Sunday, February 22, 2009

A "Slumdog" underdog!!

Last night's comprehensive sweep of the Oscars by "Slumdog Millionaire" culminated an improbable dream run of the feel-good movie. It won eight out of the ten Oscars that it was nominated for.

There was some criticism of this movie because it was "not balanced" and that it brings out only the destitute face of India. I respectfully disagree with that view. If you want to see India, go take a vacation and visit the places that you want to see. When you go to see "Slumdog Millionaire", concentrate on the story, the direction, the acting and the message of hope that evolves as the reels roll. It does depict extreme poverty and the resultant brutality of people who scavenge on the victims. But it is fiction, a movie and not a documentary on India. And by the way, lot of the things seen in the movie are indeed true.

As I watched the Oscars with some wonderful company last night, it felt good that an underdog had prevailed. The icing on the cake was seeing the two youngest actors, who actually are slum dwellers in Mumbai, on the stage as a part of the team for the best movie. The rags to riches story of the movie will hopefully replicate in real life for these two kids.

So why did this movie do so well? I think the answer is that its an exceptionally well made movie with a relatively simple story line. Its a feel-good movie in these hard times. And it was also the underdog movie. Its human nature that if we don't have any stake in a contest, we will root for the underdog. Why is that? Why do we instinctively favor the underdog, be it movies, sports or life?

Maybe because we can relate to the underdog. In our lives, we all have been underdogs at some point or another. We know exactly how it feels when life doesn't seem to go our way. Those tough times are a constant reminder and a source of strength for us on this journey we call life. We can distinctly remember who stood by us during those challenging times, who our real friends are and sometimes we surprise ourselves with the strength of our character that surfaces in the face of adversity.

Our true character is reflected by how we behave when nobody is watching. And this movie is all about character, adversity and hope........hope that sincerity & love will eventually prevail in the long run.

"Sometimes our destiny has bigger plans for us than the ones we have for ourselves."

Had to share this with all of you........


Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Valentine's bash....

I received a phone call yesterday (Sunday) morning from a friend.
"Do you still have my camera?" She sounded a little worried.
"Your camera?" I was confused, the hangover from the Saturday night party still had my brain frazzled.
"From last night's party?" she said.
"Oh. From last night?" Now it was my turn to get a little worried. The party had been great, in fact, memorable. The host couple had done a wonderful job on Valentine's day, which also happened to be our gracious hostess's birthday-eve.
"Remember clicking pictures? Standing on the chair and all?" She continued.
"Really? Was I standing on a chair? I was probably trying to get a good view." I didn't sound convincing, even to myself. Did I have that much Vodka?!
"Yeah...yeah....sure. So do you still have it?"
"" I tried to shake off the cobwebs. "I think you or your husband took it from me."
"I've looked everywhere. We don't have it. I'll call around," she said.
I washed my face and thought about the pictures on the missing camera. Then I went over last night's party, frame by frame.
I remembered the squeals when two best friends saw each other at the party, because they were wearing the same dress. Not similar. It was the SAME, like in ditto. They both acted surprised but I still think they got a "Buy one, get one free" deal!

My brain flashed briefly to the professional photographer our generous hosts had arranged and the couples posing in their exquisite outfits-- some confident, some embarrassed and some both. I was too busy showing off my wife! I recalled another lovely couple walking by, the husband holding on tight to his wife's hand.
"Very romantic," I remarked to the lady. "He's not letting go of your hand."
"Oh, that's because he's drunk," she replied, very matter-of-fact!

My mind then freeze-framed another picture. A prominent member of our community, deeply involved in the administration of a local revered Temple, (Baba ji to our neighborhood kids) putting on moves on the dance floor, with a bevy of beautiful young ladies. We don't want that picture floating around. We really got to find that camera!
Another picture that stuck in my mind was of the blissful look on a gentleman's face, who crossed continents coming back from India and slept at airports, so that he could make it home on Valentine's day to be with the love of his life.

But the most important picture that my mind captured from the night before was the true adoration between couples. The ambiance created by the hosts with candles, rose petals, lighting and music was such that cupid's arrow flew around, searing hearts.

The phone rang again, getting me out of the reverie.
"I found the camera." It was the same friend again, sounding relieved.
"Thank God! Who had it?" I asked.
"Well... it was in my husband's jacket," she said.
Aha, I thought to myself. Didn't she say an hour ago she had looked everywhere?

So I was not the only one with a hangover!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Twenty-two years and still going strong!!

My wife and I just had our 22nd anniversary. Twenty two years!! That's a long time. So why doesn't it seem that long to me? I still remember, very vividly, the day my wife accepted my proposal and agreed to marry me. I was in a daze for a few days after that, finding it hard to believe that she said "yes". My friends in Med school kept reassuring me, that although they were as confused as me as to why she said "yes", the response indeed had been positive. After a couple of days, just to make sure, I asked her again. And she said "yes" again! For a moment, a teeny-tiny doubt crept up in me. Maybe she was not as smart as I thought her to be, because she said "yes" to me... not once, but twice... in about as many days! But that was the first and last time I doubted her.

Well, then we got married. After that, it hasn't been easy to elicit a "yes" from her for anything. But it has been a wonderful journey. And the best, I believe, is yet to come. My heart still does a somersault every time I see her, and for a good reason-- she gets prettier & more elegant every day! Now enough sucking up, as my dear friends would say!

I've learnt a lot from her over the years. Patience, tolerance, exuberance, selflessness, straight talk..... and also, colors. Colors? You all know how men are with colors. Before I met her, I always thought Turquoise was a certain species in the Tortoise family, and Lavender was something edible like Coriander! And the concept of time in a woman's mind is amazing. When I'm waiting for her to get ready if we are going out somewhere, her answer-- "I've been telling you for the last half-an-hour that I'll be ready in 5 minutes" makes complete sense to me now. Time stands still for ladies when they are in front of the mirror, before heading out for the evening.

Over this expanse of time, life has treated us well for the most part. We've been scared on occasion, hurt on others, seen some tough times..... From her, I've learnt that no matter what the circumstances, with each other & 2 wonderful children, a caring family and some true friends, we are and always will be, wealthy beyond imagination.

I play lotto sometimes, but never with hope of winning the jackpot. Because you can win the jackpot only once in a lifetime, and I won mine 22 years ago.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rediscovering our Core Values....

We all read about and saw the amazing feat of a pilot landing a huge plane on the Hudson, ensuring safety of all the passengers and crew. The pilot of the plane was Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, now popularly known as the "Humble Hero of Hudson." Humble, because that's the way he has been so far. At a recent felicitation in his honor, he spoke for all of 26 seconds and his concluding line was that he "and the crew were just doing the job that they were trained to do."

US airways covered all medical expenses, sent a letter of apology to all passengers and a check for $5000.00 per passenger. A recent news item bothered me and resulted in this post. Some passengers wanted more money, or they would file a lawsuit against the airlines and the pilot!! I couldn't believe it at first, but it is true.

The accident was not due to negligence and was in no way foreseeable. It was just an accident, pure and simple. So why are some people trying to make a payday out of it, rather than just thanking God and the crew for being alive today? That's where our core values come in. Decency, honesty, sincerity, faith, courtesy, trust, standing up for what's right- no matter the circumstances.........

I think just the refund of the ticket would have been enough, but $5000.00 per passenger was a good gesture by the airlines. Asking for more money is being very........ I really can't think of the right printable word, maybe you all can fill in the blank for me! Those who are asking for more money are focusing on a petty gain and in doing so, are missing out on the bigger picture-- that they are alive! I hope better sense prevails eventually.

A lot of times we get embroiled in little controversies that consume us and suppress our core values. These little bumps on this journey of life seem like mountains. All we need to do is look around them, at the road ahead, which is full of promise and potential. Life has so much to offer and the possibilities are endless.

Each of us has our own set of personal values; these are the things which we believe are important, which motivate us and to which we give priority. Our friends might have similar values, but generally are never exactly the same. Everybody has a right to have their own set of priorities. But don't you think it would be great if we all moved away from the culture of "1-800-sue-everybody?"