The Common Man Speaks

17Dec/160

Dalhousie pictures: The place with picturesque hills heals you

I live in a part of Mumbai (Dadar) which is nothing but concrete jungle. Hence, the mere sight of a mountain or any sort of nature makes me happy. So much so, that even a visit to the nearby hill station, Lonavala gets me excited. Therefore, one can only imagine my feeling when I landed in the picturesque Himalayan region of Dalhousie.

‘Delightful’ is the word. Well, you can add ‘healer’ too. The place delights and heals you, both at the same time. Delights with its amazing view of mountains and valleys. This coupled with the weather heals you externally and internally; the latter is more important for people from urban areas caught in a fast city life.

Have a look at the pictures:

Dalhousie city.

People running the Dalhousie Public School have installed plants on both sides of the roads and that too with such beautiful, colourful stands. The bigger achievement is that there are no miscreants to damage it. This is one thing that comes to the mind of someone from Mumbai, where even a dust bin isn't safe!

Dainkund is a place with beautiful mountains, situation around 13 kilometers from Dalhousie. It has an army cantonment and a Kali Mata Temple, for which one requires to climb 1 kilometers up on a hill.

Dainkund.

This steep road leads to Punchpula waterfall, which is close to Dalhousie. The route up the hill is dangerous. Precautionary measures are advised. After climbing up, I felt as if I achieved something. However, the real challenge was going down these huge steps. By the way, the waterfall was just a little stream.

At Khajjiar.

Khajjiar.

Khajjiar is around an hour's drive away from Dalhousie. The place is known as Mini Switzerland. Going by the scenic beauty of it, the title looks justified. However, a couple of friends who visited the place few months ago witnessed much more greenery than what it was when we visited.

Khajjiar.

Caught this sight while we were on our way from Amritsar to Dalhousie.

At place on our way from Dalhousie to Macleodganj.

Our vehicle stopped to fill petrol at this place just outside Dalhousie while we were on our way to Macleodganj. The sight instantly brought to my mind the first verse from 'Yun Hi Chala Chal' song from Swades - Dekhun jidhar bhi in rahon mein, Rang pighalte hai nigahon mein, Thandi hawa hai thandi chhaavn hai, Door woh jaane kiska gaon hai...

By: Keyur Seta

8Feb/160

Kala Ghoda 2016 Pictures

By: Keyur Seta

It's that time of the year again. The month of February has begun with the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, like it has been the case since almost a decade. And like every year, this year too the vibrant arts of different forms was a treat to the eye.

So, here are the pictures from the 2016 Kala Ghoda Arts Festival:-

 

(For the full schedule of the 2016 Kala Ghoda Festival click HERE.)

(Click on the pics to enlarge)

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Kala Ghoda 2016-photos

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Kala Ghoda 2016 photos

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12May/150

E-Book Review: Capturing Wildlife Moments In India

"This post is a part of the book review program of at Saevus Wildlife India in association with The Hemchand Mahindra Foundation for the book Capturing Wildlife Moments in India" 

Photographer & Author: Ashok Mahindra

Presented By: Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Oxford Publishers

Rating: * * * *

Review By: Keyur Seta

The main aim of Wildlife Photographers is to make the reader experience a wild safari inside a jungle while sitting miles away. Their task is difficult than video shooters due to the reliance only on still pictures. Ashok Mahindra’s e-book ‘Capturing Wildlife Moments In India’ achieves this aim hands down. This is not the only achievement of the book though.

‘Capturing Wildlife Moments In India’ is a collection of wildlife images, which includes animals, birds, reptiles and also nature, clicked by Mahindra over a period of time at different national parks of India.

The book is a treat not only for wildlife lovers but also for city dwellers trapped in concrete jungles. The well-shot and well thought pictures transport you to the raw interiors of forests. But, as mentioned by Mahindra, wildlife is not only about wild animals. Therefore, he has also given importance to other aspects of jungles. Other impressive feature is the trivia about some species and the back story behind the capturing of a number of pictures.

Wildlife-book-Ashok-MahindraIt is difficult to select few best among the 100 + pictures. But these are the ones that stand out:-

- Images of the Royal Bengal Tiger

- Asiatic Elephants spraying mud over their bodies to combat heat.

- Sal Trees at Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh.

- A spider trying hard to trap a butterfly

- A crocodile, deer and a bird appearing together.

- The picturesque Jogi Mahal below Ranthambhore Fort, Rajasthan.

- A mother elephant trying to convince her kid to get inside a lake.

- A Spotted Deer ready for mating.

But apart from presenting wildlife pictures, the deeper intent here is to encourage sustainability of wildlife habitats that are diminishing rapidly. It is like a wakeup call to the people of today’s times. The photographer-cum-author has also provided a list of solutions for the same.

Coming to the minor negative points, the written matter on some occasions needs to be short since it is a pictorial book. This becomes more problematic due to the very small font as one is required to zoom in and out regularly.

Overall: ‘Capturing Wildlife Moments In India’ is a pleasurable jungle safari.

More pictures from the book:-

(Click to enlarge)

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8Feb/156

Kala Ghoda Festival 2015 Photos

By: Keyur Seta

The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is back in 2015, like every February. Although the place is thronged by people from all walks of life, it is the art lovers who wait for every February just to get a high for the artistic keeda inside them.

Here is a Photo Tour by one such art admirer:

(Click on the photos to enlarge.)

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26Jan/152

R K Laxman: Rest In Peace revolutionary cartoonist

By: Keyur Seta

‘Common Man’ is no ordinary title. The term has given a unique and respectful identity to a large majority of Indians falling into the middle-class and upper middle-class category. They may be divided by religion, caste, language, region or what not, but they stand united under the umbrella of ‘Common Man’.

This title has given them a voice. It has highlighted the fact that the betterment of India can only take place when the life of people falling in this category is bettered. This can be seen from the fact that the main agenda of each political party in India is to serve the Common Man. Whether they have been able to achieve it is a different story. Hence, it won’t be an overstatement that ‘Common Man’ is a revolutionary title.

Picture: Fullonsms.com

Picture: Fullonsms.com

Today, the person who coined this title breathed his last. India’s greatest cartoonist R K Laxman returned to heavenly abode at a Pune hospital after a prolonged illness at the age of 94. May his soul Rest In Peace.

There is no doubt that he was an excellent cartoonist; easily the best the country has seen. However, he has influenced my life more by his ‘Common Man’ feature. In fact, I live this theory every moment as it has become the most important philosophy of my life.

Needless to say, the name of this blog is solely influenced by Laxman’s ‘Common Man’. Although I also considered Naseeruddin Shah’s character in A Wednesday while naming it, the germ of this philosophy was created by Laxman. Today, the name of my blog has played a large role in whatever little acceptance it has received from readers, friends and well-wishers. All thanks to R K Laxman!

The man has passed away but his legacy of ‘Common Man’ will be kept alive in various ways. The ‘Common Man’ might fail every now and then but he will never get tired.

 

R K Laxman's Common Man. (Picture: Students.smcm.edu)

R K Laxman's Common Man. (Picture: Students.smcm.edu)

His masterpiece sketch of Malgudi Days (Picture: Universityexpress.co.in)

His masterpiece sketch of Malgudi Days (Picture: Universityexpress.co.in)

15Dec/141

DDLJ 1000 Weeks: When Maratha Mandir became Wankhede

By: Keyur Seta

Moviegoers going wild with excitement inside a cinema hall (especially a single screen) is a regular feature in India. Over the years, Rajnikanth and Salman Khan movies have become known for this. However, the excitement during a show of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge during its 1000th week inside Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir was something never experienced in any movie ever before.

In fact, I have seen this kind of response from the crowd (consisting people of all age groups) only in a cricket stadium and that too only when Sachin Tendulkar enters and, later, scores a century. In short, one has to experience it to believe it.

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Here is a tour of the experience:

Ticket Queue: As seen in the second picture, there was literally chaos to get a ticket for this film; a film that is 19-year-old. I can’t remember when was the last time I witnessed such desperation for a newly-released film. Black marketers were selling Rs 20 ticket for Rs 100 but the fans had no problems with it.

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Unthinkable Response: I was naturally expecting regular cheers and whistles during the film. But what actually happened during the screening gave a pleasant shock to me and my brother. The cheering commenced even before the Censor Certificate was shown and continued till the rest of the film. In fact, there was a loud reception not only during Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol’s entry scene but also during each and every important dialogue by all actors and also during their important acts. And mind you, majority of the crowd wasn’t tapori.

Watch it for yourself in this video if it is difficult to believe. Shot and edited by Fenil Seta.

 

Non-Stop Clicks: We all must have seen pictures being clicked inside a cinema hall during a movie, but not as much as it happened during this screening. There was continuous clicking from all sides throughout the duration, as if it was a press conference.

The Finale: The ending moments made us feel as if Team India won the World Cup. It is difficult to put it any other way. Just watch the last part of the video and you will realize. As soon as Thakur Baldev Singh (Amrish Puri) left Simran’s (Kajol) hand, the audience erupted in the same manner when Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit the winning six during the final of 2011 World Cup.

Given the scenes and the kind of box office response DDLJ is still getting, it is needless to say that the film will continue running for few more years for sure. Also needless to say, this is definitely not my last viewing of it at Maratha Mandir.

28Jul/142

Goa: 2nd peaceful indulgence (Post on Goa trip by BlogAdda & Tata Motors)

By: Keyur Seta

Varca Beach in Goa

Varca Beach in Goa

I had taken part in BlogAdda’s Zest Up Your Life (organized by Tata Motor's Zest car) contest just for time pass. Since they were giving FlipKart vouchers for all entries, I thought there is nothing to lose. So I wrote a post in just about 20 minutes and after few days, I got a mail from them saying I am selected for a trip to Goa! A real-life experience of “Kahani mein twist!” On Tuesday July 22, none was knew we would be in Goa for the weekend. Read my winning entry HERE.

(Click on picture to enlarge.)

Before this trip, I had been on a flight just once. That was back in 2001 and, unfortunately, it was a terribly scary experience due to some issue with the flight or the weather; I don’t remember much as I was almost a kid then. So, obviously I was a lot jumpy before the take off. I found some assurance from the person sitting next to me as she was also as Anari as me when it came to flying.

As the flight took off from Mumbai, I could only recall the scene from Pyar Toh Hona Hi Tha, where a truly petrified Kajol forced the pilot to return to the airport abruptly just after the take off. (Now while I am writing this, I wonder why I didn’t recall the scene from 3 Idiots since that was more recent; probably because R Madhavan’s character wasn’t scared.)

Coming back to the present day from flashback, I felt a jolt on my nerves when the flight went airborne. This was followed by a jhatka of a more intensity when it went further upwards. I saw the serene expressions of people around me and I wondered, “Are they in some other world?” However, that was the end as far as my nervousness was concerned. There wasn’t any ‘ooh aah ouch’ experience when the plane landed. So now was the time to indulge in the paradise called Goa!

Narain Karthikeyan speaks about the Zest

Narain Karthikeyan speaks about the Zest

The welcome by the staff from the Zuri Hotel was more than overwhelming. Who would have expected to be welcomed royally with a teeka on our forehead? I almost told them, “I think you are mistaken. I am not representing any international or IPL cricket team.” At least, I can now say I had an off field experience as a Cricketer, if not on field.

As expected, the rooms were luxurious and the view of green lawns was incredible for someone like me who is always eager to experience any part of nature. Although the bathrooms were super luxurious, I have a big request to the hotel authorities to provide (don’t you dare laugh) a bucket and a tumbler (okay, you can laugh).

A bloggers meet or trip is surely incomplete if one doesn’t find interesting bloggers to interact with. I had my doubts whether I would find fellow Common Men (that also includes women). Thankfully, I did! The people I met, interacted and roamed with not only shared the wave length with me but also became thick friends.

My only suggestion to the organizers and BlogAdda is that they should allow more free time to the bloggers to roam around Goa. After all, people don’t visit this part of the country often, especially those coming from as far away as Kolkata. I can fully understand the tight schedule and the need to promote the sponsors. So just 2-3 hours should be enough.

Overall though, it was a welcome break on a weekend due to the serenity provided by the place. Contrary to what others say, I have always found Goa to be one of the best places to experience peace. Read more about it in my post on my first experience in Goa HERE.

The fact that it was completely unexpected made it more valuable. All thanks to BlogAdda and Tata Motors.

More photos from the trip:

(Click on picture to enlarge.)

Arrival at Goa airport

Arrival at Goa airport

Bloggers interacting

Bloggers interacting

Our friendly and co-operative organizer cum anchor, Ankita.

Our friendly and co-operative organizer cum anchor, Ankita.

Varca Beach

Varca Beach

Varca Beach

Varca Beach

Church at Varca

Church at Varca

Varca Beach

Varca Beach

Near Varca

Near Varca

Tata Zest Car

Tata Zest Car

 

6Feb/140

Photos: Kala Ghoda 2014

 

By: Keyur Seta

Come February and the art enthusiasts of Aamchi Mumbai get a booster through the Kala Ghoda Festival. So naturally, this year too the artist-at-heart Mumbaikars have been thronging the pleasing spot at South Mumbai in large numbers. In fact, the footfalls are increasing year by year and 2014 is no exception. So here's a word of advice - if you dare to visit the Kala Ghoda Festival this weekend, don't expect it to be an easy walk by any means. However, if you are a true lover of art, I am sure you won't mind the bheed.

In the meantime, have a look at the eye-pleasing moments of the 2014 version of the festival via the following photos:-

(PLEASE CLICK ON THE PICTURES TO ENLARGE.)

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4Dec/1210

Travel Post: Goa is not exactly what we see in Bollywood!

By: Keyur Seta

Three weeks back, I finally got a chance to visit Goa for the first time in my life. Since I had never seen the place before in real, all my knowledge about the place came from Hindi films. As almost all Bollywood films have portrayed the place in the same manner (except few films like Dum Maaro Dum), not since years but decades, I kind of developed an image of the place from what I have been seeing on celluloid.

This is how Hindi films have portrayed Goa:-

  • Goa is all about beaches. In fact, beaches are the only things worth seeing in the place.
  • The place is thronged by hardcore party lovers who consume as much beer or some liquor as we consume water. Of course, some of the males have to be topless and the females, skimpily clothed.
  • Every now and then you will come across a person humming a song in English or their local language while playing a guitar. It is mandatory for the person to wear a typical Goa shirt (with pictures of coconut trees), shorts and of course a big hat made out of cane.
  • Locals add the word ‘man’ after every sentence while speaking Hindi. Examples – 1) Hi man! 2) Kaisa hai man? 3) Kya baat kar raha hai man? 4) God tumhara prayer zaroor sunega man.

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A calm and picturesque lake in Goa (Click to enlarge)

Due to such portrayal of Goa, I wasn’t too keen on visiting the place, more so because I am not fond of beaches and I simply can’t stand these so-called parties with liquor. But since I badly needed a change, I went ahead with the trip. And today as I look back, I think it was one of the best decisions of my life. The reason I am saying this is because Goa is much, much more than what Hindi films have shown us. Of course, the above mentioned scenarios are experienced over there but, from what I saw, not often.

As surprising as it may sound, I found Goa very serene and peaceful. I experienced this not only in the locality where we stayed (Calangute) but also in the places we visited – the peaceful Thivim Railway station, Avenida Dom Jao Castro Road in Panaji, Sinquerim Beach, Fort Aguada, Vagator Beach, Dona Paula, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Shantadurga Temple and lastly Margao (Maybe you can feel the same in the pictures posted here). A lot of calmness is also felt while travelling from one destination to the other as one could see the beautiful small houses or huts, local shops, a group of locals chit chatting under a tree in villages, lakes, forests, picturesque mountains, small roads of small towns, etc.

I firmly believe that the beauty of a particular place multiplies if the locals are warm hearted and sweet. After my experiences and interactions with the locals in Goa, I can surely say the same for Goa. This definitely adds on to the peace. The big example of this was our guide Ramakant. Although he was hamming his way while explaining the places, it was his sweet and friendly nature that stood out.

Beautifully maintained city of Panaji (Click to enlarge)

But another thing that hugely impressed me is the cleanliness practiced by the people (even on the beaches) and the civic maintenance in every part of Goa. I hardly saw any litter or waste lying on the roads. I don’t even recollect anyone spitting on the streets. Although this increased my respect for the place, it also made me feel bad thinking about the state of my hometown Mumbai where people consider the whole city as a dustbin, toilet and what not.

And talking about the civic body of Goa, I feel the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) is a big joke in comparison to it. The former not only makes sure the place is clean and tidy but also puts in lots of effort and money to add beauty to the place. So henceforth, I would laugh at anyone who would label Mumbai as the most developed city. Insanely building more and more skyscrapers, letting miscreants destroy the city and unnecessarily buying cars thereby adding on to the traffic is certainly not development.

So regardless of what Hindi films show, the real Goa is seen only after visiting it. From the points mentioned above, it is needless for me to say that I will visit the place again.

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Some more pictures: -

Vagator Beach in Goa (Click to enlarge)

Avenida Dom Jao Road at Panaji, Goa (Click to enlarge)

Basilica of Bom Jesus at Panaji, Goa (Click to enlarge)

View from Mandovi Bridge at Panaji (Click to enlarge)

Vagator Beach. The place where Ek Duke Ke Liye was shot. The lovers in the movie had inscribed their name on the sand. Shockingly, around 30 years later, the name is still visible. (Click to enlarge)

Shantadurga Temple in Goa (Click to enlarge)

21Mar/1223

Bhagat Singh, Sukdev, Rajguru 81st Death Anniversary… Same old story!

Like every year, this year too there is hardly any hype about Martyrdom Day, i.e March 23, the day when Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru happily accepted death at the hands of the British 81 years ago (1931). Terrible is a small way of describing this situation where the biggest sacrifice for the independence of India hasn’t received the notice it deserves. Over the years our government and even media has failed in honoring the greatest of revolutionaries.

This, however, isn’t going to lower the spirits of all of us who heartily admire the trio for their unmatchable service for India. We will continue to worship them!

Talking of the trio, I would like to point out something about Bhagat Singh which is not known to everyone, especially those who don’t admire him. By doing this, I am also trying to rubbish-off a myth related to Singh and his comrades who have been a part of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).

There has been a wrong widespread belief that the members of HSRA were violent. Time and again, they have been accused of endorsing violence. However, all those who have done an in depth study on their life would highly disagree with it. These revolutionaries had always believed in achieving their mission in a non-violent manner.

There have been instances where they have used violence but it’s only as a means of self defense or when there isn’t any hope of achieving the goal through non-violent methods.

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To prove their non-violent nature, I would like to point out few instances from their revolutionary life:-

* On April 8, 1929, when Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt exploded bombs in the Central Assembly in Dehli to oppose Public Safety Bill and Trade Disputes Bill, they purposely used bombs which don’t hurt anyone even a bit. Plus, they exploded the bombs in vacant areas. Their only motto was to create sound.

* Of course, they did avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai by killing British officer Saunders but they did that as there was no hope of getting justice from the British government. They had to take the step as a last resort. A pamphlet distributed by HSRA said, “We regret to have had to kill a person but he was part and parcel of that inhuman and unjust order that has to be destroyed.”

* Instead of fleeing from the spot, Singh and Dutt court arrested themselves. They could have escaped as the HSRA had weapons at their disposal but they didn’t even think of doing such a thing.

* After being sentenced, Bhagat Singh, along with other members of HSRA, started a hunger strike as the Indian prisoners were debarred of basic amenities unlike the British prisoners. This was akin to Gandhi’s mode of Satyagraha.

If the members of HSRA really believed in violence, the above mentioned incidents wouldn’t have taken place.

Coming back to the first point, I would like to offer the highest tribute to the trio of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. We will never be able to repay the biggest sacrifice ever to the nation.

Have a look at some of the original photos of Bhagat Singh and his comrades: -

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Bhagat Singh (Picture Courtesy - unp.co.in. Click to enlarge)

News of the hanging of the three martyrs (Picture Courtesy - commons.wikipedia.org. Click to enlarge)

Bhagat Singh's mother with a wellwisher (Picture Courtesy - unp.co.in. Click to enlarge)

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Bhagat Singh as a student in National College, Lahore (Picture Courtesy - unp.co.in. Click to enlarge)

Rajguru (Picture Courtesy - india.targetgenx.com. Click to enlarge)

Sukhdev (Picture Courtesy - india.targetgenx.com. Click to enlarge)

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