Monday, June 12, 2017

KAVAN - a movie with chilling association between TV media and the politicians

KAVAN - a movie with chilling association between TV media and the politicians

We the public are often played for suckers by the media' is the social message delivered by the Movie KAVAN! There is most likely more truth in the movie .....

..where the young honest journalist watches the commercial corporate TV media collide with politicians and crooked police to frame a young couple of mixed faith of terrorism. This is not true and is due to the political power behind all the cover up and the selfish game to fool the public.

Movie shows that there are good police and bad police officials; good journalists and bad journalists; good media moguls and bad moguls. 

The TV channel boss - one of the main villains plays on the news media, parts of the clips taken in the same political rally at various intervals , initially to promote the politician and later on to degrade him, as he has stopped paying the channel the promotion fee!!

I felt I was watching the national TV news when I saw the movie. 

Take note -we only see what they want us to see; that is the message from this masala movie where one unnecessary song has 19 change of clothes for the hero and heroine (yes, I actually counted)!

Movie may not be actually worth it, but the social message is - don't believe everything you see on TV!

Saturday, June 10, 2017



“I have miles to go before I sleep,
I have miles to go before I sleep”
                                  Robert Frost    

Most of us say in our country that we need to improve like the west… that we need to become honest and not remain corrupt in various departments. Some would respond to this with ‘this will take years’. Some say ‘never’.

I wish to introspect and see how we can improve with whatever limited sources we have, to enable us to become a better society.

I am not for a moment saying that the advanced societies are better than us in every way. What I mean is we need to learn the good things from other country systems and follow them to improve our ways. We have no reason to hero worship anyone because we are already a diverse, ancient culture with most things to be proud of and have survived centuries of history.

My last month holiday in US was an eye opener. I have worked abroad for many years, but never spent 30 days as holidays. My wife and I looked around 6 states there and hence I have a bird’s view of how different we are from them. I have outlined the top 10 things which we can improve.

1.       Toilets
2.       Public Littering
3.       Courtesy to other humans
4.       Parking on the road
5.       Driving on the road
6.       Minding your own business
7.       Emergency services response by officials
8.       Museums and preservation of history/ ancestry
9.       Treating the prince and the pauper alike
10.   Learning from children

1.       Toilets:

Since the recent years, the number of toilets in India, especially in the north has tremendously increased. What do this mean to the man or a tourist on the road?     
One sees people urinating on the road (even this morning on the main road at 6 am) every day.

When we took the guided tour through New York City (NYC) our articulate guide Jimmy said that in NYC “Law in New York states that all hotel restrooms have to be made available to members of the public if they want to use them.”

In the Times Square, I tested the theory by walking into Sheraton Hotel and asking the receptionist for direction to the rest room who cheerfully directed me to it.

If only we can do this in all the cities in India, a man on the road who wants to piddle can use the toilet close by. My neighbourhood has at least 4 restaurants in the distance of about 50 meters; so that man this morning could have used any of these!

The government need not spend any extra amount of money in building good public toilets for the travelers.

2.       Public Littering :

Civic sense is what we need. Civic sense is but social ethics. It is consideration by the people for the unspoken norms of society. A lot of people assume that civic sense is just about keeping the roads, streets and public property clean. The least we can do is at least follow this path!

The news in papers and televisions are about hero worshipping matinee idols/ sports stars/ people in public life. If only the media moguls can support the public by releasing videos of how we should not throw plastic bags, bottles, papers, etc in public by the so called ‘heroes’.

Using the TV media and public hoardings, we need to create the awareness that the public places should be kept as clean as home. If we can rope in these ‘heroes’ in the advertisements, it will not only catch the public eye,  improve the public education , but also build up the ego of these chaps!

People need to collect the rubbish from homes and dump it in the dumpsters kept by the road side. Most houses are already doing this on a daily basis. But the man on the road tends to throw the bags and papers around and this should be curbed.

All the public display areas like museums, parks in the west are spotless (well, almost!) as folks collect all their stuff in a bag when done and take them home to dispense.

The westerners have gone on further to split their waste into two bags, recyclable and non-recyclable. If this is not done, their bags are not collected by the municipality and left outside their house. We will need to get this done as a later step.

3.       Courtesy to other humans:

Westerners tend to say, “Hello, how are you today, howdy” to strangers in malls, in the airports very easily and smile at you.

Naturally this is regional. You cannot expect a man in NYC or East Coast to be nice to you. I guess that a man in Mumbai or Delhi may not be civil to a stranger like you given the busy nature of his work, and the speed of life. But on an average, the Indians do not do this. We tend not to smile at strangers.

This morning I smiled at a random stranger on the road and nodded and he returned it! So if we initiate something courteous first, the others will follow.

Same as holding the door open for someone.

We need to be courteous to foreign nationals too. They are here only for a short while. Any kind act (like direction to a place/ restaurant) will always be remembered by them. After all, by doing so, you are improving the image of 1.311 billion Indians.

4.       Parking on the road:

I have touched upon parking as this is simpler than driving.

We need to park our two and four wheelers in consideration to other people who are parking around us.

If there is space for two vehicles, I have seen guys pulling up in centre- never understood why.

I have seen police and VIP cars in parked in restricted areas ( no parking zone – obstructing pedestrians’ path)  in movie theaters late at night. Again why does the public official coming for a late night movie use the restricted pedestrians’ path for parking? We should actively encourage our public and our public servants to use sense in parking.  

5.       Driving on the road: 

I have seen so many advertisements in movies for beverages, toiletries, food, etc on the TV.

If only we can slow some slides ( during the commercial breaks) about driving on the left of the road, the lane discipline (drive in the left lane, use middle for overtaking and the right for turning to right), precautions prior to overtaking another vehicle ( look in the rear view mirror, right signal, look over the right shoulder, step up to right, check road ahead, overtake reasonably rapidly, check rear view mirror, signal left and after leaving a safe distance shift to left land, cut out your left signal and slow down).

Over speeding is something only strict enforcement can control. But we can try incorporating slides in the TVs about the speed limits.

6.       Minding your own business:

”An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”

I have almost never seen any westerner loitering on the road with nothing to do and watching the road.

Life is short! I wouldn’t like to spend the rest my life looking at what each stranger on the road is doing!

7.       Emergency services response by officials

London police responded in 8 minutes in the busy central London a few days ago to a terrorism call . This is characteristic of an advanced society.

If there is fire call, or a call to the police, emergency time of response should be a measure of response.

This we need to inculcate in our culture. We should not be happy that they arrived, but how quickly they responded and how efficiently they controlled the situation.

8.       Museums and preservation of history/ ancestry

Museums of art, museums of music, museums of Indian American culture, museums of space, and what not – are a noticeable factor of the west. The places are well kept, videos displaying the events. Live people ( paid actors/ unpaid volunteers) act out in old uniforms how people lived in the society in the past! These are place like a drama during day time every day so that  school children are brought to these museums to learn history!

We are one of the most ancient societies of the world! We need to look at our own museums, how well kept they are – there is no need for me to say anything more. All I know is I come from a great, ancient culture and I am proud of it. But how am I going to show it to the children, tourists and the future generations?

9.       Treating the prince and the pauper alike:

This is where we grossly differ as a third world.

We know how we give preferential treatment to our affluent society members, how the VIPs put in a word for their relative , etc. Even in immigration queues, the foreign Indians coming into India, who all their lives have been standing in queues abroad for buses, shops, post offices, rest rooms, etc…. suddenly jump the queue in front of others, swarm around and obscure the queue.

This culture is in-built in us and we need to break this habit. We need patience, learn to take a deep breath and wait our turn. But we can only do this, if the system is fair and just.

For instance, an American surgeon told me, there was one donor liver for transplant. Waiting for the liver were a homeless person (term for a very poor man on the road) and a minister in the government. The donor liver was transplanted to the homeless person as he was ahead of the minister in the list in the government hospital.

We know this involves educated people (doctors, hospital administrators), government officials. But justice and system prevailed and the minister had to wait for his liver in the west.

When we do this freely on our own volition and the system allows this (system is only us – the humans!), we are a civilized nation.

When we care for the handicapped, weak, poor and the minorities – and not marginalize them, then we are an advanced and civilized nation.

10.   Learning from children:

This is philosophical – I have an infant grandson who is teaching me a lot of new things in life.

From him, I have learnt –

·         Always to be happy,
·         Always to be doing something or other,
·         Never to give up in doing things which you really love in life,
·         Demand loudly whatever you want for not worrying about consequences &
·         Forgive & forget easily (life is too short to be bitter! )

I know that children consider all humans to be equal. As they grow up, they learn from parents and the society that all humans are not equal – this is something we need to correct! The fault is in the humans and the system. We can still do this!

Do one good act to a stranger every day, without expecting anything in return and we will be a better society!


Sunday, April 23, 2017

POWER PANDI - movie review!


2017 Tamil movie has an unusual modern  theme . It depicts the story of the 64 year old widower POWER PONDI ( the unlikely hero) a movie stunt master feeling something missing in his life and leaves the house without the knowledge of his son, daughter in law and 2 lovely grandchildren. He leaves on his motor bike with Rs 25 lacs from his account on a road trip. He meets other older men on motorbike by the roadside who have left their families on a similar mission.

He reminiscences his ‘first love’ to them, how she had made an impact on him in just 2 days, of how her dad whisked her away to Madurai and blocked all their  puppy love. The road side acquaintances show him how to use face book and he sends a message to his first flame Revathy who is now in Hyderabad and makes a date to meet her in a restaurant.

The story attains a higher plane at this stage of how 2 elderly people ( she is a widow too ) talk of pent up feelings over the years, how their own children meet them together and accept the truth of romantic friendship between the two parents who are now single.

Movie reminded me of 'Wild Hogs' when you see the motor bikers in wind cheaters by the roadside!

Danush the director / story writer is a bit confused if the story is about the grown up, married children being harsh on elder patients ( because the son and DIL are quite good to Power Pondi and treat him well!).

I am assuming the director wants to focus on how the elderly also have great memories and strong feelings - wanting to lead their lives , not just be a shadow on their grown up, married children. If the focus indeed is on the active life of the elderly people, ( I am  hoping so) then it is a great theme!

Conversation between Revathi and her daughter when talking of the former’s old flame is quite revealing ( serious on Revathi’s side; playful and non judgemental on the daughter’s side!) on how the youth of today want the elderly to live well and be happy too.

Also the conversations of the neighbouring youth ( an useless, good for nothing chap) with Power Pondi are very casual and lively all the time ; the neighbour helps the elderly hero to sneek into the grandchildren’s feelings of sorrow when the old man is missing! The youthful heroine Madonna acts with finesse.

A great social movie, but I wish Danush had sat down to focus on which theme  - the one I feel should be on the active lives of elderly middle class people in Tamil nadu!

I will not be surprised if the debut director soon explores on newer themes such as live in relationships in modern life in the youth and elderly.

Or would that been too modern for our traditional public?

Saturday, April 1, 2017



I saw a movie on TV early this morning on autism- RAIN MAN brilliantly played by Dustin Hoffman as an autistic brother of Tom Cruise overshadowing him completely. Movie taken in 1988 still has such a powerful impact today.

A brilliant mind with autistic mind dealing in numbers and advanced calculations at fraction of a second!

Story of a normal brother (Tom) failing in his business deals finds out that his late dad had just left 3 million dollars to a ‘retarded’ brother (Dustin) whom he did not know, leave alone the autism in the brilliant brother!

So he steals the brother away from the institute for demanding half his share of inheritance, but gets to understand subsequently that his brother had been institutionalized to save his (Tom’s) life as a toddler! And then begins to love him as a brother.

Rain Man won four Oscars- Best actor, Best movie, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay and was the highest grossing film of 1988.

Dustin Hoffman intensely studied Kim Peek – the real life savant, an autistic person intensely before the movie – but apparently after the movie, cut off all ties with Kim’s family after the movie was a success. He did not even acknowledge the sudden death of Kim which was lamented by Kim’s father.

Did you know from 1 April to 30 April it is the AUTISM MONTH?

Autism is present in children with difficulty in communication due to different sensory input and behavior with other people. Autistic children are usually very talented in many ways which normal children are not!

Communication of these autistic children with others will not be normal and hence they may appear to be different to the others.

The Autistic Month of April is to highlight public awareness of this condition in children and to understand their brilliance in life.

Monday, March 27, 2017


If only the DINING TABLE could speak

The dining table is where modern family namely the parents meet the children and eat together with a thankful  heart.

Dining table is where the guests are entertained as it is always in a room with access to the kitchen.

Though known as the dining table, it is used for purposes far more than dining.

The table is where the family says a prayer for the meals.

Joyful events like births, engagements are announced.

Daily events are shared by the family at the end of the day during meals.

Television is watched together for news, matches, movies and events.

Sad news too - accidents, ill health, deaths are shared, tears shed at the table.

Children study at the dining table, do the last minute home work before the school.

Progress cards surrptiously shown to the parents at the last minute just before school at the eleventh hour for the signatures!

Children watch the parents communicating with the near and dear and learn how to communicate.

Dinner time is the best, when the unwanted food is shoved below the table to the dogs without the knowledge of the mother! ( giving special meaning to ' we are not worthy to pick the crumbs from under Thy table!'......)

MId-night forbidden raids to the fridge and the stolen food gulped in the dark at the table, watching midnight movies!

Dining table seats visitors dropping for a chat, news, gossip and tea.

Every birthday is treated with cake cutting, singing, good wishes and unpacking around the table.

Formal prayer meetings demand more seats around the dining table for singing the thanksgiving.

When children leave for college, there is loneliness around the table and the feeling of emptiness is palpable.

Children grow up to be young men, and get married; their families join in and more joy pours in.

Grand kid/s come forth into family. 

Music, happiness and laughter around the dining table yet again.

And life goes on!

If only the dining table could speak ……!

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Violin Matters          



“Without a solid foundation, you will have trouble creating anything of value”

Often questions arise in the minds of the student. Why am I still doing studies / etudes/ scales? Why is not the teacher making me do the concertos, sonatas?

What does musical exercise/ study or etude do? Each exercise concentrates on one aspect of technique. For instance if it has to do with the right hand (bowing) – it may be legatos. The exercise will focus on legatos –for the whole bow, the upper half or the lower half. So once the exercise is mastered, one has a reasonable control over the legatos.

Exercise on staccatos – may focus only on the short note to be played and full stop and wait before starting on the second note. One learns this technique SLOWLY and then speed it up with regularly increasing intervals. The single bowed staccatos are different from slurred staccatos. So the exercises could be different.

Left hand application of the exercise is similar, it may have to do with the position of playing first or second or higher positions. The I to III positions are mastered before the advanced student progresses to  high positions. Each exercise is specific and caters only to that aspect of playing.

As for the left hand techniques – shifting of the positions, string crossings, the double stops, the vibratos, left hand pizzacato, harmonics with double stops, etc, each can be practiced separately and then applied to the repertoire.

Now coming to repertoire, composer would have, depending on the complexity of the musical piece, employed various techniques which one would have individually studied in the  studies earlier on. It is important to scan the music, and while attempting it slowly in the beginning, identify the troublesome spots. Then analyze each difficulty and go through it  in detail.

If necessary, revert back to the technical study, practice it all over and then come back to the repertoire.

In case of attempting a difficult piece, it is important to:
  • -          Isolate the difficult part and work at it  in small segments |( one or two bars if necessary) and analyze why it is difficult ( section A)
  • -          Work at the solution , slowly for a short while
  • -          Go back to some other section of music ( section B)
  • -          Come back to the troublesome spot, now with its solution and practice this again ( section A)
  • -          Practice some other section of music ( section C)
  • -          And come back to section A again – and gradually speed it up to the required tempo.

This has worked largely for other colleagues as well as me. It is easier to do this rather than playing the music from top to bottom over and over when each mistake is made.

Substitute learning to spin a ball at cricket or  hit a curvy spinning shot in tennis or a difficult knotting in laparoscopic surgery with remote instruments - it all comes to the same principles as above.

Short bursts of working at difficult sections with analysis, repeated in small sections saves much of wasted time and is retentive in memory easier than otherwise.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Violin Matters


Open string vibrato is useful in some of the selected areas of violin playing.

The usual string vibrato where the finger is placed just below the note and moved to the correct note – back and forth is based on frequency modulation.

The open string vibrato is based not on the frequency change as there vibrato finger is not on the string involved. It works by amplitude modulation

There are mainly three techniques for doing vibrato on the open strings. They are:

1)      If you wish to do G open string vibrato, place your third finger on the D string (G note) and do the vibrato on the third finger, but play the open G string. This is with the note one octave note higher doing vibrato. You can also do this technique for G, D and A strings vibratos

2)      You can also do the open string on D, A and E vibrato with the fourth finger on the lower string and do the vibrato in a similar manner. Here the note is the same but the vibrato is on the lower string.

3)      Last method is to do any of the  four strings – namely G,D,A or E by playing the open string, but vibrato with the wrist in the air ( without touching any note) 

4)      There is a fourth vibrato – ‘ the bow vibrato‘ from the 16th century. It is demonstrated by the shaking of the bow in the direction of the bowing (up or down) in the same direction. It was described in the 16th century by Ganassi in 'Rigola Rubertina' when vibrato was introduced in Renaissance music as a musical ornament. It sounds like a stammer – not a tremolo where the bow alters direction. It is at present, an uncommon bowing technique.

In general the overtone sound effect is similar to the bowed vibrato, though the intensity is reduced due to the sympathetic vibrations. The character of the open string vibrato can be altered by the type of open string bowing and the type of the vibrato on the adjacent string - rapid or slow.