Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The World in Goa

Goa is the land of beaches, is situated in the lap of nature and is steeped in history that is inclusive of both Indian and Portuguese culture. Well that is an understatement actually because over the years, as Goa has increasingly developed as a tourism hotspot, she has amalgamated cultures from all over the world and accepted them as her own. In the heart of Goa, I can truly see the world!

People from everywhere come to Goa to enjoy her sandy seashores, soak up her sunshine and devour her savoury sausages. Travellers from the UK, France, Germany, USA and Russia are a common sight here, mingling with the locals and even speaking a little bit of Konkani to get into the Goan spirit. A lot of shops in the bustling markets of Mapusa and Panjim have signboards inscribed with English, Konkani and Russian as well. It goes to show how well the state has learned to cope with the influx of foreign tourism of which they seem to have an endless flow throughout the year.

Calangute beach, Goa, India

‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ is a slogan that is close to the Indian heart. As hosts, we attempt to be most gracious and welcoming, for that is what we have been taught through the ages. And I saw the best example of this Indian hospitality in Goa. We travelled in city buses everywhere since we wanted to get to really ‘see’ Goa. The conductors in those buses, when they realized that we were tourists, kept asking us to take seats that weren't occupied. They kept asking us please be seated. It was… new and a very refreshing attitude. I now know another reason why tourism is at such a high in Goa, its people.

Since we went there for Christmas, we were invited to a house for Christmas lunch and I didn't feel detached from my family here in Gujarat at all. It was as if our hosts were our own, so freely did they mingle with us, talking about everything from cuisine and culture to national and international politics over single malt scotch. They served us a mix of Portuguese and traditional Goan cuisine that I had not tasted in a very long time. Christmas really feels how it should in Goa. Fabulous!

There is no dividing line between western and eastern civilizations in Goa. National borders blur when everyone is just trying to have a good time and relax. Religion, race and colour refuse to be barricades in this wonderful place and perhaps that is why Goa feels like the last bastion of world unity in India. Identities are not important, nor are languages. People speak with smiles here and that is what enamours anyone who ventures into this land.

There is a saying in Goa that people very rarely go hungry at night but are never denied a drink. This does not mean that liquor is very important here, it only goes to show the generosity of the people here. If someone is standing outside a bar, it is not possible that nobody will buy that person a drink. It does not in any way imply that the people are drunkards; it is to say that these people enjoy the good things in life and help others enjoy it too.

This is my toast to Goa, the place where the World is One entity and lives and breathes as One soul.

Viva Goa!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Legitimate Targets

Two days back, the wife of a terrorist leader was captured by the Lebanese armed forces. This came three days after the wife and child of another terrorist leader were captured by the same army. Whether this says something about their intelligence source or is pure dumb luck is another matter; what came after these arrests is what is really amusing.

The latest arrest was of the wife of a regional al-Qaeda commander who is apparently very upset about this particular development unlike al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS), another terrorist group, who didn’t even blink at the arrest of one of his wives and a child.

The al-Qaeda guy however, lost his cool and declared every woman, child and man in Lebanon legitimate targets for his terrorist operation. He demanded his spouse be released or the holding forces be ready to face his mighty wrath that would befall anyone within the blast radius of his ‘holy’ bombs.

Commander, with all due disgust, allow me to explain how you’re just stating something that is so passé that even the guy sending your message to the army is chuckling at your naivety.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Did you really not blow up innocent people before this? Have you never sent suicide bombers to blow up a busy marketplace or a place of religious worship before? Do you not already have the blood of innocents on your hands and on your soul? Have you not blackened your heart with the funeral fires of thousands of people who died because of your fight for ‘God’?

How can you say that these innocents are legitimate targets now? Was massacring them illegitimate before? Then why did you do it? Do you deny it? No? Why am I not surprised?

How do you expect God to be proud of you when you try to forward your vested interests in His name? You do not want people to fear God, you want them to fear you. You want to give reason to your madness and so you keep telling yourself, your mindless followers and the world that what you’re fighting for is a ‘holy war’ and not to make yourself king of the mountain.

You are no better than the ‘legitimate’ dictators, both, ruling and deposed. In fact, at some level they are better than you because they make no pretence of the fact that they want power. You cower behind your imaginary excuses and the lie atop the bodies of the slain with a ‘legitimate’ reason.

You talk of legitimacy? You have no right. Your wife is probably safer in the army’s hands than are the possibly hundreds or thousands of women that your brainwashed ‘holy warriors’ have raped and murdered to satisfy their ‘holy’ selves. You cannot speak of legitimacy. The very word is dishonoured by being present upon your tongue.

The only thing legitimate by human standards is for you and others like you to hang for your crimes against mankind.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Dangerous Dummies Dubbing our Films

I’m sure a lot of people around the world watch original movies dubbed in their own language. I’m sure you must have done so too. Come on, you can’t deny having watched at least one beautiful English movie torn to shreds in Hindi just for the fun of it. You were just bored on a Sunday and had nothing to do. You had a good movie but only the dubbed version which you are too good to watch because you are a true connoisseur of cinema. But what the hell might as well get a laugh or two out of it.

So you saw it.

You sat through the entire film and were laughing the whole time because you’d seen the one in English. But you’re also disgusted because you’ve degraded yourself by watching a ‘dubbed’ version, have you not? Aah! That short smile of guilt and regret tells me you’ve gone and done it… Tch tch tch… poor you.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

But. If you haven’t or you regularly watch English films dubbed in Hindi because of reasons like the Americans don’t speak British English or speak it too fast or speak Americanese because they think that’s English… it’s ok. I can understand.

In that case, be aware that what you’re hearing being spoken in the film isn’t actually what the dialogues are. You might as well be watching a Hindi film with American actors.

To put it straight – What you’re watching isn’t exactly the literal translation of what is being spoken by the characters in the film.

If you didn’t know that then it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that thou hast been made what we in India call a ‘Bakra’. In other words, ‘a damn fool’.

Oh you already knew that? Damn. Then you read all the above for nothing. However, if you can still bear with me for a moment, I’ll explain myself.

You see, Hindi is as of now the third most spoken language in the world, Mandarin Chinese and English being at first and second places respectively. So when a widely popular film is dubbed into Hindi and is seen by the Hindi speaking audience of the world, can you imagine how many people only hear the bullshit that the dubbing artists spew out? I’m not saying that all movies are dubbed badly but in my experience, most of them are and when this happens, a lot of people less smart than you actually believe that load of nonsense.

Films, I believe, are the mirror of society, not wholly representative, but a foggy mirror nonetheless. People actually do connect with movies and believe what is shown therein to be a reflection of the civilization they come from. So when and if you watch a movie that has been dubbed in Hindi, let it be Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, French, Spanish, Austrian, German, Australian, British or American, there may be discrepancies in the translation and since you may or may not know all these languages, you may not realize the differences between the original and dubbed dialogues.

This is dangerous.

It is not always apparent but we do understand different cultures only by watching the films made there unless you are a globe-trotting multi-millionaire intellectual who understands culture only by going to different countries and observing them closely. So our thinking is affected largely by what we see in films. This effect is unimaginable if viewed from a global perspective of the number of films dubbed wrongly and viewed by the Hindi populace of the world. Try to think about that. I’ll wait.

Ok, now what one generation thinks about another culture is bound to affect the next generation because that is how one gains preliminary knowledge about the world. So the effect of dumb dubbing is not restricted to space alone, it also has an effect over time.

Whoa! Right? I thought so too.

So you see how dummies dubbing our films can be dangerous? If not, then please do watch the film ‘Men in Black II’ in English and in Hindi. My team and I found 74 discrepancies in dialogues ranging from geographical to cultural to racial to language based errors.

But damn is it hilarious!