The MFCC a.k.a. Mumbai Film and Comic Con 2014

I stare in wonder and disbelief as Darth Vader passes me, followed by Captain Haddock. I almost expect to hear a “Blistering Barnacles” from him; instead I get a cheery grin.

Before I recover from this rather uncharacteristic grin, I get distracted by Batman and Superman walking together and laughing and flexing their muscles.

Wait, was that Barbie and Ken?

And… and… was that the Incredibles? The full Incredibles family?

No, I’m not joking or narrating a fantasy tale; I saw all of them at the Mumbai Film and Comic Convention a.k.a. ComicConMumbai last week. When I entered the venue (Bombay Exhibition Centre at Goregaon), it was like entering a parallel world – a world dominated by comic and cartoon characters, merchandise and people around this theme. I saw a group of college students pass me their faces painted like minions and talking in minion language or at least that’s what it sounded to me like.

Comic Con Mumbai 2014, MFCC, Mumbai, Event, ComicCon Continue reading “The MFCC a.k.a. Mumbai Film and Comic Con 2014”

Photostory: The crow and the dung cake

Have you seen a crow with its food?

The way it looks at the food and then examines it before eating — be it leftover food thrown away in a dustbin or rotting meat or even fresh rice that many Hindus serve as offerings to ancestors.

Their behaviour is more or less the same… A sudden flapping of wings as they land near the food, then an examination of what the food is, then a quick look around, a tiny sampling, and then gobbling it all up. And sometimes, just sometimes, a caw and then some more of appreciation. 🙂

Last year, during a visit to the Hatu Mata Temple at Himachal Pradesh, I came across a crow and its intense deliberation of a dried up pile of dung. I was photographing flowers when I heard a caw and looked up to see and then photograph an entire sequence with the crow.

I had kind of forgotten about these set of photographs and found them while I backing up the photographs. And voilà, an entire narrative emerged. In the crow’s words of course. 😉

Well… what do we have here?
Crow, Bird. dung

Continue reading “Photostory: The crow and the dung cake”

A cup of tea

I love short stories and it is my preferred form of fiction. So, its not surprising that the very first post I wrote for “The Sunday Book Club’s Blog” in July 2013 was on short stories. Actually, it was on one short story and one of my favourites, in particular. I reproduce that post here with some minor modifications.

A Cup of Tea by Katherine Mansfield was first published in 1992, and it remains one of Mansfield’s best known stories today. The plot is fairly simple:

It is a cold and wet day in London. After a visit to the shops, Rosemary Fell is about to get into her chauffeur-driven car, when she is approached by a penniless young girl, Miss Smith, for money that would buy her a cup of tea.

‘… It’s a cup of tea I want, madam.’ And she burst into tears.

Rosemary is intrigued as she cannot believe that a person cannot have money to buy a cup of tea. Inspired to do more — she persuades the young Ms. Smith to come home with her  — she visualises transforming the poor girl’s life, and becoming the talk of the high society she moves in. When she reaches home, Philip, Rosemary’s husband, is surprised to see Ms. Smith and also hear about Rosemary’s plans for the girl’s future. He leaves Rosemary and Ms. Smith, but not before mentioning to Rosemary that the girl was

‘…so astonishingly pretty.’

Continue reading “A cup of tea”

The magic of the Peony Pavilion

There was a buzz at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre of the NCPA in South Mumbai when I arrived there shortly before 7 pm on Tuesday, earlier this week.

There was the swish of silks, satins and chiffons, the aroma of different perfumes, the glint of pearls and diamonds… There were celebrities, socialites, office-goers, aficionados, students, first-timers, regulars, critics, cynics, the-eager-for-a-new-experience… There were air kisses, handshakes, shoulder hugs, backslaps and some tinkling laughter too.

And then there was anticipation in the air. An anticipation of attending my very first Chinese Opera, which also happened to be the Indian première of the legendary Kunqu Opera, The Peony Pavilion, staged by the Beijing-based Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre. This was an anticipation that had built and grown from the moment I received an invitation, along with some background information and some photographs, Sadir Theater Festival to attend the Opera from, about two weeks ago.

The Peony Pavilion, Chinese Kunqu Opera, Shao Zheng as Liu Mengmei, Zhang Yuanyuan as Du Liniang
(L) Zhang Yuanyuan as Du Liniang and (R) Shao Zheng as Liu Mengmei, the principal characters in “The Peony Pavilion”

It was a good that I received the background information as my knowledge about Chinese Opera could be summed up in one word: Zilch! Accepting the invitation and beginning the countdown to the actual event was the first step towards remedying that ! 🙂
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Aurangabad: Rock-cut caves, Bibi ka Maqbara, Panchakki

“Do you want to go left first or right?” the auto-rickshaw driver asks me as we approach a T-junction.

“I don’t know. Whichever takes me to Aurangabad Caves“, I reply, a little confused by the question.

“Both turns will take you to the Caves. Part of the Caves is on the left and part is on the right. I asked since you have to begin somewhere.”

“Umm… in that case, take the left.”

About 10 minutes later, I’m at the foot of a flight of steps that will lead me to the Westernmost part of the Aurangabad Caves.

Aurangabad Caves, Aurangabad, Buddhist Rock Cut Caves

I have very carefully stowed the entry ticket away in my backpack as I will need it to visit the other, Eastern, set of Aurangabad Caves, which is over a kilometre away according to the ticket clerk. There aren’t too many visitors around on that pleasantly warm December afternoon of 2013. The few who are there are Buddhist devotees dressed in white and carrying offerings of white flowers. The climb is an easy one and I reach the entrance to the first of the Caves in no time. Continue reading “Aurangabad: Rock-cut caves, Bibi ka Maqbara, Panchakki”

Mumbai Lens: The Sri Aurobindo Memorial Tower

If you’re travelling towards Chembur or beyond from Navi Mumbai by the Sion-Panvel Highway, look left as the road curves right into V.N. Purav Marg (also known as the  Sion-Trombay Road). You will see this white tower standing tall in the shade of trees against the BARC boundary wall.

Aurobindo Me orial Tower, Mumbai, DeonarThis is the Sri Aurobindo Memorial Tower, which I have been seeing every day on my commute to work for the last 19 years. And every day I would look at the Memorial Tower with curiosity and tell myself that I would stop by one day to have a closer look at it. That day finally happened to be yesterday !

Continue reading “Mumbai Lens: The Sri Aurobindo Memorial Tower”