Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is it a Shenoy? Tell me it is.

Disclaimer: This is a fictitious story with imaginary characters and bears no relation with any real person living or dead. Especially fashion designers from Japan. Well I wish I could write this last sentence with a clear conscience. But I sincerely mean no disrespect. If any individual or business finds this account libelous, I'm sorry. I can even offer to withdraw the post. (Of course after the initial publicity.)

He looked up at the sky. The evening was hanging loose and closing in. Pretty unseasonal for this time of the year in Tokyo, it looked like it might rain. Not a pleasant prospect. He had an early flight to catch tomorrow. He was about to skip continents. The spring-summer show at Milan was getting under way over the weekend.
Under his perch overseeing the studio floor, a battle raged. An army of talented girls and young men were sweating it out to put the last stitches in place. Time ran out under their nimble fingers. Here a nip, there a tuck... everywhere a clippity cluck. The models wore bored expressions. These fitting sessions were always a drag. A faint smile played on his lips. He remembered the last time he hollered at one of his models. Seemed so long ago. The young girl was practising her walk while he stood nearby, trying to tinker with the lines on a sketch. The teen nervously approached him. "Mashter, zish line of yoursh... got no pockitsh...where would I put my handsh at ze turn?" He had lost it for that one moment. "Tell you what, young lady, you can take your hands and shove them. Don't you understand, this creation is called A-poc, sans a pocket. When people buy one of these, they won't need a pocket. None. They'd have nothing left to keep."
Ah, memories, memories. They have a habit of runnng in herds. His early childhood at Azamganj, their hutment near the railway tracks. His father, Miyan Yaqub Ansari, the impoverished schoolteacher, scraping pennies to buy him new books and uniforms every year. Abba would always say,"Beta Rafiq, I'm saving up to send you to Aligarh. Study hard, you can make a very good eye surgeon. You have a good pair of hands." His hands. The moment Abbu turned his back, his hands would grab Ammi's scissors and start swishing away at old newspapers, cutting shapes. Strange, flowing, fluid shapes on pieces of paper. And the fateful night he cut into the new pullover Abbu bought him for school. The cane stinging on his bare back. That was the only time he talked back to Abbu. "I don't want to be an eye surgeon, Abbu. I want to make clothes." More caning. That night he left home. The anger of youth.
Well he was much older now. Older and composed. And Abbu passed away last year. Till the end, Abbu would say, "But you could do better as an eye-surgeon, beta." He dabbed at the corner of his eyes.
Presently his favorite assistant ran up the stairs and approached him, babbling breathlessly, "Miya-san, the FTV people are on the phone. They want to know what we're calling our new collection. Have you decided on a name yet?" There was nary a furrow on his forehead. "Let's see, we already did Haat, and bazaar you say would be too about we call it Mandi this time and leave it at that? Let the wiki contributors find out the dubious Sanskrit origin of the word once again, what?"
"Brilliant, miya-san! How do these names come to you just like that? In a flash, as it were?"
"Well I guess it's a gift, young Izumi. I always had this gift. Only once, back in 1970, when I flew in here from America, and started this studio, I was in a fix over a name. The name that would define my work. My own label. What would I call a line created by one Rafiq Ansari from a humble Ajamganj where people still consoled my parents, saying, "One day your son will come back, Miyan. He will make a living anywhere. He has a very good pair of hands." I slept over it. In the morning, I did my prayers and remembered Abbu. Then I went and named it 'Issi Miyan Ke'.

P.S : After eons on the blog. No explanation. No inspiration. Wasted plenty of net time watching, deviant audiovisual entertainment.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Music and lyrics

If a continental youth wants to declare his love to a girl, he kneels down, tells her that she is the sweetest, the most charming and ravishing person in the world, that she has something in her, something peculiar and individual which only a few hundred thousand other women have and that he would be unable to live one more minute without her. Often, to give a little more emphasis to the statement, he shoots himself on the spot. This is a normal, week-day declaration of love in the more temperamental continental countries. In England the boy pats his adored one on the back and says softly: "I don't object to you, you know." If he is quite mad with passion, he may add: "I rather fancy you, in fact."

-George Mikes, How to be an Alien

It's that season of the year again when one tends to get a wee bit soppy. More the continental in the above context, if you will. It also helps when it's pouring outside, one's child has the half-yearly exams coming on, and mummy has taken full control of affairs. Going out is ruled out by exam and weather, and having gotten hold of a half-decent Maths tutor ensures one is rendered fairly redundant in the household. Having a dram of ol' Scotland in stock can't hurt. What does one do, under the circumstances? One can listen to one's favorite ghazals, watch the rain yonder through the window panes, and ponder. Quite a nice way to be!

Ladies and gentlemen, I then present you, what I've been listening to.

Kabhi yun bhi aa meri aankh mein ke meri nazar ko Khabar na ho
Mujhe ek raat nawaaz de magar uske baad sehar na ho

Woh badaa rahiim-o-kariim hai mujhe ye sifat bhi adaa kare
tujhe bhulne ki dua karoon to dua mein meri asar na ho

Mere bazooomein thakee thakee abhi mehr-e -khab hain chandni
Na uthe sitaron ki palki abhi aahaton ka guzar na ho

Woh firaaq ho yaa visaal ho, teri yaad mahakegi ek din
Woh gulab ban ke khilega kyaa, jo chirag ban ke jalaa na ho

Kabhi din ki dhoop mein jhoom ke kabhi shab ke phool ko choom ke
Yun hi saath saath chalein sada kabhi khatm apana safar na ho

If I have a problem with the the original poetry of Bashir badr, it is that the ghazal doesn't have a suitable climax. It fails to really build on the first two brilliant couplets. However the matla' alone is enough to make it count as an all time favorite. While I simply love the Hussain Brothers' version, the same, alas, I can't say about Jagjit Singh's. He seems to have taken a beautiful love song and turned into a wailing in pain directed towards the divine. I can understand the grave personal trauma he was going through at the time when he recorded the song in 1991, but still.

For months now, I've wanted to translate the poetry. From my lame attempts in the past, you'd know my bad propensity towards doing it in rhyme. Here, then. Promise not to make fun.

Appear in my vision once, just so

Naïve eyes do not need to know

Stay with me but a night, just so

Dawn never breaks on the morrow.

Praise be to God, may He please

Bless me with a virtue so rare

Pray I might, make me forget you

He must never answer my prayer

Wrapped in my arms, one kind dream

Lies still a pale and tired moon

The stars won’t fade out just yet

Heartaches won’t fall asleep so soon

Together, or far apart, your thought

Like incense, on my mind 'll grow

Flourish like a blossom how can he

Burning in flame who’s yet to know?

Basked in a bright summer sun

Kissed by the night in full hue

Strolling forever hand in hand

May our odyssey ever continue

p.s. I've since managed to embed the song sung by The Hussain Brothers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Paifa vafool!

Yesterday we went to watch a movie. Which is news, under the circumstances. The missus was apprehensive of going into a movie hall. She's read somewhere that crowded air conditioned spaces are the ideal transfer points of H1N1. Thankfully nobody in the plex coughed, sneezed, or looked sick in any manner. Nobody was wearing a mask. Yours truly was the only person letting out an occasional cough and getting regarded with alarmed looks. I'm told young Ms. Ayushi is having a similar experience in school. These days their teachers are told to stay alert for probable cough and cold symptoms. And every morning at the assembly, under those observant eyes, our daughter feels a huge sneeze welling up inside her whenever she looks at the morning sun. She says the sun getting in her eyes makes her sneeze. I believe we are a family of nervous sneezers and coughers.

About what we chose to watch, I'm more than satisfied.

Kaminay is farp. Kaminay is ftark. (It even has a racy number called fatak, which, shock of shocks, is actually about Shahid Kapoor the goody NGO worker Guddu, extolling the virtue of safe sex with a bit of pomp and circumstance, inside a red light district. I'd never have guessed. But I get ahead of myself here....where was I? ) Yes. Kaminay has the the Vishal Bhardwaj stamp of quality. In extra bold letters too. The slight variation here is in the pace of events as they build up towards a climax. Were Mr. Bharadwaj playing cricket, this would be his debut in oneday matches. All them gangsters, the chase scenes, the arson and shootouts, this is territory often frequented by a fellow Tarrantino fan, Fanjay F. Gupta. But like they say, the proof of the effing is in the color of the baby's eyes. I'm quite sure if Guptaji were to make this film, a certain Mr. Dutt would be playing the kamina played here (with sublime panache', I must add) by Amol Gupte. And we all know how it would turn out, don't we? So there.

The triumph of scene and dialogue writing that was integral to Omkara and Maqbool takes Mr. Bharadwaj to new realms here. Unlike these earlier adaptations where the literary backbone demanded him to dispense the bard's famous monologues every once in a while, here he has more freedom over the original storyline (unless, that is to say, this is his take on The comedy of errorf. Just a thought). The result is spectacular. In Kaminay, Vishal uses the economy of words and subtle wordplay to perfection. It all starts to happen in the first 90 seconds of the film. When Charlie the lisper lays out the rules of the story and lets you know why he will call an f an f. That opening grabs one by the balls and fixes the attention squarely. From then on it's one rocking ride.

The gems of dialogue were discussed in great detail by Raja Sen on rediff. The only thing I might add is the one instance where the dialogue was left unsaid. In the early minutes of the film, Charlie says something like, "watt usse nahi lagti ki kaunsa rasta tum chunte ho. Balki watt usse lagti hai ki kaunsa rasta tum chhodte ho." Now I couldn't make much of it at the time (in any case, I have limited understanding of mumbaiyya language; in my opinion, agar CFL nahi jalaoge to bahut watt lag jayega). Not until towards the very end of the climax when Charlie decides to play proper and not pick up the two huge diamonds from a dead Tashi's hand, and gets shot at the back as a result. You are shown a tight close shot of the hand with diamonds and the dialogue is left unrepeated. Masterly!

Shahid Kapoor acts like he's the future of hindi cinema. Well, perhaps he is. He and Abhay Deol. But the refreshing surprises are in Ms Chopra's hurricane Marathi lines, the awesome ensemble cast of cameo players largely unseen in hindi screen (especially the bong brothers), and every character defined with nuances. From what one has seen in an otherwise drab year for Bollywood, surely this will be the one 2009 is going to be remembered by.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Here. Take every adoring glance
Here. Take morning bliss
Here. Take all my favorite words since childhood
Here. Take success, albatross in flight
Here. Take the most secret ecstasy of adolescence
Here. Take love, winding road in the hills
Here. Take missives from faraway lands
Here. Take memories, gemstones threaded in sun and rain
Here. Take this hanky, transience
Here. Take promises, run of the river
Here. Take the misery of pen on paper
Here. Take my palms, a-begging reprieve
Here. Take this bust oozing liquid fire
Here. Take ambition, a midsummer night's gale
Here. Take absolutely glorious failure
Here. Take every treasure this broken casket holds
Here. Take the call of wilderness
Here. Take countless doors ajar
Here. Take all the tears the heart would hide
Here. Take freedom, release
Here. Take affection, a pool gathered in droplets
Here. Take remembrance, take oblivion
Here. Take heaven's flag

What gives ?

p.s. (With apologies to Sunil Gangopadhyay, from whose original this is an almost verbatim translation. Except for the last line, which should have literally been : "Care to give anything?" But I wanted a twist.)

p.s.2 (On a summer holiday back home, I was browsing through a decrepit bookshelf from when I was in school. There I revisited this book. It's called "In love with you, blank sheet." Again, verbatim)

p.s.3 (I haven't got one. I envy people who do)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Of Police, media and other forms of recreation

Been M.I.A for a while, huh, fellers? What to do, it's well nigh impossible to attend to two blogs at a time. And my other blog had been keeping me completely busy these last few days.

I kid, of course.

In actual point of fact, the venerable broadband service providers of this holy state of Jharkhand were playing games with me. I was practically out of net at home (save a pathetic GPRS connection), and somehow I haven't really got around to writing posts at work. (Don't get me wrong here, it's not about scruples. I mean trading stocks, reading blogs or downloading Madelyn Marie at work is okay for me. Writing something takes a bit of peace and quiet.) It can all be put down to a copped out ADSL modem that took one week to detect and another to replace. But that wouldn't be an interesting story, no? Thought so.

In interesting news, then, there's this young stud. Bears a striking resemblance to Jeff Goldbaum the fly. If looks were the only criterion he would be babe magnet. Maybe he is. What matters, however, is that he and five of his friends took one girl to a pub. They all had plenty to drink. And smoke, maybe . Rest of the matter is sub-judice. This chap,Vinamra Soni, was on a train to Jamshedpur two days later. He took a call from his father, telling him to alight midway and wait for his parents, who were on their way to take him back to Mumbai, to surrender at a police station.

The parents-in-law of my good friend In dino (you can see him here, the bottle opener guy) live in Jamshedpur. They have this sprawling three-storied house in Sonari area. The ground floor they have rented out. Their tenants for the past twenty years are a well-to-do business family who own a few retail outlets in the city and are, reportedly, nice gentle folks. The landlords also report they used to raise their kids in a strict disciplinarian fashion.

You know where this is going, don't you? Only it's not getting there. The young Mr. Soni already has some support in the bloggosphere. I'm not here to strengthen it. Though he appears now to be in the deepest pile of shit. And I tend to have a bit of sympathy for anyone in deep shit.

It went like this. In the morn 21st last week, the Sonis told their landlords they'll be out of town for a few days. Business related problem, they said. Towards evening, cops were all over the premises. State cops and Mumbai police crime branch together. Short of a sniper and a coupla armoured cars, it looked exactly like a terrorist bust. They asked the landlord where were his tenants, and moreover, why he kept such shady tenants. They tried to kick open the tenants' front door. They accused the landlords of not keeping an eye on their tenant's errant son. Eventually they got tired after an hour or so (the door was solid teak) and left in a huff. Perhaps they had received news of the arrest. The landlords slept fitfully through the night.

Only to be woken up by scores of microphone wielding TV people in the morning. Ye hai aj tak, aur ham dikha rahe hain woh ghar jisme... They thrust the mic at their faces, the poor in-laws. Since when have you known Vinamra Soni? Did he have a normal childhood? How do you feel now that the boy who lived under your roof is today a wanted criminal?

I rolled on the floor when narrated the scene. Not because it was funny or anything. But it instantly reminded me of the one scene from Notting Hill, where Spike, in briefs, opens the front door for the paparazzi.

Oh how one wishes one could be in the right place at the right time, wearing the right sort of underwear!

In other news, I was leafing through an old Roald Dahl collection yesterday, when I stumbled on, and re-read, PIG. In these days of swine flu. Funny coincidence. Oddly, I've always loved stories like these, where terrible things happen to protagonists without reason or logic. So much so the macabre borders the surreal. I think I had a troubled childhood.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Jungle jungle phool khila hai...

Dear people with very large photographic equipment,

Please do kindly keep it in mind that your 1000x zoom attachments may actually look very threatening to man and animal. Especially animal. You can't blame a two and a half year old tiger for mistaking them for Howitzer cannons. He is but an adolescent yet to learn the ways of the world. It speaks volumes for the great lineage and upbringing of the Bandhavgarh tiger that he keeps his composure and sang froid in front of a 100-strong motley crowd from all over the world brandishing what look like deadly weapons of mass destruction. Do also realize, that when you are there to see the tiger and tiger will most likely come to you (they've signed an MOU or something) you don't really need the zoom. Tigers are large animals, clearly visible to the naked eye and an average camera. If you must keep them screwed on, cover them up with a cloak or something. You can even cover yourselves up with it, like the photographers in the early twentieth century. Once you are done seeing the tiger, you can bring out the zoom all you like and shoot birds and lizards aplenty.
You sir, the dignified looking elderly gent wearing animal planet logo all over your attire, (were you really from animal planet?) must remember that it is bad form to sit head and shoulders above and in front of everybody on a jeep with pimped up seats when all else are causing serious damage to their neck muscles trying to catch a glimpse from their standard issue open-hooded gypsies.
Dear lady with the 42'' waist pair of jeans,
It intrigued me no end as to what you and your boyfriend kept looking at through your ginormous zoom lens in the Kendua tree at white tiger forest lodge, all morning and afternoon. Yes, I understand there must've been some birds there, but don't you think the rough and tumble of the tiger show in early morning called for a restful day spent with a drop of ale and a 3000 calorie power lunch, fit for the tiger, spread out by the excellent culinary team at the lodge?
Speaking of which, dear reader, it's a party out there. And to quote one Mr. Mark Knopfler, you may kiss the cook, indeed. He's gold. They don't make cooks like him anymore. He just ladles in the LDL. Never shies away from throwing 700 calories into a dish that could've been done within 250. You may call it sinful. I call it grit and chutzpah.
All minor peeves aside, you must come to Bandhavgarh. That's where it's at. (Yes, Dylan.) And hit your triglycerides for a six.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Safar mein dhoop to hogi

In mandiromein dhoop bahut hoti hai sir. Bachche kaise ja payenge itni dhoop me? Bachcho ko kaise ghumana hai, dhoop se hatana hai, main janta hoon. Aap samajh rahe hain na main kya keh raha hoon? Bhartiya paribar me kis tarah ka laj lihaj rakhna padta hai main janta hoon. Mandir kaise dikhana hai, mujhe aata hai. Aththara saal se isi kaam me laga hua hoon.

Thus spake Sri Dikshit. A very oily and objectionable pimp with slicked back hair and shifty eyes. But then his ilk is everywhere, on the streets of Khajuraho. Their target consumer, the Indian middle class tourist. The Americans, Italians, Israelis and Russians are outside their ambit. The rich ones stay at the high end resorts nearer to the airport and are mostly on a conducted tour. The hiker sorts in chappals have their trusty guidebooks and maps, often travel on foot and are unfailingly wary of local touts. Both largely unapproachable.

To cut a long story short, we got around Dikshit. And look where it got us. Into a lot of dhoop. Thankfully the kids were not wilting. Far from it. They were suppressing smiles and pointedly looking the other way and asking other questions. Like why the cow and the boar are gods. So much for Bhartiya paribar, parampara, laaj, lihaz.

Getting through all that dhoop, answers to some questions still remain in the dark for me. Like what's with the lion and the woman? And what is the woman knelt between hind legs of a dragon/horse trying to look at or grab? See pics.

One word. Khajuraho is fun. And totally worth it. If you are ready to live with beer @ Rs. 80. From the retail outlet, that is. Rs. 120 at the eatery. But those are figures all over MP. The saffron raj has made it tough for the tipplers.

The light and sound show is boring. Like they mostly are, anywhere. What's unique here is the guards won't allow tripods inside the gardens during the show, even as they'll let you carry a still camera, which will be completely useless minus a stand. For night photography, the best available spot in town is the famed Blue Sky rooftop restaurant, across the street.

From here we'd travel on to Bandhavgarh, in search of the majestic white tiger. More of that story on a later post. See also the updated flickr album, if you would.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It was just a wedding in Feb

This is the woman once wooed by Leo. This is the woman that once famously said of her failed relationship with Ronaldo, "Men? who needs men? I have my dogs."

Last Thursday it seems, she finally wed her quarterback. And the bride as well as her dogs, were dressed by Dolce & Gabbana.

Why does that elicit a sigh?

Ah,well,well, well. Best wishes, gal.