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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Beirut Break

Beirut Break

Beirut the very  name conjures a Mediterranean haven of pleasure and Leisure
Dusky  evenings behind frosted windows  tall  clinking glasses ,Dark coffee in quaint cups  to be gulped on checkered  tables in  pavement cafes ,lazy hookahs their smokes twisting into the roofs ,the horizon with   distant mountains ,the aquamarine sea  , the drifting ships .the nights filled with  dance and song ,

After all was not  Beirut  known as the Paris of the East .

The Lebanese people are fun loving  ,good looking  ,large hearted people ,and to them life is full of fun and warmth .

 It is sad that such people should have been subjected to decades of unrest and civil war ,forced to live in a country split into two ,with snipers firing from the rooftops with bombs blasting and mines bursting .

The green line separated Beirut during  those hardy days of the civil war  into two .

 It was after the nineties when it all ended and their President Rafik Harirri brought some peace to the wounded land ,

Tragedy overtook again in 2005 when a bomb took away this handsome man from the streets in the very centre of Beirut ,

There is a sculpted memorial  in the very spot of the assassination with a bullet ridden bombed out empty building  in its back ground .

 Incidentally the place I stayed the well-known hotel Phoenicia was just facing this spot and I gazed at it from my balcony .

The history of Lebanon unfolded in my eyes there as I reminisced what I had seen from the visit to the well-kept National museum ,

Lebanon has a rich history dating back to the prehistoric,

conquered and ruled over the ages by the sea faring Phoenicians ,Byzantines ,The Romans ,The Greeks ,and later the Ottomans ,and in the present century  the French to  rule them

It was in 1947 that Lebanon was free to its own but the sixties brought unrest and the long civil war from which  the country is slowly waking up to its former glory .

  Religions meshed with cultures leaving deep imprints in the people

Now there is peace and coexistence

 The marks of history are seen in the landscape be it the Roman baaths or the Balbak ruins the magnificent St Georges Cathedral where the monks hid their treasures  in the basement for long during the wars

The Blue mosque its cobalt dome shining  the skyline as Beirut’s  landmark gazing into the yellow staccato baroque European style downtown buildings .

As I strolled along the turquoise  sea lining cornice into this enclosed area  I entered into a world which was unlike any .

The cobbled streets were neat flower lined  the pavements lined with boisterous coffee shops ,youngsters lively and colourful gazing at the upmarket malls fashion shows in ramps, the  live TV shows being recorded ,with children blowing bubbles in the air ,amongst all this all this a detective walked with a huge police dog leashed in a chain which went around sniffing for hidden bombs .he stopped often to pat children on their heads and many went on to caress the big dog’s head .

There were soldiers armed to the teeth gazing at the children playing smiling benevolently but ready to rise in any emergency,

The peace was palpable and there was a sense of calm and happiness everywhere.

I could see a retro wedding car awaiting the bride and groom to come out of the church accompanied by elegant guests.

Almost straight out of a scene from Godfather the Hollywood flick

Beirut is a small city, Lebanon has many other lovely places to visit too and places where there were snowy hills very close to the city but I had a very short stay.

i took an yellow cab to the museum which cost me 15 $ (roughly 1500 Lebanese pounds ) American dollars are accepted everywhere ,public transport is not much to talk about of course one could share taxis or vans which work out cheaper ,best option is to walk as generally climate is reasonably good and walking gives you the pulse of any place .

the Museum is divided into sections of Lebanese history from the prehistoric times to now ,many artefacts statues  line the small but well-kept museum ,nearby is the St Georges cathedral .

I went from here to Hamra the well-known shopping street ,this looked like the Brigade road in Bangalore or Jan path in N Delhi full of shops and restaurants good for people watching of course

 I did just that from a corner cafe as i munched into a crunchy sandwich .

I strolled along the American university hospital to reach the cornice ,I even found a Tamil worker on the way and stopped to talk to him for a while .

The cornice was quite as it was late afternoon but for a few fishing enthusiasts and their long poles

The Yatch club had a good collection of stylish yatches

Finally i reached my hotel to a well-earned rest .

Evening took me to downtown and its wonders and that night all delegates were taken for dinner in a lovely sea side restaurant and we bit into delicious sea food to gentle lapping of waves with salty winds ruffling our hair .


 The next evening too we went to a small exclusive restaurant dimly lit serving authentic Lebanese cuisine to the accompaniment of a  very interactive singer with accompaniments ,he made all of us get into the mood of the evening  and this was followed by a mini skirted female singer who was also good in her job .

Though I have taken a lot of the wholesome healthy Lebanese food in the UAE the food here was definitely more tasty and authentic as everything was fresh and tangy .

 After the next day’s meeting I had to return by the night flight

Beirut made an indelible impression on me


I bid farewell to the merry city of Beirut with its  happy good people promising to come back another day .

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ferrari ki Sawari

once in a while we get good wholesome movies

Ferrai Ki sawari raised no such expectations when we saw it on a lazy Sunday forenoon

The plush seats of Bawadi mall cineplex in Al ain was literally empty but for another family of four .

I prepared myself for a quite nap expecting a run of the mill Hindi fare

within minutes of its start the movie made me sit upright and I stayed that way till it ended while i laughed cried sighed and smiled happily

I haven't seen such a feel good movie for a long time
Fared as a comedy it was one of those nice class films which could no ,should be seen with the family .

let me synopse it for you
Russy is a nice square parsi widower with a smart little cricket player as his only son

Russys dad an old cricketer who had been cheated of his worth by his friend who would rise to become the country cricketing boss lives his life as a grumpy and complaining grandfather

.He often shows his anger to the sport and his grandsons passion on it by taking on his poor son .
The story behind his rancor is so beautifully told by Russy to his son as a bedtime story making us weep shamelessly .

The crux of the plot is the need for money to send Russys son to the Lords cricket ground England for a training for which he is selected ,Russy being a lowly government clerk has no ways of making the money

and then comes a local politician minister goonda who wants to celebrate his goonda future politician idiot sons wedding in his koliwada slums with a Ferrai to ride on instead of the conventional horse for e baaand baaghe

like any big fat indian wedding the situations that follow plunge us into rip roaring laughter with the antics of the goonda son and his don papa
the decision is made
the marriage arranger a fast talking middle aged Punjabi aunty has to procure a Ferrari by hook or crook no issue you see

she happens to meet Russy who is looking for a loan she convinces him to go bring a Ferrari for at least an hour that he would be given the money he needed .

The red Ferrari is the one owned by the God of cricket himself .....Sachin Tendulkar

Russy is hardly the one to do anything of this sort but circumstances and his dire need makes him go to the Tendulkars exclusive flat

Destiny hands him the very keys of the red car which against his will he drives down to koliwada and the wedding

what follows is an orgy of fun and frolic as color and clamor fills the air

.It even had Vidya balan who does an amchi tamasha marathi dance with all her sinous sensousness for which the goondas and politicians dance firing shots in the air as the flower bedecked ferrari takes the groom for the ride

Russy pockets his comission and tries to return the car before anyone knows but then the confusion begins as he gets into messier situations

the duo of Sachins house servant and security man who is a big oaf with a centimeter brain makes us laugh our hearts out

finally an exiting climax of Russy searching for his lost son who by now knew what his dad was upto and left home sadly ,Russys plea in the national tv and finally getting him back

meanwhile the colony  residents and even the goondas put thier pennies together to send Russys son to the lords while Sachin has his car back in the garage never knowing of all the happenings

please dont miss this movie

xcroll down for Vidya Balans number

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