultures react differently ? Western cultures, where emotional expression and catharsis is much looked down upon, express themselves far less. Is that why the West were the great colonizers ?

Is Pub Culture really destroying the fabric of Indian Culture ?

Excuse me, but where does this moral culture really exist, except in the fantasies of those that the media are hyping up as India’s moral brigade. In the small towns and villages of India ??? Where 10 times more women are raped and molested, abused, physically assaulted and mutilated for the mere crime of being a woman or a low caste ! There is no pub culture there. But there is a huge problem of alcoholism nevertheless.
Where young men are killed and hanged and young women are killed by their own families just because they fell in love and wanted to marry out of their caste. There is no pub culture there.
Alcoholism is a problem. No doubt. But there is more alcohol related domestic abuse against women in India by their husbands in their own homes than anywhere else. If any of the supporters of the moral policing would just care to g to one of the shelters for domestically abused women, they will know that the real problem with alcohol is not in the pub culture but at home.
And if India is progressing towards a country where men and women stand equal in jobs, status and financial independence, where we have had women as our Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers, and Cabinet Ministers, then why should men and women be treated as any different ? If drinking alcohol in a pub is immoral for a woman, they why is it morally OK for a man ?
I have seen too many families destroyed by alcoholism to be able to make a stand for excessive drinking. So what should one do ? Ban alcohol ? Lets get real. the very people who form the moral brigade will probably not go for that. Corrupt pockets are fed with that. State coffers rely on taxes on alcohol. And banning alcohol merely drives it underground, and gives the underworld goons a god sent opportunity to make money. Tourism collapses.
There must be checks and balances. But the answer is NOT to target the physically weaker sections of our people. Women. That is not moral policing. It is sheer cowardice.
And I cannot understand why the Chief Minister of Rajasthan has a problem with a girl and a boy holding hands ? He does not seem to have such a problem when the same hand raises itself in violence rather than affection.