Jan 30, 2003

Right now, the only beautiful thing in my life is listening to the slower version of Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna from The Legend of Bhagat Singh. Sonu Nigam also sang the faster version that is gung-ho, combative and spirited. By contrast, the slower version appears (IIRC) during the hunger strike that Bhagat Singh & his comrades have launched in jail. It is in a sad tone, but it still carries the spark of defiance in it. But towards the end of this long song (almost 7 minutes), the tempo picks up, the mood changes to one of hope, that the struggle will be carried on by others in the years to come. These words continue to ring on:

khushboo banke mehka karenge hum lehlahati har faslo.n mei.n
saa.ns banke hum gungunayenge aanewali har naslo.n mei.n
sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamaare dil mei.n hai
dekhna hai zor kitna bazu-ae-kaatil mei.n hai
waqt aane pe bataa denge tujhe ae aasmaa.n
kya batayei.n hum junoon-ae-shokh kis manzil mei.n hai
(some of the transliterations are obviously wrong, so correct me!)

"When things are not going the way you want them to, you think of all those adages, those stories, those experiences of things having got better even after more serious problems and put up a brave face. Then something comes along and breaks that composure, and the dyke gives way. At such times, it is probably better to let the flow remain unchecked, let the pressure subside. Questions to which there are no answers, the same questions that one has asked before in the same despairing rhetoric, rear their head: a lot of Whys preceding each one. Sometimes, it is too much and the hope of "all for the best" seems too fantastic to be true presently. I shouldn't have exhausted my stock of luck, and sadly I'm not nice enough not to be envious of those that are in places I want to be. Not because I know that is a great place to be, but because it seems to be a great place. Take the bull by the horns, do something about it, screams a part of me, but there are too many timid neurons afraid to relay the message. The train approacheth, albeit in slow-motion, but that is still too fast for me to pull my leg out from where it is stuck in the rails. A yank in the right manner, or divine intervention? who will make it first? or will they even bother? do I have it to will the pull?
Whatever the case, right now is not a good time to be me."
-The not-so-secret canon of B. Wisenheimer

Jan 26, 2003

Today is my country's Republic Day. I chide myself for not being excited by that fact any more. About 6 to 8 years ago, I would find some way of commemorating this event, like making my own paper flag to fly on our balcony, or singing alto, contralto, bass and all that at the ceremonial flag hoisting even without the customary sweet. I would write these passionate essays about the definiton of Indianness and consider Indian sporting achievements to be the best days of my short life. But somewhere, somehow, I've experienced a loss of that feeling. I'm not sure if it is anything to do with the fact that most of my opinions and views now center around how an event or occurence affects specific individuals and not caring how the statistical picture of the effect on the populace. Like statements like "my city is a safe place", which does not guarantee the fact that I will not be robbed tomorrow: it is a statistic that enjoys the curse of probability. The idea of a nation which ought to be a mental projection hemmed by physical boundaries has somehow eased out from my psyche. I don't know how it will come back, but I've not really suffered by being an Indian yet, and this is the only country I know, so I will continue to hope that my own feeling of Indianness (which is not as strong right now as it used to be, which is different from being an India-basher) will gain a new strength, hopefully aided by all those events that soothsayers have been predicting for us in all the year-end astrological columns.
Lots of harks-back-to-the-past: running into Nagaraj Shankar (Naga was the "Best Outgoing Student" fromy our COEPian batch of '01), meeting Nirmal Vora from Adarsh back from my Madras days and getting from him an egroup that features intermittent keep-alive packets from some classmates that I haven't heard from in a while and teachers from my 12th. Nirmal & I went over some funny things that that happened, like amateur spying, paper-ball cricket, school elections, class plays, The Great Pen-game (which involved lotsa Reynolds pens on a desk, at which Nim was pretty good): what stood out was the immense intensity we invested in all of those activities. Closer to my current life were the days in 12th and the talk was about different things, my teachers spoke how things have changed (no surprise, this is the top point of conversations in most reunions!) as they thought kids were being more hedonistic in life. Naga was a typical Mech guy, the kind of guy that fitted the COEP mould of versatility in its students, and the kind of guy one would want to have in one's team no matter what the contest was. One event typified him: the occasion during the Punt Formation practice when he jumped off the punt in a daring rescue act (daring because of the state of the Mula river) only to discover that the drowners were urchins having a game.
"Assume your brother does something stupid (he doesn't have a reputation for it, and isn't too good at it, but this time he pulled it off). When you hear someone giving him the flak, how can you not be affected? Granted you ought to be objective to either side, but can it be done? Will it put you, the seemingly disinterested but actually sliced-in-a-sandwich, in conflict, with all sides? How do you reconcile (they don't need it, but you do)? Now you know why a "complicated life" can be a repetition of words."
The not-so-secret canon of B. Wisenheimer
Something about Sammy
Finally, time to start doing something that I was planning for a while: to write about people around me. Starting off with the inimitable Samrat Sengupta because there a few things that I was to blog about him. Samrat can be considered the Sidhu (in the kindliest sense!) of the BC, with his talent for the pithy and sometimes incomprehensible statements. His "good guess, yaar" has passed into BC vocabulary. He sealed his reputation at an AFMC quiz in a certain X-Rated qn and has been content to add the associated dimension to future events.

I was pretty impressed with Sammy's demeanour when he learnt that he would not be able to attend his Mastermind semi final, and the fact that he didn't make a show of his (obvious) disappointment: I would have been visibly depressed for a long while. Samrat is more of a Punjjabee in spirit than the usual stereotype of a stiff Bangla. He has a blog here, but he doesn't display his great vocab too often there.

Sammy made a recent addition to his resolutions: to watch 52 films that he's never watched before in the coming year. It seemed ambitious to me at first, but appealing. Inspired by that, I decided that before coming to a such a conclusion myself, I would note down how many I would watch in 365 days: I have 6 till today. A practice that Samrat has with books as well.

Samrat has a completely different temperament and nature from me, and I don't think (and here I invoke my by now boring BC spiel) I would have had such company but for the great BC quizzes.

Samrat saab: thanks for the entertainment.

One of the aforementioned 6 included a long awaited viewing of Mani Ratnam's Alaipayuthey, thanks to a generous lending of CDs by Haripriya. I would call it a movie that is competently made in all departments, excelling in some, but never slipping below a threshold. There was no dilly-dallying, no unwanted digressions in the form of unrelated comedy tracks, no macha-machi talk that gets on to my nerves and nobody once went over the top! And it still did well, which proves that films with such unwanted stuff display a poor understanding of the craft. The acting was good and I thought Shalini's performance stood out. The dialogues had that quality of not being out of the ordinary, and the reactions to situations were not unbelievable.

A mention of the choreography (credited to Farah Khan), usually something that one looks out for in Mani Ratnam movies to see what he comes up with. Though one raves about Pachai Niramé, it was a typical Farah Khan song with Madhavan executing Pehla Nasha type leaps (both slow-motion songs). One may add that Pehla Nasha's breakthrough slow-motion choreography was itself inspired by Mani Ratnam's Dalapathi.
Snehithane seemed rather disappointing, reminding one of some songs from Thiruda Thiruda.
I would give the this-was-new award to Kadhal Sadhugudu, with its delightful fluttering of Shalini's tresses (long enough to be noticed!), her dupattas and other "wavy" items, lending a new meaning to Alaipayuthey perhaps. I would have loved to be on the sets during this song to learn how they did it.

On an associated note, one of my colleagues remarked this about Saathiya (I haven't seen that, but the comment was about the story, which is by all accounts unchanged from the original): "Where was the story? They fall in love, get married, have a fight, then get back together". Agreed, it wasn't a thriller and the end was never in question, but I'm sorry for him that he missed the story in this. Aren't incidents in life (even as common as this) worth a story? In fact, I believe that real life is much more interesting than a lot of stories that make it to the pages of a book or to celluloid. I bet I could make at least three movies based on events in my life! Also, most moviegoers unfortunately do not possess the tolerance for a more wider set of plots & themes. They are quick to dismiss based on past assumptions and one line plots heard secondhand from prejudiced observers. I agree that a large percentage of movies are worth the derision, but I have seen so many good movies being dismissed lightly without basis. Give 'em a chance, mateys.

I don't usually set out the red-carpet for change, which could be influenced or influencing the fact that change usually happens to me after large durations of 2 or 4 years. I'm sensing change is about to say boo from the next corner. In fact, in the last 2 weeks, there have been pointers to that, which does no good to my unsettled frame of mind: I wish I had some clues to my questions. Give me a sign, the one-who-knows-all!
Food for thought
How important the business of cooking food is in our lives gets highlighted in bold during my parents' visits away from home. I'm not well-versed at cooking, and unlike many others, I am not proud at that, as I feel people should be competent at house-keeping. The problem with me is that I cannot guarantee consistency in my results. I have to invest a lot of time in making sure I have got the basics right, and I get a lot of doubts at runtime, i.e while about to turn the gas on. A small mistake can mean that it is too late to make alternative arrangements, not being much of a go-to-the-hotel-often person: I feel I owe it to myself to make the attempt. I'm not very demanding as a consumer of edibles, so I can brush the disasters into my mouth instead of under the carpet.

However, some days it is safe to give the heroics a miss. One such visit was to sample the thali at Kamat's where I ended up trying to analyse what the waiters must be thinking (business being slow that evening, they seemed to be rather unoccupied), especially when they glanced at me. "Look at his atrocious table manners" or "If only he knew what was there in the vessel when that was being cooked" or "I don't think he's going to leave a tip". Well, I am being ego-centric there, but I often feel awful when people try to be smart at restaurants, ticking off the waiters, often a result of their own impatience and condescension.

And in an echo of Gaurav's post on this, I, who doesn't stick his neck out to recommend eateries, was mighty impressed by Horn OK Please,located at the Deccan end of F.C Road. A rare time when I felt completely at ease in an eating place, the yellow lighted ambience seemed rather soothing. Oh yes, and the prices and variety are a tick each in the Asset column.

A reconnaissance mission earlier led us to a funny thali place where the following sign greeted us: Credit will only be given to people over 80 years of age. Must also be accompanied by both parents. Quite a foolproof method of ensuring the event never happens, it would seem. Reminded my father of the old chestnut Cash today, Credit tomorrow.

Jan 20, 2003

Three and a half hours into the working day and it's already turning out to be quite a snorter...

Jan 16, 2003

Another MMI article that thankfully mentions the BC (tho' it's mostly about my father :-) ) : here at Midday

Jan 14, 2003

The unfairness of Hari Kumbhar
Disclaimer: I haven't read Harry Potter. I do not really know the plotlines of the other Potter stories. The following comments are based on the film version

. Was watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the scenes of the end-of-term banquet compelled me to yell Nahi! Yeh Anyay Hai!. What happens is that Potter-bhaiya is in Grifendore (pardon misspelling) House whose arch-rivals are Slytherin. During that scene, it is first announced that Slytherin are currently ahead of the rest of the Houses in points, while Grifendore hold the wooden spoon, being about 160 points behind the leaders. Suddenly the Princi decides to award certain arbit bravery points to Potter & Co. for battling the bad guys. And voila! their House is first.

Really! This tendency of fiction creators to be unfair to the non-heroes is really deplorable. I was reminded of Gaurav's article on match-fixing esp. w.r.t to Karna. Also in this case, the poor guys in Slytherin had a sizeable lead indicating a decent allround excellence in comparison to the others, they were not really the villains in the story, and their master, Prof. Snape who was suspected of evil-doing turned out to be one of the nice guys: another classic case of assuming things about morose-looking characters. So, Prof. Dumb-ledore, why the largesse? Can you show us on what basis and on what measures did you award those points to House G? Why can't you let the poor guys from House S win? Smacks too much of Speakers in Indian Legislative Assemblies or of Goering in the Reichstag. Misuse of discretionary powers is the name of the game.
This kind of unfairness is what leads the losers away from the mainstream. I mean, that kid who is supposed to be a rival of Potter might as well say: "Screw them, I'm not going to win anything as long they're favouring him because he is the *hero*. I have feelings too. Why not cross over to the Evil Side, where I'd get more footage and am guaranteed to win till the last reel?" And thus are born the Satyas, the Karnas and the Tessios.
Just apply this to all the villains' sidekicks, dancers in the background, the Namibian & Holland teams, the other kids in school stories, the other competitors in fictional competitions, the other audience members who sit in the back seats allowing the hero to sit in the first row: they ought to win too, for a change...

Case in contrast: In the now-forgotten Billy Bunter series, Bunter & Captain Marker had the heroes lose an important cricket match, have their main bowler unable to continue his education, thus not ending on the triumphant note. Not bad for a change.

Everyone's got their take on the World Cup. Me too:

This must be one of the most confusing times ever for the people in the Indian cricket think-tank: on the postive side, never before (IMO), has an Indian think-tank seemed more better-equipped in the mental department as far as theorizing on cricket goes. Also, they seem to have a much better support system in place. But coming back, what should be the strategies? All of them have been tried, tested and failed.
* Does Sachin try out at 4 or 3? Or does he open (no big matches to try this one out)?
* Does Ganguly drop down the order?
* Does Dravid play as a pure batsman? (I think the answer to this is known, but I'd hate it if he dropped some important batsman in a crucial match and that would invariably mean flak for him. Though people know these risks, they'd still go after his head if it costs the Cup.)
* Do you play one or two spinners? Will it be the offie or leggie?
Some of these answers should've been resolved in NZ, but got compounded instead. Like someone said, if they'd won, people may have said: they're peaking too early, and if they lost, it would be: there, told you so. It may take the pressure off, but nothing like winning. Someone will have to do something bold against Australia, it seems. Australia don't seem to have the flair this time, except for Warne and partly Gilchrist. Unfortunately, the Indian fielding went to bits and people just gave up too early, it seemed from the body language. 3 weeks left for Durban.

In most cricket World Cups, the winning team has had atleast one match in which they seemed down and out, and someone came up with an astonishing effort to get them the win. In support, India v Zimbabwe ('83): Kapil Dev, Aus v Ind ('87): Steve Waugh (IIRC), Pakistan v NZ, semi ('92): Inzamam, SL v Ind ('96), semi : Aravinda De Silva, Aus v SA, prelim & semi (Steve Waugh & Shane Warne). Every winner in this competition is tested with a crisis, they have to overcome it. Keep an eye out for it this time, for apart from the first 2 WCs, it's always been very tight.

I like mentioning this each time, I think it's an aspect that is talked about much but this particular instance went largely unnoticed. Commentators always love to harp on how good ground fielding that cuts down on runs can make the difference. In that historic semi between Aus & SA, Michael Bevan's fielding as a sweeper cover was outstanding. If you see the highlights, you'd notice how he constantly attacked the ball, rendering many runs impossible (and we're talking about fleet-footed runners like Rhodes). Just how much difference it must've made. If Bevan had said, "I've done a lot already, let me take this one coming to me easily for this time only", Australia might've never won. Absolutely admirable!

So many big players from last time are either missing or out of form this time: Klusener, Geoff Alott, the Waugh twins, Azhar, Cronje, Neil Johnson, Cairns, Kaluwitharana et al.

Everyone usually has got a claim to fame. Not "fame" as in the one that induces the popping of a thousand flashbulbs, but the one thing that can be used to distinguish you from the rest of the human race, your very own primary key, your social spotting attribute. It is usually evident like this: You see somebody at a distance or you've been introduced to someone you're supposed to have met earlier. When that person is out of hearing range, you ask your companion hurriedly, "Who was that?". The answer, if the occasion was some marriage in the family, would invariably be "He is the husband of my aunt's cousin's daughter." Having met two more "husbands of my aunt's cousin's daughter" in the last 8 minutes, you respond with a quizzical look. This would elicit, "ok, you remember XYZ who had got whacked for chewing gum in Singapore? That's his father". At which point, a mental reference has triggered some vague memory which is sufficient. Claims to fame can vary from breakers-of-family-tradition ("He married a Sardarni, would u believe, in 1945!) to occupational-hazards ("you know, the one who went bankrupt in his poultry business because he put the sack of potatoes on top of the eggs") to exciting personal achievements ("she had triplets and called them Teena, Moon-Moon and Trisha") and so on. Sometimes nicknames parading as prefixes help, with "Tiger", "Andiyappan", "Okkalai", "Kolathur", "Cotton" helping to distinguish various "Mani"s (one school in Madras has a class with 13 Manis in it, thus entering its name in the Limca Book Records).

Whatever be the case, the growing life expectancy and improved medical care have placed a great deal of strain on the creative nomenclatural talents of people as more people are hanging on, not releasing their names for reuse. Especially with the lamentable tendency of modern parents to go back to simple names (that don't have to be changed for the sake of American tongues when the child turns 24), the people with large social networks have been forced to be more creative at their nicknames. But hopefully, we shall have better outcomes than "Duggu" & "Lolo" & "Bebo". Definitely a "No-No". O Munna, Bunty, Pinky!: where art thou?

"Now Prince Abdullah, your favourite Loop-in-the-Loop"
One of the many corporate phrases that plagues newcomers (the worst being "let's take it offline") is "keep X in the loop". But being (or wanting to be) in the loop seems very fundamental to human nature: one wants to know what's going on, not necessarily in the far-flung lands of Haute Volta, but in the immediate spaces around one. (Not everyone is like that of course, but most are so in differing degrees.) It takes the form of gossip, status meetings, friendly chat by the coffee machine, but they all serve the ultimate purpose of maintaining the loop. You are "into" the vital info, a receiving node in a social multicast, or else you may be a minor-outcast. It also ensures that, when you find yourself in a group of people, you're not left out of the conversation. "Did you know what Z did to cover up that?". Now, not having been privileged in the first place to either know Z or what infamous deeds he now was upto, you find yourself in a purely read-only mode, unable to contribute spicily to the conversation. A side-effect of being out of the loop.

Loop-out has strange effects: my mother now watches KSBKBT and other assorted Hindi serials apart from the Tamil un-fare, even though I suspect, she doesn't think much of them. The biggest reason was that she probably was being left out of conversation among the womenfolk, "How could Parvati do this to Kiran?" type laments take precedence over how much onion prices have risen these days. And add to this, being multilingual means learning the vernacular word for "infidelity" in those languages. I've been looped-out before, especially during school-lunches in Madras. My school was right opposite my house. Though this was most convenient in terms of saving bus-fare, it meant that I went home for lunch in the 45 min. break. Lunch would be a 30 min affair, for I had to eat my sambar & curd rice, unlike the mini-tiffin box lunches my other classmates would gulp down. It meant they had time to play and goof off, and worse, make it topics of conversation later in the day. Which meant I had no role to play in that. So sometimes I would take a tiffin box to lunch just to see what this alternative universe of 45 mins in the lunch break was like. At work, we've been told that it is likely some groups (including us) are going to shift to another building down the road. One of the many concerns some group members had was that "Now we won't really know what is going on out here." Quite true, the daily tidbits, the inevitable criticisms, the insider-jokes will be lost for us, and we will set up in place, our own grapevines and intra-loops to fill the void. Sometimes, you don't want to know what's going on - people may think you're a black hole where they can spew their particles of dys-trivia into. At which point, you want to collect your event horizon and vanish through a worm-hole. But that's a blog-post for another day.

Jan 12, 2003

Cellphones are considered to do lots of strange and invisible things to your heads: the threat of radiation is a topic which medical journals turn to when they're not going to get the promised article of "Rhineatic Parakinesis in the human liver". Just another ailment that plagues the already hypochondriac yuppie. But I have a theory: that mobile phones are good for the ones who wield them, all made from excellent observation.
Beep, Beep or maybe the strains of a popular Hindi tune is heard and the mobile phone user reaches out into the deep recesses of his pockets. It is his call. What he does next is what I would like to draw your attention. No sooner is the cellphone neatly positioned in the palm (and here is the physiotherapic observation), the person rises and starts to walk! Often in the direction of the nearest balcony or some such open space where fresh air (actually fresh carbon-monoxide enriched imitation air, but hey, this is the city! We'd die if had some of that poisonous oxygen-mix that those country bumpkins inhale.) This combination of walking-fresh air breathing is exactly what doctors order, and it comes free with cellphones! Self-Reliance, eh?
Another corollary is that mobile phones in theory do a lot of damage or support to Newton's theories (depending on which scientific cult you belong to). It has the awesome property of reversing motion into rest & rest into motion. We have seen how the mere beep can set a body (often heavy) into motion, and theoretically, while these bodies are in motion (relatively, as the bikes under them do all the motion), the sound is enough to halt their progress on the straight-line path to inertia. But of course, the traffic department introduced what is now known as the M.A.M.A variable: "Morons are Morons always" factor that causes most motor-borne cell-carriers to believe mobile phones are best used in transit: it is believed one-handed steering results in best network reception. This has also resulted in huge financial gains for both cell-companies and the traffic constables tea club.

So mobile phones can, as a shampoo ad states, get you to "Get up, get going".

Ode, Elegy, Paean & Requiem to the Boat Club quiz
Sad but true, but I can finally confront the fact that the Boat Club quizzes are dead and gone. I ask why I'm so sentimental about them and why I react the way I do. But I think it was worth the effort and in that great BC manner, I may say, now *even* I have given up.

Not having done too much quizzing in school, I always thought coming to a college would automatically mean activities like quizzing were going to be available. A meeting with the (even then) much-heard of George Thomas confirmed this: a Saturday quiz club existed. An innocuous notice outside the library heralded the first one, traditionally the FE inaugaration. There were about 15 people and I remember being able to string together Jean Chretien, Bryan Adams & Ben Johnson in the first of my many encounters with the strange beings called connects. I did my first BC quiz next week and faced the barrage of the BC criticisms (another tradition!): much like the rookie batsman up against a snarling quartet of pacemen. The great men of the quiz world, Anand, Niranjan et al floated into our horizons and a Kunal-with-injured-paw did most of the emceeing. George loomed large (literally & figuratively), and these guys plucked facts out from nowhere. But slowly, it was the place to be each Saturday. 120 qs, full of challenge, sped your way and it was a good way to know what was going on in COEP.

I would say that the best part about the BC quizzes was that there were very few things that could be fought over: no secretary-ships, no budgets (we invariably lost money each year) to spoon money from, no titles to parade, not much gotya!. At very few points does one get to be in an environment that one can claim was as good, as challenging, as top-of-the-heap as anywhere else in the world: and I'm going to say that for me, the BC quizzes were pretty much top-class those years. You just learnt a hell of a lot soaking in all the topics of interest, the debates, even the thrust-and-parry that went on among the various people. To make a qn that was good yet went unanswered was a moment of great joy & instant feedback was guaranteed. Culturally invigorating as it was, no one would ever ask: "Do we have a session this week?" It was taken for granted there would. People would put aside everything else for that. Even non-quizzers would join in. The green lawns, the river going about its business, the specials, the bhajjis, even the contaminated-Pepsis (Mrunal Salunkhe's moment of madness resulted in the human race's nadir as a civilised people, George playing Satan there), what fun!

And to think that it doesn't really exist now. No set of people throwing stones at a bad question, no wisecracks, no brilliant guesses evoking "Good guess, yaar!" from Sammy, no Harish saying to Gaurav "kya tu dot wave!" and so on. For some time I thought that the quiz was unconscious, or at best comatose and it could be revived. I've tried cajoling, emotionally blackmailing, threatening, pleading and all that, but even euthanasia won't help. The people who'd be expected to run the show probably just didn't feel the same way, and probably my generation is to blame for that. But I think I can say I tried.

The BC quiz now lives in the collective consciousness of its old members: a fraternity that, I think, took as much out of it as they contributed to it and benefited all the same. Every interview that I've done since MMI, I've been waxing poetically about the BC quizzes, but hardly anyone except the Indian Express printed that aspect, much to my consternation. But I somehow think it may have been a good thing: what if they were to come now and see for themselves the state of non-existence! The Saturday quizzes were the biggest reason why I did well, ironically in a competition that is completely different from the format and mindset that we are used: the workability and short qns and connects :)! I wouldn't be surprised if my quizzing went downhill from here: no place to sharpen the mind.

I have other things to do these days on the weekend, and we have occasional sessions, especially when some of the old fogeys get back, but we're doing it more out of the memory of the past. I'm usually in COEP at 12.30 on Saturdays and I take a wistful look at the steps before the sculls hoping to see a bunch of people who seem to be lolling about, aiming a lot of their energy at the one who stands in front of them with a paper in hand all set... to repeat the question!

Jan 9, 2003

That day was quite unexpectedly full of musical theory. Lunch with Niranjan & Nikhil had me listening to their conversation on classical music, which like Zaphod, I had locked away in a corner of my head, having left the classical scene (ahem) at the tender age of 9. My father said I might regret that, but I had convinced myself then that the answer when I actually got around to regret it at age 40 would be that at age 9 I couldn't be really interested in it. Music is supposed to unite people and all that blah, but many is the time that I've seen it be a point of bitter dispute between otherwise sane people. I'm not talking about debates, I'm talking gaali-galoch. It really baffles me. It probably stems from the fact that music is such a personal thing that it entwines your very being: you make a statement with the kind of music you like (not the kind of music you "profess" to like). Remember Alex and Beethoven (or is it Mozart ?) in "A Clockwork Orange"? Then you rise to defend your choices, the personal lives of the musicians goes to the cleaners, the very identity is being challenged, you're defending yourself! I've not many explanations to offer for my choices: i find it eclectic, slightly arbitrary, slightly biased, unable to make points due to lack of technical education. All I can say is that at some point the music I like impresses, touches, titillates, teases, amazes, soothes, fascinates me. Why, I cannot say, not yet at least. While the rest battle, why not put on a song and wait till they finish the argument?
How does Gulzar-saab do it? That's what I wanted to know. Not his lyrics or direction or things filmi. But how does he starch his kurtas like that? Gazing at the kurta which must have a steel skeleton behind it at the Pancham tribute show in the company of Niranjan, Nikhil & Samrat gave us an opportunity to listen to the stories behind the creation of film music. Most interesting was Bhupi's comments (Bhupinder to the unprivileged) as how these stories, now avidly sought by fans, were just part of everyday life for them. Making music was their occupation.
New Year's Eve also had a grim reminder of how bad Indian TV & films have gotten to be: Just a chance peek at Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum on air and I was hit squarely in the face with an amount of hamming not seen in one place since the Great Porcine Parade of 1927. Five stars indeed for a critic who just lost it all trying to protect his friends: consider Hrithik (Fiza), Kareena, sis of Karishma (Fiza), Jaya Bachchan (Fiza), Amitabh B (biography) That leaves two unaccounted for: Kajol and Shah Rukh. Anyway, shouldn't it have been six stars? Khalid got his counting wrong. Can't blame him for even maths can obey different rules in a parallel universe where helicopters ferry people as commonly as autos.
Can people be ruled by lack of ambition? Can the grand purpose of life be "to be happy each passing day" or "to have no worries tomorrow" or "to come back home to a cosy bed" or "to wish away the drudgery of the routine"? Or like Sean Connery in "The Untouchables" "to come home safely each night"? Why not? But alas, it's too simple to be taken seriously? Can that much be sufficient? Shouldn't there be a greater purpose to life? Isn't it an ode to mediocrity that one wishes, having reached a position of calm inertia, to continue orbiting peacefully without ill-will to other neighbouring orbiters? Nope, too simple and hence too difficult to comprehend.
The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh leapt to my attention because I knew it had won a science fiction award, which seems rare for an Indian book. The book is absolutely riveting, with its fine interweaving of three worlds: a futuristic one, one in the mid-90s & right back to turn of the last century. Cleverly adding a mystical touch to the discovery of malaria & Ronald Ross, it leapt back and forth in time to set up a climax. Then I turned a page and poof! the story was over. I actually checked to see if the last page was missing. It ends abruptly like if I were to leave this sentence unfi

What a pity! Guess he just didn't know what to do with it. Still, the imaginative plot except for its denouement (aah! finally, I can use that word!) is worth the last piece in the jigsaw. The buzzing mosquitoes around me (strange times have embraced Pune: cold to very warm and swarms of mosquitoes) lent the ambient score.

It is a pattern in my life that I rarely catch the popular movies when everyone, justifying the adjective, has viewed them. I finally got around"The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Rings", mainly because Nikhil would like company in watching the second part when it gets here and so I'd need a crash course in what many people have warned me was too abstruse to follow otherwise, especially as I hadn't read the books. Nikhil usually doesn't watch too many English flicks, but when I learnt that he actually bought the voluminous tomes and read them, I was suitably impressed. The movie had some excellent aspects which I won't go into. It actually didn't seem all that abstruse, there was a basic story thread that I could follow. Perhaps reading the book would've have enriched the experience, but the lack of it most definitely didn't leave me clueless. I may not remember the names though I can go by the faces. I may, however, be nasty and wonder if there wasn't excessive violence! Lots of head-chopping and arm-lopping. But they did have very little gore, which would've reduced the impact.
he urge to write just took a vacation. Perhaps it was the colourlessness of it all. Or that things were cruising along and the necessity to unburden took a vacation. Or maybe it was the churning out of other kinds of prose that was literally that, prosaic, matter-of-fact. But it rears its head. (Strangely, the mood seems shared). Silence...
Temporary measure to remove the eyesore..

Jan 8, 2003

The Black Sheep
Absoultely the best, funniest, ultimate take on good old Baba (remember |..| ?): This is a collector's item! The author is Jayakrishnan Nair.

Jan 2, 2003

Thanks to an abject goof-up by moi, the template went awry: pardon the colours.. But it seems more readable now. I can see my weekend wasting away on this...
The winter of my mis-content!
Because the news is officially out and can be told: I won Mastermind India 2002. Lots of credit to my friends at the BC. And don't believe all that you read in the newspapers: I'm just 1 month into being a minor celebrity and I'm already being misquoted majorly! More on this later...
Another friend joins the blog-world: Haripriya has her blog here.