THEY MET IN GENEVA

This is a story about two Indians meeting in Geneva in the 1960’s. He came to realise his dreams while she, when her dreams were shattered…..

 

CHAPTER ONE

Akira was tired of having fleeting relationships. She had no choice and was frustrated about the pool of boys available to have a conversation.

Shy, intimidated, boastful, chivalrous……. and relentless, not her type.

The wait ended when she met a ‘likeable’ guy and they found a good company in each other. Two years, that’s when the expiry date came about to their relationship. The talks of mutual separation were cool; however, it was hard on those 22-year old college pass outs.

Akira turned to her mother Jaya, who was all ears about her daughter’s life.

“You both had no feelings whatsoever,” Jaya replied after remaining patient for half an hour. “or else you would have made it work, isn’t it?”

Jaya had to update herself with the latest meaning of the term ‘break-up’.

The concerned mother continued, “I don’t understand today’s definition of break-up, make-up. In my days, we used to make up and never thought about breaking up. How times have changed.”

The conversation between mother and daughter had shifted from kitchen to their garden. Mamma, that’s how Akira called her mother had just brewed a pot of ‘masala chai’.

Akira was home sick and it was evident from the tins of ‘home made cookies’ and few salted savouries, she brought along to the patio.

“I miss your Pappa, and that is one of the reasons why I am taking this break in India,” Jaya shifted the conversation to her thoughts. “There are just too many memories of his and ours back in Lausanne. And, I thank you Akira for accompanying me here post your break up.”

Tears rolled on Jaya’s eyes as she recalled the times when she and Akira’s Pappa spent their evenings walking along the shores of Lake Geneva.

 

CHAPTER TWO

 Jaya flew outside India for the first time to Lausanne, Switzerland. She was one of the few students from India selected to be a part of the master’s programme in hotel management at the prestigious Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne.

During her internship, she was part of the group that catered to a large gathering of diplomats at the UN convention in Geneva. It was here Jaya met Akira’s Pappa for the first time.

Jaya was nostalgic about their first meeting – “He looked so out of place when I saw him for the first time. He was nervous, and he was walking about the corridor while the programme was on.”

“Excuse me, can I help you in some way? can I get you something?”

The young gentleman was visibly nervous, “No, thanks. I am anxious, as I have never spoken in front of such a large audience. Some of them who are seated will be the ones I will end up reporting on my next assignment.”

Jaya, in her youth was vivacious. She was doing a favour by taking his mind off the impending speech. Not, just that, she was equally curious about this young Indian who appeared smart, though a touch nervous.

“Hi, my name is Jaya and I am an intern with the catering company. Let me know if you need any help from my side.”

Jaya continued, “Now, I can offer you just these refreshments – though after the event, we can meet up over a cup of coffee. I will be here in this area wrapping up my work.”

She hoped, it would be a yes!

“My name is Girish and I hate to admit, I am not thinking too much other than my speech now. I am not being rude, it is just that, I do not want to goof it up.”

He continued and his nervousness showed, “I am shy and introvert by nature. Sometimes I fear I may lose my words when I am in the middle of my speech.”

Jaya eagerly listened, “However, I have made a mental note, Jaya. And it would be a pleasure to catch up with you,” and nervously went back to the speech papers he was holding.

It was a yes as far as Jaya was concerned. Their conversation was interrupted when a colleague of Girish’s asked him to come inside the auditorium.

Girish was at the convention to deliver a lecture on his research findings about the need of empowering house wives and women. It focussed on giving financial assistance and other aids to the small-scale industry schemes in developing and under-developed countries.

The United Nations had conceptualised the event ‘Great Minds, Great Ideas’ to attract ideas in a forum where countries could exchange best practices. Girish was representing India and those papers contained his vision and a proposal for his idea.

“Good luck, Girish,” Jaya smiled and hoped they could meet up for a coffee at the end of the programme.

 

CHAPTER THREE

The forum of Great Minds, Great Ideas was a great initiative. Girish felt when ideas from different societies and economies merge, it will have a positive influence in establishing collaborations and the necessary infrastructure to realise development projects.

His towering appearance in a navy-blue suit with white shirt and a dark blue tie masked his nervousness to an extent.

Girish stumbled a couple of times, but overall managed to cover his idea to the audience, which had gathered from all over the world.

At the Q&A session following his talk, he was asked by an English delegate, ‘What is the most important element to realise this dream? And should it be through government or private?’

“Thank you, sir,” he paused for a few seconds, collected his thoughts and was ready to answer.

“For a programme of this stature requires a government initiative. Speaking for India, our only modes of mass communication are radio and newspaper. We must tie up with state governments as each of these governments are alike.”

Girish paused, although there were no signs of nervousness. He continued, “To give an example, India is like Europe. And each country in Europe resembles a state in India. Different languages, food habits, clothes, appearances and mind sets. So, there must be a two-step process,” he went on…

“Firstly, the Union Government directs the state governments and secondly, the state governments enforcing them and monitoring the policies regularly. In a democratic set-up, it is difficult to change overnight, however, unless we plan, execute, monitor, adapt, one cannot expect to move forward with these ideas.”

The audience applauded Girish’s response. Though, his visionary idea was good – but most of them could not connect with him.

It was confusing times in the 60’s.

A winner had to be chosen and in the times of war and arms, the idea of ‘disarmament and the ecology movement’ won the award. This idea went on to become ‘Greenpeace’.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 Girish was visibly disappointed – however, he knew the world must get rid of its desires to fight battles, wage wars and kill lives and destroy our environment.

It was early June. The light was bright and he didn’t have any mood to network among the people gathered at the apéro.

Although the audience from other parts of the world wanted to catch a glimpse of Girish, after all he did have a worthwhile idea.

After two hours of friendly exchanges, Girish decided he would return home.

Just as he made his way to the exit door, he thought about Jaya. He made his way to the corridor where they had first met. Jaya had just completed her work for the day though she was still in her business attire. She was visibly happy that Girish remembered her.

“Give me ten minutes, will you? I will go change and then inform my manager about having completed my tasks,” Jaya said with a smile.

“Sure, I will wait for you here,” he was yet to come out of the disappointment.

Walking helps to come out of disappointment. He decided to walk along the long corridor to move on from the talk.

Girish saw an interesting poster that read – ‘Premiere Festival de Jazz Montreux, 16-18 June, 1967 at Casino Montreux’.

He had a good taste for music and wondered if he could make it for this grand event.

Girish’s fascination for Jazz came from the Hollywood movies that showcased a lot of Jazz artists. Girish was paying attention to every detail on the poster and little did he realise how those ten minutes went by.

Jaya stood behind him, patted him and asked, “Do you like Jazz?”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t notice your presence. I was lost looking at this poster.”

She was anything but formal in attitude and that went well with her attire, without the double-breasted jacket and that funny looking toque blanche.

“You didn’t answer my question, do you like Jazz?”

“Pardon me, yes, I prefer Jazz. It is smooth, at times relaxing and adds a great deal of meaning to some of the Hollywood movies.”

“Would you like to join us in two weeks’ time for this Jazz festival?” – Jaya asked.

The reticent Girish just did not know how to answer.

In fact, part of his behaviour stemmed from the fact that, he had never met a girl like Jaya before.

She was direct, devoid of shy whatsoever, very contrary to that of Girish.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 “You are to the point, aren’t you?” – Girish replied.

“Yes, that I am” – remarked Jaya.

She continued, “Shall we talk more about this with a cup of coffee?”

“I told my manager that I have some assignments to finish for my course. And it wouldn’t be appropriate if he saw me here. Although, he is a nice guy and won’t poke his nose much as I have finished my tasks, it would be great if we stepped out.”

“And, you talk a lot!”, Girish was warming up to a conversation he never had before.

Jaya was a talker, “Well, someone has to, right? Or else, what’s the point of meeting a person?”

Girish just nodded and didn’t add any words.

There was an air of silence as they walked towards the main door which led them to the old streets of Geneva.

“Old town Geneva has some good cafés; do you know any in particular?” – Jaya, again, unable to bear the silence.

“Nothing in particular. I do not have a set preference when it comes to cafés or restaurants. I do not venture out and I prefer to cook at home. I am a vegetarian and in one year of my living here, I realised, there is no point searching for vegetarian food. So, I have settled for anything that isn’t meat.”

“Oh, you poor child. Missing home, is it,” Jaya was at him again.

Girish had warmed up quite well by now, “Yes, in a way. The only solace is when I receive letters from my parents. My mother like any other mother is constantly worried about my well-being. Her concerns revolve around my food and I do not intend to add fuel to fire by stating there isn’t any good Indian food available.”

He asked, “Don’t you miss home?”

“No, I don’t. Because there is no one back home.”

 

CHAPTER SIX

 Jaya’s response was too direct for Girish and he wondered what was the meaning behind her statement.

Another round of silence…… and again, Jaya resumed their conversation.

“Aren’t you curious about what I said,” she was one of her kind.

A few seconds of silence and Girish replied – “Yes, I am. However, I did not know how to proceed further. We just met and here I am asking personal questions.”

“You have got to ask questions when you are curious to know something,” Jaya zapped back at him, “That’s my motto and I do not think further.”

She continued – “Before you start thinking how to ask, I will answer it myself.”

Jaya smiled and Girish too had a pleasant grin on his face.

“I lost my parents in January last year. My father was a bright scientist and worked at the Indian Atomic Energy Commission. There was a conference that was scheduled in London in 1966 and my father took my mother along with him leaving me with my grandparents,” she continued

“The conference was for a week and my father thought, it would be a welcome change for my mother to visit a new place. I loved my grandparents since childhood and hence I did not create a fuss in them leaving me out. My exams were to begin in three weeks’ time. So, it was best if I stayed back and focussed on my studies.”

Jaya showed Girish a nice coffee shop and they both decide on that.

Lake Geneva was on to their right.

Just then a blonde waitress stepped out to take orders – “Bonsoir, Que voulez-vous boire?”

Jaya had learnt few beginner’ phrases in French and that was good enough to engage in a basic conversation –

“Je voudrais une tasse de café noir” and the waitress then looked at Girish.

He was clueless and had not invested enough time in learning French. Jaya stepped in and asked Girish, what would he like to drink? A black coffee or a milk coffee?

“Milk coffee for me” – Girish replied softly.

“Une tasse de café au lait pour le monsieur” – Jaya ordered on behalf of Girish.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

 A few seconds of silence and this time Girish reignited their conversation – “so, you were telling me……”

“Oh yes, where was I? Oh, yes, my parents left for London from Bombay on 23rd January. Although we hail from Bangalore, we were living in Bombay owing to my father’s work. My grandparents lived with us. I remember waving them goodbye at the airport,”

“They were on the Air India flight and the next morning, there was a flight crash as the flight accidentally flew into Mont Blanc. There were no survivors and along with my parents, other hundred passengers too lost their lives. Have you heard of the tragic death of the famed scientist Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha?”

“Yes, I did. It was very sad”

“Well, my parents were on the same flight. And we got this news a day later. My grandparents were distraught and I didn’t quite know how to react. I didn’t cry and my relatives were worried that I didn’t react at all.”

Jaya paused for the first time, she looked right to the sight of Lake Geneva and a few seconds later she resumed.

“It took me days, in fact weeks for the news to settle in. And I wept in my room just as I was preparing for my final exams. My grandparents heard me weep, came in my room and hugged me.”

She turned towards the lake and paused again. This time her silence was longer than few seconds ago.

Jaya turned towards Girish and continued –

“They just hugged me and didn’t utter any word. They had lost their son and daughter-in-law and I had lost my parents. All three of us wept for the common loss of ours – a loss that would be irreplaceable,” and she again turned towards the lake.

The waitress came with their orders – placed the black coffee in front of Girish.

Jaya corrected the waitress – “Le café noir est pour moi. Le monsieur avait ordonné le café avec du lait.”

“Excusez-moi, je suis très désolé.” – the waitress realised her error and quickly placed the milk coffee in front of Girish.

Another round of silence……both had not touched their cups. Jaya was back to staring at the lake.

Girish looked at Jaya and didn’t know what to say. He was short of words; he was confused and didn’t know how to proceed.

And, quite instinctively, he placed his hands over her. Jaya turned towards him – “I am sorry for your loss,” he said it with empathy.

A few seconds later, he slowly removed his hands and waited for her to react.

Probably, his instincts were right, Jaya brushed aside the thoughts she was caught up a few moments ago and took the cup of coffee from her right hand.

They sipped their respective coffees, and in between no words came out of their mouths. It seemed like they didn’t prefer talking while having coffee, or was it a uncalled break in their conversation?

All one could hear was the ‘chat’ coming from inside the restaurant. It was about 8 pm and most of the guests had finished their dinner and were bidding ‘au revoir’ to their friends.

Girish and Jaya sat silently just as the music started playing.

A pianist seated inside began the evening with the instrumental version of Herman Hupfeld’s masterpiece, ‘As Time Goes By’. This song caught everyone’s attention when it was used as a leitmotif in the 1942 romantic drama Casablanca.

Just like Sam in the movie, the pianist too played the piano in D major and mixed it up with B-flat major.

The B-flat major reminded Girish of Frank Sinatra’s version of ‘As Times Goes By’. The song suited the mood perfectly and they both sat in silence and not looking at each other.

And then moments later… the pianist started to sing with the tune…

“You must remember this. A kiss is just a kiss; a sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply, as time goes by….”

Girish was looking at Jaya and she looked back at him. None gave away anything and in the background, they could hear….

“And when two lovers woo, they still say I love you. On that you can rely. No matter what the future brings, as time goes by……”

Jaya held Girish’s hands which were on the table without looking away ….

The pianist continued,

“Moonlight and love songs, never out of date. Hearts full of passion, jealousy and hate. Woman needs man and man must have his mate, that no one can deny.”

He too held her hands firmly…

“It’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory. A case of do or die. The world will always welcome lovers, as time goes by.”

And Girish uttered these lines in sync with the pianist looking firmly into Jaya’s eyes –

“Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers. As time goes by.”

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

There was a moment that swept them while ‘As time goes by’ was playing in the background.

And to add to this, Girish uttered those lines – “The world will always welcome lovers,” Jaya pondered and didn’t know what to say or how to react.

The ever-chatty Jaya had gone into her shell and remained there.

“So, where do you live?” – Girish asked Jaya.

He deliberately changed the topic to make her feel at ease. He was now with a girl who remained silent, someone very different to whom he had met earlier in the day.

“I live in Lausanne, a few thousand meters away from the lake,” she pointed in a direction.

“Do you like it there,” the change in topic seemed to reignite their conversation.

“Yes, I love it. The lake is my friend when I feel lonely in my apartment. I just take a walk along the lake and walk up to Ouchy. And sometimes, I swim on the lake or other times, I take a boat and go to Evian le bains.”

Jaya was out of her shell, “Of course, I do have a schedule to manage as I am still a student. But I feel, I am now part of this city and the lake.”

She looked at the lake and pointed far away – “There, I am not sure if I am accurate, but I stay that far away” and she laughed.

Girish felt a touch better when he saw her laugh. It had been a heavy forty minutes or so and he knew he had walked on tricky waters when he heard her tragic story.

But he got an impression, it was half the story. Girish sensed there is more to it.

He pondered on her words which she said earlier – “Because there is no one back home.”

Girish felt it was best not to dwell in her past further. At least, at that moment.

He continued, “Can I suggest something, aren’t you hungry?”

Jaya pulled out a grin on her face. “Didn’t you fill enough with all those savouries at the apéro?”

Apéro was not his thing. Bowls of olives, assorted Swiss cheese, nuts, pickled cucumbers, chips and few meat sandwiches weren’t going to fill his stomach, the way he was used to.

In fact, it made him a touch irritated as it wasn’t the perfect appetizers either.

“How much can one chew nuts or cheese before dinner,” Girish visibly upset.

“All I did was munch few salted chips and drink a glass of orange juice. The conversations with few went deep and so I had a glass of apple juice.”

He continued, “I am used to having a proper meal. And I don’t get the point. Why not a buffet when we have such gatherings in the evening. Why stop at apéro?”

“Hee-hee, you know it requires a lot of planning and coordination to host a buffet for such a big delegation. And besides, the culture over here is to have an apéro and many of the locals I know fill their stomachs before calling it a day.”

Girish was not amused with her answer. She continued,

“They enjoy when they are invited for an apéro. In one year and being a student, I am used to stuffing my stomach with all the savouries. And mister, no restaurant would serve the food of your liking at this hour. It is 8.30 in the evening.”

She had resumed her bubbly-ness, “Wait, maybe we can have a look at the Genève-Gare. There might be something to eat,” Jaya led the way and asked for the waitress to bring the bill.

And Jaya was unstoppable, “This is the best part about dining out. Even though we had just two cups of coffee, the staff over here didn’t pressure us to leave when finished. But if you are seated at a reserved table, they may come and politely request us to hurry or leave as they must prepare and set the table for the reserved guests. I like that etiquette very much. That way we can have better conversations.”

 

CHAPTER NINE

 What can a vegetarian find at 9 pm in a train station in Genève? It was a rarity for a person to not eat meat in this part of the world. But there he was sticking to his beliefs and policy of remaining that way. Jaya understood where he was coming from and didn’t advocate him.

Jaya shifted to eating meat when she found it tough living in Lausanne.

Girish by now had demonstrated he was not flexible when it came to altering his food habits.

“I have a confession to make. I too come from a vegetarian family, but things changed once I landed in Lausanne. How much can one take lettuces and other raw vegetables?”

She continued, “Yes, there is Pizza Margharita, Cheese sandwiches and occasional potato gratins – good food was rare, few and expensive. I tried a few days with just croissants and other bakery products, it just didn’t work out.”

And to add to her woes, “My roommates are from Iran and Vietnam – and all I had each night was boiled rice with boiled vegetables while they gorged themselves with meat. I got tired of eating pasta with tomato and pesto sauce.”

Girish laughed at her and Jaya continued – “And besides, I am a touch lazy to cook for myself. Earlier I enjoyed it while cooking with my family”……

and suddenly both their faces expressed different emotions. Her face went a bit pale as it was not so long ago she remembered her deceased family and now those happy memories came back again.

What is the point in having such memories, when you know you cannot relive them? Why can’t one just forget about it and move on? Why moving on isn’t easy and needs effort? Why should we struggle to feel better?

Those thoughts must have crossed Jaya’s mind innumerable times in those last fifteen months.

No matter what one says about moving on – it is like climbing a peak. One must take it one step at a time to conquer the peak. And to those hard-felt feelings, one should keep living the day as it presents and fill with fresh memories, that way old memories no longer hold you back.

“Look what I found” – Girish brought Jaya her back to the world.

She was lost in her thoughts while he was busy looking for some food.

Girish held a baguette which had cheese spread, three slices of tomato, few lettuce leaves and topped with mustard sauce. He would have preferred ketchup – but some sauce is better than eating bland.

Jaya smiled and this time looking at Girish’s childish exuberance in having discovered a baguette made from vegetables and cheese. He offered her half of it, “let’s have it together, what say?”

She pointed her right index finger to her stomach and indicated she was full.

Girish was puzzled, “How can you eat all those things and say you had your dinner?”

Jaya laughed a bit more and she had completely gotten off her thoughts.

While Girish’s eyes were on the baguette, she looked at him in a strange way.

She appeared lost, again – but this time it was different.

Jaya was lost in the present, looking at him, his entirety, which was a bit more casual with his coat neatly folded on his left hand. His tie was off and an unbuttoned shirt.

Jaya gazed at him and occasionally he looked at her while chewing, making gestures as to ask what was she thinking? She nodded as though it was nothing.

When a woman says nothing, it means she doesn’t wish to share. One needs to prod more and gently make her feel at ease. Then she might share what was on her mind.

Try you luck, it is not a guarantee.

Perhaps, she wanted those thoughts to remain just with her, closed in her secret garden where many such thoughts are stored.

What is the use of such thoughts that remain only with you? Will it come in aid when times are different from what you are experiencing right now.

Is life all about collecting such memories and keep storing so that someday they come back and give us solace?

What if the meaning of those thoughts change with time?

Girish had finished his meal and found Jaya lost in her thoughts, once again, “Where are you lost?”

Jaya was quick to respond – “Nothing, I am bit tired. I think I want to go home.”

“Oh, sure. I understand. I shall accompany you till Lausanne and then I take a train back to Genève.”

“That won’t be necessary, I can manage. This country is safe. Plus, you had a long day and don’t you have to work tomorrow?”

“At least, I will drop you till your platform,” he insisted.

Another moment of silence… and he continued, “I had a great time with you this evening. Thanks for asking me out for a cup of coffee.”

Jaya didn’t say anything and they walked slowly towards the platform. The day had been tiresome to her – physically and emotionally.

On one side, she met Girish and they spoke a lot and on the flip side, she spoke about a few things that made her touch sad. Mixed emotions!

They saw a drunkard seated on a bench and he was cleaning his mouth organ. He was in no state to play music or so, they thought. Within seconds came a rendition of French performer Edith Piaf’s ‘la vie en rose’.

The organist wasn’t just playing, he was conveying a message, a deep one. Not sure what was his exact state of mind, but the sound had a profound effect on people in the vicinity.

Girish got reminded of Audrey Hepburn and her rendition of ‘la vie en rose’ from the movie ‘Sabrina’.

He stood puzzled just as Humphrey Bogart in the movie.

The day was meant to be about his talk, but there he was, a few hours later, his thoughts far away from his vision to empower women in the developing and under developed countries.

Life is funny, if you give it a chance.

Girish didn’t know how to put those feelings away he has for Jaya.

Both, stood silently and just when the train rolled up on the platform, Jaya reminded him about the inaugural Jazz festival and before she boarded the train, she gave him a kiss on his right cheek and said in a very soft voice –

“I had a great time too. See you soon.”

Qwizzeria turns Two!

 

In 2013, after an unsuccessful year to find a permanent job, I went back to old ways i.e. freelancing.

In the times we live, I was mildly surprised the preference given to ‘experts’, ‘specific skillsets’ than looking at a profile in its entirety. Nevertheless, it was a lesson and I understood, “if I must get a job for my skill sets, and experience, I won’t find it looking at a job description. I had to create one.”

Freelancing = travelling in my line of work. To me, working in different projects as a freelancer accelerated my ‘learning curve’ and that became my definition of ‘growth’.

However, in mid-2014, I was in a fix.

Should I travel?

“Oh, wait, I will miss the journey of the birth of our child.”

I went with my gut feeling and remained in Zurich. That happens to be one of the best decisions I made, in hindsight.

In Zurich, I started taking up few freelance roles and at the same time decided to pursue my lifelong hobby of fact collection. I felt, it was time to make that ‘past-time’ into something meaningful. There were no ‘plans’, it was purely ‘on-the-go’.

What resulted –  ‘Qwizzeria’.

I was fascinated by the quote – “Facts are to the mind, what food is to the body.”

Inspired by the above Edmund Burke’s saying, I came up with the term #FactFood for the daily nuggets of information.

Through Qwizzeria, I found an avenue to channel my interest for collecting information and presenting it one at a time, every day. This allowed me to get into a learning process through ‘researching’ and ‘fact finding’. By giving a fact, I was learning more.

Qwizzeria turned two last week and so far, has produced over 736 fact foods.

What am I gaining? –

The daily routine continues to enrich my experience about many aspects about the world – it is making me understand different cultures, have meaningful conversations with people and mostly, it has been a humbling exercise.

The more I dwell on random topics, the more I realise, how less I know.

Qwizzeria is an integral part of who I am. However, I am interested in other fields of work. I started a consulting firm early this year that focuses on sports consulting, event project management, content writing and Qwizzeria completes it with knowledge consulting.

I love reading and for a while I had lost the zeal because I felt it was a waste of time assimilating all the information. In short, I was getting drowned with information and with Qwizzeria, I have given myself an opportunity to water my brains with knowledge.

Now, think about getting paid for what you love to do?

There are no big pay checks yet, however the start has been promising. Now, it is up to me how I take it forward.

Being a parent for more than a year has given me an unexplainable confidence. And, I have an understanding partner, who is an excellent devil’s advocate and at the same time knows when not to be an advocate at all.

This journey is a realisation in progress – it is ok to be demotivated, confused and distracted.  I am a human and things aren’t rosy at times even when I am doing what I love. It is like losing my way in the right direction.

In such moments of uncertainty, the core of Qwizzeria came to my rescue. One day at a time, one fact a day, that’s all.

Two years of Qwizzeria and there is plenty more to explore and lots more to be done. For now, it is time to celebrate and at the same time acknowledge those feelings of uneasiness – they shall pass 🙂

Next time, when you are asked to believe in the power of one thing at a time, or one day at a time; Trust me, it is for real.

My advice is, embrace those feelings and make that journey irrespective of the nature of the task.

Because you learn, therefore you are!

 

 

Qwizzeria is a knowledge consulting project based out of Zurich, Switzerland.

Write to me – rajan@qwizzeria.com to know how Qwizzeria can engage with your stakeholders be it with learning modules, Knowledge transfer exercises or hosting quizzes.

The Other Side of Globalisation

This topic, globalisation has been pegged into our minds ever since ‘connecting people’ was eased through digital media revolution. With the increase in the number of ‘social networks’, one felt like we belonged everywhere, and it even gave a sense of what the ‘world’ is like. Many views, couterviews and opinions, we heard it all and took part in it.

What about the opinions that never came out? Are we listening to the silence? 

As our feeds are filled with the ‘latest happenings’ around the world, we often tend to overlook a crucial element to society’s existence – localisation.

Human race is made up of societies and societies, whether we like it or not mirrors the principle of Newton’s third law – ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’.

Globalisation was one such action/reaction that could not have escaped from our human evolution process. It had to happen someday, and here we are experiencing the phenomenon of this global closeness. Naturally, there was bound to be a reaction.

Economics dictate countries and the way it grows. But, who dictates the economics?

The societies made up of people make these choices based on their ever-changing surroundings. The beliefs, however firm are tested each day, and to maintain an equilibrium, one must constantly tug-it-out in a field of action-reactions.

I often wonder, if our evolutionary path is a straight line, wherein we move forward, rest as we please and have an option to go back?

or

Is it a case of being sinusoidal, where we have our positives (peak), negatives (troughs) and a neutral path?

Now, on the back of Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory, all I can think of is, people who vote may not voice out their opinion publicly. Maybe, they have had enough of globalisation.

Are they tired of world-closeness and hence they took a stand to focus more on the matters that are part of their immediate surroundings?

It defintely looks that way!

Privacy is no longer an inexpensive choice and the concept of ‘globalisation’ isn’t well defined now. In a chaotic world, what would you choose? 

This is a choice, majority of them made to back ‘localisation’. And, in a democratic process, a simple majority is enough to win!

Whether this is an action or a reaction – it doesn’t matter.

Life goes on…. C’est la vie…. We have lived before… we are living right now… and we continue to live in the future. We will continue to find ways and that is the core of human’s existence.

Nothing else matters!

#MarilynMonroe and her Iconic Photo

This is Marilyn Monroe and her most famous photo that caused ripples, generated a media wave that was previously unheard of in Hollywood. The photo captured is a part of a scene which was meant to be fun and innocent. What transpired in real was far from it.

When I first looked at this photo, I was in my teens and was instantly captured by the aura of Marilyn Monroe. Many years later, after having watching nearly all her movies, got to know her via books and documentaries, I realised there was a story, a pivotal one, that would change her life in totality.

There comes a time in one’s life when you gotta pick a direction while at the crossroads. For Marilyn Monroe, the Seven Year Itch was the movie as the events that unfolded during the making paved the path she would take in her remaining years.

The movie’s success took Marilyn Monroe to the peak of her powers as an actress and made her Hollywood’s greatest sex symbol. This meant, Marilyn no longer had to rely on ‘dumb blonde’ roles. She had the liberty to choose her career path, an opportunity Marilyn didn’t let pass.

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The smash-hit Broadway play ‘The Seven Year Itch’ by George Axelrod

The movie ‘The Seven Year Itch’ was based on George Axelrod’s 1952 popular Broadway play about a married man who has an affair with an attractive upstairs neighbour. The play was a hit and it was slated to run continuously for three years. Many in Hollywood were eager to cash in the play’s popularity and make a movie out of it.

The movie industry in the 50s did not enjoy artistic freedom, and was overlooked in the theatre. The plot of Seven Year Itch in its original form would have been rejected by the Hays Office (censor board for Hollywood). The play was a success yet provocative enough for many Hollywood studios to back out and not risk the wrath from the Hays Office.

Billy Wilder, the Oscar winning movie maker was known for his skills to circumvent the Hays Code and yet make mass movies on controversial topics. Remember the movies, The Major and the Minor, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend and Sunset Boulevard?

He purchased the play from George Axelrod and the game was set to motion. Twentieth Century Fox won the bid to produce the movie as they had Marilyn Monroe in their roster.

Marilyn, on the back of successes such as Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire was touted as the Hollywood’s most famous sex symbol. Among others, she was featured on the cover of the first ever Playboy magazine.

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The first ever issue of Playboy magazine in 1953

The selection of the character ‘Richard Sherman’, who was to appear opposite Marilyn Monroe was a tricky one. The character was quintessential an even man, plain, average and not necessarily handsome. A lot of A-list Hollywood actors were not considered as a result.

Tom Ewell, who had successfully played Richard Sherman on the Broadway won the role. The odd-pairing of Ewell and Marilyn was to be showcased as the ultimate man’s fantasy.

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Photo by Moviestore/REX (2254495e)

Sam Shaw, a world-famous photographer-producer and friend of the famed Hollywood director Billy Wilder, came up with the famous skirt lifting scene. He approached the producer, Charles Feldman, who agreed the idea would be sensational – giving great publicity and zest to the movie. Feldman discussed it with director Billy Wilder, George Axelrod, the screenwriter, and Marilyn Monroe. They all said, “Let’s do it!”

 

When the Seven Year Itch began filming in September 1954, Marilyn Monroe was no longer movie industry’s greatest sex symbol. She was the world’s most famous newly-wed. Her marriage to baseball’s icon Joe DiMaggio made global headlines. His career with the New York Yankees was over while Marilyn’s career had just started.

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Marilyn Monroe with  Joe DiMaggio

“Joe had understandable, somewhat old world ideas about women staying at home, having babies and dressing rather demurely. But that isn’t Marilyn wanted. Marilyn wanted a career.” – said Donald Spoto, one of the many biographers of Marilyn Monroe.

On 15 September, 1954, many fans and photographers having informed in advance by Fox’s publicity team had lined up to witness the proceedings. Little did anyone know, they were about to witness history being made, Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic scene and a signature shot which is revered to this day. On the flip side, the unfolded events also drew curtains to her marriage with Joe DiMaggio.

THE SCRIPT

The now iconic scene was scripted this way: Tom Ewell and Marilyn came out of the Trans-Lux movie house on Lexington Avenue. It was a night scene. It was a warm September evening, and they stopped on a subway grating; when a train would pass by, the air could cool Marilyn off.

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Marilyn was wearing a sheer-white, billowy sleeveless dress. When the subway train roared by, it would send up a blast of cool air. There was a subway grating there all right, but everything else was make-believe. No train passing by, but air blowing up was done by the special-effects people stationed underground with a wind-blower machine. This sent Marilyn’s dress flying waist high, revealing her legs and white panties. As a precaution, she wore an additional layer of underwear.

A crowd had gathered even though it was early in the morning. They consisted mostly of men who somehow had heard about the late night film-making. Among the crowd was Joe, Marilyn’s husband and his famous friend, Broadway columnist Walter Winchell.

At first, it was all innocent and fun, but when Billy Wilder kept shooting the scene over and over, the crowd of men kept on applauding and shouting, “More, more, Marilyn – let’s see more.”

Joe became upset, especially when the director’s camera kept coming in, focusing only on Marilyn’s privates. Luckily, she had been wearing two pairs of panties, hoping nothing would show through.

The whistles and the yelling from the male audience became too much for Marilyn’s husband. It was like a burlesque show. What was to be a fun scene turned into a sex scene, and Joe, angry as could be, turned to Winchell, shouting, “I’ve had it!” And the two men took off.

Once those retakes were done, Marilyn turned to Wilder and said, “I hope all these extra takes are not for your Hollywood friends to enjoy at a private party.” Marilyn couldn’t imagine them showing such a scene, especially such a close-up of her private area, in a comedy film made for the family audience.

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The re-shot scene at a Hollywood studio

Marilyn was right. When they returned to Hollywood the scene was re-shot at the studio in a more refined way. The footage that was shot on that night in New York never saw the light as it had issues with the sound recording.

The posters and publicity created hype around the scene, however the Hays Office had the final say and the end product was nowhere close to the sensation it created on the wee hours of 15 September, 1954. Watch the re-worked scene here

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One of the posters released for publicity

Apart from the Hays Code, there were other organisations such as the National Legion of Decency, which had the power to influence millions of church-goers (Catholic) to not watch movies that were condemned by the Legion.

Gerald Gardner, an author and film historian offered an explanation to their behaviour – “People like Marilyn Monroe are always a threat to the moralists and establishment who were trying to protect their fellow men against an excess of passion.”

He added – “There is no doubt that when you are able to cast a charismatic, appealing and sensual a personality like Marilyn Monroe, you are bringing a lot to the film. True, he (Billy Wilder) lost the adulterous relationship, true he lost Axelrod’s most wittiest lines – but in place of that he did have Marilyn Monroe.”

 

Although the movie became a success, the famous skirt lifting scene proved fatal for Marilyn’s relationship with Joe DiMaggio. Joe admitted, he still loved her but Marilyn being a movie star was too much for him to take any longer. He became impossible to live with. At that time, there was nothing left for them to do but get divorced.

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Marilyn with her attorney Jerry Giesler minutes before the divorce announcement

The movie wrapped up its shooting in November and was released on June 1, 1955 on Marilyn Monroe’s 29th birthday. The huge success of the movie, on the back of even bigger publicity any Hollywood movie had ever received up until that point catapulted Marilyn’s career to newer heights.

Sam Shaw’s idea was a great publicity for the film. The photo of Monroe’s dress flying sky-high made every newspaper, every magazine in the world. For the film’s premiere showing at New York’s Loew’s State Theatre, its four-story building facade was covered by a huge artist’s rendition (52 feet) of that famous dress-blowing scene.

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The blonde image of Monroe was all people thought about her. She didn’t like it, and in the next few years, she was involved in more serious projects that showcased her versatility. Marilyn had achieved stardom that granted her the right to pick the directors and a say in scripting.

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It has been close to 54 years since Marilyn’s abrupt death. Although, I was born three decades after her death, I have remained a big fan of hers for over a decade. Her manner of death has divided opinions to this day and the real story, well, I believe it went with Marilyn. And, all we are left are those wonderful memories.

Happy 90th  Marilyn!          

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Lose your dreams, you will lose your mind

Yet another casualty and this time it is at the heart of European Union. There are disturbing scenes for anyone who tunes into the news channels or when surfing through the internet. While some have plenty on their plate to even think about it, many ask themselves, which place is a safe house in the times we live.

If there is one thing that is certain, it is the unpredictability of events irrespective of one’s geographical location. Media houses chart the list of happiest places in the world to live and go on to provide the fag end of the list. People strive hard to be in those ‘safe havens’ while chaos is being plotted parallely.

The question is, will we continue to live in that ‘safe-net’ forever? No annual holidays? No business visits? or even a unplanned getaway?

Each day, we make plans for the future and work towards it. By the end of the day, we might have compromised a thing or two about living our lives we dreamed growing up. Plans upon plans pile up while the simple pleasures appear to look silly, even though deep down, that’s precisely what we crave for.

All our plans lead to the road of survival. Some chose muddy paths while others prefer finer grades of concrete. A few can afford the luxury to avoid roads altogether while there are people who ride their fortunes for having survived a day.

We are bombarded by the precursors and the possible outcomes of global conflicts of varying nature. We debate among friends, colleagues about the veracity of events, policies, actions or lack of it. Thanks to the most evolved technology available to our finger tips, we are never far away from the news of disaster.

We can selectively choose. Can we turn it off completely?

Some choose to remain oblivious to what’s happening around, some choose to ignore it, some get confused and some get agitated. These gamut of emotions sums up the world we live in – where in spite of the ‘safest physical cocoon’ we can create, our minds are volatile and subconsciously introspect to be guarded. So we make more plans to secure ourselves.

Are we missing a point here?

In any case, here is what I have come to terms with having witnessed some of the global catastrophes in my lifetime.

Every generation had their own share of conflicts. Unless we can transport ourselves into the mindsets of previous generation, we cannot fully comprehend or show empathy to the affected. We can always try.

We can be never be truly ubiquitous – let’s accept the fact that we are limited by being an individual entity.

Confusions and dilemmas are part of our growth. In fact, they are essential for our evolution and play a key role in our learning and decision making abilities. Clarity is a journey not the destination.

There will always be responsibilities till our last breath. It is up to us, how we look at it, define it, face them and learn from it all.

And this was a game-changer for me:

Defining my dreams and being flexible about it; living my life, chasing after my dreams and taking time to remain still when I am tempted to be in perpetual motion to reach places. The aforementioned ‘keys’ are proving to be paramount.

The definition of ‘dream’ is subjective and idiosyncratic. And choosing to live my life with loved ones, paint it like an adventure irrespective of ‘complicated’ commitments are the simple remedies I am happy to have taken and I wish to take it moving forward.

I saw a Rolling Stones quote printed on a T-shirt that made sense – “Lose your dreams, you will lose your mind” and in a fragile and uncertain global world, working on our dreams continuously is not a bad option to consider.

HE IS A LONE WOLF

He knew it from the beginning, his destiny was elsewhere. He was not to be confined to the ties of being a family man – call it Buddhaesque. He left his family in search of enlightenment and enrolled himself among his habitat’s most recognised ‘Band of brothers’ unit.

With time he marched on from one assignment to the other and the clarity he wished to seek was far-fetched. He met many people at various engagements, rubbed shoulders with senior members and steadily progressed through the ranks to become one the recognisable, hardworking persona brimmed with confidence with an attitude of a leader.

A mortal nevertheless, he still needed timely guidance especially when he ventured into a new breed of responsibility. A crisis erupted and he was out of his comfort zone – he wanted to do good, act well and in desperation reached out to his seniors and other colleagues working with him, to his surprise they suggested the ‘wait and watch’ approach over taking any actions.

Hindsight would teach him what not to do rather than what to do.

Both factions involved in the crisis suffered. It wasn’t the time to slogan “We didn’t start the fire” – yet the affected parties continued blaming one another. It was always burning.

He knew what was happening, however being the lead for a group meant he lost the freedom to exercise his thoughts, articulate his personal views and debating was an option turned down. He was new to the job and he didn’t explore what he didn’t know.

Silence was not the best policy – but it gave him time to introspect, live with his own thoughts when opinion makers, his opponents and the affected group(s) questioned him, ridiculed him and branded him as though he was the sole responsible person for the crisis.

They would have been better off adopting his method of introspection. Alas, they didn’t.

Seconds ticked, hours clocked by, days went by, months passed by and still he was pounded for answers. He was still in introspection slumber on the crisis and all he did was take the advice of his colleagues to not air his views.

In a couple of years, he had found peace with himself on the crisis and wanted to share his views – but people had moved on. Sooner if he didn’t, he would lose the plot again. He started to run faster, work harder than anyone else he knew. He dedicated himself to have answers when questions were asked. In other words, he came out stronger from the crisis.

However, deep down he was affected. At the remotest part of his soul, he knew he still had to vent out his views.

He was often reminded by his inner voice about younger days, his decision to move out of family, events that led him to his present. Those memories fueled him to make a difference, etch a name for himself, and bring in progress for greater good.

Success followed and there was a limit to what he had achieved in the area he was initially assigned to. It was natural to move on to the next level. He set his eyes on greater leadership roles. At the same time, his group saw the potential he had, and sailed along with him, pushed him, projected him to be the panacea of all sins that existed.

And they began building a new foundation unknown to him.

He came through convincingly purely on merit and not relying on recommendations or any sort of prejudice. He had reached the top and now he had a clear view around him. Did the clarity he was seeking many years ago came out of the blurry state?

Being ‘the’ leader was a new experience and the only way he could move forward was to learn on the job. It happens to everyone, but few admit it. Being perfect is a limitation and an illusion – he discovered this soon and hinted to his followers many times, they missed the point repeatedly.

The path ahead was not easy, and it forced him to think whether he should change his set of beliefs?

This dilemma played as he encountered acts of discord regularly. This was certainly not what he expected after getting to the top. He thought he could deliver solutions at ease. Problems piled on endlessly.

That’s what responsibilities can do, they allow you to re-think endlessly to come up with better solutions each day and never allows you to settle.

He often recollects the chain of events from history, of his forefathers, and of personalities from his contemporaries. This serves his appetite for introspection, to analyse whether he is taking a step forward or going backwards? and how many from his group truly believe in his cause?

He is now the senior leader, those days of consulting with the hierarchy was over. He finds his comrades are at a different level and to an extent oblivious to his beliefs and the direction he wishes to take. Slowly, many of them are branching away with their own set of plans.

He wishes to address this, however he is quickly reminded about the bigger issues at hand. They don’t realise he knows his comrades have become those issues.

A lot of his comrades and supporters believe they are fighting for him, but do they know it is not the fight he wants them to focus?

When will they listen to him? Will it be late and at what cost?

He is surrounded with many moments of uncertainties, and he is stuck whether to embrace them or ignore them. Those feelings of hope and disgust mix dis-proportionally to his deep thoughts and clouds his decisions.

And one day, he woke up to see, he is trapped. What was unknown became obvious. He allowed his comrades to build a fortress of solitude around him.

Was this the reason he left his family at a young age? Is this how he envisions his future life?

There is no right or wrong time in making decisions. Similarly, there is no right or wrong moves as no matter what he does, he will remain popular among those who worship him and unpopular for those who cannot stand the group he represents. He has reached that stage. But, mortal he is, he fears his inaction might haunt him even more this time around.

Should he keep quiet again and remain in that fortress and trust his comrades?

Far from the fortress, each day there is a clash of ideas even if the resultant goal is the same. Some play the moles, leaving them aside, shouldn’t ideas leaning towards the same goal be one and function like a Justice League?

The events that shaped our present cannot be altered – why are we trying so hard to change it?

In the meantime, he in his fortress and is constantly assured everything is under control. Mortal, that he is, he thinks about his legacy.

He asks how would i like to be remembered by future generations?

That’s the question he needs to answer and sooner it is, the better. He needs to re-visit those moments when he took some of the boldest decisions that shaped him. And in some scenarios, he needs to remain true to what he believes instead of merely going where the wind.

No matter, how hard he tries to create an effective pack, he will be deserted. He is a lone wolf and that’s his destiny.

If he manages to inspire the pack to follow his lead and live out his vision – it will be his legacy.

GETTING TO THE ROOT OF THINGS

There is something about face value that attracts human responses when encountered. A sense of energy flows that resists patience and is in frenzy state to react, respond with what we feel is the right thing. Some have the ability to put it aside at the last minute, while others succumb to the seductive power of ‘hungama‘. This happened in Delhi recently and it was sensationalised as though it was a national issue – when in reality, it was meant to be dealt in a small way.

Why do we allow such incidents to become headlines? How does this issue matter to the rest of India, apart from providing fodder to unnecessary errands on social media and among friends and family.

Headlines, half-baked news, prejudices and one’s set of beliefs all play their part in that moment of expressing one’s opinion. And these days, social media offers a camouflage which gives a false sense of power.

A bunch of students decided to protest in a very immature fashion which provoked some of the fellow students who didn’t like the proceedings. The student leader steps in to diffuse the situation. He was made the prime target and even accused of not stopping the protests which didn’t have permission in the first place. At least he tried instead of keeping silent.

With regards to the protest. What has expressing opinions come down to? Aren’t there debates, forums to express views and other disagreements instead of plain sloganeering and attract attention. How do you define anti-nationalism and in this regard – a minority group of students displayed and chanted anti-India slogans. Would you isolate this group alone or take everyone who was present?

And for many, it is still not clear as to why one would start such protests in the first place? Because, majority of the Indians don’t care or are too busy caught up in daily chores. And you cannot blame them for that.

Equally puzzling and unsurprising was the reaction. First a group of student protestors, then the Delhi police, the central Government, the media, the politicians from the ruling party and to make things worse, the opposition jumping in to make this a political, privilege and a religious issue. Later, the journalists were roughed up along with other JNU students at the Patiala Court House.

Was this a great advert for the ongoing Make in India?

Humans are more prone to negativity. Try this self-exercise, you will be amazed at how we are drawn towards the dark side views over the lighter side of things.

You know it, but wait, you do not want to admit it? I get it!

How do you solve this kind of issue? At the moment, any argument against the Government or the Prime Minister is a direct way to label yourself as an anti-national? In such an environment, one loses the sense of logic or even clarity as you are dragged into the mud wrestling full of verbal duels which can get physical at times.

Violence met with violence especially when it involves youth, students – you never win!

The question that I ask myself – why are these protests in the first place? Should we ignore them as a ruling party? or should it be tackled at the foundation level?

Who would like to get to the root of things? I have a candidate, however going by the previous incidents, it would be welcome change to let go of his past silence and address students, the nation and also so called anti-nationals present in our country.

There are more positives to our Prime Minister than many of our predecessors – however, he is a human and this element is not acceptable to many. His silence over these matters is puzzling as I believe he is one person who can influence the much needed change this country needs – the ability to analyse, study both views before jumping into conclusions. The audacity to crisis communicate. Even though the rest of India is fine, the people of Delhi needs to hear those words. The students, should they continue studying?

This is an opportunity for our Prime Minister to initiate a change which many of our top leaders fail to recognise – the ability to connect with the youth. No, it is not just on social media. It is face-to-face or even through online live chats. He is an influencer and who knows, he might provide an insight that’s much needed from the top.

Our Government is taking many steps to convince countries to invest in India and one of the many things that often do not get highlighted is the fact, India is still a wonderful country despite such protests. The tussle with the Government always existed but it is more multi-folded due to social media outreach.

We need our Prime Minister to lead the nation by educating the youth consistently as it is the people that would determine the course India takes. Majority might get the votes, but they need not be always right.

In India even exceptions run into millions – so there is an option to let these protests to be ignored. But, at what cost?  

Why not we initiate a ‘getting to the roots’ programme spearheaded by our Prime Minister? Surely, there can be arrangements made to reach out to people who are in need of clarity even though they do not know it. Start with the capital.

One isn’t sure about the results. Can we not try?

P.S – How would a parent react if their son/daughter accuses them of being anti-family, make statements like ‘I prefer you weren’t alive’, talk and argue in an matured manner, doesn’t have a clue to articulate and put things in perspective, protests your decisions, so on and so forth.

How should a parent react? Will they let them rot? Will they make it worse by force and threat? Is beating them up an option? or will they try to put sense in the whole issue and inspire a change in the child?

RANGITARANGA: AN INCOMPLETE ENDING

It’s been more than five days since I watched the movie ‘Rangitaranga’ – a Kannada movie which has been the talk of the town among the Indian cinema lovers. I was one among the 80 adults who watched the screening in a small Kino in Zürich. True to its hype, I loved the movie as it had a link to my childhood – a distinct theme that forms the basis for the movie which is recurring (on my mind) from the 90’s tele-serial in Kannada, Gudada Bhootha. The movie was refreshing in many ways and my thoughts on the same.

 
SPOILER ALERT: I DISCUSS THE PLOT AND THE MOTIVES OF CERTAIN CHARACTERS…
 

‘Rangitaranga’ (Colourful wave) – a word that will soon find its way in the Kannada dictionary is a well-thought out movie and the title justifies to a large extent about how different moods of a human being is identified with certain set of colours. Songs with matching music and lyrics penned entirely in Kannada/Tulu remains the best side-kick of the movie. The background music mixes well with the visuals and we are in a maze right from the moment movie begins.

 To get a psychological-mystery (thriller) right requires a master screenplay and attention to details as  various thought processes connect the characters with the story to take it forward.

If ‘why’ isn’t part of your thought process while watching the movie, then you have missed something!

When taken in isolation, every character has an element of ‘mystery’ barring the antagonist…until the dying minutes of the movie.

The ending of the movie was abrupt and it left me with more questions than answers to those mystic puzzles found in the movie. The antagonist came in as a surprise element (kudos to that!) and credit to the writers to have treaded a unique path leading up to the climax!

Unlike most movies, I rate movies highly if it has the ability to make me think and have some strong discussions on the same. One such unsettling feeling I have from the movie is the way they revealed the antagonist and his role in the entire movie. In spite of very well penned sequences –  the shades and the background for the antics of the antagonist lacked material, sophistication and instead it was hurried upon to close the gaps the story had created thus far.

Was it a case of wearing a ‘mask’ all along or a medical case of ‘bipolarity’?

I must admit, I am partial to this school of thought influenced by the quote from Jim Morrison – “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.”

In the defence of the movie-maker – a movie isn’t a great platform to explain things unlike say a ‘book’ or a mini-series. However, paying attention to the ‘climax’ must never be overlooked and I would say, instead of two back-to-back songs that comes after intermission, there could have been elements added in the movie that provided depth to the ‘character’ who’s end meant, the puzzle was solved or was it?

Looking back, a great opportunity would have been when the Yakshagana scene was shot, an event which the hero Gautam attended. The antagonist could have been shown with fervour – a slight hint to his traits of being the ‘Uttama Villain’. Instead, it can be seen, many deliberate attempts were made to conceal the ‘truth’ and plot frequently misguided our thoughts. While Gautam was engrossed in the show, our mask man was busy plotting something else.

Coming back to whether it was a ‘mask’ or ‘bipolarity’ – the antics of the antagonist is fine during the day time as he comes across as a poetic, jovial and even supportive on various issues. Was he wearing a mask to go by the day until the dusk beckons to unleash his ‘dark side’? this is in spite of not recollecting ‘the hero’ whom he knew pretty well.

Or did he give into his dark side and let his mind loose on hunting down pregnant women – and re-live his first killing each year? As stated, there is a pattern in the movie, July 7th each year and the eleventh day after that, when he unleashes his darkest weapon – his anger and satiates himself by killing the kidnapped pregnant woman. That’s all for the year!

What happens to this dark side of his for the rest of the year? Does he wander (as shown in the movie, he does) when he has a bout of depression and the maniac in him takes over? or is it a case of hunting down his prey days leading up to July 7th? The more I think about it, I am convinced it was a ‘mask’ all along and the antagonist knew very well what ticked him towards his beastly side!

There are many questions about the antagonist which made the movie incomplete and made me believe, there is a scope for a documentary in revealing the idiosyncrasies of this accused ‘Gudada Bhootha’! Would the movie makers be interested in revealing the actual character?

COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE

 

At thirty-six, Tsukuru Tazaki recollects his life he had led up until that point in time. He ponders over his childhood, his time with four of his best friends and about the most testing time of his life at twenty, when the prospect of dying had such a hold on him.

Tsukuru, Japanese for ‘the one who make things’ – and true to his name, he had a fascination to build rail stations and that took him away from his closely knit group of five friends and from his family. From Nagoya, his home town to Tokyo where he was to study engineering.

Tsukuru thought himself to be ‘colorless’ and an empty vessel and unknowingly was first to blame himself when things didn’t went as expected. Was he justified in thinking about himself in this light? Did he ever seriously consider how others felt about him? Should he be writing scripts for others on his mind? or maybe this is how Tsukuru was wired.

Some people write string quartets, some grow lettuce and tomatoes. There have to be a few who build railroad stations, too. And I wouldn’t say I have a passion for it, exactly. I just have an interest in one specific thing.

He had a chance encounter with Haida, a junior while in college who had a thing for philosophy besides music. “This might sound rude Tsukuru, but I think it’s an amazing achievement to find even one specific thing in life that you’re interested in.”

And then one fine day…without any goodbye, Haida went away – just like a fellow passenger in a long train journey with whom you become friends, only to discover next day they are gone while you were sleeping, without bidding a goodbye or a promise to stay in touch. Tsukuru comforted himself asking questions like – “Why would they stay friends with a guy like me?”

After having failed to commit to any of the girl friends he previously had, it bothered him as to why he wasn’t taking that final big stride. Was he clueless about the immense emotional baggage he was carrying all those years? Why was (and is) he not curious to know why his four friends banished him one fine day, no reason given whatsoever and no intent from Tsukuru to know ‘why’?. And since that incident, sixteen years went by where he led a life which had no meaning whatsoever – but he carried on, walking those steps necessary to survive life. Probably, that is what he is, a survivor and a plain one at it.

And he meets Sara, and she at 38, two years elder to Tsukuru fuels a spark which he badly needs.

Human traits do not change unless one is willing to change. That way, human mind is a great player. It can play any game it wishes to and all we do is react and act upon it. Within such dexterity, there too lies a rigidity of not letting go of how you view life, being relentless in believing certain things and how it would fail, each time and how you would ensure it would fail because….. it happened in the past and it so must happen. Any room for a change?

All his life and specially those sixteen years, Tsukuru tried to hide those unpleasant memories – but deep down it was there, in a dark corner and unknown to Tsukuru playing tricks on how he viewed life and its situations.

You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.

Sara convinces him why he must revisit his past, meet his four friends and how he must pursue to know ‘why’ he was treated the way he was long time ago. Tsukuru knew he can hide memories for a lifetime, but what about the history that bogged him down, that made him a prisoner locked in a cell. Doesn’t he feel like breaking out?

Tsukuru takes a blind leap and decides to re-visit his past. Along this path, he meets his friends and realise, life of others was different from how he had pictured in his own mind.

While he was unearthing the past, he finds Sara on a summer evening, walking with an elderly man, holding hands, laughing, which gave an impression that she was very happy. He knew he finally found a girl in Sara with whom he can spend the rest of his life and yet those images of her holding hands with another man bothered him, every minute, every second. He had made up his mind that he cannot give her that happiness, he was colorless, empty and probably that’s the reason people leave him, just like that… abruptly and all of a sudden.

And then…. a trip to Finland to meet his childhood friend with a hope that she would fill the void to that ‘history’.

Sixteen years later, those feelings of dying came back to him when he returned to Tokyo and he was sure, if Sara chose the other man over him.. there was nothing left for him to live for. His mind was on a brink of a collapse, took him to the darkest of the forest a man could imagine and threatened to unleash deadly elves that would finish him.

If he had to lose it, he would rather lose himself.

….. and yet….. he manages to survive!, another battle with his mind. And he realised one thing about himself – in spite of those colorless sixteen years he led.

Not everything was lost in the flow of time. We truly believed in something back then, and we knew we were the kind of people capable of believing in something – with all our hearts. And that kind of hope will never simply vanish.

As the title suggests, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage – the Tsukuru can be anyone we know and how each one has a story, a unique one because of our thoughts, how our mind processes the same fact differently and makes us to react in a way that makes us who we are. The key to survival is not a set of formulas – but a constant game played on our minds and that game knows no rules!

CYCLE FOR A RUN – ZÜRICH RUN 2015

Team of runners from Asha for Education – Zurich Marathon 2015
Another year, another run and this time at Zürich marathon, I was part of a team relay and my individual part was running a stretch of 11.4 km. Together with three other team members, we completed the marathon. This is first of its kind for me and I thoroughly enjoyed this after having ran single runs till date. This run, the first of this year (and many more in the pipeline for this year) is also unique in many ways – firstly, I ran more than 11 km at an event after nine years and to prepare for this event, I experimented with a different training regime. I opted to cycle instead of running leading up to the event.
TRAINING LESS WINTER
I must admit, ever since I completed the Winter Run in Zürich last December, my training, leading up to the second week of March was negligible. Winter, being a touch harsh and no indoor gyming (didn’t renew my membership), I went through a period of three months with little running. However, I did walk, and those were quite a few miles along with my wife leading up to her delivery. I had few issues with my throat during the month of January, and I chose to go easy on my body till the time our baby was born. Easy, in my definition was – no outdoor trainings while the temperature touched below zero, during snowfall and when it was windy. Walking was the best option!
ZÜRICH RUN 2015
I signed up for the run with Asha Foundation, Zürich and I was grouped in a team where I would have to run 11.4 km at the Zürich marathon. This was a challenge as I normally prefer shorter distances over in excess of 10 km. On the other hand, the whole run was for a cause – a fundraiser for THE betterment of education in India for under-privileged children.
With less than a month to go and by this time, our 5-day infant was back home and my wife recovering, I was slightly worried about my lack of preparation. I don’t like running more than 5 km at a time – but I know on a given day, I can finish long distances. That’s not the point; to me, after any run (be it any distance), I must be able to continue with my life without any difficulties. And preparation helps you immensely in going about your life normally post race. I had to be prepared! and I was not sure if I wanted ‘running’ to be the integral part of my training.
BUILDING UP THE MOMENTUM
It was in that indecisive moment of choosing how to train, I stumbled upon an idea. In fact, it was just a fortnight ago, while I randomly picked up the cycle and went for a ride, I came with the plan. The spring weather, with cool breeze, light for most hours during the day and the temptation to cycle more led to an experiment which I wanted to explore personally. Cycling as a training method for running.
I have previously completed a half-marathon with very basic preparation – but those times were different. I somehow cannot imagine me doing such distances as I have grown out of it. This 11.4 km was not my personal choice, however wanting to run ruled over the distance factor. Yes, let’s face it – I do not want to run 10 km every second day or more than 5 km each day, but I wanted to complete this 11.4 km and at the end of it, the need to feel normal (as I had a four-hour meeting on a hill after the event) was paramount. The goal of preparation was not to feel exhausted and spent at the end of 11.4 km. And more importantly, at times during the race, an unprepared body gives up.
I decided to cycle hard and cycle alone as a part of training. I started with 14.3 km and then 22.6 km the next day. Subsequently, 18.2 km, 21.3 km, 24.2 km and 26.6 km. I came to the conclusion – if I were to cycle close to 90 mins and cover more than 20 km (keeping in mind the Swiss altitude), I feel I would have trained enough for the race.
THE RACE DAY
I was feeling good after a good night’s rest (which was a premium considering one has to be alert to baby’s call, anytime). The first runner completed 9.1 km and then it was my turn to run a further 11.4 km. I ran, picked up my pace slowly with each kilometre. I took about 75 minutes to complete this distance. This was not lightening quick, however the goal was to complete the distance and at a decent time. I felt good throughout the run and never once felt the need to give up. I came back home, freshened up, ate four parathas and off I went to Felsenegg for a meeting.
Since the beginning of 2014, I had decided not to run more than 5 km (ok, 6 km at times)  and this one came as a mini-challenge. With each challenge comes an opportunity to do things differently and that’s precisely what I did when I chose not to include running in my training regime.
Next up, is the Bern run (in three weeks time) and I am taking it easy with a 5 km run.
On my way to completing the second part of the team run
YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO SOMEONE’S LIFE

Asha for Education, Zürich have raised close to 23,000 CHF through Zürich marathon 2015. We have two weeks for the final fundraising and we are short by 2000 CHF of our target. Request you to contribute any amount of your comfort by clicking here in my profile – http://www.asha-zurich.ch/marathon/p_runner.php?id=RAT