Tuesday, December 26, 2006

End of another year

In that split second, you go through another paroxysm of emotion.

Standing on the same broken and uneven pavement where your clumsy steps get your high heels stuck, you flag a cab. A lady sits in the corner with her big basket. She is selling her apples or tomatoes or whatever they are, arranging them once every few minutes so you see the good ones. Or only the good side of the rotten ones. The bright ones. The shiny ones. The happy ones.

She also sells emotions very cheap. And dichotomies, in pairs - Good-bad, right-wrong - not the black and white choice of the forked road, but a whole baggage full of emotion. Not to mention, a change of clothes, shoes, perfume, and a different set of accessories, for each new day.

And thought, the thoughts. Thoughts are on sale. All of two cents worth. And you buy one, you get ten free. You remember those? The ones which were given away at a contest held on top of that hill. Intense. Like the little souvenir your colleague got from his trip that sits on your table and watches you. Redundant yes, but isn't it always the thought that counts?

She sells the sorrows of life's misfortune. The happiness of it-could-have-been-worse. The gelid hyperboles. The excuses for impunity for yesteryears. The incredulous promises for tomorrow.
Words melt, flow and collect in the broken part of the pavement. They form a puddle. You reflect. Thankfully, you resist splashing in.
The end of another yearn.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A ruined tale

She waited for him at the gate. After 7 minutes and a few seconds of impatient scanning of blank faces, she spots the tilted head she was looking for. They meet in the most unlikely of places.

The moment comes, they hug. Fill their lungs with each others scents. Exchange a moment.

"Beer?" "Of Course!"

Sitting on the tall chair, she kicks her shoes. "I hate 'em"

The world takes over, people walk in and out of the conversation, loves, hates, likes and dislikes get their 15 seconds. She tries to narrate a story. She ruins the punchline.

Like she ruined this one.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Of (Re)Done Dons and Blond Bonds...

I wrote the title, and laughed for two seconds to be precise, and then tried repeating "Blond Bond" six times in my head. Try it out!

These days I am walking down the writer's block. When treading on such a path, I am left with one of the two: either I use bullets or I review. I choose the latter. Not like it matters too much. There are gin-chunke-chaar people who read this blog.

1. Casino Royale (2006)

Much has been said about the new Bond, and it wasn't all good to begin with. The media has a field day everytime there is a change in the accepted image of someone considered a public icon. Com'on media even makes a big deal out of Britney's new hair colour. I think thats what happened to the new Bond. He was analysed endlessly, so much so that even people who are immune to reviews, become quite skeptical when they walk into the theater.

So how does the new Bond compare with the old ones?
To quote good friend S, while Sean Connery was the cold cynic, Roger Moore was intelligent and fun, and Pierce Brosnan was the suave sophisticated variation, this one is the raw smouldering human variety. Different, yes. But then every Bond is.

I personally call Daniel Craig the beach bum version. Daniel Craig has got brawn, he is blonde, and he can act. The wide shoulders are a tad uncomfortable in the tux, but looked quite ok ordering the Vodka Martini. Beer would have suited him better though.

As far as the movie goes, I quite liked it. I didn't miss the double-entendres and the space lasers, which the last few had an excess of. But what I did miss is the gadgety Bond-mobile. Seriously, the car could have been given a little more air-time. This Bond runs, rarely does he drive.

The narrative, I must say, is a little unevenly paced, and there is a little too much romance. Brawny bond hopelessly in love is slightly difficult to digest for me.

With this, we come to the part where I unnecessarily rate:

Plot: 5/5
Action: 10/5 for that freeriding sequence at the beginning. 2.3 for the rest.
Daniel Craig: 3.7/5
Eva Green: 4, I guess. (I love the way she says "This lift is not big enough for me and your ego to fit together)
The other Bond girl: 1/5.
The villian: 2.3/5

Overall: 3.8/5

2. Don(2006)

The premise for my review of Don has been set in the previous review. I think we are merciless when it comes to Indian actors, and Indian icons. Far more protective, far less tolerant, borderline jingoistic. What worked with the reinvention of Bond, did it work with the reinvention of Don? I dont know, you tell me. I personally didnt mind the movie too much. In fact, it was good timepass-paisa-vasool.

Unnecessary ratings, first:

Plot:5/5 (of course - to the original Salim Javed script)
Plot variations: 4/5 (Innovative, takes guts to reinterpret)
Kahani me twist: 4.8/5 (Indeed)
Fights: 4.0/5 (Matrix meet Jet Li meet God-knows-what)
Car chases: 3.5/5 (Niiiice)
Locations: 10/5 (KL, Langkawi, will send you pics if you want. Visit Malaysia 2007. Visit Singy while you are at it)

Don the metrosexual: 3/5 (Nobbad - Don v2.0)
Don the bumpkin: -25/5 (Never seen a more unconvincing Banarasi Babu)
Priyanka chopra: 2.8/5 (Very Lara Croft)
Isha Koppikar: 1/5 (Wasted, no item number either)
Kareena kapoor: 0.002/5 (I believe in giving some marks for effort, would have stretched it to give her a 1, but fat arms. Sigh.)

Overall 2.9/5

Much has been said about Shahrukh Khan for the title role. Of course he would have never fit into Amitabh's shoes- Amitabh is a tall man. In my opinion, the movie didnt need an angsty male actor, it needed a superstar. Moreover, it was time for Don to be reinvented. Farhan Akhtar did the urban metrosexual version, and I don't think he did a bad job of it. So, cut him some slack, wouldja?

The last ten minutes hold the crux of the movie. The end reflects a paradigm shift, perhaps. Seventies were different, in the noughts, the good guy doesnt have to live at the end for you to like the movie, or for the movie to sell..
* end spoiler*

Monday, November 13, 2006


For the angsty writer that I have become, today, I write because I am uncontrollably happy. Unadulturated happiness, this. So much so that I want to record this moment, before I grab the closest box of tissues and start sniffling. I used to be a die-hard romantic, and this is a resurrection.

Today, I came to know that the one that I thought was least likely to do so, and has rescued his fair princess and eloped.

So TG and his missus, yes, the one with the complicated name, congratulations, and here's wishing you a happy-ever-after.

And the lucky few who witnessed it, trust me, I am so jealous of you.

Once again, congratulations to you both.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I was a
poet. Wish
I was an
I wish I
was both, at the
same time. Wish I could
see poetry, in all its colours.
The landscape, pink coloured
skies, violet clouds, birds, words,
Wish I could sketch - dark, obscure
pensive moments from my every day
shades of grey, and it would take
a shape, if not a silhouette.Wish
I could paint the cornflower
blue tie, and the cataract
of memories, covering
my eyes, painted,
Wish I could describe:
etch it on wood, use a scribe,
Movie, image, a m o v i iiinnnggggggg thing
an object in motion, a word turning, a thought running.
Wish I could imagine a rhyme. High, low, hidden in the line.

I could
make my
thoughts align.

I could
paint a poem.
ink colours.
fade out.
in time.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

And so I return...

To my seat, and to the cozy comfort of old friends.
A lot happened in the past week and a little more.

Finished chapter two of a story. Strangely enough, this is probably the last chapter in this one. "Probably" because stranger things have happened. Came back to find some leftovers. Promptly deleted them remains. Will take a while, but I am sure I will heal. But will save that story for another day.

Took two seventeen hour flights. Slept through most of the journey. It wasn't that bad. Not as bad as returning to work. Also figured that melatonin prevents jet lag, it really does.

Witnessed a wedding. A perfect wedding. Blue, brown and white. White lilies perfectly in bloom, Blue Menus with brown ribbons tied on them - perfect bow-knots. A coy bride and a smitten groom. Emotional parents and proud grandparents. Almost dream-like. The getting together of two people who already seemed as married as married could be - this was supposedly ceremonial. And yet, merely after twenty minutes, the knob sort of turned. Like everything was different. Like there was still hope left in this world. It left me swamped with emotions, trying to find words poignant enough to express what I felt. Wanted to cry and tears couldn't find their way out. Wanted to wish, fell short of compliments. Weddings do have a healing touch about them.

Met old friends. Older than old. It was nice to shed all pretense and just be... like I needed to. Four years and not a thing has changed. Like time was standing still and waiting for us to come back. They still look the same, act the same, accept me as theirs - all the same. New town, new hangouts, but familiar jokes and old gags, long hugs and warm hi-s. And fighting for food. And drinking bad wine. And fall coloured leaves. And binary trees. Somewhere in our conversation I could find concerns of a normal grown-up, and yet nothing had changed about them. They said nothing has changed about me. Am happy they said that. No judgements, no accusations of not being there, no expectations. They accept me and my weaknesses. After four long years, I found my comfort zone.

Thanks, for I have healed.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My sole is worn...

Travelling down this road,
with you,
I wore my soul inside out.

Monday, September 18, 2006

On writing...

Its very rare that I explain what I wrote.
Its very rare that I feel the need to.
Its also very rare that I write without a muse. That I write selfish prose. A permanent snapshot of a stochastic thought process.
Reading my old pieces, I realize how conscious I am, of someone I know reading my pieces.
Of my subconscious need to calibrate my writing against theirs. Better writers, better poets, better thinkers, more angsty, more verbose, more literate. Maybe I subconsciously calibrate myself.
Out of the honest pieces I have written, most have never been read by anyone but me - written longhand in notebooks when I still liked my handwriting and my loyal fountain pen, now they are mostly scribbled on corners of notes taken during meetings. I use a micro-tip pen. I fold them corners so nobody can peep in. Some solitary sentences of sentience. Albeit alliterations almost always remain loyal to me, they are my favourite figures of speech.

In any case, a few days back I wrote what I consider is my most selfish piece ever. Cryptic, coarse, chaotic. Why? I know not. The words were written as they came to my mind. In sans serif, sans pretence. And I was asked why!

The thought germinated from one of my all time favourite books started with the the observation of the human obsession for "things". How our joys revolve around acquisition of things, desires revolve around what we wish to acquire, and sadnesses around what we couldn't. But maybe in the bigger picture these "things" have no relevance to the story. Our story. They hold the crux for only as long as we desire them to be. Take for instance, the story of the frog prince. The princess wanted the golden ball, she lost it, the frog retrieved it, so on and so forth, until we rolled to the happily ever after. They lived happily ever after in a huuuge palace and were driven around in a Rolls-Royce, and gave away iPods as return gifts to everyone who attended the wedding. But the Golden ball, the one was the object of princess fascination, the same one that held the story together, had become an irrelevant little object at this point of time.

Some days one can feel the same. Like the golden ball. An object of fascination. Until the fascination ends, and so does the story.
If the ball were to narrate the tale, would it be the protagonist? The ball's story would then be someone else's story.

No conclusions. No lessons learnt. And hence, no comments welcome.
Its just a thought. My thought. Call me selfish.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Understanding Human behaviour...

Why are we so obsessed with looking at water bodies? Ever found yourself taking a long drive, walking a thousand miles to see a sea, a river, a lake, a waterfall, a pond, a stream, even a puddle. And then we would stand there, pose and go click click clickity click.

Which is another thing, photos, pics. With a camera attached to everything, hidden or otherwise, we can't seem to avoid being in the eye of the lens. Being in them pictures and looking at them. We almost never look at those pics again. Sometimes we treat our friends to our little treasures, piles and piles of pixelated bits on our cellphones, and very lovingly indicating who that little blob on the screen is supposed to be.

Equally commendable is the effort that goes into making the home videos. No, not those kind. Ever noticed people taking videos of static objects? The statue of Liberty is not gonna move for God's sake. Moving the handycam up and down twenty times to give it an appearance of motion won't fool noone. Neither is anyone interested in getting all details about her wrinkles and laughter lines. So avoid those close-ups, wouldja?

And why is that if one person on the table gets a phone call, rest of the people take their phones out and start checking for sms'?

Ever noticed how conversations inevitably turn to sorry things that happened to people. Is it to ensure that the discussion follows a predictable path.

I am so cynical.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Whatever happened to the golden ball?

I am but a Pilgrim in the pursuit of life. Committed a thousand sins. Held together by incomplete threads. The thoughts. And thought some more.
And a thousand thoughts washed away.
Nothing is sacred, just divine.
Nothing exclusive, nothing mine.
And I peep into crystal balls to see the past. Past which I deny, saying its not mine.
I have tales to tell.
Strangely enough, I am not the protagonist. Not the princess.
Just the chariot in which she would go home at midnight.
Cinderella's pumpkin.
A medium, an object, a facilitator, temporary in a fairy story.
I am but a vehicle in the prince's pursuit of a princess.
So the princess met the frog, he tracked her down, she had no choice but to kiss him, and he changed into a handsome prince. Happy-ever-after.
But, whatever happened to the golden ball?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday morning bleus

I started with typing the title of this post as "Random insane ramblings", which I believe is every bloggers' first choice when he is too frustrated to decide. I am half tempted to call it "Long overdue crib session", because trust me this is going to be exactly that: this is a crib session and it is long overdue!

World cup is over. In case you believe it's not your style to see so many players chase after one ball, the gauls didn't defeat the romans....

I know I belong to the wrong sex to appreciate football. But when not scanning the pitch frantically to locate the cute football players, I watch the goings-on on the screen with all the required emotion. I dont hyperventilate over whether the subsitution strategy was correct, or whether the free-kick/penalty was unjust. Yes, I watch football. I enjoy it too.

So, I spent better part of last night watching the match in a place with a big screen, where it was too dark to figure which side the girl sitting next to me was supporting. Was her top green white and red, or blue white and red? Quite close indeed. And so was the match. And after the match got over, spent a good half hour looking for a cab back. Had to walk a long distance.

World cup is over. It's emptiness. What do I do? What do I bet on? How do I start a new conversation? How do I justify my insomnia? Where do I find adrenaline? What do I forward? What do I read online? And more importantly, where do I find cute football players to stare at?

My day lacks purpose. My boss won't buy us lunch. I am sleepy. My legs hurt. Work has piled up. The phone wouldnt stop ringing. And I think I will spend the rest of the day trying to figure out why Zidane would do what he did!

Amidst the french faces, somewhat long (longer than their usual long), who have made it to work till now, the sole italian colleague proudly sports the team jersey. I can also hear raised voices at the far end of this office, speaking in the typical sing-song tone. Not surprisingly, other non-francophones can clearly understand every word thanks to the high pitched rendering of the word Zidane and Henry. The TV in the pantry which hadn't been switched off for weeks on end, seems to be mourning quietly.

Monday morning is all blue. And the wrong shade of blue. Not Bleu, Blu.

Not all is lost. I still have some leftovers: One, this ad. I am ad-dicted to the literal dimension given to the dream team. And did someone note the smug grin of Jose's face when he exits his fantasy? Awwww. Please read Sinfully Pinstriped's post on it.

Two, this song. The world cup anthem, rather. Spent an entire day obsessively looking for it, since the tune refused to get out of my head.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Face Recognition Indeed

Found this from Ashwin's blog. Stress tested this using an old mug-shot of Bill Gates, which used to be a popular forward sometime back. The results are awe-inspiring to say the least.

There is a 67% Match with Kim Katrall. Been staring hard at these two for a long time to see howon earth can she ever look like Bill Gates. Just for the sake of her vanity, I hope she never never ever comes across this.
Owen Wilson? Yeah, kinda. Thats if you stare hard enough for long enough. Flattering? Perhaps!

This, in my opinion is as close a match as it can get:

For the curious, the other matches included Liza Minelli, Mick Jagger and the strangest match of them all: Jay Chou, the taiwanese pop-star.

Friday, June 09, 2006


June 9th, 2:44 pm, thats right now.
I was configuring all my news feeds in Sage , which I think is super for it is very inobtrusive in office, and especially with Google Sync, it rocks. But that's digressing.

These are the news feeds now:

While BBC world talks about bomb blasts in Assam, Rediff focuses on the volatile Sensex, which seems to be going through, forgive the terrible analogy, but a bad case of PMS.

And TOI, takes the cake.

Which leads me to think, whats more critical/important to report? A bomb blast by separtists which in the bigger picture didn't directly affect that may lives or Sensex, which would have a much wider "direct" impact for sure.

Friday, June 02, 2006

On Random Public Obsessions

1. Spelling bee: Never understood why this creates such a big buzz. Is it just another demonstration of intellectual superiority of the indian diaspora in the US, or is it a real competition? Why is everyone so obsessed with it?

As an aside, the girl who came second stumbled on the word weltschmerz. Wait, did I spell it wrong?

2. Fanaa: Yes, its maudlin and full of improbable conicidences. Yes, the plot is full of craters. Yes, the shayari gets a little too much to bear. Yes, Kajol still looks thin and young. Yes, Aamir Khan still looks fat and old. Yes, we differ on the yakkity-yakking Bobo female. Yes, to have Lara Dutta in a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo is bad. Yes, to have Lara Dutta and not have an item-number is worse.

But then all said and done, we have to remember the premise: "Its a Yash Raj movie", and that would explain it all. We are talking about the same factory which mass-produced tearjerkers like Veer Zaara, Mohabbatein and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. They do this for a living. What else did you expect?

3. Vinci da Code: Err, the lesser said the better. The controversy and the sensationalization of it, in my opinion, is way past its sell out date. Read it, haven't watched the movie yet. But I wonder how they will manage to implement the trivia-in-the-storyline, a format patented and perfected by Dan Brown. Heaven forbid, if there are any car chases, I would hate for Sophie(?) to exclaim "Jesus Christ" and the Langdon fellow to give us a "crash"-course in what I call reinterpreted history in response.
(Thanks AA for the Vinci da Code bit. Apparently, thats what they would call the movie in Sadda Punjab. Sorry, I killed the joke.)

4. Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt: I pity her that despite her parents' honest effort to find the remotest corner in the world for her, that's perhaps the last bit of privacy she will ever get. They also made an honest effort to find her a name as "remote". Frankly, I pity her more for her name, for everytime she will have to stand in front of a desk and spell it out, oooof. But then, maybe she never will have to. With those set of genes, I don't think so.

5. And whats with Oriyas these days: First there was the winner Budhia Singh and his "also-ran" counterpart Dilip Rana. Then the NASA awardees and the tea-stall owner's son who made it to the IAS made us proud. Now there is a woman getting married to a snake. Suddenly Oriyas are ubercool and are commanding their own space on the news paper. I wonder if I am missing the publicity bandwagon.

I am getting mo' and mo' cynical by the minute.

*Update*: Few days after this was posted: Desipundit led me to this piece:
On Being Oriya

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


And here, over the portals of my fort, I shall cut in the stone the word which is to be my beacon and my banner. The word which will not die, should we all perish in battle. The word which can never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it and the meaning and the glory.

The sacred word:


Friday, May 26, 2006

Water Water Everywhere

(You can see a bit of the boat in the corner. )

(Horizons blurred?)

A lost cause.

I have no use.
For a muse.
Bad, sad or verse.
I will write alone.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Voyeurism and Social networking...

Was just thinking.... Isn't the entire social networking paradigm feed on our need to peep into everyone else's life and know whats going on? The same need that makes us devour the details of a celebrity's private life in a tabloid. But at a much larger scale, of much smaller people.

My religious/cultural/intellectual affiliations are on the bottom right corner, my friends are aligned to the top right. My life's work is right in the middle of it all. Neatly compartmentalized into passions, sports, music, books, activities. For whatever little its worth, I also get little tokens of appreciation: smilies, ice-cubes and hearts which give me nearly the same joy that getting a smiling face on a perfect score in a dictation did. My page is visited, read, judged. I am judged. In a perverse sense, I have made a tabloid of my life. I have fans too. And like my picture on the top left, I'm cornered.

Just wondering: What if Angelina Jolie was on orkut? She would be rated 100% sexy, obviously. What if Brad Pitt was on too? Would you know from their interactions that they had something going on? Would Osama run a community to discuss his ideas? Would the number of interns on Bill Clinton's friends list give it away?

My life is my own. A private space. My role in your life is also my own, and yours. And ours, to share. Do these have to be gauged by what we have to discuss over a public forum? What can I discuss and not discuss with you? How much am I answerable to someone for what I wrote to you? How much can I manipulate their opinion of what you and I share? Why this public display of our private conversations? Someone will scan our scrapbooks. Will read the lines, in between the lines, assume, extrapolate, fill in the missing bits, question you, question me and undermine our roles in their lives. Among other things.

Is there any need for it?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Can't proceed...

... without writing about this!

So how is the feeling?

You feel precious with all the glitter and gold. You feel like a christmas tree. Decorated. You look at yourself in the mirror and snap your eyes shut, Is this really me?

Its your debut. The heavy anklets bought strictly out of greed, make that brief walk tough. You can find your way, but you still need to be escorted. Someone whispers in your ear, keep your head bowed down, wouldja? You wonder if that instruction just for today, or for the lifetime.

You sit in a room full of people, within the boundaries of four elaborately decorated pillars which somehow divide you from the rest of the world. They mark your stage. You are the superstar. You are even dressed like one. Its your day, your stage, your spotlight. And the best part is, you don't have to memorize your part.

People walk in and out of that room, pause for a brief second, stare at you in disbelief. God, you have changed so much. You look at them for reassurance, perhaps. My status has changed, not I , you try and tell them.

You look at your parents and speak to them, and realize that this is the first time in days, that the three of you have had the chance to sit together. You joke about what a strange feeling it is. Your dad looks haggard and tired. Your mother is doing a great job of concealing her state of mind. But you know the truth. Com'on, she got depressed everytime you left home for the dreaded hostel.
You look at your relatives who seem to have a more important role in your life today than they ever had any other day before this.
You look at people who always played an important role, and feel terrible about not being able to spend time with them.
You look at your soon-to-be-other-half, and wonder if it is the same person you have known all this while. He looks so different.
You look at your new family, and wonder a million things.

There is paraphernalia of assorted things which are otherwise difficult to acquire. Fruits, vegetables, rice, nuts, leaves, flowers, threads, shells, pots, pans: Some things old, some things new, some things borrowed, some things blue. Like all these things which wouldn't have met each otherwise, two long-lost-friends meet at a distance. If it wasn't for you, they wouldn't have either. The drone of the chant, drowns the sounds of their joy.

You sit for what seems like eons, all the while focussing on sitting straight. If you hunch, the pictures won't look good. The blood circulation stops to your feet. You are way too distracted thinking of the easiest way to manage a quick shake of your leg, without losing your temporarily acquired coy demeanour.

You hear your name being called from different corners, you turn around and look, and *click*, the flash blinds you.

You rise up, sit down, bend down, walk about, play inane games, pour water, pour ghee, throw rice, hold a thousand things, give them back, move something from one place to the other, then restore it to the original location. You hope you are not doing anything wrong. Hope it doesn't affect anything, you drop a brief prayer.

The priest recites the vows on your behalf, explains your new role. If it wasn't in the third language you suffered studying through school, maybe you would have learnt something. Hope it doesn't affect anything, you drop a brief prayer.

Then there are seven supposed quick trips around the fire, during which you lose count. Did I take 7, or did I somehow take 8, or 6? Hope it doesn't affect anything, you drop a brief prayer.

And everyone, joins you in their own way. In unison they all drop a brief prayer. And give you their blessings.

And its done. The new life begins thus.

Desipundit>>A new life begins thus

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I am tired ... Now I will just chase someone else's utopia.

So, Jessica Lall died, eons ago, and the supposed killer(s) got off unscathed.
She died in a room full of people.
They say, the blindfolded lady in robes with the weighing scales died 7 years after that incident.
In a room full of people.
Some people died of bird flu, and some others of gastro. All within miles of each other.
In a far away land, a dictator died of natural causes.
Is that a matter of choice?

And then the chicken died. Culled, they say.
Cows have gone mad.

Some individuals and their identities were murdered.
Some others died in character the other day.
Some thought processes too.
Some expressions .
Weak ones.

Blood pressure drugs reduce risk for alzheimers'. Jogging alone is bad for health. Antibiotics cause asthma. Antibiotics cure asthma. Chillies prevent cancer. Coffee causes heart attack. Coffee prevents liver cancer. The risk for Cardio-vascular disease is directly proportional to the circumference of the waist. Circumference of the waste.

Is that a matter of choice?

I don't know how to deal with death. I have lusted for life, always. Reality and utopia, between them have a disparity. Despair-ity, which I don't understand. Hence, today, I chase someone else's utopia.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

No title.

I avoid writing about discussions which are political or controversial in nature, so will try and give a passive third-person narrative.

This was a discussion over a formal dinner. The participating entities included two natty Frenchmen F1 and F2, a Korean K1, two singaporeans S1 and S2, (all named thus to protect anonymity and prevent ambiguity), and of course, the very non-anonymous Indian: yours truly. The topic of discussion was Lakshmi Mittal's bid to take over Arcelor.

For the uninitiated, Mittal, world's richest non-american, has made a "hostile" bid for Arcelor, the detailed analysis of which can be found online in abundance. This bid has sent the price of the Arcelor stock and the pulses under the white skin racing.

So, S1 asked the frenchmen about their opinion on this proposed merger/acquisition/takeover. The opinions at the start of the argument were predictable, plain vanilla - Jobs will be lost, hostile bid is contrary to practise, Mittal will control a bit too much etc etc.

Then came the part of the argument which was strange to say the least. The part of the argument which has been labelled as "cultural differences" in papers for lack of a civil word. F1, F2 firmly argued that this takeover would compromise the quality. Of what? The quality of life. As corroborative evidence, they quoted the example of the slums in Mumbai. The quality of life in EU was supposedly already pretty good, the best in fact, and there is no scope for improvement. This was peppered with the *characteristic french shrug*

K1 argued that as European the firm is a brand, and the brand value will be lost, and pointed it to the French wine on the table, and said "This cannot be replicated". (perhaps, by then he had enough of it to swear his allegiance). To this S1 quoted an article from the Time magazine which described how the Chinese have managed to replicate French Wine to such a degree of accuracy that even connoisseurs are confused, and that its more cost-effective. All of them vehemently shook their heads to this and said it was impossible. Even if its expensive, K1 claimed that people will still pay for it, since its all in the name. A brand is like an insurance for which you pay a premium. Hmm... Nice parallel that.

S2, like a typical Singaporean, kept quiet through it all.

Brands? Quality of life? Is that argument remotely convincing?

Xenophobia, certainly. Nationalism, chauvinism, jingoism to various degrees, perhaps. Maybe, the french ideas are like they prefer their wine to be: vintage. But what really bothered me was, why did I feel the undercurrents of racism in it all. Its easy to be passive towards it when the news aggregator bundles them up as "all 3xx related-->" but, you really feel the pinch of it when you are right in the middle of it. Like I typecast them using alphabets, I and I1 - I1000,000,000, yes, we are typecast too, because of the colour of our skin.

(As an aside, strictly within the boundary of cultural prejudices, it was strange to see a Korean talk about brands, and genuine stuff.)

In any case, it's just a matter of time.....

After-thought: Very tempted to quote Russell Peters. If you know what I am talking about...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine Baba ki jai!

That was the subject of the email I received yesterday from a friend. Very innovative indeed.

So I wondered, if we changed the wish from "Happy St. Valentines Day" to the above, would it please the Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal and whoever else thinks its a "bad" influence on Indian culture? As they fervently claim, love and the expression of it must be a sacrilege to Indianness. And hence, poets wrote volumes about lovers canoodling in the parks in springtime. And, emperors spent collosal sums of money to build what are now known as wonders of the world. And, we pray to those who loved since they loved. Not only that, 64 different ways of eating the forbidden fruit were described in detail in a book, which makes excellent dinner conversation in the western world. (Are we a fairly bad influence on them too?)

For the record, I detest 14th of Feb, though for a completely different reason. My abhorrence springs from the fact that I think this pop-movement was a started by card companies to generate revenue. Don't you think the popularity is a very good example of superb marketing? Who had heard of Mother's day, and Father's day and Friendship day, and every-other-day till maybe 15 years ago?

Also, belly full of Helium or otherwise, I detest heart-shaped balloons. Yes, even before Dil Chahta Hai.

So, after careful consideration, in search of something not so cloying and yet practical, (and succumbing to peer-pressure of giving a gift), I have decided to give my valentine a potato as a gift. Why?
Its unique, can be eaten in various forms (baked, fried and mashed), its full of energy (high carbs) an nutrition, everyone loves it and the best part is: it is sometimes shaped like a heart (Not the oh-so-sweet-oh-so-red type, but a real one like in bio text books).

Here's looking at you, kid!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Fiery love story

She was a-little-over-four years old and he exactly a month younger than a-little-over-four. They had been friends for the longest time possible and spent all their time together.

He learnt this little trick of holding a matchstick between the forefinger and thumb, balancing the matchbox on the back of his hand, tossing it up in the air and striking the match. Its quite a feat, if you know how to do it right.

One day they were playing under the bed, and he decided to demonstrate his prowess by demonstrating this trick. Somehow the matchstick slipped, and the "modha" (the small cane stool), which was carefully hidden under the bed, caught fire. Before they could control it, it rolled over and the bedsheet caught fire, followed by the whole bed.

So he, the one with the trick and the intelligence, asked her to get some water to douse the fire. She, the one without common-sense, found a soap dish: the wrong half, the bottom half. Obviously, by the time she would get to the room the water would fall through those little drainage holes in the soap dish.

Girly Girl panics and screams "Aag". Parents come to rescue.

They get fired.

It was a bad accident, a misadventure that could have ended badly... Thankfully, both of them got off unscathed. And lived happily ever after.

One scar however remains: This story is often narrated as "They set the bed on fire".

Yes, they struck a match at four.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Rang De Basanti

( Paint It yellow: Indian Yellow to be precise!)

Reviewing Rang de Basanti is the in thing to do. I shall conform. But instead of the ubiquitous dissection of every aspect of filmmaking and a detailed study of characters, I will make it an inane and brief questionnaire for all those who have watched it or plan to watch it. Will add more questions as and when they occur to me. Here goes:

The theme of the movie:
a. Coming of age movie
b. Patriotic movie
c. Both
d. Neither

The time period of narration:
a. Historical aka. "Period movie"
b. Contemporary movie.
c. Both
d. Neither

a. Sepia
b. Vivid with all hues of the spectrum.
c. Both
d. Neither

Characters are:
a. Black and White
b. Colourful
c. Both
d. Neither

Rate the end of the movie:
a. Melodramatic/ Conventional
b. One with Poetic Justice/ Unconventional
c. Both
d. Neither

Entertainment factor:
a. Fun
b. Thought-provoking/ Serious
c. Both
d. Neither

a. Predictable
b. Entertaining and Funny
c. Both
d. Neither

a. Brilliant
b. Exquisite
c. Both
a. Neither

There I am done. So you c?

And for completeness will add this piece of trivia that goes with every review of Rang De Basanti:

Did you know Alice Patten is the daughter of Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong?
"Azaadi hi meri Dulhan hai."


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

They Pass On The Torch of Life

Somedays you take the sorry route of quoting someone else to cover up the self-induced vaccum of verse or prose, or written text in any form. Routinely recite this one when watching cricket, which happens occasionally. I can't locate the silly point or the gully, though I know the on-side from the off-side. Never figured the googly, though pretended to. Yet, like all Indians, cricket is still religion for me.

Vitai Lampada
("They Pass On The Torch of Life")

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night --
Ten to make and the match to win --
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

The sand of the desert is sodden red, --
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; --
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Themes explored...

Solar Eclipse of a "para"-normal kind

A little girl came running all excited and announced that she knew her grandad's email password. She didn't relent to the pestering by the curious-everyone. Only after they bribed her with goodies, she proudly revealed the secret key:

Sandmen: An antithesis to Calvin's Snowmen.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Chronicles of a Birthday Girl.

Its birthday time. Tomorrow I am getting a year older. Somewhere along the line, birthdays stopped being important. Somewhere along the line, I stopped reminding people of my impending birthday. Somewhere along the line, I became old. OLD. Many years ago, balloons gave me the cheap thrills I sought. Now nothing less than hot air balloons would do the trick.

I dont recollect a better part of the past. Yes, age is catching up on me. A few slices of the Birthday (cake?):

The Third
: My cake was shaped like a castle. Exactly like the one in the book of rhymes I had. My creative addition: my favourite red car was parked right outside. From the book:

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and Spice and everything nice
Thats what little girls are made of!

The Fifth: My birthday dress was red and white. Checks. And it had apples in front. I distinctly remember thinking: Mango is a summer fruit, and apple is a winter fruit. And my birthday is in winter, hence it should be apples on my dress. Yes, logic came early to me. (Now I am in an eternal summer where mangoes and apples are available through the year)..... My birthday cake had five dolls. Their heads were made of biscuits, and had candles stuck on them. And their brown eyes were drawn with vanilla essence.

The Sixth: I received Readers' Digest (Richard Attenborough's) "The Living Planet" as a birthday Gift from Ma and Papa. Glossy books you would love running your fingers on, and they smelt so fresh. I was fascinated by the picture of the volcano. I promised to myself I will see a volcano, among other things, some day.

Few Years Later: I had a crush, a first. He hand-made a card. I still have it somewhere. It was before the sketchpen lined, crayon filled cards made way to the sweet-smelling-yet-fake cards from Archies/Hallmark. Till date, I havent understood the need for them.

The Sixteenth: I felt pretty. The dress was blue and red. Bright. The big group of people had made way to just a few close friends at home. I also felt grown up, rejected the hype around birthdays. People felt irrelevant. I felt irrelevant to people. But thankfully, this feeling was superficial. Between 10 pm and midnight that day, I received 15 phone calls, from people who mattered. To whom, I mattered.

The Eighteenth: Ma donated the defining words to history: "I give you your freedom". Used in quote-unquote a million times since, I still haven't understood the drama around hitting 18. I remember feeling responsible. Feeling adult. That's the day, I think, I lost my freedom.

The Few Fun years: Characterized by Midnight Birthday surprises (which weren't surprising at all), big get togethers, noisy celebrations. We made plans of the big life ahead, which was ironic since figuring what to wear in the morning seemed like a big decision then. I miss that. Sometime in one of those birthdays, I also received my first bottle of Escada Margaritha Ley. My love affair with perfumes started. I have the bottle. Still. Almost empty. Smells as sweet.

2002: Four days before the dreaded GRE. Remember being full of words, big ones: The "phobias" and the "-isms" finally got a name. Normal distribution was the common enemy in more ways than one. I also spent time figuring how Dave and Joe and Harry managed to live in a strange lane full of different coloured houses, where noone got along with anyone else. Remember being worried sick. About future. About the present. About why I couldn't manipulate the past. Remember watching "Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham" and not forgiving myself for it. Till date.

2003: Four days after I landed in Singapore. I missed Chennai, I missed Bangalore. I missed the comforts. More so, I missed the people. I lived in denial, so much so, that I didnt want any new friends. Phone rang almost incessantly all day. Considering the fact that noone knew my phone number yet, I felt important.

Last year: My close friend and partner in many a crime forgot my birthday. And I spent the whole day believing he was playing a prank and would call 5 minutes before midnight. At 230 am (Midnight IST), I realized that he really forgot. Will give him grief over it for ever and a day more. Hence etched it here.

Dad wrote a touching mail stating he never realized when I grew up from a small baby to an individual with a mind of my own. I took that as a compliment. I think he wanted to use the word "lady" somewhere, but I didnt fit into the role too well. After reading the mail, I cried for an hour.

This year: Pretentious as it my sound, I gift myself: a real yet surreal alter-ego, my nemesis. A quick trip to Malaysia, and a blog written with narcissistic fervour.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006