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BOOKISH VIEW: SUPERSTAR INDIA–FROM INCREDIBLE TO UNSTOPPABLE–SHOBHAA DE

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Read initiative–

TITLE: SUPERSTAR INDIA

–FROM INCREDIBLE TO UNSTOPPABLE–

SHOBHAA DE

PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN IN 2008– 456 pages 

Abridged for a quick read

 

    The book is full of masala … quite like the proverbial Bhanmati ka pitara—the wonder casket. It seems, whatever, dawned her mind and heart. She just penned it down—so in many ways she has opened her heart. Shobhaa is, as old as independent India. So, she runs through India keeping that in mind, in her flamboyant narrative style. But the content is quite scattered and even skewed at places. In fact any regular gazer of a newspaper or a periodical may find a great amount of familiarity with the content. So, while reading the book the reader might just start reminiscing, where he or she had read it earlier. As ‘SUPERSTAR INDIA’ is not some deeply treasured secret in this day and age of internet, driven by search engines, and the aggressive paper and electronic media. So a lot of it seems to be a lift-off from there. True enough. The book is well styled, well ornamented, orotund, and is quite generous. With the munificent usage of ‘within-the-brackets’ that simplifies or elaborates the meaning of many of its subtle sentences—her aristocratic and well born writing style—I guess. Also, in galore there are ellipses and punctuation marks. The narration is loudly verbose but with sound construct of sentences, of course to zenith the literary astuteness. In a nutshell it is a good detailing of, the already circulating India’s contemporary and ancient history of those times, in a monotonous and drowsy speed and style. Where, she could have sharpened the content by not leaving it open ended and maybe with some sub-chapters and even span breakers.

    Nevertheless, the book also has some latent strengths, within the long spans of boredom. She is indeed very bold and doesn’t spare anyone which is plus point. She brings in a wide range of topics. But it doesn’t tie up all to well, to derive any lessons of life. So an average reader may not find it very interesting. Especially, if he has mistook the book for an interesting stretched out story. Although the title of the book is SUPERSTAR INDIA. But in reality she is more critical than appreciative about her. Where, I’m forced to think. As to why did Shobhaa think of writing this book at all? It remains a mystery to me. Did she want to criticize the West? Or did she want to praise India. Down the line she also criticizes Indian men to raise the flag of Indian women? She praises India only when she compares her with the Western World. Otherwise, she is critical about her most of the times.

    She starts off well with her visit to Agra but then she goes all over the place after some sixty odd pages. Where, she covers personalities, political system, Indian beliefs, Hollywood, Bollywood, the Mayawatis and the ilks, schedule caste and tribe in great detail. 

    She downloads most of what she knows about India. But then it does not add up to a formidable plot. No doubt she throws her heart out, by being abusive, frank and quite unbothered. But all of that doesn’t churn into an interesting read. Let’s not forget the acid test of any book is the impact it leaves behind after you’ve completed it. She has flagged some great facts and some interesting points as mentioned below:

    People still correlate Bollywood with old songs and not the new ones/She appreciates India here and there, but also criticizes her, no end. But when she compares India with the western world she begins to praise her/Describes how India is evolving sexually/Talks about Indian realities/Promotes the Taj Mahal/Paints a picture of Indian hospitality/Book satisfies the Indian ego but only partially. As it even magnifies the chinks of Indian civilzation/Reveals many hidden facts about Indian Corporate Inc/Facts about foreign citizens of Indian origin … like Zubin Mehta and Laxmi Narain Mittal to name a few/India’s great culture of sacrifice/She sounds like an American Born Confused Desi (ABCD) herself. When she makes fun of Indians when it comes to their age old customs and habits/Her views are quite clear about how we treat our elders/describes an Indian family life/ She also talks of metro cities and its cultures but doesn’t go so much in detail about the rural areas barring the established religious and social practices/Indian weddings including destination weddings/Intermittently even speaks of her family/Talks about big brother America and page 3 culture/At quite a few places it is India versus the Western world/Talks of Indian spices in the US/Talks of Indians being superior in many ways where she builds the tempo in certain pages/Very vividly she describes the contemporary lifestyle  of the Indian megapolis/Indian shamelessness while defecating in the open/She even errs out to see love making in Bombay chawls/Bathroom habits/Death rituals/Bombay municipal corporation/Describes Indians as sex machines/Writes quite bluntly about sex/Talks about ‘nazar’—the evil eye. And calls herself a firm believer of that/She even talks of death rituals/ She is very bold and doesn’t spare anyone—is what I liked about the book/She is descriptive but doesn’t connect the dotted lines/ She describes the lives in China and Pakistan quite well.

 Some catchy lines from the book

    ‘When all hell fails, we pull out Gandhi. The Mahatma has saved India’s ass in more ways than one. If he only knew how frequently and arbitrarily we use the Gandhi trick to impress outsiders.’

    ‘Most Indians are like elastic bands, ready to stretch themselves or shrink, depending on circumstances.’

    ‘Adjust’ is a favourite word in India, and is used across the board, even by those who barely speak intelligible English.’

    ‘The trouble is Indians aren’t used to being prosperous. We are more comfortable dealing with poverty—after all, poverty is a staple here, and has been for centuries.’

    Well … if you have the glorious time and patience pick it up.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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NAWAZUDDIN SIDDIQUI HAS EVERY RIGHT TO ACT IN RAMLILA

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

 

 

By stopping Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Muzaffarnagar, from playing the role of Maaricha, uncle of Ravan, in the local Ramlila, after 20 years, Shiv Sena has stood out like a thorn in the society. Ramlila is a famous play enacted each year, all over India and even abroad. Let me for a moment juxtapose Muzaffarnagar with Lucknow on Ramlila. Both have been holding it since ages. Where, Lucknow is even more famous. For a lot of Muslim actors take part in the local Ramlila, and at times they even go on and on with their acting, even when they are keeping Rozas during Ramzan, if it happens to fall in the same month. This intermingling is the ultimate beauty, of one and only one—India. We are no deep state, but the biggest democracy of the world. Where, Ramlila, Dushera, Durga Puja and Diwali are our tall, widespread, cultural and festive totem-poles. Ramlila is therefore our Indian-ness. That belongs, to we Indians, and not Hindus alone. Nawazuddin is our own son. Rather the worthy son of Muzaffarnagar, and now even of India, who entertains us through his movies. He was born and brought up in Muzaffarnagar. So, Shiv Sena cannot just snatch away the colourful memories of his childhood by not allowing him to act in his home theatre 20 years later. He is free to visit his childhood the way he wants in his own city. Muzaffarnagar is amassed in him, so you just can’t dig it out like that. Shiv Sena needs to understand this. And, last but not the least, you just can’t seize hold of any Indian’s Indian-ness, by just citing his religion, because there is a fine distinction between Religion and Culture.

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SHORT STORY: THE SIKH GURU

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

sikh flag gloom

An excerpt from the book ‘Gloom behind the Smile’

    It is amazing to see some cities and states losing people to other urban areas that are dynamic. This has also been happening across countries and continents. I guess this is how civilizations kept moving from one place to another. I was reading about a Sikh Guru. He once visited a village and stayed there for a few days and then prepared to leave. While he was leaving he blessed the village by saying ‘May you prosper by staying here only.’ Guru moved on and as night was setting in he camped in another village and stayed there for a couple of days and enjoyed their hospitality. While leaving he blessed the village by saying ‘May you prosper and move to other parts of the world.’ A keen follower.Who was watching. Asked the Guru as to why he had given two types of blessings. To his disciples in two different villages. The Guru replied that the people of the first village. Though looked after me, were not very cultured. Therefore, I blessed them. But prayed to God. That they should not move out and spread their culture. I found the second village well cultured. Therefore I wished to the Almighty. That these people should prosper and travel to other parts of the world. So that they spread the light of their sweetness and culture everywhere.

Write to us for hard copies. Or you could purchase the book online from any book store. E-book can be downloaded from Antrik.com or Pothi.com.

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‘ARROGANT INDIA’ INTIMIDATES THE ‘MEEK INDIA’ – THE CURSE OF LAL BATTI- VVIP CULTURE

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India belongs to we the VVIP and the rest can go to hell by drowning themselves in the sufficiently large Arabian sea or the Bay of Bengal, and for the rest who can’t reach there umpteen rivers are there or climb atop those lofty mountains or any sky-scraper and jump from there, for there is no place for NON-VIPS in India anymore. This is what the meek India is coaxed to feel by the arrogant India, shamelessly, personified by these VVIPs in flesh and blood. This VVIP class (Politicians-Bureaucrats-Judiciary) is not even 1% of the Indian population; but in the manner 1% of the world’s population controls 48% of the world’s wealth, these VVIP’s too control the entire India.

Perhaps, some of these VVIPs must also be feeling that Mahatma Gandhi, our father of the nation was perhaps an idiot, to have travelled third class and roamed in loin cloth, to live a life of simplicity; which we are not. And, so grab everything out, of the frail guts of this cattle class, of meek India.

And, for the meek India, Maharajas of the ancient India or Viceroys of the colonial British Raj, as if had never left but only got swapped by the arrogant India. Today, arrogant India very blatantly exploits the meek India by the sledgehammer of VVIP-ISM; by blocking roads for endless hours, taking their vehicles right up to the tarmac where their aircrafts are parked, by having separate lanes for themselves and also insulting senior citizens, differently abled persons and children who are made to stand in long queues while they walk in at the last moment by-passing security cordons, with their gun toting security guards. They delay lacs and lacs of workers going to office and factories by their stupid traffic movement and then talk of industrial output. They kill patients in ambulances by halting ambulances and then talk of health.

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In the British Raj, in many cities of India there were some roads and lanes, where Indians could not enter during certain hours (such as main roads and mall roads in many cities) and pitifully we find the same atrocious culture seeping back to haunt the meek India in a more aggressive manner, just to satisfy arrogant India’s egos.

Today, meek India is standing at a crowded crossroad, not knowing which way to go and whom to look at, as all look to be the same, and in the process is losing faith in the institution of democracy that comes through the windows of these elected representatives of political parties and their cahoots in bureaucracy and even the judiciary. For starting from Congress that invented the VVIP-ISM post British Raj; today even BJP sings the same tune after having promised to go the other way, and who knows, tomorrow AAP that started primarily on anti- corruption an anti- VIP culture too may get lured to VVIP-ISM.

And what is more mystifying is the posture in which ‘arrogant India’ approaches ‘meek India’ with folded hands with a promise to serve as a dutiful ‘Public Servant’ thereby exploiting the simplicity of the meek India and once they are elected they show their real ugly face and feudal mindset.

They do everything under the sun to justify the VVIP-ISM- the hateful Lal Batti culture. They operate like parasites on hard earned tax payer’s money and refuse to reform themselves. They inculcate venomous values in their children too and would never bury the skeleton of being called the lord and master.

So what did ‘meek India’ get post-independence? They got Bapu’s- third class, his loin cloth and above all his simplicity and values; and the arrogant class? Well they became the modern day Maharajas and didn’t let the Britishers leave India in the real sense.

#BHULBHULAIYA- DO #MONUMENTS REFLECT THE ETHOS OF TIMES?

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180px-Roomi_Darwaza_01

    Yes they do if you hear them intently. I could feel it during my recent visit to Bara Imambara (BI), Bhool-Bhulaiyaa (BB) and the tall Rumi Darwaza (RD) while doing a book on Lucknow. The tourist guide, took me around these signature monuments and believe me, it was a sheer delight. He coaxed me to listen to what the monuments hummed and conveyed while standing tall and tanned under the strong summer sun. Indeed, it is a mirror and reflection of the civilization of those times, when the monument was constructed.

    BI, BB and RD were all constructed by, the then Nawab-Ruler of Lucknow Asaf-ud-Daulah (AUD) in 1784 about whom, it is said: ‘Jis ko na de Maulah usko de Asaf-ud-Daulah.’ (AUD grants benevolence, even to those, whom Almighty denies- a catchphrase in the honor of the local ruler). AUD imbibed the ethos and spirit of Awadh and converted them into grand edifices, catapulting into iconic monuments around which these civilizations flourished.

    He decided to build the BI for Azadari (mourning). To provide relief to his poor subjects who were reeling under severe famine in 1783-84. The construction provided employment to nearly twenty two thousand people at a time. But his concern did not rest there. To encourage men folk of respectable families who felt embarrassed working during the day, fearing they will be recognized as labourers during daylight. The Nawab directed that the construction work be continued even after sunset, and throughout the night, when men could work in darkness without being recognized. Many people who worked in the night were unskilled. Work done by them was therefore sub-standard, which was demolished during the day and re-built by skilled workers next day. Though, this arrangement caused a lot of wastage, AUD put forth some remarkable points relevant to mankind by weaving a fabric of social security system for the society.

    Even today, BI conveys the tale of pain, human suffering and so, is dear to all, as forefathers of many may have participated in this project cutting across religion and strata of the society. AUD had shifted his capital from Faizabad-Ayodhya (twin cities) to Lucknow therefore Ram-Raj was not unknown to him.

    The main hall of the Imambara which is 50×16 meters. Is 15 meters tall without any central pillars or columns supporting it. This is said to be the world’s largest ‘arched room’ without pillars. As if conveying. It is possible for a society to exist and survive with each other’s support alone. As Hindu-Muslims do in Lucknow like the arched room.

    Within the Imambara AUD had also carved the labyrinth … the ‘BB’ which is, three storeyed. It has 489 similar looking galleries without doors, where one can roam endlessly for hours. But by roaming endlessly you don’t reach your destination. To reach your destination you require proper direction. Is the lesson it conveys.

    The narrow lanes of BB were carved to confuse enemy intruders during invasions. Only the King and a few of his trusted ones knew the way out. Just as your Guru or the Almighty knows the way out for you in troubled times. And keeping the enemy confused is a robust strategy even today.

    These constricted lanes can make anyone feel lost, as you sometimes feel in life. Their passages, some of which have dead-ends, exhort us. To keep moving in life, even during the hardships, and not fear the cul-de-sacs. For it will only dissolve in front of your endurance.

    Flights of steps go up-and-down like a sinusoidal curve. It is steep, dark and narrow. Where, even the sound of a lighted match stick, amplifies and seems to travel through the length of the corridor. The lit-up effect of which illuminates, right up to the other end of the corridor. Signifying, don’t worry. For, there is always light at the other end of the tunnel.

    There are a series of closed narrow passages. In the form of an intricate network, that connects them to a set of staircases. That suddenly change direction, going up or down just to confuse a person. Only, one correct combination of the passage and staircase when negotiated correctly, leads you to the roof top. In a manner hinting, that perfection requires precision. Like a combination lock. Where, only one correct combination of passage and stairs together, can take you to the top.

    It once again reminds, even real life is like a combination lock. Where all combinations need to work. You cannot reach the top of BB without the help of a guide. Who is trained to perfection to take you up. Just like the journey of life where the Almighty holds your hand and takes you through and through. Next,

   The grand Rumi Darwaza (RD) standing 60 feet-tall, was also part of relief operations during the famine. It is devoid of wood and iron and an outright novelty, of its times. When viewed from the West, it looks like a huge Mehraab- a grand gateway. East is even prettier … resembling a Mexican hat. Its three gates in a row absorb the fast, medium and the slow moving traffic, symbolic of the trait of absorption in human life. Born tall, it lives tall and looks prettier from wide angles. The tough, rough and the dainty mix of personality that human beings need to imbibe.

   AUD’s caliber possessed the sponge. To absorb the ethos of the masses and convert it, into these everlasting golden scripts of brick and mortar. Try it out, yourself. As and when you go close to these monuments. They shear off your existing nub of thoughts and fill you with some gentle self-introspection. Which only helps you in re-determining your values. They say values of a man rarely changes. Not even during his lifetime.

    In the flux and flow of life. If someone, were to ask me to describe the Awadh of 1784. I would simply tell him to go and see a movie produced in that era. Or read a book published around that time. But sad, movies were not invented then and books were not too prevalent. So, my request to him would only be, to go and visit BI, BB and even RD.

    I now never miss an opportunity to visit old monuments, and spend some quality time there. As each monument has something great to tell you.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

Story of an Indian salesman who is lowly qualified but fights his ways through uncertainities to reach the top. A good read for all salesmen. Now available in Amazon.com

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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