Faridoon Shahryar's Blog

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Practise the real Sacrifice on Baqr-i-Eid

Waking up early on an Eid morning is a pious ritual. Offering Namaz is a cleansing experience. On every Baqr-i-Eid,  my mother Professor Najma Mahmood read out the significance of Eid from columns that used to get published in #Urdu newspaper #QaumiAwaaz (unfortunately it has stopped publishing now). Ammi read out that Baqr-i-Eid is all about 'Sacrifice'.. Sacrificing your pride,  ego,  jealousies, hatred and anything that is dear to us but sacrificing it will make us a better human being. Unfortunately,  today Baqr-i-Eid is all about hurriedly offering Namaz (I saw a Maulana walking out even when the Qutba was going on) and worrying about how quickly can one get done with 'sacrificing' the goat so that they can be the first one to send out the prized meat packet to neighbours and relatives. Many a times (not all) the concern is all about how soon can you purchase The goat. The breed and the price of the Goat is a matter of intense discussion. Somewhere the basic idea of Sacrifice of the spiritual kind has been forgotten and a display of gluttony has taken over. Someone was telling me yesterday that if the massive amount of money spent on purchasing Goats on Baqr-i-Eid is spent on educating poor children, a huge problem of lack of education amongst the poor can be eradicated to a great extent. This is what we shall be doing from now on. Sacrifice a substantial amount of money to help the poor get educated. Eid Mubarak!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Incredible Triund Hill and how we conquered it

It was once in a lifetime experience as trekking for 12 kms (up and down) on steep and extremely difficult mountain terrain isn't an easy task but Aarefa Faridoon, Insha and I managed to achieve it today and it is a tremendous feeling. #Mcleodganj is at an elevation of around 6800 feet above sea level and #TriundHill is at over 9500 feet above sea level.  It took us around 3 and 1/2 hours to reach on top.  It was specially tough for Insha as she's a kid after all and the rocky uneven terrain was tough for her.  With my constant fitness enthusiasm for gymming,  swimming and running I was quite adept at handling it but even I was totally tired as we were reaching the top.  Aarefa on the other hand moved around like a hare and proved to be the one with maximum fitness levels. As they say, the journey is more enjoyable than reaching the destination.  It was perfectly true with us today. We encountered brilliant sceneries,  Brooks of amazingly sweet water,  wild orchids,  sheep's and much more. On top of the hill,  tents are available for tourists at a nominal price. Several tourists spend the night there too but we were told that it's extremely cold in the night. There are no facilities for toilet and that's a drawback. You can get omelette slice,  Maggi,  biscuits,  tea and coffee at a steep price. It was foggy on top and we couldn't see the far flung hills. While coming back we took two and a half hours. There are several cafes on the trekking route where you can get tea,  coffee,  cold drinks and some basic eatables. You have to travel 7 kms by taxi to and fro as well. As I said it was a truly memorable experience and surely an achievement.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Katha Kathan:Inspired dramatic evening courtesy Classic Short Stories

Katha Kathan: Inspired dramatic evening courtesy Classic Short Stories
By Faridoon Shahryar

When you get bored of the lies of life around you and when you really must raise the bar for intellectual stimulation, you must opt for something that's absolutely unadulterated. #KathaKathan is a noble and much needed initiative of #JameelGulrays sahab and his articulate wife Rekha Rao G. They organised a gathering of select literature enthusiasts at #Eros theatre at #Churchgate in #Mumbai today evening. The moment I came to know about this event a few days back I knew I must attend it. I am so glad that I was part of this wonderful initiative today and I came back inspired and intellectually richer.

#Manto's #ThandaGosht and #Tasveer, #Premchand's #Kafan and #IsmatChughtai's #Libaas were narrated in a dramatised manner by a talented bunch of artistes namely #JameelGulrays #MridulPrabha, #MadhviGanphule, #PriyankaSharma, #RajeshJha and #SumantoBhattacharya. Jameel sahab has always had mastery in #Urdu but all the others have made extra efforts to learn the language and their talaffuz and understanding of Urdu words was spot on. The sexual content of Libaas and Thanda Gosht required guts to narrate with such grace and confidence. Moreover Libaas is about lesbianism and Abhishek Chaubey's #Ishqiya2 is based on the same with #MadhuriDixit and #HumaQureshi essaying the main leads along with #NaseeruddinShah and #ArshadWarsi.

Jameel sahab has a powerful voice as an artist and he also made a pertinent point when he said that none of his artistes was a Muslim. He emphasized upon the fact that Urdu doesn't belong to any particular religion. "Urdu is for everyone, it belongs to whoever loves it," he said amidst claps.

Nothing can beat reading a good story, novel or a poem but the way the classic stories were narrated at Katha Kathan today, there's a whole new perspective that is being explored. It was a confluence of story reading as well as passionate drama on stage. Congratulations to Jameel sahab and here's hoping that he shall hold many such sessions. He has promised sessions with a Kashmiri playwright, classic  Marathi literature and other Indian languages. More power to him!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

San Francisco Diary Day 2:Golden frienship, family away from home, Rajini mania courtesy Kabaali

San Francisco Diary Day 2: Golden friendship, A family away from home, the Rajini mania courtesy Kabali
By Faridoon Shahryar

Acclimatising to a new time zone and the demands of jet lag are made easy if you find good people and loads of laughter to go with it. The day started with a long phone discussion with my childhood friend Mohd Tariq Yaqub who stays very close to my hotel in #Fremont #California. While talking I walked around the hotel and we talked in detail about the misuse and misrepresentation of religion. Tariq is highly well read and quotes serious authors and more importantly he has culled out analogies based on his own understanding of the burning issues of terrorism.

Tariq took me to the #Facebook headquarters. It is a stylishly built colorful building. The way Taj Mahal is a tourist attraction, the #Like sign outside the Facebook office is a tourist attraction in #SanFrancisco. We had lunch at the Indo-Pak #Shalimar restaurant and feasted on scrumptious Nahari, Chicken Seekh Kabab, Tandoori roti and Tandoori chicken. Once again we had long discussions on varied topics. Tariq is one of the biggest examples of how a man can brilliantly change his destiny by sheer self belief and phenomenal hard work. It was great catching up.

In the evening Prabha Koka ji and his extremely well mannered smart son Satwik took me to for a night show of #Rajinikanth starrer #Kabali. Their hospitality and warmth is extremely touching. It seems Prabha ji, her husband Vaino and Sarwik are an extended family to me here in San Francisco. Kabali is a well made entertainer inspired by #Godfather. Rajinikanth is brilliant in the title role. It was fascinating to see him do what he did. But the emphasis on 'Tamilians' more than 'Indians' wasn't something that didn't go unnoticed. #RadhikaApte is brilliant. She exudes her magical brilliance consistently.

It was a day wonderfully spent. Looking forward to tomorrow when we start the day with an interview with #WorldFilmFestival Festival director Lida Mohaghegh. I think it will be a perfect way to start the proceedings. So see you tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

San Francisco Diary Day 1:Time Zoned, Lessons from the sunlit sky, Charming Boyhood, Indomitable Ali

San Francisco Diary Day 1: Time-Zoned, Lessons from the sunlit sky, Charming Boyhood, indomitable Ali
By Faridoon Shahryar

It has been a roller coaster 24 hours. It is 4 am in #SanFrancisco and I've been awake for the last two hours, jet lagged but confident that things will settle down from tomorrow. It is an interesting experience to see sunlight and more sunlight for the entire duration of a 20 hour flight. Travelling between time zones is taxing but a unique experience nevertheless. I like observing the shift in landscape from the plane window. There's so much that you see that you may have never imagined. The course of the gurgling river waters, wide ocean expanse and their changing colours, varied shapes and sizes of vegetation, sea of clouds...a hell lot of food for the imagination.

During the #Mumbai #Istanbul flight I saw #Boyhood. It is a film that I always wanted to watch but somehow kept missing it. A film literally weaved over twelve years, with changing camera technology, growth in the protagonists, the mere fact that how the actors and the team must have retained the interest level...fascinating! I always look out for social or political statements that a movie, book or any art form makes. #Boyhood makes a solid progressive, liberal point but it also puts across the radical point of view too without judging it.

As the plane descended at the #Istanbul airport, the landscape from the plane window was breathtakingly beautiful and serene. There had been a failed coup in #Turkey merely a week back. I was a bit apprehensive as it had also involved fighter jets and an attempt had been made to take control of the airport. The news papers at Turkey airport and even the #NewYorkTimes and #WaltStreetJournal painted a chaotic picture. President Erdogan has cracked a whip, emergency has been declared for three months and it is a volatile situation. Such a beautiful country, great history but mired in a state of confusion and despondency.

The flight from #Istanbul to #SanFrancisco was over 13 hours. I read #ShashiKapoor's biography and found it engaging. Mr Kapoor was an extremely good looking and universally loved actor who sailed between hard core commercial Hindi films and classy independent cinema. The biography so far details the love story between Shashi and Jennifer Kendall, his struggle in the early days, how he attained fame with commercial potboilers and how he selflessly supported independent filmmakers. It also details the criticism that a few of his independent films received. Criticism and showing-the-shortcomings makes biographies interesting. Only mushy praise is so one sided and boring.

I saw the documentary #IAmAli on boxing giant #MohammadAli. What a charismatic man and how little I knew about him. The fight against racism, the ability to be a master entertainer, a stoic self belief, bang-on prophecies, refusal to be a part of Vietnam war, his affinity with nine children, balanced out by details of his womanising ways and children out of wedlock, audio conversations with children, wives, friends interspersed with lovely songs...it was time well spent! I also saw #MelGibson and #JuliaRoberts starrer #ConspiracyTheory. I enjoyed Mel Gibsons's madness and the movie wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. I also saw #MissionImpossible2. #TomCruise is simply amazing. More importantly he has maintained himself superbly. The scene where Tom Cruise saves #ThandieNewton as her car meets with an accident and she holds on to the car door hanging in the air and Tom grabs her hand has been duplicated by #ShahRukhKhan and #Kajol in #Dilwale.

I hope to explore #SanFrancisco in the next few days and I hope I shall have fun being a part of #WorldFilmFestival.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Diary of day 7 of the India By The Nile festival 2016, Egypt

Diary of Day 7 #IndiaByTheNile #Luxor #Egypt
By Faridoon Shahryar

I visited the magnificent #ValleyOfTheKings in #Luxor for the second time today. When I visited this world heritage site last year, the number of tourists were considerably higher than what I witnessed today. In fact it was totally deserted. It was heartbreaking to see the local vendors desperately trying to sell their articles to the trickling tourists filtering in. It seemed like a matter of do or die.

The same story had been repeated at the magnificent #TempleOfHabu and the imposing #ColossiOfMemnon. There were very very few tourists and the desperate vendors tried all the tricks to sell their wares. They were willing to reduce the price massively. It is a crisis situation. The Russian plane crash in #Sinai has adversely affected the tourism industry in Egypt. What purpose does war of religion serve if it leads to inhuman poverty and depression for common people? I can feel a lot of pain all around. I dread to think what will happen if drastic efforts are not taken to improve the tourism industry in Egypt.

The #OberoiZahra sailed early in the morning. I woke up early and spent quality time on the Sun Deck soaking in the #Nile aura. All the three meals were awesome and will be remembered for a long time to come. The conversations with fellow journalists from the Indian media contingent were interesting too. We shall be taking off shortly for #Cairo. I am damn sleepy. I wasn't sure how tired I will be once I reach Cairo hence decided to wrap up today's diary here itself. So much for now. Good night.

Diary of Day 6 of the India by the Nile festival 2016, Egypt

Diary of Day 6 #IndiaByTheNile 2016 #Egypt
By Faridoon Shahryar

It was one of the most perfect days of my life. #Nile has a tremendously calming influence. The water is delicately somber and there's something mysteriously intoxicating about the whole experience of watching #OberoiZahra moving ahead taking graceful strides through the heart of Nile.

I woke up early in the morning but then I slept again. I don't know when we started cruising early in the morning. You don't feel any impact as the boat moves forward or when it takes a start. Our first excursion was the #TempleOfKomombo. Built over a span of 400 years (200 BC to 200 AD), there's a lot of history imbued in these ancient structures. The salesmen in local market outside the temple desperately tried to sell us their wares. It is sad how things have dramatically changed in #Egypt in the last few years. In 2010, before the first revolution, Egypt was earning 20 billion dollars per year through tourism, but now that has been reduced to half a billion. The shabby condition of security systems outside the ancient sites in #Aswan and elsewhere tells a sad story in itself. One of the prized tourist destinations till a few years back, Egypt needs the tourists to flock again. I was here last year. I can say it with all honesty that things are far more relaxed than what they were an year back.

The most unforgettable moments of the day were the ones spent on the top deck, observing the magnificence of Nile. The dining room is in the basement level. As we had our lunch, it seemed as if the waves wafted past us. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In the evening we went to the #TempleOfEdfu. We enjoyed a horse ride for reaching our destination. This is one of the most well preserved monuments in Egypt. It was built over a span of 180 years (237 BC to 57 BC). The tale of Horus and Seth was inscribed in totality in an enclosure. The symmetrical design, the perfection, it was surreal.

I swam twice during the day. It was very windy in the evening as we collected our wits and had tea at the top deck. It was so windy that it wasn't too audible when we spoke amongst each other. The meals have been excellent and I must say that the Chef and the entire team is simply brilliant in putting together fantastic courses. The evening meal was a rage.

One of the best parts of the day was the conversations that I had with fellow journalists that are part of the Indian contingent. Journalists from #IndianExpress #TheHindu #Telegraph and a couple of travel journalists are extremely well informed about current affairs and have a sound opinion as well as information about anything and everything. We discussed Bollywood, politics, Kashmir crisis, environment, gender inequality and much more. The meeting of minds and a quest for intellectual growth motivates me a lot in indulging in meaningful conversations. So when I say a perfect day, then the intellectual stimulation had a big role to play in that. We went and sat at the top deck post the meal. It was time to grab as much fresh air and to let the wind cast its spell. This moment will never come back. Let's make the most of it. We are stopping over at #Essna for the night. Good night :-)