Lost amidst all the yellow!

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It is that time of the year when my favourite flowering tree, The Tree of Gold aka the Tabebuia argentea is in full bloom. The stunning spectacle of the Tree of Gold in full bloom keeps unfolding in my mind all through the year. I just love that divine feeling that engulfs me when I am near the yellow blooms. It is like festival time!

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My experience of sighting a fully-bloomed Tree of Gold is not complete without seeing the cluster of yellow canopies on the island surrounding the bandstand at Cubbon Park.

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A tricky thing is finding out when the tree is in full bloom. There have been times when I end up visiting the park when the tree is either not in full bloom or else a tad late when the flowers have started falling off. A couple of years back, five visits to the park turned out to be wrongly timed. That year, I never got to see the tree in full bloom although each of the six visits was beautiful in its own way. This year, I was second time lucky. Just a week back (on a Sunday), the tree had flowers but had not bloomed fully. I guessed that it will take another week or a fortnight for it to bloom fully. I guessed right; the following Sunday, three to four trees were in full bloom.

I reached Cubbon Park around half-past 5 on Sunday evening. This was around the same time I came to the park when the Tabebuia Impetiginosas were in bloom in November. The bandstand around which you can find the Trees of Gold is quite far away from the Corporation side entrance of Cubbon Park from where I entered the park. So it was a little early for me to tell if the trees were in full bloom. I had to walk for at least 10 min to reach the bandstand.

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As expected, the park was a beehive of activity as it was a Sunday. There were tourists, joggers, cyclists, children, photographers, and couples among others at every expanse of the park. I weaved through the sea of humanity all the time looking around here and there for photo opportunities if any. A lone crow perched on one of the park’s many ornamental lampposts caught my eye first followed by a jackfruit tree laden with fruit.

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So engrossed was I in looking for photo opportunities that I completely missed the first of the Trees of Gold. It was there in all its golden glory covered with flowers. I couldn’t believe my luck. There were a couple of shutterbugs around among who was my fellow shutterbug friend Priya who I completely missed seeing. It was only when I ran into her again that I realised she was in the park too 🙂 . We literally dashed into each other with our cameras.

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A puffed rice seller had chosen to do business under the tree. A very strategic location I must say! Just a stone’s throw away I could see the other trees looking resplendent in their yellow canopies. I couldn’t help admiring them.

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Just then, another puffed rice seller made his way toward the yellow blooms. He knew fully well that if he had to brisk business it had to be here.

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Selfie enthusiasts and photographers were at their enthusiastic best and so were their muses. The box covered with a blue rexine sheet which turned out to be an eyesore the last year was still around 😦 .  There were a few visitors who were relaxing under the canopies with mats spread out on the grass.

As I looked around I spotted this good-looking fella. Wonder what was in his mind?

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By now the puffed-rice seller had settled down comfortably and was waiting for buyers. And the good-looking fella had settled down comfortably under a tree.

By then a balloon-and-toy seller had also made his way to the place. He was selling bubble makers and trying to attract youngsters by blowing bubbles. His efforts bore fruit because in no time, a tiny tot made his way to him and started gesturing to his parents to buy a bubble maker for him. Seconds later, a group of kids had gathered around him.

 

A young Muslim lad was the most enthusiastic of the lot. He was jumping to catch the bubbles something most of us have done as kids. And even as he was jumping he called out to his uncle. The uncle rushed to his bubbly nephew along with the other children in the family and to my surprise bought only one bubble maker for four kids! Not surprisingly, the young lad was not happy and started wailing. He wanted one for himself. The visibly embarrassed uncle had to oblige the cry baby. Shortly, another kid from the same group came running towards the bemused seller. He wanted to exchange the bubble maker with one of another colour!

Very soon, there was another kid jumping high to catch the bubbles. He too called out to his parents to buy a bubble maker for him. The parents allowed their little one to play with bubbles as long as he wanted to before buying him one.

The good-looking fella had by now moved from under the tree to the centre of the lawn.

I hovered around till the security guards started whistling asking visitors to move out. And what I would say was a fantastic day came to an end. The yellow flowers, soap bubbles, kids and their energy levels and of course the good-looking fella made my day!

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review – Uri: The Surgical Strike

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Poster courtesy: santabanta.com

Uri: The Surgical Strike is an action-packed thriller based on the 2016 attack on an Indian military camp in Uri, Kashmir by Pakistani militants and the subsequent surgical strikes by Indian armed forces on suspected military camps in PoK. The debut film of Aditya Dhar who has also scripted the film stands out for the stellar acting by its cast and also the special effects. Unheard of actor Vicky Kaushal shines as Major Vihaan Singh Shergill. So well has he portrayed the role that he could easily pass of as a real-life army major. Major Vihaan Singh Shergill, the lead character in the film, does not let some serious personal problems come in the way of carrying out his responsibilities. An Alzheimer-stricken widowed mother and later the death of his brother-in-law and fellow army man Major Karan Kashyap in the Uri attack does not come in the way of his “josh” or zest. A take away from this film is the phrase “How’s the josh?” which is often being used these days to boost a dipping morale or fire up individuals. The two actresses in the film Yami Gautam and Kirti Kulhari look good in their roles. One cannot imagine a glam girl like Yami in the role of a RAW agent. Kirti Kulhari looks smart as an IAF officer who in the film has lost her husband in an attack and wants to seize any opportunity to serve her country. She realises her dream when she gets to serve as a helicopter pilot in the surgical strike. There are hints of romance in the film here and there. But whatever romance the director tries to infuse in a scene at the culmination of the film between the RAW agent and Major Shergill looks too pedestrian. The scene might as well have not been there.

The movie not only showcases the might of our armed forces and their never-say-die attitude but most importantly displays their ability to rise up from the ashes. I would give it four stars out of five. It is definitely a must-watch!

There’s so much to eat at Avarekai Mela – IV

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After missing last year’s edition of this popular food soiree, I managed to make it to the fair this year and that too on a week day! I managed to get a day off. Yay!

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The traffic was dense on that Friday afternoon. I chose to travel during the lunch hours which would be most apt I should say to visit a food fest like this one. I must have reached Sajjan Rao Circle, the venue of the fair around 2.30pm. I had wanted to reach the place around 1 to 1.30pm but somehow couldn’t make it.

 

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There wasn’t much of a crowd. The unmistakeable aromas of dosas getting roasted on a tawa greeted me as I approached the food stalls. Undoubtedly, the dosas like always were the most desired items on the menu. The cherubic ever-smiling cook was there this time too, busy laying out Holliges. He seems to have become a media favourite over the years and had a lot of TV camera crew watching him with admiration.

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There were a lot of sellers adding to the lively atmosphere surrounding Vasavi Condiments, the organisers of the fest, including some who were selling raw avarekai. Buyers could choose to buy the avarekai either with the pod or shelled. Sacks of avarekai were also being downloaded at the venue.

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I was surprised at seeing this ice-apple seller. Ice apples normally hit the markets during the summer months. Perhaps, the early produce was an impact of climate change?

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This lady selling varieties of puffed rice was there at the 2017 edition of the fair too.

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Unlike earlier editions of the Avarekai Mela where I only had my camera with me, this time I had a smartphone too. Needless to say, I used both to take pictures. I went on a clicking spree for almost an hour.

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After I was done with the pictures, I decided to have a go for the food. In spite of the presence of so many delicacies at the stalls, I decided to go for my favourite, the Kali dosa with Avarekai sambar as the accompaniment. When waiting for my plate of dosas, I again took my camera out of the bag and clicked some more pictures. When the dosas arrived piping hot, I clicked a picture of them too. There were two on the platter. Hungry as I was, I finished off the dosas in no time. The taste was divine!

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Instead of going for another kind of dosa, I thought I would check out the Avarekai Pulao next. The Pulao which was served in a leaf bowl was a tad spicy and made me want to have something sweet.

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A highlight of this year’s Avarekai mela was the introduction of Avarekai softy ice-cream. I did not think twice before ordering a softy. When the softy arrived all green in a nice-looking cone, I devoured it. It was lip-smacking and almost made me want to go for one more. The craving to have more food vanished with the softy. Perhaps, I should have chosen to eat something else instead of the pulao. I walked around the stalls one last time and decided to go home. My feet had started aching too.

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This time of the year is for cakes!

It is the time of the year when the annual Nilgiris Cake Show is on and like always I found it difficult to give this event a miss. For the last seven years I have somehow managed to squeeze in a visit to the show. This year, I almost missed seeing the sugary beauties. My first visit to the St Joseph Indian High School Auditorium, the venue of the cake exhibition, on 25 December ended in disappointment as I had to do a U-turn at the venue because of the large Christmas crowd. There were visitors at every nook and corner of the ground and near the ticket counters. It would have been extremely foolish on my part if I decided to get lost in the sea of humanity. I thought a wiser move would be to go to a handicraft fair which I so badly wanted to visit.

The cake extravaganza was on till the 1st of January. The period between Christmas and New Year offered me no free time at all and I was wondering if I could go to the show at all. Another thought that played in my mind was whether I should go at all as I had already gone all the way to St Joseph’s once. Finally, I decided to go at the 11th hour on the last day of the exhibition. I reached the venue at around 5.30pm. Luckily, the crowd was not as big as the one that I saw on Christmas day.

Unlike the last two editions of the cake fair, I did not notice any bouncers and there were very few security men. Maybe, it was the timing. As the exhibition was drawing to an end perhaps the organisers decided to do away with the bouncers. It was a blessing in disguise as bouncers would have made my photography experience a little difficult.

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Photographing the prime attraction of the show, a replica of the Red Fort, proved to be tricky as there were a lot of selfie enthusiasts hovering around and trying out myriad poses and then there were people taking group photographs or photographs of their partners. I had to strain my legs and stand on my toes to get a picture.

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Adjacent to the Red Fort was another equally eye-catching cake, this one a multi-staired wedding cake with intricate work. All these cakes are the creations of students of the Institute of Baking and Cake Art.

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The next cake in the row was a cute one depicting a group of penguins.

I then moved on to check out the smaller cakes.

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This one of a genie (Aladdin’s genie) looked enchanting and straight out from a story of the Arabian Nights.

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Next was a colourful wedding cake.

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IMG_7430A cake avatar of a pagoda looked pretty followed by an equally pretty one of a fairy.

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A white wedding cake accentuated by sugary fish made for a lovely picture.

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This sewing machine looked so real!

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A cake version of a natural disaster looked interesting.

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The Buddha in his cake form looked so serene.

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In contrast to the Buddha, a Scorpio cake looked quite scary. I wonder if anyone would have the guts to sink their teeth into this one.

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To erase any thoughts of fear created by the Scorpio cake were a happy clown and a towering snowman looking so endearing with his red muffler.

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The Moana Wave cake showing an islander looked cute.

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A giant ribbon cake looked so yummy and so did the Easter Bunny.

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The dining table with sugary delights looked so inviting.

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A cake showing the newlywed Bollywood couple Deepika and Ranvir looked hilarious. Deepika in her cake form looked quite matronly.

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A cake of Christ the Redeemer looked so perfect.

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I forgot to check out what this cake was all about.

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A wedding cake with large floral motifs looked stunning.

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This group of cute insects looked adorable and so did another with Santas.

After drooling over the cakes, I walked into the adjoining space which was host to a consumer fair. After a quick walk through the fair I headed to the food stalls and settled down with some spicy chaat and a crispy Delhi papad with a sprinkling of chilli powder. With that I ended my visit to the cake show on a spicy note.

 

Lost amidst all the pink

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Blooming time is the most romantic time in the Garden City. There are quite a few blooming times in the year, my favourite being late February/early March when the Tabebuia argentea or the Tree of Gold is in full bloom. Just being in the midst of these yellow canopies makes you feel intoxicated with the feeling of being in heaven. It gives you a heady feeling of divinity unparalleled to anything else. Not far behind the Tabebuia argentea blooms are the purplish-pink blooms of the Tabebuia impetiginosa and the light pink blooms of the Tabebuia rosea. Clusters of flowering trees add to the joyful experience.

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Despite being a tad busy this November, I managed to squeeze in time for a visit to Cubbon Park where there are a lot of Tabebuia impetiginosa trees. It was on a Sunday. I actually wanted to head there in the morning but overslept and had to postpone my trip to the evening hours. Things were moving at such a slow pace that I almost missed going in the evening too. Luckily, I got a bus in the nick of time and reached the Corporation Side Gate of Cubbon Park at around a quarter past 5. It was a Sunday evening and needless to say, the park was crowded with a lot of couples, families, groups of young men and women and the regular Cubbon Park walkers and joggers. There were a lot of cyclists too zigzagging through the crowd. Amidst all the brouhaha, it felt nice to hear the caws of crows and chirps of so many other birds.

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I weaved through the sea of humanity. Strangely, the Aswath Katte near the Corporation Gate entrance wore a deserted look with only one man on a seat lost in thoughts. I still have not been able to lay my hands on the history of this katte.

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As I walked on, I spotted the first beauty and lost no time in taking a picture of her canopy. I was happy the blooms were still there. The flowers were still young. Once these trees bloom it is not long before the flowers fall off. The reasons are many. Many get vandalised and then there are many which fall off due to natural factors like wind and ageing.

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IMG_7172Despite Sunday being a no-traffic day at Cubbon Park, the traffic lights were on. The evening was wearing on, the street lights were on. I had to hurry up with my pictures before dusk enveloped the place. I had to make the best of the short time I had. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise to be late because the blooms look even more beautiful with a fully-lit street light in the foreground.

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A few steps later, I reached the heavenly spot where you can find the majority of Tabebuia impetiginosas.

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People were having a whale of a time under the pink canopies. Many were picnicking, children were playing, and a lot of people were trying out different selfie poses. Balloon and peanut sellers were making brisk business. And I went into a clicking frenzy. I tried to work some magic with my mobile too but it did not work out. The light was low.
It wasn’t long before I decided to call it quits and march out. It felt nice that I got to spend one hour amidst the splendid purplish-pink blooms.

As I walked on out of the MG Road gate of the park, I could not resist taking a picture of the magnificent St Mark’s Cathedral.

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Notes from the Bangalore Lit Fest 2018 – Day 2

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Shashi Tharoor at the Bangalore Lit Fest 2019.

Unlike the previous day when I got late to the fest and missed the first event of the day, I did not want to get late on Day 2. I started from home at 8.30am and got a bus though not a direct one within minutes. It was five stops later that I realised to my dismay that I had kept my camera battery for charging and had not inserted it back in my camera. I re-checked my camera battery cabinet and lo it was empty! I got angry with myself for being so absent-minded and for a moment wondered whether I should go back home and insert the battery or else take photos with my smartphone. So lost was I in this battle that was taking place in my mind that I forgot about the bus which had almost started moving from the fifth stop. I had to literally jump off a moving bus! The next thing I did was take an auto back home and as my luck would have it the driver was one of those types who fleeces commuters. I jumped off the auto no sooner had it reached my destination and and ran out as fast I entered it, this time with the battery inserted in the camera. I had no time to even answer my bewildered father who could not figure out what was happening. Two of my cats who were watching all the action gave me a puzzled look. The time was 9.10am and I realised that the only way I could reach the venue by 10am was in an auto or cab. I flagged down an auto and headed to the venue. There were jams galore all along the way including one in front of the venue. The time was almost 10am. I raced to the ‘Adjust Maadi’ stage as soon as I aligthed from the auto. To my utter disappointment, not only were all the seats occupied, even the turf around the seating arena was occupied by visitors. When I somehow managed to get a wee bit of space to sit on the turf, one of the volunteers asked me to get up and directed me to go right behind those who were standing. How disheartening! It was well past 10am when Shashi Tharoor arrived to release and speak about his book “The Paradoxical Prime Minister”. Apparently, the wordsmith too had got stuck in the jam.

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Shashi Tharoor displays a copy of his latest book as emcee Darius Sunawala looks on.

Clad in a blue suit with a sleeveless coat, Shashi Tharoor, I must say, made some sort a fashion statement. We must give it to the man, for walking straight out of his car and onto the stage without even bothering to cool his heels. The organisers were even willing to swap his talk with the second event so that he gets a much-needed rest. When the emcee Darius Sunawala announced his arrival, the crowd erupted with applause. I couldn’t take down notes as Shashi Tharoor spoke because I was struggling to stand comfortably. I barely managed to take a picture of him. He spoke in length about his book which was about the current Prime Minister. The book profiles Narendra Modi, and has sections called Moditva and Modinomics, which has a large portion devoted to the demonetisation policy. The speaker wowed the audience with his exemplary English, sense of humour and oratorial capabilities. It didn’t appear that there were many Narendra Modi fans in the audience because the number of cheers drowned the jeers if any. His famous (infamous to Modi fans) ‘Scorpio on the Shiva Linga’ statement which went on to become controversial after it appeared on the dailies the next day got him plaudits at the fest. For most part of this session, like many in the crowd, I found it difficult to balance myself and had to strain my neck on numerous occasions.

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Easterine Kire reads out her poems to the strums of Bharat Nair’s guitar.

After the drama that prevailed during the Shashi Tharoor session came to an end, the stage was taken over by poetess Easterine Kire who eloquently read out poems penned by her to the strums of the guitar being played by musician Bharat Nair. The poems centred among other things on women, romance, Nagaland from where the poetess hails, and the landscapes of Norway.

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Sarika in conversation with Sadhana Rao.

After the soothing music and poetry, the next set of speakers took the stage. The panellists for the discussion titled, “Child Star to Her Own Woman”, included Bollywood actress Sarika who lit up film screens at the tender age of four, and Sadhana Rao. Sarika was also known for her beauty during her halcyon days. Sadly, age seems to have taken a toll on her looks. She also seems to have put on lot of weight. The voluminous Anarkali she wore that day made her look fatter. Clippings from her various films shown in chronological order preceded the conversation. As the conversation started, Sarika mentioned that she had never attended school and is self-taught in reading and writing. She used and still uses the dictionary extensively. She considers the dictionary her lifeline, her school and college. The studio was her school, the directors her teachers, scripts her syllabus. She never got trained in acting. On the sets, late actor Sanjeev Kumar gave her tips in acting. Contrary to what many of us think, she never enjoyed playing the role of a boy as she found wearing wigs very annoying  and the varying tense in the script would often be confusing. She considers herself blessed as she got to work with such acclaimed directors like BR Chopra and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Her most memorable film was ‘Griha Pravesh’. She went on to state that she is disappointed with the current TV scenario. There are many good actors but hardly any good scripts. Sarika wears many hats. Besides acting, she dabbles with production but is not thinking of direction as of now.

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As she descended the stage after the conversation, Sarika was mobbed by the young and the old for selfies and she obliged many.

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Arundhati Rao reads out a passage from Girish Karnad’s play “Rakshasa Tangidi”.

After the culmination of the conversation featuring Sarika, I moved across to the ‘Naale Baa’ stage which had a galaxy of big names on the panel for the conversation “Crossing to Hampi: A Dramatic Exploration of the Vijayanagara Catastrophe”. The seats were occupied; the conversation had begun 15 minutes back. Girish Karnad was among the speakers, braving illness, his movements and speech being restricted by a nose cannula. He was seated on a wheel-chair. Theatre and film personality Arundhati Nag was reading a passage from the play “Rakshasa Tangidi” written by Girish Karnad on the subject of the discussion. Rakshasa Rangidi’s plot related to the invasion of the prosperous Vijayanagara kingdom by five Muslim rulers. I was in awe with her style of rendition of the dialogues. It was simply superb and did full justice to the work of the writer. The last to speak was Prof. CN Ramachandran who gave his take on the play and was all praise for the script and the research that went into writing it.

I next headed for lunch and for the second day in a row had Bhel Puri.

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Barkha Dutt shares her views on “Women in Conflict Zones”.

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(L-R): Jasmina Tesanovic, Humra Qureshi, Rashmi Saksena and Paro Anand.

I headed to the ‘Naale Baa’ stage to listen to the discussion “Women In Conflict Zones” which had as panellists noted journalist Barkha Dutt, the multi-faceted Jasmina Tesanovic, writer Paro Anand, journalist Rashmi Saksena and writer Humra Quraishi. Ironically, Barkha Dutt’s mother Prabha Dutt was India’s first female journalist who reported from a conflict zone. Unfortunately, Prabha Dutt died very young. Being in a warzone is no easy task especially for women one main reason being the absence of toilets. The speakers agreed when someone said that in a warzone, victims are not just victims but also participants. Jasmina Tesanovic added that in Serbia, only men were enrolled to fight, women did not count. Among the men who were recruited, 80% turned out to be war deserters. Most of them were traumatised. Life was difficult with no food and medicine. Rashmi Saksena’s new book, “She Goes to War: Women Militants of India” which inspired this conversation mentioned how surprised she was at the spate of incidents involving women as perpetrators in conflict zones. In most cases, women become violent when their men get brutalized in the war. Many become carriers of weapons and find their way out of ticklish situations. Writer Paro Anand mentioned that in the early 1980s and ‘90s, when she worked with children and youth, no women and children were for violence. Now the increase in the number of conflict zones has become a matter of concern.

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Vijay Seshadri (L) and Chidanand Rajghatta (R).

I next headed to the ‘Adjust Maadi’ stage where the topic of discussion was “Trumpian Times” that had journalist Chidanand Rajghatta in conversation with poet Vijay Seshadri. The conversation turned out to be very light-hearted and gained momentum after Seshadri took time to settle down with the topic. He had the audience in guffaws when he stated that he is not interested in Trump and that it is better to deprive him of oxygen so that he can be left gasping. He added that it is very interesting to note that Trump has supporters. When asked where he was when Trump was elected President, Seshadri replied that he was en route to Singapore to take part in the Singapore Lit Fest. At Singapore, he was taken aback when he saw the headlines “Trump elected President”. He was surprised to hear that Hillary had conceded defeat. He laughingly added, “His luck is amazing”.

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Robert Dessaix and Shobhaa De share a lighter moment.

A discussion, “Seventy…And to Hell With It” originally scheduled to take place on the ‘Naale Baa’ stage at 10.15am got postponed to 2.45pm in the afternoon and was instead held on the ‘Adjust Maadi’ stage. The conversation had noted novelist Shobhaa De in conversation with Aussie journalist Robert Dessaix. Shobhaa De has always had good words to say about the Bangalore Literature Festival. This time too she did not hide her happiness at being in the Garden City, “I am happy to see Bangaloreans give so much importance to writers”. The conversation was inspired by the Indian author having turned 70 recently. It goes to Shobhaa’s credit that she looks anything but a septuagenarian and she was beaming positivity. “Seventy is not the end of the road”, she exulted even as the audience cheered and went on to add that she has never felt so unshackled. She said that she has started liking herself more and never felt so terrified of herself as she was in her 30s and proudly exclaimed that she belongs to the first generation of working grandmothers. According to her, contrary to popular belief, the loneliest people are the young and not the old. Now that calls for a lot of reflection.
Not sure of which talk to attend next, I continued to sit on the same chair.

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Kiran Manral (L) and Shaili Chopra.

The next session centred on the topic “Feminist Rani” on a book of the same name recently penned by Shaili Chopra and Meghna Pant. The discussion featured an interview with the striking looking Shaili Chopra by Kiran Manral. “The book was written with an objective to break the notion that in India feminism is a notion borrowed from the West”, said Shaili. Incidentally, the release of the book coincided with the #MeToo movement. Shaili added that “feminism can be perceived differently by different individuals”. “Feminist Rani” is a compilation of stories which are narrated from real life. Featured in the book are such names like Kalki Koechlin and Gul Panag.

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The discussion that followed on the ‘Adjust Maadi’ stage was the one which many were waiting for. “Mard Ko Dard Hoga: #MeToo” had Barkha Dutt in conversation with Sandhya Menon, Sister Jesme, Tushita Patel and Vinta Nanda all of whom as many of us know survived atrocities by men. Television producer Vinta Nanda who has levelled rape charges against actor Alok Nath was the first one to speak. Vinta who took the nation by surprise by making sexual assault allegations against the much respected actor was the first to speak. The incident took place in the 1990s and Vinta first reported the incident to Bombay Mirror back then but everyone was mum. The allegations proved costly as her shows got pulled down one by one. This was clearly an abuse of power. The influential actor got his way. In the interests of her career, Vinta went back to the concerned actor a second time. She directed him even after he raped her and he continued misbehaving.

Sister Jesme who left the congregation of nuns a decade back out of frustration was the next to speak. She was the first to document cases of sexual harassment against nuns much before they were taken seriously. You can find them in her book “Amen – The Autobiography of a Nun”. She had always nursed a desire to become a nun. When she joined the congregation, everything looked good. Later, she found that the system was fake. She mentioned an incident when a priest asked her to strip and told her that if she didn’t he would do it himself. He sexually abused her and then asked her to confess to him! He then told her not to speak about the incident to anyone. She went on the serve the church for 33 long years. Most abused nuns she says lack the courage to speak up about the crime as they lack support and are quite sure that their families will not take them back.

Former journalist Sandhya Menon spoke of how she endured sexual harassment by her boss Gautam Adhikari who behaved inappropriately with her in a car. The man in question told her not to speak about the incident to anybody. He later started starving her of work. Sandhya ultimately quit and decided to never ever go back to journalism.

Tushita Patel spoke of the torment she had to undergo when working with the ‘Asian Age’ under noted journalist MJ Akbar. He once opened the door for her in his underwear!

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(L-R): Janice Pariat, Kiran Manral and Preeti Shenoy.

I then moved to the ‘Naale Ba’ stage to listen to the discussion “Lives of Girls and Women” which had authors Janice Pariat and Preeti Shenoy in conversation with journalist and moderator Kiran Manral. What struck me most in this conversation was Janice Pariat. She is so pretty, elegant, has a voice of a cuckoo and her diction is flawless. Preeti Shenoy like always was dressed impeccably and I must say has an aura of sophistication about her. When Kiran Manral asked the ladies, “Are books that are centred on women taken less seriously?”, Preeti replied with a big “no” because otherwise her books which are mostly on women would never have become best-sellers. Surprisingly, Janice has never thought of writing about women. Preeti spoke of the raw deal most women get in life. They are are married off even before they put in place their dreams and aspirations. Forty-four per cent of women in the country are married off before they are 18. Her latest book “The Rule Breakers” is the story of a woman as seen in the eyes of the protagonist Veda. For a woman, it is important to follow a career and gain financial independence. With independence comes power.

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Janice Pariat reads a passage from her book.

Janice read some passages from her book “The Nine-Chambered Heart” with eloquence. Interestingly, the protagonist in her book is described through different gazes of her lovers.

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(L-R): Kartik Shanker, Krithi Karanth, Janaki Lenin and Stephen Alter.

By the end of this discussion, I was terribly tired and was contemplating going home. But the topic of the next discussion “My Family and Other Animals” was too enticing to let go. I thought I will attend this one last discussion and leave. The discussion with Kartik Shanker as moderator had in the panel Krithi Karanth, Janaki Lenin and Stephen Alter. Although Krithi was introduced to the wilderness by her father, the famous wildlife expert Dr Ulhas Karanth, it was only later in life that she developed an afinity to wildlife. Janaki Lenin too had her first wildlife experience when she was in her early 20s. Mussoorie-born Stephen Alter spoke among other things of his life in the border of the town and his visits to Corbett National Park along with his family. The after effects of my three-hour sleep the previous night began telling on me and I just stayed glued to my chair till the conversation ended. Honestly, I was hardly there during this conversation. With that I called it a day and this time I was sure I wanted to go home as I just did not have it in me to listen to any more discussions.