Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Homemade luxury vs readymade convenience

10 years back when I made the journey from Banaras to Bombay, the cultural shock I experienced was not only in the way the city was, but in small little things as well. Things like the snacks at home or the woolen clothes… Sounds strange to lot many people, but the way of world sounded strange to me then.
I saw households where all one ate came from the market packaged in a polythene wrapping, from morning breakfast to snacks like samosa, bhujiya, pakoras, sweets and their accompaniments like chutney, sauces or achar. All these things were homemade till I left home! I also shopped and ate them, but the home taste was missing. And after so many years, I still rely on home made snacks vs the readymade things available in the market – each home vacation (or someone coming from home) ends with huge dabbas of favourite snacks being carried in the luggage.
And similar is the story with woolen clothes, I did not own a single piece of machine made woolen piece till 6 years back, everything I had was hand-knitted – single knit, double knit pure wool – by my Masi. Every winter started with the discussion on the list for the season – is it going to be a regular sweater, or a shawl, or a cap or if she is in a really generous mood – a long coat. And then came the colours and the design – crochet or knit, cable or straight. And last winter, I went back to those hand-knotted sweaters again, matching them with the hand-knitted shawls, my favourite being an old double-knit cardigan in burnt orange which was my Mother’s and then handed over to me – the warmth of the sweater could not parallel any layers of readymade stuff – or was it the warmth of love?
And so, I continue to live with the cultural shock at my own terms – home made snacks and hand-knitted sweaters. There is more such small stuff wherein I prefer the homemade luxury (inspite of the hard work and long gestation period) vs the readymade convenience of buying from the market.

Maybe more on this later,
June 23, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Epics retold

In the age when TV had still not come to every house and there were hardly any movies for children and computers were still long time away from the Indian shores, there grew a generation on mythological stories either told by the grand-parents or through Amar Chitra Kathas.

If one had the luxurious life of living with the grandparents, the stories were told and re-told without any boredom, by the storyteller or the audience. And of course, we eagerly waited for the new edition of Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) - with their beautiful illustrations and stories that took us to the fantasy land - Disneyland was too far off.

Once we moved to Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys age, and later on, Mills and Boon or the Archie comics, these mythological stories seemed so old, outdated or unfashionable to a large audience. And there was a time I thought that this art of storytelling was all gone! Looked like the GenNext will not have the opportunity to know these stories - will not know the story behind why we celebrate Dussehra or Diwali, the significance of Winter Solstice or Uttarayana or the story of burning Holika a day before Holi. However, the focus on India and the Indian growth story helped the child film makers or more specifically, cartoon film makers to take up a subject from ACK and retell the story through digital medium. And so we see those stories on Ganesha, Krishna, Ramayana and Mahabharata - with aniamtion and sound effects to the kids who cannot visualize a life without TV or internet.

And these stories are being retold, for a mature grown-up audience with a modern twist. Last one month has seen the release of two movies - Rajneeti and Raavan - loosely based on Mahabharata and Ramayan respectively - one telling the story of Indian politics and another of a dacoit (or whatever) in a far off jungle in India. One wonders that these stories are much more than just fairly tales - they are as relevant to understand human psyche in modern world as they were centuries ago. So many films have plots that seem to be inspired from the many stories within Mahabharata, Gurcharan Das's latest book is based on characters from the great epic, these epics seem to find a connect and a context in our modern lives as well. And I really feel that there are many layers in these epics that when revealed can help us understand ourselves better.

In search of inner self,


June 22, 2010

A lesson in marketing

Long before the McDonalds and Pizza Hut came to India, Delhi had already witnessed a fast-food revolution through the famous south Indian chain - Sagar Ratna. And its owner, Jayaram Banan can still be seen everyday at his Defence Colony Branch.
Though one sees him every day greeting his regular patrons by name, it was a pleasant surprise yesterday to see him at the entrance at the peak hour, dinner time Sunday evening. While his armed security guards stayed a little away so as not to intimidate customers, Mr Banan was his humble self - guiding and manning the large crowd.
Was this his way of getting back to the basics of customer marketing, or getting to the grass roots from where he started? Since all who throng the outlet would not have recognised its owner, for people like me who do it was a humbling experience, a lesson ... of whatever the work you do, how you do it and perceive it shows your dignity!
A Learner,
June 21, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

First Words

This is not about re-living my life or reminiscing my experiences ... this is about letting my thoughts come out. Letting me talk about things in general, to talk about 1000 things around me, under this sky or around the world that I have a view on. And believe me, I have A view on many things, issues or topics.
As these first words come out in the digital space, I hope I will be articulate enough to put my thoughts in words, words that I hope will be lucid enough to convey what I think.

This is me,
June 20, 2010