Sunday, 1 April 2018

Wild Wild Country ,a Netflix Documentary on Bhagwan Osho Rajneesh : Blog # 327

Wild Wild Country , a Netflix Documentary on Bhagwan Osho Rajneesh

Was Bhagwan Osho Rajneesh an enlightened spiritual guru or was he a conman turned criminal? The beauty of the Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country directed by Mclain Way & Chapman Way is that it doesn’t confirm either of those suspicions. Rarely does one get to see a documentary that is so balanced and honest. It talks about Osho from the perspective of his disciples, the residents of Oregon as well as the government authorities.

As the film progresses, one can’t stop wondering as to how one individual can have so many people under his spell. The residents of Oregon describe the citizens of Rajaneeshpuram as having a ‘look’. When one sees the visuals of sanyasins, one can’t not notice the strange  look in their eyes – of joy, of bewilderment, of having known the unknown. All of them were under Osho’s magical spell. Seeing them, one wonders what it would have felt like to be in that commune as a believer. Did they truly enjoy joy and liberation?

Although the documentary leaves one thinking about thousands of believers who became sanyasins, their lives, beliefs and doubts, here are a few principal characters from the documentary who have a haunting effect on you.

Ma Anand Sheela – For me, Sheela’s character is the most captivating, may be more than Osho’s himself. Osho was a spiritual being or he claimed to be so. Sheela was human -like you and I. Her journey from meeting Osho for the first time as a teenager to becoming his personal secretary to being the all-powerful Ma Anand Sheela is nothing sort of fascinating. What stands out is her conviction and will. Her conviction of feeling absolutely correct in whatever she did and the will to achieve her goals. The interview clippings from her earlier days shows her as someone who is arrogant, power hungry, wealthy and blunt. But what surprised me was that the Sheela of current day isn’t far too different from her earlier self. Her spirit remains the same. What is disturbing though is an absence of guilt and remorse. She seemed to think only about herself. Not even once does she mention anyone else. One expects Sheela to have changed over time. One expects Sheela to have had an evolved and dispassionate thought process by now. But No. She remains unchanged. One wonders if one should admire or despise Sheela.  

Residents of Oregon & Antelope – As the documentary begins, one identifies a lot with the residents of the tiny town of Antelope. No one likes a bunch of strangers taking over one’s town. The smaller the town, the stronger this feeling. Rajneeshes, as the followers of Osho were known also gave the people of Antelope reasons to be worried knowingly and at times, unknowingly. Repeatedly, the residents say they feared the unknown. Somewhere half way through the documentary, one feels a bit swayed towards the sanyasins. One wonders if the residents of Antleope were being unreasonable with the residents of Rajneeshpuram asking them to leave. But then again, one can’t help but feel bad for the tiny elderly population of Antelope.

Swami Prem Niren – He is a lawyer and a bright one at that. He talks about being disenchanted with life and turning to Osho and his way of being to find solace. I couldn’t help but wonder if startups are today’s Osho. There are so many youngsters who are getting disenchanted with corporate life and turning to startups. Swami Prem is the kind of character who lends a bit of humane-ness to Osho. One tends to believe what Prem is saying. He looks and speaks like a sensible person. Unlike Ma Sheela, there was no arrogance in him. Much in the documentary, he almost speaks in a matter of fact manner about Osho making one wonder if it is the same person who defended Osho in the courts so very vigorously. Later in to the film, one can see that the embers of worship are still burning. He believes strongly that the world missed a chance to lead the Osho way of life.

Ma Shanti B – Of the characters in the documentary, it is easier to relate to this lady. She goes through the familiar cycle of getting spell bound, committing acts that are objectionable, regretting them and now having reconciled with her past. Although she talks about the experiences she has had and cherishes them, she also looks at a moment when she got out of the ‘spell’. The moment in court that she describes when she goes to see her son is quite poignant. Her character is testimony to the fact that ordinary people like you and I will do outrageous deeds under extra ordinary circumstances. Surround yourself with unusual people, put yourself in an uncommon situation and you will surprise yourself with your ability to do commit unbelievable actions!

Osho Rajneesh – Somewhere along the documentary, I felt that maybe I should read his books. I wondered if he was really the spiritual being he was made out to be. The smiles and constant laughter displayed by the sanyasins make one want to gravitate towards the promise land. Something I found strange about him was how less he blinked. Through out the documentary, his eyes blinked for very very few times. To me, those eyes did not seem like luminous wells of mercy and generosity. To me, they felt a bit threatening. I lost the wish to read up about him when he behaved like a mere human towards Sheela. If he were indeed the benevolent being he claimed to be, he would have never talked about Sheela the way he did – dripping with vengeance. I admire his courage to have shown his want for material things. Unlike many other sages, he did not denounce worldly pleasures. Instead, he embraced them.

Ma Anand Sheela – Yes, I am aware that I wrote about Sheela in one of the paragraphs above. But don’t you feel she is one of a kind? I have not seen a character like that in my life! Neither in stories nor in life. What makes her unique? Is it her complete lack of care for others? Is it her deep conviction that she is right in whatever she did? Is it her unwavering devotion to Osho, the Bhagwan? Is it her way of leaving Osho on one fine day without as much as a good bye? Is it the way she faced the court, the officers, the press and people? How does she appear to you? Like a body without a soul OR a heart made of steel? 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Justice for Charlie, the dog: Blog # 326

Justice for Charlie, the dog

For those of you who don’t know, Charlie is a 6 year old dog. Bubba Atkinson is her human. Earlier in the day, Bubba accused Charlie of having got in the trash. Bubba also has apparent video evidence to prove this on Twitter. You may watch it here.

Now, myself and thousands of people all over internet have decided to stand with Charlie. Primary reason being what proves that Charlie has got in the trash? Nothing. Charlie was acting guilty just for fun. She wanted to humour her human. That’s all.

Now, let us assume for a second that Charlie did go in the trash. The human should have been more careful! She was bored at home and had nothing else to do. Trash was right there and Charlie thought why not explore it a bit.

Also, below are the reasons why we should stand to get #Justice4Charlie

1.      How can a dog be so ADORABLE!!!
2.      The first 15 seconds of the video make our eyes well up.
3.      Charlie deserved a hug in the first 15 seconds.
4.      Charlie remained silent although she had a chance to defend herself
5.      Charlie can give Meryl Streep a run for her money
6.      Charlie can’t even make eye contact
7.      Charlie can teach humans a thing or two about guilt
8.      Charlie can give a damn TED speech on penance
9.      Charlie made the internet explode with LOVE. How many humans can do that?
10. Human Race owes a collective apology to Animals for all that we have done to them.

If you believe Charlie deserves justice, please tweet using #Justice4Charlie and #FreeCharlie!

p.s. Having said all of the above, we know that Charlie’s human loves her to death. He took her swimming, got her toy and even played fetch at the park. Here is to more humans like Bubba and more doggos like Charlie!

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Is Elon Musk a cowboy CEO to delete Facebook?: Blog #325

Is Elon Musk a cowboy CEO to delete Facebook?

Elon Musk of Tesla deletes the Facebook pages of himself, Tesla and SpaceX. I think it is a tad bit foolish of him to do that. If he wanted to show that he is taking a stand, he could have deleted the Facebook profile that belonged to himself. Deleting the Facebook pages of both the firms is impulse and drama without any reason.

I feel this is a classic case of a CEO thinking he knows everything to know about anything there is. I am sure there is a team that manages the social media account of Tesla and Space X. He should have consulted them. It doesn’t look like that consultation happened. Reason being the FB pages were deleted in 20 minutes after Elon Musk’s Tweet. Any social media team worth its salt would have resisted this move. The resistance wouldn’t have come to an agreement in 20 minutes if there was a constructive discussion unless Musk is surrounded by Yes men.

Anyone who knows something about managing a Facebook page will know that having a corporate page is a huge advantage. In any firm, sooner or later things go a bit unright. I am not saying wrong, but unright (somewhere between right and wrong). In such instances, you need all the avenues at your disposal to clarify where you stand as a firm and what your explanation about the situation is. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIN and other social media channels come handy in situations like this.

Tesla and SpaceX are much loved and admired firms. There is considerable interest among the general public about both the organizations. People like to know what the firms are up to and the media of the day is social media. If you expect everyone to visit the firms’ websites and understand what they are up to, that is a bit foolish and presumptuous.

Add to that the fact that Tesla and SpaceX are both commercial firms. They don’t exist just for furthering research and science. There is a business aspect to both the firms. In such a situation, why would you take such a reckless step that risks your connect with your potential customers?

May the light of ‘Social’ wisdom shine on Elon Musk soon!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

A letter to Shashi Tharoor: Blog # 324

A Letter to Shashi Tharoor

Dear Shashi Tharoor,

            The intent of this letter is to thank you for more reasons than one. I feel I speak for many Indians if not most.

To begin with, thank you for adding new words to our collective vocabulary. Ideally, our English teachers should have done that during our school days. Some of the teachers did and most of them didn’t. Please continue introducing us to new words do that we all can express ourselves more eloquently.

As a curious kid in school, I remember some of my friends wondering aloud “Thank God! The British came to India. If not, what would have happened to our country”. I did not know how to respond to that statement. I remember feeling slightly ashamed. The tragedy is that for much of the later part of my growing up years, I continued being confused with that perspective. Thank you for writing the thoroughly researched, well detailed and supremely engaging book, ‘An Era of Darkness’. It made me realize how rich (not only in monetary terms) my country was. Now I can confidently say that the only party who benefited by colonising my great county and its people was the British.

Many a time, I have seen many highly accomplished scholars/intellectuals/influencers from India going on to international platforms and being apologetic about India. At times, it is the about crime rate or the situation of educational infrastructure or rising intolerance or poverty or many such issues. Very rarely have I seen many Indians going on an international platform or on social media channels and owning up the spirit of India. Of course, there are issues what we face and we must strive to improve the conditions of this country and its citizens. But at the same time, we must also recognize the progress we have made over the years. Thank you for being that voice on an international platform. We appreciate the fact that you represent yourself as a proud unapologetic Indian with a balanced and realistic perspective about the country and its people.

Lastly, thank you for continually setting higher benchmarks for the youth of this country. To be excellent at academics while being a student, a widely respected and regarded international civil servant at the UN, a successful political leader, a prolific writer and an orator par excellence is many lives and many goals rolled in to one which many of us would like to aspire for and emulate.

Arun Babu

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Pictories #5 ~ Of Pictures & their Stories: Blog #323

Pictories #5 ~ Of Pictures & their Stories

How bland would our lives have been without pictures, isn’t it? More so, in this day and age of cell phones and social media! Some of us click great pictures. Some of us click moderately awesome ones, like I do. Here are a few pictures that I took and what was going through my mind when I clicked them.

I couldn’t stop wondering how beautiful a festival Christmas is. I love both the colors around Christmas – Green and Red. The reindeers, the sleigh, the Santa and all the other paraphernalia around the festival are so warm and endearing. 

Fascination with food doesn't look like it is going to stop any time soon. Look at the variety! I am sure the tastes will also be as varied as the colors here. I felt like grabbing a handful and running away. I even asked my wife if I should do it. Luckily, we decided against it. 

Yet again, I chance up on a lone tree. Standing majestically amidst all the greenery. I did not know how to perceive it. I was wondering if it was being untouched by the thriving ecosystem around or if it was being different inspite of the much liked and loved lushness.

I have always wanted to go to a literary festival. And I did. The first session I went to was happening under this vibrant roof. I looked up and saw this bright, beautiful and happy canopy. It was so in sync with the spirit of the festival and I was glad that the fest lived up to the first impression and the expectation. 

Look at those tender leaves. And the tree that allows them to climb on. It reminded me of a lovely embrace. If only as much love remained between humans, the world would have been a much better place.

Like the above pics? Want to be bombarded with such images on a regular basis? ;). Please follow me on Instagram. My Insta handle is roamdworld .

Check out the earlier Pictories:

Find Pictory#1 here
Find Pictory#2 here
Find Pictory#3 here
Find Pictory#4 here  

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A letter to the United States of America : Blog # 322

A letter to the United States of America

Dear America,

On behalf of rest of the world, (well, most of rest of the world; there can be exceptions) I would like to write this brief letter to you. You guys have made a horrible choice of electing a President for yourself. But considering your choices in the past, it isn’t much of a surprise. Remember some blasts from the past? Or should I say blasts from the bushes?

Here are a couple of things we would like you to know: 

Trump is an American problem. The world couldn’t care less.

Unlike in the past, world doesn’t revolved around the United States. There are multiple power centers. Trump can do only limited damage.

Countries much more powerful and large have outlived much worse leaders. Stop hyperventilating.

We have had enough of your whining on Twitter and Facebook and other media. Grow up!

Now, does this mean we have anything against America? No. We love you. We empathize and sympathize with you. But at times, some of you guys tend to overstate your importance in the scheme of the universe. The world has more grave problems to deal with.

Much Love,
Rest of the World(Well, most of us).

Sunday, 3 December 2017

‘Tumhari Sulu’ ,the Movie ~ A letter to Vidya Balan : Blog # 321

‘Tumhari Sulu’ ,the Movie ~ A letter to Vidya Balan

Dear Vidya Balan,

I must begin by saying how happy I am for you. I have always admired the way you have shaped your career. There has never been a doubt in my mind about your ability as an actor. But the last couple of films did not meet with much commercial success. I, among your many admirers were feeling sad that those films met with such fate. 

Yesterday, I watched ‘Tumhari Sulu’. The theatre was packed to its capacity. What a delight of a film it is! Right from the first scene to the last, there isn’t even one frame that is out of sync. From the extended family to Sulu’s dynamics with her husband and son, everything is spot on. The characters in the work place, be it the receptionist or the RJ Albeli Anjali or the Poet or the boss played by Neha Dhupia are so life like. I loved the lady who played the cab driver – How she kept gauging your mood through the rear-view mirror. That is exactly how it happens in real life too. The brilliant actor who plays your husband – Manav Kaul - what a nuanced performance! And a special mention to the little power house of a talent, the kid who played your son’s role. His reactions and responses are so natural.

To talk about your character, not even in one scene did I see Vidya Balan. It was Sulu all the way. I did not even see a familiar expression or emotional reaction that you portrayed in any of your past films in any of the scenes of this film. The way you react to your extended family’s constant attempt to contain you or even tame you is nothing less than beautiful. I particularly liked the scene between you the boss, Neha Dhupia and the poet, Vijay Maurya towards the end. It is so full of heart and brimming with innocence. Not to mention how perfect your comic timing is when someone compliments you on your voice and you say “Woh to hai!” :).  Equally admirable is when you ask with all earnestness, if you can get a TV in the place of the pressure cooker.

What I loved about the film is that towards the end of the film, neither did it showcase Sulu’s character doing something unrealistic nor did it shy away from retaining Sulu’s spirit. The scene where she rushes to her husband and her husband says, “Not another idea!” with a smile is testimony to this. The story is neither preachy nor trying to be populist. It stays true to its soul right from the word go till the credits roll. How beautifully each and every character is etched to perfection! We the audience are indebted to the director, Suresh Triveni for this.

Thank you Vidya for making Sulu so memorable. May you have a lot of critical acclaim and commercial success in your long fruitful path ahead in movies.
Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Things to learn from Abhishek Bachchan: Blog#320

Things to learn from Abhishek Bachchan

I feel Abhishek Bachchan is one person we all have been unfairly unkind to. He is made fun of, for no reason at all. Is it his fault that he is the son of a stupendously successful father? Many of us pale in comparison to what our parents have achieved in their lives. How will we feel if someone were to draw such a comparison! It is so unfair to do this constantly.

So what makes this sudden outburst of support for Abhishek Bachchan? There is a twitter handle @juniorbaCCHHan which is the parody account of real Abhishek Bachchan’s twitter handle (@juniorbachchan). I enjoyed following the parody account for a while. It really is humorous. But for a moment, I wondered how it would feel if someone were to make fun of me to this extent? Social media has this strange ability to dehumanize even the best of us. It makes us say the meanest of things which we wouldn’t dare say in person.

Now, why do I feel we are being unreasonably mean to Abhishek? He was born in to privilege. To say that he belong to the first family of bollywood would be an understatement. Inspite of that, have you ever read anything scandalous about him? Has he ever made a misstep whenever he has appeared in the public domain? Has he ever boasted about his lineage? The answer is No.

In the instances where he has addressed an audience or press, he has always been polite. In a couple of instances where he has addressed an informed audience, he has been able to make an intelligent conversation. In all the interviews that he has given, he has been polite and never has he come across as brash. There have been many instances where some of the journalists have tried to instigate him by comparing his career with that of Amitabh Bachchan’s. Inspite of those occasions being numerous, never has he lost his cool. I think that is really commendable.

About his career in movies, all those who make fun of his films should remember Guru, Yuva, Bunty aur Bubly, Bluff master, Dostana, Sarkar, Sarkar Raj, Dus and the likes. Of course, there are flop movies too. But which actor doesn’t?

He is married to one of the most beautiful women (certified with a title that holds across the world over J ). She is far more successful than he is in the field of movies. Inspite of the overwhelming media attention on these qualities of his spouse and the constant comparison with him, he manages to be level headed. He is always appreciative of his wife and proud of her achievements. What more is expected of a spouse?

He is a doting son, devoted brother, caring father and a great friend to his loved ones, if one were to go by the interviews. Now, he is garnering great success in his chosen field of sports management. I think it’s time we cut Mr. Bachchan some slack.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

What do the Saudi arrests mean?: Blog#319

What do the Saudi arrests mean?

An unprecedented string of events have unfolded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Some of the very high ranking princes have been arrested by the crown prince's regime. Whether it is a consolidation of power or suppression of an attempted coup, the jury is still out. Some of the princes who are arrested are wealthy, influential global investors. The world of business needs to be worried. Let us have a look at the list of global companies that Prince Al Waleed bin Talal has investments in. He is just one of the many princes who have been arrested.

Prince Al Waleed's investment spans across multiple sectors varying from Technology to Financial Services to Hotels to Media and lot more. Some of the renowned firms include Apple, Twitter, Citi Bank, Motorola, AOL, Hotel Plaza in New York, News Corp and eBay. Scroll down for the full list.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Sorry Quentin & Marie : Blog# 318

Sorry Quentin & Marie - India

Dear Quentin & Marie,

We Indians are extremely sorry for what happened to you at Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, India. We apologize to you with folded hands.The shameful incident shouldn't have happened to you or anyone for that matter. 

You are our guests and you have come to see our great country. According to Indian philosophy of 'Aditi Devo Bhava', we treat our guests as Gods. Clearly, some people of our country failed to live up to the customs we ought to live by.

We are collectively ashamed at the way some of our citizens behaved towards you. It shouldn't have happened. Is there something that me or any ordinary citizen can do for you? Sadly, I don't think there is much. But we promise that if we see anyone , be it a tourist or otherwise being harassed by rogue elements of the society, we will stand up to them.

 We also request our Government to put systems in place so that incidents like this do not occur in the future.

Once again, we are sorry for what happened with you both. Please take care and get well soon.

Big Hug,