Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The rise and...

You piggy-backed on someone else’s Lokpal movement to start a political party. I was amused.

You attracted well-educated professionals to join a sector that was up until then believed to be a gutter best avoided. I was mildly interested.

You emerged as a significant threat to the grand old parties of our country. I was proud of the Delhi electorate for having the guts to look for change. 

You became one of India’s youngest chief ministers, without dynasty support or caste allegiances. I was happy such things could happen in what some people have called a banana republic.

You forgot you are a CM who needs to handle issues with diplomacy, and instead took to the streets like a common protestor, with scant regard for the common man’s inconveniences. I was mildly irritated.

You, the well-educated, highly qualified common man, should know the meaning of a Republic. You should know that it is a proud moment for the millions of Indians to celebrate all that we have achieved in the 6+ decades of our existence. You should have the maturity to be able to handle issues without making people feel guilty for celebrating what is truly ours. You, of all people, should know that celebrating our achievements doesn't equate ignoring our predicaments. 

Remember, you will not be a CM in one of the largest democracies in the world if we had decided to ignore the meaning of republic, democracy and independence.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The House of Music

As a ten year old, the architecture of the Sydney Opera House, or whatever piece of it I could view through a 21” television, fascinated me. Whoever builds a theater like that, with domes and half circles and whatever else my small mind couldn't fathom, I wondered. And that set of gigantic steps that led up to the entrance was quite sensational. I am not ashamed to admit that my heart did ache to lounge around the area, if only for a bit. If only, if only, I told myself, and promptly added it to my bucket list.

And, finally, thanks to V, it did really happen – a trip to the Sydney Opera House.

While I ambitiously attempt an all-encompassing write-up on our trip down under, I wanted to dedicate a post to my bucket list item.

The ferry cruising across the Sydney harbor does not give a very flattering view of the Opera House. It might be disappointing for someone who has always imagined the Opera House to be a huge structure, as it does look a tad smaller than that. But, you are just viewing it wrong. The view you need to look out for is not of the Opera House from the Harbor, but the other way round. The House has been built, I suppose, with the prime motive of enjoying views of the Harbor and the famed Sydney Harbor Bridge. It is so beautiful you don’t want to move out even after closing time. 

The theater, the real prime motive of the House, is breath-taking. We had the opportunity to walk into the Joan Sutherland Theater, and were quite taken in by the immensity of the hall. That is when you realize how beautifully this huge space has been packed into what, from the Harbor Bridge, looks like a small-ish structure. There is a smaller and cute hall (Juhu Prithvi-ish) that hosts performances by and for kids during the day. It doubles up as an adult theater (!) post 9 in the evening with cabaret dances and other apparently feisty shows.

Unfortunately, there were no interesting performances (the normal type) in the Opera House on the days we were in Sydney. Hence, we had to make do with a paid tour of the place. The tour was useful in that someone took us through everything and explained the finer architectural details and trivia. More importantly, the concert halls are not open to general public viewing. Hence, the tour helped us get an inner view of the theaters. On the flip side, there was a lot of what we thought were hyped up anecdotes and selling during the tour. For instance, the tour guide would stand near a particular stone and say, “You know what. This particular stone I am standing next to is where the architect of this building stood and breathed a sigh after completing the design. A replica of this is available for sale in our store. Do pick one on your way out.”

V and I spent most of the time on the tour discussing how we can garner revenue, if our tourism department were to organize such well-planned and targeted tours of the Taj Mahal (with photographs and other paraphernalia). Talking about the four minarets and their symmetry would be enough to make any foreigner (or Indian) cough up money with happiness.

The Opera House is a must visit, and the fact that it is free of charge (unless you want to take a paid tour) adds to the “must-ness”. Also, if you aren’t married yet, you may want to consider some of their beautiful halls with lawns overlooking the harbor, where you can host your reception. But, I am told the rent is obscenely high, so make sure you have the dollars with the zeroes at the right ends to make that happen. Thankfully, that was not on my bucket list, otherwise I would be oh so unmarried yet!