Author Archives: Ramdas

Why the Kashmir issue is like a Saas-Bahu Serial

Kashmir situation is becoming worse every day, and it’s quite difficult to balance the loyalty one feels for his nation, and the illogical state of affairs we have landed into.jkroad

Let’s forget for the moment, Maharaja Hari Singh, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, India Gandhi, Narendra Modi etc various agreements we had with different leaders from Sheikh Abdullah to Bhutto.  All these are important from legal and political perspective, but not part of this discussion.

But in 2016, what’s important is the human beings out in Kashmir. Both the army men and the inhabitants of the valley.

Let’s accept certain facts. The percentages quoted may not be accurate to the last digit.

  1. About 97 percent of the valley, and about 70 percent of Kashmiris are  Muslims.
  2. At least 90 percent of them don’t identify as Indians. They are not willing to accept the merger with India.  That’s at least 8 million of them there.
  3. Rest of us, including some extreme left heart bleeding liberals are not able to understand their logic for the following reasons. This includes me too. I have been speaking with Kashmiris I know, and I certainly don’t get it. Some of my reasons are why they should stay with India, and I really want someone to tell me what would be counter arguments.
    a) Kashmir cannot remain independent between India and Pakistan
    b) Azaad Kashmir is a misnomer. There’s no Azaadi in POK.
    c) The soft sufism Islam practiced by majority of Kashmiris will invite attacks from Sunni radicals once merged.
    d) Pakistan is a failed state, and you will be driven to penury. India is a richer country, and opportunities are better for everyone.

We as a nation has an express interest in Kashmir. And I absolutely share it. I simply don’t want us to give up on Kashmir.

If you can suppress your jingoistic feelings inside for some time and think logically, you will see that our interest in Kashmir is limited to the real estate piece called Kashmir. Our interest is really not in the people residing in that real estate, what they think, what they want, what they say or where do they want to go.

To understand and illustrate this better, we need to understand Kashmir problem and compare it to a typical Indian marriage. The Kind of marriages seen in Indian TV serials.

So we have 9 constituents to this anology, and I am borrowing them from the Saas Bahu Serials.

  1. The Righteous husband –India represented by Indians living outside Kashmir (and not India the country)
  2. The Unhappy Wife — Kashmiris(Muslim Kashmiris) who want Azaadi.
  3.  The Dowry — Kashmir, the real estate awarded to India by wife’s father Raja Hari Singh.
  4.  The Wedding — That took place in October 1947. It so happened that the wife was probably more acceptable to the marriage then.
  5. The Jealous Suitor who is still eyeing the wife and the dowry a.k.a The Villain — Pakistan
  6.  Relatives of Husband and Wife — Indian Media, the so-called Nationalists, the Sanghis, the Bhakts, AAPtards, seculars and pseudo-seculars etc.
  7. Members of Society — NGOs, International Media, UN representatives and other countries.
  8.  The Vamp — Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose and the bleeding seculars ( Hey that includes me too)
  9. The Inter Religion Marriage — Initially both husband and wife were secular, suddenly husband is a Hindu and wife is Muslim.

 

The Plot of the Serial, Misogynist like all Indian serials.

  1. Well, the wife unfortunately is not willing to listen to any reason, like many wives we have heard of. The husband is doling out many presents, is desperately wooing her. India is spending more on Kashmir than on a populous state like Bihar which has nearly 10 times the population.
  2. Yet wife is not ready to fall back in line, accept the husband and get along with the marriage. In fact wife says she hates the husband.
  3. Relatives who are sensible keep telling the wife. Look how nice the husband is. He is taking care of you very well, he is a such a nice guy. He is so handsome compared to the wily suitor, Pakistan. Some of the neighbors are not willing to get involved because they think wife seperated is not a great idea.
  4. They also tell the wife to adjust and continue with the relationship, we cannot afford the breakup.
  5. Since wife is not listening and is actually resorting to violence with the support of the Villain, husband is using force. Yes, we have 700,000 security men to control a population of about 8.8 million Kashmiris who are seeking independence.
  6. Now the wife is insisting on Talaq even more, she is complaining that the husband is beating her up, and is claiming domestic abuse.
  7. Many members of the society agrees with her, they are whispering. Worse, some relatives are siding with her and a few of them are making fun of the husband. Husband is hoping mad.
  8. Some relatives are telling the husband f*&^ with the wife, let’s ship her to her suitor, but let’s keep the dowry. Whatever happens we cannot  give up the dowry.
  9. Wife is caught in two minds, if a Talaq takes place. One half of her mind she wants to remain independent, and another half of her mind wants to marry the old suitor.
  10. But India  like any possessive husband will not let off this 69 year old bride away. And there are several reasons, both legal and political. India does have rights over Kashmir, but then that should not be the only reason, when there’s no love between the husband and wife.
  11. Fact remains husband’s real interest is dowry, he does not care about the wife, and we will always use the tragic story of Kashmiri Pundits, and the attacks on Indian army to justify the marriage.
  12. Husband unfortunately cannot go to court. Unlike marriages where you can have courts to decide on issues, we cannot even have any third party  intervention. UN, USA, and China which could be potential mediators which Pakistan might insist on and they will ask for a plebiscite or a referendum, and we cannot afford a plebiscite. That’s just the first step to a real divorce, and we will need to return the dowry.

Moral of the story: If husband need to keep the dowry, then start loving the wife, and not the dowry. Stop beating the wife, and give her a lot more independence. Start trusting her. She may still demand a divorce. But we need to try keeping her with us, and the dowry too.

Well, it’s all easy to say, right! That’s the exact problem we have with Kashmir.

Now watch this video and song….

Categories: Renegade Politics | Leave a comment

8 steps which AAP needs to take immediately

After all it has not been such a bad result. 4 MPs in your début at national level and 1 crore plus votes polled for your candidates are not bad at all. But can we improve.  We are perhaps better off than BSP. Despite polling 4.2 percent votes, BSP has zero MPs in the Lok Sabha.

1) Be gracious in defeat.

Let’s not react like Mayawati, we are lucky that we won four seats against all odds. BSP scored a null. Let’s accept that the common man did not find any appeal in us across 95 percent of the seats we contested. Let’s give all credit to Modi and BJP. They fought hard, fought well. They had money and muscle power, and we never had that. We made mistakes,several. Accept that our leaders are also gullible common men, and they can make mistakes. Question them, so that they are not complacent anymore.

When we set out to fight this battle, we knew the odds were heavily loaded against us. So why worry? But it’s important to do a post-mortem, and probe the reasons for defeat.

2) Accounting and Accountability

We have collected Rs 37 crore or so through donations to fund the Lok Sabha elections. We need to publish to the last detail where the money was spent, and what was the outcome. We need a provisional balance sheet of election spending immediately. Transparency is what AAP lacked in the run up to the elections, but transparency is what we need to have if we need to have a future. Remember this is public money, and need to be accountable down to the last Rupee. And that too on a war footing level without wasting any time.

The day we do that, we can hold our heads high and demand every other party to come clean on how they spent the money and how they raised it in first place.

3) Ownership of this defeat

The party leadership should take ownership of the election debacle. We need to first humbly accept that it is a debacle, since in January 2014 opinion polls gave us up to 40 percent support from urban areas outside Delhi, and that reduced to just 3 percent in the real elections.Precedence in the corporate world when an enterprise has a bad year, the CEO and key people in management step  down.

When Nitish Kumar of JD(U) and Tarun Gogoi of Congress can offer to resign from the CM post of Bihar and Assam, it’s time Arvind Kejriwal stepped down as the convenor, and accepted the blame on himself, and tender a resignation and called for internal elections to gain back respect.

4) Have Internal Elections

In independent India’s history there have been three political streams which has succeeded beyond 2 states. The Congress, Janata Parties(including BJP) and it’s predecessors and the Left. Why?

That is because they have built collective leadership, and had leaders beyond a family or a core group. Even for Congress, till Sonia and her son took over helms of the party, it had a national leaders who could win from anywhere. Now it’s a one way ticket to further destruction for the Congress, if they continue on their reliance on the Gandhi-Nehru parivar.

AAP cannot be caught in the same trap, and become a Arvind Kejriwal party. You cannot have your party’s fortunes(and the country’s) tied up with that of an individual. This is dangerous.

Let’s admit it. Outside core AAP supporters, Kejriwal has lost respect, and he needs to change his politics to regain his image. And it will not be easy in the run-up to the Delhi polls. But AAP having an internal election and the leadership reaffirming the faith back on AK may be even seen symbolic. But it’s important that such a step is taken by AK and team, and confidence need to be restored.

I believe every key office bearer should step down, and through some form a democratic process we need a new team  elected. I would like to see AK back as the national convener, but not nominated, but elected.

 

5) Drop the NGO obsession

We simply cannot have a leadership of activists with no proven record of governance, beyond leading dharnas or running NGOs. We need  entrepreneurs, professionals, businessmen, media men and senior bureaucrats to take up politics full time and led the party.While a number of activists who were not aligned to a political identity joined AAP,  AAP also scouted for activists across the country.  In fact getting activists and NGO crowd to join became an obsession for AAP.

99 percent of NGOs depend on three kind of funding. 1) Government 2) Corporate 3) Foreign.

Any serious Government funding to NGOs have always been associated with corruption or nepotism and funding from corporates with vested interests only beneficial to a few parties.

In the past few years, foreign funding to NGOs have been under scanner. There have been several stories spread about the origins of the funds, and about roles of CIA and other international agencies in these funding. There are some half-truths there and some blatant lies. We will never know the real truths behind some bizarre decisions, till the leadership comes clean.

Look at the results, none of these leaders managed to win anything. Some polled less than 1000 votes, almost in 40 percent of seats you had independents polling votes than an AAP candidate. Activism and governance are two poles apart.

6) Usher in new leadership 

I know it would hurt a lot of AAP supporters if I say that the leadership needs a complete overhaul if we need to be relevant for tomorrow. The core AAP leadership are a bunch of activists who stood with Arvind Kejriwal from the India Against Corruption days. They have done their job, and some of them need to go in the interests of the nation and the party.

Do we have the leaders to lead and win elections? We need leaders who will appeal beyond the current AAP support, which is anyway very small outside Delhi and Punjab.

The current national executive need to resign, and a new executive need to be entrusted in leading the party forward.  And  the representation should give equal coverage to include people from all walks of society, state, gender, profession and ideologies.

In the next few days and months there would be deserters across every party including AAP. If someone is quitting AAP for another party, we must not stop them. But if someone is quitting AAP to leave politics, we need them badly. Because the former is an opportunist, and the latter is just a quitter.

I expect several good leaders to leave Congress, BJP, BSP and other parties. We must invite them, if they are good and have good intentions. Experience is what AAP lacked the most in these elections, and there is no substitute for experience. For example invite Jaswant Singh. He may be far from perfect, but so are we.  Singh may say no, but he may still be gracious at least. We would want people from all ideologies to join us, as AAP does not have any specific ideology, and we will need to evolve one based on what is best for the country.

7) Build organization

The biggest positive we have is we have some presence everywhere. We even have party offices in many states even at district and taluk levels.Once the new national executive in place, you need to build organizational structure in every state. By now we know where we stand, and the current state leadership should  plan a road-map, with clear goals, and targets need to be set to grow absolute paid membership numbers.

Develop local leaders who can connect with the local  masses and the local media, who can take up local issues and fight for it.There are local body elections across many states. AAP’s chances are the best in local bodies elections, and new leaders and volunteers will emerge. It’s the in-the-face corruption that troubles the citizens most.

Every new political party have succeeded that way. Remember Shiv Sena did not win many assembly seats, but kept winning local body elections for more than a decade. A neutral voter would not trust a new party in a national election, but may take a chance in a local body election. But to win local body elections, we need to have local leaders who are willing to fight for local issues.

8) Woo back Middle Class

We need to accept that we have lost temporarily a large cross-section of middle class to Modi. And a few permanently.  The middle class is the most finicky of all voting classes. They are growing in large numbers. Across the country the poor which formed Congress and the Left parties’ core vote bank has middle-class aspirations. So the middle class will emerge as the largest vote bank in the country.

And AAP just needs to stick to the original plans to woo back this vote bank. I believe our fundamentals are still intact. It’s the implementation and focus what is missing. You cannot appeal to them taking up extreme left of the centre stance. An ordinary housewife in Delhi cannot be bothered with the issues which tribal group in Chhattisgarh face. There is absolutely no reason, the middle classes will not return to AAP and return even more strongly in Delhi. Their issues are simple, and their needs even simpler. We just have to stick to the original goals with no U-turns.

Endnote

The biggest appeal of AAP is that it was sans any specific ideology. Yogendra Yadav described it as a solutions oriented party and an ideology driven.Let that be our strength. No specific ideology, only a few principles. We want people from every stream to join us–  left, center and right. There is nothing wrong with either left or right thinking as long as they are not extreme.

And remember India’s problems are like a machine room with a large numbers of nails, screws, and bolts. Every political party have used a single tool depending on their locus standi. NJP with right wing agenda is trying to fix everything with a large hammer, andCongress is screwing around with a screw driver.

AAP need to evolve like a veritable tool box, using multiple tools depending on the job.

 

 

Categories: Random Thoughts, Renegade Politics | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Why AAP Lost?

AAP’s journey till winning 28 seats in the state elections in Delhi was incredible. While there were several AAP supporters who criticized AAP’s decision to take support from Congress, it was the best decision AAP could have taken at that time. Arvind Kejriwal had a dream start, except for excessive media attention. The kind of attention literally no other political greenhorn has ever managed. Except for some minor flaws, the first 3 weeks of the AAP Delhi government was pitch perfect. But then the party started to make mistakes one after another and this has cost us a potential 50 seats.

1)The first mistake was to support the law minister Somnath Bharti. Whether Bharti was innocent or not was never the matter, good politics would have been zero tolerance once a serious allegation is levied, and AK should have asked law minister to quit and stay away till he is proven not guilty, instead of blindly supporting him. I am not even talking about his mid-night adventures in Kalkaji Extension. There was a serious allegation against Bharti being a spammer, and also one involving his role where he was warned by the court for trying to influence a witness a few days before the Kalkaji episode.
Such a move would have received respect from public and media, and would have put AAP on a higher moral pedestal.
Also party leadership or internal committees should never be used to pass judgements when party members have taken the role of public servants such as ministers of MLAs.

2) The dharna in Delhi just turned out to be a damp squib, and was finally perceived to be mere theatricals by public. It sent several wrong signals to the middle class and upper middle class voters who were banking on AAP as an alternative to BJP and Congress. Personally it reminded me of the good old communist party which used to call a Bandh or Hartal on the drop of a hat. For a CM in power sitting on a Dharna was never good Dharma. The Dharna alienated intellectuals, middle class voters and vast sections of media which painted AAP as a party which is not ready for governance. Moreover with no real action against the police officers. It ended up being an exercise to cover up for Bharti’s alleged misdeeds.

3) Quitting Delhi for not being able to pass a trivial bill (at least for the average person) was the biggest mistake. Lokpal Bill is perhaps central to AAP’s existence, and the leadership’s biggest dream. It’s probably the reason for AAP’s genesis. But the public gives a damn for the bill. For the voting public what mattered was a political party willing to resolve their issues, and AAP was doing just that even if the results were far from satisfactory. No one outside the BJP and Congress supporters questioned the party’s earnestness and willingness. AAP lost that goodwill overnight in Delhi.
AAP could have chosen 100 better routes to an honourable exit. The best would have been to force Congress to withdraw support by going after all the corruption cases of the previous governments. Public would have seen AAP as a real crusader against corruption, and the martyr status of being pulled down would have helped, instead of stepping down. Instead today the perception is that AAP has let Sheila Dikshit get away.
In addition, quitting gave an impression that Kejriwal was too eager to become the PM, and was greedy for power. People love ambitious politicians, but not greedy ones.

4) Filing of FIR against Ambani might have been a master-stroke if AAP handled it correctly. AAP could have initiated a larger debate, and several actions in a more matured fashion. However it is today seen more as a political gimmick. Tomorrow if and when Modi government agrees to hike Gas prices, Kejriwal can claim a moral victory. But it would have come too late. Also despite all his riches people  envied Ambani. They did not hate him. You cannot simply start a new war front, and draw others into it, and that too without ample proof.  People hated Congress and it’s leadership. In politics, if you do not tap into existing negativity to draw out the positives, you are a fool.

5) Immediately after quitting Kejriwal went after Modi. Modi had virtually disappeared from media during the 49 days of Delhi Government. The public anger was never against Modi, and was always channelized against Congress. Instead of being the strong ship in that channel, Kejriwal took on Modi, and in that process made Modi the only champion against the corrupt UPA-II. Worse, instead of tapping into the anti-incumbency vote bank, AAP became a part of the so-called pseudo-secular parties which had lost its charm in front of a Modi, who simply stuck to his development agenda.

Unlike in past elections, when communalism was a major issue, this year it was never a concern for most of India including a cross section of Indian minorities. Kejriwal’s fixation on Modi backfired completely.

6)By putting up candidates in 446 seats, the party spread itself too thin. With the lack of resources, staff, leadership and capital, most of the candidates have ended up losing their deposits.
You need at least Rs 2 crore (or Rs 15 per voter) and about 12,000 volunteers to reach every voter directly or indirectly at least once in the six weeks run up to an election in a Lok Sabha constituency. For 446 constituencies, AAP would have needed a fund of minimum Rs 892 crore. AAP finally raised about 4 percent of that figure. It was just not enough.
I remember Yogendra Yadav saying that this was an attempt to get a feel of what are AAP’s strengths across the country and not to disappoint supporters outside Delhi. That explanation is fine, and I agree if AAP had limited themselves to say 50 seats, at least couple of the Punjab seats might have missed out.

7) Candidate selection and ticket distribution were totally flawed. AAP called in for nominations from just about anyone from anywhere. Problem was that political aspirants were huge in number, and many managed to get 100 to 1000 supporters from their constituency and filed in their applications for a party ticket. Obviously only one can get through and there was no transparency in the rules around the final choice of a candidate. A friend of mine who was aspiring for a ticket from a UP constituency said that there were 30 candidates each with nearly 1,000 supporters who were vying for a party ticket for his constituency. Then leadership chose someone unknown to most party supporters. This alienated everyone else who were rooting for the party and their supporters. And AAP polled less than 4000 votes, when there were 30 candidates with 1000 supporters each in the first place. So essentially AAP alienated 29 of them and their supporters.
All bright ideas around having primaries just disappeared into thin air, perhaps due to lack of time.
Para-dropping of candidates work, if there are candidates who are really popular and you have a volunteer base which can work for them. AAP has just one star which is AK, and AK might have pulled off from any place if the opponent was not someone as popular as Modi.

8) AAP took on media, while Modi ignored every media entity for most of the elections until he was sure that the tide was clearly in his favour. Except AK, Yogendra Yadav and Ashish Khetan, very few of the AAP spokespersons knew how to engage with an aggressive media anchor baying for their blood, were always on the defensive.
And there were motor mouths who spoke their mind, and not the party’s, or at least what the party needs to especially during the election time. Prashant Bhushan is an example of someone who embarrassed the party and the leadership, with several politically incorrect statements, and then retracting them.
Your crusade against corruption gets diluted, when you include everyone in your list of corrupt. Media did not take it very kindly.

9) There were no clarity on the AAP’s larger agenda other than fight against corruption. Nothing concrete on foreign policy, or economic agenda except some specific plans on reviving SME and manufacturing, and a few other broad goals. Even BJP did not have any path breaking agenda, except broad plans and statements. However, BJP was harping about development from day one, and was showcasing the Gujarat model, which was marketed brilliantly. Narendra Modi had the clear backing of industrialists, pro-capitalists and the larger business community which controls the media. Modi except in select places like Varanasi stayed away from Hindutva and other touchy subjects, which could have potentially alienated thinking classes from the BJP.
The biggest challenge was AAP being perceived left of center(which it really is), and the image of being the New age Communist party. India can digest socialism, but communism is taboo everywhere except the three states of Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura. And these states would rather prefer original communists to a left of center non cadre based party without a specific ideology.

10) There were several blatant lies and half-truths spread by BJP and it’s large social media army which AAP could not counter. Funding details around the various NGOs run by AAP leaders, AAP’s soft corner for separatists, Naxalites, Maoists and terrorists, and alleged connections with every anti-national group. AAP leadership either ignored such propaganda or were ignorant about such propaganda.
AAP’s failure to answer allegations by former party men and the likes further painted a wrong picture. In politics when you set high moral grounds, people expect you to follow that.
I guess millions switched over and started believing the BJP propaganda as AAP leadership could not successfully tackle them, however absurd the allegations were.
A few examples….
a) AAP is the Congress B Team and is a tool to stop Narendra Modi becoming PM.
b) AAP stayed in power so that Sheila Dikshit gets enough time to cover up and then disappear from the scene to be governor of Kerala.
c) AAP is a party full of Naxalites and anti-national elements, and their agenda is to destabilize India and hand over Kashmir to Pakistan.
The list is endless. But the BJP have been relentless, and I saw several AAP followers and supporters quitting under the attack. Clear written explanations and communications could have helped AAP.

11) Arvind Kejriwal. AK was AAP’s biggest strength and weakness. He was the face of the party. In him people saw a bright, honest, educated and progressive leader in December 2013. However AK kept taking U-turns, and several decisions by him turned millions of voters away from AAP. This lead to an image of him being indecisive, a trait which Indians also identifies with Dr Manmohan Singh, the outgoing PM.
Modi on the other hand was seen as a decisive leader. Throughout the campaign, Modi made very few mistakes, and never really changed his agenda. Every action and inaction of AK was scrutinized by public with media providing their own interpretations. From a corruption crusader, he was made to look like a bumbling, incompetent, and almost unstable person. This cost the party badly. In fact his actions have caused irreparable damage to his credibility as a leader among fence sitters who voted for BJP and not for AAP in these elections.

And AK must own complete responsibility of the election debacle.

PS

At this hour despite the debacle, I am fully convinced that we need alternative politics to what is dished by Congress, BJP and regional parties. And only AAP can provide that.

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Trysts with spellings

Like any proud father, I like to boast of my child’s achievements. Unfortunately I must also confess that my parents had very few opportunities to feel proud of their son.

However touchwood, my daughter Yaamini or Ammu as we call her, who has just turned eight has indeed given me enough moments of joy and pride, that validate and vindicate our decision to bring her into this world.
Latest one have been her successes at Spelling Bee competitions at school, district and state levels. Though she never won any of these rounds, she did well enough to make the cut at every stage for the nationals, all without any preparation.
* * * * * * * *
In 1979, my family moved to Kochi, when my father was posted at the Government Hospital, Ernakulam. Till that time all his postings were at rural places mostly in Trichur district. I was almost 7, when we moved to Ernakulam or as it’s known better to rest of the world — Kochi.

Between 1977 and 1979 my mother, sister and I shuttled between my mother’s parents home and my paternal grandfather’s home, as my father decided it was time he specialized in something and was away for his post graduation.

My paternal grand father was bit of an aristocrat, and my sister and I were home tutored. So we never went to a nursery, kindergarten or a pre-school. I was enrolled into a nearby government school in my grandfather’s village. And it was a big deal at that time because it was the same school where my father, and aunt( my father’s sister) studied. Also it was the alma mater of a number of other relatives. So when the next generation also joined the school, there were automatic spurts of nostalgia among everyone, and just about everyone had a story to tell me.

However, I don’t remember going to that school much. I already knew everything which was being taught because the two years of home tutoring we had essentially covered the first standard text books. I was naturally bored, and the class teacher who also happened to be our neighbor graciously allowed my mother to take me whenever she chose to, to her home.
The school was a Malayalam medium school, and we never had any exposure at that time of the English language.

So when we moved to a large city, again my parents chose to enroll us in the nearest government school, and I joined mid-way in second standard, while my sister started off her first standard there. My parents at least at that time never really cared, both of them were educated in a Malayalam medium school, and back in late seventies education was still not commercialized. My father was quite proud of his roots, and was of the opinion that talent and hard work are more important than the school.

However over the next couple of years, he figured that only his children were in Malayalam medium, while all his peers had enrolled their children in English Medium. So in my fourth standard I switched to English Medium, after two months of preparation by a home tutor during the summer holidays that preceded the new academic year.

Once I completed my fourth standard as one of the outstanding students of the class, everyone pressurized my parents to enroll me into a better school.The school of choice was Rajagiri High School, which at that time was a boys school run by missionaries of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate(CMI).

It was also one of the most prestigious schools of the district and getting admission was tough, and involved an entrance examination.

This was the first competitive examination in my life, I had barely learned to read and write English, and was under prepared. Naturally I did very poorly and did not qualify. If I remember right I scored 7 and 9 in the two tests. My father had to then cough up Rs 5000, a princely amount those days to get me an admission.

So when I joined the new school, I was filled with a number of inferiority complexes. I could not speak a sentence in English, and the school had a rule that students to speak in English inside the campus unless it was the Hindi or Malayalam classes. Many in my class knew how to speak the language fluently, and quite a few of them spoke without the typical Mallu accent. I was convinced I did not belong there, because I had scored very poorly in the exams, and my father had to commit the grievous sin of paying monies to get me through.

I also met many kids who came from the wealthiest families of the city. I always thought we were very poor, because that’s what my mother wanted us to believe.

Our teachers were very strict. School management believed that corporal punishment was the only way to discipline a bunch of unruly boys. Teachers used to beat the kids with canes on just about any part of the body. The school staff room had an assortment of canes of different sizes, and even thick rulers which were weapons of choice of assault for the teachers.

Each teacher had a peculiar manner of punishment. The styles of caning and the rhythm in which they caned, were often mimicked in the classes. Serious mischief would lead to more serious punishments. This included making the student kneel in the hot sand pit used for long jump and high jump in the large play ground for an hour or even more. I have seen many students walking back sun burnt with blisters on their knees.

My English teacher during the first year (fifth standard) was an old gentleman named MM Mathew. He was well into his sixties and was due for retirement. His minor punishment was to pinch the children on their ears till it became red or the child cried. When he was really angry, he used to take the compass from the pencil box usually used to draw circles and arcs, and squeeze the tender ear lob of the child between his thumb, the pointed tip of the compass and his forefinger, till it started bleeding.

We used to have regular class tests. So in the second month of my first year at Rajagiri, we were given a test on spellings. And I spelled the world ‘little’ with one missing ‘t’’. And our teacher did the compass act, which created a scar that’s still there on my left ear lobe. Though my parents never reacted to the incident, he was asked to retire at the end of the term when some other parents complained to the school management when their ward’s ear lobe developed an infection scarred by the compass tip.

****
Spellings were never my forte, and even today without the help of a word processor I cannot write a paragraph without making a mistake.

So it’s indeed a proud moment for me when my daughter has qualified for the nationals of a spelling bee competition. When I was driving along with her for the State finals, I asked her the spelling of the word “little” and she mocked me for asking the spellings of such simple words. All I could do was smile, smile more than a little.

Categories: Redolent Memories, Roots | 2 Comments

Lost City

Whenever emptiness fills you, for no reason that you can put a finger upon, it results in suffocation. At least that’s my case. Being suffocated with emptiness is almost a paradox, but for the one who suffers from this malady, it’s often like being clinically depressed.

I have been in Kerala for the past week or so. Since my phone has nearly given up the ghost, there are few callers to disturb me. Over all, so far it has been a welcome break. I have spent quality time with my mother, catching up on good old Malayalam television channels, and almost subconsciously inhaling the festive spirit of Onam. I do not celebrate Onam any more since I lost my father on Onam four years ago.

The weather in Kerala has been unusually cool this year, considering it is the last week of August. Usually the monsoon clears up by Onam, and the weather is warmer. This year, however, the rain gods have played truant, and the delayed showers have kept mercury levels low for most of the week.

My home in Kochi where our family moved in 1990 is special not just for nostalgic reasons, but also because you can feel completely disconnected with rest of the world when you are inside the house despite it being in the center of the bustling city.

My mother has over the past few years, developed into a very competent gardener. She keeps a dainty little garden that includes a small fish pool.

While the entire universe seems to be working towards relaxing me, I have been sensing some silent, yet abnormal internal turbulence that’s constantly building a vacuüm.

Whenever I am unhappy, disturbed, or sense any negative emotion, I try an exercise that my mother taught me many decades back. I try figuring out the reason for the negativity and focus on it, and that almost always gets me back on track.

However the emptiness I have experienced over the past ten days or so is inexplicable. Any attempt to seek the reason has been futile, and it has started bothering me. I am not feeling sad. In fact, I was catching upon several simple joys associated with my home.

But I suddenly felt an urge to take a time machine, go back into the good old eighties and early nineties, when Kochi was much smaller, and when in many ways it was a city I owned. Those were the days when you knew every street of the city. I had cycled through practically all the navigable roads. I had explored the darkest alleys of the city’s underbelly without feeling a bit afraid.

Today I am scared to drive a car through the city traffic. I did some amount of walking mostly alone or sometimes with my old classmate Sreekanth Das. And every time I started missing some of those old land marks, I felt something dying inside me.

I hate being nostalgic. But I realized that somewhere the reason for my irritable need for some soul-searching was the city which I have lost over time.

I miss the good old Kochi, the smiles of a generation that has died over time, and the laughter of the generation that I grew up with. I miss the grounds, the parks, the libraries, and the cricket clubs.

I badly miss people who once meant a lot to me, but have moved away with time. People whom I have lost for no fault of theirs.

Above all, I miss being me. 

Categories: Redolent Memories | Tags: | 2 Comments

Thoughts on an Independence Day

Today was the 65th Independence Day anniversary of our country.

To me it was a holiday well spent with my daughter. I always cherish days when I can spend most of my time with her. We get to learn a lot  from each other. Rather, I get to learn a lot from her, and I try to teach a few things with indifferent rates of success.

When I was a kid probably about her age, I was fairly politically aware growing up in Kerala. My paternal grand parents were staunch Congress loyalists, my mother was a communist sympathizer, my aunt’s family was supporting Janata party (this was the late seventies and Morarji Desai would have just stepped down). There were political discussions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And kids learn a lot by listening to adult conversations.

I spent a lot of time with my paternal and maternal grandparents during childhood, and there were no televisions. People had time for children, and I guess by five years, I knew more about the puranas than what I remember today.

Back in the late seventies, we still had a couple of generations around, who knew life during pre-independence, who had seen the freedom struggle at close quarters. There were one or two freedom fighters (no leaders, just Congress workers during the forties) in the family too. Hence I had heard stories of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Bhagat Singh and others by the age of seven. We used to have comic books on their lives. They were my heroes, unlike Spiderman, Shinchan, Doramon and others whom my daughter idolizes.

Today probably for the first time I decided to check Ammu’s political quotient. I have always had discussions with Ammu on subjects she wanted to listen to or know about. But this time around, I wanted to have a chat with her on some thing which I think every child in this country needs to know about.

I wanted her to understand  the day’s significance. I wanted her to understand what independence meant to all of us. I wanted her to understand that this was not just another holiday. But then, she is a child who barely knows what India means. For her, life so far has been one bright, colorful joy ride, where she has been protected and completely cared for.

I was thankful that while she has heard of Mahatma Gandhi somewhere, she does not know who he is and what his contributions are. She has not heard of the freedom struggle except for a casual mention that one of her senior friends from school is to bring pictures of freedom fighters pictures to school the next day.

How do you explain what independence and freedom means to a child in 2012? I tried telling her about how people from an alien land called the Great Britain ruled over our country. She could not understand what it means to rule over another. Then I explained to her that we fought against them, that thousands lost their lives, and many more were jailed by the British police. I told her what a great man Gandhi was and she asked me –
“Did Gandhi have soldiers?”
“No. He did not have soldiers.”
“Then how did he fight?”
“Well, he did not fight. He believed in not fighting.”
“But you said he fought for freedom. And now you say he did not fight!”
“Yes. He got us freedom, by fighting with the British, without fighting them physically. He did not like violence. He did not like to hit, beat, or fire guns at people. He said that if you do not fight physically, the enemy will give up fighting with you after some time, and will try understanding you.”

She gave me a confused look. I gave her a discourse of about three-minutes using examples that I believed a child could understand and introduced her to the principles of Ahimsa and the larger values that Gandhi stood for. I told her the famous story of Gandhi showing his other cheek when someone slapped him.

She was silent for some time.

“But you have told me that if a kid hits me, I should also hit back. I should not cry and be a coward. That’s what even the Karate teacher has taught me. But now you say Gandhi said otherwise.”

I did not have answers, and luckily our dog Sheero distracted her, and the conversation ended there.

I have enrolled her in a Taekwando class, because I wanted her to learn self-defense. I wanted her to be self-reliant. I wanted her to have some physical exercise, and a sense of self-esteem. I don’t want my child to become a victim tomorrow, without putting up a fight against someone who might try to harm her.

Gandhi was never against self-defense. In fact, he supported the British whole-heartedly in the first World War. He even said that as a subject of the empire he enjoyed the protection of the empire, and so he supported the war effort. He did use support for the Second World War as a bargaining tool with the British. More than a million Indians fought in the wars.

Perhaps I am not a good story-teller, or my grandparents and other kin during the seventies knew how to tell stories, make a child politically and socially aware, and implant seeds of patriotism in him.

Today for a child growing in a middle class family, Ammu is not really exposed to the real world. Her parents struggle to give her every comfort that they can probably afford. She is emotionally protected by her ecosystem at school and the neighborhood.

How can such a child understand what it means to be treated as a second class citizen in their own country? How can she understand that several thousands laid their lives in achieving a dream called Freedom?

Today my Facebook page was full of dedications, trivia, and messages related to independence. There were few jingoistic posts too. Tomorrow people would forget this Independence Day and move ahead.

My good friend Aubrey Almacs feels that we must mourn our Independence Day and call it a Partition Day. I partly agree with him because partition was one of the biggest tragedies of the 20th century at least in South Asia.

Many of my friends who are in their mid-thirties and early forties are cynical. They feel that we have not achieved anything from our independence. They blame our democratic system, and they abuse our freedom fighters. Today Nehru is squarely being blamed for the Kashmir issue, Gandhi is blamed for our attitude towards dealing with political issues. Many feel that his philosophy of Ahimsa has made us a soft nation. Congress leadership is blamed for the partition.

I really don’t know. For the moment I am confused, like Ammu was a few hours back. I feel I have a great sense of history, reverence for the contributions of people who fought for a change. I would like my daughter to inherit a bit of that sense and reverence. But I really don’t see that happening.

Every Independence Day once we had a TV at home in the eighties this video used to play. I grew up listening to and learning this song. That is, till satellite revolution took over in the nineties and we could easily flip channels.

Categories: Random Thoughts, Redolent Memories | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Tale of three movies

In the past three weeks, I saw three very good movies. Each remarkably better than the previous one.

I did briefly write about Paan Singh Tomar in my previous blog entry, where I believe Irrfan Khan had surpassed himself. I have always loved Khan, who is the best of the current Khans in Bollywood, since watching him in Miya Maqbool many years ago. But in Tomar, Khan depicts the best in cinematic portrayals. He has transformed himself in mind, body and spirit, depicting the pathos and mirth in a unique character, with several deep shades of grey. Yet, Khan ensures that everyone in the hall roots for the anti-hero.

However Paan Singh Tomar is not just about Khan’s acting. It’s also about telling a story that needs to be told. And at the end of movie, leaving a message that’s important. What are we doing about of our old sporting heroes? Why do we forget them so fast? The message is delivered, without being very preachy.

The director and the crew have obviously done enough home work to get the mood of a period film. I could not find many flaws with the way the story was told. There were no real bloopers or flaws. This was movie making at its best.

A week later, I saw Kahaani, and it turned out to be even better. And I must say that Sujoy Gosh has created a master piece, which one day would be seen on par with the best Bollywood has produced. It was so gripping, that I missed some of the background music. Especially the lovely rendering of some Rabindra Sangeet by Amitabh Bacchan.

A hallmark of a good thriller is to leave the suspense till the last. In many ways, I think Kahaani is in the same league as Vijay Anand’s Jewel Thief, minus the music. What’s incredible about Kahaani is not just the twist in the end which leaves you breathless. The movie does throw a few red herrings. The twist in the end does make you replay the entire movie in your mind. And you’ll start searching for answers, and you’ll start finding them. You search for loop holes in the story, and find that there are few.

Vidya Balan is now among the best actors India has seen. I was very impressed by her debut in Parineeta. And I was completely bowled over by her in Ishqiya. However in Kahaani she has proven that she’s a performer who is incomparable. But the movie is not just about Vidya Balan, though for an average Hindi movie buff, she’s the only recognizable face, other than Darshan Jariwala. Some of the other actors who are from Bengali cinema or theatre give the movie the realistic touch.

I have seen popular cinema falter when an actor tries to play a character that needs to have regional distinctness. Most Bollywood stars end up as caricatures when they try to play the role of a Bengali, a South Indian, or even a Pathan. However, majority of Bollywood has its roots in Punjab, they are able to play a Punjabi very easily. Parineeta (2006) was a lavish attempt in depicting Calcutta of the sixties. While to a large extent, the mood of the period and the city was captured, I felt the male lead actors (Sunjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan) looked so not-so-Bong that it was funny. That’s why Sujoy Gosh’s casting was pretty good. I am sure he could have signed on some of the leading Bollywood veterans, but I guess they could not have delivered the way the supporting cast of Parambrata Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Saswata Chatterjee have done.

 But there is more to this movie than the twist, Balan, and her supporting cast. One of them is the way the director captures the city of Kolkotta during the Durga Pujo. Gosh manages to transport the viewer to Kolkotta that when you leave the cinema hall, you feel you are leaving the erstwhile Indian capital behind. You can almost smell the city in the theatre. You’ll suddenly recognize the Bongs among the fellow cinegoers in the cinema hall, because they are so excited that they can only speak in Bengali.

The humour in both Paan Singh Tomar and Kahaani is very subtle.

Finally, I saw The Artist. An Oscar award winning movie does set your expectations. However recent Oscar winners were not very impressive. I thought Slumdog Millionaire was terrible. The Artist is an almost flawless attempt at film making. It does not have a story which is one per cent as gripping as Kahaani. In fact we have heard the story before in both Hollywood and Bollywood.

First of all this is a silent movie. It’s in black and white. But when it comes to telling the story, which is very predictable, the makers of the movie have left little for you to complain about and have managed to keep you rooted to the chair.

I have been a huge fan of good old Hollywood cinema. I have watched hundreds of thirties and forties Hollywood flicks, and have a good eye for detail. The Artist captures late twenties and thirties perfectly.

In a period film, it’s so important for both main actors and the supporting cast to capture the mood, emotions and the looks of the era. Each decade had its own distinctness in terms of style, attire, body language, emotions, and expressions.

Both mainstream Bollywood and Hollywood have been pretty poor when it comes to delivering period films, off late. There’s no doubt that Hollywood, is better than Bollywood, but I guess they have more money to invest.

Even renowned directors such as Shyam Banegal have failed miserably when it comes to getting things perfect. His Zubeidaa is a good movie, with some great music. However the music, the choreography, or even the body language of the cast never depicted the forties. The Artist comes a winner in this respect. Jean Dujardin depicts the persona of Douglas Fairbanks and oozes the charm of Clark Gable. The way he grins, smiles, nods his head, or expresses depression has the late twenties written all over. There’s nothing about the current generation in looks, body language, attire or expression of any actor including even the extras in the movie. The way the camera rolls  to the way movie has been been edited, is simply the silent era.

And the background score by Ludovic Bource is sublime. The music director has borrowed from several old films, and the resemblance makes it even better. Finally, the real star of the movie is Uggie the dog, who literally stole every scene in which he appeared.

So friends, here are three films that you must watch. They are all different, but they all celebrate the best in film making.

Categories: Reels of Magic | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Sachin and Paan Singh

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the Bharat Ratna; and why the iconic batsman and perceived God of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar must be rewarded with the honour. In fact, I remember listening to this theory around the time India entered the WCC finals in 2003 for the first time. The idea was buried in a hurry following the humiliation of the Indian team at the hands of Australia that year.

Since India won the World Cup in 2011, the demand has once again resurfaced. Fans of Tendulkar want the government to award him the highest honour, an honour that have been bestowed upon just 41 human beings since being instituted in 1955.

Originally, the award was meant for individuals for their services including artistic, literary, and scientific achievements, as well as “recognition of public service of the highest order.” In 2011, the Indian government added sports to the category prompting speculations that Tendulkar would win soon.

If you look at the award winners of the Bharat Ratna,  you will see that many of them were highly deserving individuals. In fact, the early winners were all architects of the nation. We have recognised Mother Theresa, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, and Nelson Mandela. Yes, several awards have been politically influenced. I will never say they never deserved it but only that the timing of the award had political reasons. There are several Congress leaders who have won the award, perhaps not so much for their contribution but more for their loyalty to the party.

I do think Sachin Tendulkar, Dhyaan Chand, or Vishwanathan Anand would easily fit the celebrated list. But there are several other individuals who deserve to make it into the list, more than a sportsman does. I thought Field Marshal Manekshaw deserved it, and might have made the list, if he had not rubbed the political leadership on the wrong side. I feel that any award should be bestowed on an awardee, when he is at his peak, or is at least active.

Two weeks ago, I happened to see Paan Singh Tomar, a movie starring Irrfan Khan, whom I believe is one of the finest actors the country has produced. If you love sports, or good cinema you must watch this daaku film.

I am not reviewing Paan Singh Tomar. Please read reviews here and here; or better still, go and watch the movie. Tomar was a former national steeple chase champion and record holder, who represented India at the Asian games, won accolades for the country. Unfortunately, he got such a raw deal from the government, the society, and the system he was in that post retirement from the Army, he was forced to become a dacoit.

Apart from the pure cinematic appeal, Paan Singh Tomar leaves you thinking about how our country has treated our sportsmen.

Unfortunately, we only celebrate the best and the most admired. We are a country of sycophants who would prefer to go ga-ga over a few and ignore the contribution of the rest. We love iconizing and idolizing, whether it’s the film stars, cricketers, or politicians. Yet we forget that behind every star, there’s the brilliance of a number of deserving individuals who are sometimes undiscovered and unrewarded.

So the question is whether Tendulkar deserves this honour.

I feel that it’s important that we look at protecting the interests of the thousands of sportsmen who struggle for sponsorships, for financial support during their careers, who probably work as hard as Sachin did. They probably strived harder against the odds. There are just ten nations that play really competitive cricket. But an athlete needs to compete with the best from over 100 nations. It’s a lot tougher for an average Indian sportsperson to win a medal at the Asian games or even qualify for an Olympic final than it is to make it to the national cricket team.

While a fan would like Sachin to add the Bharat Ratna to the number of feathers in his cap, I see that we need to start looking seriously at the plight of our not-so-celebrated sportsmen, especially those from the not-so-celebrated sports.

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Writing and Writers

These days, I am surrounded by writers. Though I have been associated with the media since 1996, where every third person I interact with has been a writer; my acquaintances have largely been limited to business journalists and news reporters. Business writing or mainstream journalism, I believe, is not a creative medium at all.

However being a part of the support team for Bangalore Writers Workshop brought me close to the founders, two very lovely women – Bhumika Anand and Rheaa Mukherjee. Both the ladies are very gifted writers, and would be published authors very soon.

Back home, my daughter Ammu who’s all of six years has also expressed her desire to be a writer. She has in fact written four stories so far, all about snakes, monkeys, lions, tigers, and princesses. She is a very determined writer, extremely choosy about her subjects, and literally spends hours finalising names of her principal characters. She tells me that when she grows up, she will be a writer. I cannot be a prouder parent.

And like all writers before her, and surely many after her, she is presently going through a writer’s block.

Meanwhile, Bhumika had shared some of her yet-to-be published stories and asked my humble opinion on her works. I must confess, that I played a hard critic which did not go well with her. Of course, my only motive was to get her to write better. Bhumika is a very gifted writer, with several admirers for the blog she keeps, where she discusses mostly her own life, relationships, her health issues, matters of her heart, and her views on humankind. Though her stories are also heavily inspired from her own ecosystem, I found them to be a bit underwhelming. I was surprised since I am an ardent fan of the blog, which has similar roots.

Our correspondence triggered a few discussions on literature and the craft of writing. And, in turn, has resulted in this blog post.

What makes a story/novel/cinema/creation impressive, interesting, and exciting?

To a large extent it would depend on the readers, viewers or the audience; and their tastes. It’s how they gauge, and what kind of an impact it creates on them that counts.

Sometimes we write, create, and perform for ourselves. In fact 99% do just that. That’s why we have  bathroom singers, thespians after a few pegs, and writers who keep secret diaries.

But if your creations need a larger audience, you need to deliver something special. For brevity’s sake, let’s limit this discussion to writing, and not music or other performing arts. We’ll also simplify every kind of creative writing to stories.

I feel from a plot perspective, there are just four kind of story frameworks. The framework has a few elements extra depending on the audience.

An extraordinary experience in an ordinary person’s life
This is the most common theme of all popular narratives. The protagonist is someone whom a reader can relate to easily. He/She witnesses a murder, or gets raped, or gets caught in a racket or meets a ghost, or ends up being a hero. Since it’s a shift from the protagonist’s normal day-to-day life, it makes an interesting tale to tell. The reader should be able to get into your story, and connect with a central character, and go through the experiences of the central character.

If you consider some of the best scripts in world cinema or some of the best novels written, then you would see this to be a common theme. ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jewel Thief (Hindi), North by Northwest etc are prime examples. Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Enid Blyton all thrived on this thread. Daily soaps on the idiot box are yet another example.

Another day in the life of larger-than-life character
All super hero stories derive from this theme. This is because the central character is no ordinary person, and is gifted beyond an ordinary mortal. That’s why Superman, Spiderman, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes all are very interesting to read.

The reader does not see himself as a protagonist, but would love to be the protagonist. There is that superhuman nature of the protagonist that attracts the reader, and he or she starts worshipping, admiring, and sometimes even despising the key-role.

An extraordinary day in the life of an extraordinary character
This is treading a difficult path. You can end up creating something that’s mostly over the top. There would be too much sound and fury.

An ordinary experience in an ordinary person’s life
This is what we can all easily write. But then you have to be a gifted writer to make it an interesting read. And getting readers for what you write could end up being a daunting task.

More than two decades ago, I had attended a theatre workshop, where a renowned theatre person had explained the nava rasas. He said that if you are a good actor, then the same rasa or a complementary rasa should reflect on the faces of your audience. That should be your end goal as an actor.

If you are a writer, try replacing the audience with your reader and then set your own ambitious goals of bringing related emotions in the minds of your reader.

If you have reached so far, let me play the faithful pimp. If you feel that you would like to explore your creative side, and you are in Bangalore, then look at enroling yourself in the next workshop at BWW.

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Everytime we say goodbye, I die a little

These days I remember a lot of people whom I have lost in my life. These include those I lost to the inevitable truth called death, but also those who simply slipped away into oblivion because I have never been very social.

Rigours of living in Bangalore, trying to cope with the complexity called life, juggling between different roles that I need to play is not easy. Keeping people around me happy is the toughest job and I keep failing at that more than often.

Life was much simple when you were growing up. There was no responsibility, and no one depended on you. You were almost in a cocoon, so comfortable, and very care-free. The only pressure on you was to study and do well, which I guess I never did after all.

Last October, my daughter, Yaamini (Ammu) turned six, and she’s growing into a fine young lady. I am also glad to report that she is showing incredible maturity for her age. These days I try to spend some quality time trying to educate her on some hard facts of life. So far she has had a very protected childhood. It has been luxurious compared to what I had.

I now realise what my parents went through when we (that’s my sister and I) were growing up. I always used to wonder why they were so tense and worried about us. I am seeing similar patterns in me.

Till Ammu was about five and a half years old, she was regarded  as just a bundle of joy, someone who could just waken you from the deepest and darkest of dumps with just her voice, or presence. All you wanted to do was hug her, kiss her, and make sure that she kept smiling. Everything she did brought you happiness, and you wanted to laugh with her, and cry with her. Even when she threw tantrums, frustrated you with her illogical demands, or made a mess of the house or her dress all you wanted to do was cajole her.

However these days, I see that we are having real conversations that are no longer inane, gibberish, or trivial. She is raising queries that cannot be explained or addressed through baby chat any more.

Sometimes she wants me to treat her like an adult, and not brush away her concerns like I used to do before. At other times, all she wants is that I play with her, indulge her in palaver, treat her like a three-year old.

When you see that your child is growing, developing her own individuality, own little personality, you also have a feeling that you are losing a part of you inch by inch. Today she is dependent on you. Tomorrow she will not be, and that very thought results in a selfish feeling of sorrow.

My mother always used to tell me that her best time was when her children were really small. Yes, we were a handful, but everything about us gave her joy. And as we kept growing, we brought more misery and worries.

I am scared that as time passes by, as my relationship with Ammu transforms, a part of me will start to die.

Life does come a full circle.

This is my 25th post, and for all those who have stopped by, here’s one of my all time favourite songs,  a video created to celebrate the life of a very special star.

Categories: Redolent Memories, Roots | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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