May 31, 2003

A review of the visit to the Bhoot Booth: coming soon...

May 25, 2003

Who's playing the lead?
(A rather existential and egoistic thought)

Film: Chasm-é-Baddoor
Director: Sai Paranjpye
Scene: in the compound of the building where Siddharth (Farooque Shaikh), Jomu(Ravi Baswani) & Omi(Rakesh Bedi) live)

Jomu is kicking away at his unresponsive motorcycle to try and start the black motorcycle (which makes a further appearance as the eponymous kaali ghodi in a song later in the movie). He has a curious style, one foot presses at the starter, the other is off the ground to provide additional thrust. In vain. Omi takes a shot at the mechanical beast, but considering his roly-poly proportions just about surviving the vigourous exercise he exhibits early in the film, the mission is doomed. Sidharth, in customary 70s-80s big, black glasses comes down. He mocks at his friends who just a moment ago refused to wait for him. One kick and the vroom-vroom of the bike indicates his position in the cast. This is amply borne out by the next piece of dialogue from Rakesh Bedi who knows why they couldn't do it.

Hero hai na!

That delightfully self-mocking sequence and the jokes at the expense of the film industry are representative of many more throughout this wonderful film, but it does pose an intellectually comic (if one is in the mood and is affected by films) question: Who is the hero of my film?

Think about it. If you had a camera trained on you and someone in charge of the story of your Life, The Film. Someone viewing your actions, expressions, voiceovers giving people insights into your thoughts, flashbacks, the works. And add to it the cliched plots of "hero always triumphs" or atleast most of the times. When fate has two choices, it turns the way of the hero. The hero is badly tested and tempted by fate, but ultimately, life pans out decently. So when things go badly or not to the script that I believe would be ideal, I wonder if I am the hero of my film, atleast in the current scene.

Some times I am not: someone else is coming-back-from-behind to win, someone is suffering and taking away all the sympathy leaving none for me, someone is getting all the adulation, someone is doing something better than me, someone has the mannerism that interests others, someone else is having all the luck. At this point, I have to come to the conclusion that I am just a supporting actor in someone else's movie, hopefully I'll atleast have a cameo that someone will notice in a sidelight.

(Rather pretentious and worthy of the Total Perspective Vortex so far?)

I can expound on this subject further, but suddenly words escape me. This is what comes of watching too many movies. It is obviously not the fantastic movies that contribute to this, I am not The One (not as far as I know), but the slice-of-life middle class movies that contribute to this. They take incidents from real life, plausible snippets that you can relate to. Then if you're unhinged enough, you wonder what's the difference between that story and mine? I wish someone thought my life was fascinating enough and tried to empathise with the little incidents that happen to me, and chug along on the roller-coaster of my emotions. But then everyone has their own movie to star in, and I am not special enough for them to pay the price of suspending their own screenings to peek at mine.

Let me continue to play unrestrained elation, muted romance, stoic sorrow, supportive friend, raging crusader and those many million shades of emotion for the audience of me and myself.

Post Script
A thought harks back to the delightful story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty that is somewhat apt to this post. While on the subject, Spielberg will be making a version soon with Jim Carrey in the lead. Jim Carrey starred in The Truman Show. If you know its storyline, you'll understand the significance to this post. And of course, a piece from Walter Mitty makes its way into Basu Chatterjee's Choti si Baat, part of the middle-class film movement.

This is the price one has to pay for being a quizzer: too many facts that can be correlated.

Watched Mani-saar's Alaipayuthey for the second time and was glad to note that it passed my personal test of the second viewing. I have a thumb rule that gives me an idea how much I like a film: if I can bear it for a second viewing then I probably like it a lot and wouldn't mind watching parts of it in the future again. The movie is good but not great, 'tis the simplicity of the story that appeals. (Refer post on first viewing here. Interestingly, in that post I mention that Ratnam's Madrasi gangster flick Dalapathi pioneered the slow-motion song choreography. I think I got it wrong. If I am not mistaken, it was Idayathai Thirudathey (I forget the original name of the Telugu movie).)
Eyes Wide Open
I started a little journey down Stanley Kubrick movies, by completing a viewing of Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb and beginning to read Kubrick's biography by John Baxter. Full Metal Jacket should follow very soon. This post comes on the heels of George's mention of this movie (will cross-link when I get a chance). Being my first complete viewing of a Kubrickian film, I was quite eager to see what set him apart from the rest. With the book at hand, I hoped to get more insights into this (both) acclaimed and notorious director.

George mentions how Kubrick's film leave the burden of interpretation to the viewer. It is clear that in the Kubrick movie, dialogues are subservient to the visual frame and technique is the object of adulation. The book throws light on this and further: Kubrick's beginnings as a still photographer, his ice-cool method and treating the actors as puppets, to do his bidding. The outcome of these traits have been the legendary aim to perfectionism, countless re-takes, wrangles over crediting in the writing. It always struck me how most (if not all) Kubrick movies were based on books: 2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, The Shining by Stephen King, Lolita by Nabokov and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess being the most famous examples. The book describes how Kubrick was considered in his early years as the "genius in waiting" and the obvious replacement for "the obstreperous Orson Welles". He did complete justice to these labels with his reclusive and temperamental behaviour.

I must confess to being a little disappointed by Dr. Strangelove, it had its brilliant moments with the famed "You can't fight in here, this is the War Room" dialogues, the nuggets of referential names (Ambassador DeSadesky, Capn Kong and of course Jack D. Ripper) spiked with more than a sprinkle of innuendo, the innovative camera-work (for that era, especially, back projections notwithstanding) and the fascinating Pentagon War Room sets being the highlights. Curiously, Dr. Strangelove is granted very little footage as compared to the other Sellers roles (Peter Sellers has a triple role: the US President, Lionel Mandrake of the RAF & Dr. S himself: he was to do a fourth, but refused). Even more because the scenes with the evil Nazi crackpot scientist with the mechanical hand that has a mind of its own are chilling and positively sinister. It is not difficult to take in even such farcical situations if such characters actually existed. Also my first encounter with George C. Scott (who is more noted for Patton) as the plausible virulently anti-Commie American. One scene involving the British officer Mandrake crawling on the floor following the crazed American Ripper seems rather topical right now: the British having no clue what the Americans have got them into, but being obligated to follow them around like lackeys. I don't think it was intended, but it seems rather relevant even today.

Another aspect that appeals is the abundant tidbits for a student of trivia.

Post Script:
At the local library, apt coincidences beckoned and I accepted in the spirit of things: picked up a biography of Peter Sellers, not too innovatively named Mr. Strangelove, plus a re-read of A Clockwork Orange by Burgess.

May 18, 2003

CCCLXV diem: annus blogus

In the past, I have hardly been able to keep a thing going solely on my own
a sa emoc seod ti oS .hgih rehtar neeb sah tuo gniretep fo etar eht ,maets
surprise that I kept this going for so long, without the pace really slackening 
.kcab eht no tap llams a oS .hcum oot

(Writing this in boustrophedon script is not very easy and the output is
eht lifluf ot deraeg t'nsi lmth esuaceb ,nodehportsuob yltcefrep ton ylbaborp
conditions of this writing style, also I'm not really adhering to the
,yaw siht gnidaer boj hguot a yletinifed tI .hpargarap wen eht ta stnemeriuqer
and is potentially difficult to write, so I took the easy way out, by writing
eht em evig ot edoc fo senil wef a fo troppus eht gnikat dna yaw lamron eht ti
boustrophedon output).

ni em fo noitcejorp latnem" a llac ot ekil I tahw neeb sah golb eht oS
cyberspace". I have been conscious in the last few years of an increase in the
,eniwtretni ,elddum ,esuf taht dnim ym ni thguoht fo sdaerht lellarap fo rebmun
cleave and spawn several newer strands of thought: sometimes becoming a chop
ekat ot tegrat lacigol a eb dluow yraid ro lanruoj A .segami latnem fo yeus
these myriad mental-organisms and fling down on paper in an attempt to separate,
suht meht nier ot tuB .meht gniyrrac fo nedrub eht fo dnim eht eerf dna ezylana
has proven to be rather difficult for me, and these jetsam-flotsam of the mind were
.snoisacco lareves ffo tel

Surprisingly, it has lasted for about a year, with my initial attempts to put up
sah ti dna ,srorre reggolB elbativeni eht etipsed epahs gnikat stsop wef a
stayed there for quite a while. Thanks to the friends who preceded and succeeded
,lanruoj traP .pu gnikat htrow ytivitca na smees ti ,natsigolb ot gnikat ni em
part column, part scrapbook, part punching bag, part notebook, part exchange
taht slap fo sweiv eht fo tsaerba em tpek osla sah ti ,rettelswen trap dna murof
were an integral part of the previous years while assuring them that I continue
.yb kcit ot

It is by no means a very popular destination as is borne out of the factual
eht ot stnerehda fo ssam eht ni "golb rehtona tey" tsuj si ti sa ,scitsitats
latest cyber-fad. But it is my own child and I as parent must learn to love it
,ria dehcated a htiw detaerc syawla ton era stsop ehT .snoitatimil sti etipsed
and to some extent represent the confusions, limitiations, prejudices, strengths
,noituac detnawnu gnisicrexe ot ssefnoc lliw I tuB .rohtua sti fo snoinipo dna
spilling over into self-censorship that is borne out of a self-consciousness
thgif ot deen I .noitatnorfnoc dna tnemssarabme morf tsised ot stnaw taht
against this and be more sincere if the word is to truly reflect the state of

As you will see, trying to make sense of the workings of the mind, particularly mine,
,sisylana-revo rof noitceliderp a evah od I kniht I .noitapucco tsomerof ym eb ot mees
to unravelling bluntly the way I work and the blog has served as petri-dish and
neeb sah raey tsal eht ni efiL .noitcepsni resolc ni dia ot edils noitavresbo
interesting, if not always happy, the Chinese curse is in force. Mastermind,
fo sdohtem otni rehtruf gnignulp ,enummoc dnekeew dehsirehc a fo yawa gnirehtiw
instruction, the further metamorphoses of friends into online handshakes, os dna ,aitreni fo hsram eht tsniaga gnilggurts eht dna ,krow ta segnahc
The conversations are termed with the ClipBoard, because it is primarily with
lautriv dna syalpsid ,scinortcele fo evitcelloc a otno depyt tub ,flesym
concepts of storage that are transferred with the help of the computing concept
eht gnikam fo aedi eht deredisnoc ev'I .draobeciton cilbup a otno draobpilc a fo
title of this blog more taut by dropping the second half of the phrase, for are
noisiced A ?yalp-drow ta tpmetta detnawnu na ti si ro gnisuM)A( yna srehtO eht

lautir sekove niaga taht emit shtnom xis tuoba ni tneve launna rehto eht htiw sA
and quiet introspection, this (if it continues to be around) will provide a
ni ,yllacixodarap hcihw tibro ym no rehtruf eltruh I sa yawa kcit ot tniopkcehc
other mental dimensions is a crooked path which questions more than it receives
thguoht hcae seviecer ti ,detseretnisid erom si golb ehT .yad hcae rewsna ni
without comment, a faithful transmitter without offering a Heisenbergian twist
.noitavresbo no

If these last paragraphs haven't been a faithful gist of all that this blog is,
.seigolopa ,eb ot stnaw dna saw

The above fashion is an attempt to mimic the boustrophedon method in which writing (and reading) alternates direction after every line. Boustrophedon literally means ox-turning (from the way the oxen are used to plough fields). This principle is used in some printers too. If I had to assign symbolic meaning to this choice, it would be to signify my looking into the past and future as represented conventionally as left and right on a timeline, not alternately of course, but in a manner of speaking. The real reason was to mark the occasion in a quirky manner. If you can't read the text, well, do try.

May 13, 2003

And if you've noticed my coincidences list, another recent addition, also from the BC quiz sessions:
Hirak in his homecoming quiz asked a question that had the answer Colonel Bogey's March. Movie today (2 days after the question): The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Sure I'm noticing the one that clicked as against the other questions that didn't evoke a coincidence, but it's fun.

Idiotic people have been sending out what they claim is the party-pooper of the film Bhoot: many theories as to the outcome of the movie have been doing the rounds. The problem is that, having tried all permutations with the star cast, someone's going to eventually spoil it. Because of lots of morons, one hardly can be really shocked or stunned with the denouement of a movie these days. Thankfully, not too many people had seen The Others and I got the twist right in the middle.

On a related note, the promotionals for Darna Mana Hai have started making the rounds. Supposed to be a 6 episode film (such episodic films have been made before, notably by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and K.Balachander but not been too famous) with a horror element. I liked the trailer with the clock: one hand starts to rotate, then another hand spins, but in the opposite direction and then many hands go about the centre in frenzied fashion like sub-atomic particles.

Trailers also noticed: Boom and Calcutta Mail (Sudhir Mishra is back).

Snatch is hilarious, especially the take on the accents!

May and November are P.L times for the engineering students of the Pune Univ. They're usually preceded (atleast for COEPians) by a set of wringing practicals and vivas. For those in my batch of COEP Computers, these always provided a very memorable set of occurences that have become the stuff of legends and are invariably the most talked-about reminiscences of our mini-reunions: it sort of forged our temperament the way nothing else could have.

But then came the actual Preparatory Leaves that were oases of calm between the battles with vengeful externals & sometimes skunky internals and the writing epics that the exams tended to be. For most people, it represented the sum total of our academic semester (I still maintain that for many COEPians, academics was the extra-curricular activity). Some would do 24 hour stints, some like me couldn't last beyond 11 pm. I often found that the PLs brought about some world or domestic event of extreme interest which would be extremely well covered by television and would make it very difficult to concentrate on mundane studies. Cases in point were the Cricket World Cup of '99 (SE Sem 2), the Tehelka cricket exposé of 2000 (TE Sem 2) and the US Presidential tie-breaker of late 2000 (BE Sem 1).

Another event that would happen was that my birthday would fall in the cusp of the PLs and actual written exams. I even wrote my exam once on my birthday. Though I hoped for a romantic result such as topping the subject in my class, I netted an average result in that one. A couple of times, the timetable didn't strike bulls-eye and the exam would fall a day or two near the birthday. Since I'd stopped investing too much emotion in my birthdays by then, the fact that my classmates were more concerned about the answer to question #2 rather than giving me bumps didn't affect me much.

PLs also brought out the latent philosopher in all of us, making us question the significance of the syllabus and these subjects (thus helping us to make the decisions of leaving certain "these-don't-matter-in-the-larger-scheme-of-human-existence" chapters optional). I remember many such outpourings of grief in the vicinity of exams from my friends and on one occasion, we had hilariously resolved to tell the viva-taker that yeh jag sab maya hai and hence he should view our ignorance with greater compassion.

My class invariably attracted D-A-N-G-E-R in the matter of exams, and there was no shortage of "incidents" that haunted our waking and sleeping lives. The increasingly ludicrous and frustrating events brought in us a certain resolve not to be cowed down by such injustices and we learned to look at the bigger picture: in a few years we would be out of it all (this was rather inevitable) and then mere pinpricks these would seem then.

I learned a lot during my PLs: what the neighbours did in the daytime (having missed these interesting activities due to my being in attendance at the BC the rest of the year), how much I could walk up and down in a day (my preferred medium of studying), how interesting many TV programmes suddenly became, how to judge what to leave for options (my earlier naive approach was to try to touch each part), how to smile in adversity, how many new ideas I generated that I couldn't wait to do (invariably forgotten later on, seems the intensity of the PLs was my muse) and the alluring sweetness of sleep.

Does anyone like Simi Garewal and her Ron-deh-voo programme? Clearly some people must, or it wouldn't still wouldn't be on air. I have always given it a wide miss. Each time there seemed to be an interesting choice of guest, the very sight of Ms. Garewal launching into song (very thanklessly inserted at the very beginning of the programme and with facial expressions that would make afternoon soap bahus weep, such is the excruciatingly cloying content) makes me lunge for the remote. The questions are usually very emotional, with the host sympathising at every tribulation of the guest and making sure there always is a guaranteed level of of maudlin sentiment.

I watched the last two episodes because the guest this time was apna Rahman. I did try and offset the white lady's presence by frequent visits to the English Premier League matches in the neighbouring channel (Arsenal last week and Liverpool v Chelsea this Sunday) to take the taste out: much like we eating savouries after a dose of sweets before tasting our tea or coffee. Rahman did have a rags-to-riches story, so Ms. Garewal showed us her gamut of saccharine, sugar and jaggery filled emotions (I'm sorry if I'm being cynical or insensitive but it really did get too far when she dramatically plucked a rose (allusions to Roja ?) to hand over to her shy guest).

I think I need to get myself checked for diabetes.

Is it just me or did it just get hot in here?. Well pal, it has got very hot in here. I'm usually ok with the heat, and I don't complain too much about the humidity. It doesn't evoke the same carping as I'm more sensitive about the cold, as my colleagues fiddling with the air conditioning settings would testify. But it has been extremely hot and humid the last few days, and the power cuts and talk about the same happening to water supplies isn't the kind of news one wants to hear. I recently got a wall thermometer and I love to keep looking at it from time to time. At first, we thought it was faulty for it seemed to hang on to 29 degrees C for dear life, but now seeing it never drop below 35 deg C has convinced me of its efficacy.

May 11, 2003

I suddenly fell headlong for this song (more famous as part of the soundtrack of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) : these lyrics would not describe me as I exist currently, but the thought would be something I could work towards.

So, until I pull it down, this is added to my personal anthems:

Raindrops keep falling on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin' seems to fit
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling

So I just did me some talkin' to the sun
And I said I didn't like the way he' got things done
Sleepin' on the job
Those raindrops are falling on my, head they keep falling

But there's one thing I know
The blues he sends to meet me won't defeat me
It won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me Raindrops keep falling on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Crying's not for me
Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothing's worrying me

:: B.J.Thomas

For some reason, Sandy (that's Sandip Shahane for the rest) never told me about his blog (which seems to have been around for a while). So here's Sandy's blog.

May 9, 2003

My two favourite teams were in the Ranji final and I did watch a little of the action. The match, as was the pitch, was gripping on the fifth day. Glad to see centuries scored on either side, mediumpacers like Agarkar and Suresh getting wickets, spinners getting into the act not too early, and a come-from-behind win for the best team in the country. If only more people would watch.
Sometime back, Star Plus had a weekly programme called Star Blockbusters. This was an hourly show that would feature different stories each week, providing an excellent opportunity to budding writers and directors to showcase their talent. The result was often stunning, with a wide gamut of stories, actors and thematic ideas of a high quality. It featured the efforts of established names like Rajit Kapur and newcomers like Tigmanshu Dhulia (whose names can now be seen in the credits of upcoming films). A full discussion on this some other day, but the reason for mentioning this is because the subject of this post reminds me of the best episode ever to feature on Star Blockbusters. Positively brilliant, I hope the director (some lady whose name I unfortunately forget) will make a groundbreaking film someday. This story was a murder mystery with a touch of the supernatural and a classy twist at the end. The background music was outstanding with the evidence to show: I can still feel the shivers down my spine. The name of the story was Dead End.

That brings me to the post: everyone who has lived in Pune knows that the roads are a minefield, a living deathtrap, something out of a teenager's video game where the objective is to give each other a good fright. The traffic sense of seeming educated people is appalling. In my small route to office, things are compounded by the number of blind corners. F-1 drivers have hairpin bends to face too but there, atleast no one is driving in the opposite direction without the slightest inclination to use the hooter when it is supposed to (and not, as Punekars believe, to be used at traffic signals when the lights at the opposite end go amber). The gates of my apartments open onto a 90 degrees bend, and while approaching the house, one has to get to the righthand side of the road at the bend. Getting from the house to the main Baner road takes me past two more blind corners, so close to each other that it makes a sssslithering ssssnake sssssee S'sss everywhere. Count to three. Things are fine (by Puneri standards) till the office. Till about a few months ago, I was at Bhageerath. This meant a series of traffic manouevres that involves a very sinister set of diversions into sidestreets and back alleys which contribute another three to the tally, all this courtesy the Pune Traffic department who in a backhanded slap, made worse a problem with the solution. The gates of the building are parallel to the inner road, so a deft 90 degrees turn to get in, but another left turn towards the parking area contributes to the count because the security offices obscure the view.

The best is yet to come, the access to the parking is the same narrow path in and out with the greatest care to avoid you seeing the other motorists. All, no doubt, with the best intentions of promoting healthy moto-cross.

I've already lost count, what with keeping an anxious and wary eye on the madcaps on the road who like to jump out of the other side of the blind turn, on your side of the road and say "Boo!". A move to another company building, Panini, didn't help. A U-turn followed by a right blind turn, a left blind turn, a left what-can-be-described-as-a-squint turn, another left squint turn (all up a ramp, mind you) and then there is the welcoming party to garland you for having made it alive one more day.

And of course, there is the journey back home. No wonder, I don't seem to go out too much, what with the massive strain each day!

More seriously speaking, the traffic in the city stinks to high heaven. For all our so-called Puneri intellectual superiority, each time our vehices set wheel on the macadams and cements and tars, we display an unceasing savagery coupled with a lack of basic human courtesy and common sense that is no laughing matter: we put our lives in danger each time we step out.

It's not very flattering to realise in some circumstances, you need someone more than that person needs you. (I'm talking of the intangibles that a relation between two people brings, not material benefits.) The other person may not ignore you, but definitely does not need your company, your support, your advice to the same extent as you do. So, certainly not one-way traffic, but the amount of traffic in one direction is far greater than in the reverse.

It is one of those things that can hurt the fragile ego because it points to a feeling of unwantedness and does take some amount of objective introspection to realize for the more needy person. Either one can close one's eyes to it and continue as if this wasn't true or in the extreme, say "I don't need that person too!". Or just accept the fact and say fine, though I need the other person more, I won't feel so bad that that person won't seek my thoughts at the same rate. At least this way, the bond stays and flourishes.

This may point to an inferior quality in the seeker, who needs to fill spaces with the emotional dependence, but we all lack something in us and there is no harm in sincerely seeking to fill the void. But lest we get hurt, we must lower our expectations in hoping for the same emotional satisfaction that we think we are giving the other person when we actively seek that person's time to ourselves. Also, this realisation may help identify other relationships where we may be the so-called anchor for someone else, and perhaps we can help assuage the other person's feeling, for we have now the power of empathy in such situations.

Pretty heavy, no? <insert favourite smiley here>

May 7, 2003

I am always reminded a little of Mohammad Azharuddin when I see Mohammad Kaif (Harish would probably disagree vehemently). And not just because of the shared name. It's just that their temperaments seem to be similar: the stance is (though in the wristy-shots dept. Kaif is nowhere near the class of the former India captain) somewhat related, the fielding skills are good and the approach to batting is similar: not a slam-bang approach, but a carefully thought out strategy with the ability to pepper the boundaries when required.

And now that Kaif will be playing for Derbyshire as Azhar once did, the coincidences have got stronger. Kaif is defintely one of those who will be in the reckoning for a future India captain slot, having enjoyed success with the junior India side. In this respect, he would probably differ from Azhar, for Azhar was a compromise candidate who needed a Mian, Captain Banoge? invitation. Both started off in a small-town-world(Hyderabad could be classified as such 20 years ago), but Azhar definitely moved out much to, in my opinion, to his detriment into other social circles.

What will happen to Kaif, we shall see over the next few years: still, I don't think he'll say "The boys played very well" in every post-match presentation!

May 6, 2003

One of the few attractive sights available in the city on my normal beat is the view from the COEP Boat Club. Discounting the river, if you were to adjust your vista skywards, especially during the evenings, it can be quite a scenic sight. The other bank is on a small island that is rather verdant, though unornamental. But there are no tall buildings aiming to block one's view as is the case elsewhere and one's yen to see the sky can be fulfilled to one's heart.

But I will have to get my fill and commit all the beauty to memory, for the inevitable march of savage civilization must wave a threatening spade at this little spot of peace: a new (and unwanted) bridge is taking shape abutting the BC. It is going to be a nuisance, if not outright disruption of many activities that the river hosts in that patch of water.

A fascinating pattern of of returning birds that I saw yesterday might be one of the last few pretty sights that I catch there: perhaps a small camera to record these little moments is in order.

May 5, 2003

I had occasion to don the mantle of interviewer for the first time last week. It's not the fact that I'm in any superior position or that I am a talent-spotter, but more because we're filling positions for a specific set of needs that my current project has, and the people on the ground would probably know best. I hoped my debut wouldn't be as nervous as that of the interviewee, and it wasn't too impossible: the questions I wanted to know came of their own accord, helped by an initial understanding of what I was seeking. I don't think I did too badly. Yes, it would be improper of me to comment similarly on the performance of the candidate!
NDTV's new channels are still not making the impact they hoped for, at least not at my house. This is largely due to them being on and off my cableman's guldasta of channels. And for some time, it has been off rather than on. The only decent offering in the English news space for me to catch the news seems to be Headlines Today, the English entrant of the TV Today group that provides Aaj Tak. It provides more than just headlines, but doesn't elaborate too much on news, making it a useful alternative if you're not interested in detailed analyses of hard news. A mix of appealing graphics, news items and, ahem, newsreaders (one very attractive one at any rate) halts the quick-surfing-remote. Works for me right now.
Even though the Indian cricket team may not be playing, I like to follow the other Indian in action in international cricket: the stern ("headmaster" as The Guardian once described him) Srinivas Venkataraghavan. One hopes that he doesn't make too mistakes, but yesterday he did, nipping the chicken-pox affected Lara's attempts to pull off another heroic innings for his team. Venkat missed the inside-edge that Lara didn't and gave Lara leg-before, leading to much head-shaking by the Windies captain who's usually the model cricketer when it comes to reacting when dismissed. Of the big Three, Venkat's made the least mistakes in my (biased?) opinion: I've seen Shepherd and Bucknor make some very poor howlers, Bucknor too often. But now they say Rudi Kurtzen is among the topmost in the Elite Panel.
Continuing with sport, Ten Sports has been, in addition to showing its collection of old Sharjah cricket videos, also has the Borg-McEnroe matches. It was a privilege to watch one Wimbledon final that must rank as one of the greatest clashes in sport. McEnroe fighting back 8 championship points to take the fourth set from Borg in a tie-break was rather special. I didn't know which year this was, if they've not clashed in a Wimbledon final apart from '81, then I know the result. I couldn't watch the match to its conclusion because the one nightly domestic soap that my folks indulge in took preference. This day I couldn't complain that there wasn't something good to watch on TV, only that the timing was all wrong.
I believe that any sport, when played at the highest level, can sometimes provide even the most uninterested spectator a great deal of joy and evoke a fleeting understanding of that sport's appeal. I first realised this a few years ago while watching a few matches of the Rugby World Cup, the contests involving Australia, New Zealand and South Africa provided sporting excitement of a high quality. Backed up by good television coverage and insightful commentary, it made an impact that lasted the duration of the tournament. I am still no Rugby fan but I still carry in my mind the interesting sidelights of referees' decisions being broadcast on air because of the on-field mikes they wore, the seemingly upright ad paintings on the ground, the magic of the drop-kick and the bewilderment of how the mighty men, despite possessing all the necessary instruments for a good fight, usually desist from that, at least at a rate lesser than football.

This belief of mine also applies to Formula-One: I must be one of the few in-betweeners to follow the sport. People seem to either love it or hate it, there are very few casual followers as far as I know (unless they're faking an interest to seem trendy, which also seems to happen a lot in F-1).

My interest in the fortnightly race is limited to watching the beginning of each race (whenever I can) and the last few laps: for a person like me who likes to maintain only a casual acquaintance with the sport, these two are the points in the race that may offer higher chances of excitement. This is of course not always true, but as I'm not into cars, the technical aspects don't interest me. It is the competitiveness that interests me. I do remember one Grand Prix (Australian perhaps? It was in 1999) where Rubens Barrichello won a very intriguing race which was rain-affected: it was very riveting even for a person like me.

My introduction to the world of F-1 came from endless re-runs of old Monaco GPs that DD used to fill space in the Metro channel pre-1995 years. The actual micro-interest stemmed from some of my friends; Harish, Sujay, Gaurav et al used to bring F-1 discussions to the inevitable pre-BC quiz gatherings. This and some F-1 questions in quizzes sparked off a more regular viewing of Race Day. I still don't understand much of the technical stuff (people like Sumeet would drool over the technicalities), but it helps that F-1 is a continuously flowing game like football where the commentary doesn't stop for every moment of play (unlike cricket or tennis which follow a discrete format); the easy-to-follow non-stop commentary has helped me to keep staring as the riders make their seemingly unending trips around the chicanes and corners, with stewards flashing their flags at them: the amount of information overload with minute durations allowed for comprehension that these drivers have to account for is quite a remarkable aspect of this sport.

I cannot hold a conversation on F-1 racing, but I sure can listen to one without being too baffled. All that talk about monotony hasn't scared me off, at any rate.

May 3, 2003

Is it WHO says India is SARS-free or Who says India is SARS-free?

(Not trying to make a point but just a joke...)

One more blog to announce and one more from the BC lawn crowd: Hirak and his Little Voice.