Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Food for thought


-By Swetha Amit
As I stepped out of my car, I couldn’t help noticing the pavement population. The ones who were strewn across like some unwanted garbage with no one or no where to go to.

A particular family with two children was seen scrapping every bit of rice from an earthen pot as their supper. The father seemed content seeing his kith and kin eat heartily while foregoing his share of the meal. Yet one couldn’t ignore the unmistakable hunger in his eyes which were possibly longing for a generous helping of anything edible enough to eat. The brown rice which was probably only half cooked without the usual spicy accompaniments seemed to bring in smiles on to the little ones' faces sans any complaints with regard to its raw taste.

Touched by the rather pitiable sight I couldn’t help but retrospect about a rather contrasting scenario in a wedding dining hall.

Prepared with great zest and care in rather humid conditions of the tiny kitchen is the lavish spread of mouth watering delicacies; and the important aspect that attracts many to mark their presence rather than bestowing their blessings on the newly weds. As the dining rooms are filled to the brim, it is indeed a rarity to see folks coming out with million dollar smiles similar to the little ones on the roadside. On the contrary heavy frowns are portrayed on the large foreheads. Adorned in gold, it is sad to see their hearts not comprising of the same. Instead they bear resemblance to the crassness of a stone which is yet to be refined and polished.

The flurry of criticisms that follow despite a heavy meal can put genuine food critics to shame. The never ending statements of less salt, the inappropriate amount of ghee and the spice not being enough reflect the statements of the supposedly educated and ‘modernized’ individuals belonging to a certain calibre. It certainly isn’t the case most of the times where the food is horrendous as it’s portrayed to be. It makes one think that such lives are probably devoid of the necessary stimulation and ‘spice’ to be indulging in prolonging baseless criticism. Or that the so called ‘groomed’ side inject their doses of disdain only to prove their false superiority –an attitude carried forward from the yesteryears; of a deliberate fault finding exercise.

Comparisons made to the eateries served at the previous wedding, fussing around like a hen left in the rain; these forty something complaining individuals portray a maturity of no less than a four year old. Throwing a tantrum due to a particular dish not being served on time can make the grey cells work at a rapid speed desperate to conclude whether the same people are heading departments in the suave corporate world. Nevertheless it invokes feelings of disgust to any observer.

It makes me shake my head in exasperation and a desire to present slides on a thought provoking issue of malnutrition and hunger in the country. Taking things for granted they seem to forget their fortune and luck of being able to afford a life where meals are brought at their beck and call. On the other hand millions are starving for one square meal a day.

It makes my heart bleed to see this stark imbalance in life. And also realize the sheer effort and money wasted on ungracious beings who are out to attack their counterparts like wild sharks on a hunt. Instead feeding the poor and the deserving ones would evoke not only a sense of satisfaction but also a feeling of making a difference to the needy. The joy of seeing cold hungry eyes fill with gratitude and an inherent glow is infinite and certainly cannot be measured. The noble deed of poor feeding to the deserving fellow humans can be a strong consideration factor to celebrate an occasion especially with the lump sum amount that is being wasted on unwarranted and ungrateful people.

I couldn’t help realizing that extremity is a predominant factor and it appears that the world is just painted black or white. One witnesses both the contrast worlds comprising of a pseudo affluent cynicism on one side and genuine poverty stricken optimism on the other.

It occurred to me that life’s greatest lesson can also be learnt by merely observing such souls on the streets. Not taking anything for granted and being thankful for whatever we have without an arduous struggle instead of whining on an eternal basis. Will people ever learn? Time will tell.

As I walked away slowly, the stirring images of the little girls’ smiles and their father still lingered in my mind.

Written for www.msn.co.in

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‘The Opportunist’: Highway or Dead end

-By Swetha Amit
Opportunities are often considered the admission to reaching great heights. However there are a few exceptions to this case which can lead to life becoming a living hell for some.

The film ‘The Opportunist’ portrays the effect of the latter scenario where the course of events occurring in a two hour journey leads a man to ruins.

The protagonist is played by a popular actor Manoj Joshi who boards the train to Panvel. In the course of the journey he encounters a woman (Rohini Banerjee) in distress who is weeping uncontrollably. His persistent queries are met with disclosure of more than just the high strung emotions. Gradually he finds himself making use of the given opportunity and giving way to his weakness only to face a shocking revelation of his destiny.

The film which is a G.K Desai production is brilliant and very thought provoking. Enjoying the credit of being the only Indian short film to be selected at the Con-Can movie festival in Tokyo, Japan, it manages to make a long lasting and powerful impact on the viewers within its 12 minute screening. This is owed to the sensitive direction by Dipk G. N. Nanglia.

Deep and dark, it enlightens the audience with an exemplary and a socially relevant message in the end. It exhibits the fact that while some opportunities enhance our living on a highway, there are others which lead to a dead end. The above instance is a perfect example of the latter case that justifies the title completely. Irony is that when the protagonist catches the train, little does he realize that it was probably his gateway to the other world. A must watch for all.

Change seems to have enhanced the unconventional mode of story line that dwells on the intellect more than pure entertainment. It is a pleasure to see the potential growth for many Indian film makers in this era of globalization. Opportunities are plenty for the creative minds to learn and explore into foreign ventures that showcase not only the inherent talent but also pride of the sub continent.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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Friday, May 09, 2008

The perfect beauty

Received this thought provoking write up via email. Imprints its content on to the minds of the readers and leaves a perennial scar on the cognitive aspect,the outcome of which is indeed positive and beautiful.

Beauty, Shining Through
By Lynne Massie


*Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.
~ Confucius

It was 4 o'clock in the morning on June 9, 2003, when I received the phone call parents’ dread.” This is the emergency room calling and your son was just brought in with severe burns on his face, neck, and arms. We have called for an airlift and are going to fly him to the burn unit in Seattle."

Seattle was 350 miles from his college, so we knew immediately this was serious. The physician described the accident, which caused the burns. At 2 am, our son and his friends decided to barbecue hamburgers in the courtyard of their apartment complex. Not exactly the dinner hour for you and me, but for college students, probably fairly normal.

While they were cooking, an automatic sprinkler system came on, dousing the grill. They dragged the wet grill to another location and attempted to relight it. Doing what most adults know not to do, they squirted lighter fluid directly on the smoldering coals. The grill literally exploded, and, as it ignited, the flames caught my son's shirt tail. With his clothes ablaze, the flames shot from his waist to well over his head.

Fortunately, one of the boys was quick witted, grabbed my son, and rolled him into the sprinkler system. While it saved his life, it was not in time to save him from severe burns and the associated terrible scars. After he recovered from the intense treatments, the doctors told him they would not do plastic surgery for 6 months because it takes that long for the skin to stop shrinking and wrinkling. So, he had to return to college with scars typical of severe burns.

When I was a child, my mother told my sister, who had a 10 inch, very visible and nasty scar on her arm, "Nancy, if you ignore the scar, other people will ignore it. It does not mean they will not notice it, because>they will. But, it means it will not matter to them if it doesn't matter to you.” I passed this wisdom on to my son.” Keaton, no one will pay any more attention to your scars than you do. If they do not bother you, they will not bother others." He took my advice to heart and returned to school with his head held high -- glad he was alive.

By the end of the six-month waiting period, he decided that the scars did not matter and did not define who he was. So he made the decision to forgo any plastic surgery. We all have scars and flaws that we believe cause people to shun us. And we>spend a lot of time thinking that if only we looked differently, or dressed differently, or could have more money, or a different and newer car, people would like us better.

But you see, like Keaton's scars, people will only judge you by your looks, or your clothes, or your car, IF you are judging yourself by these same false standards. One of my friends in college was as ugly as homemade sin and yet, when>people met him, they noticed his looks for about 10 seconds. This man felt good about himself as a person and spent most of his time concerned about other people's comfort and welfare. It never seemed to occur to him he would be rejected because of his looks -- and he wasn’t. What people saw was his kindness, his concern for them, and his sense of humor. They never noticed his looks because he set the standard himself. He didn't act "ugly" so people didn't treat him as "ugly".

What about your scars and flaws? Do you let them define who you are? Do you really believe that other people care about what is only on the surface? Or are you able to look beneath your skin and see the beautiful person residing within? Today put your imperfections out of your mind and concentrate on what you value within yourself. Because if you can see that beautiful person, every one you come in contact with will see the same beauty.

*Let your beauty shine through.*

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