Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Zindagi Gulzar Hai keunki Indian serials bakwas hai

By Naseer A Ganai

Indian TV serial never ends.Even one thousand episodes doesn't  satiate a mother-in-law. She goes on to conspire against her daughter-in-law. The KGB and the CIA have made peace after the cold war, but even after great grandchildren in home, Saas of Indian Telivision serial continues to point out that Bahu, which herself is now a mother-in-law, doesn't know how to cook. The war continues. 

In Indian TV serials you don’t remember who has affair with whom and who is sleeping with whom and who is conspiring against whom. Watching Indian TV drama is like being in an espionage centre where everyone is alert and thinking how to counter the conspiracy of the other. There you see lot of affairs; extra-marital ones are a rage. Mothers are so young that they put their daughters to shame. At times, mother and daughter date the same person!

Marriage is an important component of TV serial. The marriage scene can last for two years. The relatives of bride visiting to see the groom before engagement ceremony will surely consume ten episodes; their tea at would-be groom’s house another ten; then groom enters the room to greet the guests another ten; then the groom’s actions portraying himself as meek and cultured fellow another ten; after the tea break, suddenly Pooja is held at the groom’s house which will take another ten episodes; Dadi Ma’s recitation of Bhajan will definitely take at least three more episodes and one of the guests from the bride’s side falls for the groom will also get five episodes as she would go into reverie and dream about roaming with the groom in his limousine. It will take another five episodes.

And a time comes that you forget who was groom and who he was going to marry?And when the bride comes into the scene, another hundred episodes are devoted to her engagement ceremony and the tragedy, tears and emotions it brings along. The ring ceremony is so elaborate an event that even US secret agencies don’t do such reconnaissance in Kabul when the president Obama visits Afghanistan as the two parties in an Indian TV drama do. Here every minute detail matters. All Kakas and Kakis are in hurry, tense and giving fake smiles in heavily dressed costume, seeing whether Mehandi is ready or not!

Then discussion on how an engagement ring should look like and whether it should be brought before Pooja or after Pooja, and whether Dadaji will give blessings before going for shopping of the ring becomes hot issues and so many round table conferences are devoted to it. And after completing all rituals and getting consent from Dadaji, they proceed to the jewellery shop. The director, however, devotes another five episodes to the shop and how good the shopkeeper is. At times, he takes the viewers to his family and forgets that someone is going for an engagement and waiting at the jewellers shop to buy a ring!

And once the ring reach home, then Shalini (would be bride) conveys her betrothal Ajay about the feat. And while talking with Ajay, she hangs up phone as her ex-boyfriend, Sahil, enters the scene. The director then takes the viewer to Shalini and Sahil’s past. They were in an affair during which Sahil suddenly goes to the US, promising to come back soon, but never returned.

He gives her some tight hugs and then informs her that he was in the US where he handles his dad’s business. He has come to India for some Rs 1000 crore deal and once deal will get finalised, he will leave.  She smiles. And for the next ten episodes, this Indian born American businessman dominates the scene. Meanwhile, Ajay joins in after hearing that Sahil is in Shalini’s house these days, but he instantly falls in love with Sahil’s girlfriend.  Shalini now delays the ring ceremony, so does Ajay. Somehow, Dadiji realises something is seriously going wrong. She calls them and reminds them about Indian culture and ethos.

Dadiji moves them to tears and they stick to their original partners. The American leaves the scene with his beauty. Here ring ceremony takes place. Then the marriage, but after years amid hundreds of other affairs in between. And once Shalini lands in the groom’s house, she finds it a huge housewith several Ramu kakas and Mousis doing the homely chores and several Bahus while as Dadaji administering the affairs of home. He monitors which Bahu is conspiring against whom, who is skipping Pooja and which Bahu is cunning, which is meek, and then again religious rituals take place where all the family assembles and Dadaji gives lecture about Indian sabrita.

It doesn't end there. Papu, son of Badi Bahu, gets hurt while playing and all Bahus rush to the hospital. The bonhomie and camaraderie returns. But it doesn't last long. The Choti Bahu didn't get time to visit the hospital as she was busy cooking for 50 plus family along with cool domestic servants. Choti Bahu is epitome of selflessness and honesty. But other four Bahus don’t like her as she is the favourite of Dadaji. They accuse her of being indifferent to Papu’s injury. But Papu too loves her. And this goes on and on.

Now look at Pakistan TV serials. Houses are like houses, not like hotels. There is no overdose of religious rituals. In fact, there is nothing like that.  Dadaji and Nani are like they look in real life. Marriages do take place. They also break. But it all happens in one episode. 

Maat completed in 25 episodes. And it looked so cool. In India, they could have dragged Maat to eternity, giving it Shah Maat. That is why you feel lively when watching Pakistani serials on Zee Zindagi. Their characters fall in love and you realise that once upon a time, you too fell in love, but you didn’t succeed. They have same insecurities and fears which we have. They don’t talk about Rs 1000 crores after every phone call. 

Their stories are tight and powerful. And their stories are about life, unlike Indian channels where religious rituals are predominant in every drama. Watching Zee Zindagi is so refreshing that you want to fall in love, once again. That is why Indian TV serials look sham and Bakwas when you comapre them with Zindagi Gulzar Hai.


Friday, April 11, 2014

A man who avoided death

By Naseer A Ganai

He was afraid of death. He feared death the way it should be. He was always cautious that he should not do something that would give an excuse to death to knock him down. 

If he had to travel from Shopian to Srinagar, he would call his relatives in Srinagar to seek information about situation in Srinagar. He would then cross check the information with his journalist friend. He had a belief that journalists know much about ground realities. Many a times he cancelled his visit to Srinagar after he heard a rumour from well known rumour mongers that something is going to happen. He even trusted established rumour mongers when it came to any news concerned about life and death. 

He would plan things meticulously. He had complete faith on his travel plan. He would plan his travel as if was in war room, where he had to think which route to take and which road to avoid. He was not a person who would take chances. He would advice people that when it is question of death never take a chance. Because, he would say death always looks for a chance and never ever give her any.

That day in summer of 1997, he had to visit neighbouring village for some ordinary work, when he accidentally found himself in a position that provided death a chance. He regretted it later. He regretted it bitterly. He told his friends that it was not an urgent work for which he had come out of his house. He told friends that he should have walked away when he saw a military vehicle stopping near him. He was furious what he did. He was angry with himself for what he did. He wept for what he did. He knew what he did. He provided death a chance. And she did not miss it. 

That day when he ventured out of his house, he walked to the main chowk. There he met his old friend and he started discussing something ordinary with him. Friends when meet they always discuss ordinary things in extraordinary fashion. It was sunny day. He was in high spirits and he was with his old friend. What else you need in life!

He was in his late forties. He had a number of apple orchids. He was rich. He had a beautiful wife and two sons and two daughters. Life was kind to him. Only thing that marred his smooth life was his thinking. His thinking was confined around the death. He was obsessed with the death. He would always ask, why people die and why should they die and why they die after all? What is this life all about if one has to die one day?

He was least concerned about what happen to a body of a person after he dies. It was immaterial to him even though he was very religious person. He was more concerned about why a human being becomes a mere body after he dies. Death, he would always think is a serious business. ‘Why people take it so lightly?” he would complain. Death was end in itself for him. He was always trying to devise a plan how to avoid the death.

While he was in deep conversation with his friend, he saw a military vehicle stopping at some distance from him. It did not perturb him. It did not make him nervous. He continued his discussion with his friend. At the same time something unusual happened. That changed course of his life. Forever. Some ten minutes after the army vehicle stopped on the road a big explosion was heard and he was injured. Someone had lobbed a hand grenade toward the army vehicle. The grenade missed the target and rolled down to the place where he was talking to his friend. The grenade exploded near them. The explosion left his friend unhurt but a splinter hit back side of his head. He was rushed to Srinagar hospital.

For three days after he got injured, he was assuring his friends and relatives that he would not die. It is a minor injury, I will be fine, he told his journalist friend in feeble voice trying to assure himself more than to his friend. 

Next day he implored his friends, “please save me from death.” "I don’t want to die. Please do something,” he told them. After three days his friends say that he went into coma and died.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

A day without shoes

By Naseer A Ganai

She was running without shoes. It was the most nervous run ever seen in the history of that locality. Never had anyone seen her in such a condition. All knew her as a decent, educated girl studying Arts in the government college for women. The boys - mostly undergraduates and graduates - of the locality would describe her as a rare beauty. And as a tribute to her beauty, they would call her as a marriageable stuff. In local lexicon of the boys, a marriageable stuff was a girl with whom one should fall in love and marry as soon as possible.

No one had any gossip about her. No one had seen her talking to strangers. For the boys this was a sign of decency.

She was from a middle class family. Her father was a teacher, and her two brothers ran grocery shops. And she was studying history. She was the only daughter of her parents. This was the only history the boys knew about her.

So it was strange sight for them to see her running like this - barefoot, covering her half-face with duppata in a hot summer of June in Kashmir of 1990s. It was an unbelievable view for the boys. They had never imagined that they would one day see her running on a dusty road of the locality and that too without her shoes on. But more shocking for them was the way she would stop people and ask them about the identity of the militant, who had been killed in the encounter in a neighbouring locality.

A militant had died about half a kilometre away from the girl’s residence after a brief encounter with the border security force personnel. People of the area including women and girls were walking in ones, twos and threes towards the encounter sight to have the last glimpse of the militant. Nothing was unusual about it. But her run was abnormal. It was a mad run. She would ask elderly people coming from the opposite side, “who was martyred?” They would say “Dapaan Maqsood gov shaheed.”

“Dapaan Maqsood gov shaheed,” she would mutter it and move on.

She kept her pace untill she saw a teenager of her locality. “Who was martyred? she blurted out again. 

“Maqsood,” said the teenager.

And with it she stopped, sat down and cried. The boys say that this lasted for a few moments. Soon she stood up, wiped out her tears with her dupptta and ran back towards her house.

Later the teenager told the boys that she and Maqsood had studied in the same school. And they were in love with each other.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Atheist gazi

By Naseer A Ganai
I was among a few privileged friends who were invited by a self-proclaimed atheist to attend his marriage party. The groom was ready to get into a vehicle to proceed towards bride’s home, when he stopped to listen to a Kashmiri song, which women were singing in his praise. His headgear was not green but still the women were singing “sabz dastaras khuda chi raazi, pakistanuk gazi aaue.” The groom was not going to the battlefield but to get bride. But still he was gazi that too Pakistani. Since then we call him gazi.

Some four years ago, a journalist from other part of Kashmir came to see his relatives in the valley. Their family was divided in 1947 partition. He said all Kashmiris are mad. It was a big statement. I told him to be in limits set by Sir Walter Lawrence, the first settlement commissioner of Kashmir. "He has given us enough names, now please don’t exceed further," I told him and remarked that he should know that Azad Kashmir is not Barcelona and Azad Kashmiris are not Americans. But he did not budge. He had his reasons to justify the allegation of the madness.

"Yesterday, I saw my relative taking out a cigarette pack from a cupboard, kissing it and putting it back there.” He told his relative why he does so, what is so special about the pack that it is being kissed gently and then kept back in the cupboard. “I have bought it from Pakistan in 1970s. It is from Pakistan, you know, from Pakistan,” the relative told him proudly. Azad Kashmiri was dumbstruck.

The Azad Kashmirian had a great desire to see a Kashmiri marriage. He revealed his great desire to me. He wanted to see the Kashmiri bride and the groom. I told him that he was late by one day. There was a chance the previous day to see a marriage function in our area but it was over. He insisted to visit the family. The groom was a dashing young man. He was an engineer and the bride was a teacher.

Reluctantly I told the yesterday’s groom that my friend was from Azad Kashmir and he wanted to see him in the groom’s attire and that he would like to see the bride as well. The word Azad Kashmir had an immediate effect. Within half an hour the engineer came out in groom’s attire wearing long sheerwani and a yellow color headgear. The bride was in lehanga. My friend hugged the groom. The groom thanked him for seeing him. “You are from Azad Kashmir!” he said and laughed. “Good! So you are from Azad Kashmir,” he said again and hugged him to the surprise of Azad Kashmiri.

In 2006 in Poonch an aged journalist told me where are you from? I said I am from Srinagar though I don’t look like a Kashmiri. He smiled. He said some time ago a Kashmiri employee was in Poonch. He insisted to see the border. The border was far off. So the journalist as usual told him that this mountain is under Indian control and that under Pakistani control. For days together, the Kashmiri was saluting to Pakistani mountain to the amusement of the Poonchi journalist.


Friday, February 7, 2014

An FIR, a tweet and the End of History

By Naseer A Ganai

All of sudden media fraternity woke up to breaking news on a TV that a lady has filed complaint against Minister of State for Health accusing him of molestation. Police have filed FIR and Minister is likely to be arrested. Fine. That is it.

After that no one came to fore to explain, where FIR has been registered, what is the complaint and what are the sections under which FIR has been registered and who is the accused. As if great typhoon had struck police and humbled it.

Information started coming in bits and pieces. It was all wired.

It was like last year’s SHALBHOT (Jackal Hill) area of the Keran sector. You could write anything. It was up to your imagination. More you stretch it more space you had to write. So people wrote. Whatever they wished attributing everything to sources.  And sources are sources. They have authority without responsibility. Sources too are prone to imagination. They started imagining what might have happened.

Some sources said the victim went to a court first. Other sources said she directly went to police station. Others said that the court directed police to register a FIR. Others said police took the lead and filed FIR. Since no official was picking up phone or divulging information, sources had field day. They bombarded journos with source information.

By Friday things started going so hazy that a friend quoting a source said that even FIR has not been registered. It was becoming more and more confusing. Other friend said that cops took a santro car to arrest the Minister. Wow. It was like Bollywood film. FIR hai bi aur nahi bi, aur car bi hai. Only thing missing was background sound. Anything could have happened now.
I started thinking may be everything is farce. Soon Shabir Khan, Minister of State for Health will emerge and say everything is wrong, he did nothing unhealthy and nasty.  

Then I set eyes on the twitter. There was no tweet from the twitter-in-chief of the State. How could he remain silent when there is such a thing going on? If he has not tweeted it means nothing has happened. The mixed signals from sources were creating more confusion. A friend said he was asked by his sources to write whatever he wishes. That means there is something. It also means there is nothing.

All of sudden someone disclosed that the CM is going to tweet. This was the only thing the CM does and strangely he was not doing it. Then after some minutes the CM did tweet. That the Minister of State for Health has resigned. So it means FIR was registered, complaint was there and the Minister was accused.

I still wonder why police left everything to sources to talk about the FIR when the FIR was registered. They could have simply said FIR has been registered against accused person, who happen to be a Minister and case is under investigation. Baat Khatam.

But then common sense is not so common. In this case police felt if it discloses that FIR has been registered and the Minister is accused, then it would mean, what Francis Fukuyama called, the End of History. Everything is going to end. It would be end of civilisation. Hence the mystery!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Our own Nadella Syndrome

By Naseer A Ganai

There is widespread disappointment after initial excitement in India over the elevation of Satya Nadella as Microsoft CEO. Media in India feels let down by Nadella as he made no mention of his Indian background after becoming CEO of the Microsoft. But Nadella is not at fault for hurting delicate and tender feelings of media men and women.

The day he became the CEO he did not go to media in India and asked them that he was born and brought up in India and he become CEO of Microsoft because he is an Indian. He did nothing that sort. Instead media felt excited and started talking about “our own Nadella” and sought interview of his father, who said that his family should not be disturbed in this “private moment.” His response was quite dignified.

Nadella is not an actor. That is why he has no need to say that he likes Mere Desh Ki Dharti song. He has left India some 25-years ago and settled in the USA and pursued his American dream. His is an individual success and a private moment for his family. So there was no need for media to suffer from Nadella syndrome. But they can’t avoid it. They cannot do without it. They started discussing everything about Nadella including his gigantic salary as if he was going to share it with media persons.

Take example of Preet Bharara. Bharara, Manhattan’s top prosecutor when put a strong case against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, a leading Indian television anchor described him more “American than Americans” and accused him of being a racist. The anchor was expecting that Bharara should not initiate prosecution against Khobragade for paying salve wages to her maid and for lying to the US authorities. But Bharara is US citizen though born in India and he was doing duty for his country. Why should someone feel betrayed if Indian born American citizen act like citizen of America? They expect them to be Indians to go slow on cases where top officials are involved. That doesn't happen in other democracies even though they are not largest!

In their zeal to show to the world that they have arrived at the world stage strange things happen in South Asia.

In August 2012 a Pakistani shocked fellow Pakistanis and the world when he claimed he could run a car on water. Agha Waqar Ahmad, the alleged water inventor shot into fame in Pakistan. Pakistan’s federal Minister appeared on television show with him and talk show hosts suggested he should get state financing and protection. And then no one bothered to know what happen to the great water invention.

Instead of waiting to prove  the claim of obscure inventor, Pakistani media went blitzkrieg seeking world attention toward the invention. Nations, which have low self-esteem does it to show to the world that they have achieved something. See somewhere some Nadella has done something. He was once upon a time an Indian. See somewhere in Pakistan some Waqar Ahmad has said he could run a car on water. This is our contribution to the world even though we really doubt whether he could run a paper ship on water.

Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India, these things are over done. A Kashmiri Qazi Tauqer sings. He was awarded for being atrocious singer and subsequently disappeared from the scene as no one could tolerate his voice and appearance. Since then there is no looking back for media in Kashmir. Someone if cries in bathroom, a singer is born for media. Now a Kashmiri got NASA award. They say Kashmiris have talent that is not even visible anywhere.

But all said and done Indians have certain standards. Nadella has become something. The CEO of Microsoft is big thing what if he doesn't mention his Indian origin. Pakistan too has certain standard. Agha Waqar Ahmad had claimed that he could run a vehicle on water. That was big claim what if he failed even to make a paper boat to float on water.  Kashmiris have no such standards.

Someone becomes simple clerk in the government after qualifying IAS or IPS or that crap called KAS and we are being asked to go for celebration.

Grow up people.

An estimated 190 Jewish or half-Jewish people have received Nobel Prizes since they were first handed out in 1901. Jews have won more than 20 per cent of the 850-plus prizes awarded, despite making up just 0.2 per cent of world’s population. If Israel starts celebrating individual contribution of their citizens then every day is day of festivity for it.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Closure

By Naseer A Ganai

“You remember Gulzar. I am his elder brother,” an elderly looking person told a doctor immediately after he darted into his clinic. “Have a seat and give me your arm. Let me check your blood pressure,” the doctor responded. He had not heard the patient’s rumblings.

The patient felt embarrassed. He sat down but repeated a bit loudly this time, “Doctor saheb, I am Gulzar’s brother.” The doctor now looked at him intently, trying to recollect the face. After few seconds had passed, the doctor give him a simile and asked him about Gulzar.

“How is Gulzar, what he is doing these days,” the doctor told him while adjusting a stethoscope on his right arm to check blood pressure. “And why you look so old. All well?” he asked.

The doctor’s warm response put him at ease for a moment. 

“You don’t know anything about Gulzar? He was your classmate!” He didn't wait for the response of doctor.

Instead, he went on with his talk, recalling the events when Gulzar crossed the LoC in nineties, like hundreds others. “We thought he will become a doctor but then destiny had something different in store for us!” he said and took a deep sigh.

The man’s beard had aged ahead of time and he seemed to be in a hurry. He wanted to tell his tale and it seemed he had finally got someone to hear his story.

“Gulzar returned after four years,” he continued.

“He came back but Ikhwan had picked up in South Kashmir then. It was difficult for him to move around. He would remain in the village and didn’t go anywhere.”

By now, the doctor too wanted to know everything about Gulzar. He did not interrupt him and allowed him to open up.
“One evening, some Ikhwanis came to our house and they took Gulzar along. We thought they would release him. We waited and waited, but he did not return.”

Anxiety took over the doctor. He kept the stethoscope aside and started scribbling on a prescription letter. The doctor knew the man as Gulzar’s brother. Gulzar was one of brightest students in his school. He and Gulzar had together appeared in matriculation exam in 1987 and then he did not hear anything about him.

Now years after seeing his brother, whom he knew as a dashing young man, broke his heart.

“Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and months into years but my search for Gulzar did not stop,” the patient continued.

“One day we got information that a bullet ridden body is lying on the roadside in Seer village. I rushed to Seer. But it was not Gulzar’s body. I came back to home. I was used to it Doctor saheb."

“I asked my daughter for a glass of water. I was tired. Dead tired. When she came with the glass, I got the shock my life. I looked at my daughter and she was no longer a kid. She was of marriageable age. I went into deep thought. I was crushed and defeated.”

 “Next day, I went to Seer again. When I came back that evening, I told my mother, my younger brother and my father that Gulzar  has been buried in Seer. I told them that I identified his body yesterday when villagers were burying it.”

“I took my mother, sister and other relatives to Seer and showed them the newly unidentified grave. ‘This is Gulzar’s grave,’ I told them.”

The family mourned for four days.

On fifth day, he started looking after his family. He had to marry off his daughter. His mother had turned diabetic, younger brother had left education and was working as a day labourer, father had a heart-aliment. For years together, he didn't do anything except searching his brother among the unidentified bodies. He had forgotten his whole existence in search of Gulzar.

“Seven years have gone by since I passed off someone’s grave as my brother’s. It kills me. I don’t know whether I did a good thing by closing the case of my brother. I had no other alternative. I want to sleep. Give me some tablets, which can bring me some relief, even if for some hours. I have not slept for a long time. The closure of my brother’s case always haunts me. Help me, doctor.”

Then he broke down. He cried for a long time.

The doctor consoled him and started looking at the scores of prescription letters he had handed him over. He provided him some medicine and advised him to come back

What happened to the patient, I asked the doctor.

“He died last year!”