Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hyper over Hyper Marts!!

I still remember the first time I entered HyperCity in Mumbai. It was my first day in the city and Rohit was showing me places where I could shop in Malad. It was the largest and the most comprehensive shopping mart I had ever seen. As you can probably understand from the pictures above, this place is HUGE and it stocks things from every nook and cranny of the world!

There is everything available that you might need, there is unmatched variety and quantity. Prices, though premium, are worth it. Everything is so well organised and packed... It feels like I am not in India but in some fancy hypermart abroad!

But while it is the largest hypermart in the country with goods and services satisfying almost all our requirements under one roof, it still misses the utility and charm of the nukkad grocery store.

Hypercity services the elite, and sometimes forgets to stock simpler goods and grands, like good ol' Charmis cream. It stocks state of the art age miracle and skin lightening creams, each costing minimum 300 for a little bottle, and of no use for someone like me.
It also does not give me the freedom to take a few leaves of dhaniya or kadi patta.. I have to buy the whole bunch or nothing.
The prices are HIGH... and there is no scope for haggling too!!
And it always takes me a lot of time to get the billing done. Not like your neighborhood store where you get instant and personalised attention and service..

So, great job done, with the immense space and variety and quantity, but let me tell you, this huge giant misses the little things that we love about our little stores and vegetable carts... Dont get me wrong, I think Hypercity is a great idea and a big help, but sometimes, even with its size, it fails to match up to our kirana stores... sounds unbelievable, but true. Isnt it?

Some new books and movies...

Hey there people!

Been busy with life, so did not post, though I have many drafts waiting to be finished.
But just to fill you in on a few books and movies I came across in the past 2 weeks..

The life of others - a german oscar winning movie - watched it alone on the theatre.. worth every penny you pay. great movie, story, acting... must watch.

4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days - a romanian movie on illegal abortions in late 1980's in romania. lots of hype about the title and story but an utter and complete disappointment. Dont bother watching, its a complete waste of time and money.

10000 BC: ok movie... historical facts are screwed, acting aint too great... but theek hai... not bad. but dont waste money on a theatre... watch it on DVD.

Th Appeal - book by John Grisham - on crossword bestselling list. His usual legal thriller, but not his best. Well worth the read though, for his fans.

The Japanese Wife - book by Kunal Basu - I had never heard of this guy till I saw the book on the bestseller list of crossword. its a compendium of 12 short stories, the first of which is Japanese wife. This one is also made into a movie by Aparna Sen. However, I was kind of disappointed by the writing style. the stories did not convince me, and i left the book in the middle. not worth the 400 bucks I spent on it.

Th girls of Riyadh - a book by Rajaa Alsanea - Now this was a book I really liked... a refreshingly new style of writing, I read the book almost nonstop. Very well written, gives great insight into the Saudi society... something I dint have much idea about. A must read, though I think it would appeal more to women than men, as it is narration of lives of four women friends.. a look at the society through the eyes of women.

I have many more things to share with you, will write LOTS of posts soon!!
Till then, take care!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Me Mumbaikar.. or not?

I know its a little too late to be writing about this, but as they say, better late than never.

I know this statement is a little drastic, but I do feel 'disappointed' in Mumbai. The city of dreams, where everyone has a real chance of not just surviving but flourishing. The magical city with the sparkling seas, the lively night life, the hustle-bustle of millions of people, the city which is full of life! The city which gave me a house, a job, a life, and made me its own. The same city which took just a second to make me feel like an unwanted outsider.

They say that immigrants ruin the city. They don't follow rules, they encroach upon land, they dirty the town. While I agree that the poor people who come without a place to live or a job to feed themselves, end up cluttering the city, usurping land and sanitation etc. But it is not just a Bihari or a UPite who would do that: any poor person who migrates to Mumbai will do that.

Sure they break traffic rules in Delhi, sure the law and order is not so great in Bihar, sure there are riots in UP. But that's there, not here. When people come here, they all mould themselves along the fabric of Mumbai! Initially there might be settling down pains, but sooner or later we all merge in! I know I did!

But it was appalling to see that 100% of the readers of a leading English daily newspaper opined that ALL NORTH INDIANS flout law and should be thrown out of Mumbai. I think its not the region of the person but the education or economic status which reflects in his behaviour.

I have not encroached any land, I do not flout traffic laws, I don't board trains or buses out of line, I do not dirty the streets. It is the poor and illiterate people who do that, and they could be from any where in the country! Are you trying to tell me that a poor South Indian with nothing, comes to Mumbai and lives in a legal shanty, knows all the rules, and never throws a scrap on the road? Are you trying to tell me that the Marathi Manoos is 'doodh ka dhula' perfect and clean? That it is a genetic problem with a North Indian? I am sorry I do not agree.

I know this all is the work of politicians who have nothing better to do, but what I do not like is the anti-social effect it has on the minds of the people in the city. I now many people who felt ostracised in south Indian cities, and stuck to their own peers, never mingling with the South Indians in the big software companies in Bangalore, as they were not "liked" much. Ditto for the Non-south Indians who dare to settle down in Chennai: almost everyone is fleeced by the Auto-walas, and is forced to not be able communicate as people there refuse to understand Hindi even if they do.

Cmon people, every one loves their city, and dislikes those who ruin it. But lets not make it a matter of national integration by pointing fingers at communities. Have we learnt nothing from our bloody past? Do we not know yet that we are first an Indian and then a Bihari or a Marathi? We should all take responsibility for the upkeep of our cities, as an Indian. I should be equally concerned with keeping Delhi as clean as I would keep Kolkata if am a Bengali. Why should there be a difference at all?? After all, if Delhi is my Janma Bhoomi, Mumbai is my Karma Bhoomi, and I am grateful to it for everything it has given to me. And I will do everything it takes to respect it and take care of it. And I think most people feel the same way.

Except for those of us who really do not care about rules and the environment. They will do as they please, wherever they are. So instead of pointing fingers at their region, lets do something about the problem. Like remove all illegal constructions. Let the people find a legal place to live. If they find one, good for everyone. If they don't, they will go back! Same goes for jobs and education. The only criteria should be merit. If you have it, you get the seat/post. Not because you are a Marathi or a UPite. Those who deserve the jobs/seats will stay, those who don't will leave! Traffic rules being flouted? I think the 'mamas' are doing a great job of taking care of that. Those who break the law, get fined. They get fined till they improve. Even if they dont, they at least pay! Same for people not respecting lines... Cmon Mumbai, you know you do not let a person enter a line from anywhere... even if someone does it, none of us allow him to right? We are Mumbaikars, proud of our city, and very well armed to take care of it too. So why complain and fight on stupid grounds with our fellow Indians? You got a problem, solve it. Work towards finding a solution. Its possible.

You would wonder why I care to write all this, as I am not suffering. Well I am. I feel bad that my community is being generalised. Its not fair. I feel bad when the auto wala gets hit by the mumbaiite's car, its the car's fault, his auto is ruined while nothing happens to the car, and he still gets 2 slaps and lots of gaalis for being a 'north Indian' and he is told to get lost; I feel scared that the kind of treatment north Indians sometimes get in south India, it will start happening here too. I feel guilty, amongst the Mumbaikars, while I walk the streets with them, guilty for things I have not even done, for I can see the silent anger in their eyes for all those who are not originally from here.

THROWING OUT ALL NORTH INDIANS FROM MUMBAI IS NOT THE SOLUTION. tomorrow someone will have a problem with the Marwaris.. without them do you think businesses will flourish? Gujaratis, without them there is no Stock exchange or Diamond Market. Remember, it is all of us together who make Mumbai what it is. Each of us have a role to play. We cant do without any community. We all have to learn to live in peace and work out problems instead of wasting time in pacing blames. We have to know the hidden agendas of politics and not be swayed by it. That's what I think the city is all about. Being truly united in its diversity. That's how I have always seen it, that's how I hope it will always be.

Cmon Mumbai, give me a reason to say 'Mi Mumbaikar" and be proud of it!

As for Jab We Met...

Listen up everyone, I just want to make clear that I have not seen Jab We Met. I know it is a great film, I know everyone has acted really well, I know the music is great. But I still have not watched the movie, nor do I ever intend to deliberately. Dont get me wrong, I do like some songs, and the story does not seem bad at all, and Shahid is a cutie... but for the LOVE OF GOD I CANNOT STAND KAREENA!! I HATE HER! I know she is perfect for that role, but its that kind of character that I hate! Like Kajol in Kabhi khushi kabhi gham.... non-stop blabbering at high pitch voice - its intolerable! I know in spite of Kareena and her horrible acting and the irritating character you all loved the movie... Heck some of the most serious and non-JWM kinda people have also seen the movie and loved it, which surprised me. But anyway to each his own. So folks, I just want you to know that there is nothing on this earth that can make me watch that wretched woman, and hence the movie, so quit telling me that its a great movie, and I am missing everything in my life by not watching it. Frankly my dearies, I don't care a damn! I don't know what all the hullabaloo is about, and don't wanna know either. I know you mean well but let's face it: I will never be able to appreciate what you do, thanks to Kareena. So let us let Jab We Met, as well as me, rest in peace!!