My Dear Arvind

Dear Arvind,

I am one of your NRI supporters and have supported the movement since IAC days. I have no qualms in admitting that my contributions to the party have been minuscule in comparison to the thousands of AAP volunteers who fight on the ground for a better India. But I still want to write to you today because I believe that we are an extended family at AAP and everyone’s opinion counts.

I have stood by you and AAP through thick and thin. Be it fake strings, Somnath Bharti, dharna, resignation, LS Debacle, YY/PB leaving, suicide at rally, attacks on Modi, DDCA, surgical strike, demonetization, Shunglu report and so on. Nothing has dithered my belief in you or AAP. And again, I want to point out that sitting 1000s of miles away, I am doing you no favor. The only reason I support you is because you are the only one who ignited a sense of hope in me. You are the only one who made me believe that a corruption free India is possible. You are the only one who I can trust as a leader for India. If I were to ever return to India, I would like to vote for an honest and clean political party and none of the other parties offer me that option. I do not adhere to BJP’s ideology and I do not want to fallback on INC due to lack of options. Hence, AAP’s presence is important for me and in my opinion, it’s vital for India as well.

So why do I write to you today? It’s not because we have lost and I want to sit in my living room and blame you, Sanjay Singh, Dillip Pandey etc. I think all of you are wonderful people and have the correct intentions and the vision to take the party forward. I am just writing to you because I feel some of you (as leaders) and also some of our volunteers may be losing our connect with the people. The issue is not that we are losing. We all know (or have learnt along the way) that politics is extremely difficult; the powers that be, have done and will continue to do everything to stop the rise of the Aam Aadmi. But the issue seems to be that we are under the impression that people are happy with us and that we are winning comfortably.

I remember in 2014 LS elections, even AAP volunteers knew that we were not winning more than 10 seats. Some of the most optimistic expectations were 20-30. Since then we should only have learnt and matured as a political organization but instead we are losing our connect with the people. We are not able to see or maybe do not want to see that people are not connecting with us as much as 2013/2015. People connected with anti-corruption initially. Then they connected with 5 Saal Kejriwal and Delhi Dialogues and the hope that we offered. But what now? They do not have anything to relate to. Most of our supporters were never anti-Modi. If anything, they were anti-Congress, so our fight against Modi is getting us nowhere.

Don’t get me wrong here – I don’t think we should stop raising questions against Modi. I still feel Demonetization was a disaster. I can barely see achievements of Modi government after 3 years other than creating some buzzwords and getting people all excited. But people are content with Modi because they do not want to go back to the Congress and they see no other alternative. We need to provide them that alternative, both politically and also in terms of governance.

Unfortunately Delhi with its multitude of authorities, is the worst state to showcase governance. But I am impressed with what we have achieved in Delhi in just 2 years. However, are the people even aware of what we have done or are doing? Probably not because every other day we are in the news for the political side of things. The problem is that politics sells and gets way more media coverage than governance. The perception is that you are always fighting, that you are leaving Delhi for campaigning in other states, that you are having lavish thaalis at the expense of the exchequer. Media does not and will not cover the work done in the sectors of education, health and water. And I am sorry Arvind, let’s stop harping about electricity rates as an achievement. Sure we provide a subsidy and it benefits people but it took you a day to pass that decision in the cabinet – we have been in government for 2 years. We have done a lot of others things – people need to be told about that – they are aware of the bills they are having to pay!

And then the battle against EVMs. Do I completely trust EVMs? No. But it’s all about the timing and credibility. Tomorrow you may even do a press conference and present hundreds of documents to prove tampering in EVMs, but other than your core supporters, no one will trust you. They trusted you during IAC days when you labelled 15 ministers as corrupt but they will not trust you anymore unless you can prove yourself in the courts. Yes, if you and others have seen evidence of tampering then that battle needs to be fought. But it needs to be fought in a smart way. If you cannot convince majority of your volunteers, then forget about convincing the neutral voter. Especially after the hit and run image that you face. So you have to fight the EVM battle separately and bring it up either in courts or when we win an election or when the perception is in favor of you.

I do not even know why I am writing all this to you. You are much more politically shrewd than I am but unfortunately the headlines after MCD results are again reading – “AAP leaders blame EVMs for results”. It will not work Arvind. I would love it if it does because I want us to bounce back quick and showcase our governance. But as I said, when you cannot fully convince me, I know your haters well – they will mock you day in and day out. I may still support your fight against EVMs because AAP is the only alternative but my heart will not be fully behind it – not after we have lost.

So what can we do? Again, you know better but I think you need to divide responsibilities between party and government. Kumar Vishwas along with other leaders should lead the party activities across the country. You should occasionally play the political cards, but other than that, focus on Delhi until 2019. And this is an absolute must for all AAP MLAs and ministers. They should not be campaigning in other states – just work, work and work in Delhi! If LG does not allow you to work, work on the areas where even the LG cannot do much. At some point people will understand if LG’s office starts blocking all good initiatives. And most importantly, maintain the connect with people of Delhi. Let them know about what work is being done. Not just Bijli-Paani rates – that was done long back – what’s new? We will have to connect with people on a day to day basis like the 2015 campaign times.

Arvind, I have still not had the privilege to vote for Aam Aadmi Party. I really want to do that one day and for that we must keep up the fight. I read once that you fight back best when you are pushed into a corner – well I do not know if a Delhi CM can ever be “in a corner” but I guess after Punjab and MCD results, it is as close as it can get.

I will be there with you through this journey. If it ends, I will lose all my hope and interest in politics. But I know we have thousands of selfless volunteers who will not let it end so easily. And hey, the Punjab results and MCD results have only increased our numbers from 0. Even during our bad times, we are growing 🙂

Lots of love,

Your soldier from afar,

Vishal Anand

Ghayal Once Again: Give it a chance!

When I woke up today morning my mind was tinkering with the idea of watching Ghayal Once Again or giving it a pass and going for some good Hollywood movie instead. I have to confess I am a Sunny Deol fan and ever since his last movie ‘I love NY’ (which I would recommend), I had been waiting for Ghayal. But what confused me and threw me off were the review headlines I came across in the last day or so. Nevertheless, reviews have never stopped me from watching a movie and it was the same case this time around; I decided to give Sunny Deol’s Ghayal Once Again a chance.

Sunny Deol during promotions has been on a spree claiming that this is a modern story, a story which will connect to the youth, a story which puts the character of Ajay Mehra in 2015. But I had my apprehensions. My apprehensions were driven from the fact that from the get go Ghayal Once Again was always going to be the story of one man beating all odds to defeat the most powerful man in India, which is a very 90s concept. Yet I was pleasantly surprised to realize that this tried and tested formula put into a modern setting can still work if presented properly.

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The best part of Ghayal is that it does not pretend to be what it isn’t. It promises to be an action movie and it delivers on that front. There is some excellent comedy in the form of Kaka Saab’s character (played by Manoj Joshi). There is compassion/love in the relationship between Ajay Mehra and Rhea (played by Soha Ali Khan). But all of these aspects are woven into the story telling so effortlessly and beautifully by Sunny Deol the director that it does not distract the viewer. At a brisk 2hrs and 6mins, Sunny manages to keep the focus on the action packed screenplay.

The action itself is just so real and watchable. This is a surprise because for a while the Hindi movie industry has been unable to put together some good action sequences, forget a full length movie. Perhaps it was apt that the king of action in the 90s has brought back the genre once again. Barring a couple of scenes where you see the typical inexplicable scenes of bravado, the rest of the action is very slick and believable. The brisk chase sequence leading up to the intermission is so wonderfully executed that the intermission serves as a damper. That it picks up after the intermission at the same brisk pace makes you wonder whether the intermission was needed at all and whether we will be able to do away with it some day.

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Sunny Deol brings life to the Ajay Mehra of 2015. Throughout the movie, I was expecting and almost yearning for an explosion by Sunny Deol but there is a sense of calm that he portrays on screen. I do not remember the original Ghayal too well but the Ajay Mehra of 2015 has his set of weaknesses and Sunny emotes them rather well. And when it comes to action – he is the best! It is a pity that we do not get to see more of him these days.

The kids do a good job and impress with their acting skills. I wonder why we do not have more teenage oriented stories being made. Indian TV has some really good young actors (three of whom were in this movie) and they could do a good job if given more opportunities. Hopefully this movie brings about a change in that regard and we get to see some more stories involving teenage characters. Coming back to the performances, Manoj Joshi is fantastic as the corrupt politician and will definitely make you laugh. Soha Ali Khan, Narendra Jha and Tisca Chopra are all decent.

In the end, I do have to admit that the movie has it’s flaws and is not perfect. Some more texture and layers to the characters would have helped give it the killer punch. More impactful songs could have also helped in giving it the final touch. Despite its drawbacks, I would still recommend it for Sunny Deol’s hard work as an actor, writer, director and producer.

2.5 + an extra .5 for the fast paced screenplay and action – 3 stars!

Crisis situations: they look daunting at the time, but are they?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “In a Crisis.”

One look at the prompt and I started thinking of how I react when I am in a crisis. But then I took a pause, and tried to think of the various “crisis” situations I have had to face. It turns out that all I could think of were situations in which I had an assignment due the next day and I had not started. Or when I walked into an exam unprepared. Or maybe when I was not able to meet my due date and I had to face my professor/manager….

I realized that all these so called crisis situations in our lives seem less daunting with the passage of time. It is only when you are in that moment, and you are not sure how you will get out of it, that you feel burdened with the task at hand. After a few months or years when you look back, you just laugh it off or feel rather indifferent about it.

One of the best pieces of life advice is to “live in the moment” but does that advice really work in “crisis” situations? I am not so sure. If you are living in the moment when in a difficult situation, it’s very easy to get all worked up because you are surrounded by a bunch of negative thoughts. What will happen if I fail this exam? What will happen if I miss this due date? What will happen….?

Well for starters you could fail the class or lose your job but will that be the end of the journey? It is vital to have confidence in yourself at such moments and realize that it is not your last chance! There is always another chance or a better opportunity around the corner. If not, you are always capable of creating one if you are in the right frame of mind.

I know those reading might be thinking that it’s much easier to advice than to actually follow it yourself. And I agree. But if I look back at my 4 years in college, I honestly feel I started to handle the “crisis” situations much better in the last 2 years and it was only because I was in the right frame of mind. In fact, I had started saying “It will be fine. Always does.” Of course there were many a times when I would freak out and get very nervous about a situation but then you just have to look back at your past experiences and tell yourself that this is not something new. You have fought through these moments before, and you will do so again.

Of course people may have actually faced much bigger crisis moments than me, but I am sure even they will agree that if you look back, they seem like a part and parcel of life. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just a small part of the journey. So we should treat them exactly like that.

Hello World!

Finally, I am deciding to enter the world of blogging. For a long time I have been sharing my views on Facebook but now I feel that blogging is the way to go, especially for my views on movies and cricket because they are often too long for Facebook statuses (i am sure my friends will vouch for that).

Let me tell you a bit about myself…

A few years back I did not want to study in the US and was inclined towards Chemical Engineering but life is unpredictable and here I am currently pursuing a Computer Engineering degree at Texas A&M and having a decent time. I have no plans as such for my future. I am not sure whether I want to study further or get a job. I am not sure whether I want to go back to India after I get my degree, work in the US or explore other countries. I think everyone’s life should be unpredictable and while we all plan for the next day, month or year, its best to not lose your sleep over it and let life surprise you.

I have been around the world thanks to my dad’s job. I was born in London and have lived in Seoul, Accra, New Delhi, Beijing, Helsinki and now College Station. I have spent approximately 3 years at each place and I feel blessed to have had this opportunity of travelling around and exploring different cultures.

My interests: I am a cricket fanatic and at one point I dreamt of playing for India…. well, I still do but all dreams cannot come true and this will perhaps be one of those. While I do not follow any other sports closely I do enjoy tennis and badminton. Like anyone else, I also enjoy movies (primarily Bollywood).

My idols in life: I am one of those who does have a few idols. Other than my parents, whom I respect a lot for various reasons, if I had to chose three people whom I admire the most, then they would be – Sachin Tendulkar, Hussain Kuwajerwala and Sourav Ganguly. I am a fan of many others but these three are special and extremely close to my heart. While others would disagree, I believe that I am not a blind follower and I am willing to hear criticism for these individuals but it has to be constructive criticism. In fact I don’t believe in taking potshots at any celebrity….. I have argued for people like Sreesanth, Harbhajjan, Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt and many others who have committed mistakes in life but are often targeted for no valid reasons due to their star status.

Another thing that you have probably already realized is that when I start writing I tend to write more than what people might want to read. That is one thing that I find hard to change about myself and I honestly don’t feel like changing it. If you want to know my opinion about or argue with me on a particular issue then be prepared to read long paragraphs.

Well its 5am and I think I should be going to sleep now. You will find out a lot more about me if you continue reading this blog on a regular basis……