Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cheers to Cinama Halls!

The other day we decided to go for a movie. It was a weekend and I wondered if we could get the tickets.

`Don`t worry Dad- I will check online and I am sure some multiplex will have the tickets`, said my son. Sure enough, he managed to get four tickets for a popular movie in Satyam Cinemas including a reserved parking space for our car and provision for the snacks of our choice to be served at our seats during the interval. I could not but marvel at what technology has done to make life so easy for us.

I also enjoy seeing a good movie with the whole family at the Prarthana Drive- in theatre. We go packed with folding chairs, charpoys and pillows because one can watch the movie sitting on the chair or lying down infront of the car. In spite of the repeated announcements on the screen that outside food and liquor are prohibited, almost everyone carries pre-packed dinner packets or containers carrying a variety of foods in the dicky of the car to be had as buffet dinner during the intervals. And die hard spirited guys carry premixed drinks (liquor) in flasks which they keep sipping while watching the movie!

My mind travels back to the time when I was a student. While watching any movie with friends was a fun activity, acquiring a ticket, especially the lower class unreserved ticket was indeed a battle. You had to go to the theatre a couple of hours before the current booking counter for a particular show opened, stand patiently in the long queue. But the moment the counter opened, all hell would break loose. The queue would disintegrate, with everyone trying to muscle or fight his way to reach the counter so that he could literally grab a ticket before the `House full` board is put up. There would be shouting matches, fisticuffs and even wrestling matches. If you found suddenly a leg or two using your shoulders to step on, you can be sure that it is the aggressive guy who is trying to reach the counter by walking over the crowd!

All the jostling and fighting would be worth your while, if you managed to get the ticket. Even if it meant that you were looking completely dishevelled with a torn shirt! You would feel like a Hero entering the theatre. In spite off all the troubles you had to undergo to see the movie, it was still fun especially if you had bunked your class to see the movie. And the sense of achievement was even greater when you had managed to see an adult movie- though you were still in your adolescence.

I remember the occasion when I went to see an adult English movie in which the sex bomb of the times- Ava Gardner was acting. I was only sixteen and had no hair growth under my nostrils to pass off as an adult I used my sister`s eyeliner to paint a smart moustache which I thought would help me look like an adult. I stood in the queue with a lot of trepidation but managed to get the ticket. But the real test came when I had to enter the cinema Hall and face the ticket checker. Hiding my nervousness and with all the confidence I could muster, I handed over my ticket to him. Surprisingly, without even looking at me, he allowed me in. Needless to say that I did not stop bragging about this small achievement to my friends for the next one week!

Later, when I started working, I preferred to see movies on Saturday afternoons, straight after work. Though I had no reserved tickets I would never be upset with the `Houseful` board prominently displayed outside the theatre. Because I had specialized in the art of buying spare tickets without paying extra! I would wait at a strategic point infront of the theatre prominently displaying cash in my hand – clearly indicating that I am a potential customer for an extra ticket. Invariably someone with an extra ticket, who was afraid of being mobbed by the ticketless crowd if he openly announced that he had an extra ticket, would notice me. He would give me a sign to follow him. I would enter the foyer of the theatre as a part of his group. Once inside the theatre we would exchange money for the ticket. A smooth operation indeed! However, it was important that you were dressed well and looked like a respectable citizen to enjoy this privilege!

Let us f ace it. In spite of the Home theatre and the availability of DVDs of your favourite movies which you can watch leisurely at your home, the experience of watching a movie in a cinema hall can never be dispensed with. Like the die hard cricket fans visiting the cricket ground to watch a match live- though they can watch the same at home with all the advantages that a live telecast of a match offers to the viewers!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kishore- A tribute

A Tribute to my friend Kishore Shahani, who passed away on 5th Feb,2011, after a two year battle with cancer. It is written in the form of a letter to his soul

My dear Kishore,

I won’t start this letter saying ‘I can’t believe my dear friend is no more’. Because you and all your friends knew that God had decided to snatch you away from us sooner or later, when you were diagnosed two years ago with Multiple Myloma, the dreadful bone marrow cancer. Any human being would be devastated by such a ‘death sentence’. But the way you decided to fight the disease and delay your departure from the world is what makes your life story interesting!

Your decision to go for naturopathy instead of chemotherapy was bold. Though it was a relentless fight against god’s decision, you fought it with belief, commitment and positive thinking! Until a couple of weeks before your departure, you tried to lead as normal a life as possible.

You were one of the great friends that the Round Table gifted to me. Though I came to Chennai in 1974 and joined Madras Round Table No.10, I got to know you, a member of Madras Mylapore Round Table no 3, closer, when we worked for the Round Table India AGM in 1977 held in Chennai. The abiding friendship we developed, as foot soldiers of the Round Table Movement, continued after we both ceased to be members of the wonderful movement - thanks to the Round Table Foundation and later the 41 Clubs of India – which ensured that our hinges of friendship never rusted.

You were the person who helped RTF identify and buy the land on which the Round Table India building, a dream project of another remarkable ex-Round Tabler, Bob Chandran, stands today

When I stepped down as Secretary of RTF after 8 years, you took over from me and later continued your association as Chairman of the RTF. While still active in RTF, you were making your mark in 41 Clubs of India, becoming one of its popular Presidents. Later you became the Secretary of 41 Clubs International, with another inimitable and high spirited ex-Tabler Indu Chandhok as the President. The great 41 International AGM we had in Chennai amply demonstrated your tremendous organizing abilities and leadership qualities. The behind-the-scenes activities of major events of Round Table India, Round Table Foundation and 41 Clubs of India, in which both of us were involved, kept our friendship going..

This relationship was to be further cemented when your wonderful and charming wife Sunita joined my business as the head of a memory bank/direct marketing outfit, Little Things. You also became the founder director of another company in my group contributing your ideas and your wisdom.

In spite of your enormous talents & abilities, you had a tough career after you left a secure and promising job with L&T McNeil. Your life journey took you through several twists and turns, including a brief stint as a volunteer with Siddha Yoga Centre in Ganeshpuri near Mumbai. In all those turbulent years what kept you going was your undying spirit and enthusiasm for life! And of course the tremendous support you got from your dear wife, in whatever you did.

Your ever-smiling face, a calm approach to any issues or problems, your analytical powers, your wonderful communication skills both as a speaker and writer and above all your sense of humour – even under most trying circumstances were qualities which I always admired in you.

Though in the last decade our paths did not cross often, I know we were always together in spirit. It is that spirit which made me call on you at your new home in Anna Nagar a few days before you were admitted to the hospital. In spite of your failing health I was surprised to listen to your high spirited discourse on alternate therapy and its benefits, which even made me write an article on Alternate Therapy. Though we all knew that no therapy would change god’s decision, you did make an effort to influence him.

I still remember the episode in your life more than a decade ago when you had a massive heart attack and were rushed to the hospital where you were almost given up for a few minutes before doctors managed to revive you. You came back to tell us the story of your experience in your typical humorous style in an article in the Fellowship magazine. But this time god has had his way. You have left your dear family and legion of friends, from all over the world, forever!

Kishore, We are all going to miss you. And knowing you, you would not want us to mourn your death but continue to celebrate life. That is the lesson you taught us.

So may I raise a toast to your soul!

Yours in friendship forever,

R.V.Rajan (