Her Mother’s Hope


I read a fair number of books, but I consider very few worthy of multiple readings. I recently found another one in that special category.

Her Mother’s Hope is a wonderful novel telling the story of the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship: the protagonist, Marta’s relationship with her mother and then with her daughter.

Marta’s mother’s hope is that her liebling, Marta, will fly away and chase her dreams. She encourages her daughter in those words, even implicitly releasing her from potential guilt of leaving the family and never returning back to it by saying, “You have my blessing, Marta. I give it to you wholeheartedly and without reservation.” Marta’s mother sends away her daugther in the fear that if she stays back, she will be like her father – discontented, cruel, and selfish.

Marta flies across countries to follow her professional dreams, but cannot get over the tragic life of her timid sister who remains over-protected by her Mama; she vows. “I swear before God, Rosie, if I’m ever fortunate enough to have a daughter, I’ll make sure she’s strong enough to stand up for herself!”

Interestingly, Marta lets go of her very dream for which she fought so hard.

Among her kids is Hildemara, a daughter who is prone to sickness and would end up being, possibly, timid. Marta, in an attempt to ensure that her daugther grows up and becomes independent and fierceless, pushes Hildemara and behaves strictly and harshly with her. She tries to to teach her that if she does not ask, she will not get anything in life.

Hildemara grows up, but ends up distanced from Marta. She never sees the love, because it is never told nor expressed gently. On the other hand, Hildemara, who wants to do anything and everything to pleasse her mother, is repeatedly hurt; she ends up seeing Marta as an unsatisfied, unavailable, inflexible mother who does not love this daugther. Even in the worst of her situation, Hildemara does not ask her for help.

The book is amazingly well written and pours out emotions and captures the extreme complexity of this relationship. It can be entertaining and eye-opening at the same time.

And the book ended with me wanting to eagerly read the sequel.

A news clip that has changed my life forever

Contributed by Amit Ghugre

I do not know how much of it is still remaining. But a small news snippet, unnoticed by most in the era of breaking newsmakers, Ramdev and Anna, is going to change rest of my life forever. This was about Uday Chopra announcing his retirement acting in Bollywood.

I know, most of you will ask the question ‘WHO is Uday Chopra?’ For some who know who he was, this news will sound similar to Joginder Sharma announcing his retirement after none of the IPL teams bought him.

Let me elaborate more on the importance of this news. Uday Chopra is son of the legend Yash Chopra and nephew of B R Chopra who need no introduction to anyone who has even basic knowledge of Bollywood. Uday Chopra debuted in a multi starrer ‘Mohabbatein’ featuring SRK and Big B. The movie worked and Uday probably took it as a sign that people have accepted him. I don’t remember if he also managed to bag some ‘best newcomer’ award. His hope would have translated into belief after Dhoom 1 and 2 became big hits. It sounds ridiculous to link success of these movies to Uday. But from his perspective, it is not unfair to assume. How many times in our corporate careers do we believe that success is due to our contribution and failure is due to someone else?

However, if you try to recollect any movie where he was the single Hero, it will be difficult. In short, all his other movies flopped. No one wanted to sign him up. It was not long when he realized the issue. That is when he leveraged the strength of his house brand (Yash Raj films) and decided to produce the movie for himself. He may have found it difficult to get story writer, director work for him. At that time, he showed a true character of a leader. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going! So, he decided to write the script and direct the movie himself, apart from being the Hero and producer.

This is how ‘Pyar Impossible’ was born. I have reviewed this movie here ,so don’t want to stress myself with the agony again. But the reality was that audience was not as tough and hence they were not going to movie theater. The public once again showed their maturity and discretion power. As a result, the film bombed.

It is after a period of 10 years that the reality finally seems to have struck him hard that he does not have any career in Bollywood. Definitely not as an actor. Being born as the son of Yash Chopra, middle class mundane worries like finding means of living are anyway  not important for him. Rich also have lot of options. He can open a dance academy, hotel, bike servicing centre or designer brand shop. I wish him best of luck for his career.

I also want to sincerely thank him for choosing to retire from Bollywood because it will simplify my choice and spare me from an accidental situation wherein I am forced to watch him again in some new movie. I will not have to worry and despair about how diagonally opposite a father-son combination can be. I will not spend time on writing movie reviews featuring him. In short, he has touched and improved my life with this decision to retire from Bollywood.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

Are Indians for politics only?

Contributed by Pradeep Mittal

For quite few days I have been thinking over the title to my new post; thoughts have been building up and so does the heat within and reasons thereof are importance to us and the globe eventually. While Indians comprise of every 6th person on globe, the actions by us would definitely would impact the world at large in times to come.

Politics has always been a topic at heart for all Indians, old or young, living cities or villages, being in caste system or non-believers, god fearing or law breaking…one and all! Probably it is brought in the blood at first sight of life…me sets in! It is start of great journey to Indian politics…most fail to make mark but many enjoy the Raj system created centuries ago by Britishers to rule us.

Recent developments on anti corruption move by non political figures is also to do something with politics at the end. People elected by us to provide governance for us are today calling us “civil society” and themselves ??? The way in which non-aggressive anti-corruption movements of personas like Baba Ramdev, Anna Hazare are being suppressed and derogatory remarks are being made by our servants in places of position is pathetic. Are we responsible to the government machinery or they are responsible to citizen of world’s largest democracy.

Some cult figures in the game are highly corrupt as the history indicates. They themselves are not free of accusations at different times and still don’t hesitate to point finger to us. I find corruption so rampant now a days that even probably babies would start asking for it before they enter this world…a wild and dangerous thought.

By 2030 world’s 2/3 population would middle class and primarily from Asia. For sure India would have highest contribution to it. Would it be full of corruptions bringing life to stand still?

Will we win?

Contributed by Pradeep Mittal

Not so long ago the world was struggling to find a place to rest from the economic turmoil when youth of today started working on much wanted change in life. The reasons were aplenty;

partisan government policies,

economic unbalance forced on society,

cancerous corruption,

leaders turning into corruptians (corrupt politicians),

inflation with hyper food inflation,

financial deflation of individuals in general (excluding corrupt),

suppressed voice of youth with no or little allowed participation in socio-economic issues, etc. etc.

Tunisians raised the RED flag first and not so long before they saw exit of corrupt and exposure of hidden wealth in various countries. Egypt followed the suit. Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco are not spared of it. Biggies in the region may also end us seeing the difficult times. World is anyways facing brunt of all this by everyday increasing commodity prices.

Going little east, India is at cross roads now with its highly corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, inefficient system, unending scams, little improvement in infrastructure, greed in the Indian Corporate and what not.

The time would not have been more apt than this for one Gandhian to use Gandhi’s philosophy and come forward to lead the path of change for we Indians; Mr. Anna Hazare, a 73-year-old veteran, started fasting until death in the burning sun — unless the government agrees to consider a powerful law that could rid Indian politics of the scourge of corruption. Today I signed to the movement at www.avaaz.org

I am all available for this movement and if it is not done now then probably it would never be!

(Not so?) good names in Bengali

First, a disclaimer: No offence intended or meant to any one or any group.

I have had several close Bengali friends. And yet, it took me a viewing of the movie, The Namesake, to connect “bhaalo naam” (good name) and “daak naam” (nickname). After watching the movie, I discussed with my friend, Rashmi, the concept of “good name.”  Promptly she joked – you’ve heard their daak naam’s! They need a good name🙂

So, with her help, here is a list of the daak naam’s, nicknames that we have heard of

  • Ittu
  • Guttu
  • Baabloo
  • Tuktuk
  • Khokon
  • Bimbim
  • Pinku (Pretty normal, but feels a little odd when you address a 50 year old)
  • Koli
  • Bulbul
  • Jhimli
  • Piku
  • Bonu

I am sure there are many many more…

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We miss the cricket commentary in Hindi

Cricket World Cup media

Image via Wikipedia

On the eve of the 2011 Cricket World Cup final, here are some gems that Sachin Patil noted while watching the fascinating 175 scored by Virender Sehwag in the very first game of the world cup: India vs Bangladesh. These are all in Hindi (and that is precisely the point of this post!).

1. Sehwag was belligerent hitting the bowlers all over the ground (and outside of it),

Commentator 1 (C1): Sehwag has scored all over the world and under all sorts of conditions
Commentator 2 (C2): जी हाँ! बिलकुल सही फ़रमाया आपने. … शेरों के कोई इलाके नहीं होते.

2. India was 309-2 in 42 overs. Bangladesh bowlers and fielders were looking hapless:

C1: क्या सोच रहे होंगे बांगलादेशी खिलाड़ी इस वक्त?
C2: सोच रहे होंगे की ५० ओवर कब पूरे होंगे!
C1: ५० ओवर तो पूरे हो जायेंगे! पर उस वक्त तक एक विशाल स्कोर भी खड़ा हो जाएगा! वो भी तोह पार करना होगा उन्हें.
C2: लगता नहीं ज्यादा दूर की सोच रहे होंगे इस समय! :- )

3. Sehwag is going hammer and tongs and a new bowler is introduced into the attack. First two deliveries were wide outside the off stump:

C1: सेहवाग इस तरह पिटाई कर रहे हैं की कोई bowler उनके नजदीक गेंद नहीं फेकना चाहता है.
C2:पर वोह भूल रहे है की ये दोबारा डालनी होगी!

Sehwag was just unstoppable! Bowlers were trying everything that they could. One bowler after getting punished severely decided to come around the wicket. He was marking his new run up when Sehwag muttered something. On that:

C1:  क्या कह रहे होंगे सेहवाग इस समय?
C2: शायद उन्होंने कहा. आये कहीं से, जायेगी बाहर ही!!!!

Here is one more that Nikhil Joshi noted while listening to radio commentary:

काफी फासला तय किया गेंद ने. लेकिन batsman ने सिर्फ बाईस गज तय किये!

I guess most of us miss these gems from Hindi commentators on TV and Radio; I know, I do!

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Is China really interested in development of Africa?

Contributed by Pradeep Mittal

As I travel to North Africa also as part of my business portfolio, getting to see the upcoming African countries face the dilemma of to be or not to be China’s partner is sometimes intriguing. Apparently it all looks so benign for the countries who need investment badly. You look deeper in the thought process of local residents and realize why probably the dilemma is on sound foot.

China in all probability goes by its book of goals and rules which may be inspired from The Art of War by Sun-Tzu. The core belief here is that the “ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting”. That may underline the diplomatic and corporate culture values also for China. Is China what it talks and looks? I have noticed they talking good to Indians but then considering Indian territories as part of theres and promoting Pakistan as their biggest regional partner while keeping Indian worries on terrorism on sides.

Going by this observation, are they not applying same Sun’s idea to Africa? There China’s prime objectives are to secure energy and mineral supplies to fuel its breakneck economic expansion, open up new markets, curtail Taiwan’s influence on the continent, consolidate its burgeoning global authority, and clinch for themselves African-allocated export quotas. South African and Nigerian textile quota use by Chinese after taking over those business is classic case.

China puts Africa – West relations exploitative to prove that its own are “win-win”. China is on same path of exploitation if we see through the eyes of residents (like my discussions with some Sudanese last year). What the Chinese are silent about is that their country’s growing engagement in Africa has created both opportunities and risks for African development.

Although China’s trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and aid may broaden Africa’s growth options, they also promote what can only be called a win-lose situation. For, excluding oil, Africa has a negative trade balance with China (like West has).

Making matters worse, African exports to China are even less technology-intensive than its exports to the world (unlike West). China’s share of Africa’s unprocessed primary products was more than 80 per cent of its total imports from Africa. Equally, imports consist of cheap Chinese products of appalling poor quality (unlike West). China’s credo of ‘non-interference in domestic affairs’ and ‘separation of business and politics’ is, not surprisingly, music to the ears of African leaders, who fall over each other to sing the praises of Chinese cooperation with their countries.

China has struck bargains across Africa to secure crude oil, minerals and metals in exchange for infrastructure built by Chinese companies. As a unwritten rule it does bring excessive import of Chinese labour into a continent not lacking in able-bodied workers. Some studies indicate that within less than a decade Chinese surpassed the number of immigrants than what West left even after centuries of colonization. There has been incidence of gunning down of local workers by a Chinese manager in Zambia, Chinese managers impose appalling working conditions on their African employees, is this anything different than colonization by West in 18th/19th century.

Today, China has seized control of a huge swath of local African industries, in the process grabbing their allocated export quotas. As China’s global economic role increases, its labour costs will rise and its currency will appreciate, eroding its competitiveness. Might Chinese manufacturers then look to Africa as a base for production, using the facilities they have built and the hordes of workers they have been steadily exporting there?

In perpetuating a partnership with the same breed of corrupt leaders that colluded with Africa’s previous invaders and exploiters, the Chinese have forgotten that Africans, albeit often their own worst enemies, have nonetheless gained the upper hand over their foes in the end.

The descendants of slave traders and slave owners in the US now have a black man as their president; Africa’s colonisers have all been defeated; and apartheid’s proponents are now governed by those they despised and abused for generations. Will Chinese mend their ways?