Wednesday, September 16, 2015

That 90's Show

Back when I still hadn't touched double digits, in the midst of summer vacations, Dad would ask during breakfast, "What are your plans for the day?" (He still does that when I go back home, if I manage to wake up in time for breakfast). Those were the days when there was no  Facebook to while your time away, or Buzzfeed to tell you the ten most awesome anything - you had to keep yourself busy.  If we didn't have something constructive to do that day, Dad would give us a small assignment of sorts - to either write an essay on that trip we just had, or review a book that we read during the summer, or maybe translate a story in another language. I miss those days, when my parents would ask me about that article that I had started, and I couldn't justify its incomplete state using the excuses of "work" or "lack of inspiration". In such a scenario, there won't have been a hiatus of four months between two blog posts of mine, but then I am "grown up" now, and only existential crisis can force me into action.

What prompted me to write again was something that happened today. I am sitting in a cab, cursing at the traffic, feeling guilty for running late yet again, getting annoyed at the radio advertisements, when suddenly the song "Dard Karara" is played on the radio, and now I am smiling, and nodding my head rhythmically. In a different version of the same incident, I was looking at my code in frustration, when "ye raat aur ye doori" came up on my playlist, and I started shrugging my shoulders like Aamir Khan from Andaz Apna Apna. These 90's songs seem to work like a switch, and it made me wonder why.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of songs from that era, and I am not alone. The songs from the Bollywood of the 90s are usually not very deep in meaning, have a tune that is typically desi, and have low production value. Yet there are so many like me, for whom the first rain song that comes to mind is "Tip tip barsa pani", who know the complete lyrics of "Tan tana tan, tan tan tara" and who dance with such joy on "One two ka four" that no "Bang bang" could muster. They are the ones who remember more cheeky songs of Govinda than names of rock bands, and who can watch videos of Madhuri Dixit for hours.

Of course, there are some who judge the likes of us for this affinity to 90s music. There are three categories of such people. One includes people who pretend to be cool, but in their hearts, they are like us. I remember an incident where six of us, of different levels of coolness, were traveling in a cab. As is the unspoken rule for all cabs in India, only 90s music was being played in it. We were all cribbing about the quality of the songs when a more popular number came up. Two lines into the song, almost every one of us was humming the song or mouthing the words.

Then there is the group of people who will question one’s taste in music. It is difficult to make them understand that one’s love for the 90s music and appreciation for Pink Floyd/Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are not mutually exclusive. And that we understand the depth in Gulzar's songs as much as we love the lyrics of “Main to raste se ja raha tha”. As an article I read had rightly pointed out, people who rejoice at such songs do so for the humor, improbability and nostalgia associated with them, and not for the songs themselves.

And then there is the kind who will not roll their eyes when you sing those songs or think that you are intellectually challenged, but would urge you to explore better music. They don’t like the 90s music, period, and that’s a reasonable position to take.

So why do people like such songs despite knowing that the songs are not high on quality? I can’t say for others, but at least for the generation born in the 90s, the fondness for such music stems from it being a big part of our childhood. Most of my peers were born in the 90s, and probably the first song they ever sang was an Anu Malik number. I still have relatives who remember me by my lisping rendition of “Ye kaali kaali aankhein”, and I am sure it would be true for most of my friends.

It was also the age of innocence. Little did we know that “Sarkay lo khatiya” and “Dhak dhak karne laga” and “Husn hai suhana” and “Hothon pe bas tera naam hai” were supposed to be erotic songs. For us, they were just dance numbers or romantic songs, but watching or listening to them now opens one’s eyes to the actual context and intention behind the songs. We started liking these songs even before we could critique the taste in which they were directed, or before we could identify sexism in them.

The actors of that era also played a major role in driving our attention to those songs. Irrespective of the plot of the movie to which the song belonged, it always highlighted the idiosyncrasies of the stars involved. Whether it is Govinda’s fashion sense in “Tu mera hero no.1” or Madhuri’s moves in “Ankhiyan milaun”, Salman’s shirtless avtar in “O o jaane jana” or Juhi’s childlike charm in “Yun hi kat jaega safar, Akshay Kumar’s lover boy in “Chura ke dil mera” or Shah Rukh’s dimpled smile from “Badi mushkil hai, khoya mera dil hai”, the way these songs were directed played on the strengths and the USPs of these actors, and contributed significantly in making them the icons they are now.

The game of Antakshari always takes you back to the 90s or earlier. Mostly, because it is too damn difficult to remember the lyrics of songs these days. Have you ever heard an antakshari game start with “Munni badnaam hui” instead of “mayi ni mayi” or “mere khwaabon mein jo aaye”? The songs were simple enough to remember and short enough to continue the game forward. Imagine singing “Badtameez dil..”. It would go “Naak mein nageena dekha, paan ka pudina dekha,… abba dabba chabba” (see what I did there?). I don’t remember having to look up the lyrics of the songs from that era, but now I have to, because I don’t understand why people are praising Banno’s sweater. It’s “swagger”, what used to be “jalwa”.

That being said, the 90s gave us some beautiful songs too, besides the aflatoon ones. “Arey re arey ye kya hua”, “Aankhon ki gustakhiyan”, “Chhoti si asha”, “Dhol bajne laga”, “Chura lo na dil mera”, “Tanha tanha yahaan pe jeena”, “Sandese aate hain”, “Urvashi urvashi”, “Jo haal dil ka, idhar ho raha hai” all belong to the same period as “Unchi hai building”. We also have some classy item songs from the time. While “Saat samundar paar” is what people remember, “Tu cheez badi hai mast mast” and “Chhaiyaan chhaiyaan” are also from the same period, and no “Baby ka birthday bash” can inspire the same zeal and fervor.

So Honey Singh can remake “Dheere dheere” or John Abraham can have a sexed up version of “Na jaane kahaan se aayi hai”, but they won’t find a place in my playlist unless they have the same earnestness or innocent naughtiness that was typical of the 90s, the era I grew up in. It was an era when we, like the music, were not judged or questioned, and while we are happy to have moved on from the period, it’s memories continue to rejuvenate us time and again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Good, The Bad and The Choice

I often wonder what it would feel like to be a celebrity -  to know that any act, small or big, in your personal life can spark debates on TV channels and hashtags on social media, to know that there are millions of people who try to emulate you, and who are willing to lay down their life for you. What actually makes it overwhelming is the fact that these millions don't know you personally, and you haven't met, heard or seen anyone of them (at lease consciously). It is power of its own kind, and I can imagine it is easy to be drunk with this power. Today's blog is about one such celebrity, who hogged the limelight and headlines last week. Pretty obvious, the Bhai of Bollywood.

Let me clarify at the outset that this blog is not a reaction to Bombay High Court's suspension of Salman's sentence in the Hit-and-Run case, and neither is this a character assassination of Salman Khan. A lot has already been written and I really don't care if he is an angel from heaven or devil incarnate, he still makes terrible movies. This blog is slightly inspired by the plethora of reactions generated by #SalmanVerdict and the utter pointlessness of them.

First off, my response to his ardent fans : Refer to my first paragraph, and realize that since you don't know him personally, any attempt to defend him, that is not supported by hard facts, is illogical. Sure, he might be big on charities, but you really don't know where the proceeds for that charity come from. And if he is so generous of heart, he doesn't need to publicize it (remember the saying : Neki kar dariya mein daal). And true, the story of how he adopted a young girl from the streets and raised her well and gave her a big bang wedding is moving, it still doesn't compensate for taking somebody else's life due to sheer irresponsibility. Oh, and for those who say that him entertaining and inspiring so many people with his films is charity in itself (yes, this argument was made - I am glad we don't have a jury system), it would have made sense if he hadn't been paid for it. And the "Tere Naam" hairstyle is probably the worst thing he ever inflicted on the masses, in my humble opinion.

Now, my take on the reactions from his Bollywood buddies: I kind of get it, you know. Think about it yourself, you know someone, you work with them, share a good rapport with them, and then they get caught for doing something illegal, you don't start hating them altogether, and don't rejoice at them being caught, at least not openly. You either stand by them, or reserve your comments (a luxury most Bolly celebs don't avail). It's just human nature. And let's not forget that Salman is one of the most powerful people in Bollywood. A lot of the young actors who supported him on social media owe their filmy career to him. He has been responsible for the careers of a certain Superman, a certain Fukra, a certain Shona, and also the career (or lack thereof) of a certain ex-boyfriend of a certain ex-girlfriend. So they are not going to point a finger at him. Probably the only young celeb who kind of hinted that he may have been in the wrong, is the daughter of a Bollywood veteran known to speak his mind, and so she has strong backing of her own and can say it. We'll see what she says if a celebrated director-cum-showhost gets in trouble. The reactions of these celebs are results of the relationships in Bollywood, and one can't really judge them.

The reactions that you CAN judge, are by a popular singer and a socialite. They suggested that the poor people who got harmed by Salman's car should not have slept on the footpath. And this is the point where the actual issue at hand comes up: CHOICE. Those people injured and killed by Salman's car did not have any other choice but sleep at the footpath. Had they had one, I am pretty sure they won't have slept there. Salman, on the other hand, had the choice to 1. Not drive when he is that drunk, 2. Not run away from his blunder.

You see, this case is not about whether Salman is a good guy or a bad guy. The case is about the choices he made, and their consequences - for the poor chap who died on the street under his car, and for the rich spoiled brat who was driving it. This case is about driving under influence, and hitting and running. A wealthy man like himself could have called a driver (it may not have been as thrilling as driving when you have the rush of alcohol, but it won't have cost someone their life). Even if he did what the Court says he did, he could have taken that man to the hospital, or at least not let his poor driver take the blame some thirteen years later. Life would have been easier for him that way, not that it is too difficult now. Sure, Salman must have transformed from the drunk, animal hunting, girlfriend beating brat he allegedly was, to a man with the heart of gold - but the choices he made stick, with him and with the people he hurt. And everyone should face the music. Whether or not the system delivers is a different story altogether. 

My last word is to all those responsible citizens of the country who rejoiced when he was convicted and were appalled when he got the bail: Don't make the same mistakes he made. Otherwise you lose the right to self-righteousness. Next time you go to a pub, and have had a little too much to drink, make the right choice and call a cab. Don't drink and drive. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Plan. Procrastinate. Sleep. Repeat. (Not.)

After what I call a mild success of this blog last year (read as a decent number of likes for my posts), I set a resolution for myself - to publish at least twenty-four posts this year, ideally two per month. It was a SMART (specific, measured, achievable, relevant and timed) goal, yet as you can clearly see from the archive at the right hand side of this page, I am not even close to my target. For a good month and a half, I attributed this failing streak to having a writer's block. After all, how can I write about just any random thing? Isn't there something called inspiration? On closer inspection, though, I realized that the root cause was procrastination. (I just realized how much of my vocabulary has become corporate style.)

It wasn't that I didn't have topics to write on. In fact, for some of them, I had even thought of openings and closings. But by the time I would get around to actually writing the blog, the issue would become stale. It's not like I didn't try. I carved out a big chunk of time on the weekends for blogging, but then "how was I supposed to know that I'd be sleeping all day long after the "impromptu" party I had the night before, or that it would take that long to find the dress that I was looking for. And to be fair, my goal was 24 posts this year, no matter what intervals they come in." Of course, all these excuses reeked of a bigger problem called procrastination. It wasn't just blogging that was a victim of this inertia to do things. There was exercise, keeping track of my expenses, reading a book. Basically, every resolution I made this year.

As I thought more about it, I noticed that planning and procrastinating form a very tricky and vicious cycle. Take for example my previous post. I had planned to finally publish a post by the date I actually published it on. Having already dilly-dallyed doing so for a month, I was determined to write at least something by the target date, and so I stayed up late to finish the task. This basically meant that I wasn't able to wake up early enough for my morning jog, which was also a big part of my resolutions. If I did so, I would have been tired all day long the next day, making multiple visits to the coffee machine. Of course, I wouldn't have been able to complete my work goals, and would have had to work over-time. Which meant that I would have gotten back late from office and either done half-asleep what I had perhaps too ambitiously planned for the next day (and repeat the cycle), or slept on it and not done it (which is what happened).

One would say that I could have planned more properly. But keeping fewer tasks per week had a greater chance, and supporting data from the past, of not getting anything done at all. All this contemplation was just about to put me in panic mode when I decided to check if something similar was happening to my friends.

Thankfully, almost all of them were going through another version of the same problem. Impromptu dinners, production issues, distance of gym from home were other contributing factors for their inertia. So I decided to find out a solution to this problem, with the help of, you guessed it, Google Baba. 

The wiki-how page instructed to make lists of tasks to be done, and breaking it into smaller pieces of work, and then doing them. Which basically means doing more work to get your task done. In all my struggle as a procrastinator, I have found lists and plans and sub-task division as one of the best ways of actually procrastinating. Some other page advised one to just not procrastinate. Really? The fact that I reached the page means that I know I don't have to. It is like telling an furious person to not be angry. The person is surely not in the frame of mind to make that decision instantly, they have to be taken through small gestures to that state. So, is there no solution to getting around it?

Fortunately, there is. And one that I have tried myself. It is called structured procrastination. It basically goes like this: You know you will buy that book you had an eye on instead of booking your flight tickets till the fares really really shoot up. You also know that you will end up at McDonalds meeting an old friend even though you were going only for grocery shopping. So why not add them to your list of To-Do items? Just make a list of all important stuff that you have to do along with stuff that you will do to avoid doing the important stuff. And then cross them off when you do them. Soon you will be left with only the important, and now urgent, things to do, and you will do them because that's how procrastinators work. In my experience, it has proved to be easier than it sounds. It also drives up satisfaction levels. 

It is essentially a win-win situation, wherein you put off doing something but still end up doing a lot of useful things. So embrace the procrastinator in you, and maybe trick them a little. And I'll be doing the same. From tomorrow.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

8 Concepts of Everyday Sexism

The past week was that time of the year when five-star hotels and conference centers were booked by corporate houses and government organizations all over the world to hold award ceremonies, panel discussions, speaker series and networking luncheons to mark International Women's Day. Women all over shared their stories of success and failures, stories of their growth as well as hardships. They participated in fun activities, games and mentoring sessions, while some of their male colleagues cribbed about how they were not entitled to the lavish lunch.

Being a woman is both unnerving and fun. Everyone knows why it can be distressing at times. There is nature's gift of a taxing physiology, there is the patriarchal nature of society. There are the various forms of violence that men have tried to inflict upon us, and the constant lurking fear that we could be the next victim. There are also societal expectations women are supposed to fulfill failing which they may be called names. And of course, in many places, unequal returns for equal work. 

That being said, there are many aspects of being a woman that most women love. Women, in general, are more expressive and they really value this quality. Unlike men, they usually are constantly thinking about something or the other, and while it may sometimes lead to disastrous consequences, they love to observe their train of thoughts. Their instinctive and expressive nature allows them to connect more deeply with both men and women. Plus, they can nag you and get away with it. Also, a much wider range of clothes and accessories to choose from.

As the celebrations of Women's Day recede, I would like to share the 8 things I wish happen to reduce sexism. Of course, it goes without saying that I want women to be treated with respect and dignity, that there is a shift in mentality for the society, that there is a stop to sexual exploitation and acid attacks, that marital rapes get included in the list of sex crimes, and that my parents aren't faced with sleepless nights if I stay out till late or am traveling. The things I want are much simpler to achieve, they make sense for both men and women, and you and I can make them happen.

1. Fairly Lovely

How can a fairness cream make you realize that you need to get a perfect job and your own house to marry a well-settled guy? Yes, I am talking about our country's crazy obsession with skin tone. It is surprising that over all these years, the number of brands that bring out fairness creams for women, and fairly recently (see what I did there) also for men, has just increased. Sure, confidence and presentability matter when it comes to a job interview or a prospective spouse, but what value does being gora add? As one ad featuring Arjun Rampal goes, we are people, not walls that we carry a shade card with us.

2. The Pink Claim

Speaking of colors, it intrigues me as to what led to the notion that PINK is a woman's color. Why is it that all girls and women are somehow expected to like pink? Consider how many of the images in an image search for Women's Day have a pink theme! And to think of it, this convention hurts men more than it affects women. Why is it that there is an inherent shock value when a guy wears pink? I know a couple of guys who carry it off better than I do, so why should the color be restricted to one specific gender? Some men deliberately avoid buying things in pink, even inconsequential objects like a toothbrush or a stapler. And let us admit it, at some point or the other, all of us have mocked a friend for using a pink object. It makes no sense that a particular gender claims a color for itself. Let us try to remember that all colors are for everyone, and keep that in mind in our conversations.

3. The Other Rights

A subplot in a recent movie showed an activist asking a man to officially forgive the murderer of his wife and child. I know many such mercy appeals take place daily. Another video, which went viral last week, gave a remorseless convict for a horrific rape a platform to air his views on women, and justification for his acts. I also read an article which attempted to garner sympathy for a rapist by highlighting the poverty in which he was brought up. The misery of this man was given more attention than the misery of the woman he raped. I do believe that all criminals have a right to a good defense, a fair trial, and in cases of a death sentence, a proper protocol to be followed for execution and not vigilante justice, like the one that happened recently. I also agree that we need to acknowledge and do something about the conditions in which such criminals breed. And by all means, our activists should support their families though this, so that another criminal is not made. But that is where it should stop. There is much talk about the rights of these murderers, terrorists and rapists, but what about the rights of those people who were minding their own business, for whom it was just another day when their lives turned course, whose families were destroyed by these very perpetrators? Such felons, who ditched their last shred of humanity when committing those acts, deserve neither our sympathy, nor media attention. A society's attitude towards rapists and murderers can also act as a deterrent, and we need to be firm about it.

4. Educate Them All

The one thing that India needs more than anything else is sex education. Contrary to what many people believe, it would act more as a damper to promiscuity than as a promoter of it. Fewer people would want to indulge in something that could lead to a distressing pregnancy or a life-threatening infectious disease. And even if they want to, at least they would do it right. The benefits of sex education are much greater, though. It also entails understanding one's own anatomy, and that of the opposite sex, I can't stress enough on everyone knowing about menstruation. All of this would lead to a better understanding of the opposite gender. It would also help eliminate the taboo associated with menstruation and infertility, and also help family planning initiatives. A proper education is a much better alternative for the society as compared to people learning about it from porn and internet websites.

5. Ladies' Nights

As much as it doesn't make sense to the miser in me, the feminist in me thinks that Ladies' Nights are one of the more sexist things that we have come up with. So is the concept of free and unrestricted entry to girls and exorbitant rates for guys in a lot of pubs. Free booze or entry for girls means more girls will come to your pub and drink a lot more than usual, and more guys will follow them, without hesitating to pay. Of course, I do like it when I don't have to shell out 2 grands to have a fun night. And to be fair, it is just a well-thought out and successful marketing ploy that exploits natural human behavior that stems from an evolutionary principle. But there is a very strong hint of objectification here. Especially when a lot of men who visit a pub on Ladies' Nights make up their own notions of the availability of the females present, or when random guys approach random girls outside such pubs to pair up and avail free couples entry. I can't say if this tradition is harmful, but it definitely is unnecessary. Maybe my argument would make more sense if you think about the concept of a Gentlemen's Night.

6. No Man's Land

I am talking about a land which most men seem to want to avoid. It is the Friend-Zone. From the various definitions I have come across, it seems to be a place guys are in when a girl who is their friend does not see them as anything more than a friend, but they can't help being her friend. Think about it. And someone please tell me, what is wrong with it? Now if you are one of those blokes who are crushing on a girl, who takes advantage of your feelings to make you do things expected from a boyfriend, without reciprocating your actions or your feelings, like what happened to that fellow in Pyaar ka Punchnama, then she probably doesn't see you as a friend at all. If you are one of those who have been rejected by a girl, but she is insisting that you don't stop being her friend, and it hurts you being with her but you'll still be her friend, then my friend (see what I did there), it's time to toughen up but stop blaming her. And you definitely can't blame her if she hasn't read your mind and understood any romantic feelings you have for her. But if you're friends with a nice girl who wants to be friends with you, it doesn't seem to be a bad place at all. And if there is no romantic angle involved, then one should be proud to be in the friend-zone. The logic of friend-zone is just very very twisted, and hence the concept should just be done away with.

7. So Pissed

A major pain point in our country is the lack of toilets in public places and highways. We need to have more toilets built, not just for women but also for men. While it definitely is a hassle for women to exercise control, while urging their drivers to rush, or stop at shady dhabas, seeing men take a leak just about anywhere is a more cringe-worthy thing. Imagine you are walking in bright sunlight and go and stand below a shady tree, only to find out that a man was pissing behind its trunk. While some men do their business unabashedly, without a hint of embarrassment, it always becomes very awkward for women. Maybe it is because the onus of dignity is always placed on the woman in our society, even though in this case, it is the man who is in an undignified position. And more than anything else, it is extremely unhygienic.

8. No More Twirls

My last point is about high-profile and glamorous sexism. Have you ever seen an actor being cast in a movie in a small, meaningless role inconsequential to the storyline, just for being an eye candy? The media industry across the world is often very sexist, inspite of claims of being on a higher moral ground. We are all aware of the controversy about a leading Indian daily focusing on certain aspects of a leading Indian actress. This article shows you just the tip of the iceberg that is the number of sexist questions female celebrities face. And if you thought it was just the glamour industry, you are grossly under-informed, because this is not what you should be asking a lawyer even if she is married to an actor, and an article about women representation in the Indian cabinet should not be talking about what they wore to the swearing-in. You'll find many more instances if you look closely. While women can lean in all they could, people need to move out of their old perceptions about successful women. So it would be great if we focus less on how well they twirl on the red carpet and more on how well they do their jobs.

Women issues are a favorite living room topic of discussion nowadays, and lead to raging, yet enlightening debates. But as you can see, women issues are not always women issues. Sexism is everyone's issue!

Monday, January 26, 2015

20 Thoughts I Had While Watching The Republic Day Parade

India celebrated its 66th Republic Day today. 85 years ago this day, a group of people in the British colony of India had proclaimed Purna Swaraj, and almost 20 years from that day, India celebrated the birth of the Constitution, a governing document for Indians, by Indians!

For the first time in last 20 or so years, I woke up early specially to watch the live telecast of Republic Day Parade, and saw it till the end, instead of just bits and parts. And no, it wasn't because Barack Obama was the Chief Guest or because Narendra Modi was the Prime Minister. It was probably because it was the last day of the long weekend, and so a lazy sleep-in was not really a change of routine. Besides, it was a tradition (I think in all families across India) to cuddle in a cozy razai and watch the proud display of India's military prowess and cultural diversity. 

So, sitting alone in my flat, as I watched the Parade, and kinda reminisced about special morning assemblies in school and waking up to Maa Tujhe Salaam blaring from the loudspeakers in hostel, I decided to document all that struck me about this year's Parade.This piece may be a bit long (the parade was long too), but do read it till the end!

1. The very first thing that I noticed was how long it had been since I had heard pure, and correct, Hindi being spoken, and how beautiful it sounded. The Hindi spoken in movies, or TV (even News channels) is plain and broken, and the one we speak has more English than Hindi. So, the commentary,monotonous as it was, was very much welcome.

2. As the commentator described the valor of this year's Ashok Chakra awardees, I wondered if I (and other fellow citizens) would remember their names even two hours later. Sure, we get goosebumps and all while listening to Sandese aate hain or Ae mere watan ke logon, but as citizens, we do precious little to honor those who lay down their lives for us. This year, the award was given posthumously to Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh and Major Mukund Vardarajan, who died while battling terrorists in Kashmir. Let us try to remember those names this year.

3. I was quite delighted by seeing military veterans marching down the Rajpath. These are the people who lived to tell the tales of true heroes, and it was heartening to see them be a part of this prestigious parade.

4. I literally let out a squeal of cheer when the marching band of Birla Balika Vidyapeeth, Pilani came into picture. For 5 years, my deep winter slumbers in Pilani had been broken by the Republic Day parade rehearsals of the girls in the school adjacent to my hostel. So it was a matter of pride to see these girls march so confidently down the Rajpath. You go, girls, even though you don't let anyone sleep in Meera Bhawan.

5. When the tableau from Goa came up, I couldn't help but notice how celebratory their music was. It was perhaps the most joyful and chilled out background score in the entire parade. Seriously, if anyone in India knows how to party, it's Goans!

6. A total of 27 contingents marched in the parade today. These included 9 regiments of the army, contingents from the Air Force, Navy, Paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces (such as BSF, Coast Guard, CRPF, Railway Police, etc.). Just something to think about.

7. Did anyone else notice how the camera panned to Uma Bharti when the Madhya Pradesh tableau came up, to Nitin Gadkari when Maharashtra came up or Manohar Parrikar when it was Goa? Though it was cute how they all got up to cheer for their states, I think it is debatable whether to continue to see them as regional leaders when they are supposed to be national leaders. And there is no right answer in this debate. 

8. The Uttarakhand tableau depicted a trip to Kedarnath. It somehow brought up the image of a submerged Kedarnath as a result of floods in 2013. How excessive commercial construction affects the stability of such areas is also a good theme I think.

9. Did you notice that there was a small marigold garland hanging on every tableau, indicating that some form of Puja must have been done before starting?

10. Kids among the spectators seemed to be enjoying the parade so much. This is what is great about the Republic Day parade - the camera looks for proud and excited faces, not the prettiest ones.

11. There is such a multitude of sects and tribes in India, most of which we haven't heard about and frankly, don't even think about. And Indians do wear their hearts on their sleeves (and proudly so). If you think about it, it really is difficult to have a clash-free India. Difficult, but hopefully not impossible.

12. The second time I cheered was when the UP tableau came up, depicting Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh. I think I was just pleased about the fact that they showed erstwhile Awadh (present Lucknow). And there were Kathak dancers on the tableau. Apparently Wajid Ali Shah was known for patronizing fine arts. I just found this out. There's so much we don't know.

13. The Jammu and Kashmir tableau displayed their folk dances, and one of the songs played was "Roshe Valle". I faintly remembered it as the song that Tabu sings in Haider. And this is where you truly realize the impact of Indian cinema. A song may have been sung in a region for years (Sasuraal Genda Phool is another example) but it becomes recognizable only after it features in a Bollywood movie.

14. The "Make In India" lion arrived accompanied with a very techno music. This may have been enough to make it stand out from the rest of the tableaux. Sadly, there was not much else in the tableau. 

15. Speaking of music, the background score for the tableau for AYUSH medicine was a complete contrast from the modern beats of the Make In India tableau. It totally reminded you of the public welfare commercials shown on DD. Though I was glad that AYUSH medicine had a representation, considering a lot more people go for Ayurved and Homeopathy than care to admit, I wish they would've used a more catchy and less preachy song to promote this branch of medicine. Same goes for all other ministries, and for the troupes that danced to celebrate Mangalyaan or Swachchh Bharat Abhiyaan. 

16. The "Beti Bachao" tableau was followed by the "Jan Dhan Yojana" tableau. The commentator remarked that if you have a "Ghar ki Lakshmi", real "Lakshmi" will definitely follow. Cheesy as it was, it could be effective in changing the perception of people who see girls as a liability. But wouldn't it still be sad?

17. As the recipients of this year's Bravery Awards came by, I felt glad that we do something like this, awarding bravehearts from obscure places in India. On digging a little deeper (read referring to the Wiki page), I found out that the first such awards were given in 1958 after Jawahar Lal Nehru witnessed a young boy save lives of hundreds of people in a fire that broke out in Ramlila Grounds during a performance. This was when Nehru decided to felicitate such courage.

18. I wonder who conceived the idea to hold such a parade every year on Republic Day. Was it a tradition for another occasion that was handed down to us by the British? Or was there someone who thought that several years after India became a republic, Indians would need something to stay connected to the spirit of the day, and to each other, diverse as we are? Seriously, an answer to this will be very much welcome.

19. As the parade commenced with the National Anthem, I couldn't help but admire how easily it infuses patriotism into everyone, whether it is on a national holiday, in a school assembly or a movie theater. Maybe we have just been conditioned to feel so over the years, or maybe everyone just pretends for a while so as not to offend anyone. Whatever it is, for 52 seconds, it seems to hold everyone together. And given point no. 11, I think it does a lot!

20. A constant theme in my mind was how all our patriotism and unity suddenly surfaces on Republic Day and Independence Day, while we keep trying to bring each other down the rest of the year. My cynicism was however diluted when I remembered an incident that happened when Modi was visiting Pune. 
I was going somewhere with a couple of friends in an auto, and stuck in traffic, we were waiting for Modi's cavalcade to leave so that the roadblock is removed. Suddenly,some 4-5 motorcyclists furiously started blasting their horns. It turned out, there was an ambulance behind them, and it couldn't move ahead. By creating a ruckus with the horns, the motorcyclists made all two wheeler drivers ahead of them move into tiny spaces between the cars. Suddenly, an autowallah appeared, and like a deft traffic cop, directed the cars to make a path for the ambulance. Now, there was just one car in front of the ambulance and it could have easily used the newly formed path to move ahead with the ambulance, but the man who was driving the car parked it somewhere on the footpath, allowing the ambulance to go first. The ambulance moved ahead, and within a couple of minutes, the traffic also dissolved. 
Nobody knows if it made it in time, and probably no one even cared. But they cared enough to get into action when there was a need. Not all of us can take up the bigger issues facing the country, not all of us have the passion to do so, but if we care and act when it is required, I think we'll be good. This republic, let's just be a good public.

While Independence Day is a reminder of how we became a free country, Republic Day is a salute to where we are taking this free country. And though things may not be perfect, the parade often reminds us that we are getting there, and that we have a rich heritage and vast resources to take us there. Happy Republic Day. Jai Hind.