Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Anjali - The Clay Ganesha for the Colony

The road leading to our house is filled with thousands of Ganeshas - big ones - with Ganesh Chaturthi round the corner. Most are made of Plaster of Paris perhaps, some are clay. Anjali has got it firmly in her head that clay must be used for the idols for the Ganesha festival and artificial idols are not good for the environment (thanks to Daksha school). Every year they have a clay Ganesha making competition at school after which she brings her Ganesha home. For the past few years we have been praying to the clay Ganesha Anjali makes at school and everyone is fine with that. No more artificial idols at home.

But now the young lady is growing older and she realised that she is part of the colony and not just the house. And that the colony has a big Ganesha celebration with a big idol. She got a doubt.

'What Ganesha do they use at the colony celebrations?' she asked yesterday afternoon. 'Clay.'
'I don't know,' I said. 'But it will be a big one. May be an artificial one.'
'Then we must tell them to use a clay Ganesha,' she said resolutely.

I thought for a moment. It did not appear to be a pleasant task. The colony committee and I do not see eye to eye on some issues and they are stuck up on certain issues. If for some reason they are already in favour of an artificial Ganesha (which would have been approved after some committee meetings) they may not take kindly to this last-minute suggestion.

'Let's go and meet the committee President,' I said, with no conviction. 'Do you want to tell him?'
Anjali sensed that I was asking her to take the lead and explain her position to the elders. For a moment she faltered.
'Yes,' she said. 'Let us go and meet the President.'
(You could have thrown me off by naming someone important like the colony President.)

I hoped she would forget about this Ganesha business now that she was given the mantle of explaining the clay story to Mr. President. But she asked me this morning again.
'When shall we meet the President?'
''In the evening, after school?' I told her. Maybe she would forget.
She nodded.

In the evening, soon after she returned from school, she asked again.
'Nanna, shall we go to meet the President? Where does he live?'
I was on the phone when she asked. I told her we will go to the community hall and see if he was in the office. Soon after we headed there.

While walking to the community hall she looked a bit pensive.
'I am a bit scared,' she confessed. 'But it is an important thing and the right thing to do so we must go.'

Wow. I wish I had this courage and conviction in so many things I let go. I wish I had braved through my fear.
I nodded.

We walked into the community hall. The secretary was there with another official. They waved at us.
We walked over to them.
'She wants to know what Ganesha you are installing at the community hall,' I asked.
He was most kind.
'What do you want us to buy?' he asked her.
'Clay,' she said.
'That's what we bought,' he said, holding her hand. 'Come I will show you.'

Anjali's face lit up like a million bulbs. 'Clay?' she asked.
I could not help smiling at the look on her face. It was priceless. Nor could the two officials.
'Come,' he said and took us to the room where they kept the idol under wraps. It was a 4 feet high clay Ganesha idol.

'This is for you only,' he said. 'We must do what you want. Are you performing at the cultural programs?'
After a few more questions about her school etc we took leave.

I am still quite amazed at the whole process. At her idea to influence the colony she was part of. Her perseverance. Her coming with me despite being scared. Nothing to beat her joy when she knew that we were in fact praying to a clay Ganesha.

Ah, so her influence will grow, in areas she can influence, and I hope all of us do the same thing with the same conviction and courage. I love the environmental focus Daksha school gives and the moral courage they instilled in their students. Well done Anjali, for staying true to your thoughts and convictions and carrying the idea through. Certainly the secretary will speak to his other colleagues and surely they can pat themselves on doing the right thing by the kids.

Wonder what I am in for as she grows older. But certainly the right things, the important things. Must be done.

Lie Down With the Lions - Ken Follett

After the 'Eye of the Needle' I decided to race through another Follett which was a big folly. Follett takes us to Paris first where we meet an American (CIA, hero) Ellis posing as someone else and who uses a beautiful woman to get access to what he wants - a dangerous network of terrorists. It helps that she is oversexed. But he is in love with her and wants to marry her - only he has to tell her he is a spy, his name is not Ellis and he has used her. This good work is done by the French spy Jean Pierre, who is a spy for the Russians (bad guys, villain). All we need to do now is to create a triangle with Jane in the middle.

Since Ellis's cover is blown she falls in Jean's arms, marries him and has a quiet child by him. Shift to Afghanistan where the Russians are trying to gain control. Bring America in to interfere and guess who comes to the Valley of Five Lions, Ellis himself. Jane meanwhile has given birth and is constantly buttoning and unbuttoning her shirt to feed the child. She also finds out that Jean has also betrayed her - she somehow specialises in picking spies. Surprisingly she is no spy. Since Jean betrayed her, it is but natural that she sleeps with Ellis. Bring in the Afghan tribes, tough terrain, some land mines, some mullas, some bad Russians (who are very tough but who are worried about blisters) and well, all's well and that ends well. Jane kills Jean who is trying to prevent them from escaping. The child is either unconscious or dead - it only wakes up to feed through all this.

Absolutely trashy and fully written with a film in mind. Boring.

Fidaa - Movie Review

Shekhar Kammula has an unhurried way of making movies. His movies also flow gently, linearly with minimum conflict. Even in moments of conflict the characters are gentle with one another. 'Fidaa' goes the same way.

A family of three brothers of varying age groups live together in the US. One is busy working, one is studying for his medicine (Varun - hero) and one is in primary school. The parents are dead (I think) - so the older ones bring the younger one up. The time has come to marry the first fellow off so they find an ad in a matrimonial site of a girl who lives in a small town near Nizamabad. He comes, likes her, needs his young brother's approval, gets it and wants to marry her within a week. The girl has a younger sister who has a sharp tongue and a mind of her own (Sai Pallavi - heroine). The younger siblings get attracted to one another, has a couple of disagreements and in the end get together and live happily ever after. The father of the girls', who perpetually looks like he is waiting to die, survives the movie and well, except for one boy who may have felt let down, all's well and that ends well.

Not the greatest of love stories though it has its moments. If an attempt has been made to showcase Telangana culture, it succeeds partly. They talk the language, show a few customs but I did not get a feel of it beyond that. Sai Pallavi has nice energy and shines above the rest. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Lovely "To Sir With Love" Moment

Abanti Banerji, my student from the University of Hyderabad, Dept of Dance, called me last week. 'Sir I got the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship-Choreomundus 2017,' she said. Abanti was one of the more energetic and proactive students, and I remember she had asked me to help with her SoP. I am impressed with those who ask for help which I am realising is something I do not do and which I am also finding out is a good virtue to have in your bag. And Abanti has a way of doing it very gently and politely so I had absolutely no problem spending some time on it. We did a bit of work and then the course happened and we all left. But she always took initiative, practiced what we discussed and well, seemed to be making progress.
Abanti - Some serious growth mindset here!
She called me (after 8 months since) to say she got admission into this course (an International dance diploma course that gives her exposure to four countries in a two year course) and wanted to come and thank me. She had many nice things to say and what really amazed me was how she got the full scholarship and even a hefty monthly stipend (and tickets). And she is the only Indian to get admission in the course this year. Like Shobha said to her - "obviously you are ready for it". She is leaving next week.

But to think of a visiting faculty who taught them but eight sessions perhaps, and travel across the town to meet for a short while, with a sweet packet, is stuff that some people are made of. Most would have forgotten and moved on but for someone so young to be so grateful and do it so well speaks well of her. (I don't think I would have when I was her age - or come to think of it, even now!) In fact I told her that the ability to ask for help will take her a long way. Certainly this habit of showing gratitude will help a lot too.

Good luck Abanti and I know you will do well in your chosen path. I am thrilled for you and know you will do extremely well in whatever you choose to do. And like we agreed, do keep in touch!

More about Abanti here

A Nice Gift - The Perfect Bookshelf

For many years I have been dreaming of this perfect book shelf that can take some of the books we are cramming all over the place. We never got down to doing it. The other day my sister Mythily (whose husband Harsha is a voracious reader and who had this fine book shelf made for his home) asked me if I wanted their huge 7 feet by 5 feet book shelf since they were moving and did not have place for it. Did I want it? Of course.

Cherished gift!
I got it home and it looks so lovely to have all the books sitting on it, regally, comfortably and not in some stuffed away corner. Now they can breathe, and I can look at them properly. Thanks Mythily and Harsha. This will be one of my most cherished gifts!

TWIED - Just So Nice to See

Parind shared this picture - his 10 year old daughter Ishwa gifted 'This Way is Easier Dad' to him. The picture says everything. Thanks Parind, thanks Ishwa. Like we are proudly saying all over town - daughters are the best. (Somehow cannot imagine a son giving a gift like this!)

Nice Link - Business books to Read!