Archive for February, 2017


There is a scene in Lion in which Nicole Kidman reveals to her on-screen son Dev Patel that she was never infertile but she chose to adopt him because she wanted to give a better life and a second chance to someone less privileged. This pretty much sums up the essence of director Garth Davi’s directorial venture Lion; hope, second chance, warmth and unconditional family bonding.

As we know by now, Lion is based on the true story of Saroo Brierley who got separated from his family at the age of 5, gets adopted by an Australian family and after 25 years emerges victorious in his quest for his biological mother with the help of Google earth. On paper, it looks a simple yet unique story. But, what Garth Davi brought out on screen is bound to pull your heart strings and moist your eyes for sure.

lion-3

Lion starts with five year old Saroo, played brilliantly by Sunny Pawar, pilfering coal lumps off a train with his brother Guddu. The fact that they exchange these coals for mere two milk packets-while craving for Jalebi– speaks volume about their financial condition. They take it home proudly to their mother, a labourer, who serves it in a bowl as their dinner. Few minutes more into the movie, Saroo is 1600 Kms away from his hometown Khandwa. He gets lost and is tragically transported to Calcutta, West Bengal (the story starts in 1986 so Calcutta, not Kolkata) in a passenger train. Alone, hungry, homeless, with no one to understand his language, Saroo’s journey becomes more heartbreaking with every passing minute. You can see him roaming the busy streets of Calcutta with a cardboard sheet as his bed. You just keep praying and whispering that nothing unfortunate comes his way. His runny nose, dirty nails, torn clothes and soiled hair will remind you of several kids you come across daily either begging or sleeping under a subway. Escaping human traffickers twice, Saroo lands up in a swarming orphanage from where gets adopted by an Australian couple played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham.

Life changes for good. Saroo (now Dev Patel) grows up to be a well-settled ‘Aussie’ and a hotel management student. However, a fleeting glimpse of Jalebi at an Indian friend’s house brings back all those old memories. He relies majorly on Google Earth and his vague visions to locate a place that he doesn’t even remember the name of. We see him go through a series of emotions when his efforts fail to lead him anywhere. He is obsessed, he is helpless, he is recluse, he is angry….he is anything but happy. We can relate to his agony and ordeal at every point. Until one day he maps out his home, like literally.

lion-5

Lion unearths what coming back to home means, what finding out yourself amidst all chaos means, what believing in miracle means, and what family means. You will also know why it is called Lion. When Saroo finally meets Kamala, his biological mother, you can feel the embrace, the squeeze, the kiss and the tears. Back home, I wish I had my mother to do the same. Lion will break your heart. Carry some tissues with you while watching this one because the lump-in-throat moments are many in the film.

lion-2

 P.S: Much like the protagonist of Lion, even I have relied on Google for images. All images are result of Google search and I have no copyright over them. 

Advertisements

The place that I am going to write about today already has massive worshipers. In fact, it is touted as one of the best destinations for travelers. Nightlife, amusement park, tranquil sea sides, desert safari, shopping, exemplary man-made structures…it has everything. You name it, you have it. Dubai is one place to reckon with. It’s almost mind-boggling that how this sprawling desert has urbanized so much in the past few decades, and yet has held onto its novelty. But, don’t worry this is not going to be one of those travel blogs guiding you about places to see in Dubai. This is one place where most of us must have heard a lot of, if not visited till now. Thanks to Google, we already know the iconic landmarks of city.

dscf1566

Sunset cruise- check; Burj Khalifa- check; Fountain Show- check; Gold souk- check; Desert Safari- check; Sheikh Zayed mosque- check; Yas Island –check; Ferrari World- check.

So, what’s new to write about this fabulous city?

You know your vacation is a success when on the last of the trip you suddenly start wishing if there were few days more…at least few hours.  As I sit down to write this I am experiencing massive toothache because of my erupting wisdom tooth. Even then, my spirit for writing about this city was not letting me sleep. Yes, that’s the word- Spirit. This is what makes a desirable destination different from others.

Travelling is my passion and I had sworn to myself that I will never visit a place more than once. Only because there are many more countries to cover and there isn’t much time. But, this city changed my viewpoint. It made me obsessed to its spirit. Apart from pouncing on the scrumptious and widely-liked Dubai chocolates and loosening my purse strings for gold and perfumes, I was phenomenally refreshed to meet some new people and breaking out of the monotony that we often get trapped to.

I happened to once share cab with a mother-daughter trio. They were originally from Egypt but are now settled in London from a significant time. They too were on a vacation. I befriended them during my trip and, as expected, our first topic of interaction was Bollywood and Shahrukh Khan.  They couldn’t stop praising Dangal and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, the 2016 blockbusters. They wanted to visit India only for Taj Mahal, but I made them understand that India is much more than that. I introduced them to the gamut of soul-pleasing places here and was feeling very proud and content at the same time.  I believe I made some good acquaintances and would like to keep in touch with them.

img_20170207_222723096

Next, I met a very chirpy and frivolous man during my desert safari.  He was driving the Land Cruiser that was accountable for giving us the lifetime experiencing of dunes bashing. Prepared for a unique adrenaline-pumping adventure in the colossal orange-red dunes, we started with our journey. God bless his sense of humour, because his opening line was “Do you have life insurance madam as it is going to be my first attempt.”

I almost underwent a heart in mouth situation in those few seconds. I gulped my fear and voiced my concern timidly, “What do you mean?” He started laughing and didn’t reply. I didn’t know how to react until my husband whispered, “Don’t worry. He is joking.” “Are you sure?” I snapped immediately. “Let’s hope for the best.” I don’t know what that meant, but we started seeing the vivid orange dunes reluctantly. In the next 5 minutes I was sure that he was joking in order to keep us on our toes because he was exceptionally skilled and had expertise in what he was doing. The roller coaster ride in the desert was exhilarating. We were sliding down the slopes; sometimes egging him to stop, sometimes gasping and most of the times giggling. The beautiful desert shimmering like gold is a marvel to capture. As the evening stretched to night, we were guided to enthralling belly dancing and fire show. Later that night, on our way to the hotel, he introduced himself as Mohammad. Apparently he had enacted a negative role in a Tamil movie long ago. But, now it’s been more than 10 years he has been rendering dunes bashing pleasure to all tourists and also giving training to all amateur aspiring drivers.

He kept joking about having multiple girlfriends and how his increasing weight is scary or what would happen if I start driving his car. God knows, when was the last time I met a fun-loving chap like him!

img_20170212_161443

The conversation that followed that night once again opened my eyes to appreciate the gift of life. Sure, the heart is pumping blood inside but that is not enough to keep you alive. We are not born to lead uneventful and mundane lives. We are work in progress and the only way to keep growing is meeting new people, becoming better each day, inspiring others, taking things lightly, defining yourself and in the process get enriched with a feeling of purpose and happiness. He waived me goodbye saying “Never take life seriously and always be happy. Carry your binoculars along.”

Today I was going through my old e-mails where I had drafted one with the subject 20 things I want to do before I die. It was the year 2013. Interestingly, the 20th point clearly stated ‘Visit Burj Khalifa’.  I didn’t even remember that I made a list like that or I should strike that off now. But, what remained with me is the expression of leap of faith. Nobody knows whether what we dream today may come true or not, but sometimes leaping off the edge will let go the fear of falling. Whenever you start feeling comfortable anywhere, start questioning yourself is this the time to break the pattern. Who knows you may end up soaring high like never before. Just like desert has a dual trait of being hot at daylight and piercingly cold at night, life too is waiting to show you its many faces. You just need to be ready with your binoculars.

UAE, thank you for such a lovely time! I felt affectionately welcomed, with a sense of coming back to you again and again.

dscf1544