Monday, November 20, 2006


I met her around 6 years ago. I was in secod year engineering that time. I stayed in Vitthal Mandir in Madgaon. I was a paying guest of sorts there. It was a proper temple and I stayed and tried studying there while bhajans and kirtans defied all decibel levels.

Prajakta came came to my room that evening with Mugdha and Mridula (her cousins). She stayed there till kirtan started. Then she said she wanted to go. I tried to convince her to wait till the kirtan was over. But she badly wanted to go, she started sobbing. Even Mugdha and Mridula couldnt convince her. To go home, they would have to pass through the temple. My room was bang opposite God's! I mean it was like a store room you would climb your way up. And the wooden staircase was really steep. Prajkta had climbed up herself. But when it was time to go down, she was scared. Looking down the staircase she started crying. I didnt know how to handle the situation. There were people in the temple. And could have created a scene. I decided to piggyback her to the bottoom of the staircase and get her off on the last step. As she got down, she smiled, thanked me and gave me a kiss on my cheek.

This was my first interaction with a mentally retarded child. Its different. You think you are dealing with someone who needs help. Someone who has a learning disability and cant cope up with situation. At least I thought so. Prajakta taught me, I was wrong. She seemed more understanding then other kids of her age. And add to it her innocence and the willingness to express herself without inhibitions. That day onwards I became a big fan of Prajakta. Children with learning disorder generally have short term memory. So for the second time we met, I didnt expect Prajakta to recognise me. But she did, second time, third time, every time after that.

She liked dancing. I saw her dance at a temple function once. She was really good at it. And best of all, she seemed to lose herself to the art. There seemed no effort on her part when she danced. Next I heard she was to go to Delhi to perform at the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the Balbhushan awards. That was a pleasant surprise. Then came the ugly part. Prajakta started falling sick. What seemed like general cold and fever turned ugly....

Prajakta had leukemia. She was dying. Her parents tried every trick in the book to get her cured. They took her to Mumbai for the best treatment possible. She was suffering pain we cant even imagine. Her body would give burning feeling. The poison was in her blood and the blood ran throughout her body.

When she was taken to Mumbai for treatement, she told the doctors to save her just till she could dance one last time at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The doctors tried their best. Although she could attend the Award ceremony, she didnt have the strength to dance. She wore the typical dance constume, but had to be carried to the stage. She hadnt won the award then but she was happy to be there.

She came back to Goa, her health further deteriorated. I went to see her. She wasnt in her senses. Her parents told me she would spend nights screaming from pain. She knew all the stotras by heart. She used to pray ever evening till a day came when she declined to. She said that after all the praise she had offered God, pain was all he gave her back. I guess she took that pretty personally. She went personally to ask him...

I recently heard Prajakta was posthumously awarded the Balbhushan.

She is my hero for life.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Goodbye swamy and thank you so much!!

Weekend brings up the big question of how to live through it without feling that you have wasted it. On those grounds, this was a good enough weekend. After getting up at 11 in the morning, went to play cricket. After a long long time. Felt good bowling. But the post is about a play "Goodbye Swami" staged by a group from Hyderabad called Sutradhar Actors. If I was to give them credit for an effort, I would give them 85%. But if I am to judge, I give them half of that, say 40%.

The script looked stretched, and childish. I dont know. May be I am making a wrong comparison when I compare it with scripts from Mumbai. May be its not fair on part of people at Sutradhar. But lets say not childish, but the flm was at least simplistic. Too simplictic. The story goes something like this...

"A thief/killer/robber/bad man while running and hiding from police, reaches an ashram. Coincidence leads him to becoming a swamy. He knows the shallowness of the disciples as well as has his thoughts clear about the falsehood of the swamys. So he dreams and is succesfull about becoming a swamy. The pranks he plays on the desciples, their success and the way he becomes a largely followed swamy" is the skeleton of the story. This can make an interesting 3rd grade school textook story but not a script.

I was disappointed with the handling. I guess the problem is - Vinay Verma doesnt have sufficiently talented men, that he has to play the central character, every time. He is a wonderful actor, I know. But he needs support from his co-actors.

A play is a teamwork. Everything needs to be fine for the play to work. That aint be the case with the play I witnessed.

Something looked rotten in the state of denmark...

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Tyada experience


This beutiful view is from the aerocon cottage of Tyada Jungle Bell Resort - an eco-tourism effort from APTDC. I made a weekend trip to tyada on the last weekend. Lets start from beginning.

After leaving Hyderabad to go do a project in Mumbai, it was always on top of my mind that I hadnt seen enough of AP. Eco-tourism (basically roaming the jungles) being top on my list, I was determined to check out APTDC's eco-tourism projects in Arku/Tyada. I was actually hoping of some participation from friends also on this trip. But they ditched big time. Anyway...scores shall soon be settled. As it was destined to be, I embarked on this journey...

"Ekla chalo re" . Tyada is approx. 80 kms from Vizag. So i took this amazing semi sleeper volvo of kaleshwari Travels from Hyderabad. Trust me guys...this is the best bus I have ever travelled on...EVER & remember I travel quite a number-o-times. it has sufficient leg space for a 6 footer. The seats recline enough for a comfortable sleep and it is not expensive at all (Rs.650 Hyd-Viz). Then I caught APTDC bus from Vizag to Tyada which left Vizag at 7 in the morning.. After Travelling for another 3 hours, I was at my destination. Having previously been to Galibore near Bangalore, I had high expectations from Tyada as well. But it wasn't as good.

The first and foremost thing that I was looking for in the trip was adventure and the secludedness of the place. However, Tyada isnt exactly that. It is well linked by road and rail to Vizag. So getting there at least wasnt much of an adventure. But if you have been in hyderabad the place will surely mesmerize you.

Having reached there at about 10.30 in the morning, I freshened up and read a bit till 12.30 in the afternoon. Then went for some pet puja at the resort's restaurant, The restaurant was another big disappointment. It had the most unintersting menu i have ever seen. All the ususal fried rices and haka noodles of the world. After a bit of afternoon ciesta (4 hours hehehe), his excellency decided to grace the performance of dhimsa dance at the resort at 7 o'clock in the evening. This is supposedly a tribal dance form. However,it appeared to me as a pretty monotonous and a very proffessionaly carried out coreography. The dancers hailed in the name of "maninger garu". I didnt exactly get the point why they were doing that till I came to know they would say "xxxgaru ki jai" for whoever tipped them.

After a drabbing dance performance, i had a light dinner and decided to return to the cottage. Next morning, there would be a wake up call at 5.30 for a brief walk in the hills (marketed as bird watching by the resort). It is surprising how time comes to a standstill or may be moves at the snail's pace when there is no TV and when there is no one with you. I read for quite some time (Marker - Robin Cook) for quite some time, and when I thought it must be well passed mid night, it was just 10.30 at night. Bored, I slept at around 12.30.

Next morning's bird watching was a turn-down to the core. We were a groop of 9 people - 6 foreign (1 spannish, 3 germans, 1 brazillianand 1..??), 2 bengolis and 1 me. The guide was a telugu dude. He couldnt speak a word of hindi and noded yes for anything. He knew selective phrases in english viz. Birds (prononced as bards), tribals and campfire.

Tyada didnt interest me enough to keep me there through the day. So when I learnt that Borra caves were somewhere cloose by, I set out in the search...

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Monday, November 06, 2006

The youth of my country

An incident that has shocked me.It has shaken me rigorously. While the media has stopped reporting and other bigger breaking news fetch limelight, I challenge the responsible media (read Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardessai and the likes) to have their "We the people" &  "the big fight" on this issue.

What I am talking about is the gaziabad incident. Where in about 4000 aspiring policemen went on a rampage damaging public property,harassing general public and even pulling women out of cars and molesting them. This is a law and order situation later. First and foremost it is a big questionmark on the value system,culture and the educational system. Out of these the first two are the ones we say we have inherited. And look at what it is producing: hooligans in thousands. Are the parents of all these youth ready to owe up for what their patrons did?

Even the media is not highlighting the real issue here. It is focussing on the easiest target, the police. Whereas the real culprit is "we, the people" that all the "responsible" media always fights for. Its time to turn around and ask some questions.

Does it not bother anyone that 4000 literate youth of this country are not even socialised enough to express their anger in a more civilized way! I would have given a sympathy if it was just destruction of public property and other "normal" means of expressing disagreement in our country. But harassing individuals? Ladies?

We need some systematic moral education here. How about RSS ??

Mission tyada

Mission: Tyada

Status : completed

As of: 11/06/2006 0800 hours

Details: awaited