Facebook & Google are here to stay, but…

So is Alzheimer’s. With Facebook & Google, then, is it a face-off?

Many of us, over the last 10-15 years or so, are increasingly leaning more towards the tools that these virtual giants offer us. Would you agree that the numbers run in millions and are perhaps approaching billion? Anyway, who’s counting, eh!


Photo Courtesy: https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

If we don’t have the answer in our head, we google. (Yes, a long time ago, someone decided to add “to google” to the list of verbs.) If we ‘think’ we know, but just want to be sure, there’s Wikipedia, or Quora, or some such. Why should I remember? In fact, where is the need to remember such ‘trivia’? In a flash we enter a query to ‘search’, get our answer, may be it’s right, or may be it’s wrong, but who’s to know… there’s so much information on the web, without enough policing. In fact, we refer to it as an information overload. Oh, dear… and there’s so much to remember, with so little time; but we must all be geared to impress… our knowledge.

Okay, so we’ll move on to a more fun topic. Where? But of course, let’s head to FaceBook (or SnapChat), Twitter or Tumblr… It depends on whether you’re a Baby Boomer (what, aren’t they already in the archives!), Generation X, a Millennial or Whatchamacallit… oh, yeah… Generation Z (shh… I just looked that up)! If truth be told, does one need to go anywhere? Not really. Umm… sorry, could you excuse me for a moment please, my phone’s blinking.

Our smartphones are continually flashing notifications… about a birthday, or an anniversary (of endless friends we’ve accepted, or follow – that we know, or not –  on social media sites); of someone who sends a friend request; and texts on WhatsApp or Messenger, or Viber, or Skype, or Slack, or…

Usually, you recognize in a flash who has texted you, the caller id is on display; but do you know the caller’s contact number? Recently, do you recall scratching your head, racking your brain in an effort to remember your own phone number… I’ll admit, I’ve done so, just occasionally. Oh dear!

Even if you don’t wish to ‘wish’ – or greet – a partner long-parted, or a friend you’d rather avoid, or a deceased acquaintance (pardon me), their birthday reminders will continue to flash by way of notifications. There’s no escape. Yeah, you may think you’ve turned off the darn thing, changed your privacy settings, but there’s always something blinking, almost hounding you. Yeah, yeah, you could opt to turn all these off, but then you’re in effect switching off! How many of us actually do that? Few.

Now what if… yes, what if we miss out on a critical reminder about someone we do wish to greet (perhaps secretly in the hope they don’t forget you); or wish to say hello to because you genuinely care; or (think of endless reasons and possibilities)!

Why is that we’re so concerned about missing out? Well, because it defeats the core idea of staying connected, i.e. being part of a click, a club, a group, a community, the alumni, shared passions, etc. The more greetings and good wishes you receive on social media, or via text, you get deluded into believing your popularity factor (be true to yourself). But in the first place, isn’t it often faux-fame? Now it’s with this sense of obligation (read ‘guilt’), you greet or wish those whom you really don’t know, nor quite care about. In turn, they wish you/greet in a quid pro quo gesture; albeit, provided you allow them the opportunity to do so. E.g. by including your third pet’s birthday in your ‘About’… you get the drift. This then propagates.

Those of us who inadvertently ‘miss’ (or skip) a birthday, we then apologize profusely for our tardiness (because really, with all the tools at hand, is there really an excuse for being forgetful). Truth be told, it’s possibly ‘carelessness’, or simply, ‘callousness’ with an attitude of ‘why bother’!

Back in the day, without the Virtual Assistants, weren’t we more efficient? We remembered an array of phone numbers in our little Black Book; and birthdays and anniversaries were hard to forget because we actually looked forward to a party. We met up with friends or family as the occasion demanded, spent time, exchanged gifts, had a merry time, and parted. May be someone with a film-loaded camera took 10-12 photos of the event, saving the remaining 12 frames for another occasion. Shortly thereafter, we took the film roll to the nearest photo studio, had it developed; and sometimes even got multiple copies of select prints to share with close friends. Occasionally, these had date stamps… but regardless, we pulled out photo albums reminisced the good times, thus remembering dates, events, and the rejoicing at the social do.

The time when we brought our physical presence into the party, with real presents we bought for friends and for the people we cared about, (having spent several hours or just minutes searching for something they’d especially like, or what you thought you’d like them to indulge in), we actually remembered those dates. All of the emotional, and personal investment of time and effort registered in the brain. There was reinforcement every so often.

Today, our increasing reliance on these tools and platforms – social media – we have now embraced as our bosom friends, are relegating our real-life friends into virtual relationships. Everything is a fleeting moment lost in cyberspace.

We build a bevy of new online acquaintances whom we may never meet, nor truly care for.  Sadly, this could be our own undoing… our path to all kinds of forgetfulness. Forgetting the fundamental emotions that keep us tied to reality, may be the path to not just emotional paucity, but a rapid dwindling of our mental faculties.

Unless we are cognizant of this latent process that’s fast depleting our ability to recognize, and remember, all this is taking a toll on our brain, debilitating the core abilities necessary for our very existence.

Alzheimer’s is afflicting more of this world today, and will increasingly do so in the foreseeable future. What are we doing about that? All generations are more than likely to face its dire consequences. Alzheimer’s does not affect just the old or poor, less educated or less agile. Just about anyone can be victim to this. We cannot place blame on Facebook, Google or any such platform or medium. Use these platforms to advantage, but we must not be slaves to them. We ourselves must take control of our faculties before our mental health quietly disintegrates.

Let us not fear the future, but certainly pause to ponder, reflect, and remember. All of it is critical to help rejuvenate!

While this commentary is not science-based, it is based on common-sense and a broad observation of changing society over decades.  For reliable information about the dreaded disease – Alzheimer’s – I urge you to kindly visit https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet
Thank you.


















If I was a Frenchman…


My name could have been L’eon, or Anant if I was a South Asian guy. But on moving to Texas,  that would surely have shortened to Andy the brown immigrant turned Texan cowboy. But hey, I’m neither French nor a guy, garcon, hombre, l’homme… Je suis une femme, a woman, une fille, dama, a desi nari… so don’t get me wrong, I am not ‘nar‘ the desi man, my emphasis lies on ‘not’ and equally on ‘man’! Oui, I am quite the opposite, definitely a woman, the emphasis now on ‘definitely’ and ‘woman’.

Okay, so that issue being quite settled, I should think, here’s a commonly asked question among my desi brethren — bhaaiyon aur behnon, i.e. brother, sisters — and fellow countrymen (and women). “Are you settled?”

In my view thus far, isn’t this a loaded question? Yeah, yeah, in Texas, folks may walk around with loaded guns, but to be honest, I’m not afraid of those. However, I am leery of the missile I’ve had to dodge for as long as I can remember.

To give you a little background: well, I recently moved — no, no, not from India, but locally. In fact, ‘shifting’ from Mumbai to North America happened almost two decades ago. A.k.a. immigrating (or, ‘back home’ where it is commonly referred to as ‘migrating’ – perhaps because we take flight from our ‘matrubhumi‘ – motherland, across the seven seas… ‘saat samundar paar‘, on a transatlantic, or ‘transpacific’ flight; and when your friends don’t follow you peechhey peechhey, (hence you may make facebook friends and make feeble attempts at building an online following); and just for the records, I didn’t follow anyone either. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say, I’d moved, simply on a whim… (and did not change my mind on a dime). This dame was strong, and soon ‘settled’… or so she’d thought, until…

She moved down south – again, not just on a whim, but with purpose. As the years went by, my moves were frequent, and each time I often faced this loaded question, “Are you settled?” Believe me, the question rattled me, in fact it was most unsettling. Never could I  fathom, ‘why’.  One could argue that with the moves as frequent as 12 on last count, I should be quite adept at the process, right? Oops, I daresay, ‘wrong’!

You can, and may move as often as you can cope with it, but until and unless you make that shift inside your head, you’re still rooted in your motherland. As a consequence, your career can take a beating, your social life comes to a standstill, your bags, books and boxes will move with you… but your mind has remained in a faraway land, which also morphed while you were away, and is really no longer your home. Your heart too beats in a rhythm that is completely out of sync with the sounds that surround you here. Do you hear them? Are you even listening? You may as well be tone deaf. If so, then how would you communicate with those around you? You’re now in neither-land… yeah, you may as well be in Netherlands, with folks speaking Dutch, and you feeling out of your depth, secretly praying that they’d dumb-down their language. Bingo… that’s the secret sauce… learn their language (easier said, but not entirely impossible).

But remember, you’re not in Netherlands. You are in a nation that speaks the language you do speak… so it should be easy. All you have to do is change your thought process… remember the old adage, “When in Rome be like the Romans”, and all that? Well, if you wish to feel ‘settled’, embrace the culture that surrounds you…  you don’t have to shun what’s encoded in your DNA, but if you’re smart, you can adapt to your new environment… that’s key to survival… that’s fundamental Darwinism… that’s key to your inherent strength… even back in motherland the maxim was to adapt, to survive… or get trampled over, or worse, left far behind.

You can be French, Spanish, Japanese, German, English… American or American Desi, or Desi American… or cook up whatever name or ethnicity or race you wish to embrace. If you wish to feel ‘settled’ sooner rather than later, alongside the geographic change, the change must take place within you. The peace and the purpose within will follow, I have no doubt. In case you wondered about L’eon or Anant… well, my true name has its origins in ancient Sanskrit vocabulary… it means infinity… or a long epoch of time… eon — in other words, timeless… and that is a constant. So what else is constant… but of course, ‘change’… and that applies to every aspect of life. No matter your name, or your nationality, or ethnicity, race, color… learn to embrace ‘change’. Rest assured, your inner peace will follow. At least I plan to do just that, going forward. Better now, than never.

No matter where life takes me, the next time someone shoots that missile, I will smile and say, “Yes, I’m settled.” In fact, better still, I will not view that dreaded question as a missile… after all, why should I look for a deeper meaning to a polite, simple question, filled with some concern for my well-being? Just view it as misri — ‘sweet’. At least someone cared enough about my well-being to sweetly ask.  So now, I ask of you, “Are you settled?” 🙂


Raja Nawathe: Gumnaam (1965)

You know I had never quite been a huge Hindi cinema buff. No doubt, I had watched numerous films over decades of my life in India, but had never really bought film magazines, nor bought tickets from the fellas who paced up and down, muttering something under their breath while you’re waiting in queue with that occasional mood to go to the movies to watch a Hindi film.  More often than not, by the time you reached the ticket window, they would have no good seats left, except the stray ones in the first few rows, and you certainly did not ever want to sit that close to the screen… instead, we ended up going for lunch, or dinner. But that’s so far back I can barely remember what we did. Well, every now and again I seem to be writing something about Hindi cinema… nothing quite of consequence, I guess. But, this came as a surprise just now.

A few years ago, I had created this page about a not-so-widely-renowned film director, Raja Nawathe. Again, if I had told someone at the time I created that page, they would have said, “Yeah, so…  who’s that again?” Not much was known about him on the internet search at the time… so I pieced together the little I could. What do you know!  I just came across this scholarly article by Dr Iain Robert Smith, Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London. In it, I found a link directly to that page. So I’m smiling, at least someone found that page useful. 🙂 Although Raja Nawathe himself directed only a few films, the songs from his films are by no means gumnaam (or loosely translated, forgotten… ) e.g. here are a couple of Shankar-Jaikishan composed favorites, one is the haunting title  song that Lata Mangeshkar sang in the background song where actresses Nanda and Helen, hero Manoj Kumar and others  seem lost; and the other one is while feisty Laxmi-Chhaya is in rock-n-roll mode in a club scene for which Mohammad Rafi sings with such pizzazz.  🙂

Surprise, the lyrics for this one are written by Shailendra, while the sombre one is Hasrat Jaipuri’s writing. Enjoy both… listen to whichever you feel will fascinate you more. 🙂




Dev Anand, in conversation…

Varsha Bhosle, an ardent fan of Dev Anand interviewed the legendary actor somewhere around April 1997. Many others like her, and as fans of Hindi cinema may have already read this long interview, which I just came across minutes ago. As I do occasionally, on finding something interesting, especially unexpectedly, I share the treasure right-away; because in cyberspace one can never be sure, it may vanish from sight, and you may never find it again.

Just in case you’re new to Hindi film journalists, or to Indian reporters, Varsha Bhosle was a reporter/writer. She passed away four years ago on 8th October 2012, causes of which are shrouded in mystery, but broadly deemed as suicide. No doubt, she was known for her writing, but as the daughter of playback singer Asha Bhosle, also a living legend today at age 83, there was little secret about her lineage.

Now, Dev Anand, whom Varsha had interviewed so far back, also passed away on 3rd December 2011. Effectively, this interview carries even more weight today than when it was published on April 04, 1997.



 accord. I have lost the battle of the ages



Politics, Religion, and Trolling

Steer Clear!

The reality is, that the friends you socialize with i.e. dine-n-wine with; or the friends you socialize with online — they may have political views that may surprise/or shock you.

Well, will you continue to be friends with them, or will your turn your back on them? Don’t the wise often say, don’t discuss or argue about these matters? Not only could it turn into a no-win battle for either party, but you may well lose a friend.

I just saw a page ad pop up on Facebook. It also displayed which of my friends had ‘liked’ it. Hmm… never mind, I shan’t get swayed.

Take My Hand, Precious Lord

My friend’s post reminded me this morning of JFK’s death anniversary today. He was in his mid-’40s at the time (1963). One thought lead to another, onto Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination (1968). He was not quite 40 then. Mahalia Jackson sang “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” at his funeral, and just days later, Nina Simone too sang the same. When Mahalia Jackson passed away (1972), Aretha Franklin too sang in her memory. Well, the other King – the King of Rock-n-Roll — also died young (early 40s).

From way back when I was in school, I remember listening to this when a senior student from high school sang it on stage. I liked it immensely at the time (but had no background knowledge of it), so I’d jotted down the entire hymn. Although the ladies have sung marvelously well, here is Elvis Presley singing it soulfully.

You may not wage the war, but…

You may not wage the war.
But… let’s not forget,
this world itself
is a battleground.
Each one fights
… for space,
… to find his place,
… or leave her trace.
In this world,
the attacker swings
from the right …
or will hurl at you
from the left;
or hit you
from the rear …
or swing a blow,
straight at
your face.
Over time,
Life teaches you,
my friend, to
be cautious.
Be prepared…
There’s little choice…
get trampled upon…
or, hold your ground.
What’s your choice?

~ Pictowrit

A month ago, photographed at Petit Palais, in itself an architectural delight. Add to that le Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, which permitted entry — gratis. I did not have time (nor the inclination) to look at the Oscar Wilde Exhibition which was also on display at the time, and for which you need a ‘billet‘. No doubt, I saw all the showcased art, and art hanging on the walls – paintings, tapestries, etc – and furniture, and sculptures… speaking of which…


I saw some interesting nouveau art displays by contemporary artists – a stack of empty cartons piled up, a line up of coal-filled burlap ‘gunny sacks’; water pouring out of a hosepipe sticking out of something like a Sintex water tank... etc. All of these in such opulent settings had been both comical and a marvel. It was, after all, ART. “Why should art always have to be beautiful!”, I heard one student say to me. That was the artist’s viewpoint she had shared with me. 😉 What was interesting were the young students of the history of art — note, not students of Art, but of the history of art, patiently asked what we, as visitors thought of the “sculpture” (examples I cited above); and then they shared the artist’s perspective, viewpoint and purpose for creating such “ART” for display in the palace. During which time I also met one young German student – she said she was working on her Master’s thesis on temple architecture of South India. She planned to do a doctorate.

In turn, I shared with her my brief experience of studying temple architecture for a presentation to a group of young students in Toronto. I gave them a compare/contrast on temples of the north versus those of the south in India. The Kodak carousel projector did not work for some reason, so instead of projecting slides, I had shown them a bunch of large size photographs I had shot in Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole. Those photos are now packed up and sitting in crates in my closet, with nowhere to display. The digital era has brought to light millions of such images in the public domain, especially since those sites were recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. You’ll think I’ve gone from Paris to Pattadakal! Well, that’s just me… 😉

Jewel Thief (1967)

Yes, Navketan Production’s Jewel Thief which was also referred to as ज्वेल थीफ़, or Jvel Thief. You know how folks say ‘jvelery’. 🙂 Well… the song here, is not comical at al…

Source: Jewel Thief (1967)

Pinjare ke Panchhi (1966)

Was it premonition, or was it fate? We will never know, because it was in 1966 that lyricist Shailendra had departed. It was December 14, 1966. As for Pinjare ke Panchhi, it seems to be a lesser kn…

Source: Pinjare ke Panchhi (1966)