Monday, August 15, 2005

Independent observations

There are no plastic tricolours here. No public holiday. And if I step out of the compound, there is no hint whatsoever that a billion strong people are celebrating their independence day. The newspapers are carrying special supplements that talk about a shining India that's good for investors and expatriate Indians. As usual banks and real estate companies are talking big and are doing their darndest best to capture some customers. But I have seen so many such supplements in my life that a sense of deja vu creeps in whenever I see it. Why can't they focus on some other angle? How about some hard facts on socio-economic disparities, the dangers of fascist political parties or the impact of malls on the corner-store? Oh well, that would be too much to expect from these PR supplements and I'd be better off not raising my expectation levels.

The seven o' clock news is going to inform me that the King, the Prime Minister and the Crown Prince have sent cables of good wishes to the Indian leadership on account of the country's independence day. And then, tonight, the Embassy will host their reception and all the beautiful people in Bahrain will be present in their glory. The lucky few will get their photographs splashed in tomorrow's newspaper while others will have made sure that they are properly 'covered' in next month's 'Bahrain This Month'. I know who will be there and am quite certain they'll be hovering close to the cameras with their glasses in hand.

I won't be there because I have stayed away from most of the Indian clubs and associations. Too much of politics and too much of showbusiness. I find it hard to handle these personality issues disguised as social causes. And even harder to see, 'uncle' characters behaving like little children. Alright. I know I am being very bitchy but I am only nostalgic, that's all.

I prefer the old times. The days when 26th January and 15th August meant a special showing of a Hindi movie in Awal Cinema preceded by an entertainment show by Sushil Bhatia and company. This was in the mid-seventies when it was rare to see the latest movies on screen, and Sushil Bhatia's gang were our only source of Bollywood songs. I remember chickening out of the 'Yadoon ki Baraat' group song because I didn't want to sing with the other kids. Not that I wanted to do a solo but just didn't want to do it, that's all.

Now those days are gone. And instead of this family-like atmosphere that once pervaded the national day celebrations now we have these pompous events that are excrutiatingly embarassing. Maybe it's because there have been major changes in the people. Maybe there are just far too many Indians and it's difficult to bring back the old atmosphere. Maybe I'm still an expat with his head stuck in the past. Maybe just maybe...

In anycase, some traditions do not change. And Bahrain TV will be showing a short documentary on India, and, as usual, I'll be missing it. Somehow they always choose the wrong time to show it and since it's going to be another supplement type of documentary I know I wont be missing much. Why can't Bahrain TV do something good for a change and show 'Mangal Pandey' instead? Now that will save me a trip to the cineplex, and make me sing praises to Bahrain TV.

2 comments:

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Ashish Gorde said...

I need to make a correction. I saw "Mangal Pandey - The Rising" on Friday and my impression was.... aaaarrrrgggghhhh!!! It was quite a disappointing movie and more so because Ketan Mehta, the director, has been one of the foremost art-house directors. What went wrong? I guess, the temptation to 'bollywoodise' the film was just too strong, and as a result, the film failed to match some of his earlier efforts like Holi, Mirch Masala and Bhuvani Shome. Then again, since his earlier style was not commercially viable I am not surprised that he decided to break free from his art-house hangups. What a shame!