“Mary Kom” – Movie Review

Based on the life of the Indian boxer “Mary Kom”, the film produced by famed Sanjay Leela Bhansali and directed by Omung Kumar, is a typical underdog success story that leaves you feeling uplifted.

This is a story about dogged determination that enabled Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom, Indian boxing champion to deliver killer punches to life’s obstacles that came between her and her love for the sport, including the insensitivity and bureaucracy of the Sports Federation.  It is also a story of quite but solid love.  Often when one spouse commits to a certain lofty goal, the other spouse picks up the slack.  Here the supporting spouse is the husband (Darshana Kumaar), who takes care of the household chores and babies, to allow Mary Kom the time and space to pursue her passion.  Mary Kom wins medals and championships all across the world, even as she struggles to strike a good work life balance.

English: LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (Feb. ...

English: LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (Feb. 15, 2011) Master-at-Arms Seaman Rhonda McGee, left, spars with Patricia Cuevas during an exhibition match in the preliminary rounds of the 2011 Armed Forces Boxing Championship. Competitors from each branch of service square off Feb. 15 through 18 and the action will be televised on the Pentagon Channel. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Priyanka Chopra in the lead role is superb and plays her role persuesively.  Acting by Darshan Kumaar, Shishir Sharma and Zachry Coffin is also excellent.  It is a heart-warming story of passion that is fully pursued.  It enabled an unknown girl from a rural area of Manipur, to become a five-time World Amateur Boxing Champion, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each of the six world championships.  Nicknamed “Magnificent Mary”, she continues to pursue her passion while balancing her role as a mother, wife, and daughter.  On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie 4.7.


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Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors among South Asians Compared to other Ethnic Groups

Dr. Alka Kanaya talked about Diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in multi-ethnic groups comparison studies, at a joint event hosted by  www.eppicglobal.org and  www.bio2devicegroup.org .  Dr. Kanaya is Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics at UCSF and a principal investigator in Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America or MASALA study, for short.  Primary objective of the study was to research and understand the high incidence of diabetes and CHD among people of South Asian origin.

Kanaya first shared information on South Asians (will be referred here as SA) and then discussed the study results in the context of multi ethnic comparison.  Currently there are 3.4 M people from South Asia living in the US.  It is the second fastest growing racial/ ethnic minority in the US.  They constitute 20% of all Asians and 75% of them are foreign born.  Although there is little organized medical data on SAs, overall they have relatively lower body weight (BMI), have more central abdominal obesity, and experience higher rates of diabetes and indicate high risk of early heart disease.

MASALA study began in March, 2010 and constitutes a total sample of 906 people, between the ages of 40 and 84.  People with prior history of any cardiovascular disease, those in active cancer treatments, those planning to move out of the area in the next 5 years, and nursing home residents, were excluded.  Data collected included weight, height, waist, seated BP, Ankle-brachial index (ABI predicts the sevearity of PAD, peripheral artery disease), 2 hour OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test), abdominal CT, and several blood tests and extremely detailed questionnaires regarding family history and information about personal habits like alcohol, smoking, sleep, diet and exercise.

Results from MASALA study were compared to results on almost all similar measures with Whites, Latinos, African-Americans and Chinese populations in ongoing MESA study.  See the websites of MESA (www.mesa.nhlbi.org) and MASALA (www.masalastudy.org) studies to see many interesting details on several patterns that emerged.  Kanaya specifically discussed some patterns among South Asians when compared with other ethnic groups.

When adjusted by sex and age, South Asians had significantly high rates of hypertension.  However, there weren’t major or alarming differences in cholesterol.  One of the reasons could be that South Asians were overall more educated, from higher socio-economic background, and were more likely to be using statins and other cholesterol lowering drugs

Most alarming differences were observed in diabetes and pre-diabetes levels.  Almost 30% of men and almost 15% of South Asian women had Diabetes Mellitus, versus 20% or lower among other groups of men, and 13% or lower among other groups of women.  Nearly 37% of SA men and 29% of SA women had IFG (impaired fasting glucose indicative of pre-diabetes), compared to 20% or less for men and 13% or less for women from other groups.  When adjusted for many indicators including age, sex, cholesterol, triglycerides, hypertension etc., South Asians were significantly more likely to have type 2 diabetes.

When adjusted for age, sex, BMI, and waist and excluding those on diabetes meds, this high incidence of Diabetes Mellitus among South Asians seemed to be associated with higher levels of insulin resistance, lower pancreatic B-cell function, and (as confirmed by abdominal CT data) high amount of body fat around abdominal regions and in the liver.  

Mercat de la Boqueria, fruits & vegetables

Mercat de la Boqueria, fruits & vegetables (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Among lifestyle factors, the high rates of DM (Diabetes Mellitus) among SA was attributed to poor diet with less fruits and vegetables and more Western diet (including pizza, pasta etc.), sweets, refined grains, and consumption of high animal based protein in the diet and low levels of exercise.  Considering that even on a relatively leaner body, South Asians carry more fat, the study concluded that guidelines for BMI should be lower for people of South Asian origin.  

The study concluded that 75% of South Asians were overweight or obese using the recommended BMI cut-points in Asians.  Compared to other racial/ ethnic groups, South Asians were from higher socio economic status, had low smoking rates, and low to moderate alcohol use.  They also indicated very low physical activity, higher diabetes prevalence (specially among men), second highest prevalence of high blood pressure, and men have more coronary calcium than other groups.  

A yoga class.

A yoga class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of the recommendations for South Asians from the study were, to know the risk factors, work towards ideal BMI goal (less than 23 kg/m2 for SA), remember waist size matters more than BMI, walk at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week, avoid a diet high in animal protein and refined carbs, and then something interesting – do Yoga!

Kanaya also shared results from her PRYSMS study that assigned subjects with metabolic syndrome into two groups, one practicing Restorative Yoga (included lot of lying down and relaxing poses) and other, Stretching Exercises.  In 6 months, both groups improved their PA and calorie intake.  Favorable changes in the stretching group included, lowered triglycerides and improved mental health.  Restorative yoga group reduced and sustained weight loss and weight girth loss but not visceral fat area.  Finally, only yoga group indicated reduction of fasting glucose and overall favorable metabolic changes in the yoga group included lowering of fasting insulin, glucose, HbA1c and HDL.  

One wonders if very determined focus on material wealth goes with more stress.  In any case, it shows once again that stress relief is a key for improved health.  This was a fascinating talk and was followed by Q&A and animated discussion.

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“Othello” (Presented by Shady Shakespeare Co.) – Play Review

Shady Shakespeare company is presenting “Othello” at Sanborn Park in Saratoga (see more information below).  Written around 1600, “Othello” is a tragic love story that revolves around four central characters: Othello (Michael Wayne Rice), a Moorish general in the Venetian army, Desdemona (beautifully played by Anne Yumi Kobori), Iago, Othello’s ensign (Robert Campbell is superbly devlilish in the role), and Othello’s lieutenant, Cassio (Alex Draa).

Othello Relating His Adventures - Steel engrav...

Othello Relating His Adventures – Steel engraving, approximately 7.5 x 10 inches (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Othello, a moor who is also lower in rank, is accused of alluring Christian Desdemona, a senator’s daughter, with his “cunning” and “foul charms”, and is asked a crucial question in the senate, “Did you by indirect and forced courses subdue and poison this young maid’s affections? Or came it by request and such fair question as soul to soul affordeth?”  Othello succeeds in convincing the Senator that he did not lure beautiful Desdemon by “witchcraft” but instead their love was mutual and she was drawn to him and fell in love with him because of his sad and compelling stories as a general who fought many wars.  “She lov’d me for the dangers I had pass’d, And I lov’d her that she did pity them”, he says.

Iago hates Othello for previously promoting Cassio, and is jealous of Cassio, and plots to get him drunk and then persuades dissolute stammering Roderigo to draw Cassio into a fight.  (Special shoutout to Erik Browne for doing a fantastic job in his role as Roderigo).  Othello blames Cassio for the disturbance and strips him of his rank.  Cassio is distraught and mourns the blemish on his fine reputation and Iago says, “Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.”   But Cassio wants his reputation and rank restored and seeks the favor of Desdemona and implores her to persuade her husband on his behalf, to reinstate him.

Iago takes this as a perfect opportunity to persuade Othello to be watchful of Cassio and Desdemona and the seeds for suspicion are planted.  Iago masterfully works to create proof of Desdemona and Cassio’s alliance and Othello’s suspicion is strengthened.  Herein, where the “green-ey’d monster, jelousy”  raises its ugly head that the beautiful story of Othello and Desdemona’s love sharply transforms into a disturbing tragedy that in the end, wreaks havoc and creates mayhem.  Despite Othello’s ill treatment of Desdemona, she tells her maid, Emilia (Melissa Weinstein), “his unkindness may defeat my life, But never taint my love.”.  And thus Othello who loves deeply, “not wisely, but too well”, sets himself on a path that defeats her life and ultimately breaks his heart.  Director Dawn Monique Williams has done a fabulous job and also great kudos to Caitlyn Nichols (Stage Manager) and Jennie Rodriguez (Costume Designer).  I call “Othello” a must-see performance of this theater season.

Othello and Desdemona, by Alexandre-Marie Colin

Othello and Desdemona, by Alexandre-Marie Colin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shady Shakespeare Theater Company makes Shakespeare accessible and entertaining by maintaining the richness of the language while also making it less challenging to understand it by creating a beautiful historical context, with enticing consumes, beautiful staging, and through awesome performance by talented artists.  Shady Shakespeare will be presenting “Othello” and “Pride and Prejudice” on alternate weekends at Sanborn Park in Saratoga, until August, 24.  For tickets, go to www.shadyshakes.org.

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સબંધ (Relationships) – a poem

Mother and Child watching each other

((Mother and Child watching each other (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Trying to learn to write a ghazal but not quite understanding the rules of rhyme and meter and “chand” – so until then this is just a Gujarati poem).

ક્યાંક સબંધ તૂટે છે, સબંધ ક્યાંક બંધાય છે
ક્યાંક લાગણીના રેલા ફૂટે છે, ક્યાંક રૂંધાય છે

ત્યાં દીકરી દેશું? છોરી ત્યાં સુખી થશે.
ક્યાંક સબંધ સવાલ છે, ક્યાંક ઉપાય છે

ક્યારેક સબંધ દોષિત ઠરે, બાળકો અવળા થાય
કૃત્યો એવા કરતા, સબંધ ક્યાંક ટોકાય છે

શિખામણ એજ દીકરી, ખુબ પસ્તાવાય છે
સંભાળજે, જો ઉતાવળે નાતા ક્યાંક જોડાય છે

ખ્રિસ્તી, હિંદુ, મુસલમાન એક સમાન
છતાં બીકથી સબંધ ક્યાંક રોકાય છે

ક્યાંક નીકટના છરો ભોંકે ને અજાણ્યા
દેહ પર ઝીલે, સબંધ ક્યાંક એવાય છે

મોલ કરવા અઘરા કૈંક અનમોલ સબંધે
તારી માનવજાત, એવા સબંધ ક્યાંક પરખાય છે

આપજે વધુ, માગજે ઓછું, આશા થોડી
પ્રેમ જાજો, દર્શના એમ સબંધ ક્યાંક સજાય છે

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Treating ALS – The Story of Neuraltus

Rich Casey, President and CEO of Neuraltus (formerly Chairman and CEO of Scios), talked about treatment option for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disorder of unknown etiology, at www.bio2devicegroup.org event.

Typically, the age of onset of ALS is anywhere between 40 and 70 years.  Life expectancy after the diagnosis is between 2 and 5 years, although in very rare cases (e.g. in case of Stephen Hawking), it could be an extremely slow progression.  No effective treatments for the disease exist.  Motor neurons degenerate and early symptoms include muscle weakness, specifically involving arms and legs, lack of hand grip, deep tiredness and it progresses to difficulty in swallowing, breathing, and garbled speech.


Macrophage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neuraltus’s lead product,  NP001 is in clinical development, targeted for the treatment of ALS.  While the exact cause of the disease is unknown, there is fair amount of evidence that points to increasing levels of inflammation in the macrophages.  This increased inflammatory activity results in the release of factors in the central nervous system that leads to damage of motor neurons.  Macrophages are cells produced by differentiation of monocytes in the tissues.  Macrophages are highly specialized in removal of dead cells or debris.  Additionally, macrophages also “present” antigen that plays a crucial role in initiating an immune response.  There is an increasing evidence implicating neuroinflammation with the progression of ALS.

English: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis MRI (ax...

English: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis MRI (axial FLAIR) demonstrates increased T2 signal within the posterior part of the internal capsule, consistent with the clinical diagnosis of ALS source:Radiopedia.org (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neuraltus’s novel, proprietary drug, NP001 regulates macrophage activation and converts the activated inflammatory macrophages from activated, neurotoxic inflammatory state to a neuroprotective state.  It thus normalizes the critical cellular environment.   Phase I, single dose study indicated that that there are no safety concerns and the drug is well tolerated.  Further, in a Phase II safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy study, after administration of NP001, there occurred a close dependent reduction of inflammatory macrophages.

The dosing regimen is somewhat cumbersome, said Casey.  First time, the patients come in the hospital and need to stay for 5 days and subsequently for 3 days.  At low dose, phase II study results indicated positive trends in the ability of NP001 to slow the rate of disease progression but did not reach statistical significance.  But at high dose, the drug freezes the disease in a 3rd of the patients.  Additionally, the drug is found to be safe and well tolerated.  This clearly looks like a very exciting potential treatment for a devastating disorder, ALS.  The company is currently looking for funding.  The talk was followed by Q&A.


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“Monty Python’s Spamalot” – Play Review

The musical, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”, a hilarious spoof on the motion picture, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, has been showing at the City Lights theater in San Jose, to sold out audiences.  It is based on the book and lyrics by Eric Idle and Music by John DuPrez and Eric Idle, and is brilliantly directed by Jeffrey Bracco.

Cover of "Monty Python's Spamalot: 2005 T...

Cover via Amazon

King Arthur (Ken Boswell) along with his squire, Patsy, gathers his knights, The Knights of the Round Table, and goes about in search of the Holy Grail, as instructed by God.  When King Arthur encounters Dennis in the countryside, Dennis challenges his claim to the throne.  King Arthur responds that the Lake Lady herself (who emerged from the Lake with an Excalibur), proclaimed him to be the king.  Dennis says, “executive powers are bestowed by the masses, not derived from some strange acquatic ceremonies”.  The tone is set for rip roaring and blunt humor that is daffily delivered.

In the quest for the grail, the king and his knights go to the French-controlled castle and try to sneak into the castle in a Trojan Rabbit.  Only problem – they forget to hide themselves in the rabbit!  As the quest continues, each of the knights encounters various perils, including Arthur and Bedevere’s strange encounter with the dreaded Knights who say Ni, and the Three-Headed Giant who calls Sir Robin to a fight, a challenge that Sir Robin resolves by running away, as his minstrel sings, “Brave Sir Robin ran away”.  When they try to enter the caves where the location of the grail is written, they have to defeat the rabbit, and they can only do it by using the Holy Hand Grenade.  They have to consult the book of armaments to figure out how to operate the grenade and with great pomp they read, “And the Lord spake, saying, First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three.”

In Monty Python, the irreverence is extended to everything, including the religion, the monarchy, as well as the Broadway, and Spamalot is “lovingly ripped off from the classic film comedy”, with great music, lots of dance numbers and a fantastic and large cast that rises to the challenge.   Special shoutouts to Ken Boswell (King Arthur), Clara Rose Walker (Lady of the Lake), Nick Manfredi (Sir Robin & the Guard), Josiah Frampton (Patsy), James Snell (Sir Galahard), and Jeremy Ryan (Sir Bedevere). The entire cast participated with aplomb, in the tomfoolery, delivering one-liners and puns with slapstick wit and the effect is, the musical will have you laughing from the opening scene to the very end.

Monty Python’s Spamalot will be running at the City Lights Theater in San Jose, till August, 31.  Tickets can be purchased at www.cltc.org.




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કલાપી કાવ્યો – “હ્ર્દયક્મલની જૂઠી આશા” & “અમે જોગી બધા વરવા” અને આસ્વાદ

Gujrat’s poet Kalapi has left us a treasure trove of beautiful poetry – you can find more information on him at this link http://bit.ly/1k1xwTx .  However, because of the time he lived in, his language is different and I have to read the lines several times to understand the meaning. Also his poems are packed with meaning. I have attempted to understand the meaning in the two poems below – and will appreciate critical comments.
(PS – this was part of “Bethak” program organized by Pragnaben Dadbhawala – see more info at http://www.shabdonusarjan.wordpress.com ).

summer heat

summer heat (Photo credit: Anosmia)

હ્ર્દયક્મલની જૂઠી આશા – કલાપી
કાવ્યનો આસ્વાદ કાવ્યની નીચે છે

રે ભોળી! જલઝુલતી કમલિનિ! કાં ભૂલ? વ્હાલી સખી,
જોઈ પૂર્વદિશામુખે પ્રસરતી લાલાશ આ ઊજળી?
આશા વ્યર્થ ધરે રવિ સુકરની સંધ્યા સમે, બાપલા!
એ તો હિમપતિ શશી નિકળશે, ના ના પતિ, હે હલા!

એ પોચું દિલ તું સમું સુનમન છે, તેણે ગૃજી આશ’તી:
જાણ્યું સૂર્ય થઈ પ્રફૂલ્લ કરશે પ્રેમી તણી પ્રીતડી;
ના તે તે નિકળી હતી શશી સમી, હિમે હણ્યું કાળજું;
જૂઠી આશ દઝાડતી સુમનને, ભુલે ન તે ઝાળ તું!

કેટલીયે વખત આપણે ખુબ આશાથી રાહ જોતા હોઈએ અને તે આશા નિરાશામાં બદલી જાય – તે વાત ખુબ સુંદર રીતે અહી કલાપીએ વર્ણવી છે.  ખાસ કરીને વાત જયારે પ્રેમ ની હોય ત્યારે આશા માં પણ તેવોજ અતિરેક હોય.  કલાપી કહે છે પૂર્વમાં સૂર્ય ઉગે તેની સાથે જ આશા નો ઉદય થાય છે કે પ્રેમી તણી પ્રીતડી પ્રગટશે.  પરંતુ આશા નીકળી શશી (ચાંદ) સમી – ઠંડીગાર।  અને ખોટી આશા પ્રેમની જ્યોત પ્રગટાવવાની બદલે દઝાડી ગયી.



Love (Photo credit: Swamibu)

અમે જોગી બધા વરવા

અમે જોગી બધા વરવા સ્મશાનો ઢુંઢનારાઓ
તહીંના ભૂતને ગાઈ જગાવી ખેલનારાઓ

જહાં જેને કરી મુર્‌દું કબરમાં મોકલી દેતી
અમે એ કાનમાં જાદુ અમારું ફૂંકનારાઓ

જહાંથી જે થયું બાતલ અહીં તે થયું શામિલ
અમે તો ખાકની મૂઠી ભરી રાજી થનારાઓ

જહીં જખ્મો તહીં બોસા તણો મરહમ અમે દેતાં
બધાંનાં ઈશ્કનાં દરદો બધાંએ વહોરનારાઓ

અમે જાહેરખબરો સૌ જિગરની છે લખી નાખી
ન વાંચે કોઈ યા વાંચે ન પરવા રાખનારાઓ

ગરજ જો ઈશ્કબાજીની અમોને પૂછતા આવો
બધાં ખાલી ફિતુરથી તો સદાએ નાસનારાઓ

જહીં સ્પર્ધા તણી જગની દખલ ના પ્હોંચતી ત્યાં ત્યાં
જમીં ને આસમાનોના દડા ઉડાવનારાઓ

ગમે તે બેહયાઈને દઈ માથું ધરી ખોળે
અમે આરામમાં ક્યાંએ સુખેથી ઊંઘનારાઓ

સનમની બેવફાઈથી નથી સુખ કાંઈએ કરતાં
અમે જાણ્યું અમે માણ્યું ફિકરને ફેંકનારાઓ

જખ્મથી જે ડરી રહેતા વગર જખ્મે જખ્મ સહેતા
અમે તો ખાઈને જખ્મો ખૂબી ત્યાં માનનારાઓ

બની ઉસ્તાદ આવો તો થશો આંહી તમે ચેલા
મગર મુરશિદ કરો તો તો અમે ચેલા થનારાઓ

અમારા આંસુથી આંસુ મિલાવો આપશું ચાવી
પછી ખંજર ભલે દેતાં નહિ ગણકારનારાઓ

આ કાવ્યમાં કલાપી એવા અલૌકિક, અદભુત પ્રેમ ની વાત કરે છે જે જીવતા થી મૃત્યુ સુધી અને જમીન થી આસમાન સુધી માનવી નો સહારો બને રયે છે, તેને જરૂર પડે ત્યારે હિમત આપે છે અને નિરાંત ની નિદર પણ આપે છે.   પછી તે પ્રેમનું લક્ષ્ય હોય પ્રિયતમ, પ્રિયતમા કે પ્રભુ, આ કાવ્ય તેવા પ્રેમના જોગીને લાગતું છે.  પ્રેમ જોગી ને નથી મૌત નો ડર કે ભૂત ની દરકાર, તે તો કબરમાં જતા મડદા  ની કાન માં પણ જાદુ ફૂકી દયે તેમ છે.  પ્રેમ જોગી તો ગમે તેના ઇશ્ક ના દર્દ નો અનુભવ કરી શકે છે અને તેનો ઈલાજ પણ કરે છે.  આ કાવ્ય પણ એક ઈલાજ જ છે ને?  જીગરની વાત ને કહેવાવાળા પ્રેમ જોગી ને કોઈ ફર્ક નથી પડતો કે તેને કોઈ વાંચે કે ન વાંચે.  સ્પર્ધામાં જીતવા માટે નહિ પણ પ્રેમ જોગી તો અમથાજ જમીન થી આસમાન સુધી દડા રમનારા; અને હૃદય માં પ્રેમ, તેથી જ્યાં માથું ઢાળે ત્યાં આરામ ની ઊંઘે ઊંઘનારા.  ક્યારેક સનમની બેવફાઈ નો પણ સામનો કરવો પડે છે પણ પ્રેમ જોગી તેથી થોડા ડરી જવાના છે?  તે તો જખમ ખાઈ ને તેને પણ પ્રેમ ની ખૂબી માને છે.  પ્રેમની દુનિયા માં કોઈ ઉસ્તાદ નથી, અહીં તો બધા ચેલા છે.  જયારે ઇશ્ક ના આંસુ તમને રડાવે તે પછી તમે પણ પ્રેમ જોગી બન્યા સમજજો અને પછી તમે ખંજરને પણ નહીં ગણકારો.

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Kavi Kalapi’s Poem “એક ઈચ્છા”

In Bay Area, as part of Bethak, Pragnaben Dadbhawala is organizing small gatherings of people interested in Gujarati literature and poetry. Every month a subject is assigned & we research, learn, and share in the gathering. The subject this month was Gujarat’s prominent poet, Kalapi.  Kalapi was born as Sursinhji Takhtsinhji Gohil, a prince, of a small princely state in Gujarat, in the year, 1874. At the age of 16, he was married to two princesses (who are said to have fought bitterly to become the main queen), neither of whom he loved, and instead fell deeply in love with a maid of one of the princess.  Given the traditions of the time, his love for his sweetheart would never be sanctioned by society.  Kalapi died of poisoning, at the tender age of 26; rumored to have been poisoned by one of his wives.  In a short span, between age 16 and 26, he traveled most of India, and wrote over 250 poems, including over 15,000 verses, and 900 letters to his friends and wives. He studied poets like Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly and others, and translated some of their works into Gujarati.

Slitscan K, Kalapi, 2763

Slitscan K, Kalapi, 2763 (Photo credit: jk-keller)

Kalapi’s work gives a deep insight into his character, the enormous challenges he dealt at a young age, and his transformation as a human being.  Kalapi was deeply sensitive, emotional, and caring man, who loved his beloved, and dedicated many of his poems to his love for his beloved. Gradually, he came to develop deep dislike for politics, for all material things, and his love also began to transcend from the physical to the level of soul, and he also began writing more poems addressing the divine.  The poem below is titled, “One Wish”.  He says in there that he will willingly bear the burden of all the challenges he has to deal with, but he has one wish from the Lord.  He asks the Lord to keep his heart soft and pure.  It is clear that despite all the challenges, Kalapi never developed hate for his conniving wives, or towards anyone else.  He continued to reflect deep seated softness and sensitivity towards people, even towards birds, and other living creatures.  I chose this poem  because it is a simple poem which is like a window into his soul.  AND I also selected it because it reminded me of how once I made a similar wish and wrote a poem.  You can read it at this link http://bit.ly/1qEIrFU – though my language is far simpler, there is an underlying essence, where there is similarity.


એક ઈચ્છા -  કલાપી

Storm clouds

Storm clouds (Photo credit: tommaync)

પડ્યા જખમ સૌ સહ્યા, સહીશ હું હજુયે બહુ,
ગણ્યા નવ કદી, ગણું નવ કદી, પડે છો હજુ;
અપાર પડશે અને જિગર હાય ! આળું થયું,
કઠિન ન બનો છતાં હૃદય એ જ ઈચ્છું, પ્રભુ !

પડી વીજળી તે પડી સુખથી છો, બળું છું સુખે,
અનન્ત ભભૂકા દહે, દહો, ગળું છું સુખે !
ન દાહ વસમો કદી, જિગર બૂમ ના પાડતું,
કઠિન બનજો નહીં હૃદય, એ જ ઈચ્છું પ્રભુ !

બહુય રસ છે મને, હૃદય છે હજુ તો, અહો !
અરે ! હૃદય જો ગયું, રસ ગયો પછી તો બધો;
ભલે મૃદુ રહી સહી જખમ છેક ચૂરો થતું,
કઠિન ન બનો કદી હૃદય એ જ ઈચ્છું, પ્રભુ !

મને કલાપી લિખિત આ રચના ખુબજ ગમે છે.  એમની બધી રચના કરતા આ સાદી રચના છે પણ તે આપણને તેમના અંતર માં ડોકિયું કરાવી દયે છે – તેમની એક સાદી ઈચ્છા કે ગમે તેવા દુખ નો સામનો કરવાનો થાય પણ પ્રભુ હૃદય ને કોમળ રાખજે કે હૃદય ને કઠીન અને કઠોર નહિ બનાવતા.  ઘણા વખત પહેલા લગ્ન માં મારપીટ સહન કરતા મેં પણ તેવીજ એક ઈશ્વર પાસે યાચના કરેલી કે ભલે કઠોરતા નો સામનો કરવો પડે અને ભલે ક્ષણીકવાર માટે દુખ અને ગુસ્સા માં દિલ ભરાઈ આવે, પણ ઈશ્વર મારા હૃદય માં કોમળતા અને સુંદરતા રહેવા દેજો કે હું ઝીંદગી માં હમેશા પ્રેમના પંથે ચાલી શકું, પ્રેમને અનુભવી શકું અને ઓળખી શકું.   તે વખતે મેં નાની ચાર લીટી ની સાદી કવિતા  અંગ્રેજીમાં લખેલી, તે નીચે પ્રમાણે છે.  http://bit.ly/1qEIrFU

When anger dwells in my heart and mind
It lasts but a tiny moment
Leaves silently with a lament
Saluting the abundant love
Peaceful and tranquil as a dove
Love stays in my heart
Beacons anger bitter and tart
To taste the sweetness it relishes
Nudged gently, my anger relinquishes

PS – welcome your opinion
મેં બીજા બ્લોગ પર વાંચ્યું કે કલાપીએ આ કાવ્ય તેની પ્રિયતમા ને સંબોધીને લખ્યું છે. મને તેવું લાગતું નથી કેમ કે અહીં પ્રિયતમા નો ઉલેખ નથી. અને બીજી સત્ય હકીકત એ છે કે કલાપીએ તેમની નાની વાય માં ઘણા દુઃખનો સામનો કરેલ છે. તેમની બાળપણની ઉમરમાં તેમના માતા પિતા નું અચાનક મ્રત્યું, રાજનીતિના કારણસર તેમના ખાંડા લગ્ન, બંને પન્તીઓ વચ્ચેની પટરાણી બનવા માટેની હરીફાઈ, અને તેમનું પ્રેયસી તરફનું ખેચાણ જેનો અંજામ સમાજ ના નિયમ પ્રમાણે જુદાઈમાં જ પરીણમે। તેથી મારી સમાજ અનુસાર આ કાવ્ય તેમણે પ્રભુ ને જ સંબોધીને લખેલ છે.


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कशिश – “Kashish” Ghazal Program in Bay Area, CA

बे एरिया के जानेमाने आज़माये हुए कलाकार डिम्पल भाई पटेल ने “कशिश” नाम से ग़ज़ल प्रोग्राम प्रस्तुत किया जिसमे प्रस्तावना और कार्यक्रम की उद्धघोषणा कि  मशहूर शायरा/ कवयित्री अर्चना पांडा ने.  अगर आप ये कार्यक्रम चूक गए तो आशा है के ये समीक्षा पढ़कर अगले कार्यक्रम में जरूर आयेँगे. (You can read information on the writer below).DSC_0014 (2)

अर्चनाजी ने ये कविता सुनाकर  कार्यक्रम की शुरुआत की  “में बोली क्या लिखू बताओ, वो बोला आकाश लिखो, खुद को मत बांधो सीमा में, जो होता है आकाश लिखो” और फिर कलाकरोने बरसाई आकाश से ग़ज़ालोकी बारिश.  प्रेक्षकोंके होश उड़ गए जब डिंपलभाई ने गाया “होशवालोको खबर क्या, बेखुदी क्या चीज़ है”. कीबोर्ड पर उनको साथ दिया आलाप देसाई ने और तमल डे ने गिटार पर.  तबला पर पिता और बेटे, गुरदीप सिंह हीरा और संत प्रीत हीरा ने दिल जीत लिया.  लेकिन ये तो सिर्फ थी शुऱुआत.DSC_0023 (3)

बे एरिया की प्यारी गायिका उर्मि जोशी का परिचय तो उनकी आवाज में है, यह ध्यान में रखते हुए अर्चनाजी ने उनका परिचय करते वख्त कहा “खूबसूरती को सँवरने की जरुरत क्या है, खुद सादगी भी तो क़यामत का आभास है” हाय………. हो गया दिल घायल और क़यामत का आभास, जब उन्होंने गाया “यु हसरतो के दाग मोहब्बत में धो लिए”. फिर साथी कलाकार जयाजी ने गाया “तुझसे नाराज नहीं ज़िन्दगी, हैरान हूँ में”.

अर्चनाजी ने अगली ग़ज़ल और उनको पेश करनेवाले कलाकारका परिचय करते कहा “बिन सुरोंके गीत गाना चाहती हूँ, कशिश तेरी आज़माना चाहती हूँ” और उन्होंने सवाल किया “इश्क़ क्या है अरमान है या अहसान है”. ये सवाल प्रेक्षकों की सोच में रहा जब बे एरिया के प्यारे कलाकार, मनदीप सिंघ, जो रफ़ी साहेब के गाने खूबसूरती से पेश करते है, जब उन्होंने गाया, “अहसान तेरा होगा मुझपर”.

उर्मीजी और डिंपलभाई ने फिर दोहराया तलत अज़ीज़ का गाना, “फिर छेड़ी रात, बात फूलों की” और जयाजी ने गाया “क्यूँ ज़िन्दगी  की राह में मजबूर हो गए हम“. अर्चनाजी ने थोड़ी छेड़छाड़ करके सबको हँसा भी दिया.  जब डिंपलजी ने गाया “जुकी जुकी सी नज़र बेक़रार है”, तब अर्चनाजी ने पूछ लिया की गाना किसके लिए गाया जा रहा था.  जवाब तो नहीं मिला, लेकिन अर्चनाजी से ये शेर सुनके दिल खुश हो गया “एक ख़्वाब देदो हमें, वर्ना हम खो जायेंगे, इतना मत हसाओ, वर्ना हम रो जायेंगे।  यूँ भी आधा दीवाना कहती है दुनिया, पर पुरे पागल हम हो जायेंगे”. और इश्क़ की मस्ती के पागलपन से कौन अनजान है, ये सवाल सोच में रह गया जब उर्मीजी ने गाया “इन आँखों की मस्ती के मस्ताने हजारों है”.

प्रेक्षकों से स्टैंडिंग ओवेशन मिला जब मनदीपजी ने गाया  “मेरे महबूब तुजे मेरी महोबत की कसम” गाना का भी जवाब नहीं और नाही कोई कसूर गानेवाले का. अर्चनाजी ने ग़ज़ल सुनाई “जब तू मुस्कायो तो दिल ये बाग़ बाग़ है”. डिम्पलजी और उर्मीजी को स्टैंडिंग ओवेशन मिला जब उन्होंने दोहराया ये खूबसूरत गीत “शमा जलाये रखना, जब तक के में न आऊं”. फिर जयाजी ने गाया “दर्द दिल में उठा” और मनदीपजी ने दिल को छू लिया ये खूबसूरत गाने के साथ “होठों से छूलो तुम”.

डिम्पलजी ने खूबसूरत ग़ज़ल सुनाई “कल चौदवीं की रात थी”. अर्चनाजी ने शेर सुनाया “में चंदा कम समझती हुँ, में सूरज कम समझती हूँ, में सितारे कम समजती हुँ. उधर उनकी मुसीबत इशारों में बात कर रहे है, इधर मेरी मुसीबत में इशारे कम समझती हूँ”.  कभी कभी इशारे में नहीं समझनेवालों का अंजाम जुदाई होता है?  उर्मीजी ने गायी ये ग़ज़ल “दिखाई दिए के बेखुद किया, हमें आपसे भी जुदा कर चले”. फिर हमने सुनी डिंपलभाई और उर्मीजी के आवाज़ में “दुनिया जिसे कहते है जादू का खिलौना है”.

DSC_1012_2शाम बेहतरीन रंगो से भर गयी थी, और डिम्पलजी ने ये खूबसूरत ग़ज़ल सुनाई “सरकती जाये रुख से नकाब, रंग ले रही है शाम आहिस्ता आहिस्ता”. अर्चनाजी  की कॉमेंट्री से भी खूब रंग जमा था.  अर्चनाजी ने सुनाया शेर “आपकी मुश्कराहटने हमारा होश उड़ा दिया, हम होश में आने ही वाले थे, की आप फिर मुस्करा दिए”. ये मुस्कराहट भी क्या चीज़ है, दिल की कसक बढ़ा देती है.  अगले गाने की ये कड़ी देखिये “मगर रोते रोते हँसी आ गयी है, खयालो में आके वोह जब मुस्कराये”. कहो कोनसा गाना है येह?

यह कड़ी है मंदीपजी ने फिर जो ग़ज़ल गायी उसमे से “वोह जब याद आये बहोत याद आये”. डिंपलजी ने फिर सुनाया यह गीत “चांदी जैसा दिल है तेरा” और फिर जयाजी और डिंपलजी ने गाया “किसी नज़र को तेरा इंतज़ार आज भी है”. हम भी यह ग़ज़लों की शाम को याद करते रहेंगे और फिर आनेवाली एक और ग़ज़लों की रंगीन शाम का इंतज़ार करते रहेंगे.  दिल तो चाह रहा था की ये गीत और ग़ज़लों का सिलसिला चलता रहे, पर वख्त चेतावनी दे रहा था.  अर्चनाजी ने यह शेर सुनाया “सांसों की सीमा निश्चित है, इच्छाओं का अंत नहीं है और जिसकी कोई इच्छा नहीं ऐसा कोई संत नहीं है”. डिंपलजी और उर्मीजी की आवाज़ में आखरी गाना सुना “आज जाने की जिद न करो” और फिर जाना न चाहते हुए भी हम ग़ज़लों का प्यार दिल में लिए, गीतों की सोच दिमाग में लिए, और इतने प्रतिभासम्पन्न कलाकारों के प्रति आदर मन में लिए अपने घर की और निकल पड़े.

PS – My interview will air at Women’s Radio Network at 1 pm PST or 4 pm EST – If you are at or near your computer, please tune in at  www.wrnw1.com/listen-live/ today, Monday, July 21.

Often people believe that writing or journalism is my full time profession.  Professionally, I have two small businesses – My primary business is Recruitment for biotech, medical device & health IT companies and additionally, my other small business is offering Trainings in Diversity, Working Effectively in Global Environment & Team Building.  I welcome all connections with those looking for job opportunities; if you would like to connect with me on LinkedIn then feel free to send me an invite at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com.

I get complementary tickets at all bay area theater events and conferences and attend as press.  Besides writing about conferences, new technologies & concepts, I write about live theater reviews, book reviews and about events in English, Gujarati, & Hindi.  My writing is my labor of love & my contribution to promote live theater, arts, literature and poetry. Please tune in today at the link above. Many thanks!


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The Great Pretender – Play Review

“I feel I have hit bottom and then a trap door opens and I go further down and find another way to be sad”.  Mr. Felt (Steve Brady) is the host of iconic children’s TV program and is struggling with the loss of his wife and longtime puppeteer partner.  He has lost his enthusiasm and is contemplating retirement.  Show’s director, Tom (Michael Storm) has other ideas.  He wants to continue the show and he brings in a new puppeteer Jodi (Sarah Moser) to replace Mr. Felt’s wife, and to work the puppet, Francis.

In addition to being nervous, Jodi could not measure up to the role and fill in the big shoes of the original person.  However, Mr. Felt devotes a weekend to train Jodi in little nuances of puppet show, and Jodi turns out to be a great student.  Mr. Felt also feels rejuvenated, and he develops a close bond with Jodi.  After Jodi’s training, they are ready to share her skills with the Director Tom, and fellow puppeteer, Carol (Suzanne Grodner).  Mr. Felt was not prepared for the reaction from Carol.


moose (Photo credit: Genista)

It becomes apparent that this close knit team had much work to do, when it came to dealing with the loss of the team member, wife, and a close friend.  They could not simply put back the pieces, replace the old team member with a new one, and move on.  They needed to work through their grief, their anger and sadness, feel it, share it, mourn, cry, and rejoice in the happy memories, before letting go and moving on.

The show too must go on.  However, it does not have to go on as it always did in the past, pretending that there wasn’t a major upheaval, a huge crisis, and a deep loss, that the team was dealing with.  Can this moment of crisis be an opportunity to get real with the little members of its fan club, the children?

Great kudos to the Artistic Director, Robert Kelley, for continuing to expand the perspectives of the audience, through the medium of live theater.  Writer, David West Read has written a simple story, that has much depth and combines comedy and tragedy, that mirrors life.  Director, Stephen Brackett has done a fabulous job in helping it come alive, on stage.  As always Stage Manager, Jamie D. Mann has done a superb job in creating TV set, complete with clappy closet and Carol’s (the puppet) barn.

wpid-20140712_222938-1.jpgSpecial credits to the Casting Director, Leslie Martinson, and extremely talented cast, who not only played their roles, but played the roles of the puppets, and/or relating to the puppets, in that it seemed like it was a talented cast of seven, Steve Brady, Suzanne Grodner, Michael Storm, Sarah Moser, Carol, Francis, and Meatball Moose, (eight, counting Mr. Felt’s wife) .  What a treat!!

Do not miss the show; it is good for the laughs and good for the soul.  “The Great Pretender” will be running at Lucie Stern Theater in Palo Alto, till August 3, 2014 and tickets can be available at http://www.theatreworks.com.



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