Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

It was a cool dark night;
As Akshara snuggled in her warm blanket tight.

Suddenly she heard a tiny rustle;
Like crisp paper which wrapped her toys and puzzle.

Out jumped Akshara from her bed;
And ran towards the Christmas tree glowing red.

The gifts and treats sparkled under the lights;
As she searched to thank Santa who was nowhere in sight.

She looked out the windows into the starry night;
“Merry Christmas” greeted the stars twinkling bright.

~Narendra V Joshi

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The short lived cheer

My wife and daughter were just back home from the Christmas and the holiday party at our daughters preschool, when the news of the Newtown school tragedy came out on the breaking news. I simply could not believe what had happened. It’s just gruesome, inhuman and pure evil. Had written the first 3 stanzas when I went to drop my kid at the school on Friday morning and added the 4th one later. My heart and prayers go to the families of the victims of this horrible tragedy.  

Cheers and whistles echoed through the hall.
As the pretty little kids stepped in to their teachers call.
Picking their noses as they walked in a line; 
The band was ready soon for their big choir time.

The big ones sang along as the carols played.
While the little ones mostly gave a confused stare.
It was to the parents who waved to the song;
Hoping their little ones will follow along.

The performance was over and the kids were ready for the treat. 
It was not just the cakes but Santa too whom they were to meet. 
With the pictures and cakes and candy canes through;
The wishes and cheers for the holidays grew.


A sense of horror and disbelief, and grief filled the day.
As the news of the gruesome tragedy slowly trickled its way.
We could only pray as we huddled and held our daughter tight;
Praying to give those families the strength, and help set the things right.

~Narendra V Joshi

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why? Doesn't God love chocolates?

This is what our daughter Akshara asked me when I asked her to pray while we were at the temple. I told her that God will give her chocolates only if she prays and she goes "why papa, doesn't God love chocolates?” I said he does but he wants to share and he will share only if she prays.  She said "papa, I share with my friends.. sharing is good, fighting is bad”.

Akshara is now 3 year and 5 month old. For almost everything we ask her to do, she wants to know the reason. And if we say no to something she asks, she has some advice too. “Sharing is good”, “We are family”, "God loves me"... I think she has learnt this all at her preschool.

The other day I stopped at a gas station and started filling the car. Akshara asked me what is it and I said it’s like chocolate milk for the cars. She asked what else does the car eat and I said nothing else. So goes "papa, I drink chocolate milk and also cookies and chapati and anna saru (Anna Saru = Rice and Rasam in Kannada)”.

Sometimes it will be almost as if she is tricking us! She had once scribbled all over the wall with her crayons. When asked she goes, "papa, I was trying draw a picture of you me and mama". It was almost like emotionally blackmailing me not to scold her :). If she asks for chips or cookies and I say no, she very beautifully says “papa you have to share. Sharing is good, fighting is bad”.

Whenever we are at the grocery shop, she knows her mama will say no for the chocolates and so she comes with me and shows me the chocolate she wants. If I say mama said no to chocolates, she says “papa, [rem]member.. we are family. Akshara loves papa and mama”.. The way she says it, I have almost always bought her the chocolate she asked. When she opens the chocolate wrapper and I ask her to share the chocolate with me, her answer will be “papa, you are big and chocolates are for small girls like me; [rem]member”. . (Whenever she says remember, it sounds like member to me!)

The other day at the dinner table my wife asked her to say the prayer she had been thought at the school. She said the first 2 lines and stumbled. Started all over again but kept repeating the first 2 lines. My wife asked her what is happening and she said "mama, that is echo". I was quite sure she forgot the 3rd line but was amused the way she had called the repetition of the first 2 lines as an echo.

We like when she tries to reason everything we ask her to do. Sometimes we are able to reason and sometimes we are not. A question on food, to start with, we know will come very soon. We are vegetarians; we don’t eat meat. Many of Akshara’s friends at school eat meat. My wife and I both know that the day is just around the corner when she asks why we don’t eat meat and why her friends do. We however don’t yet have an answer for her.

There are many more questions of her I am unable to recall as I type this, but I am sure one day the answers to some of her questions will become obvious to her, and she will figure some herself. And also by then, she will have newer questions for which she will expect us to know the answers. Until then, it will be newer reasons and newer tricks and newer happiness as the days go by.

~Narendra V Joshi 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The gory and the ignorance

The molestation and harassment incident that happened in Guwahati is a matter of shame. And in my personal opinion, the list of who need to be punished does not end with just those hooligans. Quite a few deserve to be punished in varying degrees.

1)    The hooligans, so that this does not every happen anywhere or to anybody.

2)    The reporter who taped the entire incident never seemed to try to prevent it. Whatever might be his reason, it looked as if he was more interested in the “breaking news” than on the plight of the girl.

3)    The pub which allowed a minor girl to enter their premises clearly violating the law. (*read next para for conditions)

4)    The girl (aka the victim) and her accompanies if any, for going to a pub clearly violating the law against minors going to pubs.

* Going by the latest news on this episode I think even the writers or reporters or whoever it is from the news media, also deserved to be punished. Reason - for inconsistent (read it as irresponsible) reporting. The age of the girl was reported as 16 years when the news first came out, a few days back. Then it was reported as 17 years and today it is reported as 20 years.

A friend and I were talking about this incident. He started telling me of how China might use this incident in the international community to further their cause. He spoke at length how this is all bad to India. Initially I thought my friend was worried that this incident might be used in the international community to highlight human right violation and will negatively affect tourism. But after sometime I felt he might be confusing Guwahati/Assam with Arunachal Pradesh. I asked him and he indeed had confused Assam with Arunachal Pradesh. I corrected him and explained a bit about the different states which form the North eastern part of India and where Gawahati is, to the best of my limited knowledge of the north eastern states.

I am not surprised with the conversation I had with my friend. I had read an article about a college in Mumbai (or Delhi maybe; can't remember) which conducts interaction programs to increase the awareness of North eastern states among the college students. The program quoted a survey which said more than 85% of working professionals in India can’t name all the states of North east India. Not just the professionals, I think even our movie makers are not aware of the different states in north east India. I have rarely come across any mention of any north eastern state in any of our Bollywood movie. I will not be very surprised if some of our ministers and law makers ignore the incident thinking it’s a problem of China and nothing to do with us.

Going by all the gory and the ignorance, I am hoping this incident ends with something more than just punishing the culprits.

1)    Swift judgment awarding the gravest of the punishment to the hooligans.

2)    Changes to our judiciary laws to invoke capital punishment for such incidents so that it serves as a warning for all the hooligans who will ever even think of committing such a horrible crime.
3) I also hope that this incident opens the eyes of rest of the Indian citizens towards the different states of North east India, removing the ignorance and paving a way for a much united and stronger India.  

~Narendra V Joshi

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Day at the zoo

We had been to the zoo this past weekend and it was the first time at zoo for Akshara. She was excited to see the animals from her picture book. But the part that bothered her was that none of the animals said ‘hi’ as they usually do in all her cartoons! She waived at every animal and even fed some of them holding the animal feed in her hand at the animal feeding time. By late noon we were done visiting each of the animal enclosure in the zoo and decided to head home. Akshara waved good bye to the animals!

I wondered how the animals in the enclosure felt. We humans go into their homes(jungle) uninvited and put them at the zoos. We expect them to greet us or even do a trick for us while we are at the zoo. But if they ever come to our homes, we treat most of them as pests and hunt or run them out.

The excitement showed as she held close her animal toys;
For the trip to the zoo had been her first choice.
The lions and zebras were all long friends from the picture book;
And it was now time for a real close look.

The elephants were big and the giraffes were tall
But neither said hi as they did in the cartoon call.
She cheered at the lions and the zebras and the chimps
And tapped on the aquarium glass to call the sharks and the shrimps.

We were soon done and it was time to leave;
With the sun pushing the little shade the animals had moved to relieve.
She waived bye but they cared less for the uninvited guest
Just as we treat them when in our homes, as pest.

~Narendra V Joshi

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The summer dream

The winter pretty much has ended dull and snowless this time. Setting aside any hopes of snow or ice, it’s now time to look forward for the spring and summer. The trees have already started blooming with the summer like weather for the last few days. Looks like maybe there might be no spring at all this time. But one thing in all this is that “wait”, the look forward for the new season; the changes we look for, in the things around us and the changes that we do in our everyday life. None of this has changed.

I had hoped to make a snowman with my daughter Akshara but that did not happen. At least the idea of teaching her swimming looks to happen sooner than expected.

The curtains are drawn and it’s almost an end
Of the winter which seems if it even begin
The clock that was put back has now been set
To invite the new season all over again.

The trees will blossom soon with flowers and leaves
With chirping birds busy with nests to weave
Butterflies and bees will feast on the floral rife
The arrival of spring will herald a new lease on life.

Shorts and flip flops will replace the winter wear
And the burning barbeque food will fill the evening air.
With kids on skate boards and bikes around the block
The swimming pools will be crowded round the clock.

We are just an audience in the big scheme of things
Cheering for the change as a new season takes wings.
Neither do we own nor can we control
These seemingly simple changes the changing season brings.

~Narendra V Joshi

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Made in India

We had been to a Bollywood movie a couple of days back and had this on my mind since then. It is not that I liked the movie so much, rather something about the movie which stirred the thought. I just couldn’t put my thoughts together but it bothered so much that I even thought of going to the same movie again to find out. I did not go again but it just occurred to me what it was about the movie that I had been thinking of. The movie is completely made in India. “What’s up with that?” you ask? Well, can’t really explain, but this was bothering me the last few days.

Bollywood movie are very unusual if you think of. The movies will have Indian stars with typical Indian melodrama but mostly set in a foreign location. Some common guidelines they seem to abide are –

Ø  The neighborhood where the movie is set, will mostly have folks speaking Hindi; who dance to celebrate Diwali and Holi

Ø  There usually is a character who speaks Punjabi and who is fond of food

Ø  If there is a villain, he/she is either incredibly intelligent or amazingly stupid; beyond Gods comprehension; reason best known only to the film director.

Ø  The hero and heroine on their part drive a good car and do clown dance in a shopping mall or a parking lot. "Now, why do they want to dance nonsense in a shopping mall or a parking lot in a foreign country?" you ask? Hmm.. Question for the director.

If in a rare storyline, the hero and the heroine are shown struggling to make a living, say by begging, they still get to dance on a restaurant table in Europe, of course in a dream sequence. Very rarely a movie is made which breaks these set barriers, and the one I saw recently was one of those.

And all this doesn’t just stop at the movie halls. Even those dozen movie award ceremonies are starting to get hosted in a foreign country these days. The funniest part is when the host says “Namaste” to a supposedly foreign audience. From there on, every star who comes on stage to receive the award, thanks the foreign audience. And then we have the local cricket leagues who play each other,  but in a foreign country, citing security reasons. (This topic is the subject matter for a different discussion.)

Do not get me wrong here. I do not have a problem with our movies made in a foreign country. But let’s not overdo it please. We have hundreds of beautiful locations and spots within India where our heroes and heroines can dance. It’s only our fellow citizens who will laugh. That is still ok. Make movies in each of those states in eastern India, even names of which are not known to many within the country. I think our government could also do something here. If it can levy a huge tax for an imported good, say for a car or even petrol, why can’t it levy the same kind of a high tax for a Bollywood movie not made in India?

All said and done, finally it’s the film makers’ money and the actors’ pride. It’s their wish where they want to make a movie or which parking lot they want to create a scene at. Hope someone someday soon, puts some sense in our film makers and shows them what all in our country remains untapped.

~Narendra V Joshi

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Where is the snow?

It has been rather an unusual lackluster (or should I say “snowluster”?) winter this year.  With the rains replacing the snow and the temperature hovering close to record highs, it’s more like spring or rainy season than winter. The snowman and all those wintery pleasures are still just memories.  
I woke up to yet another rain washing my dreams of snow this morning. Hopefully the prayer of all those people like me waiting for snow is answered soon.

It was fun with all those coats and socks
Making a snowman with snow and icy rocks
Day or night everything around looked all covered white
The snow and the cool breeze which all seemed so right

It has been anything unlike a cold season so far
For an occasional chill more like a winter scar
No snow or ice for skiers and skaters to sizzle
Just dark cloudy days with gloomy drizzle

Wonder where into hiding has the winter gone
The snow and those little joys are all but drawn
Hoping now at least to have the season set straight
Ending months of prayers and relentless wait.

~Narendra V Joshi