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Sand Castle for “World Cancer Day” by Simon Smith

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Phoenix Mall used to be one of the places I used to visit regularly and frequently when I was there. Wish I was there to witness this.

A UK based Sand Wizard – Simon Smith, World Masters People’s Champion had built a 10X10 Sand Castle in the Courtyard at High Street Phoenix for “World Cancer Day”. Simon Smith, a Cancer survivor himself has taken this initiative in association with Sand Cult – Sand Sculpting Company and Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) to show the importance of this Crucial Cause. His masterpiece was completed on February 4, 2012 – The World Cancer Day and was exhibited until February 12, 2012.

Check out some of these images.

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Rest in Peace Uncle/Dada/Aloke Dasgupta

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Six and a half years ago I moved next door to a 76 years old man, an old man who lived by himself as ne never got married. I didn’t realize what a glamorous neighborhood it was till I found out who that old man was. His name was Aloke Dasgupta and he was a retired cinematographer who started his career with the hit Kishore Kumar movie “Chalti ka naam Gadi”. Actually it would be wrong to call him retired since he was still working on occasional Gujrati and Bhojpuri movie.  He just retired from the mainstream Hindi cinema with Vijaypath “You see, all the people making movies now are young people and they want to work with young people as they relate to them better.

He shot the song “Roop tera mastana” in a single shot and the beauty of it is that I never realized it till he told me and chances are you would not have noticed it either.

Mr Aloke Dasgupta with his Dada Saheb Phalke award

Mr Aloke Dasgupta with his Dada Saheb Phalke award

He once told me how he got his first movie. He was struggling for a while and had gone back to Calcutta and his parents wanted him to take up a job his brother had lined up. Just then Kishore Kumar wrote to him and asked him to come to Bombay and reluctantly or willingly people agreed that he should give it this one last shot.

Back in Bombay, Kishore Kumar asked him to shoot the song “Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si” and showed it to the producer for his approval while uncle himself decided not to be present there. Kishore Kumar came to his home in the evening “Dada mithai khilaiye”.

That stared a career that lasted about five decades. He kept getting work, he became the favorite of Shakti Samant and shot a lot of movies with him including Aradhana in which he did something that was never attempted before in India if not the world. He shot the song “Roop tera mastana” in a single shot and the beauty of it is that I never realized it till he told me and chances are you would not have noticed it either. Go check it if you like. He shot movies with all big heroes including six with Amitabh Bachchan and worked on more mainstream movies than any other cinematographer.

When I told him that we are moving to Delhi he was shocked “You are going to orphan me”. As the days of our departure neared, he kept telling us “After you leave, I won’t live here either” and he was true to his words.

The secret of his success is what everyone else tells you. Work hard, he slept in his car very often, don’t chase money – he never quoted a price and allowed the producers to set it. Most important, he kept it simple “Current photographers get so many lights which they don’t even need and they just copy what they see in Hollywood like putting the lights above the head which gives harsh shadows below the nose and on the forehead. They don’t even know how to frame a shot” However in spite of all his knowledge, he always encouraged me when I showed him my shots.

Trophies of uncle, mostly for Shakti Samant movies

A collection like this would make anyone proud, and this is not all, it is only a small part of it.

We became good friends, he used to keep his door open at all times except when he was sleeping and we used to stop to have a word with him whenever we stepped in our out of our home. On days when I was late, he would stay up and would close his door only after I have come from home.

Uncle with Manu, they got along very well

Manu and Uncle got along very well. He used to go to his house at every chance he got.

Manu was born after we moved to Bombay and he also grew quite fond of uncle. The moment our door was opened, he would run to uncle’s house. His favorite activity used to be scribbling on the newspaper while I chatted with uncle. They were always close. While we lived next door to him, Manu used to visit him many times a day and when we moved a floor below, the frequency was reduced and he started calling him “the uncle who gives me chocolates”

Uncle and Manu

He used to like the jackfruit Mira used to prepare “It looks and tastes just like mutton”.  The upma and the noodles he used to make were to die for and he would give it to us every time he had to return our dishes, it took a fair amount of convincing by Mira that it is okay to return empty dishes.

He always dreaded the thought of us moving away. He told me when we were thinking of moving to Wadala that if we go, he will also move elsewhere. When I told him that we are moving to Delhi he was shocked “You are going to orphan me”. As the days of our departure neared, he kept telling us “After you leave, I won’t live here either” and he was true to his words. A few days before our departure he was diagnosed with cancer and 4 days before we moved to Delhi, he went to a doctor with his niece and never came back. He was admitted to the hospital and from there he went to Pia’s house. I was lucky to meet him in the hospital a day before we came to Delhi and on 14th of this month I got a call from Pia that he has died with an unfulfilled wish to meet Mira and Manu.

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What really matters…

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At R K SWAMY, I set up the team, I helped in defining the services, I ran the operations, I helped in pitching for new business, I oversaw the creative and operations of all the projects executed till I quit. We executed some brilliant projects and won 2 awards.

However none of this is among the best memories I have of the 30 months I spent there. The best memories I will have are still being created.  A GTalk status by Vinayak Worlikar “Missing Navin and Nick” is one. Another is a poem left as a comment on Picturejockey, reproduced below

so close in our heart yet so far away
we think about u everyday

we’r sitting here all alone
wishing you wud send us some funny link

Everything was perfect
nothing could go wrong
now we’r stuck somewhere
we feel we don’t belong

we love you so much
our very best mentor
we were supposed to be together
until the very end

Memories of yesterday
linger in our mind
of all the things
you left behind

I wish i could turn back time
to when i was free
so full of life
just we all together again

Id freeze that moment
and hold it tight
everything would be perfect
and feel so right

Days turn into weeks
weeks turn into months
I’m forever missing u
wishing u were here

You’ll always be missed
but Your forever in my heart
i will never 4get
the day we had to part

So until the day
we can meet again
goodbye for now
my best-est friend


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Can’t rid yourself of your experiences – good or bad

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I guess at some stage or the other in our lives we feel that we are at loss of words. Sometimes it happens that someone else says something which communicates what you are feeling. In an interview Mark Tully talked about his attachment to Indian and the UK and I feel this is how I am feeling about Bombay and Delhi but was not able to put it in words.

Here is what he said.

“I can’t rid myself of the years I have spent in India and its influence on me. Neither can I rid myself of the years I have spent in the UK and its influence. I go back quite regularly”

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Bombay – the city I always loved to hate… and I hate to say I started loving

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Since I hated Bombay even before I visited this place, I have to say it is prejudice more than anything else. The local trains, the overcrowded city and everything I knew about Bombay was secondhand information and I have to admit that Bombay lived up to its expectations except for the only positive thing I had heard – road sense.

Tata Interactive made me an offer and I guess my desire to work for Tata proved stronger than my dislike of Bombay and I landed in Bombay on 6th October 2003 almost exactly 6 years and a half before I leave it for good.

No more session passes

A while ago I wondered how thick this pile of monthly train tickets will get. Now I won’t be buying them again… at least anytime soon

If there is a thing called Destiny that the last 6 years are the manifestation of that. I took up a job which I should not have before coming to Bombay and I spent about an year and a half doing I job which was not the right fit for me but I guess that job, since it was in elearning, must have played some part in me getting the job at Tata Interactive.

This is the last session pass I have bought for Mumbai Local Trains.

For the past 6 years I have lived in one of the most crowded city in the world but I have always enjoyed a great view with green as far as eye can see from my window. In a city where people spend on an average 3-4 hours commuting to office I have been living 15 minutes away from my workplace for most part of the last six years. In local trains that are notorious the world over for being over crowded, I have had the good fortune of finding a place to sit almost everyday. Considering all this, it seems I was destined to stay in Bombay and destiny was kind enough to make it as comfortable as possible. Of course there were times when I felt like I was a repeat offender in my last birth so I am repeatedly being punished for that but largely I was lucky…sometime so lucky that I felt I was the brand ambassador of Lux Cozi.

A view of Aarey Colony from my bedroom

More than this, I feel I leave Bombay as a better person than I was when I came here. It is largely because I have come to know so many people – mostly nice, some not so nice.

Apart from all these, Mira and I reached the most important milestone a couple looks forward to – becoming parents. Manu was born after we moved to Bombay.

Few days from now, I will move on to where I came from – New Delhi the place I always call home. Just like I still cherish the memories of my stay in Melbourne, I will look back fondly to the days spend in Bombay and maybe sometime even wonder why the hell I moved back to Delhi.


Beat up couples, burn cinemas

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You feel life sucks if you have to work on a weekend. Think about all the Shiv Sainiks and MNS people who have to not just work today but have double the work load.

The Valentine’s day was bad in itself and it has coincided with the movie My name is Khan. People from Shiv Sena and MNS now have to vandalize theaters screening My name is Khan before they have to go out and beat up couples. Anyone walking holding hands is a target. I am thankful that I am safe because of Manu, I won’t have dared to step out of home just with Mira.

The moment Sena has a disagreement with some one, instead of even trying to sort it out, they go out vandalizing public property, disrupting traffic and burning buses.

Thinking about My name is Khan, I think the sena people will focus on Valentine’s Day tomorrow and attend to Mr. Khan on Monday when the three day police cover to the cinemas expires.

I remember an episode of Seinfeld where he asks why the car alarms are like the way they are, start screaming like a lunatic as soon as one touches the car. Why can’t they be more like people who would have a little subtle reaction to begin with like clearing one’s throat or saying “excuse me”.

The same is the case with both Senas, the moment they have a disagreement with some one, instead of even trying to sort it out, they go out vandalizing public property, disrupting traffic and burning buses.


Shiv Sena – an opposition Congress love to have

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“May be in the next elections we should vote for an opposition as well as a government.”

A government by the people, for the people of the people may be the most popular definition of democracy but in my opinion the most important aspect of a democratic government is the opposition.

The opposition keeps a check on the government; ensure that tit is periodically reminded of its purpose – to serve the people.

In Maharashtra the opposition largely has been and still is The Shiv Sena and now MNS to give it company and in my opinion, it’s the perfect opposition a government can ask for and that is why the worst opposition the public can ask for. An opposition that doesn’t want to think about the real issues of the state like the farmer suicides, the housing problems, the encroachments, the crumbling infrastructure, and water crisis but is always ready to create ruckus about things like comments made by Sharukh Khan on the Pakistani players in IPL, Rahul Gandhi on claiming Mumbai belongs to all Indians.

Makes the life of government very easy, doesn’t it?

May be in the next elections we should vote for an opposition as well as a government.

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