Lagaan

For the Bollywood challenged, Lagaan is tax. And I am not talking about Income tax, for tax can be on anything under the Sun. But even then, I was not prepared for this.

New Zealand, a heaven on earth, is known for its dairy farming, agriculture and wool. Since these dominate their exports too, huge percentage of its people are into these businesses. Which means, after humans, cows and sheep make up a majority of the country’s fauna.

The people had slumbered into a state of bliss when the government decided to shake things up. Due to the millions of cows and sheep across the countryside, they naturally release tons of greenhouse gases. These need to be controlled to slow down the warming of earth’s surface.

So the government decided to tax the burps and farts of the cattle. Imagine! There’s a serious meeting going on in the highest echelons of power when suddenly someone burps or someone farts on the job, and Eureka! Let’s tax those, says someone. And a law gets passed.

The people were pissed. However they were told to charge more for climate-friendly products, whichever they are. Cheers to that they said and gorged on climate-unfriendly food and burped away to glory.

However, the global consumers of New Zealand’s climate-friendly dairy products were not amused. In India the consumers protested. Indians are known to be creative in everything they do. It was not different this time.

They threw a big party for their own formidable cattle force and a gigantic feast was arranged. They were fed the most gas inducing nuts in addition to the usual hay. And the result was a symphony of earth shuddering burps and farts which shook the neighbourhood and resulted in an Ozone hole overhead.

However, some enterprising Indians are now exporting cattle fart depressors to New Zealand and are laughing all the way to the bank.

Yatindra Tawde

Image courtesy unsplash.com and Leopold Maitre

Naal – A Movie review (Marathi movie)

 

Readers would wonder, ‘Why a review now for a movie which released in 2018?’

 

Well, I saw the movie now, in 2022 and was totally sucked into the life of the protagonist, a small boy living a laid back village life with his family and friends.

What I loved about the movie is that there are no over the top performances and neither are there melodramatic scenes. Everything is portrayed so naturally and sensitively, the viewer in me felt and lived the innocent life of the small boy once again.

The Director, Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti skillfully manages to capture the entire film from the point of view of the child, never once straying into a parallel storyline. No wonder, the Director was honoured with the Indira Gandhi award for the best debut film for a Director. His vision is apparent right from the first frame, selecting an authentic setting for the film in the heart of rural Maharashtra.

He is no doubt helped by the acting prowess of Nagraj Manjule and Devika Daftardar, who play the important roles as parents of the protagonist.

And what can one say about the child actor, Shreenivas Pokale, a precocious 8 year old child who manages to suck the viewer into his world, transporting you back to your own childhood of innocent memories. A deserving winner of National film award for the best child artist, Shreenivas Pokale makes you laugh and cry in equal measures, at his childish, naughty antics and his innocent struggles when he inadvertently comes to know a hidden truth about himself.

While his interactions with his friends are what all childhoods are about, it is his relationship with his mother and grandmother, which are truly heartwarming. I haven’t seen such a sensitive portrayal before from one so young as the soul of the whole film rests on his tiny shoulders.

Those who love cinema have no right to miss this masterpiece of an experience.

 

Yatindra Tawde

 

 

The Cheetahs from Africa

Whatever their fate in their new land, the 8 cheetahs from Africa have already made history, being the first Cheetahs to fly. Well, they have been recorded to run at an amazing speed of 98 km/hr but they had to fly from Namibia to India for their Indian sojourn. A special jet was hired to bring these special guests to India followed by a helicopter ride to Kuno National Park, where they were released in a specially designed enclosure. Now they will begin a life of being acclimatized to Indian prey and forest conditions.


It’s their good fortune that hunting has been banned in India since 1972. Otherwise the ex-Royalty of India or the neo-royals would have made their life a formidable struggle.


Settling in new lands is a challenge in itself, hopefully they would find sufficient prey in the National Park. And poachers would be on the prowl too. I am not aware whether any highways pass through the national park otherwise there would have been an added hazard. Not to mention, they would also have to compete with their cousins, the leopards for their prey and their habitat.


And when they start sprinting, I hope the area of the national park doesn’t fall short to break them into a trot.

People line up in Mumbai to gawk at the penguins. A similar line would have been seen at Kuno to ogle at the new arrivals but for the cool off time given to them to first settle down.


Yatindra Tawde

Thanks to @pumplekin for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 

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Book review – The Serpents of Kanakapuram

Book Title – The Serpents of Kanakapuram

Author – Sudeepa Nair

Publisher – Notion Press

The story takes place mostly in and around a laid back countryside and the author chooses to start with laid-back narration in first person. Thus the story unfolds at the pace of the opening  of rose petals, and as a reader, I was not sure how it would proceed.

Since the story is set in God’s Own Country,  Kerala, and the author being blessed with great vocabulary, I could visualize the natural beauty and nature’s fury in the opening chapter.

The introduction of the main characters takes its own sweet time but once an element of mystery is introduced, I was hooked. If the reader is not expecting a thriller, she would love how the mystery unfolds with some twists and turns.

However I felt that the ending was rushed. All in all, a good read from Sudeepa Nair. Yatindra Tawde

A book review- A Second Cup of Tea

Book Title – A Second Cup of Tea

Author – Various

Publisher – The  Hive

A second cup of tea by The Hive Publishers is a fantastic offering of a variety of stories, ranging from rib-tickling humour to feel-good tales to stories which would bring happy tears to the reader’s eye and tug at the heartstrings.

Talking of humour which happens to be my favourite genre, The Cupidian Catastrophe by Pallavi Sawant-Uttekar occupies the numerous uno position. I loved it.  I admire the way the story is written, neither going over-the-top nor crossing the boundaries of below-the-belt humour but still managing to make me guffaw loudly.

Nothing Fishy about it by Narayani Manapadam is rocking hilarious. Not for nothing am I a die-hard fan of this amazing author. A love story set in a Bengalee social setting of a docile son and his overbearing Maa and rounded off with a beautiful suitor, the author weaves her magic to make it a breezy read.

Another humorous offering which caught my attention and made me grin like a cheshire cat while reading, was The Chronicle of Concurrent Anniversaries by Dakshata Kudanekar. This story finds humour in the most mundane domestic tasks which got amplified during the work from home Covid times. Of course, another reason for liking it, is that the writing is very similar to the style of yours truly.

Never Alone by Khushboo Shah is a delightful story where the humble cutlery comes alive to narrate a charming tale of a lonely widow and conspire to banish her loneliness.

I happened to glance at the name, ‘Hampi’ in one of the stories and was intrigued. Hampi is one of my most favourite places in India so I started reading the story with extra interest. Roots among the Rocks by Srivalli Rekha is a sublime story of seeking and finding one’s roots.

The Second Anniversary by Nepomanjaree and the Second Proposal by Gowri Bhargav touched me with their effortless narration and pathos.

Which brings me to GAR! Chu Yatee! By Shweta Mathur Lall. Such a beautiful story of old friends rendered apart by suspicion and mistrust during the most unfortunate and sad episode of Indian history.

Rama’s Choice by Ramanjaneya Sharaph and The Nightingale of the Round Table by Luisa Kay Reyes  spin an alternate narrative of historical tales with aplomb and one must appreciate the authors for attempting them.

These and the other charming stories make A Second Cup of Tea a must read and I found this Second round of Tea an upgrade over the previous Tea with a drop of Honey.

Yatindra Tawde

 

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The Exports

The country is known for its Exports; the export of its talented human resources. Most of the Top 50 Organizations are headed by Indians. That certainly makes you feel proud.

Then there are some other exports who make a name for themselves by some other means, not always on the better side of law.

Riding a car on the wrong side of the road! Isn’t this an euphemism for breaking laws? Well an Indian lady did just that on the distant roads of England.

England.

A country, which over the years, has seen unprecedented influx of immigrants from its ex-colonies, especially from the Indian subcontinent. They move to a western country in the hope of making a better future for themselves.

While a few take the route of higher education followed by a good job to settle in a new country, a big number are from the labour class.

While most from the Indian subcontinent are comfortable with the English language due to a more than 150 year legacy, there are quite a few who struggle with the A, B, C’s of it.

But they don’t let this small inconvenience be a setback to their dreams. They work hard towards making a better life for themselves and one of the signs of progress is buying a car to move around the new country.

This is when their struggles start.

To begin with, their authorities are stricter during the actual test. But the theory test is no walkover either. Those English examiners can be quite intimidating while asking questions, and especially the accent can be confusing if your language skills are so-so.

Here’s where the lady saw an opportunity for herself .

She happened to be a good driver and possessed good language skills, backed by confidence. She made her move.

By the time she had been caught red-handed, she had more than a century of driving tests, both theoretical and practical, to her discredit. While it is alleged that impersonation is a common offense at quite a few Indian RTO’s, it was a new experience for the English. Hence she made the front page in their newspapers.

While she was driving away to glory, she managed to make a cool crore for herself. But now she will cool her hard working heels inside an English lockup.

 

Yatindra Tawde

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 minute noodles…a recipe for divorce

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so goes an old saying. After the first flush of love…nay, after the first lust of love is over, what remains is how a couple look after their roost. While the man is expected to master the intricacies of shopping and help about at home, he expects his wife to look after their children as well as the child in him. Cooking delicious meals for the family is a part of the essential skills which a woman should possess. Of course, nowadays she is also expected to add to the family coffers by going out to work. That’s why women are the goddesses of multitasking.  But that is subject for another writeup.

A man married a suitable girl. She was a complete package, pleasant looks and good education. But what clinched the deal for him was the added information shared by his would-be father-in-law that she was a fast cook; that she could conjure up tasty meals within 2 minutes. Since he was a busy person he was impressed, now that he wouldn’t have to wait for the meals to be prepared.

On their first day together, after a night of frolicking under the sheets, she prepared the first meal, a breakfast in literally 2 minutes. A bowl of noodles! Being totally satiated in the night the man indulged his wife, thinking that she must be tired due to their antics. Then the fun began. A bowl of noodles followed for lunch and rounded off with yet another bowl of noodles for dinner.  And then the cycle continued every day.

Once the passion of early married life evaporated, the man was finally struck by realization. His wife was a one-trick pony. The secret of 2 minute meals was noodles and that’s all that she could prepare  to feed him.

Since she could no longer find a way to his heart through his stomach, he made his decision. He filed for a divorce. To his surprise and relief, the judge too believed in 2 minutes justice and the divorce was granted in a jiffy.

Last heard, the man is looking for a new wife and his only condition is for her to be a great cook serving a variety to the satisfaction of his culinary tastes.

Yatindra Tawde

 

They came, they saw…they burped

They arrived at the boundary.

This was the same area where their forefathers had frolicked through the wild foliage.

Now they saw nothing but a tall structure with small openings which the current dwellers referred to as windows and galleries. The couple was used to seeing the current dwellers, though similar in appearance but having colourful skins, in the pond premises nearby. The current dwellers were curious about them and fed them random food. And the couple and their friends welcomed these colourful dwellers due to easy availability of food.

However the couple was most curious about the tall structures and dreamed of raiding them.

Thus today they were at the boundary where they faced their first hurdle. Upon reaching the boundary 3-4 ferociously barking dogs welcomed them with a cacophonic chorus. But the couple wasn’t afraid for they had full confidence in their own gymnastic abilities. For, in no time, they had crossed their first hurdle, though it was hurtful to their ears.

The next hurdle was some tall dweller in drab skin, carrying a long stick. They teased him by flicking the cap over his head and then showing him their behind. As he ran behind them, the pipes on the tall structure came to their rescue and soon they had climbed to the fifth floor. For a brief while, they let their legs and tail dangle over the parapet and enjoyed the view of the pond, from that height. They had reached so high for the first time in their lives and one of them started having a vertigo induced swoon. He tried to grab hold of something and in his haste, managed to push a window open. That made his partner curious about the inside of the dwelling and he jumped up to look into the window.

He gestured his partner to come and have a look and both of them were itching to enter inside. This went on for a few moments when they looked inside and glanced at each other and then again looked inside.

When, for a longest time they saw no movement, one of them jumped inside with the other quickly following behind.

Their sharp nose and eager eyes darting across the room, quickly espied…FOOD!

MANGOES!

For the next few moments all hell broke loose as a lot of mangoes were consumed in a wild frenzy, the skin ripped off violently.

Soon they got tired of the dark, stuffy surrounding inside and made their way out of the same window, feeling the air flowing through their fur. They occupied their favourite space on the parapet and…burped.

Friends, that’s what happens when you live close to a wood. You never know which one of your wilderness friends would pay you an unwanted visit. It can be your tree dwelling cousins like the ones in the above story, sometimes it’s the turn of slithering serpents and rarely the graceful cats come looking for street dogs.

The human species experiences such hair-rasing events all across the world with the boundaries getting blurred on an increasing basis.

Yatindra Tawde

A cultured job

The quartet reached the planned destination for the night. While they were fully prepared with all the paraphernalia required for the job, they had also readied the other equally important kit.

Two of them stood on the road, facing in opposite directions. They were the lookouts, whose job was to warn of any upcoming dangers, while the other two took out the lock cutter. With a mighty heave the lock was broken and no one had seen them do it. Taking that as a sign of good luck, they thanked themselves on thinking about the Almighty before embarking on a new task. Surely, He was the one who had manipulated the stars in their favour.

The shutter was opened and with a quick glance in all directions, all four rushed inside, pulling the shutter down behind them. Sitting down with their heads bowed, they uttered a quick prayer. One of them reached into the rucksack they had brought and out came a photograph of a deity which was placed on a desk, with great reverence. Then, out came a spear, a lock cutter, keys, and assortment of other equipment. These were placed before the deity’s photo. Then another reached into his pockets and out came agarbatti, matchsticks, etc. The agarbatti was tucked into the holder, the dhoop was lighted and they started praying in unison. After applying tikka on each other’s forehead, they prostrated themselves in front of the deity.

Once the blessings were taken, they finally got down to do the job at hand.

The next morning, the owner of the financial institution bent down to open the shutters, he got the shock of his life. For, the locks outside were broken. Upon going inside he found the lockers open and gold and cash was gone. In front of the lockers a moustachioed deity smiled back at him from a photo. A spear kept on a desk pointed at him menacingly. A paper lay on the desk. “Don’t try to find me. It won’t be good”, it said. With shaking, sweating palms,  the owner reached for the telephone. “Hello, Police”.

Friends, this isn’t my imagination working on overdrive. It happens only in India, where before commencing any work, we bow before the Almighty. It seems, the robbers were very culturally informed, if not anything else. Last known, they are yet to be traced.

Yatindra Tawde

Valuable Coins

I come from an era when 5 paisa coins used to fetch a few candies in my childhood. Coins ranging from 1 paisa to Rs. 1 were always lying in a small purse in the Godrej cupboard. Come the 90’s and coins upto 25 paise started disappearing from circulation. 50 paise coins met the same fate in 2000’s. Come 2022 and there are all indications that the time is up for 1 rupee coins. How wrong I was.

State of Tamil Nadu. City Salem.

A van drives into the compound of a high end bike showroom. A man gets off the van and enters the showroom. He meets the salesman and selects his dream bike. A bank agent stationed in the showroom approaches our man, offering a loan. Our man brushes him off, saying that he would buy the bike with his hard earned cash in one go. The happy salesman guides our man to the cash counter. Our man makes his offer. The cashier’s jaw drops to the floor. So does the salesman’s.
No way, they say.
It’s my way or the highway says our man.
The Manager has a word with our man. Then he relents. For the first time since he came into the showroom, our man smiles. He shouts for his friends. The friends get down from the van; one opens the van door. A wheelbarrow comes out. Two other friends start loading it. With 1 rupee coins. There are thousands, nay, lacs of coins and they are unending. Finally the van is emptied.
The store Manager is sweating. He deputes one cashier…then another. Then he requests our man and his friends to help. They oblige. That way, our man is quite considerate.
Thus, our man made news with his unique purchase and made a viral YouTube video as an added bonus.

Yatindra Tawde