Announcing anotherVeteran (grizzled?) Pune & BC quizzer, tennis buff, sports trivia freak, cynical UP resident and bibliophile joins the pack. Drop in at Anand Sivashankar's blog (and listen to GT roar in response :-) ).
Jan 29, 2004
Jan 27, 2004
Jan 25, 2004
Quiz Blog - IV: AppealIf fellow quizzer-bloggers could spare some time to make a mention of the Interrobang Quiz Blog on their respective blogs and perhaps also link to it, I would be quite grateful. I hope the aims and energies for maintaining it can be shared by others too, to which an increase in readership would prove more motivational.
Pune weatherThe weather in and around Pune is probably at its best right now: blue skies with the odd whiff of a fat Cumulus floating about, warm & mid-20 afternoons, cool mornings and the rest of the package. Modern day Wordsworths have been spotted scurrying to their keyboards to save to disks their fanciful feelings for the springtime.
TV watchBBC World's weekend programming has always been extraordinary in terms of information presentation and production values. Another excellent series has begun, titled The History of Britain, a 15-part series. Not sure where I joined in, but I can tell it is somewhere early going by the last two episodes. They were about Beckett & the murder in the cathedral, Magna Carta, Richard the Lionheart, the Bruces of Scotland and the Welsh struggle. Well presented by historian Simon Schama.
Film-sy PublicityBeing a Maqbool well-wisher (I liked the film and the music), I've been observant of its publicity strategy, for it's not the run-of-the-mill film and would not be a natural contender for box office success. I find that most people had not heard about it. A leading Pune bookstore had no idea about the music album of the film. Almost everyone else I've mentioned the name to have had such blank expressions that I tried to reason why that would be the case. So I tried keeping a close eye on film trailers and saw a couple of interesting things. Maqbool's recall value is likely to be limited: the music isn't the low-life temporary junk food that it is surrounded by. The actors are top class, but not one who would have a great mass following. Even Tabu seems to suffer from the tag of aaj kal woh aise hii filme.n kartii hai. Until very recently, there haven't been any anticipatory articles in the print or web media (which are the ones I frequent). Probably, there aren't too many funds to spend and they're holding it back for the last week before the release (Jan 30). Vishal was on MTV Fresh with Cyrus, Tabu's article appeared in the Pune Times of India, and the trailers have increased in frequency of appearance and in variety. It does seem likely that Maqbool won't, barring a surprising assertion of latent appreciation for quality among people, do that well. Still Vishal has two new projects coming up, one of them with Shekhar Kapur.
From my close watch of trailers: the Dharma Productions' Kal Ho Naa Ho still has many spots, and is probably the most frequent of film trailers. The ghastly looking Aetbaar also enjoys strong marketing backup from Cutting Edge Entertainment (their maiden venture), it seems.
Trivia note: Rajat Kapoor who is often mixed up with Rajit Kapur (of Byomkesh Bakshi fame) first made his presence felt in the Bhatt camp's TV production Zameen Aasmaan which also starred Rajit Kapur.
Jan 18, 2004
Didn't expect this to have any thing drastically different, as it was known that most songs would come from an earlier ARR film Rhythm. Nachle - Daler Mehndi for the first time singing for ARR - seemed notable mostly for Mehndi's robust singing voice. I've never really fancied the original of Uff Ho Jalta hai, the same for this Asha number. Paigham stands up pretty well with the crossover lyrics, I thought the line jii karta hai... fitted the meter extremely well. The three new songs provoked mixed reactions. I liked parts of Sadiyaa.n, mainly the opening and Hariharan's part. Found the female solo and Udit Narayan's portion quite dull. For some reason, reviewers have been unhappy with Rozaana and Shehezaade, while for me, these were the two I kept coming back for. Rozaana is the first cheerleader-situation song I've heard (a first for Indian movies?) and seems to fit it well. The choice of now-defunct pop group Viva! for the song is apt, for they bring the right blend of cohesive voices required. It was rousing and get-up-and-go, which is what you'd want a song of that nature to be. Shehezaade reminded me a lot of the arrangement from the Bombay Dreams version of Shakalaka Baby. This one seems to be a guys-in-a-car-on-a-dare theme. I found the scatting decent and the mood upbeat and very western.
All in all, nothing pathbreaking, but definitely passable.
Jan 16, 2004
Kill-see Grammar?English grammar teachers have not been this incensed since Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds, was advertised as "The Birds is coming!". One of the dudes is back: with the tersely titled I... Proud to Be an Indian - (pausing to massage my stomach which is recovering from pangs of laughter) - in which the dude is supposed to be called "I". Yes, just that much. Talk about having an ego! Or should that be the Wizard of Id?
More power to this brand of cinema!
Jan 13, 2004
Overheard in a counselling room…"…and this has become more frequent, in fact, this is all he does for most part of the day. At first, I thought, fine, he's just seeing some educational programme or maybe some serial, I mean, how harmless can that get? Then, he started staying up late, you know, and so I didn't like that much, because, everyone in my house tends to sleep early, and my grandma likes to get up early. So I 'd potter around in my study, finishing my work, and the light would be on in the living room & the sound volume would be ever so low. This one time, I went up to get him to go to bed and I got suspicious when he was very startled to see me and at once, he changed the channel. I mean, stuff that we'd have done too if we had this kind of T.V reach in our days. Don't laugh, man, I know it sounds trivial, but it makes me sort of uneasy."
"But surely, you never know it was some kind of…you know, shady stuff that he was watching."
"Don't they teach you anything about Freud or something at med. school?"
"Now calm down. See, did you catch him red-handed, sort of. I mean, what's the proof?"
"See, he doesn't know all the controls in the remote. The model of T.V. I own has that back feature, you can go back and see upto a couple of previous channels. And after I put him in bed, I clicked that to check, and he was watching the cable channel and also that, you know, that silly French channel…"
"And how long did you watch them… Ok Ok, sorry, sit down"
"Please, I need some help man, it gets embarrassing at times, what with my grandma around."
"Why don't you ask her to speak to him or get someone else?"
"For one, I couldn't discuss this with her. And even I was to, she's so fond of him that, whatever he does, she always glosses over it. Never scolds anyone. And my family isn't the type where we have those kinds of elders-children type discussions. We are sort of old-fashioned, you know."
"Then reduce his T.V. viewing. Maybe sit alongside or if you can't, get your wife to spend more time in the living room, so he'll be embarrassed to try anything. See, he's just started this kind of behaviour, so I'm sure you can pull him out."
"Actually, it's also about the net, you know. I got my computer, last month, with Internet and all. And because he knows how to use it and so on.."
"So? Yahoo and Search, eh! This is pretty normal for kids, but… "
"You see! He doesn't know about the History folder and all, and it's pretty disconcerting to see some of the stuff. So, what do I do man? My younger son always looks up to him and it would be pretty bad to see them giggling over that kind of stuff. Sort of a parental disaster."
"Hey, don't overreact man. It happens. Especially, when people get access to T.V. and the Internet in these times, when there's such a lot of stuff of that kind around, easily accessible. Best thing is to solve it from a kid's perspective. That's what I always advise all those parents who come to me. Generally, the approach works. Try treating him as a kid. But, don't get me wrong here, it's pretty funny actually. Was he like this before? I don't remember him like that before."
"Yeah, you're right. It is hilarious actually. He's a bit of a child now. Never knew there was a bit of the 'dirty old man' in old Grandpa. I guess he's making up for all the lost fun now…"
Repeat ValueAbout an year ago when I was on holiday in Madras, I accompanied parents and some relatives to a nearby temple near my uncle's house. There I saw someone pulling out a guitar, which quite naturally surprised me. A peek inside showed that the place was set with mikes et al. The guitar guy sat down and started to strum away - some people around him cleared their throats, and off they went - singing bhajans semi-pop style. Not only that, there was also a lot of arm-waving and clapping, quite in the style of Afro-American church choirs. It was quite unorthodox and hence interesting. My own individual brand of theism+agnosticism coupled with a natural scepticism for any religious social activity meant I could take an objective view and see what effect it was having on the devout public assembled there.
Digression: I have never seen another city yet that has so much to do with
so many temples (not comparing temple-towns here whose identity
revolve around the temple). A good way of putting
this is to invoke comparisons from those great reflectors of Indian society:
the soap opera. While the Hindi soap opera has its social occasions among
seasonal and off-seasonal Garba Raas festivities, the Tamil soap will set up
scenes in temples. Coincidences, altercations between estranged relatives,
murder plots - all are cooked and baked in the temple plot. The Hindi soap
prefers to have a tulsi plant in its aa.ngan and be done with it - to move on
to the more important business of
sorry sari exhibitionism.
To my mind, the performance caused three kinds of groups to emerge. one: those who were in-sync with these radical devotional ideas and uninhibitedly joined in the expressionism, two: those who weren't quite sure what to make of this - not being the kinds of Indians who love to dance at their own weddings (or anyone else's, for that matter) and who have a general disdain of all things flamboyant, and three: those who had made up their minds that this wasn't going to be their style of seeking the lord.
I say all of this (the above and the following) with a view to being non-judgemental, motivated by curiosity. I was quite surprised to see all this in orthodox, temple-frequenting Madras. It is also, possibly, a small reflection on the eclectism of the religion that this hasn't quite resulted in any particular vaad-vivaad on the methods employed in devotion. Coming back to that temple, my aunt's brother was in the inside of things, and consequently my uncle too, so information as to who was behind all of this became clear shortly.
The name is Ravi Shankar.
Sri Ravi Shankar
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
After India's not so happy experiences with popular godmen, there has been a lull of such personages in the media. But this gentleman has come on to the main pages of the newspapers in the last few years (esp. the Times of India group whose ruling family evidently have a close association with him - so this probably goes in the rule books for their journos of things they must cover?). Words like Sudarshan Kriya and The Art of Living have punctuated those media reports. High profile proponents increase its visibility.
I'm always a little shy (wary?) of any organized religious activity (and haven't been in the frame of mind or circumstantial need to seek out any such so far - perhaps it will come later on in life), so I'm just curious about his organization. My cousin who has done the course (or some part of it, I forget) says it's pretty decent and somewhat difficult. There's a lot of breathing exercises et al involved. I'm curious in general as to how a religious preacher/teacher starts off. Are these activities radically new ideas developed wholly by the individual or does he/she learn it from some guru or some scripture? Or was there a mystical dimension to their discovery? Is it a discovery or an invention? The flip side is: is it a well known idea well packaged? Do they feel happy about the publicity?
Whatever be the case, Ravi Shankar's organization is quite the in-thing among people. One hears a lot about it here and there. This post was sparked off because I saw a lot of rush in traffic coming back home today, lots of parked cars outside the nearby grounds. He's having a meeting there today.
Jan 12, 2004
Quiz Blog - IIISemi-long story, but the quiz blog has moved to Interrobang principally because Blogdrive doesn't provide permalinks. The quiz blog looks misshapen now, pliss to bear with it. Commenting et al to follow, but do check the updates on the new location.
More on the story:
Well, that Blogdrive doesn't provide permalinks is something I found late in my courtship of an alternate blogging service. I also found that no clean workarounds were available for the same. Well, I can live without the blogpad (what is it called really?) on the left and can jugaad my own commenting service, but need to have permalinks. Since blogspot has already given out "interrobang" to someone, I reversed the functions of "notesandstones" and 'interrobang" to the url and the blog-name respectively. I think it works.
The link is now on the roll on the right.
Jan 7, 2004
Remains of the DayReading the memoirs of Agatha Christie and came across a description of what social customs and etiquette were like in English society during her childhood. Her mother would tell the little Agatha to leave some morsels on her plate "for Miss Manners". This is in sharp contrast to childhood education in the manners department here (at least the way I was instructed). We were exhorted to make sure our plate (or leaf when it came to weddings, many social customs were explained and enforced by eagle-eyed relatives to the young kids over the kalyaaNa chaapaTTu elai) was clean to the point of being spotless at the end. This automatically led to discipline in the asking for more food if you wanted to achieve the clean slate (or plate) at the end and plus you wouldn't waste any food. Modern parents usually tend to be a little lax with their children and there are a lot of leftovers - quite avoidable.
It also gave me a small lesson in persistence and foresight - in the kalyaaNa lunches, you had to spread out your hand in advance lest the onrushing appaLam (which usually looked as big as a frisbee) or payasam dispensing guy would put some more on your leaf. Those could easily translate into moments of weaknesses, for the guy would usually be insistent on doling out another helping for you and tempt you accordingly. It was a question of who blinked first.
Dada says it like it isIt hasn't reappeared in any of the main newspaper stories, both online and print, but during an interview with the Sportsline/Sportscenter India (ESPN-Star) reporter at the end of the Sydney Test, Saurav Ganguly lashed out at some of the "previous Indian captains" who had rubbished the current Indian team in many articles before the tour began. He said it was "shameful" and "that's the reason our country doesn't progress". He pointed out to the fact that these people had never done gone abroad and won anything significant themselves. In short, he unleashed a mini-sized fury on these "pundits".
I'd agree with the Indian captain. Many of these former captains have been unnecessarily over-critical, sometimes bordering on jealousy and hidden resentments. They question the sincerity and faith of these players, I don't think most of them merit such accusations. Come to think of it, many members of the public do it, but it would hurt more if ex-players (who are supposed to be knowledgeable) do it. Also, if one is going to make predictions and be proved wrong, he ought to have the courtesy of accepting he called it incorrectly. That doesn't happen to often with these guys.
Not to say that all of Ganguly's tactics were correct (and I agree broadly with this article) but there is no question (and I have been a doubter) that he has got it right more often than not. Criticise fairly is all he will ask, I'm sure.
This is a broader problem. When you select someone as captain and invest your confidence in him, you must not be unfair to him. Comments must be responsible and fair. I think Ganguly was entitled to his outburst.
Jan 4, 2004
Quiz Blog - IIThe quiz blog is up and running and goes by the name of Notes and Stones a.k.a Interrobang. The first posts are up. An elaboration on the names will follow soon. Hosting it on Blogdrive gives me a chance to try another blog provider - to their credit, the package has a commenting system and a clean interface for entries. The layout is literally plain vanilla so far. The fact that one of those blogpad-type-thingies is part of the layout brought a frown to my face (I usually find it annoying that it causes a repeated page refresh) and I haven't decided whether to remove it, leave it or simply eliminate the refresh. The look will undergo further work.
The "R" is for...Relief: Perhaps relief doesn't quite describe it well, but it is a good substitute. The talent had never deserted him, luck had. But so had many people's faith. To the supporter, it is a relief that he do not have to spend energy in hosing down the disbelief of those people, and can go back to more weightier issues.
Riposte: Sachin Tendulkar is a much liked man, so people aren't nasty towards him for personal reasons. But he does have his professional detractors - who have been answered. And how!
Records: The most significant of the many that fell by the wayside: the highest unbeaten score by an Indian in Test matches and that SRT already has three double tons. The floodgates of the big scores have been unlocked and await an outpouring.
Refusal: To get out. To pay both a compliment, his desire to remain unvanquished was almost Dravidesque (can't say Dravid-ian :-) ).
Relishing: Enjoy the moment lads.
Redux: One will have to wait and see if this really is the beginning a brand new phase in his continuous evolution, but one gets the feeling it is. The most heartwarming thing is now Sachin Tendulkar has played almost every kind of innings (bar the matchwinning-in-a-pressurised-situation that eluded him at Chennai) and knows what to do in all of them. He now knows that he can bat for 5 sessions and easily pick up a big score - I'm sure the flavour of that taste would motivate him to try and scale the trees for more such fruit.
Jan 2, 2004
To boldly connect where none exists before?E.M.Forster ("only connect") might've approved. Is this the outcome of a febrile imagination affected adversely by the disease of connection-making, or does the name of Hrithik Roshan in Farhan Akhtar's next film (Lakshya - a war film that I hope will be made better than other recent efforts- will it erase his "only-for-high-society filmmaker" tag?) ring some sort of a bell? The name is Karan Shergill. I wonder what that tolling bell tells me... ?
Another upcoming film "Agnipankh" is in the Vijeta mould - the Air Force forms the backdrop
Phase I completeI don't want to be over-exultant, but I think we should be happy while it lasts, for we know not what the morrow brings. Phase I of the SRT Redux campaign has completed successfully and in semi-challenging circumstances. There is a long way to go yet.
The "Don't Walk" SignMost Indian cricket enthusiasts have bemoaned the way some of the LBW decisions (especially in the previous match) haven't gone our way. Steve Bucknor is back at the SCG in place of David Shepherd. I'm not a fan of Bucknor, indeed I don't rate him very highly at all. I can't prove it offhand, but I think every series that he has umpired in, he has made some awful blunders - not the kind of mistakes that are the result of some close calls, but some seriously poor stuff which I don't think can be balanced out by any other good decisions he can pull off. That's why I feel Virender Sehwag shouldn't have walked before Bucknor gave his view. I don't think there was a convincing sound or deflection to his nick (I'm assuming he nicked it because he walked) and I don't think Bucknor (assuming he was not going to go temporarily off the handle this time) could've given him out. I don't necessarily agree all the time with the view that states you make things difficult for the umpire but on some occasions you don't make it too easy as well. The Indian team need not help the umpires out - they don't influence the bad decisions they get, so leave all decision-making to the umpires. It may not even out in the context of a series for that batsman, but it may even out for the team. Sehwag was in good flow and could've been even more dangerous.
There is a time and a place for being very sporting - much as I admire Adam Gilchrist's gesture in the WC Semi Final vs Sri Lanka, I would advocate the path taken by Dravid. He was one player who suffered early one because he walked a few times and also got a few rough ones, now he waits for the umpire to do his job. This is not a "don't walk because you are playing the Aussies who don't do others favours", but "don't walk because it's Bucknor and Bowden making the (crooked?) decisions". (Seeing Bowden jumping out of the way to escape being hit by a shy at the stumps was funny, but he was not watching the stumps at all - these guys have it easy sometimes too because of the third ump.)