Wanderer’s blog!

Introspection & Retrospection were two words which have been on mind since yesterday for no specific reason! So my mind was not sure if I wanted to retrospect or introspect! Finally retrospection won the race! I am not going in to retrospection in the real sense but suddenly I remembered so many different peoples  whom I have met in my life and I thought let me share my impression and experiences about them with you. Also I am sharing my memories about a small restaurant. All this wandering is from the era in late 50’s when I was in school and late 60’s, when I entered college. Along with this there are some funny incidents also from that period! Let me tell you that they were normal people like all of us. My memories are more police related as my father was a police officer and our eco system was police eco system!

First and foremost is me! I distinctly remember that when I was born, exactly 68 years back this day, I cried loudly but others smiled! This was my first confusion! Here is a guy so helplessly crying, and all the other folks are smiling and laughing! This is where my confusion started. It is not yet resolved.

Jokes apart the first real thing I remember as a kid when we were in a place called Ahmednagar where my father was posted. Our home in Nagar was a bungalow. We had some sort of ceremony on a ground where I got some gift. (I was too young)  Well later I was told that there was a race for kids where everyone was given gifts! After this we were in Bombay where I was in a municipal school in fourth grade, on Lamington road! For some celebration we were making merry! I sang a song “Mana Janab ne pukara nahi” and a friend Gopal who was dancing to the tune! Good old days with no inhibitions!

Later we moved to stay in an area called Dhobitalao in Mumbai. It was a five story building used as police officer’s quarters. We were on ground floor and a very dark chap with strong mustaches and blood shot eyes, used to come our neighboring officer. He never went inside their home but the officer and that guy would keep on talking in a very low voice, at their door, as if they were discussing something very sinister. They did discuss something sinister, the guys’ name contrary to his personality was Vishnu, that should have been Ravan! As I grew older I came to know that he was a police informer and used to mix with all criminal gangs!

Then there was a guy called Mario. He was smart looking and loved to play cricket with us kids. He was 23/24 years of age. He was fun to be with; it never came to our mind what he must be doing in real life. Once he did not come for ¾ days. When he came, we asked him why didn’t he come to play? Then we came to know that he was doing post-graduation in Medicine and had emergency duties for 72 hours straight! Wow!

I remember one really funny incident. We had a friend Ashok. While in 11th grade he had started smoking. Once he was walking on the road near our home, smoking. There was a ninety degree turn around a building from main road to a lane. The design of the building was such that there was a porch in that building through which one could see across the lane. Through that porch his father had seen him smoking. While Ashok rounded the corner and saw his father, he hid his cigarette covering it with his palm. When they reached each other his father coolly said hi and pressed his palm with a very interesting result which we saw the next day!

Then we had one Mr. Misquita. He was also a police officer. He was a very good billiards player and our police club had three billiards tables. Once the then World billiard champion Wilson Jones had come for an exhibition game in the police club. He showed us so many tricks! Then he and Misquita played a serious match. We thought that Jones will give him a whipping! But Misquita really gave him a run for his money and Jones just scraped by!

We had a teacher called Mr. Mayekar in Ram Mohan school in Girgaum. He was always perfectly dressed. A dhoti, a coat and neatly combed hair with stylish glasses. He was our English teacher. He has definitely guided me  towards good English but he was not very sure what I would do in life as I was a very mischievous character. Sometimes he would call me to his home and teach me some important aspects of grammar just out of love! He used to be Professor of French in Wilson College in Mumbai but had a stammering problem. This issue forced him to leave college and join our school. We were lucky!

Our neighboring police officer was a very aggressive officer. He was six foot plus and really dashing. Once when I was in college, I was in the area where he was posted. I ventured into his office for a cup of tea. We were chatting and in came one smallish guy held by two policemen. My uncle said, Pramod give me a few minutes. He asked that man where he was on so and so date at so and so time. The criminal claimed that that he was traveling. This questioning was done 2/3 times with same reply. My uncle got up, he just hit the guy a massive punch in his stomach. That guy was thrown ten feet and was lying down in pain. The two policemen who were holding him went and started kicking him and pulled him up on his feet. All the time cursing him, “how the hell could he lie down in front of the boss!” By this time my uncle was back in the seat and enjoying his cuppa! I was also shaken and asked him what will be the result of the hit! He said that in next ten minutes the criminal will confess to everything.

I could go and on and on! But I will share one last experience of a restaurant, a very small one at that. It was called Kulkarni’s and was bang opposite my school Ram Mohan, In Girgaum. People would go there to eat various Maharashtrian dishes but my favorite was Potato bhaji and Birdyachi usal. Birdi is a pulse very favorite of Konkan region! Generally these dishes are eaten at home with Maharashtrian bread or poli. But in this restaurants people would come to savour these dishes, without poli, and there is used to be a big queue sometimes! Years back, I went back to check but Kulkarni’s now does not exist!

I have to share one secret! How did we have money to go to the restaurant, alone in those days? Well two ways, one was to tell at home that due to rush, we could not get the bus to go home, and we walked home, saving the money! Second method was to pinch a coin from home when no one was looking! Well we move on in life  but our mind starts wandering in old memories, as we grow older! Some equally interesting stuff later! Cheers! 

 

 

 

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Elphinstone Station Tragedy!

Elphinstone Station tragedy, solutions will come only when apathy goes away!

22 people died in stampede on the foot bridge at Elphinstone Road railway station on western railway in Mumbai. This sort of tragedy was waiting to happen! The blame game has already started, starting from railway administration to Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Activists have started blaming politicians depending on their affiliations. I am sure major part of blame has to go these agencies but the apathy that we as public show, the way we accept everything and anything is unbelievable.  First a bit of history about Suburban Railways in Mumbai then known as Bombay.

The Mumbai Suburban Railway is an offshoot of the first passenger railway to be built by the British in India, and is also the oldest railway system in Asia. The first train ran between Bori Bunder (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) and Thane, a distance of 34 km, on 16 April 1853 at 15:35. The 14-coach train took 1.25 hours to complete the 34 km journey, with a halt at Sion to refill the train’s water tanks. Since 1991, it has been expanded rapidly. (Wikipedia)

I have lived in Mumbai till 1975 and in those days, except for rush hours, going by trains was fun. In fact when I was in school we used to go by train for picnics! Things started changing after that. Infrastructure in those times was ok. To my understanding infra would include rakes, platforms, over bridges, ticketing windows, toilets, signaling and many such systems. This would also include exits from the station and entry to the station. The bridge where the event occurred was built in 1972 with maybe about 20 years projected traffic. Now it is 45 years!

My “latest” travel by these trains, maybe once or twice, was “about 18/20 years back. So I am not an authority to comment on the same. But I will share my experience with you. I went from Dadar station to Kandivali, it was a Sunday and I boarded the train at 7 pm. There was heavy rush and I somehow managed to travel, profusely sweating. When I reached my friends home, he said you are looking tired! I said there was so much rush on the train. He said, “Pramod today was Sunday that is the reason I invited you, Sunday’s are reasonably rush free days.”  I had no comments. I once also traveled from Andheri to Dadar to go to VT. I caught a train around 4.30 am, reached Dadar; then for switching from western train to central train I walked the foot over bridge at 5 am. I could never imagine that at 5 am there could so much rush! Walking itself was a big deal. That day I decided that I will never travel in suburban trains in Mumbai, ever! Infrastructure was bursting through seams already. That was 20 years back.

Population in Mumbai in late 90’s was 9.9 million and now the population is 18 million! It has doubled. Railway system carries 7.5 million passengers daily. I don’t think the overall infrastructure increased proportionately. I am only looking from passenger perspective. Improvement in signals does not really improve passenger comfort. Passenger ingress and egress is the most important aspect along with capacity of the compartments. Outside most railway stations, there is chaos of taxis, autos, hawkers and what have you! Hawkers of course sit on the bridges too! Whatever space was there 40 years back, probably same space is available outside most stations but mostly occupied by the usual culprits. Large number of taxis and autos and hawkers occupy lion’s share out of that space.

This obviously shows that such accidents were waiting to happen. My friend Shashikant Limaye who is an expert in this field shared on TV how many plans have been made to improve infra and shelved. There was special World Bank loan sanctioned but was cancelled due to no progress by authorities, in the year 2007. I feel that both Central and State governments discuss issues as if they are third party to the problems and say that it is Railway departments responsibility. There are some good experts with heart at the right place but with mouth at the wrong place! Yesterday one of them was demanding that Maharashtra CM should resign as it is his personal responsibility. He also claimed that it is Prime Minister’s personal responsibility! Probably he said such things out of sheer frustration at the sheer apathy shown by all concerned!

Now let us take a mirror, open it and hold it in front of ourselves. Do we have public awareness as a society? We blame the hawkers for occupying space on bridges and space around stations. Do we ever consider of stopping to buy from them? If nobody buys what will they do? But while buying we look for convenience. A society gets government it deserves. All political leaders are from our own society. Those in Mumbai surely know the conditions more than senior leaders. Some of them must be using railway system daily. Has anyone ever raised concern, voice, over these issues seriously and loudly? The “VIP’s” of the politics never “know” these things as they have “open” roads and “closed” vehicles. I can understand that certain jobs may be available only in Mumbai e.g. film/TV related. But there may be many that will be available elsewhere too! So why not shift? I know it’s a tough call but at least think about it! Why cling and stick to a place? I don’t think salaries are so high in Mumbai that people don’t want to leave Mumbai. A cousin my mine who has now retired, moved to Bavdhan, Pune from Hindu Colony, selling everything lock stock and barrel! When I asked how he found the change, he simply said, “Why the hell I was living in Mumbai, God knows!”

Every day in Mumbai railway system, 8 to 10 people die because of various types of accidents. I don’t think any government is responsible for that. It has become so routine that these are hardly being reported. Why this apathy from people? Hundreds of thousands of people cross rail tracks every day and this causes deaths. Imagine everyday 8 to 10 times the train system goes on hold, due to death, there is domino effect of delays and consequential pressure increases on the system, every day. There are many things which have started coming out after the stampede. Parel in olden days was an area where there were mills and mill workers lived around the mills. Getting down at Parel and Elphinstone station was never on your priorities. After mill properties got developed in commercial properties, it seems one million people come to that area every day! This has happened in last ten years so, and  system has started understanding it now.

I always hear of “Bombay Spirit”! It is a myth created by the media. What option do people of Bombay have? Once the Elphinstone station was “sanitized” after yesterday’s stampede, people started going on the same bridge, the same platform and same system! You have to go home is it not? Is this “Bombay Spirit”? What do you do? Stay in office for the day? Or walk home or what?

Let’s pray to God that better sense will prevail and people from various departments will sit together, plan and start actions. There are always immediate, short term, mid term and long term actions in any project. Something can always be started right away. For example if there are more than one bridge on a station with proper ingress & egress, out of sheer habit people will keep on using old bridge all the time. Make bridges “one way” where possible,  it will straight away increase capacity by 50%.  People will have to walk a little more. I see very long walkways in CBD area, and people prefer covered walkway; but they use this because there is no other option to cross the express way. Start merciless operation of fining heavily, people crossing the rail tracks! It is their responsibility “not” to cross the rail track! Removing hawkers from bridges and areas outside stations is possible but needs to be sustained over a period of time. This will need political will. Removing rikshaws and taxis from outside station is easily achievable.  People should form a movement at all stations “Not to buy from hawkers”, it is their responsibility too! All in all every department, person, officer, and commuter should raise their hands and start to act.

Latest news is that Central Government has come into action and a lot of things are planned for suburban train system with a specific time frame. Let’s hope it works out.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/sep/30/foot-over-bridges-will-be-mandatory-additional-escalators-cctv-sanctioned-for-mumbai-stations-piy-1664829.html

 

 

Age is just a number!

Use your senior age to advantage!

Every society has its way of handling age and old people. What does it depend on? Relationships, money, closeness in the family, decide many aspects in life. Of course age is not the only factor, along with age comes the factor of health! If these two combine badly, the situation becomes dicey! In the current scenario where migration is the name of the game, things can be even more difficult; it is not migration to another country but it can be migration to a city from village or to another city, for work! Old are of course left behind!

My observation is that in western society, health permitting, senior citizens do a lot of things independently, without giving too much thought about age. This is probably because many generations have had a large number of senior citizens and are used to handle their own things, financially and otherwise!

In the generation of my grandparents, there was hardly any migration and most of the family continued to live together, many a times in the same house. Household requirements and individual requirements were very low and people survived with low incomes. At a later stage in my grand parents case, I think my father and uncles used to give additional support to them. It was always discussed in those days and even today, that people from that generation were really strong! They had to be! During young age of my grandparents, the life expectancy was so low, that those who were really strong, survived. Large number of people would die of influenza, plague and so on. There were no modern medicines or diagnostics. You catch the dreaded illness and you are gone!

But in today’s times, with Modern medicines, general improved health awareness, you see a lot of senior citizens around, with reasonably good health and in some cases wealth too! That’s a great combination if used properly. You have everything and diminished family responsibilities. So why not use the situation fruitfully? This is right time to start using ones bucket list! It could be books, travel, watching sports events, music events or whatever you have not been able to do in younger age.

In India we consider the age around 70 as old. Old enough to be reading Scriptures, living a contented life, interacting with grandchildren if they are around, maybe go to Mandirs and so on, in short doing nothing! This thought process is changing albeit slowly. Many of my friends in this age group have  become globe trotters, travelling with spouses and certain cases alone. In Western countries thought process about old age is  pretty different, the oldies are quite independent. We as a society should try and emulate good aspects of western thought process.

In last two years on different excursions we met a lady who was 99, travelling alone! Recently we met a 87 year old person again travelling alone. He has travelled to 99 nations in the world. Mind you, the examples I am giving here are all westerners. We have seen people who needed wheel chairs, one young man needed 100% Oxygen support. Yes, in foreign countries the facilities for physically challenged people are superb. That helps but it is the will to do it, will to travel, to explore through the physical challenge. Our group in both cases was predominantly of westerners!

In India our thought process is not very open to such thinking because for the first time, in our history, a large number of fitter & willing senior citizens are around. There is no history of independent senior citizens wandering about. We met an Indian couple, in early fifties, from Mumbai, at Matterhorn in Switzerland; they were kind enough to help us with some photos. While parting, the gentleman made a remark, “Sir, it is creditable that you are doing this journey at your age!” He had a valid point, not many Indians of our age travel internationally in mountains, independently. In the group in which we travelled, we were in middle range of the age group, many were 75 plus!

In general we take our age very seriously and think in terms of “Vanaprasthashrama” (fourth and final stage of life cycle)! Of course we have to be careful that when we travel we do not have any health issues! When we were travelling my wife Jaya had a minor foot injury. Our tour manager suggested, in good faith, that we should avoid mountains so that there is no mishap. But we were careful, reasonably confident ( of course not over confident) and did most of the things that were possible on the tour. We enjoyed the ride on the open deck of double decker cable car at Stanserhorn in Switzerland! Was the weather cold!

DoubleDeckerCableCar

Another thing that happens with the age is that we become a little inflexible with our eating habits. But we always followed the dictum ” Be like Romans when in Rome”! So we did have Pizzas and Pastas and Salads when we were Italy and enjoyed them. Of course “Kartoffelsalat” while we were in Germany! Did we have lovely wines when were in wine country? Of course we did!

What we can do post retirement is dependent on our mind set and openness to try new untried things. Don’t forget that many westerners do come to India where systems, food, weather are quite different for them. They can do it because of the flexibility that they show. You must be wondering why I am giving examples of western world. This is just to explain how differently old age is treated by westerners and what are the joys of this different treatment.

While walking around in Lucern, we had 76 years old Jones from Montreal for company. We saw one Indian restaurant and she said, ” Since you and Jaya are with me, I would like to try Indian food!” We went there and enjoyed the really pleasant food, even by our standards! Only thing I did not manage is to make Jones eat raw onion, the way we eat it! I had also offered to show her how we eat with our fingers but at her request we passed it too! I am sure we also will become more adventurous and try different things! Happy globe trotting folks!

 

 

Naysayers or anti dev!

Naysayer is one who denies, refuses, opposes, or is skeptical or cynical about something!

There is an abundance of everything in this world including the naysayers! I don’t think we are born naysayers, it is the characteristic that we develop over a period. Like all other things, this human trait gets developed over a period due to circumstances in which we grow, people we have come across, maybe ones education. But when I think about naysayers that we see sometimes, it is really difficult to judge why one becomes a naysayer. One may be opposed to an idea, or thought process but one cannot be opposed anything new, it can be a new thought or a new technology!

These thoughts came my mind while I was reading about Bullet Train project. Why does India need a bullet train? What is wrong with today’s trains? They take you from place to place, sometimes on time with some comfort. Why change the status quo? To me bullet train is not a train, it’s a concept! I am advisor to a Japanese conglomerate in India. One customer of ours wanted to visit the plants in Japan. He wrote an e mail asking what is buffer time he should keep to catch a flight from place B. He was to travel from place A to B by bullet train. He got a reply from Japan, “What buffer time are you asking about?” Our friend was not sure if the train would reach in time for the flight. When he mentioned this, reply from Japan was, “No buffer time needed! Shinkansen never gets late! Only if there is major earthquake it can get late!”  When we have bullet train in India, I am quite sure part of a system in India will reach international level! Between Mumbai and Ahmedabad it is going to stop at 7/8 stations and will improve systems in those areas! 

Shinkansen

We have all seen this, look at Metros all over India. Very rarely we see Metro trains getting late, platforms being dirty and so on. This is observed all over India. Who uses Metros? Everybody! Why this has happened? It is said that a place is modern when rich use the public transport! We as a society are open to these changes, but our naysayers don’t want them. Sometimes I feel that naysayers are worse than the politicians. They do not want any modernity or a change. Kolakata metro is more than 20 years old but still remains spik and span!  

KolMetro

It is not about modern technology, it is about modern thought process. Modern methods that new technology can usher. When Mumbai Pune expressway was being planned the naysayers were of course dead against it! What happens after 20 years! We cannot imagine life without the expressway. Modern Facilities, infrastructures not only involve technology but a new way of thinking. In many countries train and bus systems are so well connected that they have a single ticket which can be used across the systems. New way of thinking comes up with new solutions. Indian railways is in the process of establishing a diesel engine plant in Bihar which is expected to go live in a year or so. But world over, the thought process is shifting from Diesel to Electric! In today’s papers, there is a news item that discussion is going on with the Partners GE about trying to find out ways of discontinuing this project. Govt maybe forced to pay more than US $ 2/ billions but in the long run it is nothing but benefits! Seeds of this discussion are already sown! Naysayers will of course say, “Oh, we are wasting money!”  Govt has recently scrapped 11 power projects based on coal and have decided to go ahead with Nuclear plants! This is again having the same reason as that of diesel engine plant! These two are examples of how serious now India is about environment! 

Recently we travelled from Zurich to Frankfurt by train. Tickets were bought a couple of months in advance. When we went to Zurich and checked, I was a given a route paper saying that some track work required emergency repairs hence instead of direct journey there was a change in route. After one hour we changed the train, then we reached a very small station by another train, where there were no escalators etc. We were worried as our bags were heavy. But they had made arrangements for senior citizens; our bags were carried free of charge by porters to the other side of the station and put on a bus. The bus took us to another station about 15 kms away. At that station, we were put on a train to Frankfurt! Had there been naysayers in the railway system, they would have told us, Sorry! This is your refund! Have a great trip! What I could have done if I was given refund! Nothing and scramble for a way to go to Frankfurt! But it is positive thought process, because of which, we reached Frankfurt, only about ½ hour late!

How naysayers were against Maruti? They wanted people to continue using Ambassador and Fiat! Rajeev Gandhi introduced the idea of computerization, Manmohan Singh opened the economy in 1992! How much resistance was there! Our naysayers wanted to keep on following socialistic model where everyone remains poor! Even after their Citadel Soviet Russia had failed!

Maruti800

What is the profile of a naysayer; they are generally good speakers, are against any sort of development, have lawyers in the group, an engineer is thrown in between for technical arguments, and are generally know all. What is their agenda? NGO’s preferably foreign funded, are in their gambit, with foreign trips thrown in for lucky few! Their favorite subject also include housing encroachment on hills and tree felling! If half the hills are encroached by illegal shanties it is fine but someone tries to build something legal! Heavens will fall. Good old SFO is a city on hills and there many such cities world over.

SFO

In the city of Pune where I live in India, the usual traffic issues are there. For last 15/20 years government is hoping to build a road on the hills which may take care of bottle necks! Court cases started and it was ruled that, against each tree brought down, ten new trees should be planted. Government agreed to plant 50 in place of ten. Effect, one more court case against with another issue! What is the solution for this?

In democracy these things keep on happening. Patience is what is needed! I am not arguing that there should be no opposition; in fact different views always bring out the best possible solutions, most of the times. But opposition for the sake opposition is not the way forward. Years ago, India’s well known industrial doyen Shantanurao Kirloskar had said, ” Are trees for us or are we there for trees?” Hope our society will carry forward his wisdom and make this world and especially our city Pune, a better and modern place to live! 

 

 

 

 

Movies, a complex Passion!

I try to take advantage of international flights by watching old time classic movies. Sometime back I had watched “Casablanca”. It was a Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman movie made in 1942! Recently I watched “Vertigo” by the Alfred Hitchcock produced in 1958 with James Stewart and Kim Novak. This movie had a special fascination for me along with North by Northwest! In my childhood I lived behind Metro Theater in Mumbai and used to hear some discussion by my elder brother Shrikant about such movies but naturally never understood anything. My favourite movies in those days were of course “Tom & Jerry Cartoons” and “Seven brides for seven bothers”.

JamesStewart2KImNovack2Vertigo Kim Novak 19581

After coming home, I was checking details about Vertigo and realized that movie did not fare so well, commercially, at least initially. This reminded me of my one of the all-time favourite Hindi movies, Teesari Kasam (1966), (Third Vow) Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman starrer!. (There is one more all-time favourite that is “Guide”; it is not a coincidence that both movies have Waheeda as the lead actress!) Teesari Kasam also did not fare well in the initial showing. In fact initially it did so badly that its producer Shailendra died due to shock. Later on it did fairly well at the box office and went on winning accolades for the movie. Raj Kapoor and Waheeda’s performances were highly appreciated. In case of Vertigo too the movie got accolades later and is known to be within top movies made by Hitchcock.

HiramanWaheeda1

I also liked the plot and story of both the movies which I want to share with you. For Vertigo it was a plot with finesse and for Tessari Kasam it was a simple story! Movie making is a passion. People have known to have lost all their money making a particular movie but it never stopped them from making that particular movie. Many of these people had taken huge loans against their only assets at that time, their homes. Wrong fall of dice would have wiped them out but passion has no bounds! Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker was his passion; but it bombed at the initial showing. He was almost on the verge of bankruptcy.

As movies these two are in different genre. Teesari Kasam is movie based on story in Bihar hinterland with rustic village surroundings.   Vertigo is a Hitchcock suspense movie based in San Francisco. Both the movies hold our attention till end.

In Teesari Kasam, Hiraman a bullock cart driver, has taken two Vows (Kasam in Hindi hence the name Teesari Kasam). He is once caught carrying illegal goods in the cart hence takes first vow, never to carry illegal goods ever! Then he ferried bamboos once to timber market. The load upset the horses of two gentlemen on the road. They beat him badly. So he takes his second vow never to carry bamboos in the cart.

In Vertigo, in the first sequence, James Stewart, as detective Scotty Fergusson, loses a colleague in a roof top chase due to fear of heights or vertigo! He tries to overcome this fear later in many ways, unsuccessfully. So he retires from Police force. His ex-fiancé and friend tells him that only similar experience will help him overcome the fear. An acquaintance of his, Gavin Elster, hires Scotty to help him find about awkward behavior his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak) and claiming that she is in some sort of danger. Scotty agrees reluctantly.

In Tessari Kasam Hiraman is asked to carry a Nautanki dancer, Hirabai, to another village. On the way Hiraman sings songs to pass time and tells Hirabai story of legend Mahua. Hirabai is mesmerized by innocence and simplicity of Hirman. Hiraman thinks Hirabai is an angel of purity. On reaching destination, Hirabai arranges free passes for Hiraman, then he joins the group of cart drivers. As days pass bond between them becomes strong.

In Vertigo Scotty follows Madeleine to various places and finds different mysterious patterns. She buys a specific bouquet and goes to a hundred year old grave of a lady Carlotta. Then she goes to a museum and sits in front of portrait of Carlotta. In another sequence she mysteriously goes to a hotel; when Scotty follows her, he can’t find her! Mystery grows. Then Madeleine jumps of in San Francisco bay and Scotty saves her. One thing leads to another and they fall in love. One day he takes her to Carlotta’s 100 year old mission home to see if he can find any connection. Madeleine suddenly rushes up the stairs in the church tower; because of acrophobia, Scotty does not follow her and she jumps to death through a window. Death is declared as suicide. Scotty goes into depression. But was it suicide, of course not! Hitchcock style comes into play. Judie a girl from Kansas, same in looks as Madeleine, comes into picture. Scotty sees her after he is released from the sanatorium. He meets Judie and  requests her to join him for dinner. Later on they keep on meeting. At one stage Judie writes a letter to Scotty explaining the deceit in which she had taken part, to earn money from Elster; Elster wanted to murder his wife with the help of Judie! She tears it off the letter as she has started loving Scotty.

In Tessari Kasam Hiraman is shocked when he watches Nautanki; people at the theatre treat Hirabai as a prostitute. Hiraman fights with others over Hirabai; she tries to make him understand reality of life. He tells her to leave this life but she refuses and explains to him her life’s secret. Hiraman is frustrated and leaves the village. This time he takes the Teesari Kasam or third Vow “Never to carry any dancer from Nautanki Company in his cart, ever! Wow, what a simpleton, what naivety! But still a captivating film with beautiful songs and Nautanki type of dances by Waheeda! 

In Vertigo Scotty has not forgotten Madeleine and forces Judie to wear same clothes as were worn by Madeleine. He changes her hair style to be same as that of Madeleine. Now viewer cannot make out the difference between Judie and Madeleine! Naturally it’s a double role played by vivacious Kim Novak! Pendant worn by Judie is the same which was adorned by Madeleine when she died! Detective in Scotty overcomes lover in Scotty! He starts thinking what could this be? His final aim is to overcome his vertigo problem with help of his Love! He takes her to the same church and wants to climb the tower. Judie becomes jittery as she feels that the truth regarding murder will come out! They reach the top of the tower and Scotty has overcome his vertigo; though he is doubtful about Judie, he still loves her and embraces her! Suddenly the trap door opens up and a Nun comes out! Judie is scared and takes a few steps back and falls through the same window to death.

Wow, what breath-taking suspense! Typical Hitchcock movie!

What was the mystery? Elster with the help of Judie creates a fictitious story about Madeleine behaving in a different way. When Scotty is following Madeleine, he is actually following Judie dressed as Madeleine! When Judie runs to the top of tower, Estel is already there with real Madeleine and the moment Judie reaches them, Estel throws Madeleine from the Window! Scotty of course cannot reach that height because of vertigo and gets deceived!

Friends I have written this blog in different genre and hope that you guys appreciate the novelty that I am trying to bring out! Cheers!

Apprehensions? What is that?

Throw away apprehensions, your inhibitions and embrace the goodness of life! Help the world to drive away dark clouds in life, every bit adds! 
 

The other day instead of going for a walk, I took my camera with a new wide angle lens for tryouts. Left home around 5.30 and went to the bridge on the river, near my home. This trip was under guidance from my friend Vijay Ghate. I take his help on anything related to photography and he suggested that it will be a good idea to go out and take 40/50 photos, trying out variations. Slowly I got the feel of things and decided to come home.

On the way back home I saw three gentlemen, all retired much more than a decade earlier. They were chatting away. They were standing outside an old people’s home by the name Matoshri Vrudhhashram. I saw one more person coming out, he spoke a sentence with them and went inside again. So I assumed that all these friends lived in the home. As I was nearing them and saw that they were observing me, a guy with white hair wearing a T shirt, track pant and a Chappal. I was in photography mode and not in morning walk mode. I had Camera hanging round the neck! 

As I came near them, I asked them in Marathi, “How are you?” The initial apprehensions on their face gave way to a smile. I have generally observed that people speak to me initially in Hindi as they assume that I am a non-Maharashtrian. One of them asked me “Are you from that school?”  I jokingly said, “Now I do not think anyone will take me in any school at this age!” Then I realized they thought that I was from film institute. Then I briefly explained to them my reason for the sojourn with camera. One thing led to another.

We ended up chatting with each other for about 15 minutes. One thing I realized was their keenness to talk to me. I realized that they wanted to share their stories with me, an unknown stranger. One of them had worked in Bombay Suburban Electric office at Parel, Mumbai; another had worked as electrician in a factory. Third person had his career in Govt job. I had common things with first two of them and we could take the conversation further, very easily. Words were just pouring out of them. They wanted company, they were together but maybe they were lonely, away from “home”, the real home.  Was this how you become when you live in an old people’s home? I could see keenness in their eyes but also some sadness. If I had not smiled at them, I don’t think they would not have spoken to me. It is this apprehension that comes in the way in interaction between people. I did not do anything out of the way but I felt nice to see smile on their faces. One of them had worked at Cummins on maintenance side. He took a few names during his time whom I knew. When I told him that I am a Metallurgist by training, he was thrilled to share his experiences about heat treatment furnaces! Was he happy! Mumbai person wanted to know where I lived in Mumbai. They wanted to know where I did my engineering. We could have chatted on and on but I had somethings lined up at home; I wished them a good day and moved on. The story does not end here!

While I started walking ahead I felt that a gentleman, again not known to me, out for his morning walk, was walking parallel to me. I gave him a smile and said good morning. Then I told him that I was just chatting with these folks as I thought humoring them in the morning was a good idea. We walked about fifty steps together and when my lane came, we stopped, I introduced me to him, and we kept exchanging pleasantries and bit of information with each other. He was a registrar in a large education institute. We were talking about the institute. I saw one more gentleman, unknown to both of us, was slowing down. I said good morning to him; and lo he also joined our tid bits. He worked in a consulting company. We all chatted. He was also curious about what I was chatting with the retirees! Without mentioning any details we chatted for another ten minutes and parted ways.

Friends, what I described just now will appear to be a very small event and in life’s cycle it will not even be a blip. But I felt that there is deep meaning involved in those 20/30 minutes. A few people not known to each other, just came together to chat, exchange pleasantries. This to me is most important thing in the world. In our day to day lives, we live next to each other but because of apprehensions we don’t know each other at all! Ok every day you may not get time, you may be busy. But whenever you get a bit of time, why not spend the same in spreading the camaraderie, spreading pleasantness. We know we cannot change lives in that short span of time but we can always create a silver lining to the dark clouds! I hope I did that, to those three gentlemen living in Matoshri! There is nothing more precious in life than a smile on someone’s face! So throw away apprehensions, your inhibitions and embrace the goodness of life! Help the world to drive away dark clouds in life, every bit adds! 

 

Abode- Musings about first phase of my life!

This my life’s journey and role played by different homes in my life. I am sharing my treasure trove with you in this series!

Dictionary meaning of Abode is a place of residence; a house or home. The meaning is given in a few words but how much hidden meaning is there in this word. The life that we live is fully covered by this word. Attached to this word there are many hidden gems linked from everyones life. The abode can be a very small tenement to a big palace. One may be a pauper or a king in his life but in ones own abode you are always the king. There are joys and sorrows, love and hate, births, deaths, birthdays, weddings, preparations studying for exams and what have you. I could probably write about my each abode, one big episode but I thought writing about distinct memories and events from each phase would be more appropriate.

My first abode that I remember was in Andheri, a western suburb in Mumbai in early 50’s. It was a set of buildings and I don’t know what these clusters of buildings was called in those days. It was my first abode. That is where I made my first friend, Pradeep Gavankar. Pradeep and I are in touch with each other even today though infrequently. Pradeep has settled down at Houston in USA. Thirty years later I visited Sharad in Andheri; I went to see these buildings which naturally had become dilapidated structure but I could see myself playing cricket (by playing I mean hanging out as I was too small to play) or playing hide and seek. I also remember going to school walking in the direction of the railway station.

As I am writing about my different abodes  many thoughts simply rumble through my mind, so many memories, new experiences and new people. We humans are hoarders of experience, friends and memories. They are all hidden in our gray cells somewhere; you only need a little input or a tinkle in some format to get it to display in your kaleidoscope.

My father was a Police Officer with transferable job. From Andheri, we went to  then small town called Ahmednagar about 250 kms from Mumbai. We had a small bungalow quarters. A couple of things I remember distinctly are that I had won some kind of running race in my age group and people were clapping when I received the medal, I was probably the youngest in the group! Then surprise of surprise! Some dacoits decided to make a house break and steal things from our home; diwali had just ended so dacoits must have thought there will be some stuff worth stealing at our home. When dacoits came in at night, I was in bed with my mother and I still distinctly remember hearing a hissing sound as if something was being pulled out. I told my mother that I heard something but luckily she thought I was dreaming and put me back to sleep. The dacoits, when they were caught, were obviously shocked to know that they had broken open a Police Officers home; they said that they had planned to kill any person who woke up during the event. Luckily my grandfather also did not wake up though he was a very light sleeper.

Then we moved to Pune for a couple of years. Pune is half way between Ahmednagar and Mumbai both distance wise and culture wise. We stayed in a rented home this time; I was in 3rd/4th grade and made some good friends whom I remembered later in life when I shifted back to Pune again 10 years later. I used to go to school walking through small lanes with friends. You will be surprised to know that almost all the lanes have hardly changed except some homes which have been rebuilt. Once we heard that some army tanks were going on the main road (those were really different days!) . ¾ of us were running along with tanks on the footpath. After sometimes, we were so engrossed, we did not know that we had crossed our school. We had never done that before! In those days it was almost end of town. For benefit of those from Pune/Mumbai we were running on Jangli Maharaj road and had crossed Modern High School. Today this road is one of the busiest road and right in the center of the city and not end of city! Then there was one big fire about ten Km from where we stayed. We could see plumes of smoke from fire in the timber market. Those days buildings were so small we could easily see the smoke at that distance! Later I came to know my father as a Police Officer had to get involved in handling many things with that fire. Two more incidents I distinctly remember from this abode. We had a remote room to ourselves on the first floor. While playing there with a friend, I had inserted a screw driver in an electrical socket and boom….. I don’t know what I did but our fuse had blown off, luckily no injuries for both me and my friend. In another incident, near our home there was a motorcycle accident. Motorcycles were not so common in those days. There was a small crowd to see this and luckily the injured person was moved to the hospital but I can still visualize the mangled vehicle, my first!

We changed a few homes during my life time and but I always moved on when the change happened. I know of people who keep on having a great affinity to their native place and the home there, even after 30/40 years. I think people are made differently. When I lived in a particular home, I of course had a great affinity for the place but I could handle the change effortlessly and always moved on.

From Pune again we moved to Mumbai again and for about ten years lived in Dhobi Talao area just behind Metro Cinema. What days we had in that abode! In this abode I completed my school education and joined college too! Those were my formative year in my life and what fantastic facilities and set up we were lucky to have. It started with my re meeting my friend Pradeep as we went to same school (we did not know that) and met in the bus as he had moved from Andheri to Colaba. I went through my adolescence pangs in this abode. The typical awkwardness in dealing with female species, rebellion for and against everything parents would say, craze to do everything possible and playing sports all the time, exams were just a nuisance. Near our home there were three sports grounds, Cross, Azad and Oval but for some reason our favorite was Cross Maidan. We had Brabourne stadium, where I watched a few cricket test matches, close to our home and Marine Drive promenade was also close by. We had facility to play Badminton and Table Tennis in Police Sports club. This facility allowed me to be a part of my school team which won the tournament when we were in 11th grade! During holidays we were in the Police club all day. All these Maidans were used by us to play cricket and during monsoons we used play football. Monsoon was also a golden opportunity to hang around the Marine Drive with huge waves breaking on the retaining walls. ( We used walk on retaining walls!) On the Maidans there used to be Ramlila program during Dassara festival, we were allowed to go and see those religious dramas. But our main aim used to discretely watch the couples, who used the Maidan to meet for a bit of privacy! Our building was bang opposite Metro cinema on back side. We used to get excited if we were allowed a movie there. What style it had! The ushers used to wear Gray Jacket, Light brown trousers and bow tie as uniform! We used to be suitably impressed. The theatre was air conditioned and used carpets all through! Later on we became friendly with an usher Sawant. He was multitasking at Metro. Ushers had to work for a short duration during the show. In remaining time he was an artist, he used to paint the posters that were displayed at the theater. Our friendship helped us once in a while, as Sawant would allow us to watch movies on the sly via back door if there were empty seats! Eating out was considered sin in those days especially with road side vendors. Near our building, there used to be a Ragda Pattice walla but we were never allowed to eat with him. Even today I love to eat Ragda Pattice!

I know I can keep going on and on! There are so many things I can share with you but I may end up writing a book! I realized that our life is a combination of experiences that we gain. Our abode is the base that nurtures all our thoughts, helps inculcating different values, nurtures bonding which sometimes last all through our lives. You meet so many different people when you change abodes, this helps you to take the best from different people. I have become Cosmopolitan as I lived in Mumbai during the formative years. This has helped me largely in my future life. I think that will have to wait till next one!  Cheers till I talk of Elphinstone College, COEP and so on…