Life's Like That

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Jai Karnataka

About 6 years ago, the dreaded sandalwood smuggler Veerappan kidnapped an actor called Dr. Rajkumar. Till that morning, I had never really heard of Dr. Rajkumar even though I had been living in Bangalore for 2/3 years. But that morning, I knew all there was to know about Annavru; knew enough to make me desperate to get home, before someone attacked me for not knowing. The 15 minute journey from college to home took more than 3 hours that day, and I saw first hand, the kind of mob frenzy that anything associated with this veteran actor whips up in this city. I got home safe and sound and stayed at home for the next 15 days because everything was shut. Schools colleges offices etc opened after a fortnight but movie theatres, pubs, pool parlours...anything associated with fun and entertainment remained closed for almost a month, if not more...we, as a city, were expected to be grieving collectively.

My brush with Dr. Rajkumar's fans that day, six years ago, is the reason, why, the moment I heard about his death, I immediately packed up for the day, bought bread, eggs and milk and called Rahul to pick me up (no autos..those guys dont need an excuse to refuse a fare in the best of times, this was tragedy and emergency rolled into one and multiplied several times over). I refused to go to office the next day, even before we got word from our branch head that we were shut. My house is 10 minutes away from Kanteerava Stadium you see, I have to pass by that road on my way back from work. I stayed at home the entire day, alone (Rahul chose that day to go out of town for work) and bored to death because all non Kannada entertainment channels were blocked. So I spent the day sleeping, cooking and watching the same damn news clips 1st on CNN IBN, then on NDTV, then on Aaj Tak and then on Times Now.

What I saw on all these news channels left me profoundly relieved for having stayed at home. It was bloody insane!! My friend G called up from Hyderabad, and the only thing we could say was , "If these guys are going beserk when he died of a heart attack (and old age), can you even imagine what would have happened if Veerappan had killed him!?" My god! Can you?? I dont know how many people would have been killed. Would a Mumbai behave like this when Amitabh Bachchan dies? I am pretty sure Calcutta didnt behave in this ridiculous fashion when Uttam Kumar died. What is it about South India and superstars? im told there were similar scenes of violent grieving (if one can call it that) when NTR and MGR died. I mean really!! Are they expected to somehow defy the laws of nature and live forever? Whats with the violence? Specially at the passing away of a man like Dr. Rajkumar, who by all accounts was a peace loving indiviual. Shameful.

Just as shameful was the way that certain news channels chose to report the news. Having spent the day watching one news channel after the other I must say that CNN IBN presented the most exaggerated, sensationalised, immature and irresponsible reporting on the Bangalore riots. Yes, there was violence, yes mobs threw rocks and destroyed stuff, yes they attacked the cops, yes they burnt buses, yes they did all of that. But you know what? The rioting was mostly concentrated in and around Kanteerava Stadium (Residency Road, Richmond Road, St. Marks Road and bits of Lavelle Road). Living 10 mins away from the place, I didnt even hear anything. There were no mobs in front of my house, there was no mob frenzy , no burning vehicles and certainly no cops being attacked. The major tension happened around 11.30 / 12 in the morning and lasted for about an hour or so. The cops did manage to bring things under control...and no it was NOT the lull before the storm. How can journalists go on air and say such completely irresponsible nonsense? People watch your channel for the facts, not your bloody speculations. People in other cities get bloody freaked out when they see these exaggerated reports, because to them, thats the truth and they have near and dear ones living in that city. While NDTV and Aaj Tak repeatedly mentioned that the situation was under control and the images they were showing were taken during the rioting that happened earlier, CNN IBN and Times Now chose to say things like "Authorities say that the situation is under control, but this is just the lull before the storm." The reporters went on saying how people were throwing stones at parked cars outside their office. Guess what? The CNN IBN office is on St. Marks Road, kinda close to Kanteerava Stadium...of course they will be throwing stones in that area...have you seen the number of glass fronted expensive shops and offices on that road?? Did it occur to any of the reporters to mention this fact on air? Of course not. That would ruined the dramatic effect. (not to mention the glamour...kinda like war reporting....we are coming to you live from riot stricken Benguluru even as angry mobs attack our very dedicated of us). Ridiculous!!!!!!

As for the pompous, full- of- themselves Bangalore celebrities who went on air with their "invaulable" opinions...what a bunch of publicity hungry opportunists man!! How easily Girish Karnad blamed the authorities for not having planned it better ( according to him the authorities should have planned the funeral while Dr. Rajkumar was alive and kicking. While it sounds like a good idea, its quite impractical...I dont think anyone anywhere does that.), and then contradicted himself saying they were doing a good job in controlling the crowds. He blamed the authorities for everything, yet when the reporter asked him what he would have done in their place, he blithely said, "Thats not my area of expertise, I am not the right person to comment on that". What made him the right person to comment on the situation then? When asked if the film fraternity was doing addressing the crowds etc, the man went on to say "Of course not, calming the crowds is not our job". No of course it isnt, as one of the few pathetic celebrities this one horse town can boast of, of course its not your job to leave your safe comfortable home to try and help the hopeless authorities, its your job to sit on your sofa, sip coffee, go live on national television and say inflammatory stuff that will add fuel to fire and then expect someone else to control the mess. Thats responsible. Thats the stuff that role models do.

Everything about the day-when-Bangalore-went-mad was disgusting, alarming and completely ridiculous. From the incidents that unfolded during those 2 days( thank god he didnt die in hospital, all the doctors would have been killed), to the violence to the irresponsible sensationalising of news to the idiotic Bangalore was disgusting alarming and ridiculous!!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Look who's back.. :D

All right!! I am back. A big thank you to all those who left such sweet "undemanding" comments on my last post asking me to post soon...I am very touched with all the love and affection :P
I have been in Calcutta;sick;and working my sick and sorry arse off, trying to make my house inhabitable;in that order, during this brief period of absence. Since I have nothing else to blog about I shall elaborate on each of the above.
So I went to Calcutta to attend T's wedding. Unfortunately, I fell sick and was not able to make it for the actual my defense, it was at an unearthly hour in the morning. I did manage to make it to the reception, and much fun it was. Through my antibiotic and fever induced daze, I saw T sitting beside S, looking every inch the pretty blushing bride. Cant quite describe what it was like to see her like that...all SD, RD and I could talk about was "God!!! thats T!! Remember her in Class VI with those two ponytails and skinny legs? She got married!!! God!!!"So unreal..although in a very happy way!! Major nostalgia trip happened right there and then. We were all most impressed with S, as RD kept saying, "Besh smart bol? Aar ki bhalo dekhte" in a very approving tone. The funny thing was T looked majorly South Indian with all the flowers in her hair and her nose pin and the (what i think was) South Indian silk sari, while S, the Tam Bram in question, looked ekdom Bangali in his dhuti panjabi. Interesting role reversal :) The food was yummmmmmmmy!! T, god bless whoever decided on the menu (Im guessing it wasnt you), I can't begin to tell you how long its been since I ate koraishutir kochuri and alur dum(it was yummmmmmmmy) and prawns and mishti doi and everything!! Needless to say, RD, SD and I shamelessly stuffed ourselves, to the extent that my plate looked spotlessly clean when T came out to tell us "lojja kore khaash na", and she actually thought I hadnt eaten and kept telling me to help myself (ki kore boli je already teen baar giye khabar niye eshechi). Oh and I also met AB and the Gamesmaster, nice to finally be able to put faces to the blogs, though we couldnt talk much.
The return trip from Cal was horrendous. Jet Airways has gone to the dogs. The steward dropped an entire tray of lemon juice and buttermilk on me...well, not on me per se, but near enough to drench me in that vile smelling liquid. And there was severe turbulence all the way from Cal to Bangalore and I was therefore left with no choice but to grip my seat handles and look anxious. Dont ask me the logic of this behaviour...its just what one HAS to do in that kind of a situation.
I got back to Bangalore last Tuesday, and since then I have almost been buried alive under tonnes work, dust, domestic issues like "medem, surf khatam; pochne ka kapda nahin hai" etc etc. Oh and the pigeons!! Goddddddddd! The PIGEONS!!! They are everywhere. They come perch on the balcony, they try their best to come in through the windows, they coo , they flap in one's face when one walks into the balcony and scares one half to death. And to top it all they shit. All over the place. I swear if i have to clean pigeon shit off the balcony one more time I will cry. I will just sit down and wail! I shoo them off my balcony and they go sit on the opposite one and give me these looks...these really evil challenging looks, as if to say "Oh yeah, you think you can get rid of us? Hah!! just you wait..."
Its becoming nastier and nastier. I have taken to flapping things at them randomly whenever I am at home. This morning I even caught myself muttering to them under my breath "Don't even think of shitting on my clean washed clothes. You creatures dont understand the concept of clean, look how you live, but one drop of shit on my clothes and you will regret it". And I know they are birds and all that, but I swear they all had this really challening looks in their eyes. I spent the weekend making large scarecrows out of newspapers and hanging them at regular intervals from the clothes lines. Though they havent been very helpful yet, Im hoping that thats because the pigeons havent yet registered their presence (its called bird brain for a reason you know). People please pray that my scarecrows succeed in scaring them away. Otherwise, I will be left with no option but to first kill one and hang its body from my balciony grille as a warning to the others (Sholay Gabbar Singh style) and if that too fails, buy an airgun and start shooting them all. ..*evil laughter*
I just realized that half this post is on pigeons. It also just occured to me that muttering threats at birds is not the kind of behaviour that charecterises sanity. They have succeeded in driving me nuts (maybe thats part of their evil master the humans crazy and take over human land). I think I need to go and lie down on the sofa in the conference room. Please excuse me people. Bye bye for now.