Monday, August 23, 2010

Peepli Live

Last weekend was exciting, eventful and hectic. Two of the much awaited movies were releasing on the same day. "Peepli live" and "Eat, Prey and Love". Needless to say, I wanted to watch them both and do it soon. So i dragged Sid into two movies and an American Idol event that weekend.

Peepli Live - A fantastic satire on plight of poor farmers and the how the media/politicians spiced up the tragedy, blowing it out of proportion to gain popularity. The movie as the name suggests is set in a small village called Peepli (in Orissa). [I had the chance to visit this village almost a decade back and still remember it for the beautiful, bright and artistic craft that they sell.] It's the story of two (farmer) brothers who loose their small piece of land to the government in exchange of a loan they are unable to pay back. The rumors have it that the government is paying farmers upto 1 lakh rupees if they commit suicide. So after much contemplation, the younger brother declares publicly that he will commit suicide so that his family gets the money. This one announcement sets the movie rolling....

This movies is not your regular commercial masala movie. The hero does not fall in love with any girls, there are no hip-shaking numbers and beautiful international hot spots. It's not about designer clothes or famous star cast. It's about the life and the plight of farmers and their distress. It's about how politicians and our governments make promises just to stay in power and win your vote. It's about how the media can easily and very conveniently distort a simple fact into a masala "sansani" khabar and keep us mis-informed. And caught in the middle of all this craziness are the poor farmers who in the end are left high and dry.

I loved the movie for its story line, for the unconventional actors and for the excellent, crude but hilarious dialogues. [It had been a while since i had heard the typical dehati dialect]. In the light of the recent mass suicide by farmers, Peepli live does a fantastic job of showcasing and bringing to our attention an important problem in our society. With about 60% of the Indian population still relying on farming as their primary occupation, it's high time we paid attention to their stories too. It brings out the weakness in your political system. How easily development assistance programs are introduced but not really implemented. How promises are made only to provide hope and mock the system.

Peepli live is more on the line of a documentary than a main stream movie. It's a definite watch if development issues interest you else it's like watching another series of kisan yojna on TV!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Are you infected by the tweet bug?

I have had a twitter account for over a year now. I log on it once a month, follow 14 people now and have 1 follower. I started an account just to see what the twitter buzz was all about but somehow have not been able to convince myself to make it a big part of my life. There are many reasons for it, the prime one being that i am not a celebrity, a reporter, a journalist or anyone significant who people would like to follow. I do not want to be under the constant pressure of thinking smart and witty things to say on twitter so that people like it enough to follow me.

I personally feel that twitter is a very powerful tool which can be used to help or hurt people. Today anybody and everybody is on twitter. Some tweets we follow by the second, some fail to fall on our ears. Thanks to twitter i now know which city Amitabh Bhachchan is in right now. What is he eating, how does he feel etc etc? Social networks like twitter and facebook give you a sense of closeness. Just because i follow Amitabh Bachchan on twitter i have started to believe that i know him better. That is a real friend to me. I have never met the guy, never spoken with him ever but yet there is a sense of closeness that i feel. I feel like he is tangible and within 140 characters away from me.

Is this sense of closeness or realism false? Shouldn't we be wary of the fact that outside the realms of this fake world of internet, life is a different reality? I am in noway implying that whatever he tweets is fake, but that just because i have the power to read his tweets real time and comment on it does not make him my close friend. Does twitter/facebook/orkut gives you a false sense of comfort and hope? A feeling like you are closer to someone (electronically not really)???

Well this then brings me to the questions why do we tweet, why are we on facebook? Some are to massage their ego, to satisfy the narcism that is breeding in them. Some genuinely like to keep in touch with people and find it convenient to open their lives online that offline. Some just use it as a tool to reach out to the masses. What is your compelling reason? Why are you add(ed/icted) to it? Why do we choose to follow someone on twitter or add an acquaintance to our friends list?

"With great power comes great responsibility". While you can reach out to million with just 140 characters be mindful of the fact that you can also piss them off with just those 140 characters. So i feel when we chose to be a part of such social site in some sense we are choosing to make our private lives public. We are giving our friends and followers the right to only only read what we want to say but also the power to comment on it. And how we react to their reactions in some sense shows the kind of a person we are in real life. That i feel is the real you. Not the twitter you, not the Internet you!!

I recently came across this very interesting and relevant discussion by Barkha Dutta which sparked off this blog. If you are a twitter user please share your experience with me. I would love to know what makes you tweet and do you feel sites like twitter / facebook/ orkut are just a passing fad which will be replaced over time with other Internet fads?

Here is the link to Barkha Dutt's show (courtesy Jaya)

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I have been looking for paintings to fill the empty walls of our home for a while now. Since the decor in our house is a bit modern and mostly in dark wood i wanted something bright to light up the rooms. I have visited numerous stores for some months now and nothing really stood out and then just like that one fine day,while volunteering for the folk art market in Santa Fe i had two painting in my hand. The stories to both the paintings is interesting.

The first one to the right is titled 'peces'. It's a Cuban painting which i literally grabbed at a bargain price at the Santa Fe folk art market last month. These painting were selling like hot cakes at the market specially because they were super cheap. Believe me they sold out in minutes and if you were not there to grab one it was gone.

I really loved this one for its creativity and bright colors. The painting is simple yet striking and bursting with rainbow colors. I loved how the artist had taken something as simple as sea creatures and added beautiful contours and splashed them with various colors. The octopus and sea horse complete the story under the sea!! Absolutely love this beautiful piece and wish i had grabbed some more!!

The second picture is another masterpiece by a folk art artist from Uzbekistan.

It's a miniature which i had been eying for two days at the market. I loved the detailed work and the fine drawing on the painting but did not have the heart to buy it because it was expensive. Everyday i would visit the stall and check it out and ooh and aah about it to the artist but never bought it.

Towards the closing of the market i was on my way to say my good byes to all the people i had met at the market and i stopped at the stall from Uzbekistan. I hugged the artist good bye and commended him at his beautiful work and then a miracle happened, he asked me to pick any painting i wanted as a gift from his side :) At first i said no i could not accept it but since he insisted i grabbed my favorite. This beautiful piece now adorns my dining area.

This is a painting of traders on their way to trade their things in the market. In olden times they had to travel far and wide to reach the market. What fascinated me about this picture was its size, detailed work and the beautiful expressions on the face of the merchants. Even though its a miniature, no detail is left out. The drawing is super fine and one look at it almost tell you the entire story. It almost reminded me of miniatures from India. The resemblance is starking. Thanks to the very generous artist i now am a proud owner of a painting from Uzbekistan :)

Manchego on Main

Manchego on Main was where we spent our saturday evening with a few friends. It's a really small (10 tables) Spanish tapas place. The really cool thing about this restaurant is BYOB (1ith no corkage fee!!).

Since they don't take reservations, the wait is really long (an hour and a half) but in the meantime you can walk around on main, grab some drinks else where, there are options! They offered us some hummus with pita while we waited, which i thought was a nice gesture.

My recommendations from the menu include:

Goat cheese, honey and dried figs on bread (might want to save this for the last, its the best and a bit sweet)

The Penelope bocadillo was good. It was hot and the combination of the basil with the sun dried tomatoes and cheese was scrumptious.

The chicken and mushroom skewers just melts in your mouth. A must eat if you like chicken

For desert we tried the cheesecake, which was tasty but a bit frozen. So that dampened the yumminess. The chocolate mousse cake is a killer. Simply amazing!!!

The service is ok, a bit on the slower side (considering they have only 10 tables). Other than that a neat place to visit if you are in the neighborhood. Just be prepared to wait for a while on a busy weekend.

2510 Main St

Santa Monica, CA 90405
Neighborhood: Santa Monica
(310) 450-3900