Monday, March 23, 2009

Diluting the Magic of Movies

Julia Roberts is quoted as saying (Deccan Herald, Metrolife 23rd March,2009) "Fans have too much access to the stars courtesy the paparazzi, which dilutes the magic of movies".

How true!

I remember that, as a pre-teenager, I thought that film stars were made of a different mettle. That,the way they spoke and looked in films was the way they spoke and looked in real-life. Even a debutant was a superstar to me. How else could it be? I lived in Rishikesh which was a one movie hall town. I was allowed to see a movie only occasionally. Movie stars looked good in movies and even better in Filmfare, Stardust and Star & Style. In the movies they spoke perfect Hindi. In the magazines they looked even better and edited interviews made it look that they spoke English better than the Hindi they spoke on screen.

Juhi Chawla

I always wondered how anyone could be so good looking, with such great command over the language and perfect in every other way. Those were the days before television. You did not know the stars beyond movies and magazines.

Even with the advent of television, Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan was the only other place where you could see a star outside films and magazines. Doordarshan's documentary "A Day in the Life of Amitabh Bachchan" was a major telecast which enhanced the aura value of the star.

Malika Arora Khan

What's the aura value a star now? They are all over the place. Inaugurating shops, peddling their films in every other TV show, playing the host or guest in chat shows in the highly competitive world of television. Are they acquitting themselves creditably? Are they increasing their aura value?

- Koffee with Karan has substantially diluted the aura of the stars. They don't look as good or speak as well as they do in films. They do not even appear to be well informed with a significant point of view. The exception of course is Shah Rukh Khan who, while diluting his aura, proves, that even on television, that he is a man of substance.

- In KBC, stars exposed more than they do in films. Their laborious and tutored responses show them poorer than under arc lights - except of course Shah Rukh Khan, who has his wits and style around him all the while.

Stars are in every channel you surf. From news to interviews (Walk the Talk, Devil's Advocate, Nine O Clock news...) in dance shows (Boogy Woogie, Nach Baliye, Jhalak Dikhla Ja) stars are all over the small screen. They are not distant, perfect, desirable and unreachable, anymore.

In my opinion, other than Shah Rukh Khan the few other stars who have only increased their desirability or aura quotient are:

- Juhi Chawla: In Jhalak Dikhla Ja she comes across as sincere and thoughtful(her voting out Bhagayshree and voting for Gauhar is a case in point).

- Aamir Khan: He is as serious and intensive as he is in his films.

- Malaika Arora Khan: She is honest, blunt, incisive and articulate in her opinions and can walk her talk.

Perhaps, a few others, like Sonali Bendre, can be added to this list. However, most stars subtract their aura value by exposing their frailties on television where their voice is not dubbed, there are no doubles, they cannot read from a script and there are (perhaps) no retakes.

Exposure of stars on television and their loss of aura is inevitable.

With so much competition, "the script demands it"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Honda, powered by Maruti

The Honda Service Vehicle - A Maruti Omni

A recently call to the Honda 24 hour helpline got me swift and effecient response from Whitefield Honda which came to me on the wings of a Maruti Omni!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bangalore Property Tax & BBMP

Till I read it in the "letters to the editor" column, I did not quite realize that the annual property tax that we pay is (much)less than the building maintenance charge that we pay annually.

That is, what we pay to the government for providing us street-lights, roads,road sweepers,drainage system etc is less than what we pay the building administrator for fewer facilities.

This goaded me to pay my property tax well in time and much before the due date. There is even a 5% rebate for paying the property tax before the 31st March,2009. There is no such rebate for paying our building maintenance charge in time.

In the process of calculating and paying the property tax I discovered the following:

1.That all details required to pay the tax is completely detailed in the BBMP website - Bruhath Bangaluru Mahanagara Palike
2.That the form for paying the tax can be downloaded from this website.
3.There is a property tax calculator on the website which is very useful.
4.The actual process of submitting the form and cheque and getting a receipt took less than 10 minutes.
5. That there is a facility, without charge, at the tax collection center to verify the accuracy of the amount filled by the tax payer.
6.That the person manning this facility is friendly and helpful (atleast this was the case where I payed the tax).

The only note of caution is this : please do not write your cheque with the paise. This is because the tax collecting software does not accept paisa payment - though your tax calculation will be in paisa decimals and you dare not round it up fearing that the bureaucracy may treat the rounding off as as attempt to pay the incorrect amount.

Even the otherwise helpful website does not warn you of this.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mortified about genetically modified food

It is mortifying to know that, as early as September,2009 we could have genetically modified food on our supermarket shelves. It is not about the availability of genetically modified food. It is about not having the choice to decide between regular and the genetically modified variety.It appears that the government is resisting the proposal for "GMO free" labelling to identify products which are not genetically modified.

Jeffery Smith in his book Seeds of Deception discusses how biotechnology companies have manipulated the government and the media to endanger the health of the people of the world. In a meeting in Bhubaneshwar Jeffery Smith pointed out how Bt Cotton (a genetically cotton) has adversely affected the health of farmers and resulted in deaths of cattle, sheep and goats in the states where it has been permitted. He cited studies on rats fed with genetically modified food that brought out serious organ disorders, high infant mortality, changes in intestinal gut flora and deaths. The only human study ever conducted revealed that inserted genes are getting transferred to intestinal bacteria.

An independent study conducted by the Deccan Development Society in India has revealed symptoms of reduced food intake, swollen lips, frothy salivation, nasal discharge, bulging of head and deaths within 25 to 30 days of continuous Bt Cotton fodder consumption. Similarly in the state of Harayana a study has revealed that buffaloes suffered prolapsed uterus, premature deliveries, abortions, reduction in milk output and fat content, change in taste of milk, and sudden deaths after being fed Bt Cotton fodder and oil seed cakes for a regular period.**

India, a predominantly vegetarian country, has only recently adopted a procedure to label food with non-vegetarian content. The government has been debating for years about more stringent warnings on cigarette packs - vis-a-vis the mild warning on the current packs which just states "smoking is injurious to health".

It is almost certain that if genetically modified food is allowed to be introduced in the country it will be impossible to make an informed choice as a customer. Laws will be flouted by the producer and the retailer to push (GM) products that maximize profits - not withstanding its effect on health.

After having read about its deleterious effect on health, I for one am going to give eating Egyptian Oranges and Washington Apples a miss. Who knows what is modified in these. Just eat whatever is grown on our Desh ki Dharti - this way you are sure (atleast till September,2009)that what you get matches the original strike-off sample approved at the Garden of Eden!

Just pray that the next government has the sagacity to keep the purveyors of genetically modified food at bay till its safety is proved beyond all reasonable doubt.

** This para has been take from:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Secrets of Meditation

Well, the heading for this post is very pompous, to say the least.While, I am sure that there are secrets about the act of mediation, I do not claim know these secrets. I have read atleast a hundred books on meditation and practice it regularly .Yet, I am struggling to understand the core of the art of meditation.

I practice mediation for about 30 minutes each day. I can say, with certainty, that this practice has benefited me immensely. In my opinion and based on my practice meditation is :

- the act of attaining perfect silence of the mind.That is, to get the mind to cease thinking and stop the generation of thougths. To get the mind to focus on any one activity.Silence of thoughts is one such activity which is the original concept of meditation.

- the human mind is thinking all the time. Even as you are reading this you are thinking. That is, you are not focused fully on the act of reading this post. To purely read this (with complete concentration) is a form of meditation. To read with complete concentration i.e. focused reading with no other thoughts invading the mind at the time of reading is also meditation.

- to begin meditation, sit comfortably anywhere, in any pose, but with the back straight. That is you do not necessarily have to sit in Padmasana.


You may sit upright on a chair keeping your back straight. Face north if possible.Fingers in gyana mudra

Gyana Mudra

-close your eyes lightly

-focus your mind (concentrate) on the middle of the eyebrows. Do not force your eyeball to move to see from the center of the eyebrows.

-sit still while keeping your mind focused on the center of the brows.

-do not actively think about any mundane activities like going over the day's activities.

- if you find thoughts flowing through the mind just watch the thoughts float by without getting involved in these thoughts.

- keeping breathing normally without focusing on the breathing (another breathing method is to actually focus on the breathing by mentally saying "soo" when breathing in and "hum" while breathing out.

- when you are meditating, you may keeping hearing all the noise from your surroundings.Please do not pay any attention to these noises. Your objective is to focus between your eyebrows and concentrate on the thoughts that float by without getting involved with these thoughts. It is just like watching the water in the river go by without getting into the water.

- keeping doing this daily (say 10 to 30 minutes a day) till you can reach a stage, in 3 to 6 months, when you actually get the mind to stay blank during meditation. That is you do not have thoughts floating by.

- do not be too concerned if you do not seem to be able to be a passive observer of the thoughts floating by in your mind during meditation. The moment you think you are getting involved with your thougths, just detach yourself again and again.

- do not be too concerned with the apparent lack of progress. If you follow the above, you will notice progress in course of time. This depends upon how long and how frequently you practice meditation.

Some of the benefits of the continuous practice of meditation are:
a) Reduced anxiety and stress
b) More energy
c) Clearer thinking

If you have any comments on this post I will be glad to hear from you.