I was struck, the umpteeenth time, by how narrow minded the media is. They didn’t really think at the Thinkfest. They just picked controversial lines and twisted them into captions and entire stories, devoid of sense and context.
Easily one of the most impactful speakers and perhaps the most evolved was Irish rockstar and political activist Bob Geldof. He is best known for his charity supergroup Band Aid that has worked to eradicate poverty in Africa. Band Aid’s Do they know it’s Christmas was inspiration for We are the World, the 1985 hit song writeen by Michael Kackson and Lionel Richie that brought the best in rock and pop together under the banner USA for Africa.
Bob was very very rock-star like with a very British sort of wry humor and his interview was a powerhouse of ideas that could impact the most cynical individuals. He spoke so eloquently about the power of charity, about the right of a father to bring up his children, about deprivation and hard work, of family values and what entails a home. The press only picked his showman’s statement about Goa being the place where he got his drugs from. “My best drugs came from Goa” says Geldof screams The Times of India’s local edition in font size XXXXXL. Goa gave me my best drugs: Bob Geldof, are the headlines of the local paper, the Herald. Of course, Bob was unapologetic about what he said. He is a rockstar and he said these words before he started his rock and roll concert in complete jest, which was smashing for its quality of music as well as his superior showmanship! He also said crazy stuff like, “It feels like I’m playing at a wedding” when the audience pattered put pilot applause instead of hooting and screaming for more! In the end, he rocked the floor!
Typically, of three days and scores of speakers atThink2012, only the Bollywood types and the politicians were covered extensively by the media. They, both these categories of people, had nothing original to say whatsoever. And no one was surprised by that! So little do we expect from them. Reema Kagti was the only from from Bollywood with spark and Praful Patel astonished me (in not a very good way) with his honesty about how iffy politician’s ethics are, but save for these two blips on the radar, the celebs failed to impress. The real stars, the scientists, the social innovators, the out-of-the-box thinkers got sparing column space. Who cares of Steven Cowley is inventing a power source that will take the world out of the absolute misery of fighting for sources of energy? Who cares if one man, David Christian, has the pedagogic recipe called Big History to imbue future generatins with tolerance and inclusive thinking? And who cares if Ian Lipkin might have research that can stop diseases from spreading?
Clearly, these are puny issues. In comparison, SRK’s loneliness and Rishi Kapoor’s barely-there relationship with his father might truly impact the way we navigate our lives!
As I watched the superbly skilled Vidya Balan in ‘Kahaani’ tonight (film highly recommended), I could not stop admiring the way Sujoy Ghosh has romanced Kolkata in the film. Portrayed in a suitably old world tint, every frame captured the worst of Kolkata and converted it into an endearing visual. Poverty, entangled wires, hand riksha pullers, the jerky motion of the tram, the roadside tea stalls, the winding alleys, the decaying buildings, the traffic and ceaseless mass of humanity. Faces creased with worry, faces that smiled, faces that wore indescribably expressions. I wanted to go there immediately and lose myself in this great city, all by myself, with a sketchpad and camera. Kolkata has been hitting me for the past few months through books, articles and visits by friends and family; it’s beckoning for sure!
Mind still filled with images of lovely Kolkata, what a shock it was for us to step out of the exit into a stairwell that had a ceiling not even 6 feet high! As we walked down the exit stairs, we were met with the most extraordinary amount of filth and litter. One landing had rotting vegetables, presumably supplies that the banquet hall on that floor hadn’t consumed for the wedding dinner they were hosting. Another landing had piles of rubbish. Another had spit stains, yet another had used, discarded plates with wasted food spilling out, another had mattresses piled in it! The stairway was barely lit (anyone could have slipped and fallen), the exits back into the mall were locked, so no one could leave the smelly stairwell even if they wanted to.
Nearing the end of this horrendous journey, I started to take pictures; believe me, these tell only a small bit of the tale (i was unable to go against the flow of traffic to capture the real gems!). Perhaps the romantic street scenes of Kolkata, when met in the flesh, may not seem so beautiful, I realized, as I filled with rage at the irresponsibility of SRS Cinema and Omaxe (this was in the Omaxe Celebration Mall on Sohna Road, Gurgaon). How could they let an entire movie hall full of audiences, who paid hard earned money for tickets to be subjected to such a humiliating experience. The least I could do was document this and here are the pictures to tell the story.