Thursday, December 17, 2009

Truly Plural

Apologies for the tongue-in-cheek twister. Read this recently, and loved it. Check it out:

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Then shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England ..
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly,
boxing rings are square,

and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends
and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns
down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out,
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

I suddenly remembered the poem by Keats. And I remember when I first read it as a teenager, there was very little that I could understand. I thought it's a good time to revisit it 10 years later. Here is how it goes:

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched knight,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched knight,
So haggard and so woe-begone
The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done.

I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheek a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful, a faery's child:
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long;
For sideways would she lean, and sing
A faery's song.

I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in language strange she said,
"I love thee true!"

She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she gazed and sighed deep,
And there I shut her wild, sad eyes--
So kissed to sleep.

And there we slumbered on the moss,
And there I dreamed, ah! woe betide,
The latest dream I ever dreamed
On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings, and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
Who cried--"La belle Dame sans merci
Hath thee in thrall!"

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill side.

And that is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

Now for my interpretations.

1. The 'Knight' is a guy who just got dumped by his significant other of many years. And he's going through that phase of self-pity, "I cant go through a relationship again" phase.

2. The guy just slept with a hooker and picked up an STD. And has no clue what to do about it.

3. The guy has a fatal disease, and this is a conversation he's having with his life, personified as a wretched knight.

4. The guy is a rapist, and now it's his conscience that is disrobing him.

Now help me add to this list, will ya?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A century, 77 years in the making.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. A 100 wins! And 10 years ago, no cricket statistician worth his cricket blog and uninterrupted cricket coverage via Cricinfo would have guessed it would've been achieved within another 10 years. While the whole of India kept criticizing the men in blue of their inability of winning abroad and of falling standards in the 5 day game, Team India quietly managed to pull-off their best decade ever. No, seriously! What would say of a team's history of 77 years, when 39% of its success was experienced in this one decade?

On closer look, we'll find that there's a small matter of the matches against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. But these will be dealt with too, when we try and capture the essence of this decade.

The 2000s started most disastrously for team India. After yet another Australian whitewash, it was the turn of Cronje's Proteas blanking India at Home. And then the most forgettable incident in Cricket's history, which threatened annihilation of the game itself. It left India reeling, with yesteryears' heroes, Azhar and Jadeja being proved guilty of match fixing.

But from the rubble emerged a new India, much like the Reneissance after centuries of strife. And leading them from the front was Saurav Ganguly. The Prince led his men to their first test win of the decade, and an overseas one at that, against debutants Bangladesh and followed it with wins against Zimbabwe.

And then the epic series that would probably define the team for the decade that followed. To their credit, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble and Dhoni managed to do in the 2000s what their predecessors hadn't managed in 67 years - a win-loss ratio of 1.

So before we start criticize this team, I feel we need to look-up our history and then make an assessment.

Much in the spirit of India's 100th victory, I've compiled my All-time India XI.

Sunil Gavaskar
Virendar Sehwag
Rahul Dravid
Sachin Tendulkar
G Vishwanath
Vinoo Manked
MS Dhoni
Kapil Dev
Anil Kumble
Zaheer Khan
J Srinath
Ekanath Solkar(12th man)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Remember those great Volkswagen ads?

Surely you do. If you're in advertising or if you're an auto enthusiast. And if nothing else, you are old enough to have seen Dick Cheney with all his hair.

In the days when Sports Entertainment was no more than an hour of physical activity, and reality TV was a distant reality, people spoke of advertising. And they certainly spoke of Volkswagen ads.

That's because the Volkswagen and its advertising enjoyed a successful marriage. If you looking for evidence to verify the success of the marriage, see how every flaw of the car was spoken in such an affectionate tone, thus endearing the Beetle to the whole generation that was lost in space.

The honesty of the car was articulated through smart, honest advertising. It would have been a pity if such a successful marriage was without a family album. Hence the book.

And like any album worth its nostalgia, it's bound to elicit a few chuckles.

This book is a must buy for people who believe in the power of advertising, and those who believe in the power of their dreams. Afterall, don't we all like the fairy tale of the ugly ducking within us becoming a pin-up boy?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Inglorious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino is known to make films that are full of legendary contradictions, real-life references and imaginary events, inspired/borrowed elements and dazzling original plots, and mind-numbing absurdity and deep-layered meaning - often rendering them as brilliant as they are ridiculous. And we movie buffs love him for just that. Suffice it to say, Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino's most glorious attempt since Pulp Fiction.

Read the full review here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dharma for Dhamra

Here's a comment published from my post on Olive Ridley. I find it surprising that it still remains my most popular post. I wonder why?

Says Meghna, "Tata Steel has always maintained a strong focus on environment sustainability and environment management in all its operations. We have seen that in the issues regarding the construction of a deep-sea port at Dhamra in Orissa, the Company has been forthcoming in sharing the concerns of activists and ever willing to implement practical means of mitigating any adverse impact of port construction on the marine eco-system in that area. The Company has held at least eight to nine sessions of meetings with Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in the matter of Dhamra Port. Tata Steel has made it abundantly clear that it is willing to have further discussions in order to alleviate any unnecessary doubts that the dissenters may yet nurture against the project.

Here is an outline of events as they happened till date.

The JV agreement with L&T to build a port at Dhamra was signed by Tata Steel in 2004. At the very onset, discussions were initiated with WWF- India, BNHS, Mr Kartik Shankar, Mr Bittu Sehagal and others.

The company was duly concerned with the objections raised by different environmental organizations and agreed not to begin construction work till a detailed study was complete. Responding wholeheartedly to the demands of activists, Tata Steel agreed for a proposal for a further study of the impact of the port on turtles and on the marine and island eco-system.

In 2005, BNHS and WWF-India, with an unprecedented suddenness, reversed their stand and refused to conduct the assessment study as they had promised. However, the organisations did not provide any reasons for their turncoat attitude.

In March 06, in an address to ED, Greenpeace India, the Chairman of TATA Sons made it clear that commitments were meant to be honoured at both ends. The Company had fulfilled their promise by withholding construction work for the proposed study, which never actually took off. The MD of Tata Steel also met Greenpeace officials in their Bangalore office.

In January 2008 a meeting was subsequently conducted between Greenpeace and Tata Steel and a list of concerns was presented by Greenpeace with regard to Dhamra Port. DPCL on 8th March 2008, gave a detailed and comprehensive explanation to all the points raised by Greenpeace. Subsequent objections were allayed on 3rd May 2008.

Further on 23rd October 2008, MD, Tata Steel along with senior executives of Tata Steel, L&T and DPCL met Greenpeace, BNHS, WPSI, Wild Society of Orissa, Sanctuary Asia and other environmental organizations to discuss the concerns and the way forward on the subject with regard to Dhamra Port.

A team of Company Executives and environment experts visited Bhitarakanika National Park, Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and the Dhamra Port site on February 2009, supervising the ongoing dredging operations.

On fourth meeting on 20th Feb 2009 in Kolkata, Tata Steel, L&T and DPCL agreed to conduct the additional biological impact assessment in close collaboration with NGOs’ of environmental organizations team led by a mutually agreed upon Scientists team. However the NGOs’ in a further instance of unreasonableness, insisted upon complete cessation of on-going dredging operation of Dhamra Port even before the commencement of study. However DPCL, Tata Steel and L&T team showed it preparedness to adjust the schedule of works including dredging to facilitate the study after due recommendation by the Scientists team.

The 102nd AGM of Tata Steel had been attended by a number of Greenpeace activists who happen to be shareholders of the Company as well. The AGM highlighted Tata Steel’s interests in further conference with Greenpeace in the matter of the port in addition to an invitation to activists to visit the port site yet again.

From the sequence of events, it is absolutely clear that the only thing that Greenpeace wants is to prolong the situation of deadlock in the matter of Dhamra Port. Perhaps, due to a lack of other valid issues on their agenda, Greenpeace is carrying on with a stance of stiffness, lest they have to give in to valid scientific reasoning. The only deduction that may be drawn from Greenpeace’s lack of willingness in discussion is that they have lost their own conviction long before and fear that they will have to admit it as such in an open forum. It is indeed a very sorry state of affairs in which progress is kept at stake and the environment is being used as a pawn by people who profess themselves to be friends of the environment. "

Wow!! That's easily the longest comment posted on my blog. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Taking Case: A sign of aggression?

Thanks to Mr. Gurudutt Mundkur, I read this interesting piece on sense of humour, published in the Journal of Pragmatics.

Helga Kotthoff, of the Frieburg University of Education, claims that dominant people exploit the ability to make others laugh as a degree of control to show that they are in charge.

When I look back, I wonder if that was what case-taking was all about. To me, it was what people with sense of humour had indulged in. And it was exclusively mutual (as opposed to mutually exclusive? Well. Sheepish smile.) If anything, it was a defense mechanism. It was to conceal the demons in your life. Your sense of humour is like those hummer wheels, which could help you overcome the obstacle-laden path that is life. As a popular humourist once said, it is with humour that you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.

"Those 'on top' are more free to make others laugh. They are also at more liberty to be more aggressive. A lot of what is funny is making jokes at someone else's expense," the Telegraph quoted her as saying.

"Displaying humour means taking control of the situation from those higher up the hierarchy and this is risky for people of lower status, which before the 1960s meant women rarely made other people laugh -- they couldn't afford to."

Interesting thoughts, I must admit. Have you ever experienced a situation when you were forced to laugh at a superior’s joke? Even when you thought it wasn’t remotely funny. Or choose to laugh only because you mean no offence.

According to Kotthoff, the differences between men's and women's ability to become comedians starts very young. She supports this by pointing out that boys as young as four can be seen telling more jokes, frolicking, and clowning about, whereas the girls tend to be the ones doing the laughing.

However, she adds, women tend to become funnier at a later age because they feel freer to not be seen as ladylike. Kotthoff thinks that humour, including teasing, is a mix of "bonding and biting", which is often used by women to form social bonds with their friends.

Men, on the other hand, often use humour to vent frustration, she says. However, Kotthoff says, both sexes use comedy as a means of controlling others.
But Helga’s last claim really blew my head off. "A study in the late 1980s showed that men use sexual jokes as a way of verbally undressing a woman who rebuts his advances; his humour was aggressive in essence," she said. I’m sure that’s not true, if the audience is well acquainted with the, for the lack of a better word, speaker or performer. For instance, I’d really like to know if this is how it is interpreted between friends.

To my relief, nothing was mentioned about punsters, or those who indulge in harmless wordplay. But then, there is definitely a case of one-upmanship, or if I’m allowed to say so, pun-upmanship. It’s certainly an ego-boost, much like deciphering a cryptic clue in The Hindu crossword, or working out a quiz question. And then, there’s a tacit understanding among punsters. To always acknowledge another’s attempt at word play. Since we all know those who do not enjoy a pun are those who believe, "Even I could’ve thought of that one!"

So, what do think? Humour me. Please!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Air Guitar Tips – No Strings Attached!

Here’s talent that’s hardly taken seriously. Ask connoisseurs of this art form, and they’ll have you believe that Air Guitaring, far from being tongue in cheek, is about the tongue being brandished openly and unabashedly, Kiss-style. Suffice it to say, it is an art form whose time is yet to come.

Air guitars, though never seen, are believed to be quite similar to an electric guitar, the notable difference being that it is indeed, made entirely of air. And while it certainly seems easier to master than the conventional one, Air Guitaring has just about one... no, make that two prerequisites – observation and imagination.

When a great 6-year old philosopher once said, “Why bother with years of hard work in pursuit of knowledge, when ignorance is instantaneous?”, he was certainly not talking about air guitaring. Yours truly, having watched several maestros and their air guitars (figuratively speaking) since his days of doing-absolutely-nothing in Manipal, will say that there is more to it than what meets the eye.

The first, and only rule is to overcome your inhibitions. Just as it is with singing, writing, dancing, or even … errr… how do I put it… being great in bed.

Begin by watching others around you. And you’ll easily separate the wheat from the chaff. Most pseudo air guitarists feel conscious, give up playing once they see you observing them, and just relegate themselves to that absolute ‘pain-in-the-neck’ – headbanging! The virtuoso air guitarist is completely oblivious of the people around. Either he’s too engrossed in his performance, or he’s too sloshed to be conscious of his activities.

Air Guitaring is more about understanding the song than the audience. If a song doesn’t inspire you enough or send you on an ‘interstellar overdrive’ in your mind, it’ll never get you to ‘pick up’ your air guitar.

The trick is in choosing the right song. You cannot Air Guitar to N sync, or to 50 cent, not unless you have just consumed Columbia’s gross domestic product by the truckloads.

So start with a good ol’ AC/DC. Or Metallica. Just avoid singing while you are air guitaring. Afterall, Bob Dylan would never cover a Jessica Simpson chartbuster, right?

And once you begin, even if you do screw up, you’ll only stand a good chance of becoming as glamorous as the corner barstool in your favourite watering hole. So, Don’t fret! Just wake up the Pete Townshend in you!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sultans of Swing

As we come to the business end of yet another gripping series of ashes( excluding the 2007-08 whitewash), the talk of tabloids is no longer Shane's wrong ones, as was the case for over 15 years. This time, swing is king.

After spin, there is no other subject in cricket that elicits more intrigue than the art of swing bowling. And as a subject, it seems a more difficult subject to comprehend.

Many fast bowlers rely heavily on swinging the ball to trouble batsmen. Naturally, there are known techniques and methods that such bowlers use to swing the ball. Sometimes the cricket ball swings in an unconventional manner, without a change in grip, seam position or bowling action. Yea, that nasty toe-breaker, made famous by Waqar Younis, called the inswinging yorker, or more commonly reverse swing.

It turns out, all the explanation that I was made to believe was nothing but pure imagination. And I don't mean imagination in the cricketers dancing their way to the bank on 'reality' TV kinda way.

For many years, I'd bought the notion that the ball swings when the atmosphere is a depressing grey, the pitch is moist, with shades of green. It turns out, much of my understanding is owing to cricket folklore that players and commentators have invoked to explain why the ball moved ferociously sometimes, but not at other times.

Says a Nasa scientist, in a typically patronizing stiff-upper lip tone - bollocks!

Rabindra Mehta, a Nasa scientist and schoolfriend of Imran Khan, the former Pakistan all-rounder, has studied the aerodynamics of cricket balls for three decades and has advised Troy Cooley, the Australia bowling coach. And he has been watching the Ashes on television from his California home in exasperation.

“What the commentators, cricketers I much admire, have been saying about swing is plain wrong,” he told The Times yesterday. “They’ve been talking about the clouds, how the new ball won’t swing until the lacquer has come off, and it’s just rubbish.”

As this Nasa scientist unveiled a scientific explanation of the art of swing (note the paradox), I figured over the years, many legends had sprung up about swing, the way plants and creepers do in the cracks of abandoned spectator stands at Guyana or Gwalior.

Contrary to common belief, there are three types of swing bowling, not two, he said. Seam position and bowling speed are critical to achieving all of them, but overcast weather conditions do no more than create the ambiance of despair in the minds of self-doubting batsmen.

As the ball moves through the air, a thin “boundary layer” of air hugs its surface before breaking away. If the boundary layer breaks later on one side of the ball than the other, pressure will be reduced, causing the ball to swing that way.

For conventional swing, the ball is gripped with the seam angled towards slip for an outswinger and fine leg for an inswinger. Part of the shiny side must face the batsman with the bowlers’ fingers resting next to the seam. As air catches the raised seam, it creates turbulence on that side only. The boundary layer breaks later on the other side of the seam, causing swing in that direction.

Reverse-swing works, as the name suggests, in reverse. The seam is pointed away from the direction in which the bowler wants swing and part of the rough side of the ball faces the batsman.

The roughness means the boundary layer starts off turbulent on both sides. The seam, however, weakens this turbulence on its side, causing the boundary layer to break earlier and sending the ball swinging in the other direction.

The condition of only one side of the ball is important: the shiny side for conventional and the rough side for reverse. “The new ball is perfectly capable of swinging this way: that the other side is shiny doesn’t matter,” said Dr. Mehta, unabashed. But a nasty toe-breaker it is, for somebody who thought he actually was starting to appreciate the art, much like a pseudo at his first visit to a Sotheby's auction.

Which makes me wonder why is it that swing bowling remains an enigma after almost 130 odd years of International cricket. Probably its because the best ones at the swing bowlers clique don't talk about it too much. Understandable, because when it really comes down to it, they gladly let the ball do the talking.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wanna make frndship??

No, I don’t wanna make frndship. There’s a reason why I signed up for Facebook, Twitter,, orkut, livejournal, ibibo, bigadda, geni, youtube, goodreads,, blogger, flixter, flickr, adult friend finder, myspace, bebo, and livejournal.Did I repeat one. Forgive me, I have a life!

Yes, it’s true. I do have a great life. I have moved on. I’m no longer the short plump boy front bench- sitting teacher’s pet. Nor am I the backbencher in class, who slept all day in class, read ayn rand in the chem lab, smoked weed in the evening and downed neat vodka with lime and ice at 4 in the morning. I’m not even the geeky guy at work who stared at the system all day, made sense at the grammatical level, but was strictly off-limits from reality.

I don’t want to catch up with the chap who thought my most engaging conversation would be with gravity. Yea that bully in school that made up for his limitations in communication with his more than sufficiently endowed knuckles. Boy! Was he pleased as punch to send me a friend request?

I certainly don’t intend to meet my manager at the ex-employers who’ll probably talk of every time I screwed up with a nostalgic “Ah! Good old days. Where have they gone?” wow! Am I touched by his concern about how my job was treating me now, or if it was treating me at all, by its absence, as may be the case? His concerns seem innocuous enough now. But for all I know, so is Strontium 90.

I definitely don’t want to be hobnobbing online with that woman who reduced my intelligence to that of an oyster the day I decided to ask her out. And then dumped me after 18 horrifying days, like she probably did of the last pair of Bell-bottoms in her closet, when Capri pants were in. “So how has life been since we last met?”, she asks. Probably with the enthusiasm of a 70 year old fossil, in the twilight of his career as a dispenser of fossil fuel on a dilapidated state highway. I cannot for the life of mine imagine, why I would be exchanging friendly tidings with the woman, just when I was celebrating my 5th anniversary of being single again.

I definitely don’t want these major aberrations of my 25-something years of growing up on my network. Come on, I thought I was done with you. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen! I have a life now. And yes, I just want to fill up personal info pages on these social network sites as a hobby. Glorify it with quotations from books I’ve never read, songs I’ve never heard, movies I’ve never watched, one-liners that are most clich├ęd, pictures of places I’ve never been to, and talk of everything that I never really intend to do in my lifetime. See, the only ulterior motive behind my proactive participation in social networks is to impress women who are as intellectually stimulating as Balika Vadhu or whatever it is you love to watch, but make tall claims of Heroes and Prison Break being your favourite.

So now, please leave me to my exciting existence. Peace!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

The International

The International is an offshoot of James Bond hit by a credit crunch and Jason Bourne with a flat foot. Read my complete review here

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens

For Monsters vs. Aliens, we'd gladly trade our horn-rimmed movie critic spectacles for 3D glasses. Read my complete review here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge, like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port: the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads - you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

George Carlin: My Favourite Philosopher

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can actually spread wisdom, even in this form, but cannot get you to read this piece.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Movie Reviews

Oh boy! Reviewing movies is fun. And we learnt a couple of lessons too. Here they are:

1. A "bad-movie" review need not necessarily be a bad "movie-review". Check this out.

2. A director may remain strictly loyal to the book or the graphic novel, but then he'll still fail to please both the author and the reviewer. Check this out.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Why feel the pain,
Why weep in vain,

Why wipe a tear,
For one so dear,
Why the eternal rest,
For the very best,

Why feel the pain,
Why weep in vain,

Why the fading night,
Why the blurred sight,
Why write a song,
Only to say, ‘So Long!’

Why feel the pain,
Why weep in vain,

Why the regret,
Why did I forget,
To call and say “Hi!”,
And now,
it's only a goodbye!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Goodbye World!

Msg 2: Annanya
Hey! We haven't met in two days! That's an eternity in our final semester. What's up?

I smile. Man! Final semester at college was unbelievable. Oh there are some more from the final sem...

Msg 3: Annanya
Accept the technological advances of short messaging services. MSG ME!

ha ha ha! Ann was so sweet. And sarcastic. I cannot imagine how she had so much of time, watching my back, while being in a relationship with Keith? And if that wasn't enough, cooking for us, and working on her thesis. In that order! If I am in a position to understand women now, even remotely, it's all thanks to adorable Ann. Wonder Woman! If I do ever get married, my wife will need a discourse from Ann, cuz no other woman understood me better than Ann. Wonder Woman, indeed!

Msg 6: Janisha
It was so good talking to you today. I missed the coffee and conversations, the long walks and laughs. God! I dont know why I was so unfair to you. I guess growing up helps!And then, you only miss someone when he's not around! ;)

Oh Jenny! Well, the funny thing is I would be mad at her one minute, and we'd be in each others arms the next. Hummm...I cant help but wonder! Everybody in class thought Jenny and I were dating. And I was sucker for it too. How embarrassing! Man, I shouldn't have asked her out. "I thought we were only friends", she said. "Pal, I want you to understand this. I don't wanna lose you as a friend", she said. And then things were never the same. Oh wait! It got worse! We were hardly talking. Till Feb '05, the day I got this msg. And then, things just kept getting better. He he! I guess if we were dating then, I probably wouldn't be reading this msg now. Who reads msgs from an ex three years after you've broken up?

Msg 9: Bharat

Dude!There were things on my mind, which I couldn't really explain. Thought it prudent to leave cuz I didn't wanna say anything that I'd later regret saying. Hope no offences were taken, Pal!

Brett! The dude was wierd! Keith and I wondered if Brett had his periods that day! He he! Look at the number of words he filled his msg with. All this, just to say sorry! "Prudent", it seems! Wait, I gotta look that up on the dictionary. ha ha! Oh I digress. He didn't need to apologise. He had issues with Nishi then. And today he calls and says, he's gonna be marrying Nishi. He he! I really missed out on this story. I wonder what all these two went through after college. Anyway, how could I be mad at this dude? He was definitely entitled to his idiosyncrasies. He he! Cant imagine two engineering blokes writing plays and acting, the way we did. We're never really meant to do engineering! he he! And the guy really offered his case! he he! Silly case-taking or pun-upmanship! ha ha ha! Oh and the women we kept talking abt...all the time! Somehow, he ended up being agony uncle when I was falling madly in and out of love. he he he! And the times he and keith carried me back to my room when I was completely plastered! ha ha ha! Priceless stuff!

Msg 11: Keith
Palak! Dude! Sorry for being a major pain in the proctologist's major, man! LOL! I had to gate crash when you were getting cozy with Jenny. I just needed a hand with my luggage. So are you guys finally datin? LMAO! Well, you've waited 4 years, so dont get too naughty man! Always remember, bros know who? Rock n Roll rules! Peace!

That was his goodbye msg! How the f@#* were we room-mates for 4 years? How did he even manage to impress Ann? Ha ha ha! The guy was surely funny! That's an understatement. He was a live-wire man! He seemed to be wasting his time with Brett and I, not to mention Ann, but he simply aced all his exams. What a stud! The guy had a geek like me for a room-mate and he let me be. He'd always get mothered for being a phoney by Ann, and he's let her be.Brett would screw his happiness for all his diplomatic stands, and it wouldn't bother Kieth one bit! Now I realise it, the guy had a fantastic attitude! He lived for the moment. Whatever he did, he'd give it his best! I guess it takes Superman to sweep Wonder Woman off her feet!

I wonder what these guys are upto. It's been three years. Even though Keith said, "Long-distance sucks, man! All talk and no sex!", Ann and he are still together. Brett is a classic example of corporate sobriety after an the exuberance of youth, choosing to become a husband even before marriage. He he! Jenny's doing her PHD in NY city. And she still writes to me. About all the men in her life. He he! Ann once called me an emotional coolie. Cuz I seemed to handle all of Jenny's extra baggage very well. Ha ha ha! But Jenny still calls, and asks me about what I'm upto. Very often. It's a pity I have very little to talk about. And every time I wanted to call, I wondered what it was that I should be talking about. Hummm! "Dont you think it's a good idea to stay in touch?" said Keith, the last time he called. It's a great idea dude! And I think it's a great time to call!

Palak reads each of these text messages again. And once more. And then one last time. Overwhelmed with nostalgia, he deletes each of them. Lights a cigarette and looks away. Thinks of Brett and Keith, his pillars of support. Of Ann, who was easily his best friend ever. Of Jenny, who meant the world to him then. And probably still does, after all that they'd been through! He shuts his eyes. His college days are running through his head, like a film reel in fast-forward mode. He had such awesome people for a cast. And his life didn't even need any direction! He opens his eyes.Stubs his cigarette and turns around. He finds his 3310 dying. And a virgin iPhone next to it, waiting to be unlocked. It's time to make few calls!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

20/20 vision: The future is here! Again...

T20 time again. IPL in South Africa followed by the T20 World Cup in England. I'd tried my hand at being a super selector for the 2007 edition, and I must say, my selections were fairly accurate. I'm trying my hand at it once more. Here goes.

MS Dhoni (Capt.)
Virendra Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Suresh Raina
Yuvraj Singh
Rohit Sharma
Cheteshwar Pujara
Wriddiman Saha
Yousuf Pathan
Irfan Pathan
Ravindra Jadeja
Harbhajan Singh
RP Singh
MS Gony
Praveen Kumar

Well as a selector, I decided to give Zaheer, Ishant and Munaf a rest. I picked this team based on performances in IPL 2008 and it is subject to change after IPL 2009.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I am a rock

Just got tagged by Perf & Shitty. And boy! It was fun!

Instructions read: Using only song *titles* from one artist, cleverly answer these questions

Pick a band/artist: Simon & Garfunkel

1. Are you a male or female: Most peculiar man

2. Describe yourself: I’m a rock

3. How do you feel about yourself: feeling groovy

4. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend: old friends

5. Describe your current boy/girl situation: Bridge over troubled waters

6. Describe your current location: Can't help but wonder where I'm bound

7. Describe where you want to be: America

9. Your favorite color is: Hazy shade of winter

10. You know that: We've got a groovy thing goin

11. What’s the weather like: cloudy

12. If your life was a television show what would it be called: bookends

13. What is life to you: Dangling Conversation

14. What is the best advice you have to give: I wish I weren't in love

15. If you could change your name what would you change it to: Richard Corey

Ok, I tag Sam, Kida, Jayshree, Priyanka Pai and Kiddo.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

What if you were born in an old–age home? If you go through your wheelchair days when you are 5, bed-pan days when you are seven, BP and Sugar tests when you are 9, only to be gifted a huge fixed deposit when you are 13, earning a golden watch on your first day at work, start with huge pay checks and bonuses without mortgages in the early years of your career, which also get you your Porsches, and your French villas, that will help you get over your mid-life crisis and stressful career, so that you keep getting fitter and sexier, and this happens until you reach the age of 58. After which you retire to go to college, where you party like there is no tomorrow, where your only worries are pimples and acne, and learn to enjoy life by living for today, blowing up your non-taxable stipend from your job at McDonalds on your dates and weekend raves. Not to mention extracurricular activities in school, your brushes with crushes, homework that keeps getting simpler with advancing years, after which your stints at school get shorter, where you reminisce your struggle of your early years by playing with Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels, after which your skin and hair gets softer, and you become cuter by the hour, all this to end up in one hell of an Orgasm!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the above paragraph stretched over three hours. And yes, it is a little too laboriously long in the earlier half of the protagonist’s life

My name is Benjamin Button, and I was born under unusual circumstances. While everyone else was aging, I was gettin' younger... all alone.

Loosely based on an F Scott Fitzgerald short story, it’s a tale armed with a concept that could titillate the senses of the most demanding of movie critics. The possibilities of exploring the world through the eyes of an 80-year-old Brad Pitt getting younger everyday seemed immense. Our hero is born as a tiny, shrivelled fossil and then seems to defy chronology. Incredible adventures follow: a spell on a tugboat, wartime peril, voyages that transcended much geography, and the backdrop richly woven with the jazz era during the roaring twenties, the depressing 30s, the World War days in the 40s all the way till the stormy days of Katrina.

The young (old?) Benjamin is a winning creation, a mesmerising byproduct of Gollum and Forrest Gump. But once Benjamin morphs into Pitt in all his Greek God glory, you feel the movie’s “curious” charm begin to dissipate. Soon we’re left with something that resembles an all too conventional romantic drama, The Bridges of Madison County with a steadily diminishing echo of fantasia.

Along the way you bump into people who make a dent on your life.

There is also an interesting take on Button’s decades-long romance with a ballerina (a stunning performance from Cate Blanchett), which proves that the lifetime of true love, like comedy, is all about timing.

It's a funny thing about comin' home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You'll realize what's changed is you.

Another aspect of The Curious Case that started troubling me a bit while watching the movie was its striking similarity to Forrest Gump. After perusing IMDB, I was hardly surprised. We could just blame the scriptwriter, who tried to reproduce his magic from Forrest Gump. But then, as any magician will tell you, you cannot get away with a performance when you have no new trick up your sleeve.

Sometimes we're on a collision course, and we just don't know it. Whether it's by accident or by design, there's not a thing we can do about it.

Benjamin’s condition does not seem inspire him all that much, to have given him any unique insights. But then the script seems to force Benjamin to make Forrestesque observations which are then made to sound like profound truths. Some pearls of wisdom such as “Live the life you’re meant to live”, “Love while you can” and “Nothing lasts for ever” will only take your mind back to Tom Hank’s adorable portrayal in his 1994 Oscar winning role.

Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss

Where this movie disappoints is at the climax. While we sit through his old age anticipating exciting times as he gets younger during the Beatles mania, the movie flatters to deceive. What ought to have been an orgasm after a nearly three-hour foreplay, turns out to be a premature ejaculation.

I think, right there and then, she realized none of us is perfect forever.

But then, when I did watch the movie at a multiplex, without horn-rimmed glasses of a movie critic, I found it entertaining. In fact, I’d go to the extent of saying that it is easily one of the best movies made in recent times. If you can forget the fact that it is directed by David Fincher of the Fight Club fame, and the screenplay was indeed written by Eric Roth of the Forrest Gump fame, you will surely like the movie, and may even get yourself to love it. The movie was certainly not as forced and futile as this review is, but then, beware of the staccato.

You must watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button if you are the kind who likes to live today like there is no tomorrow. And watch it most certainly if you, like this reviewer, dread the thought of your birthday, because it’s a reminder that you’re getting older.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

25 wierd ramblings

The other day a friend complained that this blog spoke very little about me. That's a first. There's a tag i got on FB. Here it is :

1. I recently discovered the true meaning of my first name in a book, which is “someone who’s considerate”. I’ll say as much about myself.
2. Only 5 out of the 25 I’ve tagged call me Sudhir.
3. Was madly in love with music. Our love-hate relationship has survived over 7 years.
4. I love reading. Anything that comes my way.
5. Love talking about movies, comics, graphic novels, cricket, history, travel, err…women (still trying to figure this one)!
6. I love writing, do it for myself.
7. The best pieces I’ve written are letters and notes to friends.
8. I love food. I love culture. I love immersing in both.
9. I was born non-vegetarian. Now a vegetarian by choice.
10. I hate the idea of religion. I love the idea of spirituality.
11. I love my Independence.
12. My ideas on politics are my own.
13. My earliest memory as a kid is sitting on the floor with my Ferarri GTB and Dad’s Atlas(some 1960s edition). And then visiting a new country every day. From Ceylon, to Siam, to Singapore, to Hong Kong, to LA, to NY, to London, to Venice, to Cairo, to Dubai, and then back to Bombay.
14. I love sitting with my clip-board, pen and paper, and then think.
15. I hate my hair; I’d rather shave it off.
16. I love Perfumes. Davidoff Echo is a must!
17. I love dreaming. As an engineering student, I’d dreamt of advertising and of becoming a freelance writer. As a copywriter, and after a stint of freelance writing, I continue to dream.
18. I enjoy my space. I grant people their space and expect those people to do the same to me.
19. I have an obsession for organizing the folders on my system.
20. Ever since I’ve stayed away from home, I’ve valued friendship. And I must say I’ve been very fortunate to tag 25 people for this post.
21. Staying in touch with the people who mean the most to you should never be an obligation. It is a pleasure, which should be savoured.
22. I think between the best of friends, silence communicates more than words do.
23. Quizzing is a passion. It continues to open my eyes.
24. I want to master writing, in Hindi and Urdu.
25. I’ve been struggling to write a song. Poetry seems simpler.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Just for Pix!

Here's a tag from Sam. Who got me onto this one with 'a-not-so-kind' reminder not so long ago.He he! I cannot get down to working without a deadline, or a reminder of the 'not-so-kind' kinds. Apologies, Sam!

Here's the dope. Upload the sixth pic from your sixth photo folder. Yep, it took me a while to figure this one. So here it is.

This was my first attempt at bird photography. And I must admit, since this photo was taken two years back, I've made little progress at either, finding birds {That's an honest pun! And it is targeted at one of the readers!(wink!) The other 9 may kindly ignore this one!} or photography. So this one happens to be special, because I actually woke at 5 in the morning(can you believe it?), and drove all the way to KBR Park and then shot this one. It didn't come out as well as I thought it would. I mean it was difficult adjusting my lens and inching closer to the Peacock, through a little pathway that was beset on all sides by thorny shrubs, without alarming it. I could tell you a lot more but then that would take the word-count to 1223. That’s also including the picture. Don’t you agree? :D

Here’s tagging Perf, Kida, and everyone else willing to be a sport!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pursuit Of Happiness

Here's a poem which was one of my favourites in school. It's called "The Character of a Happy Life" by Henry Wotton. Living today, and being consumed by consumerist lifestyles, I thought this was a poem worth revisiting.

Thanks Sam, for the nostalgia.

How happy is he born or taught,
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his highest skill;

Whose passions not his masters are;
Whose soul is still prepar'd for death
Untied unto the world with care
Of princes' grace or vulgar breath;

Who envies none whom chance doth raise,
Or vice; who never understood
The deepest wounds are given by praise,
By rule of state, but not of good;

Who hath his life from rumours freed;
Whose conscience is his strong retreat;
Whose state can neither flatterers feed,
Nor ruins make accusers great;

Who God doth late and early pray,
More of his grace than goods to send,
And entertains the harmless day
With a well-chosen book or friend.

This man is free from servile bands
Of hope to rise or fear to fall;
Lord of himself, though not of lands;
And having nothing, yet hath all.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ratan says Tata to Dhamra: Yes, he can!

The Olive Ridley Turtle lovers can heave a sigh of relief. Mr. Ratan Tata has agreed to discuss the matter and reconsider the Company's decision to construct a port at Dhamra, Orissa. Here are my congratulations to Greenpeace, for the perseverance and commitment to fight for the survival of an endangered species - the Olive Ridley Turtles. Wishing you success in this endeavour. Amen!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Geek and Latin

Mike: huummm
interesting status!
“Platonic Love”!

Rob: :) yea..suddenly i felt this dire need to have one myself

Mike: aaahhh!
loving thy room-mate?

Rob: no man! single n straight, in every sense of the word

Mike: haha ha ha!

Rob: :D

Mike: juuust kiddin man!

Rob: hehe...ofcourse :D

Mike: well i was playing on "platonic relationship!!
i seem to have too many of those,

Rob: too

Mike: but never heard for platonic love??
is it like saying...
" i love her, but i'm not in love with her?"
or "I love her, but she says we're just friends"

Rob: :D
this word love, one of the darkest words in english
..can really screw up things with the kind of meanings it can have
... comes a close second to fuck i guess

Mike: :P
no dude!!
I understand a fuck much better than i understand love...

Rob: hahahaha...

Mike: in any figure of speech!
So i'll settle for a fuck any day!

Rob: :D
but then it's really hard to find a fuck
for the sake of a fuck only...i'm yet to find one
that’s where love comes in handy :D

Mike: but then it's tougher to find true love than it is to find a true fuck!

Rob: but a good fuck is tougher to fake than love

Mike: even if you love the idea of being in love!

Rob: yeaa

Mike: dude!!

Rob: hehe

Mike: haven't you heard this one
a woman can fake an orgasm to enjoy a relationship
a man can fake a relationship to enjoy an orgasm

Rob: :D
that's what i said...
my fundas are right there in place :D
just that i suck at practicals

Mike: ha ha ha!
see, we gotta go beyond the books man!

Rob: yea man...wish i cud "suck" better

Mike : oh man!
that one liner sucked!

Rob: :D

Mike: see you are on it already!
you sure suck more than you fuck!
ha ha ha ha!

Rob: ahahahahha

Mike: all in jest man!
This conversation was totally off the record


Mike: speaking of which,
do you know how the phrase off the record was introduced?

Rob: no, temme.

Mike: in one interview
the president FDR
spoke to a journalist,
and said something which was to be in confidence
so he said

Rob: achcha

Mike: "this part of the interview is off the record"
that quote got published

Rob: ohhh :)

Mike: and we were introduced to the phrase

Rob: :) thats cool...
ek reporting error and we get a new phrase

Mike: lol!!
that's the world of american sensationalism to you...
Anyway, this conversation never happened...

Rob: yea.. it’s a figment of pure imagination..

Mike: I just had this conversation with my schizophrenic "other" half!

Rob: :D haha..that dark evil hypersexual side of you...

Mike: dude!!!
just imagine!!!

Rob: man, the world needs it :D or to say at least half the world needs it

Mike: if you were schizophrenic,
and your imaginary side was of the opposite sex?

Rob: hahaha...

Mike: than the phrase "mental masturbation" would be tantamount to being in a relationship right?

Rob: :D

Mike: ha ha ha ha!

Rob: and in no time u ll be pregnant with great ideas

Mike: oh yes,
you'll get mind-fucked
and fill the world with your brain children!

Rob: hahaha
and imagine...ur schizophrenic identities mutating into children
oh man! yea

Mike: oh fuck!!
that's crazy man...

Rob:: hahaha

Mike: i wont know if my brain children have taken on "mom"
or "dad"

Rob: haha
but then u wont even know who’s dad and who’s mom..and who’s the child for that matter
that ll be fun

Mike: oh fuck!!
already, we have an idea that's orphaned

Rob: :D
gosh...even a mental asylum wont take him in...that s sad

Mike: yea man...

Rob: I’m already feeling sad

Mike: he'll have an identity crisis
during admission

Rob: donno how she ll feel...she s more emotional u see

Mike: :D

Rob: :D

Mike: I wonder what the in-laws will say!!

Rob: my precious is whom I’m talking abt
in-laws are also in there too!!

Mike: shit man!! it's really getting crowded up there...

Rob: hahahaha

Mike: from "mind copulation" to "mind population"

Rob: :D hahahaha

Mike: rotfl

Warning: If you’ve read this far, this warning is surely meant for you.

This is the story of a Schizophrenic gtalker. He’s a nondescript employee of an MNC, who has had no friends. And he’s done little to change that. He’s addicted to the internet and that is his only interface to the world that lies outside his body. Out of sheer boredom and loneliness, he created another gmail account for himself one day, and has been entertaining himself eversince.

Every word that you’ve read in this psychotic post is another precious second taken away from you. So what are you waiting for? Is there a moral here, in this immoral piece of filth. Shut down your PC, turn off the light and the fan before global warming beats you to it. Get out of your apartment. Go for a jog. Meet somebody (anybody if you too shy) of the opposite sex (Ok! same sex, to be politically correct). Go shopping. Go eat some sugar candy. Go help somebody cross the road. Go open the door for a senior citizen. Go stop a fight. Or get involved in one. Just prove to yourself that you do more than just exist. Just realize that you are more than just an infinitesimal fibre in the cog of a wheel called Mankind. In short, GET A LIFE! GO!!!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some Dog is a Millionaire!

Slumdog Millionaire is the story of a slum-dweller who was born and brought up in what is depicted as the crap-pit of the world. But he’s like no other. He decides to grab the world by its crack, and beat the crap out of it. He’s the kind who takes all the shit that the world doles out at him, only to emerge a victor, eventually. The only difference between this movie and several Indian movies which celebrated the underdog’s life in the 50s is the fact that Danny Boyle, the director of SM, focused on the “crappy” part of slum life with details that went to tasteless proportions.

But why has it elicited praise and accolades from western critics, while it continues to face the wrath of various sections of the Indian public. The answer, I believe, lies in the differing perspectives of Indians and the rest of the world about abject poverty.

Danny Boyle’s SM was a bullet which shattered the Kevlar that protected me from the knowledge of life in Mumbai’s Slums. Has he or any of the members of SM’s Team experienced life in Mumbai’s Slums, you ask. I cannot say for sure, because I never wanted to know what lies beyond whatever little I saw of Dharavi, from the window of a local train. Honestly, I’d turn away from the stench and avoid the ghastly sight. I’d never even mention this place when I spoke of the city I loved dearly. Never had I thought Dharavi could actually inspire a thought, leave alone poetry, songs, music, a story, romance or anything with a remote semblance of a good life. This is where we should draw a line with our cynicism and appreciate Boyle, Rehman and everyone involved with the fairy tale that is – Slumdog Millionaire.

While Bollywood Directors spend millions of dollars to fund their “dream” projects in “dream” locales, here’s a Brit who found his latest “love story” in the most disowned area of Mumbai, in the labyrinthine lanes of Dharavi. I’ve not read Vikas Swaroop’s book to use it as a parameter to judge the screenplay, so I’ll just speak of everything else.

Firstly, if we had a scale which would have artsy and masala on the two ends, SM would be inclined towards the latter end. It is neither a Bicycle Thief that would inspire Ray to make Pather Panchali, nor is it a DDLJ that would inspire every production house to make movies with larger-than-life NRI storylines, which would relegate Laxmi Mittal’s opulent lifestyle to modesty. Slumdog’s different.

SM narrates the life of a slum-dweller, who turns into a renegade, fighting all the norms of a “slumdog” – a term that has offended many. It is Jamal’s pursuit of love against all odds – poverty, religious vandalism, child abuse, fraud, the underworld, prostitution, organized crime, violence, economic and social disparity, corruption, and everything else that every Indian would turn their head away from in shame. And yet, he emerges a victor. “Larger than Life”, did I hear you say? But why “dwell” so much on all these ills, you ask. It is because we have simply refused to do so ourselves, “dwell” on the subject that is, that we are not able to digest Boyle’s bold portrayal. How much can a vilayati possibly sugarcoat the crap, which is life in the slums?

Now coming to the direction and editing. Brilliant! Each answer on the TV show becoming a key that unlocks the pandora’s box of Jamal’s past, a narrative device kept from cliche by deft direction and slick edits. And SM is certainly not without its share of inspiration. Black Friday and Satya probably had a big role in shaping Boyle’s directorial route, but that’s taking no credit away from the chase sequence early in the movie. Lathi-laden Havaldars chasing a bunch of brats all over Dharavi, with “Oh Saya” is the background is undoubtedly a directorial masterpiece.

There is also a powerful visual interpretation of Mumbai. The movie, much like the city itself, overflows with opposites. Paradoxical collisions were never known to make a memorable cocktail - horror and joy, colourful fantasy and grimy reality, history and hyper-modernity. Through SM, we find that there are rich hues in the homes of the poor, beauty in the grotesque, music in noise, happiness in sad living conditions, and poetry in poverty. Haven’t we been guilty of turning our aristocratic heads away from Dharavi, because it inspired little? Hasn’t this westerner just exposed our myopic outlook of cinema, and life in general?

As for Rehman’s original background score, which may win him a maximum of two Oscars, though being far from his best, it was apt, definitely worthy of an Oscar if it wins one. Rehman composed music that fit the mood of the film like a glove, much like the soundtrack of Atonement or American Beauty did for their respective movies. And I reiterate, “Oh Saya” rocks!

Another debate doing the rounds among the intellectual circles in India is if SM really deserved 10 nominations. In response, I’ll say Slumdog will only compete with movies that have been released in 2008. It’s not competing with a Life is Beautiful or a Schindler’s List. So either we celebrate the production of a well-executed movie, or a fall in the standard of movies competing for the Oscars. If it wins an Oscar for the best movie, Bollywood will proudly flaunt her Digitus Impedicus to her glamorous sister in LA.

To sum it up, Slumdog Millionaire is a feel-good movie. You’ll be glued to your seats, just like the time when you cheered Harshvardhan Navathe, who went on to become the first Crorepati on KBC. You’ll rejoice the triumph of Jamal at the denouement, just as you jumped with joy when Shreeshant held on to a skier, which brought India the first T20 World Cup. And you’ll even be implored into dancing in the very streets where this movie was shot, or sing “Jai Ho!” at CST (I thought it looked like Victoria Terminus, but correct me if I’m wrong). Alright, maybe that’s pushing it too far. Probably that’s sending reality into a different Space-Time coordinate. But then, isn’t it what we come to expect from movies?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dangling Conversations

I've gone through an ABBA phase, and then a Beatles phase. This followed a Bob Dylan phase. And a Frank Sinatra phase. And preceding all this was a Simon and Garfunkel phase. So why does one go through these phases over and over again. It's definitely not a passe, and I believe it, as a subject, deserves some pondering on my part.

So why does a Frank Sinatra tune run in my head. Why is it that when I try my hand at poetry, my muses are straight out of Bob Dylan's verses. Or why does Paul Simon's lyrics inspire me to write, when Robert Frost's poems fail to do the same? Why do I sing "With a little help from my friends" at a karaoke bar, or tap my feet to "Take a chance on me"? Why is it that the more we listen to their music, the more indelible our mental image, of these artists, becomes? The answer lies in the astonishing detail in every note, in every lyric, in every emotion.

The aforementioned "phase" is a time when all the emotions that an artist's song elicits somehow chimes with our own thoughts. And the artist's ability to express only highlights our own inability to do the same.

Its a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.
And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar
In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.

And you read your emily dickinson,
And I my robert frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what weve lost.
Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time
Lost in the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.

Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
Can analysis be worthwhile?
Is the theater really dead?
And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
Youre a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Before Sunrise

Y: tell me there is hope for ambition-less people like me.

X: what you talking abt??Y!!

Y: I feel all hope is not lost.
I didn’t mean that in an offensive manner :)

X: sweetheart! there was no offense taken!

Y: heh :)
that 'Y!!!' was almost like X giving me a earful for my nonsense
reminded me of the times when i have fucked up
n you have managed to set me straight

X: it's just that you relegated yourself to one with no ambitions...

Y: be honest

X: I know that's not true

Y: what do you call someone who only wants to earn some money
so that she can buys books, camera lenses, travel, watch movies
there is nothing else..
i shoot film too. i must show you some pics when i scan them

X: what do you call a lady who does all the things you do?
highly date-able!
are you still single?

Y: hahaha

X: :D

Y: yes. i'm very much single.

X: awww...(blushes)

Y: do I look like I’ll have a body double? :P

X: oh man!
you just killed that spark of romance!!
Here's a love story that suffered a "pun"ishing end,
even before it began

Y: hehe
sorry sorry i was just being myself.
now ill get back...
on track

X: i worry abt you...
i do...

Y: heh. why do you worry about me X?

X: it's just that when you were arnd here...

Y: yeah...

X: i could walk down to your place from my match box
and I'm not able to do that now

Y: yeah...

X: especially when you say things like
"I have no ambitions in life"

Y: but X, unfortunately that is the truth everytime i have to look for a job
they ask me to fill up these forms about
short term n long term career goals
and i never have answers
then i sit back n ponder and think what is it that i want
and i realise that i come up with the same answer everytime.
i just want to make some money not great money or anything..
i just want to be able to afford books, travel i dont think
i have any issues living paycheck to paycheck

X: mail me those forms,
I try my hand at fiction often enough

Y:hehe! will do will do

X: but baby, we all live paycheck to paycheck,
Doesn’t matter how much you earn,
You always wait for the next paycheck,
Each of us have our share of mortgages

Y: yeah...but there's no other ambition..
i mean, like you knew you wanted to become a writer
i don't even have any ambition like that
any job will do.
just pay me so that i can pay the rent,
bills, buy books..yeah im ok

X: ok firstly, I’m a poor journo, not a noted columnist,
Nor have I written any bestseller

Y: hehe yes yes

X: and writing also just abt helps me get
thro the monthly expenses...
a couple of expensive dates,
and I look for a freelance assignment :)

Y: but aren't you passionate about it?
i like the creative field don't you? :)
i don't think i even know what i want to do... :(
actually i know. i don't know what i want..
so if i don't know what i want, how do i convince
companies about what i want to do in life

X: :)
“I love my job and i cannot think of anything better that
i could do with my life right now”...

Y: there! i'm soo happy for you. it's good to have that focus

X: that's what i said at all my interviews...
honestly i was not too sure abt it...

Y: :)

X: but I said it like i believed it

Y: hehe

X: it's like this Y...
let's say you do wanna go out with this
girl, or guy to be politically correct

Y: uhuh...

X: you may not really be sure about
what is it that draws you to them,
but then if you want to ask 'em out...
you got to say everything like
you believe it right??
your job is also like a relationship

Y: heh true

X: you'll never be sure about it...

Y: yeah...

X: but then you may fall in love with it eventually

Y: yeah it is a true

X: or you may choose to walk out of it if
something better comes your way...

Y: yeah...

X: but then there's that chance right?

Y: hmm..i see what you mean

X: of you falling madly in love with your job?

Y: yeah..

X: so is it not worth risking a couple of boring dates
for a rewarding relationship?
man! I'm uploading this
on my blog right away...
Of course, no names revealed!

Y: hahaha
link me...when you're done :)

X: once you grant me permission, of course!

Y: of course :D
consider it granted.

many a mile separates them,
but that is what brings them closer - the distance,
They continue to live happily ever after...
well almost...with a few abberations... quite a few actually...
Each of them enjoy their share of glorious uncertainties,
but pray that the other is doing very well,
Every night or day,
with 12-hour time zones between them,
they continue to have blissful,
random conversations with each other,
Their Dangling Conversations.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Indo-Pak cricket now?

A cartoon is worth 537 words, i think! ;)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stock Market Syndrome

This is a very interesting story. One autumn, not so long ago, Red Indians asked their new Chief if the winter was going to be cold or mild. Now this Red Indian Chief was a typical blue-collar Harvard MBA, who'd returned to become the Chief of his tribe, in a modern society. Although he couldn't predict the weather as he was wont to do, using the knowledge he'd inculcated from his ancestors, he sure had his means. So he kept the tribe in the darkness about his sources (or the lack thereof). Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he replied to his Tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect wood to be prepared.

His education had taught him to be a pragmatic leader, so after several days he got an idea. He took out his mobile, called the National Weather Service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?"

"It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed," the weatherman responded.

So the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood. A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. "Is it going to be a very cold winter?"

"Yes", the man at National Weather Service again replied, "It's definitely going to be a very cold winter."

The Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of wood they could find. Two weeks later, he called the National Weather Service again.

"Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?"

"Absolutely, " The Man replied. "It's going to be one of the coldest winters ever."

"How can you be so sure?" the Chief asked. The weatherman replied, "The
Red Indians are collecting wood like Crazy."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The writing's on the Wall Street!

Here's to the year that went by! Happy New Year 2009!