The Himalayan environment : like a stray dog on a rubbish dump

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What are we doing to our environment ? I took this picture in the Kumaon ranges in the HImalayas on the way to Mukhteshwar. I remember travelling here looking for locations for Masoom, my first movie. These were untouched places of immense beauty. This picture was shot at a point where people come to get views of the great Nanda Devi ranges. The second highest peak in the world. The ‘Langur’ that I photographed in this picture looked completely baffled by the rubbish left behind by the tourists, and then she gradually accepted her destiny started to rummage for food in the plastic and other rubbish. Like a stray dog on a rubbish dump in the city…..

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Mumbai Mirror’s completely irresponsible article on mine and Suchitra’s divorce

I have never spoken about my divorce publicly before. It is a painful process not only for the two people involved but also for the young children. Both Suchitra and I spent nine very painful and turmoil driven years in a marriage, and though I was not in favour of a divorce because of our daughter Kaveri who was only 7 at that time, Suchitra was the one that had the courage and the resolve to confront me with legal summons while I was in London shooting Golden Age.
In any case we went through a very amicable divorce. I did not hire a lawyer and agreed to all the financial and other terms laid down by Suchitra and her lawyer. I did ask to share custody for kaveri, our daughter, but both Suchitra and her lawyer said that was not possible. The financial settlement included amongst other things, money to buy a house for Suchitra and Kaveri of equal value (as determined by Suchitra) of my sister’s house in mumbai where Kaveri and Suchitra lived in at that time.
Imagine my shock to read in the Mumbai Mirror this morning that made an accusation against me and my family of asking Suchitra and my daughter to move out of the house after one year of the settlement being made, making no mention of the divorce settlement. Nor of the fact that Suchitra was the one insisted on living separately from me.
I would like nothing better than to have my daughter live with me under my roof. But under the divorce terms Suchitra will not allow that. I have never asked Suchitra to conform a date by which she should move to her own house, though my sister, understandably, has.

Letter from Tblisi, Georgia

Anna is still in Tblisi and is yet uncertain about her future and if the war has really ended. She has sent another letter, exploring herself as the people of Tblisi still sit on the edge.
Feeling…Indescribable
I remember that day very well. I was the happiest person. It was cold, winter day and I was walking in the park with my dad. I donít remember exactly how old I was, but possibly I was 6 or 7. The place around was all white like a vanilla cream. It was so beautiful; the trees, bushes, benches, statues, all covered in snow. We played snowball fight, made a big, funny-looking snowman and then we found some piece of a broken sledge and I tobogganed that day a lot. I remember how many times I fell and rolled on the snowy ground. I was wearing many clothes and could hardly move. I remember that my dad and I laughed our heads off. And I remember that heat, which I felt on my reddened cheeks due to the frost.
But then everything changed. The world was not as colorful as it used to be. Rainbow colors got overshadowed with grey and black. Those were carefree days, but then…I felt completely different. I donít know how it all started. What happened? and when it happened? Once, I was standing in front of a mirror and I felt something weird. I touched my face and my reflection in the mirror did the same. All of a sudden, I felt like a stranger. At that tiny moment I could not recognize myself. Strange, vague thoughts and questions invaded my mind. Who am I? or what am I? And why am I? ……

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Emotional living

eye spy asked : if you prefer to live emotionally……..do you get conned by an individual who knows your pulse and plays the cards right and presses the right buttons ….. ?
To live on an emotional plane is not the same as to live on an obsessive plane. One is about freedom and understanding, compassion and encompassing. Not to be confused with singular desire, ownership or emotional needs. For these are expressions of one’s own insecurities that get mistakenly expressed as love. If you desire to posses, then of course you are asking to be hurt and conned. Emotions that are a mere reflections of your own negativity. So why blame others for it ?

Why Liu Xiang’s exit from the olympics plunged China into grief

The last time I saw one nation plunge into a stunning outpouring of grief was when Princess Diana died. I could understand that. England at that time clung to the princess as their one great icon. Now Liu Xiang’s inability to run the 110 m hurdles has plunged the whole of China into a grief that is so similar. What causes a nation of over a billion people to invest such emotion in one athlete running one race ? After all , with 39 gold medals in the bag already, China is way ahead already in the total medal count already. What does one race matter ?
The last time I was in Beijing I noticed this good looking boyish face adorn every hoarding on the streets. Selling just about everything. If you think Sachin Tendulkar was a poster boy for India – multiply that by a 1000 times and you would understand the feeling towards Liu Xiang in China. The estimated potential earnings for Liu Xiang if he won this gold medal were over $ 160 million – making this race one of the highest financial stakes for any event in the history of sport. Why do all the hopes, all the national pride of a blliion Chinese get placed on the shoulders of one young man, and every other brilliant achievement pale into significance. With this defeat, for the Chinese people, the Olympics are as good as over. And I use the word defeat deliberately. For the Chinese see this as a personal and national defeat. Why ?

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Sonya’s Picks for Rainy Weekend Reading

Independence Day weekend, and we’re off. To the gorgeous Verandah in the Forest, in Matheran. Where no cars are allowed . So we will be walking, many kilometers, in our raincoats , along the red mud of the railway track, to get to this atmospheric Parsi bungalow. With our rucksacks full of books. And games.
And now for our books : to be read in the hammocks in the garden, or in the easy chairs in the bungalow style running verandah. Along with tea ; masala chai for the spouse, Earl Grey for me.

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Message from the Administrator

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An appeal from Tbilisi, Georgia

Anna,an actress from Georgia and a regular visitor to our blog, is caught up in the war in Georgia’s capital Tblisi, and has sent us this note :
Stop Russia!
Say No To War!!!
Itís 4 AM at night and a frightening nightmare wakes me up. I am wearing outdoor clothes, that is not very comfortable in bed. But at that moment, I canít feel it, since I am too scared…too scared that a huge noise might pierce my eardrums and brightness invade my whole vision. I stand up and look outside from the window. I look at the dark, cloudless sky and I look at the street lamps. I look at the deserted, empty pavement and then back at the sky. Then I turn around and go to bed. I hug my pillow tight and try to sleep as much as I can. But I canít stop thinking about it…all those images of horrible scenes from the TV are flashing into my mind. Then I hear noise of a jet, flying above somewhere and I feel as my heart starts to beat faster and louder. Fortunately, that night goes well. Nothing happens in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
The next day, I wake up and I am happy to see the sunny day. I am happy to be alive.

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Western Media’s last Hurrah and Buddhist China

I guess if you have been born to believe that you have a God given mandate to rule te world – and for the rest of the minions to be consigned to pats on their backs, or be out sourcers for your cheap goods at home, or somewhere to flood the market almost forcibly sometimes (WTO and the Opium Wars earlier) with your goods, then you could be forgiven for a bloated sense of your own importance. Long after it has become irrelevant. So with Western Media where they try to belittle China’s stunning acheivment at the Olympic Games by constantly harping on the killing by a psychopath of the father in law of one of the coaches of the US basket ball team. Or a bomb explosion on the Chinese borders of Afganistan and Ladakh. Or the latest reports on the cost of the opening ceremony in Beijing on an (oh so poor) China, or the level of pollution in Beijing . Excuse me, the only major enterprise that the US has to show for itself in the last 10 years is the Iraq War – which cost a 1000 times more that the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic games, killed more people and caused more pollution that can be even imagined.

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Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics: Could India have done it ?

I am sure that is a question in all our minds. Let aside India – could any other country have pulled this off? Hopefully India could achieve something of this kind of a show if required – the talent is there – but perhaps just the sheer ability to go that last mile is missing and I have always wondered why – why is it that ‘good enough is enough’ is the philosophy we have here in India. We do have some of the greatest works of art down the centuries that could not have been created without complete passion and commitment – but not sure as a nation and society we are at that place now.
I am not sure that we could build a Taj Mahal now, at a time when it is not possible to press gang workers into an enterprise, not caring about the death toll. But it occurs to me then that neither is China. Also perhaps Indian artistic expression is too individualistic ? It’s all about the personal journey, not ony in art but also in our way of life. And maybe we just do not have that sense of national pride the Chinese seem to be exhibiting currently ?
Or maybe it just takes one individual like Yang Zhimou to fire the passions of thousands of people into such commitment to excellence – like one Mahatma Gandhi that fired the passions of millions of Indians to rise against the British.