Friday, January 19, 2007


In our own discreet lives we are all ‘peeping toms’, there is nothing that gives us more satisfaction that scooping up juicy gossip about our neighbour, colleague or our least favourite relative. We sincerely follow scams and scandals that revolve around film stars, cricketers and anyone else in the limelight. We simply enjoy watching people falter in front of a gazillion cameras.

On the other hand we also feel a sense of self pride when television puts ordinary boys like Abhijeet Sawant in the spotlight, changing their lives, careers, addresses and bank balances forever. Our eyes well up with tears whist watching a small town boy dreaming big and achieving it all despite the odds. Tales of Rags to riches, heroic deeds and heart wrenching stories never fail to move us.

Reality TV has obviously understood this contrast and has reeled out hours of entertainment that floods our television screens, taking up a huge chunk of our viewing time. There have been a zillion reality shows based on despicable, degraded voyeurism. Temptation Island was one such show where 14 couples who have vowed to each other to remain together till death do them apart. The stay on the island lasts longer than the vow.

In the name of reality television channels and shows get away with anything, there have been shows on cheating partners, swapping wives, betraying lovers, and one such show is Cheaters (its not telecast in India yet). Among the huge clutter this show definitely takes the cake. The show follows couples closely till their ugly separation, atleast that’s what the case is most of the times. It’s got every element of a bollywood flick – drama, action, comedy, emotion, and melodrama; it’s even got a villan. The only things missing are probably the typical song and dance sequences. The plot is quite simple, you let loose the cheaters team on your spouse. Cheaters with their hidden cameras monitor their every move. And bang! Guess whose bed you found him/her in? Anyone from his beer buddy, to his secretary. The footage is aired as it is; nothing is edited, right from the humiliation, the deceit, the sadness to the break up! Nothing is removed.

I refuse to accept this show as reality. Who, in their right mind would ever want the whole world to know they are being cheated? And how do we know this whole thing is not being staged. Who would want to watch such a show? Obviously I am wrong, much to my shock and surprise a lot of people watch the show with avid interest. The show has a strong viewership.

Watching cheaters is probably like watching a Saas Bahu saga where the drama unfolds slowly, the tension increases with every passing minute, we edge closer and closer to the seat until it all comes to a nail biting finale. We soak-in every detail and discuss it over the phone, in trains and across balconies.

The debate is endless for what is right or wrong, good or bad is extremely subjective. The censor board in India has been raging a war on what can be aired and what cannot be since time immemorial, and nothing really concrete has ever been churned out.

Is India ready to accept a concept like cheaters? I don’t know. The closest we have come to aping the west is with a show called Big Boss. It’s a replica of a UK based reality show Big Brother, the difference being, we have celebrities.

Only time will tell if we are willing to go any length in the name of entertainment. Until then I guess peeping and creeping can carry on, all in the name of good entertainment.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Konkan Escapade

I spent a good 5 days discovering Ganpathipule - a virgin beach on the Konkan coast. It was a thrill to discover a beach absolutely unpolluted by tourist traffic. I knew instantly this was going to be one of the best holidays (not that I have been on too many) I have had. The endless stretch of silver sands and sparkling blue water dancing merrily under the warm sun was intoxicating.

Maharashtrians say traveling to Ganapatiphule by road is a vacation by itself. The entire 'Konan' region is a paradise. There is something new to discover in whichever direction you go.

Our trip started out to be a disaster, for thrills we had decided to take the Maharashtra state transport (we obviously weren’t thinking). The driver had some crazy sense of punctuality I suppose, for he refused to stop anywhere on the 12 hour ride up and down the western ghat. Had he looked back or even glanced at his rear view mirror just once, he would have realized half the bus was throwing up.

The creek that that facilitates water sport and one can walk across it during low tide

After the roller-coaster-tummy-turning ride I got off the bus feeling wobbly, a fleeting glimpse of the beach was enough to replenish all my lost excitement. A huge beach blanket, beer and a lovely colourful sarong; I was ready to hit the beach and watch the gallant sunset (this became a ritual of sorts for the next five days).

We where put up at MTDC resort in one of their colourful miniature circus tents. Now I have never stayed in chirpy little tents so for me it was an adventure in itself. These tents were equipped with four beds, a cupboard, and a mirror. The washroom was common, however unlike most public places this was really well maintained and clean.

It is a 400-year old land of the swaymbhu ganpathi, that’s how it got its name Ganpathiphule. There are lots of places to visit in and around the place. We went to the Jaigarh fort, which is on a cliff, at the entrance of the Sangameshwar River about 35kms from Ganapatiphule. Jaigarh served as the naval base for Shivaji, the great king of the Maratha’s. He was the one of the first kings in India to have a naval base with a fleet of 500 ships.

This sun kissed maharashtrian beach sure is a place worth visiting once. I loved the tan I sported for weeks after the trip not only was it a pleasant reminder but also made me look wonderful, like some foreigner put it ‘A bronze statue’.

How to get there:

BY ROAD: Mumbai to Ganapatiphule (via Mahad) is 375 kms. Pune to Ganapatiphule (via satara) is 331 kms. Kohlapur to Ganapatiphule is 144 kms.

BY RAIL: The nearest railhead is Ratnagiri, 50 kms on the Konkan railway.