Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Killa & Cloud Atlas

No, these two movies have nothing in common but just that I recently watched them and wish to capture my experience in a single post. 

Killa - 

"Killa" (Fort) is a coming of age film in Marathi language shot entirely in the Konkan region of Maharastra. The storyline is nothing new. The plot and character of the main protagonist resemble those of « Le gamin au vélo » or « Extremely loud and incredibly close » but for indian audience this is definitely a new territory. The story revolves around a boy who has moved from the city of Pune to a much smaller town in the Konkan and he fails to adapt and refuses to come out of the sorrow of his fathers death. Basically the stories conveys how the child has shut himself inside a fort and does not let anybody in. But the Konkan atmosphere and surrounding is bound to change him. I was also able to see another subtle meaning in this plot. The child is a Brahmin. He could have been of any caste but the author chose him to be of an upper caste. Being a Brahmin myself, I can relate to the story of adapting and accepting beyond ones religion and caste that has heavy influence on the indian society. In the far Konkan land, the child learns that there is a beautiful world out there and he cannot shut himself in without accepting that fact or befriending the people around him and by overcoming his grief he has to look beyond. Great cinematography compliments the  incredible performances by the main characters. I must thank Ganesh bhai for suggesting me this movie. 

Cloud Atlas - 

Cloud atlas, the book is a masterpiece. The movie deviates a little from the book and tries to drive its own conclusions from the story. Some of it makes sense, some of it further complicates the story than it is already. 

Cloud Atlas is a collection of six stories that are all connected. The first story is set in 1849 in the pacific island where a lawyer is sailing back from Cathay islands to San Francisco and suffers a  severe illness during his journey. He recounts his experiences in his diary. The second one is about a bisexual English composer who in 1931 travels to Bruges to work as amanuensis to an ageing composer. His story is delivered through the letters he writes to his lover. In the third story, set in San Francisco of 1973, Luisa ray, a journalist gets involved in a very messy affair dealing with safety of a nuclear reactor. In the fourth segment that happens in London of 2012, an old publisher is facing an ordeal from which he must escape. In 2144, a fabricant cloned for slave labour from Neo Seoul is helped to escape by a rebel group and is tasked with a mission to begin a revolution. In the final story that takes place in a post-apocolyptic society (2321) somewhere in Hawai, world has gone back to a primitive state. Zarchy, a tribe helps a much advanced human from other part of the world in her mission. Now all the main characters in these stories have a birthmark that resembles a comet thus connecting them. Are they the same soul taking re-births to bring a revolution of a kind against the wrong in every era? Are we repeatedly making the same mistakes? Do souls evolve and transform from one birth to another? Several of these questions to be pondered upon while watching this movie. I leave without disclosing any interpretations as every viewer may drive his own connection between these stories. But even if this movie is to be watched as six separate stories, it is a treat to watch. 

Friday, October 02, 2015

Ganapati Bappa Maurya!

Post my trekking, I indulged myself in the preparations for the Ganesha festival that Mumbai was gearing up for. Our friend Ganesh Bhai, had the background art for the Ganesha idol all planned. He had two ideas, one for the apartment Ganesha and the other to be arranged at a friend's house. I was lucky to be part of this because, I learnt a lot about a new form of art. Cardboards were cut in different shapes to form the outline. They were then joined and stuck to a hardboard that came from box material. 

On one of the works, we tried plaster of paris to fill the gaps in the work but it did not stick well. 

On the other, we planned a 3-D effect by providing wooden strips between layers and stuck together all the minute details of the final art.

A black primer was applied before the silver spray paint went on them. 

But it was the idol of Ganesha and some lighting that made this art work complete. By the time the first one was complete it was 11:30 in the night. We had to get to the second one.

For the one to be placed downstairs, Ganesh Bhai had originally planned colours like blue and orange to resemble a peacock feather but the black primer ruined the plan and we could not apply colours on them. So we went with gold and silver spray on that too. Again the lighting and the Ganesha idol completed this work at 6:00 AM on the morning of Ganesha festival. A full night was thus spent in doing some good and interesting art work. The joy that the process of doing an art work is unmatchable and this time it was a collective work from me, my Brother in law Dinesh, Ganesh Bhai and his son Shivam.  

Next morning at around 10 or 11, we all got together for the Ganesha pooja. It is always nice to observe the enthusiasm in the Mumbaikars during a Ganesha festival. 

I witnessed the 1.5 days visarjan. As it continued to drizzle, the crowd lovingly and enjoyably danced their way towards the lake and sent away their beloved Ganesha. 

During the Monsoon and Ganesha festival, that luckily coincide, is definitely the best time to be in Mumbai. Apart from that,  did make some local train journeys to meet my friends in Mulund and Vashi and my aunt in Kharghar. My sister as usual cooked some delicious Maharashtrian dishes that I like. This trip like all previous ones to Mumbai felt complete. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lonavala To Bhimashankar Trek

My trip to Mumbai during this Ganesha festival was well timed to include an interesting range trek of two days tracking the old trade route from Lonavala to Bhimashankar. I am told that there are several of such trade routes all around Maharastra that pass through the beautiful Sayadris. I was perhaps the first one to register for this trek about two months ago, as soon as my Mumbai tickets were booked. I was asked about my trekking experience as this one requires great stamina. We were to walk for around 65-70 kms in two days. 

I flew to Mumbai on the 11th and took some rest at my sister's house that day. Caught up on some sleep and at around 1AM my brother in law and I drove to Lonavala railway station. The meeting time was 2:30 AM at the railway station. The traffic on the Puna-Mumbai expressway was heavy and caused some delay but we reached well within time.

At the railways station, I met my 20 other trek companions. Most of them were regular trekkers with this group called Trekmates and hence knew one another. However, there were a couple of them who were new. 

At around 3:00 AM, after a short introduction, we set off on our walk. By 5:00 AM we had to reach a village. I fail to remember its name. So the first stretch of walk was completely in the dark so, I took time to know some of my companions. Tushar from Pune, an entrepreneur; Shailesh from Mangalore but brought up in Mumbai, a math teacher; Binoy and Advaith, fresh engineers; Ganesh, Engineer again from Pune but works in Mumbai. There were four girls in the group. Except for the one who gave up in the first stretch, the other three were super fit and in many ways better trekkers than some of the men. 

At the first village, we rested for about an hour at a temple premises. An old lady got us some much needed tea. However, the tea was made on a open stove that gave a strong flavour of smoke to it. But, at such a time, even that tasted like heaven. 

By now, the night had given way to dawn which had begun uncovering some delightful views to the eye. 

After having tea, we continued our walk. The trek pattern was almost similar through out. Ascend a hill, reach the plateau, cross it and then descend only to board another. It was fun to cross some water falls. The huge plateaus where filled with beautiful flowers like Balsam and this special purple flower called Karvi that blooms once in 8 years. We were only lucky to be on that 8th year and see it blossom in full fledge. 

Binoy was referring to the flower (karvi) when they just emerge out of the buds when he mentioned - « Kitne gandhey hein ye pool ». (How dirty are these flowers) That became a joke for us all through the trek. We called it the « Gandhey Phool » (Dirty flower) that blooms once in 8 years. He would always use the word Gandhey with a strong stress on « an » for everything. « Gandhey phool », « Gandha trek » «  Gandha panni ». 

We reached Kusur plateau and at one end of it is a tower of some kind. Below which is a house where stays a villager. He and his family welcomed us with some water and gave us some shelter to have our lunch. We ate our packed lunch, filled some water and then began the descent to Kusur village. Here we had to walk about 10 kms on tar road which would not be exciting so the trek lead had arranged for a tempo to transport us to next spot. Apparently, there was a delay of about an hour and a half for the tempo to arrive. So we rested by a small house. Requested the lady to prepare some lemon tea for us that tasted brilliant. 

As we began our next climb the cloudy skies began to pour. Thanks to my poncho, I saved myself and my bag from getting drenched. We walked for several kilometres to reach a village called Poderwadi. This is a small village comprising of not more than 10-15 houses. We were allowed to sleep in their community hall. We freshend up at the nearby stream and then had dinner at a villager's house. Chapati, sabji, rice and daal was more than what was expected at that time. Soon after dinner, we crashed. Our tired legs needed some rest.

Next morning, we got up, freshened up , had brekfast at the villager’s house and then left at around 7AM. More accents, more plateaus and more descents. The scene did not change much so more or less they all looked the same unlike in the western ghats of Karnataka. Of course the mountains of Karnataka are at much higher altitude than these so you get to see varying vegetation all through your trek.

After about four hours of walk, we reached Bhimashankar at around 1:00PM only to find a terrible influx of devotees. The peaceful walk had ended in a rather chaotic place; with people screaming, pushing one another to get in the queue and fighting over priority.

None of that mattered to us; the one’s who had cleared this endurance test. We had some food at a local restaurant. Tushar and I bid farewell to others who wanted to continue the trek until Karjat (A 4 hour long descend via Sheedi Ghat). I thought that, I would not enjoy this walk if it had similar views so, decided to take  a bus back to Mumbai from Bhimashankar. That, I think was the best decision. The trek was very good but there seemed always a hurry amongst the team to reach a destination. We had to reach a place by lunch time, or reach a place by dark which made the trek a little like a timetable.

I accompanied Tushar till Manchar on his Pune-Bhimashankar bus. From here, I had to take a bus to Alephata. Here, I boarded a bus to Kalyan. From Kalyan, I took another one to Panvel. It was fun. I realised how much I like being on the road- observing people, specially villagers and knowing their culture. I had a calm mind while returning as there was no hurry to reach anywhere in a designated time. It was one amazing trek for it tested my stamina. Let me not lie, my foot ached, I did crib about the long walks but in the end it all constituted in building the « never give-up » attitude in me. That is what treks of this kind do to you, it makes you stronger, both, physically and mentally.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Turahalli Forest & Omkara Hills

On a saturday morning, (August15th) I set off on my bicycle to Turahalli forest off Kanakpura road famous amongst cyclists. Attached is a phot jounrey that tracks this path.

Before the concrete engulfs the forest!

A small temple at the summit.

Sunrise from the summit of a small hill.

A beautiful wild flower in the forest. 

The peacocks flew away before I could capture them on camera.

Omkareshwara temple aka Omkara Hills.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

La Passion et La Profession

Ça fait longtemps que j’ai écrit en français. Donc, j’ai décidé de le faire de temps en temps ici, dans mon blog. Cet article est dédié à mes amis français.

Non pour ce mariage...

Plusieurs citations revendiquent que c’est le meilleur travail si, notre passion et la profession sont les même. Je ne pense pas qu’il y a aucune vérité dans eux, à notre époque où, la profession est une source essentielle d'une meilleure vie. L’origine de cette pensée se trouve dans une discussion que j’ai eu avec mes amis.

Un article partagé par mon ami parle des écoles internationales qui sont devenues très populaires en Inde. Avec une nécessité de produire les meilleurs élèves, le salaire des professors a augmenté. Pourtant, il y a un autre coté de ces écoles dont l’article ne parle pas. Beaucoup d’entre eux paient les enseignants en retard et moins de salarie que promis. En plus, ils leurs font faire le travail de Romain à partir de l’enseignement. Ceci a posé une autre question pour nous. Quel type de travail nous fait trimer? Est-ce que le mariage de passion et profession assurent un travail idéal? Je suis certainment contre ce mariage.  

Je peins quand je voudrais le faire. Je voyage où je préfères d’aller. J’écris de mes intérêts. Si, je dois peindre comme un travail, ma créativité va toute de suite mourir. Si, je dois voyager avec une date d’achèvement et des attentes, je ne crois pas que je l’aimerai. De même que pour mon écriture. En plus, une profession vient toujours avec une nécessité de l’argent, un chef ou si vous êtes entrepreneur, avec des pressions immenses.  Ceci me fait penser si ma passion restera la même si, je la converti comme ma profession. Mes loisirs ne sont pas à vendre. Mais, cela dit, je voudrais indiquer que j’aime aussi mon travail. 

Ma métier n’est pas nécessairement ma passion. Pourtant, il y a des aspects de mon travail que j’adore et que je voudrais les découvrir plus profondément  Ma profession me donne l’argent que je peux utiliser pour développer mes passions. D’ailleurs, mes passions n'ont pas gérée par quelqu’un d’autre. Autrement dit, ma passion n’est que la mienne.

Alors, la question encore reste - Quel type de travail nous fait trimer? Pour moi, ils sont les travaux auxquels je ne crois pas. Et, pour vous?

(Je vous remercie pour la lecture avec de la patience....bien sûr il y a des fautes, n’hésitez pas de me corriger. Il est comme ça que je peux me perfectionner. Merci en avance!)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Way To Triumph

When I met my nephew Vibhav earlier this year in the US, we talked a lot about his favourite animated movies and superheroes. While browsing through one of his comic books, I promised him to create a painting for him. And there was no other perfect time to gift him the same, than on his birthday this August.

I had the initial sketch ready long before I actually started painting. Then it waited on my easel like all other paintings do for the mood to hit me.

One day, I forced myself to start the colouring. With my past experiences with colours, I chose Acrylic for its brightness and applied the base colours on the two characters - The Spiderman and the Vulture. 

Again the painting waited on the easel to be continued for a perfect day and time. And, then one day within a matter of 4 hours, it reached its intended destiny. 

I completed the spiderman first with the details and actually loved how the shades on the pants turned out. It is very rare that I am happy with my own work. I wanted the superhero to be more attractive in his dressing than the antagonist like it usually is. I also loved how the initial bright blue acted as a base to this final texture. But everything had to be quick as acrylic dries faster. I also had a perfect atmosphere to complement my mood.

For the vulture, I used little white to give a rather dull shade. There was not much detailing on his costumes, so it turned out to be quicker. 

The challenge though was to retain my patience to complete the feathers of the wing. I tried to do them individually. But then thought, I could cheat by creating a thick band of black and white stripes on them.

However, I realised soon enough that it would not work out well. So, continued painting every single strands of the wings separately.

And then, the painting was complete. I had to force myself to look away because, there is always some more detailing to do.

The spiderman was all set to struggle his way through to become triumphant. Victory does not come easy, but what is important is to not stop believing in oneself... like all those superheroes.