India Trip – Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra: People, places, possibilities, pant suits & palazzos – Oct-Nov, 2017


IMG_20171109_163518289.jpgThis time my India trip was all about people.  I had many discussions around religious beliefs, stayed in many homes, debated and discussed what needs fixing (and there is a lot and mostly I did not bring this up) and what works and why and of course enjoyed world’s most incredible diverse range of cuisine available; enjoyed gawking at incredible, ever evolving, new fashionable clothing like gowns, pant suits and palazzos, and breathtakingly gorgeous jewellery.  

Kerala: Diversity of fruits, plants and foliage all growing together and jostling for space and thriving alongside each other in Kerala is just astounding... And amidst vast tea plantations, valleys full of cardamom trees, are bamboo, jackfruit, coffee, Cocoa, plantains, banana, cloves, tons of green peppercorns, cloves, supari, papaya, guava, sitafal, mango and more. And all these teaming with equally diverse animal life including taher mountain goats, elephants, possums and vast vast varieties of birds like maina, bluebirds etc. My friend who accompanied me was like a walking encyclopedia on all native plants and pointed out each variety as we passed them by.  Enjoyed chilling in house boat at Alleppey and enjoyed touring amazing Thekkady, Munnar in “God’s own country”, Kerala.

 

 

God-crazy India – Slightly with a sense of alarm and slightly lovingly, I wonder if India has gone God crazy.. I  found that there is a segment of Indian population that has clearly become more secular and refuse to partake in religion fueled divisiveness. Then there is a substantial segment that has become clearly much more religious. In the early morning of the day I landed and went to a small eatery, the waiter went and poured tea on a nearby tree and when questioned by me, explained that first tea has to go to the tree. Gods, rituals, and shrines keep multiplying in India and practically every Indian has a real ghost story. In one city, the government installed artistic statues of deities in the middle of four way streets to beautify the place. Very soon people began to go there and started praying there. I found catholics fiercely differentiating themselves from their closest siblings, the protestants.  A Shiya Muslim cab driver was staunchly asserting that Hindus don’t understand the differences but all terrorist acts are always carried out by Sunnis and unequivocally stated there can never be peace between Shiyas and Sunnis. When my friend asked the cabbie to stop at a spirits store to purchase a bottle of alcohol, he said we should have said it earlier and then he would not have accepted us as passengers because it was against his religion to enable people to drink.

 

A Hindu woman protested the assertion by Jains and Buddhists to be counted as separate religions because according to her they are all offshoot of Hinduism. Jains fear being swallowed and losing their identity in the amorphous and boundaryless system of Hinduism and equally staunchly assert their identity. And finally, as a most interesting experience, a Jain woman asserted how important are the differences between two sects of Jainism. One of the outward difference between the two sects of Jainism is that God keeps eyes open in one and halfway closed in the other. When I said it was a superficial difference, she explained how significant it was that the God kept the eyes halfway closed (never mind, that the statues are made by people).

I came away feeling more like Ron Reagan Junior (an active atheist). One atheist famously has said, “most people are atheists anyway about most religions, I just go one religion too far”.

Clothes Crazy India: Somehow I came away feeling like all of India and not Paris should be dubbed the fashion capital of the world. Incredible innovation in clothing styles and jewellery has made every Indian woman a fashionista, be it a cleaning woman, a beggar on the street or one living in a big mansion. There are incredible styles of clothes available to suit every pocket, everyone’s choice of color, style and size. In amazement, I stared at billboards and loved gawking and people watching at airports, hotels and on streets.

Enormously hospitable and friendly India – During this trip to India, I stayed in many homes, connected with my cousins on mother’s side, father’s side, with friends and neighbors from early childhood and from school and college days and with friends visiting from California and their families and friends in India. My cousins, friends, neighbors, friends’ friends and families and strangers in whose orbit I came, accepted me as their own, and at the same time, gave me the best things, fed the best items. My heart was filled with love and gratitude in each home that I visited, and in each interaction. Even when people held different beliefs than mine, even when I questioned and debated, in the end, I was in their orbit and I was accepted based our similarity as humans.  Over and over people told me that they loved to have me because I was so genuine and adaptable and I responded always that how can anyone not adapt when surrounded by such love and hospitality? I left eagerly for my homeland, but I left my motherland with a heavy heart. As I reminisce, I don’t miss the noise (it seems in India, there is a competition to rise above the din, bells in the temples are loudest, cars and scooters honk for no reason, people burst reams of firecrackers that last full 2-3 minutes when you cannot talk with the person sitting next to you inside a home, and even babies cry louder here). I don’t miss the air pollution (I yearned for a deep breath of fresh there). I don’t miss the dirt and grime (though there is considerable improvement in that). But I do deeply miss and remember people and their love, possibilities that exist, palazzos and pantsuits, gorgeous gowns, sarees and fashionable blouses that I wasn’t able to take my eyes off, the potential that India holds.

 

 

 

 

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Tumhari Sulu – Movie Review


Unlike a typical feminist Bollywood heroine, Sulochana or Sulu (Vidya Balan) in this movie, is neither excelling in athletics (Mary Kom or Chak De India), nor is she on a mission (Kahaani), nor is she fighting for a right cause (Mardaani). Instead, film “Tumhari Sulu”, written and directed by Suresh Triven, is about a typical middle class suburban “housewife”, beaten down by her more ambitious and traditional family, buoyed by her love for her husband and son, and occasionally dreaming of a better life and yet perfectly happy with her life as it is.

Image result for tumhari suluSulu’s life takes a turn when her obsession with entering small contests and winning prizes lands her in the role of a nighttime RJ and catapults her to fame. Her husband Ashok (Manav Kaul) works as a manager in a small tailoring firm and puts up with inefficiency, disdain and insults from his bosses, just to bring home a paycheck.  With his wife’s entry into the workplace and resulting fame, Ashok not only has to deal with his work pressures in a dead end job, but has to pull higher load of responsibilities on the home front, while he is forced to listen to judgmental comments from others about his wife’s career.

How will Ashok and Sulu’s family resolve the new challenge that is rocking their relationship? Vidya Balan is highly entertaining as Sulu and Manav Kaul has played a strong supportive role. The challenges faced by this family may easily mirror those faced by many suburban middle class families and their experiences when gender roles go through a ringer. With fabulous cast and excellent subject matter, this film had a huge potential to be one of the social blockbuster films. Instead with unnecessarily elongated time, useless songs, weak climax and slow meandering pace, it seems to lose focus and fails to leave a mark.

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate it a 3.2 .

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JOBS: November, 2017


Image result for jobsPlease see opportunities below. All opportunities are for local candidates with valid work visa. If you have an interest then please send an email (resume as an attachment) at wd_darshana at hot mail dot com.  As more details will become available for opportunities, I will update and post them here.

Senior Mechanical Engineer with Exceptional Design & Analytical Skills: San Jose, CA

There is an exciting opportunity in San Jose, CA for senior mechanical engineer to work in the design of a smart drug delivery pill with an aim to optimize the efficiency and reliability of the device, working in a multi-disciplinary team environment. This is uniquely exciting opportunity with serious potential.

Responsibilities: develop subassemblies with considerations for mechanical performance, safety requirements, and reliability for a drug delivering device; Develop product requirement specs from testing and development of prototypes and input from regulatory and marketing; Iterate design quickly; Design for high volume disposable device; Participate in design FMEA’s and plan steps for mitigating risks; Perform component verification testing and product validation testing; Collaborate with manufacturing to create product assembly tooling, fixtures and instructions; Provide engineering support to manufacturing by trouble shooting process and component problems on the pilot manufacturing line; Responsible for selecting and managing vendors

Familiarity with SolidWorks or other CAD software, ability to develop unique mechanical tests to optimize prototype, fluent understanding of solid mechanical design required. MS in Mechanical Engineering plus 7 years of industry experience preferred. Familiarity with molding processes and designing plastic parts and process development work such as bonding plastic parts or dip coating, a huge plus. 

Mechatronics Engineer – Santa Cruz, CA (requires 2+ years of experience) offers exciting opportunity to work with a veteran leader in a disruptive neuromodulation technology.

Senior Mechanical Engineer – Milpitas, CA (requires 15+ years of class 3 medical device experience)

Junior Mechanical Engineer – Milpitas, CA   (requires 4+ years of medical device experience)

Manufacturing Engineer – San Jose, CA (with 5+ years experience in machine design, fixtures & fabrication)

Technician – San Jose, CA (with 5+ years experience in fabricating fixtures & bench testing experience)

Assembler (with 5+ years experience in mechanical assembly skills)

ME Technician – San Jose, CA (requires 5+ years experience)

Battery Manufacturing Engineer – Milpitas, CA (requires Chemical Engineering background plus experience in process development.

Reliability Engineer – San Jose, CA

Senior Biochemist – San Jose, CA

Pharmacokinetist – San Jose, CA

Marketing Director – Santa Cruz, CA – To help establish commercialization and reimbursement strategy for exciting neuromodulation technology.

Clinical Director – Milpitas, CA

Lab Director  – Milpitas, CA

Regulatory Director – Milpitas, CA

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JOBS – October, 2017


Image result for jobsAll below opportunities are in the US and require valid US work visa and prior experience in biomedical industry.  If interested in any opportunities below, please send me an email (resume as an attachment) and include position title in the subject line.  You can also find me on LinkedIn. (Or send me a message with title of the position that interests you, how it matches your background & your contact info). Emails with proper subject line, some details in the body of the email to my hot mail address or linkedin will get quicker response.
PS: If you are looking for outstanding contract engineering expertise with mechanical and electro- mechanical systems for medical devices including small scale manufacturing expertise for regulatory submissions etc., then let me know and I will be happy to connect you with couple of companies in the bay area, CA.

Mechatronics Engineer – Santa Cruz, CA (requires 2+ years of experience) offers exciting opportunity to work with a veteran leader in a disruptive neuromodulation technology.

Senior Mechanical Engineer – Milpitas, CA (requires 15+ years of class 3 medical device experience)

Junior Mechanical Engineer – Milpitas, CA   (requires 4+ years of medical device experience)

Manufacturing Engineer – San Jose, CA (with 5+ years experience in machine design, fixtures & fabrication)

Technician – San Jose, CA (with 5+ years experience in fabricating fixtures & bench testing experience)

Assembler (with 5+ years experience in mechanical assembly skills)

ME Technician – San Jose, CA (requires 5+ years experience)

Battery Manufacturing Engineer – Milpitas, CA (requires Chemical Engineering background plus experience in process development.

Reliability Engineer – San Jose, CA

Senior Biochemist – San Jose, CA

Pharmacokinetist – San Jose, CA

Marketing Director – Santa Cruz, CA – To help establish commercialization and reimbursement strategy for exciting neuromodulation technology.

Clinical Director – Milpitas, CA

Lab Director  – Milpitas, CA

Regulatory Director – Milpitas, CA

 

 

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“ગોરી રાધા ને કાળો કાન” – પ્રતિલિપિ વાર્તાસ્પર્ધા: Gujarati Short Story


પ્રતિલિપિ વાર્તા સ્પર્ધા નો વિષય છે ગોરી રાધા ને કાળો કાન. નીચેની વાર્તા તેમાં દાખલ કરેલ છે. તમારા અભિપ્રાય જાણવા માટે આતુર છું. ગમે તો blog ઉપર five star નું રેટિંગ આપી શકો છો.

“ગોરી રાધા ને કાળો કાન” – પ્રતિલિપિ વાર્તાસ્પર્ધા
  સમર્પિત કરનાર – દર્શના વરિયા નાડકર્ણી
Blog:
www.darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com

નમણી નાજુક અને ગોરી રાધાને પહેલેથીજ ભણવામાં ખુબ રસ હતો. તેમજ તેને જર્નાલિઝમ અને સિવિલ રાઇટ્સ માં પણ ખુબ રસ હતો. કેલિફોર્નિયામાં મોટી થયેલી રાધા નિશાળમાં હંમેશા પ્રમુખ સ્થાન ધરાવતી। નિશાળની સમાચાર પત્રિકાની સંપાદક બનેલ અને દેશને અને સમાજને લગતા ચર્ચાસ્પદ વિષયો ઉપર વિશ્લેષણ આપતી। તેણે  સ્ટુડન્ટ યુનિયન નું  પ્રમુખપદ પણ ધારણ કરેલ। રાધાના મમ્મી પપ્પા સુરત પાસેના નાના ગામ માંથી રાધાની માસી ના સ્પોન્સરશિપ ઉપર કેલિફોર્નિયા આવ્યા અને મોટેલ માં કામ શરુ કરેલ ત્યારથી તેઓએ એકજ લક્ષ્ય રાખેલ કે રાધા અને તેના ભાઈ ગોવિંદ ને ખુબ ભણવાની તક અને બધી સુવિધા આપવી। રાધાથી દોઢ વર્ષજ નાનો ગોવિંદ રાધા જેમ જ ભણવામાં હોંશિયાર પણ રાધા કરતા ઘણો કહ્યાગરો। રાધા દરેક બાબતમાં જુદી દ્રષ્ટિ ગોતે અને વાતે વાતે ચર્ચામાં ઉતરે જયારે ગોવિંદ નું ધ્યાન માત્ર ભણવા ઉપર. ગોવિંદ ને વિજ્ઞાન અને એન્જિનિરીંગ માં રસ. બંને સારા માર્ક થી પાસ થયા પછી બંને આગળ ભણશે તે તો નક્કીજ હતું પણ કઈ તરફ વળશે તેના ઉપર તેઓના કઝીનો ઘણી ચર્ચા કરતા। ગોવિંદને મેડિસિન માં પણ રસ હતો અને એન્જિનિરીંગ માં પણ તેટલોજ રસ હતો. જયારે રાધાતો વહેલી કે મોડી પોલિટિક્સ માંજ ઝંપલાવશે તેવું લાગતું હતું।

પણ પોલિટિક્સ ને બદલે રાધાએ અમેરિકાની સૌથી ઉત્તમ લો કોલેજ યેલ માં ભણવાનું નિરધાર્યું। તેને સિવિલ રાઇટ્સ લો પ્રેકટીસ કરવામાં રસ હતો. કોલેજ માં પહેલા વર્ષમાં ઇન્ટર્નશિપ કરતા જ તેને પહેલો મોકો મળ્યો પ્રેસિડન્ટ ટ્રમ્પ ના ઇમિગ્રેશન કાયદા નીચે ફસાયેલા નિર્દોષ લોકોની મદદ કરવાનો। ત્યાં કામ કરતી વખતે તેની શામ સાથે ઓળખાણ થઇ. શામ પણ રાધા જેટલોજ પ્રતિબદ્ધ હતો. પણ રાધા જેટલી જલ્દી ઉશ્કેરાય જાય તેટલોજ શામ શાંતિથી વિચારીને નિવારણ કાઢે। શરૂઆત માં રાધા શામ ની શાંતતા ઉપર ચિડાઈ જતી. ધીમે ધીમે બંને વચ્ચે પ્રેમ જાગ્યો અને એ પછી પણ રાધા શામ ને ક્યારેક ચીડવતી કે શામ તને દુનિયાની અસમાનતા અને ભેદભાવ જોઈને ગુસ્સો ક્યારે આવશે? પણ લો કોલેજ ના ચાર વર્ષ પતવા આવ્યા ત્યાં સુધીમાં રાધાએ જોયું કે જે કામ સહેલાઈથી અને શાંતિથી શામ પતાવી શકે છે તેવું ભાગ્યેજ બીજા કોઈ કરી શકે. ધીમે ધીમે રાધાને શામ ઉપર પ્રેમજ નહિ માન થવા લાગ્યું।

ઘણા વર્ષોનો બંને નો ગહેરો પ્રેમ હતો પરંતુ શામ ને ઘરે લઇ જવાની રાધાની હિમ્મત જ નતી. શામ નું કુટુંબ મિસિસિપી માં રહેતું હતું અને શામ સાથે રાધા તેની ઘરે તે બે વખત જઈ આવેલ। શામ ની મોમ ને મળીને રાધા તાજ્જુબ થઇ ગયેલ। તે મિસિસિપીમાં સિવિલ રાઇટ્સ લો પ્રેકટીસ કરતી હતી અને લો સરકલ્સ માં તેનું ખુબજ મોટું નામ હતું। શામ તેની પોતાની પરિપૂર્ણતાની બધીજ ક્રેડિટ તેની મોમ ને દેતો। નાની ઉંમરમાં તેના ડેડ નું અવસાન થતા બધી જવાબદારી તેની મોમ ઉપર આવેલ અને તેણે શામ અને તેની બહેન રીટા ને મોટા કરેલ। શામ ના ગ્રેજ્યુએશન ઉપર શામ ની મોમ, તેની બહેન, તેની નાની, દાદી, આંટી, અંકલ અને તેના બે કઝીન આવેલ અને બધા રાધાને મળીને ખુબ ખુશ થયેલ। બીજા વર્ષે રાધાનું ગ્રેજ્યુએશન હતું અને તેના મમ્મી પપ્પા અને ગોવિંદ અને માસી આવેલ। ગ્રેજ્યુએશન પાર્ટીમાં રાધાએ બધા મિત્રોની સાથે શામ ને બોલાવેલ અને તેણે જોયું કે શામ ખુબ નિખાલસતાથી તેના કુટુંબીજનો જોડે વાત કરતો હતો અને તેઓને નાની નાની મદદ પણ કરતો હતો. છતાં પણ રાધાની હિમ્મત ન ચાલી કે તેઓને તેના પ્રણય ની વાત કરે. શામ શાંત સ્વભાવ નો હતો અને જાણતો હતો કે સમય થશે ત્યારે રાધા વાત તો કરશેજ। પણ રાધા ને ઘણી વખત બીક લાગતી કે શામ ની ધીરજ ખૂટી જશે.

શામ ને વૉશિન્ગટન ડી સી ની ઉચ્ચ  લો ફર્મ માં ખુબ સારી નોકરી મળી અને બંને રાધા માટે પણ ત્યાંજ નોકરી ની તપાસ કરતા હતા તેવામાં એક કરુણ  બનાવ બન્યો। રાધાના ભાઈ ગોવિંદ ને કેન્સર નો હુમલો થયો. રાધાએ તુરંતજ કેલિફોર્નિયા માં તેના મમ્મી પપ્પા અને ભાઈ પાસે જ નોકરી શોધવાનો નિર્યણ કર્યો। જોકે નોકરી મળતા અને કેલિફોર્નિયા શિફ્ટ થતા થોડો સમય ગયો. શામ પણ નોકરી બદલીને  કેલિફોર્નિયા આવવા માટે તૈયાર હતો પણ રાધાએ ના કહી. ગોવિંદને થોડી સારવાર અને કેમોથેરાપી પછી બોન મેરો ટ્રાન્સપ્લાન્ટ ની જરૂર પડી. જે બધા મેરો ડોનેટ કરવા તૈયાર હતા તે કોઈનું તેની સાથે મેચ આવતું નહિ હોવાથી બધા ખુબજ બેચેની માં હતા.

Image result for indian woman and black manરાધાને શિફ્ટ થઇ અને આવ્યાને અઠવાડિયું જ થયું હતું તેવામાં એક દિવસ ઘંટડી વાગી અને રાધાની મમ્મીએ દરવાજો ખોલ્યો તો બહાર શામ ઉભો હતો. તેઓ પહેલા ઓળખી ન શક્યા અને શામે  ઓળખાણ આપી હું રાધાનો મિત્ર શામ. તેની મમ્મી કહે બેટા  અંદર આવ અને રાધાને જઈને કહે રાધા આ સમયે તારો મિત્ર શામ કેમ અહીં આવ્યો છે? રાધાને ફાળ પડી કે શામ ની ધીરજ નો અંત આવ્યો હશે તેથી જ કઈ પણ બોલ્યા વગર તે સીધો ઘરે આવી ચડ્યો। તે બહાર આવીને શામ ને પૂછે તે પહેલાજ શામ બોલ્યો રાધા તારા ભાઈને મેરો ની જરૂર છે તો હું ડોનેટ કરવા માટે આજેજ ફ્લાઇટ લઈને આવ્યો છું. રાધા ના મમ્મી પપ્પા તાકી રહ્યા। બીજા દિવસે ડોક્ટર ની એપોઇન્ટમેન્ટ લઈને ગયા તો બરોબર મેચ આવ્યું અને મૅરોના ડોનેશન ની કાર્યવાહી શરુ થઇ.

ડોનેશન પત્યા પછી જુદા જુદા રૂમમાં ગોવિંદ અને શામ રિકવર થતા હતા. શામની ખબર પૂછી અને રાધા ગોવિંદ પાસે પહોંચી। તેના મમ્મી પપ્પા કેન્ટીન માં ગયા. ગોવિંદ ગળગળો થઇ અને રાધાને કહેવા લાગ્યો કે તે શામ નો  ખુબજ આભારી છે. રાધાની આંખમાં પણ આંસુ આવી ગયા. તે કહે, ગોવિંદ હું તને એક  વાત કહેવા માંગુ છું પણ મમ્મી પપ્પાને કહીશ નહિ. આ શામ મારો મિત્ર જ નહિ પણ મારો પ્રેમી છે અને આ વર્ષે જ મારે તેની જોડે લગ્ન કરવા છે. પણ મમ્મી પપ્પાને આ વાત કેમ કહેવી તેનોજ મને ડર છે. શામ ના ડેડ મેક્સીકન હતા તેથી શામ અતિ કાળો નથી. પણ તેની મોમ આફ્રિકન અમેરિકન છે. અને તને તો ખબર છે કે તે લોકો સાથે આપણા કુટુંબ માં કેટલો પૂર્વગ્રહ છે.

ગોવિંદ કહે – અરે રાધા આટલી હિમ્મત થી તું જીવે છે અને ઉચ્ચ શિક્ષણ અને નામ હાંસલ કરે છે અને જયારે ખરી પરીક્ષા આવી ત્યારે તો તે મિંડુંજ વાળ્યું ને? તું તેના રંગને પ્રેમ કરે છે કે તને માન છે તેના ચારિત્ર તેની માણસાઈ તેની માનવતા અને લાગણીશીલ સ્વભાવ ઉપર? રાધા ક્યે, ગોવિંદ તું તો મમ્મી પપ્પા નો  માનીતો જ રહેવાનો પણ મારી જગ્યાએ તું હોય ને તો તું પણ આ વાત કહેતા ડરે. ગોવિંદ ક્યે, અરે બહેના, મને પણ એક છોકરી પસંદ છે અને માન, ન માન  પણ તે છોકરી મારી સાથે કોર્નેલ માં ભણતી હતી અને તે પણ આફ્રિકન અમેરિકન છે. રાધા ક્યે, તો તે કેમ આ વાત તેઓને જણાવી નથી? ગોવિંદ ક્યે, મેં તો તેઓને ક્યારનું કહ્યું છે. પહેલા થોડા નારાજ થયા પછી તેઓએ સ્વીકારી પણ લીધું છે. તે અઠવાડિયા પહેલાજ અહીં નોકરી લીધી અને આપણે બધા મારા માટે મેરો શોધવા માં વ્યસ્થ હતા અને તારી નવી નોકરી હતી એટલે કહેવાનો સમય ન મળ્યો। પણ તારા આવ્યા પહેલા જ એ આવેલી અને આપણે ત્યાં બે દિવસ રહી. તેને પણ મેરો ડોનેટ કરવો હતો પણ મેચ ન થયો. પણ બે દિવસમાં તેણે બધાને જીતી લીધા છે. અરે આપણા કોલેજ ગયા પછી મમ્મી પપ્પા પણ મસ્ત અને વરણાગી બની ગયા છે.  તેં  સામ ને શામ કરી નાખ્યો છે તેમ પપ્પાએ મેરી ને મીરા બનાવી નાખી છે. તે તો મમ્મીને કહેતા હતા કે, અપના ગોવિંદ હે ગોરા ઔર મીરા તો કાલી। તો મમ્મી ક્યે, ગોવિંદ ભી પ્યારા ઔર મીરા ભી પ્યારી।

હવે કૈક નવું ગીત બનાવશે “ગોરી રાધા ને કાળો શામ, શામ સીધો સાદો ને રાધા જિદ્દી અમારી”. રાધા ગોવિંદ ને ટપલું મારવા ઉઠી પછી બોલી, પહેલા સાજો થઇ જા પછી તારો એક સાથે બદલો લઈશ.

વાર્તાઓ તથા કાવ્યો આ  બ્લોગ ઉપર જરૂર વાંચશો. www.darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com

 

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Mela at Naatak – Play Review


Currently Bay Area’s naatak company is presenting its 59th production at Cubberley Theater in Palo Alto.  This production is naatak’s annual “mela”, a sort of theater fair. There are five short plays in five Indian languages; Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi and Improv comedy in Hinglish. English subtitles are projected for each short play above the stage. This is an absolutely beautiful way to showcase and enjoy India’s rich linguistic and cultural heritage. After a span of 21 years, naatak can proudly claim to have broughts 55 world class plays on stage. Over 850 performers have participated in these productions and 60,000+ attendees have enjoyed these shows.

पाचव्या मजल्यावरचा वेडा  – The Mad Man On the Fifth Floor – Marathi

The script for Marathi play is written by Anil Sonar. It is produced by Adwait Joshi and brilliant direction is provided by Anannya Joshi. A madman precariously positioned on the ledge of a fifth floor window is being watched by the crowd below. Some have deep concern and others don’t want to miss the excitement and yet some others are waiting with anticipation to the gruesome climax of the show with the madman jumping to his death. But what is this man up there? What is his story?

 লোকে কি বলবে? – What will people say – Bengali

Directed by Sudipta Chatterjee and produced by Deepika Sriraman, and based on “He Said, She Said” by Alice Gerstenberg, this Bengali play is translated and adapted by Sudipta Chatterjee and Harish Agastya. This short play focuses on the favorite Indian pass time, “gossip”. Casting is beautiful. A woman shares some juicy gossip about a romantic dalliance involving some friends. So interesting is a role played by gossip specially of romantic nature, in Indian culture, that targets of such gossip are often compromised and vilified so strongly that they can’t just let it go but instead feel compelled to justify, defend and give excuses. Will the gossipy woman have finally met her match in the strong woman targeted by the gossip?

Naatak Improv Hinglish

Naatak organization has matured so phenomenally that it can boldly brag to present improv comedy that is spontaneous and creative. In this short segment directed by Neha Goyal and Abhay Paranjape, a brilliant cast of characters perform improv games based on audience suggestions.

காஞ்சியின் துயரம் – A Tragedy in Kanchi – Tamil

Based on “A Florentine Tragedy”, a never completed play by Oscar Wilde, this play is set in 1930s during the Chola period, whereby a silk merchant confronts his beautiful wife and her royal lover. Will the play have an ending that befits the crime? Tamil speaking audience members are likely to greatly enjoy Kalapathy Sundaram’s brilliant translation. The projected English subtitles give some clue but it is hard to fully enjoy Wildesque witticisms in fast projected subtitles. Directed by Soumya Agastya and produced by Archana Kamath, this short play could well be Tamil speaking literature lovers’ treat.

 खिड़की – The Window – Hindi

Based on “The Open Window” by Saki (H H Munro) and adapted for the stage by Mugdha Kulkarni, is also directed by Mugdha Kulkarni and produced by Chaitanya Godsay.  This is a mystery about a missing husband, where an open living room window comes to play a significant role. The fear experienced by a young visitor is palpable and imaginative description of the lost man gives no clue to his disappearance until…………. Well, you’ll have to see it.

સાંભળ, તું બહાર જાય છે? – Everyone loves an errand boy – Gujarati

Based on Saadat Hasan Manto’s play, “Aao baat suno” this short play is adapted by Paresh Vyas and Vikas Dhurka and is directed by Natraj Kumar and produced by Devika Ashok. A lazy Sunday is transformed gradually into a comedy of errors, err…. into a comedy of errands. O M G — it is hilarious and also features the best dialogue, “Et tu brute” errr…. “Et tu Rajesh”.

For tickets to Naatak’s 59th Mela production, go to www.naatak.com .But hurry. There are only 2 more shows and tickets are selling out fast.

 

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Badshaho – Movie Review


Image result for badshahoDirected by Milan Luthria, film Badshaho is set during India’s emergency era of 1975, about 27 years post independence, when a few laggard prince and princesses were still struggling to hide their collections of gold, silver and other precious artifacts. During that time Rani Gitanjali’s (Ileana D’Cruz) palace in Jaipur is raided and she is arrested for withholding gold without declaration.

Rani Gitanjali is a political maverick and she understands how the game is played in politics. She believes that despite government seizing her gold, it is more likely to fall in the hands of corrupt political leaders, especially the one she has spurned. She gets the news that the gold is to be transferred via road to Delhi in a truck. Gitanjali arranges with her trusted prior bodyguard Bhawani Singh (Ajay Devgan) to intercept the transfer and seize it back from Major Seher Singh (Vidyut Jamwal), the officer in charge of the transfer. Bhawani Singh recruits help from Gitanjali’s trusted friends and helpers, Sanjana (Esha Gupta) Guruji (Sanjay Mishra) and Dalia (Emraan Hashmi).

Image result for badshahoThe journey between Jaipur and Delhi is marked by many twists and turns, obstacles, and revelations of heart thumping secrets. Emran Hashmi has done a fabulous job and keeps us riveted with his banter and jokes. Esha Gupta and Sanjay Mishra also give great performance. As always, Ajay Devgan’s performance suits the role of more serious, slightly angry, goal focused hero. So focused he is in serving, he says, जुबान और जान सिर्फ एक ही बार जावे. Ileana’s performance is also good. Specifically telling is her slightly awkward, distant stance every time she interacts with her subjects. Story is fast moving and holds the interest. Unfortunately, it seems like the budget ran out before this riveting drama can be brought to a meaningful climax. The end feels abrupt and takes away from what could have been a thrilling end where not only corruption meets justice but trust and friendship are rewarded. Perhaps the waiting airplane could have been put to good use to create such an end!

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie 4.2  

 

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Punjab Nahi Jaungi – Movie Review


“Punjab Nahi Jaungi”, a beautiful film coming out of Pakistani Cinema is brilliantly directed by Nadeem Beyg. Not only the accent is lovely to listen to but the dialogues are beautiful.  Writing credits go to Khalil-ur-Rehman and Qamar.

Image result for punjab nahin jaongiSoon after Fawad Khagga (Humayun Saeed) returns home to Faisalabad after earning an MA, he plunges headlong into finding and then acquiring his “Heer”. Coincidentally, Amal (Mehwish Hayat) has also just returned to Karachi after completing her studies in London. Fawad’s mother makes the journey to welcome Amal, daughter of close family friends and instantly likes Amal and plans with her husband and father-in-law to ask for her hand for her son, Fawad.  Fawad receives Amal’s photo and instantly falls in love with her. Meanwhile his cousin Durdana (Urwa Hocane) is in love with him and unsuccessfully tries to win his love.

Here Amal rejects Fawad’s proposal as she explains to her grandmother, Bibouji that she is against feudalism.  Lest anyone imagines that this will turn into a typical feminist movie where a young woman fights the system to win her love, let me assure you that is not how the story proceeds. On the other hand it is also not a non-feminist movie. Sorry for the double negative.

Image result for punjab nahin jaongiSo you may ask, “is it a feminist movie or is it not a feminist movie”? In truth, it is a love story where a woman is stronger and smarter than any men she encounters. In fact, all women are stronger than the men around them. While there is one short moment where Amal tries to make her husband a CEO of the company she grows, she does not try to dumb down herself and no one in her immediate circles thinks any less of her. It is a story where she does not have to take on the feudal system that may seek to keep her closed behind a veil. And yet when the men in her life misbehave, they learn fast about the fury of the woman scorned.  Any attempts that are made by the family members are not to change HER but HIM. As the misbehaving man is explained that mistake is his and therefore he has to accept her decision because he can’t succeed going against her because after all.. “ महोब्बत में औरत से कोई जीता नहीं है और नफरत में औरत से कोई हारा नहीं है.”

Image result for punjab nahin jaongiWhile the message is deep and the story is poignant at times, it is also a comedy with many funny moments and fantastic dialogues, delivered at the right moments. One such dialog is about a moment of infidelity. At one point, Amal’s husband feels envious of her business success and turns to the villainess, holds her in intimate embrace and says “please help me”. It would have been the start of infidelity but it got interrupted by Amal’s entry. Amal is furious and insists that he is guilty because his intention was bad. She takes her case to her family and her husband’s family. Almost everyone rises to her defense against her husband and quotes the sentence “please help me” as evidence of the infidelity that would have happened.

Nadeem Bayg’s direction is flawless. The story of respect for women is beautifully told without over dramatization or examples of grave injustice to women.  Maywish Hayat wins over hearts with her graceful, effortless performance.

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie 4.8 .

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Love peeks from behind Sun’s Eclipse – August, 2017


Sun playing a trick
Nature cold, breathless, weary
Of sun’s hide and seek

Related imageOr moon’s bossy
Today blinds mighty sun
Oh so so sassy

My heart yearns
With earth covered in darkness
Love’s return awaits

Can’t hold steady
I stare, may I negotiate with nature
Heavenward, dreamy

And then I sink
Soft grass holds me as comes sliver of light
Just on the brink

Image result for solar eclipse
Have faith, I say
Palpable, I feel love’s presence
This mighty day

 

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival – Ashland, Oregon


Every year Ashland, Oregon holds Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) that lasts from mid-February to early November. It is an incredible experience for theater lovers. I visit every year with several friends in my book club. There are three stages in close proximity and eleven plays are produced during any given theater season. These are not only Shakespeare plays. In fact, this year, we did not watch any original Shakespeare play. My friends and I watched 4 plays in 4 days we spent there.  In addition to several plays going on simultaneously, the little town also has music festivals, bands, choir, other outdoor events, salsa dancing, poetry readings and more. Small town is beautiful with tons of unique shopping opportunities and incredible eateries with some of them offering seating by the riverside.

We drove from the Bay Area and spent a night at half-way point on easy 10 hour drive there. Next day we reached there early and saw one play at night and saw two more on the second day and then on the last day there we saw one play, and then started on our return journey. So we had a beautiful all girls road trip to and from the festival.

Here are the four plays we saw.

The Odyssey

Homer’s Odyssey is a timeless classic but it is complex and it’s not always easy to keep the characters in mind.  We attended pre-theater reading when we got a quick synopsis of the story. The play performed at open-air Allen Elizabethan Theatre was a treat of pomp and circumstance. After a decade long war, after the defeat of the Trojans by the Greeks, all surviving fighters reached home, but not Odysseus (Christopher Donahue).  Odysseus languishes on a faraway island, refuses offers of love from Calypso, battles angry Poseidon’s fury, and after 20 years reunites with his wife Penelope (Kate Hurster), who was battling suitors during his absence.. This story of Odysseus known as a “story of that man skilled in all ways of contending”, according to Bill Moyers, “changes the way we see our world and ourselves”. Kudos to Scenic Designer, Daniel Ostling and Costume Designer, Mara Bluemenfeld for incredible scenes and costumes.

Shakespeare in Love

There can’t be moviegoers who were not enthralled by the film, Shakespeare in Love. Beautiful story of young and innocent and yet deep and binding love written as a love letter to theater and theater people encompassed several contradictions beautifully. Along with cheap puns, there were Shakespearean dialogues. What’s not to love when you hear “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,. My love as deep. The more I give to thee,. The more I have, for both are infinite“? Then there was sexist politics of the time juxtaposed against the most powerful monarch in Tudor history.  William DeMeritt as Shakespeare is amazing.  Director, Christopher Liam Moore did an excellent job, beginning with exploration of how an artist’s mind may work when creating a brilliant work of art.

Unison

Developed and directed by Robert O’Hara, Unison brings the story and life of poet August Wilson and his poetry to stage, in a unique way.  August Wilson’s work depicts comic and tragic aspects of African-American experience and has inspired a huge group of poets. When meeting at his funeral, through the stories they share, a sense of reverence they have for August Wilson, reverberates on the stage.

At times the poetry is glorious
“You know you love me, I know you care Just shout whenever, and I’ll be there You are my love, you are my heart And we would never ever ever be apart Are we an item?”

At times the poetry is frightening
Red blood in the river, there’ll be red blood in the river”.

Off the Rails

Adapted from the work of playwright Randy Reinholz, Off the Rails tells the story of native Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Such a story would be too tragic. But instead director Bill Rauch has adapted the story as a musical and infused it with romance and humor, while also depicting the indigenous resiliency among native Americans, in the face of attempted genocide. The story is also interspersed with Shakespearean quotes like “it is excellent to have a giant’s strength but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant”.  This was an excellent and heart rending play that makes one break out in laughter from time to time and yet leaves you with deep sadness.

 

 

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