Thursday, April 24, 2014

Elections 2014

i am no political commentator. And i don't know which party will really bring about the change that people have been waiting for. But i am so sick about the whole ruckus about the low voter turnout on twitter and elsewhere that i have to add my two bits to this shit.

Lets accept that the voter turnout has been abysmal in some metro cities. To me, even 50% plus is not upto the mark. Do people really not want to vote or did something else happen here? i think there’s a mix of various factors that’s led to this.

The first thing to be blamed is lack of intelligence in choosing the poll dates. What do you expect people to do when you schedule polls just a day before Good Friday? (as in Bangalore) Or on a Thursday when taking the next day off magically turns into an extended weekend? (as in Mumbai). People work really hard and it’s so difficult to care for the future of the country when you can have a little break now! So the choice of polling dates did nothing to help voter turnout.

People not turning up definitely shows a lack of motivation. Polling begins at 7am. So even if people want to take off they can always vote the first thing in the  morning and carry on with their plans. If you really believe your vote can bring change, there is nothing that can stop you from exercising your right. This shows no one really believes in the change story. Deep down we know nothing will really make a difference!

Another technical reason why thousands couldn't vote was the missing names in the voter list. Who is to blame for people who wanted to vote but couldn’t? Do we subtract that from the total voting percentage? Shouldn’t these things have been checked before hand to ensure that people don’t miss out because of something like?

Despite, all the “please vote” campaigns, it’s been quite a few years since any party got a majority mandate. The country has suffered due to coalition govts putting their needs ahead of the people’s and the ruling party trying to keep their supporters intact to prevent their govt from falling. So the circus of politics will not change under ideal 100% voting because the unanimity doesn’t emerge in the poll results.

Finally, times have moved ahead and everything’s gone online. Everyone has a smartphone. People spend hours on social networking sites. Offices have lost boundaries. You can buy vegetables online. Then why not consider an online voting system to keep up with the demands of changing times. It doesn’t matter to people who did not care to vote. But it could make a huge difference to the voting percentage of the country. 

I am just glad that Mumbai is done with the business of voting and we can go back to normal conversations from tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Coffee and me!

  My romance with coffee shops is a very recent one. As is my liking for coffee. From detesting its bitterness to actually liking the lighter, albeit a bit bitter, version of it, i actually crave for it now. And only the ones that cafés serve. Home made never gets that taste. Not even instant Starbucks sachets. So a good reason to go to cafés of all places. And then gradually, a cup of coffee became more than just that.

i think my frequent visits to coffee shops started from the need to get out of home and go somewhere outside. Like most people long to go home at the end of the day, as a freelancer, i crave to escape home. Coffee shops happen to be non threatening places where one can sip coffee and sit for hours. So, that cup of coffee became almost a stress buster while i read/browse sipping it leisurely. Solid couple of hours stepping away from the mad rush of life.

There's something soothing about the aroma of coffee as you enter a cafe. Inhale it deep into your body and the calm sets in. And the first sip of the foamy, hot, bitter sweet coffee is like heaven. Just plain coffee with no flavours to ruin its taste. With every sip, the coffee becomes a companion that wards of loneliness. It says it cares. And I can come back to it anytime I want!

Coffee shops have come up all over the place now. Every place has its own ambience and general type of people you will see. It is interesting to just sit there and watch the world go by. You will mostly find college going younger lot at a place like Cafe Coffee Day. And Starbucks is preferred for a lot of formal business meetings. The price of the items should explain the difference. But i also want to say that you will find people sitting around for a meeting in CCD and college kids (with loads of papa’s money) at Starbucks polishing off chocolate cafe frappe with friends. In short, there is a general atmosphere to a place depending on the clientele with a few exceptions.

Some people feel, and i used to wonder if they are right, that cafes are an expansive hangout. It is a pricey whim. But when i thought about it, i don’t go to cafes everyday. So it’s not like i just cannot do without my cup of daily cuppa. Actually that’s one of the things that goes the romance going. It is a special rendezvous reserved to occasional gratification. Plus, other forms of stress bursting/feel good activities can also have some amount of expense involved. They may also require more than one person to do it. Here, it’s just me - and my coffee - it becomes easier to continue with our dalliance!

What is your favourite activity that you indulge in to let go?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Travel troubles

i must have easily taken a few hundred flights in my life. All in the last 6 years, to be precise. But, even now, i am jittery before a flight. Even a domestic flight. i finish packing up the previous day (most of it at least). Have copious check lists ready, every single time. i cant eat anything before I leave home. If i do, i feel queasy on the way. My cabs are booked for exactly an hour before the reporting time. If the cab arrives, say 10 minutes early, i set off for the airport by the original cab arrival time. And the horrible airplane food after i’ve starved myself doesn’t add any joy to the prospect of traveling.

My husband, on the other hand, must have taken a few thousand flights in his life. Though he has definitely changed now, there were times when he would begin throwing things into his travel bag as the taxi arrived at our doorstep. It was pretty difficult for me to cope with this habit of his considering how seriously i take my traveling. He still doesn’t pack on the previous day (rolling eyes!) but he’s not as last minute as he used to be.

People who know me are surprised at this reaction. i am generally a confident person. And have conquered most of my fears since i have begun running life full time. So after thinking about it for a bit, i have realized that i take after my mom in this trait. She was much less exposed than i am. But the basic nature comes from her. Her reaction to challenges was much stronger where she would get all tensed and would worry too soon. Even though i am not as irrational and keep my cool most of the times. Still, the script at the back of my mind is constantly telling me to avoid trouble - be on time, write things down, run your check lists, weigh your bags etc

i will also attribute this idiosyncrasy to some real life unpleasant adventures while taking flights which tell me that things can wrong and my fear is very real. Thanks to my husband’s earlier habit of testing flight dead lines, there have been several times when we were racing against time while stuck in traffic jams on our way to airports. We would almost give up hope of making it. i think we must have also made a record by being allowed to board an international flight just 20 minutes before take off time!! (Yes, not even 20 min before boarding time!). So, there are genuine reasons to play safe.

In conclusion, it felt nice in my head to be rational about it and know that i am not really paranoid about making it on time. And i wouldn’t want to change this because i think it’s good to be organized and respect times lines. Rest assured, that i enjoy the travel that comes my way - voluntary or necessary.

What kind of a traveler are you? Chilled out or tensed up?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Queen - some thoughts

i went to watch Queen because of all the positive buzz about it. Honestly, i wouldn’t plan to catch up on a movie Kangana Ranaut in it. (Memories of Tanu weds Manu come flooding back). Even though it took me a couple of weeks to finally plan it, the movie was still on in theaters - rare for a woman oriented film to last that long. So that was another clue for me that it is doing well. Even on a weekday afternoon, there were more people than i expected, even though no closer to a full house. And i am glad that i did not miss this one! A breath of fresh air after a long time. 

The simplicity of the film won my heart hands down. i am not expert enough to really comment on the technical aspects like cinematography and screenplay. But the way the story is grounded at all times appeals to me. From the Rani’s look to the way she behaves all through is very realistic and in keeping with the tone of the story.

The change in Rani through her middle class, typical Delhi house in Rajouri to the Paris and Amsterdam is very subtle. When the scene shifts to Europe, i expected the quintessential Bollywood makeover to happen. But the change here is so gradual, just like it would be in real life. Rani is as reluctant to drink wine or live with boys in the same room as a girl from her background would be. Her clothes don’t turn designer to match the foreign locale. In fact, a black bra under a pink kurta seemed a classic stroke in her character.

The story is motivating like English Vinglish was. The moral was more pronounced here. Shit happens. But it all depends on how we perceive it. We can always turn it around into positive. i wouldn’t say that this applies only to women. This can be a learning for anyone.  And think the movie gives such a fantastic turn to a catastrophe in the life of a middle class Delhiite.

i cannot end my post without talking about Kangana Ranaut. She may not be rated as one of the top actors of the times. But this movie definitely proves that she can act. She carries the film solely on her able shoulders with no glamour or no surprise turn of events to help her. You can feel her anguish and happiness.  You cry and laugh with her. She has managed to make Queen a hit by the sheer dint of her talent!

Go watch Queen if you still haven't.