Friday, April 27, 2012

Reigning in Water

A global phenomenon that is observed  (especially in the developing countries) is the frequent recurrence of draught and flood.
I feel that we can prevent this up to a large extend if we manage to reign in our rivers (guiding them to the less irrigated parts) and provide waste water services.
Though it may sound simple, it is a Herculean task, but the motivating factor to accomplish this is “the will to do it” by our city fathers.

Can we have such banners / links (like the one above) where we just inform the authorities and they will promptly fix it.
Reminds me of a news item I saw last week  on  TV where nice clean water was gushing out from under a small culvert in Kerala (south India) It was reported to the authorities and many experts came and did a lot of investigation but could not locate the source of the leak !! 
Meanwhile the village folks were making best use of the clean water in the prevailing summer time and water cuts.  
Recently I came across a .  . . . . .to continue reading click here  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Film maker

Have a good look at the photograph below.

Do you recognize the child in it? It is not difficult. I got it at my first guess. OK here is a hint - he is a film maker.
Now for those who are still struggling and have no clue, here is one more photograph.
Compare both and see what is common.

Who can forget the soft spoken Sq Leader Roger in The Great Escapeor John Hammond with his dinosaur eggs in Jurassic Park or General Outram in Shatranj ki khiladi. (that is Outram above)

Yes I am talking about Richard Attenborough the famous actor cum director cum film maker.
His acting is so genuine that his portrayal as a serial killer (below) in 10 Rillington Place gave me the jitters. 

But what I admire him most is for the dedication and devotion that he showed during the making of Gandhi. I should say that I have a special connection here as most of the movie scenes were shot in Pune (India) and I had the privilege of watching the shooting. I was really impressed by the disciplined and well planned way in which the whole shooting took place. 

I saw him with the mega phone well in control of the whole situation, never losing his temper and well aware of his surroundings. There was a scene where the protesting Indian crowd were supposed to lie down on the ground when the mounted British soldiers tried to ambush them. This was based on the well known fact that a horse never steps on a human body. But before the actual shooting, Richard wanted to try it out so that there would be no injury. His contention was that “we know this fact but does the horse know?”

There were many pictures made on Gandhi (before and after Attenborough’s Gandhi) but none of them come even close when we talk about perfection.
The Indian government was so impressed with his contribution that he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1983.
Much later he admitted that there were flaws in the movie and he could have done some scenes better. In his own words “Gandhi was a well made film but surely not my best. It had flaws which I understand, two and a half decades after I directed it. I will never call it a propaganda film for the Indian Congress, but it could have been made better had I concentrated on certain minute details”
He also feels that the length of the film should have been edited by at least two reels.

About his movie getting the Oscar “More than my Gandhi, I feel, ET deserved the Oscar"

About his choice of Ben Kinsley for the role “Yes, Ben Kinsley was my ideal choice for Gandhi and he really lived up to the expectations of an international audience. I did not find any Indian actor worthy to perform the role of Gandhi in the early eighties though there were brilliant performers like Naseeruddin Shah in India. Kinsley looked and behaved like Gandhi and my most favorite sequence in the film was the Dandi march”

The movie (Gandhi) was nominated for eleven Academy awards out of which it won eight. 

His stint in the Royal Air Force must have helped him in doing justice to the role he played in The Great Escape.

One of his remarkable achievements was the making of the movie Oh what a lovely war for which he managed to get together an all cast British actors and it went on to show the real horrors of World War-I on the screen.
His contribution to the movie world (and the stage) was so great that he was knighted in 1976 and became a life peer in 1993.

He stopped celebrating Christmas after the loss of his daughter and grand daughter in 2004 in the tsunami at Phuket.

One of the hallmarks of being in the show business is changing partners. But Dickie got married to Shiela Sim in 1945 and is still with her. I always wondered how he got the nickname Dickie. I wonder if any of you know.

Apart from acting in many movies he has directed a dozen movies.
According to him, A Bridge too far was one of the best films he made. He agrees that it’s a bit slow as per the present standards, but that was made 35 years ago.
I think some people are carved out to do some things and Dickie was one who was meant to entertain people, be it theatre or making films. Did you know that he was bad in academics and his father wanted him to have the best possible education. So when he (Dickie) stumbled once more in a school certificate exam, his father made a deal with him.
“I know you want to be an actor, but I am going to make a bargain. On your 17th birthday, I am going to give you the substantial fee that has to be paid to for the RADA scholarship. If you get it I shall back you. If you don’t, then you have got to forget about theatre and get down and pass your A-levels”
Dick said “Yes father”, then went out and got it !

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Natural Resources

I always wondered why we never go in for the natural resources that is available in plenty. Sunlight and wind power are just two of them.

(Gisele Bundchen)

Last week I read in the papers that a housing complex in Pune installed windmills in their complex. One windmill each on top of every building. A novel idea to reduce the monthly electricity bill.

I  agree with what Achim Steiner (Executive Director of UNEP) had to say “If you cannot produce enough electricity for a building on the equator, where on earth would you do it?”
This was in response to the objection that the people had in installing solar panels in Kenya “you know you can’t do this in Africa, these technologies are too complicated. They are expensive, it is all wrong, we are on the equator”

Achim continued “I still have a dream that in Kenya twenty years from now with the photo voltaic and solar revolution what we will actually see is the rural areas of the country generating the electricity and selling it to the cities” .... . . . . . . . . to continue reading click here

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Pune (earlier known as Poona) is a small city, about 200 kilometres from Bombay (Mumbai)
It is slowly turning into an IT centre, giving stiff competition to Bangalore.
One of the IT companies in Pune (this is one land mark you can see when you approach Pune by air)

The “Red church” is not a church but a synagogue which is one of the landmarks of Pune. You can see cycles in this picture. It is ironical that Pune was once known as the city of cycles. (recently I discovered that this picture of the Red church is appearing in Wikipedia)

Main street is real busy during peak time, but if you happen to be an  early morning visitor you can see children practicing roller skates.

All those who visit Pune must not miss the Double Anda  Omelette Bun Maska  Cheese (double egg Omelette Bun Butter Cheese) at the Vahuman Cafe.
It is a real treat. This followed by the regular Irani chai will make your day.

Richard Attenborough was here to shoot the movie “Gandhi” A glimpse of one of the rooms at Agha Khan Palace (where Gandhi was in house arrest)  

Some of the articles that he used are on display like the small charka, his wooden sandals, his writing desk.

The room on the left is actually the bath room where you can see a part of the bath tub.

You will get to see an unique school here. Old train bogies converted to classrooms and the method of teaching is quite different from a normal school.
If you are here during the Ganapati festival, then this is a sight that you can't miss:

Clicked this at the rear side of Shaniwarwada. Here you can see another trait of Pune, most of the girls cover themselves with a scarf probably to escape the heat and dust.

If you find commuters hanging on the footboard of the bus, then it is the done thing here with no concern for safety.

You will find the new and the old side by side.

On a lazy Sunday afternoon you can hear the shehnai player in you alley, belting out some good tunes for a few rupees

There are some old bungalows (built during the British regime) which are left untouched as they come under the cantonment board. It may look dilapidated but there are people (mostly caretakers) staying in these houses.

Most of the old roads have good shade. Thanks to the tall trees lined on either side.

You will be lucky to spot some sparrows in your backyard as the common sparrow is no more common.

Vendors selling colourful dreams

The war cemetery at Khadki is something one should not miss. (There are graves marked for soldiers from WW-I and WW-II and of different nationality) It is commonly known as the Kirkee War cemetry 

Those who want to read in detail about all the above (and see more  pictures)  click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Onam is the biggest and the most important festival in South India ( Kerala) 
It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities. According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.

Kaikottikali is an elegant clap dance performed on the occasion of Onam. In this women sing songs praising the legendary King Mahabali and dance around the pookalam. At the centre of this is placed a lit bronze lamp called nilavilakku.
 It is a captivating sight to watch troupe of female dancers performing in their traditional Kerala attire consisting of gold bordered off-white mundu-neriyathu and decked with a fragrant gajra in their hair.
What I like best about Onam is the Sadhya (food) The afternoon meal consists of about 13+ curries, that includes things like, sambhar, erichery, pulichery, pachaddi, injicurry, kalan, olan, papaddam, (and many more that I can’t recollect now) This is followed by two types of Payasam (sweet dish)

This is one day when all Keralites buy only vegetables (no non veg)
(Incidentally this is one of the regulars I see at the marketplace, and I have named him "lord of the Rings")

And the food is served on banana leaf (following the old Indian tradition of sitting on the floor)

Monday, April 16, 2012


Nest – every bird makes one (well almost all) Some are real cute, some fanciful and some very intricately done.
The worst nest I have seen is that of the pigeons. They just fetch some dried twigs and place them at random on a ledge and technically speaking their nest building is over. (lousy house makers?)
This weaver bird’s nest was not made here, but we got it from far away where it was abandoned (after use) and hung it in our patio. I had a look inside and was surprised to see that there were two rooms inside !!

But this nest  here was built on our patio by the Red vented Bulbul.

These were the three eggs in the nest and … well  you can read the complete history about it here.

And this was our next guest, the white breasted Munia. 

Real cute couple. Every time when they left the nest they made sure that no one is looking

I enjoyed the complete process of their nest building and have a series of snaps. To see them  click here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The struggle at old age

Rarely do we look a little deeper into the lives of the old who struggle to keep up with their old values.
Recently I saw the movie The Drought written and directed by Kevin Slack.
Here is a story of an elderly Brooklyn native who wants to continue with his old job of repairing and selling umbrellas. He is being doing it year after year and is now forced to leave it due to different circumstances.  
Even though it’s a short movie, there is lot of work that goes into it like story boarding with sketches . . .  . . .

I like his daily routine of coming home and switching on his turn table first. Something I identify with. (the minute I am home, I switch on the music) While the movie progressed I noticed that the lighting used in the movie is something unique (and keeps you riveted) And when it is outdoors, the colours are very appealing.  

Kevin Slack who has done a wonderful job.  Here is with Edmund and Susan. 

Incidentally Edmund was in his late eighties when he worked for this movie.. . .  .  to read on click here

Friday, April 13, 2012

Laughter and Smiles

Laughter. The best thing that everyone would like to see on other’s faces.

Smile and the world smiles with you.

Caught some of them off guard.....

Laughter in different directions.

One from Belgium where they were enjoying a live band by the Belgian Royal Navy Band. 

If the mood is right, a little spark is enough for a guffaw 

This was clicked about six years ago. (now she is a tall and lanky girl settled in Australia)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Had been to Bombay (Mumbai) recently and things were not the same. 
It was supposed to be the peak time for kite season but hardly any kites in the sky. 

Things were quite different when we were kids.
Kite flying was one of the in things those days and we almost had a sprain in the neck from constantly looking up at the sky.

The mad scramble for the kites starts when one of the kites get cut off and then that becomes the property of the boy who gets hold of it first. 
On the way down it could get tangled in a tree (like in the picture above) or it could be caught by the smartest boy in the alley. Remember Hassan in  “The Kite runner” ? He knew exactly where the kite would fall and would head in that direction.

Here was a kite which was lying on the ground …… and no takers.

These three pictures were clicked in a big housing complex where there were plenty of kids.
Could we attribute this to the present day kids who are more comfortable playing games on the TV or busy with their fancy phones /  ipad / kindle / notebook / etc and all sort of physical activities are kept aside?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jim Reeves

Jim Reeves the singer with that velvet voice.

The only country singer whose international popularity surpassed his popularity in the United States.
He was one singer who never experimented with an electric guitar and always used a box guitar.

One of Jim’s career highlight was headlining a breakthrough concert at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall. The group flew to New York on a TWA plane renamed “Grand Ole Opry Skyliner” for the occasion. (see markings on upper left)

Jim was a popular interview subject during the annual Disc Jockey convention in Nashville. (notice the camera in the forefront with the old flash system where you had to throw away the flash bulb after every use) 

Jim at the age of 22 with his mother. Four years after this Travis (as he was then known) made his first commercial recording.

Here is Jim in 1957 with the Jordanaires providing the backup.

One of the rare records of Jim which was recorded in 1947 at Macy’s.  The song was co-written by Jim and Al Courtney, a radio colleague.

One of the print ads bought by RCA to run in the trade magazines promoting the song “Anna Marie”

Jim’s big smash hit “I love You because” which became popular all over Europe. The song written by blind songwriter Leon Payne, not only showed off Jim’s vocal prowess, but his willingness to embrace an unconcentional artist as well. Amazingly , it features a harp, unheard of on a country record, but just another example of how Jim Reeves was far ahead of his time. 

This postcard is one of the many letters and cards that were sent by Jim Reeves to the Gath family. This one he addressed to Doris and her husband Elmer as well as “Bimbo” a cute reference to their little boy Eldon.
It is said that at a stage show when he sang the song “Bimbo” he invited little Eldon to sit on his knee. But much to the chagrin of the parents the shy little boy declined !! 

The Extended Play (EP) of 45 rpm had four songs on it. Four Walls, I know and you know, The Gods were angry with Me and Look behind you. 

Even in the year 1960 Jim was paid just $750. Out of this meager amount he kept his Blue Boys on salary and paid for the road expenses like gas etc. Compare this with what some of the singers earn today. 

It was tragic that his plane (which he was flying) was caught in a storm and he died in the crash at the early age of 40.
He happens to be my favourite country singer and hence I have used his name as my pseudo name in Flickr.

While writing this post I was listening to the songs by Gentleman Jim from the dedicated radio of streaming songs. What better way to put you in the right mood.