Monday, March 26, 2018

Love in Bollywood!!!

One of the reasons I don’t like Bollywood movies is their portrayal of love and fixation towards it – not just the terrible quality but also the quantity in which love stories are produced. It is as all our lives is nothing but an eternal search for true love which take us to a utopian world which has rosy lives. So even if they make a period drama about Mangal Pandey, it is centered around love story. Even if they make a Sci-fi thriller like Koi Mil Gaya, love story was still pretty much central part of it. Guess what, even sports movies like Dhoni or Azhar looked like more about the love stories of their protagonists than the protagonists themselves.

If that was not enough, Bollywood has also spoiled the idea of love. They have limited it to singing song, running around trees, fighting for it, crying for it and all converging it to one point – making it, the love.

In short, Bollywood has mostly focused on form of this angle of this feeling called love – lust. The way they     have depicted love, it seems like only way to experience or express love is romance and end result is always found in bed.

Such one dimensional depiction has confused entire generation.

Even in real life one can find people living in the impression of love created by Bollywood. For them love is all about those sweet talks, candle light dinners, flowers, gifts, hugs, kisses, physical intimacy and rocking sex. One cannot really blame them. That is the picture they’ve been shown. Hence that is what they believe in.

But what is love really? I don’t know. What I know is that it is misunderstood and overrated. 

For the simplicity of comparisons, let us stick to just one kind of relationship. You know of what kind.

Love isn’t exciting. Not always for sure. Love is boring. Mostly. No matter how comfortable you are with your object of love, the company cannot always be exciting. After sometime, be it a few minutes, few hours, few days, few years, it will feel boredom. Some amount of, for sure. Can you find comfort in that boredom? If the answer is no, it isn’t love. It is just your need for good companionship. It takes time to build such comfort. Sometimes it takes years. It is a boring process.

Love isn’t about being good to each other. Not always. You will fight with others. You will dislike others. You will even hate others. There will be such times. Times may get so bad that you may even want other person gone. Gone forever. But can you see through these times to again reach a stage of being good to each other? Nobody is perfect. Nobody will ever be perfect. Same is about relationships. But can you handle that imperfection to reach back the happy stage? If the answer is no, it isn’t love. It is your denial for accepting imperfections of life. It takes years to reach the level of maturity where you can accept each other’s imperfections. It is hard work.

Love isn’t just about ability to talk to each other. There will be times when either one of you or both of you would like to just stay away from each other. There will be times when you would look out for breaks. There will be times when even when you two are together, you wouldn’t have anything to talk to each other. Question is, can you enjoy each other’s silence? If not, it isn’t love. It is your need for a vent out in life. It takes patience to give away the obsession of always holding on to someone’s space. Patience is a virtue not everyone is blessed with. But it can be built upon.

Love isn’t just about romance. It is much more. It is about care. It is about respect. It is about acceptance.

Bollywood’s most celebrated love character is Devdas. He is seen to be an epitome of love. To me, he was a weak character needlessly idolized but people who believe in selling pain. Pain sells. Devdas’ wasn’t love. It was his desperation to get back something he couldn’t hold on to when he had a chance and feeling of revenge against establishment which resulted in self-inflicted pain. This pain was celebrated. But Devdas’ was a selfish character. All he cared for was his own feelings. Hence he went into a self-destruction mode and ended up destroying everything. This wasn’t love.

Bollywood’s most celebrated lover boy SRK did Darr¸at the start of his career which gave it a big boost. The movie had a punchline – a violent love story. It was a super hit. His character was so much obsessed with his object of love that he almost ended up destroying everything she loved. Was this love? No. this was pure obsession to a maddening level. SRK’s character lacked respect for Juhi’s character’s own life and decisions.

Both the above mentioned characters were selfish. Extremely selfish. Irresponsible. Love doesn’t make you shed away from your responsibilities.

So often Bollywood has glorified the act of losing lives because two people couldn’t be together. That isn’t love. That’s immaturity. Because it lacks the most basic ingredient of love – self-love. You just cannot love anyone unless you love yourself. What kind of a self-loving person would kill himself/herself?

My one of the most favorite love stories come from Game of Thrones. The story of Ser Jammie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. One can feel the intensity on the screen. Both are bound by duty. Honor drives their basic values of life. Yet they feel these inexplicable emotions for each other. The emotions cannot find way of words. So they speak from the eyes. Their strong will to hold on to each other from making it apparent because life doesn’t allow it shows the strength of love. It has respect for each other’s position in life. They keep saving each other from the devils of life even though their inner devil says otherwise. That shows care for each other. There is acceptance for the fact that life has limited their options. This isn’t one dimensional feeling. When it comes to each other, they are selfless.

From Bollywood, one of my favorite loves stories is in the movie Ijajat. Yes, the mera kuch samaan tumhare paas pada hai, movie. The chemistry between Naseeruddin Shah’s and Anuradha Patel’s character is just amazing. Yet when they have to let go off each other, they don’t let go off the respect. They don’t let go off care. There is acceptance for presence and absence of each other in life. The song mera kuch saaman is good but build up to it is even better. And later in the movie when Naseeruddin’s Shah’s character meets Rekha’s husband at a train station, the pain of letting go is visible on his face. There is regret of letting something go and pain. But no obsession. No hyperbole. No nothing. Plain simple human emotions which anyone can feel.

Not everyone can go romance singing Tujhe dekha to ye jaana sanam, in Switzerland. No love story goes on in a utopian world with rosy pictures. They all are imperfect. They all are evolving. Romance plays a small part in them. It’s the other feelings which are equally if not more important. But then, other feelings are boring. They don’t sell. Romance, with colorful pictures and raunchy scenes, sells well. Hence, Bollywood has turned it into a product and been selling as love.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is whole problem with Bollywood love stories. They are far from real. They are one dimensional. They have given the false notion of this four letter word to entire generation.

Love you all.

Monday, February 26, 2018

An open letter to SRK!!!


Dear SRK,
I am yet to meet a girl/woman who isn’t in awe of you. Entire female sorority considers you the ultimate, penultimate and everlasting love. It is as if you have charmed the entire other side of gender divide.
But let me tell you a secret. Feeling isn’t the same on this side of gender divide. Men, lot of if not many, just hate you. They just do.
No, it isn’t the jealousy of your success where you have transformed yourself into an industry itself. It isn’t the success of your movies in terms of numbers. It isn’t your wealth.
It is something else. It is the way you have changed how Indian women look at us poor men. Yes, it is because of that.
Bollywood industry was totally different before you attained stardom. By the time you arrived, last superstar Amitabh Bacchan aka Big B was fighting tooth and nail to save his career which was plagued by old age, lack of good movies, overall quality of commercial cinema which was on a constant decline, his political stint, his alleged involvement with certain scams and his own brand equity which had quite become a hurdle for himself.
While Bollywood cinema, as 80s progressed, was falling into an abyss of mediocrity – Big B couldn’t afford to be part of it since lot more was expected of him. He was too big a star to act in a typical run of the mill – hero, heroine, love songs, hero’s dead father, hero’s widowed mother, villain, hero’s to-be-raped-sister, revenge and happy ending. Yet, those were the kind of movies normally came out of Bollywood those days.
He did have his fair share of Indrajeet and Akayla and Ajooba and the rest. Some of his better movies like Hum and Khuda Gawah failed to recreate the success of 70s and early 80s. Then ABCL happened.
Bollywood was looking for a star. You happened. You started with commercial cinema which broke many myths of typical hero – you were a villain in Darr, a villainous hero in Bazigar, a non-heroic villain and a non-villainous hero in Anjam. While you were either here or there, you were still neither here nor there.
Then it all changed.
DDLJ happened.
Till now the idea of love/romance/whatever was either very idealistic (Silsila, Maine Pyar Kiya, QSQT) or very roadside like rest of the crap Bollywood produced.
DDLJ changed it. You changed it in DDLJ.
Maybe this was the first time a love story was presented to Indian audience as a carnival. Remember the tagline – Come, fall in love?
Maybe the first time Indian audience were told that it isn’t always a baharon phool barsao moment when hero and heroine meet. Remember how Raj and Simran miss each other thrice before they finally meet – oh the epic hold-my-hand-although-you-can-still-board-the-train-from-other-door scene?
Maybe the first time Indian audience learnt that the concept of love at first sight, they had so often been told till date, was flawed. Remember every love story before that in which hero spots the heroine and immediately declares he had found the love of his life – be it Silsila’s ladki hai ya shola song or Chadani’s mere hathon mein nau nau choodiyan hain song.
We learned that love isn’t the optics which happens based on looks but it takes time to develop based on chemistry between two people. We learned that love isn’t simple mathematics where two plus two is always four but quite like physics where things happen under lot of conditions. Even newton’s laws are restricted by the friction and all that. We learned that love isn’t just sociology but psychology. We learned that love looks lot better when hero & heroine are roaming around in beautiful Switzerland rather than dancing in Juhu Aerodrome.   
More importantly, we learned that not every affair may end up in love and hence forth marriage – remember how Raj boasts about his Casanova image. I cannot recall the same in any other love story before DDLJ. DDLJ came at a time when my generation had started to get a glimpse of outside world and secretly dreamt of breaking the tradition passed on by our previous generation – men married women, they had kids, maybe they fell in love too 10 years after having kids.
The movie also changed the way women looked at things. They learned that it was men’s job to make them feel special and in a movie, not always two people had to elope to get married. They learned that a man’s love can be so strong that it could melt even Amrish Puri
DDLJ broke many preconceived notions.
After DDLJ, Dil to Pagal hai (DTPH) happened. DTPH – it gave a formula to Bollywood which has been used so many times since then that it has become not only obsolete but also awfully stale. The formula is called – is it love or is it friendship? I think this movie was more detrimental to traditional woman’s thinking than the first one – you can throw yourself in a totally sloshed state yet he can be moral enough to not sleep with you. Compare it with “Prem naam hai mera, Prem Chopra”  or “Tumhe bhagwan ke liye chhod doonga to main kya karoonga” we had seen in yesteryears. To feel for someone who didn’t feel the same way for you was shown as completely okay. Letting that person know the same was even better. On the other hand, it was fine for woman to fight for the bone of contention. See, women were gaining power over men – no longer two bearded men fighting over the same lass or sacrificing secretly. Even DTPH had a tagline – Someone somewhere is made for you. It clearly meant, if you fail once, just move one. You will get someone else. Gone were the days of killing self if love wasn’t a successful one.  
Next was K2H2 – using the same formula defined in DTPH but to a much more gigantic proportion. Is it friendship or is it love formula was used in K2H2 with such heaviness that it started getting stale with this movie itself. But K2H2 did has something different from previous two movies.
In DDLJ, Raj’s wit, attitude, simplicity, romance makes Simran fall in love with him. Referring to the euro trip.
It was Rahul’s search for a woman with strong character paralleling his own strong character makes the love story in DDLJ. Referring to the Pooja’s dance at interval.
In K2H2, a spoilt brat’s purity of heart and putting his women above even god wins Anjali’s heart.  Referring to scene where Rahul bows down his head to Anjali in the temple.
See, women were discovering that it wasn’t just the traditional qualities which were needed to win their hearts over but men also needed to see them beyond traditional beauty and give something previous generation hadn’t given – respect.
Women had seen the change which they might expect. They had realized they deserved more. They, I dare say, had smelt blood.
You, SRK, on the other hand were busy selling this mushy romance without even given a thought to what future generation of your own gender was going to face.
Every time you followed Simran inside a church even after confessing your atheism, every girl outside imagined her man would be as good as Raj and follow her to trial rooms whenever she went shopping and wait outside the trial rooms for hours. You have turned us in to a hanger holding cloths in shopping malls. Only if you had informed them that we would rather burn our lungs outside the church than go inside, things would have been much better for us. After all there is a phrase called “please go and let me have my peace”.
Every time, a hot girl expressed her love for you in a totally inebriated state, she expected us every Rahul out there to put her to bed and never expect slightest of returns on the investments. You have turned us into an NGO from an investor who honestly expects returns from his investments. Only if you had informed them that it is impossible to be-just-friends-although-we-hold-hands-kiss-hug-eachother-half-the-time with a hot girl, things would’ve been lot better for us. After all there is a phrase called “friends with benefits”.
Every time you bowed your head in front of Anjali, every girl out their believed it to be a permanent state of her man. You, yes you, have forced us all to look down upon women.  Now we are expected to bow our heads all the time. 24X7. Only if you had informed them that you were joking. After all respect doesn’t come from bowing down, it comes from looking at equals.
See, you had changed women’s expectations from men. Men were expected to make women feel special based on the parameters you had set. Guess what, you yourself mightn’t have needed to face the consequences because you were married much before and were better positioned to adapt this cultural change.
Then came Mohabbatein. Love was everywhere. So much so that it felt like giving diabetes. Kabhi Alvida na Kahna was the worst of its kind where, for no apparent reasons, people keep looking out for reasons for happiness. They were looking outside the traditional confinement. But I couldn’t get the reason why.
Well, it was SRK. You were bathing in a bathtub with multiple Bollywood divas gracing the occasion with their presence. Yet, you made it look like they felt special with your sheer presence.
You, with your close to ideal portrayals of roles of a lover boy, gave an exit to every girl out there. Nobody is happy. You utilized this secret. Every girl seeing imperfection in her partner started seeing the items which would’ve made her partner perfect in you. She started waiting her partner to be exactly like you and every time she couldn’t, onus fell on us to be like you. Why? Because we had to make her special. Because we were supposed to bow down to her. Because we were supposed to look beyond the confines of traditional qualities. Because we were expected to stay in friend zone without any kinds of expectations.  
You had changed the expectations completely. Totally. Whole heartedly.
Who did we men have? Who could we idolize? Our idols, all your female peers, were busy helping you setting the expectations from men to the heights you had scaled in your career.
We were dwarfed in front the catalyst you provided to the wave called feminism.
And that, my friend SRK, is the reason we men hate you.
Wishing you many more Ra.Ones in future,
Men.  

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Dear Sridevi - RIP

Men of my age are in a confused state of mind. While they see old age ogling at the doorstep of their lives, they are yet not willing to let go of the youth and childhood. While youth is much closer than what old age appears, youth is a forgone confusion whereas old age is eventuality.

We don’t know if the we should carry on the traditional path of corporate slavery which has been a tried and tested method to make a decent living or jump on the band wagon which seems to have been taken over by people of younger generation.

We don’t know whether to accept that Virat Kohli is the racing fast towards setting up new cricketing records which looked unbreakable not so long ago or keep harping on Sachin stating that he faced much more difficult bowling than Virat can do even in his sleep.

We don’t know if we should still embrace socialism, integral part of India’s political philosophy under which we grew up or accept the fact that for a truly developed democracy we have to embrace capitalism which in the end might mean death nail for our own careers.

We are a confused lot. When we spot a young beautiful with her not so old but equally graceful mother, we don’t know who our object of interest should be. Yes, we do objectify women sometimes. At least we don’t carry the burden of false feminism. 

We don’t even know whether to look forward to a Jhanvi Kapoor’s debut who was born when we were pretty close to either side of adulthood or keep being a Sridevi fan who was one of the fantasy girls of our growing up years.
Sridevi.

When you get up to the sad news of demise of the fantasy girl of your childhood, reality hits hard. It shakes you that the part of that childhood is soon diminishing and shall be taken over by something which is surely not childhood.

Sridevi.  
Beautiful. Graceful. Talented. Excellent dancer. Bold. Rebel. Successful.

Sridevi was everything any woman would like to be. If desires of women could be personified, it would be hard to find a better example. If sheer volume of films spanned across multiple languages is not enough to prove her worth, one should look at the variety of roles she has done.

In an age when women were considered to be, at least in commercial cinema, were nothing but a flower pot showcasing traditional values and orthodoxy expected out of a women in out culture, she did break the shackles.

Sadma was one of the best examples. And yes, if your argument is that it was close to being an art movie and not truly commercial movie, try arguing against her epic roles in “Nageena” and “Nigahein”. Especially “Nageena”. “Nigahein” was probably as disappointing sequel to a masterclass as Rohit Sharma’s performance is in tests after hopes people have from him.

I still remember stories of how Sridev’s eyes actually turned blue after she had to put on blue contact lenses. It isn’t easy to overcome acting, screen presence, voice and villainy of late Amrish Puri but she did that with aplomb. 

Then there was Karma. If a movie has bearded Naseeruddin shah, Jackie Shroff with a moustache, Dara Singh with his shirt always unbuttoned and Anil Kapoor, just having a bald Anumpam Kher was never going to do away the horrors of excessive man-hair trauma. One needed an “oomph” factor. Sridevi overcame them all on her alone. 

To me, and I know many more out there will agree, her most memorable performance was in Boney Kapoor’s all time great Mr India. Her beauty once again helped us overcome the trauma of man-bear Anil Kapoor and sheer fear of probably one of the scariest Bollywood villain ever - Mogambo.

The cherry on the cake was the song Kaate nahi Kat-te

In case you have been living in cages or believe that combination of Carter Cruise, Sunny Leone and Mia Khalifa can generate heat strong enough to give competition to global warming, do think again. Sridevi in this song was hotter than anything you would’ve ever seen. For the generation crazy about defining beauty as size zero, you would realise that for a women to look bootylicious, anorexia isn’t a solution for sure.

A man with a gadget which makes him invisible, a reporter meeting him in a location which had nothing but straw and stormy night - all the formula of a cheesy Bollywood song. Yet, what we got was classy. And when you have the best ever Kishore Kumar and debutant with a mellifluous voice in Alisha Chinoy, nothing but excellence could’ve been expected.

Everything in the song was symbolic of love, lust and the grey area between these two. 
Note the colour of Sari - blue. Get the hint. 
Note the choreography - such free flowing steps. Get the hint.
Note the rain and storm -  both actors losing control. Get the hint.
Note her figure - she has surely left being Boney to her then would husband. Get the hint.  
Note the lyrics. Get the hint.

Yet, nothing is explicit. Everything implicitly implies that love is nothing but a manifestation of lust. Watch the part where she is lying on her face and Anil Kapoor is slowly moving piece of straw from her to down her back. Or the part where she is lying on her back and moving the straw piece down. Every millimetre of distance that straw covers is a lesson of KS in itself. 
Watch the expressions. Feel them. I’ve heard that women can fake orgasm but Sridevi could really act them and act them bloody well, apart from everything else she could do.
There was nothing she could not do on screen. 
Until few hours back. 

Now that she is in a different world, I am surely she would be looking back at a life which was full of everything one could hope for. Plus she has left something behind not many do. 
A legacy.

Dear Sridevi,
Being an ardent fan, all I can say is what was said in that song again and again - I love you. I am sure lot of people reading this shall be repeating this with me.
RIP. 



Monday, October 23, 2017

A Road-Trip to Rajasthan!!!

A road-trip to remember!!!
Woh zindagi hi kya jismein koi namumkin sapna na ho
- Annie, Khamoshi the Musical, 1996

One day I would like to own a BMW X6 and drive around the world. But then, the way my financials stand, I shall do well to hold on to the car I have. Or maybe, BMW X6 is that impossible dream for me.  
So after contemplating for over 2 years, I finally decided to hit the road. And unlike the Jack of Hit the Road Jack fame, I was going to come back home.
While I would have loved to go all the way to sand dunes of Jaisalmer, it wasn’t going to be possible to cramp up a 2500km+ road trip in a week which had Diwali falling on Thursday. Hence, I decided to make the farthest destination from home as Udaipur.
Day 1
We plan to start by 7 in the morning. We leave just before 10 in the morning. Soon we are at Mumbai – Pune Expressway. I go there every weekend with a friend and take a U-turn just before the toll booth. It has happened so many times that I am sure they would’ve recognized me by now. Finally, I oblige them, pay the toll and cross the toll booth. I see a surprised look on everyone’s faces there. Or so I hallucinate.
Every time I am on this road, I find it worse than the last time. But then, even in its worst form this road is better than the most. But the biggest problem with this road is, if you are entering from Pune, that it ends in Mumbai.
Mumbai. I hope you know what I mean.
But I cannot believe my luck. I just cruise through across the city, driving through the jungles and enter Gujarat. Little do I know what future holds for me.
Just before the Surat, on my left, I spot Hotel Decent. Remember Hotel Decent?
Damn, just after Surat, I spot it again. On my left.
Learning of the day – Hotel Decent is real.
Highlight of the day – The drive is average in patches. Good in patches. And is awesome every now and then.
Day 2
I roam around in Ahmedabad. I learn few important lessons in life.
If you are driving in Ahmedabad and see an Auto Rickshaw ahead of you, you might well spot the driver jerking his leg out of his vehicle on the right side. This doesn’t mean there is a snake on his body and the driver is trying to shake it off. It simply means, he is signaling you he would turn right. Just to make it clear, if its left leg, it means he would turn leg. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a way to defy stereotypes.
If you see a man sitting on the back seat of a two wheeler with his legs on one side, it doesn’t mean he has some physical trouble. That’s how men normally sit on the backseat of a two wheeler in Ahmedabad. Women sit with their legs across. What does it mean? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a way to defy stereotypes.
I have seen many states in India – UP, MP, Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Sikkim, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Gujarat.
I have driven in many states in India – MP, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Gujarat.
No offence meant but I am yet to see worse driving sense than Gujarat. People don’t believe in using indicators or maybe they don’t know. People don’t use side mirrors anyways. Either they have it closed or have taken it off.
So if you are planning to drive to or in this state, be careful.
Learning of the day – Stereotypes can be defied. Yes, they can be.
Highlight of the day – Not much barring the turning signal techniques of Auto Rickshaw drivers.
Day 3
I start for Udaipur from Ahmedabad. Roads are good. Temperatures are high. For a state which has a huge desert, one can spot lot of greenery.
Soon I enter the royal city. But I cannot access the roads to my hotel. Apparently roads to the hotel are too narrow for a car to enter. No, I am not kidding. The hotel is at the heart of the city but inaccessible by car. What does one do? One has to park his car approximately 1 kilometer from the hotel in a government parking space, take an auto rickshaw which is narrow enough to enter the city roads and reach the hotel.
Damn.
On my way to the hotel I realize it wasn’t a joke. The roads are narrow. Narrowest roads I have ever seen.
Before reaching the hotel, I visit the vintage car museum. The age old Rolls Royce, the Mercedes, the Cadillac and all that which must have been owned by the kings staying in the city palace. I wonder how they got them through the narrow roads? Must have airlifted them.
Learning of the day – One can buy a Ferrari if he wants but without parking space, it could be as troublesome as a dead body is after murder.
Highlight of the day – Vintage car museum has some gorgeous cars. If you are a history buff, do not miss the light and sound show in the city palace. Even if you aren’t, still go for it. After all what is the point in vising the state of Rajasthan and not showing any interest in history. Also, do not miss the sunset from Monsoon Palace in Sajjangarh. Its serene.
Day 4
I have run out of cash courtesy the number of places I had to pay for toll. An ATM is the first point I visit.
Tip: In case you are planning a road trip, carry enough cash.
On popular demand from the little ones in the family, we decide to visit the zoo in Sajjangarh. Damn, its Tuesday. The zoo is closed on Tuesday.
Problem with this younger generation is that it is too smart for their own good. They know the monster called google. Google shows them there are not one but three zoos in the city. Google can find all three of them. All I can find is the zoo which is closed.
Dear google, please update your maps. You have no idea what false hopes given by a map can do to a father who has 2 sons who are yet to hit the double digit age. On top of it, you don’t even call them zoos. You call them wild life sanctuaries.
I try placating them by promising some adventure. I have no idea why but the adventure I choose is to drive into the city and park my car in a parking space nearer to my hotel.
Damn. Damn. Damn. It is like driving between the wicketkeeper and first slip. One needs absolute precision to scrape through without any scratches.  
Finally, I manage to park next to the city palace.
City palace is grand. They have preserved it well. Really well. This was the second time I was visiting it and I can safely say that of the very few historical monuments I have visited in India; this is one of the best maintained.
Staff is polite. Guides are professional.
And the place is full of history.
Next stop is Fateh Sagar lake but before that I need to drive safely through the first slip and the wicket keeper. I do that. Without a single scratch.
Chowpatty at Fateh Sagar lake is a heaven for street food lovers. Sun set is great. It’s not just the drive along the lake but also the walk around it fantastic. I need to stop here since with my limited vocabulary, I am running out of adjectives.
Next target is to look for the parking. Inside the city is out of question. I have forgotten the parking space where I had parked earlier. So after driving around in the same circle for over an hour, I manage to find that space and park.
Tip: It is always better to whatsapp the location of such points in an unknown city if you are driving around. It always helps in finding the place back. Or use some other way which my technically challenged mind isn’t aware off.
Learning of the day – When people in Rajasthan cross the road, they normally look straight. Even in case they manage to turn their neck, it isn’t in the direction from which vehicles are coming but in the direction in which vehicles are going. You find it strange? It's normal for them.
Highlight of the day – An awesome day. City Palace is a must visit. So is Fateh Sagar. I shall never forget the sunset at the lake. And the people. They are so polite you start to get a bit scared. Maybe it’s the regality which flows in the blood. You do get a sense of it for sure.
Day 5
Time to head back to the basecamp – Ahmedabad. Road conditions haven’t changed in last two days. In fact, I have become more experienced in these two days. So I drive. How often in India you get good roads which are deserted.
Soon I am driving in the vicinity of speed which I wouldn’t like to mention but you can guess. It is a bliss.
On my left there are hills after around 100 meters of plain ground. On my right there is a divider full of small plants.
Thrill appears. I see a gentleman appearing out of those plants on my right. Within a split second, I realize that the gentleman isn’t alone. He has his camel behind him. Camel’s neck is tied with a rope and this gentleman is holding the other end of it. As expected, he isn’t seeing in the direction I am coming from but he is seeing in the direction I shall be going.
I honk. He doesn’t buzz. I honk again. He looks into my direction. I honk again.
Seeing at my speed, he runs across the road. He is still holding the rope.
Now, there is him, there is the camel and there is this rope which this gentleman is holding. And then, there is yours truly putting more pressure on the horn than the breaks.
He lets the rope go.
No it is just me and the camel. I stop honking knowing that it might piss off the camel. I just drive.
Amongst all of us - me, the gentleman and the camel, camel is calmest and composed. He doesn’t buzz. Maybe he is holding his ground. Maybe he is hoping I shall drive around by his decisiveness to not move. After all it is indecisiveness which causes lot of accidents.
I pray to god and drive. Just below the camel’s nose. We all survive. I look into the rear mirror. The gentleman comes back, picks up the rope, takes his camel and crosses the road looking at me, in the direction I am going. Some consistency, that is.
Learning of the day – If I was driving BMW X6, it would have hit the camel since it is a taller car. Maybe some dreams are better off as impossible dreams.
Highlight of the day - What else but the road incident? If Ruskin Bond was witnessing this, I am sure he would have written a beautiful story named – The Camel and the Gentleman.
Day 6
I am back in base camp. It is Diwali. And yes, we do burst crackers. Take the environmentalist in you somewhere else.
Learning of the day – It is a holiday hence no learning.
Highlight of the day – Diwali.



Day 7
We have plans to go to Polo Forest if we get ready by 6 in the morning. We get up around 9 in the morning. Hence we decide to dedicate this day to the taste buds. For foodies, Ahmedabad is a great place to be.
Learning of the day – I deliberately took a break from learning today.
Highlight of the day – Food.
Day 8
The trip ends today. We plan to leave by 8. We start by 8:45. Talk about time management.
Roads from Ahmedabad to Vadodara look better in daytime than they looked during the night. Roads from Vadodara to Valsad look better than they looked last time. No, they haven’t got better in a matter of few days. It’s just that I had set my expectations really low for them. And they managed to beat them this time.
Drive from Valsad to Mumbai is absolutely gorgeous. Yes, G for gorgeous.
I am right on schedule to reach back to Pune. In fact, I am ahead of my schedule. I keep letting my friends know the distance I am covering along with time taken to cover it.
Everyone keeps responding to me with the message Aur kitne #AccheDin chhahiye?
Life is good.
Suddenly it goes back. I reach Mumbai. Next 3 hours are spent in covering 2 kilometers.
Finally, after a stopover of one hour at a family member’s place, I manage to reach home. Second half of the journey was less than half of first half of the journey but both the halves took same amount of time. Mumbai does bring you to the ground. It has its own ways.
Learning of the day – Mumbai, like life, is a great leveler. Doesn’t matter you are driving a Ferrari or walking, it often makes you move at the same pace.
Highlight of the day – The drive between Valsad and Mumbai. Do not miss it.
Like all good things in life or Sir Jadeja’s overs, this trip also ended in the blink of an eye. But I am not complaining – 7 days, 2200+ KM, INR 2500+ toll fee, 3 states, 2 cities, over 10 GB of photographs and lots of great memories.
Looking for my next road trip now.