By Samir Shukla
The place is same.
The scene is different.
I have mentally marked a spot at my house, just under the deck on a patch of paved area snuggled against the backyard. This is where I stand several times a year specifically to observe nature's changing drama.
In spring the grass is a soft green, wildflowers bloom, perennials return. On a hot summer day, the grass is darker and stiffer, the trees are fully loaded with foliage while darting birds and jumpy squirrels are busy going about their business. The fall can be a drama of red, yellow and orange. If the fall is especially dry, like this year, the ground cover turns a sadder brown, colored by the fallen leaves. The stark emptiness and lack of foliage in winter evokes an entirely different mood and when it snows, well, that's a whole different palate of winter colors.
As the seasons rotate, nature fused by its emotional ups and downs, realigns the palette, updates the foliage; the colors mingle and emerge with new hues, unfolding like a magic trick, a slight of hand that updates the illusion. This magic trick, though, is not lightning fast, but slow and deliberate. An artist creates a new painting, a singer croons a new song, and a dancer changes her footwork. Nature is a combination of all three and more, refreshing the senses with each episode.
For years I have thought of photographing the view from my designated spot at different times of year, but till now I have resisted this particular digital documentation. We take hundreds, even thousands of images in our content-saturated contemporary times. Smart phones with large memories along with cloud servers keep the endless images easily stored. Everything is photographed.
In this self-imposed non-photographed setting, I memorize the image of each season and compare it with what the trees, the grass, the sky, the air itself, looked, felt and smelled like a few months earlier. I close my eyes and test my memory. It's a still dream, a meditative exercise testing memory cells, with the resolution set at its highest.
I resist the urge to whip out my phone and take a photo. On this spot, about five to six times a year, I record the image in the memory recesses of the mind. It's an image only I will remember.
I like to compare it to a batch of written words, whether they are part of a novel or short story. The description of a particular setting is frozen in the words describing it. Readers can close their eyes and imagine the setting. In this instance, I use the image saved in my mind instead of words.
We are a part and parcel of nature, yet the workings of nature never cease to amaze me. There's art in nature, music as well. The cool, steady breeze of fall drones like a sitar, the winds, thunder and sudden rains of summer are like a rock concert. A cold desolate winter day can be a somber violin solo. Springtime is the most joyous of all, where the music is an orchestral feast.
These musical flourishes can be added to that still image in my mind for enhanced effect.
Here in the South we are fortunate to have defined seasons that make this effort of recording images in the mind a revelatory exercise.
Find your own spot. I recommend somewhere near your home. Return to the same exact spot, standing or sitting in the same position, gazing at the same area, at different times of year. Just observe. The change of moods, colors and sounds are revealing. Set aside the urge to take a photo with your phone. Just this one spot, every few months, take a few moments to simply observe and mentally document.
These images will only be stored in your mind. It's pretty amazing to see and remember specific natural surroundings, the colors, shades, feel of the air, shapes of shrubs, that low hanging branch on an oak tree, and bunches of wild berries, things that maybe taken for granted with a quick photograph.
This is your world, this little spot. The images will not be captured and endlessly shared on social media or other ways. These are your secret images, yours to keep and cherish. When a moment of stillness and calm are needed during times of chaos and noise, close your eyes and return to one of these stored images of that special spot you have chosen.
So, here I stand at my spot, looking at nature's painting as it stands today, and now close my eyes and mentally change the colors, add leaves, remove leaves, imagine birds and fireflies, a dusting of light snow, all taken from different images in my mind.
These are my own personal images, taken only for my mind, backed up and saved in the best storage device.
By Samir Shukla
Modi and Trump in Houston
The Texas India Forum organized the “Howdy Modi!" event for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to connect with Indian-Americans while he was in the country for the annual United Nations General Assembly and the UN Climate Summit. Modi invited President Trump a few weeks before the event to also speak to the crowd, estimated to be around 50,000, on September 22, 2019.
There's no way Trump would not have attended this event when asked. It was a chance to speak to a huge crowd in a state that is slowly turning blue.
Trump didn't seem to veer far from his prepared speech, checking off things he's done, while giving some red meat (or maybe in this case, red chili pepper) bits to the crowd.
Modi gave a long speech that gave the crowd what they came to see. The audience was there for Modi, the venue was sold out before Trump was in the picture. Trump, of course, is never one to pass on a rally.
Both Trump and Modi love to talk in front of huge crowds. Both are famous teetotalers who get a huge buzz not from booze, but from adoring crowds. Call them polarizing, but both are savvy with talking points that will get a friendly audience cheering.
Modi knows that India's economy is slowing and he is going to have to make changes. Hence he is out to make more deals with the US.
Trump is the rich kid born into a life of ease, self-loving and politically astute. Modi is a self-made man from a poor family, measured and politically astute. His political savvy helped him win his second term as Prime Minister earlier this year with a large margin. Trump is now ratcheting up his reelection campaign, which he may yet win, but it won't be by a large margin. In fact, Trump can lose the popular vote by an even larger margin in 2020 then he did in 2016, and can still win reelection, thanks to the Electoral College. Of course, a strong Democratic candidate able to unite the Democrats while convincing independents and even some Republicans to vote blue could seal Trump's fate as a one-term president.
Modi likes to talk and watching Trump sitting there for an extended period while someone else is in the limelight was interesting, to say the least.
Indian-Americans are becoming very active in politics. Trump and the Republicans also know that Indian-Americans lean Democratic by a plurality. Nearly 70 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. It is a politically involved community that is growing and both political parties recognize this.
Whatever the political leanings of Americans, Indian-Americans, and Indians, the United States and India are natural long-term economic partners. No other country, or trade wars, can hold China at bay as when Western democracies create economic and political alliances with India.
The United States and India should be natural partners, fully engaged with each other economically, socially, and on the security front. This will remain a key partnership through next year and beyond, whether Trump wins reelection like Modi or is sent packing.
Democrats Keep Debating, Chapter Three, Houston
The third Democratic debate was held in Houston on September 12, 2019, ten days prior to the Modi event. There were 10 candidates this time, as all the others didn't make the cut due to stricter DNC eligibility guidelines. The candidates, if they want to beat Trump, will have to start inspiring people with simple passion and, yup, I'll say it again, move more to the center. Moving to the center is anathema for contemporary progressives who want to make massive institutional changes. Sorry guys, things don't work that way. Don't scare people away. First things first. You have to win elections before you can enact any change, let alone sweeping changes that you wish to see.
The debates are showing increasing friction where the moderate and hard progressive wings of the Democratic Party are trying to get a foothold. The scales are tipping to the left in the primaries while the moderates try to hold the hard progressives at bay. Of course this is very early in the game and the modus operandi right now is to try to please the hard-progressive base. Just like the Republican candidates tilted hard right in the 2015-2016 primaries and debates.
The requirements for Democrats have now gotten tougher and several candidates have already dropped out, while some of the more flexible ones may survive until the caucuses and primaries begin early next year.
In my estimation, the presumed Democratic nominee or a clear frontrunner will emerge after Super Tuesday in early March of 2020. North Carolina is among the states that will vote in the Democratic primary on March 3.
The Democratic National Committee has announced the next debate in Ohio on October 15, 2019. Currently 11 candidates have qualified, one more than the third debate, which means a second debate may be held October 16. If this number holds, it would be smart for the DNC to hold just one debate. An extra candidate won't make much difference and the debates are already grinding on many folks.
By Samir Shukla
Human migrations follow opportunity, safety and survival, among myriad other reasons. The world population is growing and environmental degradation, warfare, climate change, lack of employment, all will set ever more humans on migration routes crisscrossing the globe.
Cataclysmic and historic events can redirect the future as much as the simple decision of shifting to a different part of a country or the world, whether those choices are in your hands or not.
Migration is in the human DNA. We have been shuffling about and resettling different areas of the planet for eons. A person can make thoughtful choices, with a calm stillness of the heart, to make a move to another part of the world. There are others who have no such choice, and, often with hearts throbbing, leave all behind in the cover of night to escape brutality and violence. There are many people around the world for whom the choice is whether to stay where they are and wither into slow starvation, succumb to unending cycles of violence, or try to leave, for somewhere better.
Opportunity migrants pack their bags, hug the family and leave for a new land. Many others face a more stark choice, leave now or fall prey to a murderous mob or gang. And for many women around the world the sad reality to leave, often with small children clinging to them, is due to a violent husband. They make such a choice when nothing else can make their lives safer than to flee.
Nearly 75 years ago my maternal grandfather migrated from Karachi (now in Pakistan) to Amdavad in Gujarat, India. It was a forced migration. India was split into three countries upon independence along bogus “religious" borders and millions of families were forced to leave their ancestral homelands and shift back and forth between India and the newly created Pakistan. He arrived in Amdavad with minimal belongings and rebuilt his life and family from nothing to everything.
Forty five years ago, in September of 1974, a mother and four young children landed in New York City. I was the oldest of the children and we reconnected with my father, who had arrived a few months earlier and set up roots. The humble and disorienting beginning bloomed into perseverance and we have thrived. It was a choice migration, seeking opportunity. The United States was reeling from Vietnam and the Watergate scandal while my family began to mingle with this most fertile land of opportunity. We built everything from very little, creating bonds of two cultures and nations.
Most immigrants make something out of nothing, thrive and benefit the places to where they migrate.
Every year between mid-August and mid-September I pause and think of “what if" scenarios. What if Mohammed Ali Jinnah and others' efforts to divide India had failed and somehow the country had avoided partition, which happened on a sad mid-August midnight in 1947. My maternal grandfather and his side of family would likely have stayed in Karachi, resulting in different timeline and family evolution.
What if we had stayed in India instead of making the leap on that promising September midnight 45 years ago? I'm sure we would have built different lives and thrived in India. One small sad outcome if that had happened; you wouldn't be reading this wonderful magazine my brother and I started over two decades ago.
India is an unfathomable feast of diversities and possible futures stolen by invaders and infighting. The ancient land perseveres, albeit battered and divided. The United States is a well of opportunities fueled by diversity. Migration and immigration are and can be the continual foundations for this well to remain full.
Legal and Illegal
Yes, I get the legal and illegal immigration debate, and there has to be a knock on the door for those wanting to come here and go through the proper channels, as my family did, rather than crawl through an open window or a crack in the fence.
We need solid security on land and sea borders as well as ports and airports where people and goods arrive. A nation of immigrants thrives on traditions that built the country while working to erase the dark pasts. Only when the American people want to solidify our values on immigration, keeping a door available for the downtrodden of the planet while smoothing the process for those going through the proper channels, will we resolve immigration dilemmas and divisions for the long term. People will always look for greener pastures and opportunity. Our southern city of Charlotte is rapidly growing and one of the reasons is snowbirds and folks from the economically depressed areas of once-vital industrial states in the north are shifting here to the south. They are economic migrants. A global understanding, equitable economic systems, and a thoughtful movement will help mitigate the inevitable and growing global migrations to come.
By Samir Shukla
Among my personal joys of summer? Long drives. Ones where you cross a few states on your way to a destination. It could be a sun-blasted drive, while odd knots of clouds paint the sky above. Sometimes clouds blot out the sun, and then there maybe rain, a gentle sprinkle or torrential downpour. You pass quaint farms and sad small towns clinging to country roads, exits for connecting roads, towns and cities, humanity going with you in one direction while others are going where you just left, passing by in flashes of cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles. Certain vehicles become a part of your journey, like that blue truck hauling some kind of pipes you passed a while back and catches up with you again down the road because you took a pee break at a rest area. You spot it again somewhere down the road, it is as if it came along to give you company.
All this becomes a soundtrack of the drive. All the sights and sounds of American highways and byways, yes, the whole journey is enhanced by this music of the road. You insert favorite songs into this soundtrack of the drive and make it your own. Conversations make the long miles seem shorter, while music adds a different element. On solo drives, music is indispensable. Tapping into songs with lyrics specific to the geography you are currently passing lends a sense of place. Songs about towns, states or specific locations add markers along the drive, bringing the places to life even if you are just passing through.
You can't drive through Alabama and not listen to “Sweet Home Alabama." Right? Or not hum a few lines of one of myriad songs about the city that never sleeps while driving or strolling around New York City Streets. “I'm in a New York state of mind…" croons Billy Joel somewhere in those streets at any given moment.
So, the summer drive at hand. We headed out of Charlotte while James Taylor mellowed the early part of the journey with “Carolina in My Mind." We were now on the road with about 700 miles beckoning. The hell with the GPS telling me exactly the miles and the anticipated drive time. I like my mind's maps, especially on a summer drive where you have allotted some extra time for counting the trees along the way, if you will.
It's also unplanned stops along the way at the oft missed and forgotten places that add stories to summertime drives. That waterfront scenic spot, mountaintop lookout, a curio shop on a rural road, a historic marker, boiled peanuts, well, you know what I mean.
The Rolling Stones' “Sweet Virginia" kept us company for a few minutes along the sliver of Virginia we drove through on this trek to our destination on a jaunt headed northwest. It was the 4th of July, adding a patriotic flair especially driving through Virginia while listening to Springsteen's philosophical lyrics about this wonderful country.
The car rolled along and popped out of a mountain tunnel and West Virginia appeared on a welcome sign. Ok, so you know one of the songs played while driving through the state. “Country roads, take me home, to the place…"
The mountains now conquered and the entire breadth of Ohio remained, where along the way Neil Young told a bit of the story of Kent State in his song “Ohio."
No long drive is complete without Kishore Kumar's “Musafir Hun Yaaron (I'm a traveler my friends)."
There's no reason that Kishore Kumar can't mingle with Coldplay or Arijit Singh handing over the mic to Bruce Springsteen on this drive's soundtrack or any other for that matter. The added advantage of streaming services now means any song that pops in your head can be commissioned to play via the cell phone.
On this drive, through the states and American byways, the wildly varied clouds, the blazing July sun, the sameness of the highway, oft broken by sections like an old bridge over a lonely river, at the end of this long drive, we pulled into the outskirts of Motor City. Detroit. We were just outside the city, in the burbs to absorb talks of the philosopher Guru Morari Bapu for a couple of days. Our intention was also to explore a bit of Detroit.
One drizzly afternoon we entered the city limits of this once industrial powerhouse while rockers Kiss blasted out “Detroit Rock City" on the speakers.
The next moment The Temptations began to sing “I got sunshine on a cloudy day..." We were in Motown. If New York City has inspired a hundred songs, Motown has shaped generations of American music. Born and bred in Detroit, the “Motown sound" (born as Tamla Records in 1959 and soon renamed Motown Records) redirected American music. It was black music, loved by one and all. Sixty years have passed and the classics of Motown never fade.
We stopped off to feel the aura of the place and the sounds in the air at the Motown Museum, which is really the small house where Motown began, with its offices and a recording studio. Hitsville USA as it became known. This little corner of Detroit serves as a spiritual gathering and reminder of the power of music to bind generations, in this case the “Motown sound." Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross are among the icons of this timeless sound.
This drive is now rounded out with a return trip to Charlotte, which of course had its own musical accompaniments. Summer is not over yet. The next road trip awaits its own soundtrack.
By Samir Shukla
I have always preferred the influencing power of words over the preciseness of numbers. Two plus two will always equal four, but have two people sit on a park bench, look straight ahead and quickly write down what they observe and you will get two variations. Numbers and their wizardry came easy to me in school years. Today words inform my life, give me comfort, and light the much worn as well as newer paths.
In my thoughts, in June, I stroll on such a path, awaiting the sizzle of July, scouting the spot where I will jump to the other half of my fifth decade on this globe. Every year the month begins with the bombast of fireworks and ends with the soft blinking of fireflies.
I'm sitting on the upper wooden deck behind my house on a breezy June night. A thin moon dimly lights the clouds, nocturnal insects break the quiet with occasional chirping. The night is deepening while smooth bourbon mingles with the ice in a thick glass sitting atop a small table to the right of me. The sips help navigate the jumble of thoughts disturbing the night, or does it jumble the thoughts navigating the night? The bourbon will have the last word.
I left work earlier in the day and drove home and landed in my driveway but couldn't remember any landmarks or turns I made. Don't remember accelerating or braking. I simply made it back home as if I had transported from one location to the next. It's a drive I've done countless times. The only thing I remember is shifting from the NPR radio station to a classic rock station somewhere along the route. Damn if I could remember the drive, but I recount flipping from a chatty segment on immigration and nodding my head to an Aerosmith power ballad. This is among the thoughts this night as I take another sip.
A brick wall about the height of an average basketball player separates my backyard from the street. I sit facing the wall, looking down at it and the dark backyard while the night mellows. A car passes by, its usual noise softened by the bank of trees on the either side of the wall and the wall itself.
The engine noise sounds like a heavy cardboard box dragged across sand, approaching, amplifying and then fading. The single headlight does double duty for the other broken headlight while evoking a low flying UFO hovering just above the street. The bourbon enhances its spectrum.
I tap the nearly empty glass and sniff out the last drop which whispers to me to call it a day. The numbers 11:58pm light up the phone that's been set aside. Two plus two sure equals four, and now two more minutes and the thin moon will cough up another day that the sun will embellish in its own manner in a few hours and backslap it on its way.
The words and thoughts swirling around my brain now fade while the numbers win the night once again, ticktocking along while I quietly open the back door and tip toe through the kitchen and up the stairs into the awaiting midnight slumber.
By Samir Shukla
The Republic of Modi's 2019 election is over. India once again became its prime minister. Yes, sure, I've purposely mixed up the words here, but make no mistake. Narendra Modi was reelected India's Prime Minister by a large margin and a bigger mandate. He has infused himself into India's ethos unlike any former Prime Minister. He is now larger and will be an even bigger self-proclaimed charger; further sprinkling his vision and policies into the country, which some will hail and others will curse.
It takes two terms, whether for Presidents or Prime Ministers, to fully flex the vision and policies for long-term effect. Those are fighting words for Modi detractors, albeit too late now, and, even more so for Trump detractors, who would love to deny him a second term in 2020.
It will be up to a man or woman with the word Democrat attached to their name to accomplish that task. The democrats vying for the party's nomination are becoming louder, as they must. Someone has to get ahead of the pack and stay ahead. Their policies are, for the most part, in line with progressive ideology. There is no “out of nowhere" outlier like Trump was during the Republican primaries in 2016. Each candidate will have to work hard.
Joe Biden remains the frontrunner, but there are four or five other candidates chomping at the bits that have a chance at the nomination. I can't imagine most of them will get too far, but they may be already angling for a cabinet position, if a democrat wins the White House.
The first debates have taken place in late June (after we went to press for the July issue). More debates are coming up in July. Much convincing and fundraising await the candidates.
In politics, as in much of life, it's all about persuading. My modus operandi has always been, if I can go see it, I will, if I can touch it I will. If I can hear it, smell it and taste it, I will. That is a prime way to inform myself. Now the nearly two dozen folks running for the Democratic nomination must inform the voters and persuade people to vote for them when the primaries crank up early next year. The long slog continues.
Upcoming Democratic Debates:
July 30 & July 31, 2019: CNN (9-11pm), Detroit
I invite you to follow me on Twitter: @ShuklaWrites
By Samir Shukla
Every few weeks there is news of a mass shooting somewhere in the United States. This time it hit home. Charlotte's name came up on this day, April 30, 2019, the last day of classes for the spring semester at University of North Carolina at Charlotte (my alma mater and the university that my daughter is currently attending), as the news quickly spread of an active shooter on campus. A shooter entered a classroom and began shooting.
One of the students ran toward the shooter and physically attempted to stop him. The student along with another died and four more were injured. The shooter, a young guy who for unknown reasons decided to shoot his fellow students, was quickly taken into custody by the police.
Once again debates about guns flared up. Here is the reality. We are a gun country, have been and always will be. Whatever is your interpretation of the second amendment, guns are in America's DNA. There are no simple solutions to gun violence, or most types of violence for that matter.
There is a bigger underlying dilemma here. It concerns half of the human species. I'm talking about males. I've written before that an overwhelming majority of violence of all sorts are conducted by my gender.
I often think about this. Yes, thoughtful regulations and background checks would help, more readily available and affordable mental health care would help, but more laws and rules still don't deter the innate male tendency toward violence. This is why we need a different, long-term approach.
What's really needed is a massive societal effort geared toward, let's call it, “Male Care." Yeah, it sounds odd, what is male care and why is something like that needed? The better question is what is it that drives males to violence? Females also experience physical, financial, and mental problems that males experience, but they don't resort to violence to try to “solve" those problems.
The overwhelming numbers of violent incidents, including shootings, brawls, domestic violence, religious extremism, wars, road rage, you name it, are spewed by males. We can make more laws and instill tougher punishment, but that doesn't get to the source of the problem.
A global effort involving multiple forces to reach out to boys in a “father figure manner" is a must, especially for boys who lack such figures in their lives. This is a complex discussion, but I guess what we really in the long term is a holistic manner of raising boys, if that makes sense, where they are able to find their place in the daily dissonance and rapidly evolving ethos of humankind as strong and stable men.
It's where males are instilled with a discipline and restraint that can be accessed when the dark forces of violence lurking beneath threaten to overtake them. This may be the only real remedy to reduce violence of all manners.
By Samir Shukla
The Battle of the Dans
The unfinished business of electing the representative for NC's 9th congressional district is once again moving forward. The race should have ended with Election Day in 2018. But a new special election was called after the state elections board found last year's election was tainted when Republican Mark Harris used a political operative who improperly handled mail-in ballots. Harris, who narrowly led after November's votes were counted, opted not to run again. His opponent in that election Democrat Dan McCready is running again and didn't have any primary challengers.
Now, after a primary with 10 candidates, the Republicans have chosen their candidate and the battle lines are drawn once again. Call it the Battle of the Dans. The Democrat Dan McCready is running against Republican Dan Bishop. This special election is attracting national attention. Lots of money is being poured into both sides. The district has been in Republican hands since 1963. It would be a huge embarrassment for the NC Republican party if McCready wins.
The special election for NC 9th District will be held on September 10.
Here are a few helpful sites to help find your Congressional District or Representative:
The Democratic Debates
There are now 23 folks running for the Democratic nomination for President. It is the most diverse field ever. Women, men, white, black, gay, straight, old, young, non-Christian and bi-racial folks are running. Clearly, it's a brawl with 4-5 major candidates and the rest trying to figure out how to get their names and heads above the water line. Joe Biden is clearly the guy to beat at the moment.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) will host 12 official debates, set to begin in June 2019, with six debates in 2019 and the remaining six to be scheduled during the first four months of 2020. The debates will be split over two days as there are so many candidates.
Upcoming Confirmed Democratic Debates:
June 26 & June 27, 2019: 9–11pm Miami (NBC)
July 30 & July 31, 2019: 9-11pm, Detroit (CNN)
By Samir Shukla
Sanya Malhotra and Nawazuddin Siddiqui appear in Photograph by Ritesh Batra
-- Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios
Directed by Ritesh Batra
Cast: Nawazzudin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farrukh Jaffar
In our video-driven world, a still photograph can still impact lives. The film Photograph is a quiet tale of friendship and romance opened by a single photograph. A very subtle entanglement of the characters guides the film, written and directed by Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox). He takes time unfolding the story. Rafi (Nawazzudin Siddiqui), a struggling photographer, and Miloni (Sanya Malhotra), a shy middle-class student, cross paths at the Gateway of India in Mumbai. Rafi convinces a hesitant Miloni to take her photo and prints it out on a portable printer in his backpack while she waits. He loses track of her when she is called away by a family member, taking the photo without getting a chance to pay Rafi.
Rafi is working in Mumbai to help pay off family debt back in his native village. He lives in a dark, grungy room with several male roommates while saving money to send back home. His grandmother, dadi (Farrukh Jaffar), meanwhile writes to him that she refuses to take her medicine unless he finally finds a wife. Rafi decides to track Miloni down and asks her to play along and pretend she is his fiancée, so dadi will resume her meds. Miloni goes along with Rafi's scheme while living out her life, even meeting potential suitors her parents arrange for her, in her comfortable middle class home.
In the meantime, feisty dadi decides to visit her grandson and meet his future bride. No, the film doesn't turn into a comedic farce at that point. Batra deftly guides the story and characters further into a study of friendship, longing, class and caste differences that inform people's lives. Both Rafi and Miloni keep up the charade to please dadi, who of course in no amateur in such matters.
Rafi and Miloni begin to develop a friendship that slowly suggests a budding romance. Photograph is a nuanced, slow strolling film. It's the space between the silence and subdued conversations that make it tender without being coy or corny. Interspersed with Hindi and Gujarati dialogue, the film unfolds ever so gently, while navigating cultural differences, societal expectations and the invisible forces that attract two people.
The film gives nods to classic Bollywood while Batra and the cinematographers capture the daily lives of street denizens of Mumbai - the taxi drivers, chai sellers, vendors, small shopkeepers. The densely packed lives of Mumbai streets come alive where the different inhabitants in Rafi's local street market all have heard that his grandmother wants him to find a wife or she will not take her medicine.
Somewhere along the way I was expecting tense moments, conflict between the two protagonists, maybe harsh words being exchanged, some physical action even, but Batra sticks with a serene mood. Both Siddiqui and Malhotra, respectively playing middle aged man and young student, work their parts with subtle warmth. Jaffar steals more than one scene as the world weary grandmother.
By Samir Shukla
It's the slow thickening of summer. The soft spring is rapidly dissolving. The road to the 2020 American election is also hardening month by month. Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report in April, and reset the political parameters. I'll let you make up your mind, and, sure, there's no smoking gun pointing to President Trump on matters of collusion. But there are layers of untruths, most of them unnecessary for governing, surrounding this most amoral of a president. The ball will continue its roll, history will judge.
Bernie Sanders did a townhall on Fox News and it was a hit for him, he is on a roll and already making other candidates as well as the general Democratic political establishment nervous. Joe Biden has now tossed his name in the ring, further shaking up the Democratic tree.
This historically diverse slate of candidates is now gathering money, chatting up talk shows, and will go into next month ready to prep for the first two Democratic debates…slated for late June on NBC and late July on CNN. Each will be spread over two days. It is yet to be determined how the Democratic National Committee will mix up the batch of candidates to make the debates fair to all. Each of them will have shorter times to explain their agendas. Trump was the “way off the grid" outlier in 2016, Bernie is already emerging as the expected outlier of 2020.
Will the new generation of Democrats elbow their way upfront and take the reins or will the old guard tamp down the youngsters and emerge as frontrunners saying, “Not so fast young'uns."
The first order of business is the tug of war between the young squad and the “we're saving these seats" squad of grizzled political veterans, namely Biden, Warren, and Bernie. There are many intriguing characters in the young squad. Finding the balance between exciting the activists and partisans and getting noticed by the wider mainstream is the challenge for all here.
In the meantime, India is in the midst of its massive election. The voting will wrap around the third week of May and the Commission will announce victors a few days later.