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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

when a creepy old chinaman made a pass


my youngest sister, when she was some 8-years-old, used to refer to a chinese man as chinaman. she wanted to marry one when she grew up. i am afraid after reading this blog she would probably revise her thoughts.

among the many weird experiences i have had so far, the weirdest was last week in singapore when a very old chinaman [easily over 90! - confirmed my sister, an expert in reading people's real ages] tried to get cosy.

i wasn’t sure if i should have felt insulted or let down that he approached me. perhaps i should have - by all means. perhaps a younger man in his 20s, 30s or 40s would have made me feel less atrocious! i am not sure what i am thinking here but this event was unbelievable. here is why.

not really making too much eye-contact [rather looking few inches below my face] he asked me whether i was from indonesia or philipines [first looking left at indonesia, then right at phillipines]. for those who may think i was probably wearing a world map t-shirt, let me please inform that it was not the map!

though i did not want to answer him i let him know i was from india. and he looked up to confirm. but he wouldn’t believe that i was from india may be cos all indians in singapore were wrongly assumed to be dark-skinned tamils.

i had my mother and sister by my side and they were worried for what i was getting into as they saw me engaged in an odd conversation with a creepy-looking complete stranger.

mother said 'he looks weird' and added that 'if he utters anything funny i am going to land my fist on his face.'

sister, worried of singapore's laws, asked mother to just push him aside if need be and not really hit him cos pushing can be considered as an act of self defence whereas hitting can be seen as an obvious act to hurt a weak/meek 'senior citizen'. probably the man was a PR [Permanent Resident]. she begged mother to not land her into trouble as her work visa was renewed just a few weeks back. mother agreed as she continued to keep a protective stern face for her first born - me. she was confident she could simply sigh hard and have the chinaman fly off the building.

i showed him [rather informed him i am not alone] my mother and sister, fairly better in stature than me, thinking he would back off.

he was happy to see them. happy expression was a constant on his face. can you believe he asked my mother for her number! 'no need' she said sternly, almost as sternly as it would mean that her fist was going to come straight to his face next.

my sister made facial gestures meaning to say 'please dont encourage him'.

he turned back to 'philipines and indonesia' and continued speaking to them. 'where do you stay and how long are you in singapore lah?'

i said i stay faraway and that i was leaving in a day.

'oh! so sad lah! if you were here we could make a small affair lah. just friends lah!' he managed to say that in his broken english and laughed as if he cracked the century’s best joke while his eyes disappeared into the many folds on his face.

the little chinaman did not waste anymore time. he left us and headed to another lady. much taller than him with 'indonesia and philipines' at his eye-level. what more could the happy chinaman ask for?

i could hear my mother mutter, ‘imagine how annoying he would have been when he was younger’ and my sister replied ‘i don’t think the poor guy has had any chance ever – leave alone his age factor.’ we laughed in unison and left him to the joys he could afford at his age.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

dear anupam kher

it was wonderful to listen to you last night. being a theatre actor and a brilliant 'character' actor, as they say in bollywood, u held us entertained for almost 2 hours with life's lessons.


having listened to chetan bhagat just a few months back at the literary fest in dubai and you just last nt in singapore - two known people from my country - i have some observations to make. trust me they are not going to be so intelligent or critical. just a few things that pass my mind as i sit down to blog.


on stage as speakers, u and bhagat - apart form being humorous and intelligent men from humble backgrounds - r good speakers and reminded me of my days when i covered speeches by vikram chopra or suhel seth some years back. it is great to know that you also give motivational talks in the ivy league with ample 'tips to go about when you are stuck in misery'. it is highly inspiring to know how you turned your life around. like most trained orators you laugh at yourselves and pick on the stereotype corporate guy who is the worst vulnerable criminal in today's set up. nowadays majority of the commoners are the corporate fellas no? what was middle class a decade back is the corporate class today. just like what a degree was a decade back is now an mba - i guess.

you guys [you and bhagat] make up for the lack of george bernard shaw in today's world - somebody who whips us but makes us laugh anyway. laughter being the best medicine and a rare commodity, it was great to have some live entertainment away from internet and 'virtual' suckups. it is always a joy to listen to writers who speak the common man's language. lot of us, even those well-versed with the language, do not communicate or comprehend or hold audience in style like you do.

now, i have some confessions to make.

i am not a stereotype. perhaps i am also as cocky as you are. and i have some major flaws too. one of them is that i dont get awed at the presence of stars or popular people. [why go that far, i dont even get jerked out of my seat if my employer comes tapping on my shoulder.]

am sorry to say that i was entertained but not impressed. may be because you repeated it so many times that u r not here to impress anyone. and that you are comfortable being who u are. i admire ur shining bald patch as much as you do. may be not so much, but almost. wish you did not scratch it as many times though its your head and your freedom to do whatever you want with it. i stopped myself from hating you for that only cos i was reminded of a wise ted.com talk on 'vulnerability'.

like a 'common' mba student, i was forced to look for a logical reason or rather being a journalist i was forced to read between those wonderful lines you said... wanting to know what must have got you to singapore actually. singapore like many other cosmopolitan cities have fewer book-reading population - much fewer than in indian metro cities, says forbes magazine.

when you announced the launch of your acting school in singapore with the help of the two moderators who gave you company on stage, i almost got all my answers. i even understood why uti bank 'the bank of the common man' sponsored the book launch. many of us in the crowd who were listening to the uti's ceo who introduced you, wanted to rag him because he spoke like a 'ceo'. you were lucky, you actually got to do that by asking him to be your acting student and emote a line - 'main aapse pyar bahut karta hoon par izzat nahin' [i love you a lot but i dont respect you]. i loved that line too - very thought provoking and qt applicable to many characters i know personally.

of course i know we all have a philanthropic/charitable side to ourselves... and that few of us only exploit it and find greater happiness. i am not speaking in defence to people who are nogooders, am just observing the difference -the motivational difference on why you may be a better candidate to do the things that you do as a star than others who are 'perfectly average'.

facebook's ipo is over subscribed. people power is huge. when u have them enjoying subconsciously what they love to have - you have won the world. the world runs on hope - is the latest success mantra. our gandhi, a pioneer in working with the masses, did that long time back with purer intentions. i am not a marxist, i love america and am not going to speak about how great gandhi or mother teresa were simply because people with better comprehension have already done that in as many ways and more required.

baapu and mother wr great people, so are you and me, but there is a difference in our motivation to do things is what i want to point out. life is tough and happy for all - no?

last nt i subconsciously stumbled upon some fundas i was 'not' really looking for nor wr they addressed directly on the dias. on why people share jokes or news headlines or just intelligent quotes by einstein on networking sites as opposed to updating 'what is in your mind' that zuckerberg scripted when he launched a free [almost philanthropic platform to connect people]. though unaware of the backstage drama wr the man was collecting a wonderful user database to sell to businesses, facebookers r generally worried of who is reading them. lot of them have an fb personality far from their true selves. the irony [is there a word called morony?] is that lot of us speak of this still while hiding/protecting our [lame] selves.

'we allow people to pull our spirits down. we allow them to make us unhappy by connecting every frowning face or expression to affect us in our daily lives. we look for opportunities to get upset. we socialise or dont socialise because that is what is fashionable. we are hungry for approval. the fact is that we are all happy people. those who are not happy are simply not - do not let them bog you down cos they have a habit of being unhappy or cannot stand the fact that you may b happy. but escaping these perverts/unhappy people or confining to loneliness is not a solution to life. avoiding people/situations is not at all a great idea - face them full on and evolve even if the world gives a cold shrug. i am 'lonely'/'angry' or 'depressed' or am not in the 'mood' are overrated words used by dumb attention seekers who want to be 'different' or be taken seriously cos no other trick gets them some importance in to their otherwise unattractive life/personality,' so says kher.

brilliance is simply simple - u reminded me that funda from self help books once again, but in a much humorous/unique way with examples from your own life.

before i forget, the moderators and the audience asked you very mediocre questions for the opportunity they had... but you had us entertained anyway even though you did not completely walk through their words to answer them... and thanks for that.

and that is what is 'the best thing about you'! :)

ps: i wanted to get a signed copy of your book but as the talk stretched beyond 2 hrs i had to leave. and i dont know y i did not take a picture with u for my fb friends. i have almost forgotten what a keep sake is.

Friday, 4 May 2012

pls miss me, this opportunity is not forever ;)

it is completely unnecessary to spill out everything but it must be difficult for saggis to hold on to trivia for long ;). 700+ mails and messages in less than 24hrs - am i worth this? before rumours make hay i want to clear a few things. am not hiding, or ill or fighting depression/persecution complex or escaping anyone online. or am i doing all this too subconsciously? no idea really.

and no i haven't quit gulf news - my bad - i forgot to switch on 'out of office' auto reply before stepping out  on leave.

first of all i feel extremely humbled to know from my friends, family, sr colleagues and critics, that i make them proud when they read reviews of my new work. to everyone who campaigned for my london event on their walls i really have no words to say that am truly bowled over. am away from my laptop n phone unable to attend/respond as quickly as i usually do. pls consider this update straight from my heart as i thank each one of you personally.

would like to quote linda goodmen as i make some new confessions. she says that saggis cannot hide even if they try to and that limelight doesn't hurt their eyes even if it is blinding cos they don't comprehend a lot of things the way normally people do. i agree.

and being a journalist for a while i have this compulsive habit of bursting bubbles - even if they are my own. it is a bad habit am working on - unlearning my trained head. i dream, i fly, but don't stay afloat in my thoughts or dreams for long cos i love to touch base and stay grounded as well. this troubles my art that needs to be finished within the limited dream time. wear my shoes or hats to know how weird this is. perhaps you don't need to. just read this para again to know how weird it can get when you try and comprehend details.

lot of people ask me what a quadriptych is. it is a single piece of work made with 4 self-standing frames. love tunnel is a quadriptych. yes it is one of the most romantic manmade landscapes in uzbekistan. no its not a 'bluvian' proper noun for a fantasy land. air arabia, i believe, flies to the country's capital. no i haven't been there yet... than in my thoughts while studying the pictures and making my version of this railway track in the woods.

i regret to say that just like during Art Dubai this year, i won't be available in person at the PAF london May chapter too but there will be someone who will help you with details as the organisers are one of the best i have worked with so far.

i do take orders on commission but do not duplicate my originals or those by masters as a matter of policy. thanks much for having gone through my site and have given such wonderful feedback and tips to make it better. a lot more info will show soon. yes i will change the photo on the home page - was retaining it for sentimental value of my first solo in 2005. and thank you for comparing me to van gogh am only hoping he is not turning in his grave.

pls miss me, this opportunity is not forever ;).