Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rab and aur sab

Do you see Rab, i.e, God, in Shah Rukh Khan's countenance? Do you, Punk? Because this young lady here, she does. And, of course I don't. But then I've had myopia since about the same time they discovered Ethiopia, which was way before this young lady was even up to the task of wetting her nappies. The lady has a condition, you say? Pity, no? Such a fetching young girl. Like a breeze of fresh air, a friend remarked. Like the girls in breeze soap commercials, I added. Anoushka, her name was. Proficient in every-thing. Dancing, emoting, raising hell on a hyabusa, you name it. Only thing she has a glitch with is her face recognition software. It seems she has difficulty in identifying people every time they change their clothes, don a pair of contacts, or put mousse in their hair. No problemo, I said. You only gotta buy yourself a lenovo, lady, and you're all set. (Wait ! Are those lenovo laptops designed to recognize chhote nawab's mug only? food for ponderance.)

Decades ago, one thirty-something filmmaker had told a story of a couple who got married by circumstances. How they lived the bliss of love blooming haule haule in the surroundings of mundane domesticity until tragedy struck, was the mainstay of his masterpiece, celebrated for decades around the world. Ever afterwards, dozens of films have been made in India with a similar starting point. The premise is a tad frayed at the edges. Umpteen directors good, bad and ugly have grabbed that ball and run with it. Until one day, the ball dropped. With apologies to John Donne, one needn't send to ask on whom the ball dropped, it dropped on Adi.

Several reviewers have trashed the movie and vent disappointment over Aditya Chopra's fall from grace. I wouldn't dwell on it. Let me list the positives. The sets are good. SRK as the bespectacled John Doe a.k.a Surindar Sahni gets a B- plus for effort. But only as Suri, mind you. In his other avatar he is insufferable. If you can skip the movie but sneak inside the hall at about 70 minutes into the proceedings, you could stay for 5 minutes and watch the Shyamak Davar choreographed Bollywood tribute dance, which I found kind of nice despite ghastly music. Especially Kajol briefly impersonating Nargis which was really something. And surely among positives, young Anoushka too, she's a darling. I can never forgive Adi Chopra for giving her a wrong launch. In spite of being YRF product with an Amritsari backdrop, the film has very little sarson-da-saag and makki-di-roti, like some apprehensive souls had feared.

What else is there? Oh, SRK will walk out of this debacle unscathed. Same for Yash Raj Films, who look like they can take 10 flops for every moderate hit they make. Not so much Aditya Chopra, whose credentials as the midas man should take a serious beating after this.

The year end is drawing nigh. It's been a pathetic year for the big budget vehicles for top league Mumbai stars and directors. The biggest success among which was perhaps Singh is Kingg, a fact that pretty much tells the whole story. I'm, however, going to put my money on the Christmas release. Maybe Amir has a finger on market pulse. Maybe Ghazini will deliver. One lives in hope.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My pics

This evening I was rummaging through backup discs of my old PC. Here is one gem I found, and I can't help sharing it.

A resounding left hook for the pacifists' cause.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Good luck, Mr. Gorsky
warning : Long post.

People always say, "You should have your money working for you."
I've decided I'll do the work......I'm gonna let the money relax.
Know what I mean? Because you send your money out there...working for you, a lot of times it gets fired.
You go back, "What happened? I had my money working for me."
"Yeah, I remember your money. Showing up late, taking time off. We had to let him go."

-Seinfeld, The stock tip.

Unlike Jerry, it won’t be easy for me to put all blame squarely on my money. Why, it was doing quite well last year. Not like it had suddenly developed a drinking problem or started doing drugs this January, which finally, would completely bring him down in October. Had I gone to his workplace to enquire, the response I’d most likely get should be, “Oh, we knew your money. Among the finest we had. A sharp kid, he was. None of his fault, actually. These are difficult times, sir. We had to close down the whole division he was working in.”

I know. This is all my doing. I should have called him back in time. “Son, that’s no place for nice people to be working in. I think you should stay home and keep warm under the mattress for a while. Heck, read something, get a degree if you will. I’m sure there’ll be openings for you at a later point.”

I have a friend whom for good reason I call the mad professor. He is somewhere in-between what you’d call piquantly eccentric and stark raging mad, leaning as far towards the latter as a demanding career in academics would allow. For apparently no fault of mine he insists on calling me the Corporate Honcho. Can’t imagine what I’ve done to deserve this. So, the other day, mad Prof calls and asks, so, how’s the Honcho doing? Had to tell him the Honcho is sitting on his haunches to closely observe the depths the stock market can plunge.

Have to mention another friend here. Now let’s call him Mr.Gorsky for reasons I’ll not get into until later. Like many a respectable bloke, he was patently skeptical of stocks till late last year. Then one day in cold January, the bug bit him. Everybody around him was making too much money too easily. He couldn’t take it any more. He was into a bit of liquidity at the time. As it happened, the market crashed down under the weight of his investment. It was like, he put some cash in, the stocks went down a little; he averaged, the market went mean. He sunk a little more, it dipped lower. In no time he was out of cash and the market, outside the standard range of deviation. Still our Mr. G was all tall talk.

“By January 2009 you’ll all see, the sensex will cross 25000.”

“I’m in it for the long haul, man, and I’ll clean up double my money in two years time.”

We used to snigger. This made G choose a quiet modus operandi. Every month, with his paycheck, off he goes, to throw some more good money after the bad. It would not be such a bad idea if he stuck to big blue chips, like every analyst on TV seems to suggest, though I don’t see them actually doing it. No, he is all into his Lando Infratechs and Warren Finances and God knows what other exotic stuff. In the matter of picking stocks, he blindly trusts his broker, who periodically feeds him all these tips. I know the broker; he is actually quite a nice guy, not a common trait among his tribe. Irony is, you can trust a nice guy only with things he has some control over. I tried to reason with Gorsky, “See, feller G, you can trust feller B not to defraud you or stab you in the back, but how can you trust him when he promises no rain on Thursday evening? Be reasonable, will you?"

By now I'm convinced bailing out Gorsky is the only bailout we need to put the economy back on track. We've discussed it among friends. We made an offer to G to raise among ourselves the amount he is in the red for, and let him quit at evens, if he promises to stay out of stocks. Doubtless it would hurt us all a lot in these tough times, but what's to be done has to be done. The economic situation can ease out only if G is persuaded to disinvest. But he would have none of it. He'd say, "Guys, don't you know, this money, quadrupled, would see my daughters through college?" And we'd say, "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky."

I think we should appeal to Mr. Chidambaram for mandatory implementation of the Gorsky bailout package. In case you don't catch the Gorsky reference, the original joke is at the bottom of this post.*

Since I started with Seinfeld, I thought it fitting to end it with another big influence from pop entertainment. But Peanuts was never big on economics. After much research, the best I could come up with was this:


*When Apollo Mission Astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" statement but followed it by several remarks, usual com traffic between him, the other astronauts and Mission Control.

Just before he re-entered the lander, however, he made the enigmatic remark "Good luck Mr. Gorsky."

Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet Cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs. Over the years many people questioned Armstrong as to what the "Good luck Mr Gorsky" statement meant, but Armstrong always just smiled.

Just a few years ago, (on July 5, 1995 in Tampa Bay FL) while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26-year old question to Armstrong. This time he finally responded. Mr. Gorsky had finally died and so Neil Armstrong felt he could answer the question.

When he was a kid, he was playing baseball with a friend in the backyard. His friend hit a fly ball, which landed in the front of his neighbor's bedroom windows. His neighbors were Mr. & Mrs. Gorsky. As he leaned down to pick up the ball, young Armstrong heard Mr. Gorsky pleading with his wife about something and Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky. "Oral sex! You want oral sex?! You'll get oral sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!"

*Source : here

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Listen easy

A friend sent the link to a long lost Panchamda number in Bengali. Lost to time, the fallibility of ferromagnetics or spring cleaning. Who would know?

Without preamble I share with you, then, the man and his song.

Surprisingly (it being such a wonderful composition) the hindi version is way lesser known. I don't think it was even a big hit. Maybe RD wasted it on the wrong film. Which film, which song? Quiz, anyone?

This weekend, I've also been listening to a bit of popular music. On that note, let me ask you, as is done in the blogging parlance, how fab is the music of Yuvraj? I would admit to having taken quite a liking to it. Especially the one least heard in promos. The opening of Zindagi Zindagi blew me because it sounds more like Gulzar saab and Panchamda than Rahman. The choice of woodwind, in this case a harmonica, harks back to nostalgia. From the next loop onwards Rahman takes over and it's into familiar territory. But the first four lines, wow, it's gold. The movie I couldn't bother watching. Not a fan of the Subhash the Ghai. The early reviews bear out the wisdom of my decision.

An fabulously enjoyable update on the movie and it's music you'll find here, and I quote....

Yuvraj is a film of Katrina Kaif and Salman Khan 2nd movie and in Yuvraj Movie Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif is going to be married. Everybody everyone in bollywood and salman khan and katrina kaif’s fan want to see they both married and work in films together as much as they can. Yuvraj Movie is one more movie where peoples can watch Salman khan and Katrina kaif Together in Yuvraj Movie.

Speaking of popular music, for some reason I'm unable to stop singing Tha tha karke from Golmaal returns ever since I was forced to watch it. I think it should get an award or something in the most addictive song of the year category.

In early listenings of Rab ne Banadi Jodi, it sounds easily the most lukewarm score ever for a Yashraj film, more so considering the movie presumably involves a lot of dancing.

A follow-up on me and the market meltdown will be out shortly so watch this space.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Other fish to fry

Did you miss me? I guess not.(then proceeds to drink a jug of water and leak from hundreds of bullet holes in his body to demonstrate the point) - The mask

Hello friends. In case you were wondering, which I'm certain you weren't, yours truly had been alive and well and in the meantime attending to generally uninteresting stuff. Been going through a dull phase, with nothing worthwhile to report, and the old creative ying dying a slow death.

On the duller side of things, fish in my daughter's fishbowl had been dropping off at a steady clip. Now, at the very beginning, had I googled a bit on the subject, like I do with most things including finding a proper euphemism for dying, I'd have known instantly that the most suitable fish for keeping in fishbowls are the Siamese betta. They are the piesces equivalent of career convicts who are most at ease inside their 8'x8' cell. The wide open world bothers them so much they keep doing bad things. I've seen a betta live in a wine glass for weeks in perfect contentment. The local pet shops curiously call them the fighter fish. I haven't seen them fight with anybody. In fact, in a multiracial environment, they are most likely to seek a nook and hide in it. We had one in our bowl. That fellow would hide inside a faux bush all day. Coming up for food once in a while seemed for him like too much trouble. One day the pearl gourami killed him. But we'll perhaps come back to that.

Back on the subject of choosing a fish, instead of doing a little research, at first we went by whatever inputs visual media gave us. And beautiful fat goldfish in bowls were all the rage over tv and print. What is it they have against the poor goldfish, these hateful media men, is something I might never understand. They have caused more deaths in the goldfish populace by inducing people to keep them in bowls, than perhaps Henry Ford did among the human race by introducing them to automobiles. Goldfish in a bowl is easily the most unreliable creature on the face of the earth. Now you see them having one helluva party, eating and shitting in wild merriment. You saunter off to the kitchen to fix a little snack, having gotten a little peckish yourself, y'know, just looking at them. What with having a snack, taking a call, catching a TV show, you might get delayed by minutes and next time you look, one of them will be belly up. Happened to me coupla dozen times. I never count on goldfish not to die on me without prior notice. Inconsiderate bunch of quitters, I call them.

Nowadays, we've gotten wise. We now keep only those fish which the pet shop boys call hard fish. I think they mean hard to kill. The Steven Seagulls and Bruce Willes of the fishworld, y'know? We keep Gouramis, tetra, assorted colored carp etc. Even these manage to die under mysterious circumstances. I suspect there are evil spirits of dead fish haunting that bowl. My daughter is keeping a headcount. The day we kill our 50th fish, we'll throw a party and feed them all some pork chops and tuna salad.

All these talk about fish reminds me of a scene from You don't mess with the Zohan, the new kickass comedy caper from Adam Sandler, ideally watched on the home theater on some evening when the kids have gone to some birthday party or something. It's not actually sexually explicit, but many scenes may not be fit for family viewing. Watch this where Zohan the crack agent of Mossad is about to capture a Palestinian terrorist, and they are challenging each other's pain endurance. Enjoy!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Holy water

Water Dress - Mattoni Spring Water Commercial

Loving this commercial. Somewhere somebody 'd said sex sells. Used in refinement, and higher quotients of soft titillation, it still delivers. Some viewer has asked why is the word "bitch" briefly superimposed at 39 seconds. Beats me. Watch and comment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The inheritance of Payne

Meltdown is passe'. Finished. Beyond resurrection. It sounds so old it might have been Roosevelt talking about the economy.

The bottom has fallen off can go a long way, but in all the wrong directions. It's graphic, it's cute, yes, but it doesn't really cut the shit anymore.

That expression is clearly inadequate for what's happening in today's marketplace. Besides, the imagery always evokes in the mind something like above. Can't be taken seriously, if you see what I mean.

So the pundits now have a better description of things. Today they only have to say "the market is seeing a lot of pain" and be done with it. Likewise : "Europe's two biggest banks, felt the pain more than most" or, "the pain would only intensify in November with the gloom only getting darker." All these talk about pain has given a new lease of life to a mundane workaday word which was dying a slow death in the hands of oxycodone and acetamenophen.

Across the threshold of all this pain, somewhere I can see the silhouette of Max. His pain indicator inching up to the chin and his bottle of painkillers empty. He's started to stumble and fumble. One more spray from the Ingram of some goon lurking beyond the next alleyway, and he will be done for. He continues to mutter profundities in my ears like only Max Payne can :

You try to run from it, but the more you run, the deeper, more terrible it grows behind you, its edges yawning at your heels.

After a pause :
It could destroy you, drive you mad. It could set you free.*

BTW, the film is getting all manners of flak from reviewers. Anybody watch?

* Not my fertile imagine running amok with Max on the stock markets. These are real quotes from the game cut scenes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Goddess in Autumn

A one-and-a-half-week spent in a daze of mellow wellness, not counting a minor throat infection afflicted by cold beer in Bong weather. Been to the Durgapujo in Kolkata after a gap of two years. Among many other things, a morning of pandalizing, an experimental cocktail, a dear friend paying for the whole crowd at Tangra at saptami lunch (his novel is out on a Pujabarshiki - his first step into big league, and a call for celebration) and rediscovering New Market.

Some photos. The first two at Badamtala Ashar Sangho, off Hazra road.

We gathered from the hoardings Prabhuji mithun-da is the brand ambassador for this Pujo. (Oh, yes, they all have brand ambassadors now.) Mithun-da would be proud. All in all, we liked the mood and ambiance of the setup. Very old-worldly and nostalgia.

See the old rajbari ( King's haveli) milieu on the sidelines? Update : An utube link for the pandal.

Ekdalia. Garish. I felt like calling it the moor's last sigh (at the moo-rals).

What with the recession, stock crash and all, the organizers at Selimpur Palli were of the grim view that it was the indeed the end of days, apocalypse, Armageddon, whatever. Why else would they think of putting the goddess on Noah's ark?

Rajib, the blackberry guy, was the host for ashtami evening. The inventory included a bottle of Stoli Vanil vanilla flavored vodka, one tequila (Pepe Lopez, not quite top of the line stuff, I hear), and also some VAT (but nobody was in the vatty mood). Rajib insisted that we do the Stoli first, and chase it down with Pepe shots. I suggested, on a whim, that we should try out some sort of a float with the vodka and some vanilla ice cream. Here goes.

1 1/2 oz vanilla flavored vodka

50 ml Ice cream soda/ Sprite

Two scoops vanilla ice cream

Mix the vodka, soda/sprite and ice cream into a smooth consistency. Pour in a highball glass and float a scoop of ice cream on top. Can be served with some strawberry or chocolate syrup topping. Suggested name: Stoli Scream.

The brand Tangra is now a pale shadow of what it used to be. At Kim Fa, the soup was passable, the noodle dishes (as famously put by J.A.P in recent times,) more Shyambazar than Sanghai, the less said about the Szechwan chicken the better. Maybe old man Kim was taking a nap. After all, it was afternoon during durgapujo time and the Bangali Bhadralok who wouldn't know their dim sums from their momos were all out in hordes.

Lately Rajib has developed this annoying habit of having a meal solely consisting of starters while eating out. After a coupla rounds of batter-fried chicken dumplings and babycorns, he sought to secure the kiddies' vote in his favor by announcing : All who want to eat starters only, say "aye", or something to that effect, which, sure enough, was getting some raised hands at the kids camp. Put down firmly by Subroto the mirthless girth with a gem of a statement : "Na. Ami food khabo." Which roughly translated to: "no i want to eat a proper meal", but easily became the best in hungry indignation since Major de Coverley's : "Gimme eat" in catch 22.

The Tangra Chinese are these days cheap neither. We paid 6000 bucks for a crowd of 20 not counting small kids. Sorry, Indranil the novelist payed. Not expensive really, but not dirt cheap by any standards. And the portions don't justify the rates.

The day before I was coming back, I needed to buy some red and green curry paste, lemongrass, nam pla, oyster sauce, bamboo shoots and other veggies I can't buy fresh at my small town marketplace. You can guess I'm trying to dabble in Thai cuisine. I was thinking maybe Spencer's but a friend suggested Hogg market. Hesitantly I went, probably after two-and-a half decades' hiatus. The place was a treasure trove, as ever. I got every item on my list, the way I'd wanted. Not only could I get lemongrass for Rs. 3 a stalk, (Spencer's charge 10, and sell stale stuff) every little shop at the back end alley was a revelation. I even ended up buying some Angostura bitters.

When we were little kids, people in Kolkata used to say that you could buy bat's wings and cheeta's milk at the New Market if you were paying the right price. Indeed. I perfectly see their point now.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mouse on the house

It's a peaceful evening at the Pronto household. Ms. Ayushi is at her study table steadfastly battling her demons, namely : Averages, Angles and Decimals. At this particular instance there's a vicious quarrel brewing up between some stubborn supplementary and complementary angles who won't listen to to the voice of amicability. They insist on extracting their exact degrees of flesh from this squabble. Ms.Ayushi is in fact contemplating the prospect of seeking arbitration from daddy, who's in the next room in front of his PC reading worthless blogs. She doubts this will be a happy scenario, 'cause daddy, while pointing to a solution, has this nasty habit of running down people who are unequal to resolving such minor tiffs between angles. Those people include mommy, who has washed her hands off Maths ever since Ayushi went to standard five, into the grim world of fractions, geometry and other goblins. At this very moment, mommy is grappling with one of her endless phone calls, which threatens to eat into her appointment with sa-re-ga-ma-pa.

All in all, a pretty picture of blissful domesticity, with all indications that God has turned in a bit early for the night after a long week at office( sending another half a dozen i-banks packing), seeing all's well with heaven and earth.

Suddenly blasted to smithereens by a deep, lusty, soul-stirring cry of eeeeeeeek emitting from Ms. Ayushi's room. Followed by mommy slamming down the phone and running into cupboards and bedspreads with a broom in hand. Such a commotion that even daddy has to reluctantly abandon his schemes of changing the world, pondering on the latest entry in Dilbert blog.

Peoople will ask why all that fuss over a puny liddil mouse. What they don't seem to understand (to paraphrase John McCain), is that nothing can put on a homeowners' pride and self-belief a bigger dent than a rodent in the house.

The military attache' at the White House placed a frantic call to Pentagon : an wild moose is scouring the lawns, threatening national security. Get in touch with the Governor of Alaska ASAP......oops, wrong war story. Truth be told though, SOS calls did get made to various corners of the map. Ayushi's mom calling most of her relatives for advice on assault plan and damage control. It all ended with Daddy running to the nearest mom-and-pops' and heckling them into opening their store well past ten. A pack of ratkill was secured. Chuha jisse kha-kar, mare bahar jaa-kar. Ayushi promptly announced she'd sleep the night on her parents' bed. No, make that every night, till the mouse is gone.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Dead at night, with Ayushi fast asleep save occasionally mumbling something about a mouse creeping over her pillow, the missus tells me she had wind of this. Well in advance. "Y'know, I used to get a mousy smell. Everywhere. In every nook." I'm like,"what, do you mean you kept smelling a rat? And I always thought that smell was about dead rats and financial scams only? Never knew live mice had a particular smell too."

For the next three agonizing days, the mouse kept eating the ratkill. Part by part. Only it didn't seem to be dying. It was very much alive. And it was having one hell of a bowel movement. maybe the Mortein company made sure their poison was full of fiber. Maybe it was meant to go out to defecate and die in the process. The mouse never made that mistake. Everyday, the missus would find inside cupboard and bed boxes, rat stool in quantities I myself would've been proud of as a homo sapiens. Oh for the iniquities of being!

"Hubby, our plan doesn't appear to be working."
"Who do you think you're dealing with, dear lady? It's a mouse, it should know all about the best laid plans."

"Y'know, dear, we should go get a mouse trap."
"What? No, no, no, not tonight, old lass. Tonight I'm not in the mood for Mrs. Christie. Tonight I'll be with Sir Pelham."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

They say, (with apologies to The Boss)

You can't kill some vermin without getting blood on your hands
This gun's for hire, even as you're just dancing in your pants.

How the mouse was won, is not a pretty story. It involved gore, a broom, heroics from our maid, and other icky stuff.

Our maid is getting a hefty bonus this festive season. And we're driving down to Kolkata for Pujo after two long years, glum in the knowledge our books and blankets are safe once again. Wish you all a happy Pujo, Dussera and Navaratri !

My wife has information from the grapevine there might be bomb blasts this Durga Pujo in Kolkata. I doubt it. Militants never pick Kolkata. Didi is doing enough here already towards disrupting public life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I often enjoy watching films that no one else seem to bother with. Like these two films I caught lately. One, with great potential, competent cast, some sort of an improbable storyline that's the stuff of most great comedy, some witty one-liners and smart scenes here and there, but altogether a waste of effort. Another, the second from a line of awfully fucking disrespectful films that have come to define a genre. The genre which is neither ABCD nor American Pie. But first let's talk about Mallicka Sherawat.

Ooh, the way she turns at the door, makes a face and throws Khaak-sar at Kay Kay Menon ! Maybe Maan gaye Mughal-e-azam could be endured once just for that moment. And all that at the end of a spate of hilarity from good old Sanjay Chhel, where he does 'fun with Urdu', an oft-visited terrain in Bollywood, but still manages to turn out some originals. Consider this.

Kay Kay (to Pawan Malhotra) : Thode Mashruf hain bhai, kal baat karte hain.
Pawan : Mushroom kha rahela hai to kya hua re?

Kay Kay: Don bhai to bahut bade fan hain hamare mausiki ke
Mallicka: Kiski mausi? Aap ki mausi bhi singer hain? Meri mausi bhi gaati hain. Bhajan.

While Mallicka and Sanjay Chhel keep the show running, Paresh Rawal and Rahul Bose keep ruining it. About Paresh, we needn't elaborate. Nowadays he unfailingly gets into this loud bigger-than-the-script mode. So extremely annoying, everybody hates him for it. About Rahul, I think he is a misfit for this sort of a game. Not his forte. He's much better understated. His flaws with comic timing is exposed here every now and then.

In the end, it's Ms. Sherawat's film. Say what you will, but I can't help feeling sorry for her. She needed a hit at this point, and God knows she did all she could, and then some. But all her efforts lay wasted in a product put together in a hurry, a product running frequently out of funds by the looks of it, a sad mishmash in all hues of brilliance and shoddiness. Sigh!

When you are among the presence of the great Kumar Patel, you tell your sensibilities go see a man about a dog. Or some other animal.

In this, their second outing, Harold and Kumar are a much improved lot. They are no longer gawky undergrads posturing as adults. Now they've come of age. Now they aren't out of their depths even while smoking weed with Dubya. Then they have this conversation with the Prez.

-Dude, this is weed.
-That's Alabama Kush. That's only the finest.
-So you get high and then you put other people who smoke weed in jail? That's so hypocritical.
-Yeah? Well, let me ask you something, Kumar. You like giving hand jobs?
- No, sir.
- You like getting hand jobs?
- Yeah.
-All right. Well, that makes you a fucking hypocriticizer too. So shut the fuck up and smoke my weed.

Exceptional vision has gone behind that scene. Makes you see why everybody loves America. By the way, if you haven't heard Micky Avalon's brand of genital-bragging rap yet, do click the above utube link. Awe inspiring, I should say. All in all, a coupla hours well spent. To hell with propriety.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Feeling mushy

This album was lying somewhere in the car. Listening after eons while driving to work on a drizzling Friday morning. Magical.

One wants to listen to Rekha Bharadwaj a lot more. She's gold.

Rambhai ekdum neat and fresh

They were doing a case study. That's what they had gone to B-schools for anyway. No surprises there. But why in the name of sweet Jesus did they have to get fresh with Rambhai? Sample this:

'The man after 25 years of service, today works relentlessly to make both ends meet. Students and staff of IIM-A passionately wait at the 'window' to get tea, cigarettes from Rambhai. People get bothered on not seeing Rambhai at the shop. They love to share a few passionate words(sic) with him.' link.

One feels seriously concerned for the wellness of the IIM-A students and Profs when they start getting all passionate with Rambhai. Now Rambhai is a world renowned figure who everybody worth his cup of tea on the net would have heard of. It's also good to see that the IIM-A academic body has roped in Mainstream media into Rambhai's life to give him his fifteen minutes of fame. It was just that the opening lines had me ROFL. I'd have let it pass thinking it was another TOI gem, but the article goes on :

These words are from a case material prepared by the Faculty Development Programme (FDP) participants at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad.

Great. Just great. Now that the team have presented their case (the case study, to my mind, is another reinvention of the wheel, since the successful small entrepreneur model is age-old case material in B-schools anyway), and Rambhai has had his day under the spots, all decked up and freshened, one has a word of caution for him.

Careful with them boys, Rambhai. These MBA types, I tell you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stand up and deliver, Sir!

To :
(Kind attention Shri Sri K.N. Prasad, DE(PG), O/o GMTD, Dhanbad)

Dear sir,

I am a consumer of BSNL landline phone service residing in ****** Steel City, Sector-IV, Quarter no. ****. I have a landline connection with telephone number 06542-****** and consumer no. 98060475. Since May.2008 I have not been receiving my telephone bills at my residence. For the bill dated 11/05/2008, I had downloaded the bill from your web address and deposited the bill amount. However, now the link on that page for Dhanbad SSA ( too has stopped working for the past two months. Since I did not receive my bill dated 11/07/08 on time and neither could I download it from the internet, I was waiting for the bill to eventually arrive and pay with late fine. But it never arrived, and this morning outgoing calls from my number has been temporarily suspended. On contacting the local exchange, I was informed that it was the local SDO’s responsibility to ensure delivery of bills, in which there was a failure for whatever reasons. I was directed to collect the duplicate bill from their office and deposit. This is a very inconvenient situation for me as I will now have to waste time and effort on collecting a duplicate bill. Moreover, I apprehend repetitions of this incidence in future.

Having understood that BSNL has little or no control over timely delivery of telephone bills, I would like to request you to henceforth kindly arrange to e-mail me my landline telephone bill at the following mail ID : ********** . This will help avoid a lot of harassment to a loyal consumer and ensure my peace of mind. Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

(Partha Protim Chakrabarty)

Frankly, I don't believe for a moment mundane affairs like this should be put on a blog. Neither do I expect anybody to read through the long-winded grievance. It's just that I've got a good feeling about this. I remember my earlier panga-s with behemoth PSU corporations. Both these cases were marked with phenomenal and completely unlikely success since I decided to ditch the old world route and use electronic media. And in both cases success arrived after I posted them on zis here blog. Yes, I know this is mere correlation not causation, but for me it has become like the pale blue shirt I used to wear to interviews.

This time around it's Gormint machinery I'm up against, so I'm keeping fingers crossed.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A game of hardball

My uncle and his friends used to play ball. My uncle and his friends used to play ball on lazy summer afternoons. My uncle and his friends used to play ball on lazy summer afternoons at the Green Garden club grounds.

OK, OK, enough. What I'm driving at is, my uncle and his friends needed to raise some cash at times, to write off and replace a tattered old ball. We all did. In fact this could be the story of my own life too. Only I didn't have the one of a kind friend like my uncle did. But I get ahead of myself.

Well, my uncle and his friends would go dig into their saved pocket monies and put their athannies or whatever it would take in those blissful times, into the common kitty. Off they would march to the Unique Variety Stores, to purchase the the finest soccer ball of the day, a size 5 fake Adidas.

Then, after the dust had been sprinkled down on the Green Garden soccer field, and the battle lines been drawn, the territories marked, and the ball about to roll (I could talk in cliches till the cows came home) and there was but a bated breadth between the whistle and forty-four feet engaging in combat, from somewhere a shrill voice of discontent would spring.

It would later become clear, that Poltu kaku had had some tiff with people in the group over the choice of the color of ball, or his wish to play in the center forward position in his team, or simply that he wanted to have golgappa on the way back from Unique Variety with the leftover cash, which he was denied. Intricacies of the discontent need not be gotten into, for all that mattered now was that Poltu would not allow getting the game under way. Not one inch, any which way.

"What do you want now, shithead?" the big bullies glared down at him, but the puny Poltu would glare back with equal force. "Give him his athanni back and kick him out of the football field", somebody would proffer. But Poltu was by now squatting on the ball in the middle of the field and he would have none of it.
"Shove your athanni, who wants it? I want my share back."
"But that's all there's to it, that athanni was your share, ghonchu!"
"No, I want my share in this ball. I want a slice of this."

I really don't remember how my uncle and friends got out of it with their balls intact, it was such an old story. But I'm certain violence was not an option. Poltu's dad was the school headmaster and his elder brother was in the NDA.

I guess Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Bhattacharya and many other well-meaning people of Bengal should go ask my uncle and his friends.

Update : Looks like they did, this morning.
Update 2 : But then, did they learn the secret technique after all?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Bovine Divine (As in Jawaani Diwani)

This, on an otherwise unenthusiastic evening. Reminded me of the great cow-lover of our times. Venerable Mr. Verma, are you watching too?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

What's the story

A stunned silence befell the blog neighborhood since I did the last post. In one short week, it has caused a sharp fall in already scanty readership, commentlessness from old faithfuls, and a general air of distaste. I admit that there was no point in digging up that item except to let forth some bad jokes. The incident has also jolted my deep-rooted belief in the saleability of sex and bad taste. So much so that I also contemplated pulling it out. But one should be reminded of past follies from time to time, so it keeps.

In the meantime, yours truly has uncharacteristically mustered enough enthusiasm to write an entry for the flash fiction contest organized by Caferati and Livejournal. It required a story to be done within five hundred words. For want of story ideas, I'd borrowed from a real life incident that took place in our city coupla years ago. To win a positive response from the caferati people who also organize the cultural festival with that name, I have cleverly named it Kala Ghoda. Without further pretext, then , here goes the story. I'd rather you read it while listening to the excellent rendition of Kali Ghori Dwar Khadi from the film Chashme Baddoor. The connection between the song and the story is like nobody's business, except both have a motorcycle in it.

Kala Ghoda

Su. Her dupatta , powder blue in cream. Ombre’. Her longish hair teased up in a simple pony. Her pearl white kurta, half a size too small. Making her look all the more curvy. Maybe she’s put on a little weight since moving here. Maybe it’s her not having to do house chores anymore. Tis Hazari court Metro Station. Noisy intersection. Almost seven. It’s getting dusky. Surekha, unsure. Still from Bijnor.

“Careful with that Dupatta, miss. Try and keep it off the wheel. Here, are we comfortable now?” RJ had sized the girl up while easing up his Pulsar to her side. Small-town, lower middle class. Enrolled in some college in the city. Possibly looking for part time employment. Lost look. Great rack. Attractive, if imperfect features. Rabi Johar the Lajpat Nagar smartypants went to work.

-Said you were waiting for somebody?

- I was meeting Pilu. Childhood friend. She’s been in Delhi for some time. She’s a model. She was to take me to South extension.

-I’m going that way only. Where in South-ex?

-I’m not sure. We were going to see one Mrs. Tandon. I have her address. She runs the Glitz model agency. She might have openings for new faces.

-So what happened to Pilu?

-She got stuck in traffic. Cell out of range. At last she called, minutes ago. Asked me to reach there on my own. She’ll be waiting. I don’t know that area well. See, I’m new in this city.

-No worries miss. You’ll be OK. What did you say your name was?

Too smooth, this guy. Was that beer in his breath? Beware the city slickers, Didi used to warn her. Evening fell rapidly around them. RJ talked nineteen to the dozen.

-Indraprastha College? Fresher, eh? Know Monica there? The cultural secretary? Good friend of mine. Tell her Rabi said hi.

Speed breakers near Sadar Bazaar. He knows how to use them. Touchy feely. Awkward blush from Su.

-I’m sorry. Bit of trouble with the brakes. You OK? Be there in fifteen minutes now. Where are you staying in Delhi?

Janpath is a lonely stretch even at this hour. RJ lets loose the throttle. They’re riding into the wind. Su keeping an uneasy hand over his shoulder. Doesn’t want a rerun of the brake incident.

-Stop! Stop your bike now!

A flash of powder blue and cream. A dupatta in flight. The breeze is strong.

They alight. Su with arms folded over her breasts. Conscious of her young body. Poor girl’s got a long way to go if she wants to be a model, RJ thought.

-Wait. I’ll fetch it.


Had RJ looked back, he could’ve seen her smile. Her easy confidence as she straddled the machine. The graceful flick of her leg as she kicked. But he was busy catching a swirl of powder blue. A black pulsar faded away like distant thunder.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Excuse me while I have an O
(Warning: Reader rating PG 15 )

The world is full of women who are having problems with sexual arousal, women who are technically frigid, and really really sad women who've never had an orgasm in all their lives.
And then, we come to learn about Michelle who has an average 300 in a day. Then about Elle, and Sarah, too.

There is widespread belief that PSAS is a real-life condition, inasmuch as Wiki acknowledges it, though the syndrome appears to be a more recent phenomenon, discovered as late as in 2001. Earlier than that, it would appear, womenfolk used to have suitably lukewarm arousal patterns and victims of the condition used to be frowned upon as insatiable nymphomaniacs, satyrs and such like. Today, they are the darlings of British tabloids. Curiously enough, the tabloids have come up with one interview feature of a, um, sufferer every year for the past three years. In fact, the year 2008 episode could be out any day now. True to form, the pieces are as raunchy as they could get. They make for breathless entertainment, though after reading the first one, the others might get a little repetitive.

Predictably, bloggers have zeroed in on the phenomenon here and there. This had picked up momentum especially after Sarah Carmen attained celebhood last November by posing for pics as well as a named interview with her real name to NewsoftheWorld. One suspects that a book deal is in the offing too. (Methinks it should be aptly titled, "Am I coming or going? - Memoirs of an ecstasy aunt") Surprisingly no blogger seems to have put down his or her individual take on what could be an exceedingly juicy subject. The way the articles describe this syndrome, it can attack the afflicted woman like a force de la nature, and turn most of her waking moments into all yesssss, oooohs and aaaahs.

It's not fair making jokes about people who, by their extraordinary condition, are deprived of a normal livelihood. Then again, fairness is a concept that was invented so that children and idiots could participate in arguments (so said Scott Adams, my hero). The tabloids have creamed their stories for sensationalism. So much so, that there's no longer a line for a blogger not to cross. And my oh my, the mind boggles at the possibilities. The jokes are in extremely bad taste, so don't tell me you weren't warned.

Like this.

Hey Lucy, heard about Elle? She's left the beauty salon, the driers and stuff were giving her lots of trouble. Now she works as a secretary. One small problem though. Every time she goes to get something copied, she starts acting funny. The janitor thinks there's a ghost in that copier.

Or this.

-Hi Lily, I'm so sorry to hear about Susan. She died last week when her house caught fire.

-No, seriously? But she lived in a single story, she could've just walked out.

-I don't know. Neighbors said they kept calling out for her, and she kept saying, "Yaahh I'm coming, I'm coming."

Friday, August 22, 2008

God Tussi Great Ho- the review
(Another one bites the dust)

Bruce : Lord, feed the hungry, and bring peace to all of mankind. How's that?
God : Great... If you wanna be Miss America.

God : Bruce, you have a divine spark. You have a gift for bringing joy and laughter to the world. I know, I created you.
Bruce : Quit bragging.

Say you were Rumi Jaffrey for a half-year. No, let's say God gave you the kind of resources and laissez faire Mr. Jaffrey had while he tried to reproduce Bruce Almighty in amchi Mumbai. Now, the first thing you'd probably want to do is exclude the brand of humor in the original movie that you believe your Indian audience might not appreciate. For example, like in the lines above. Mark it, I said it's what you believe, not I. And definitely not your viewers, who, according to you, are from Ulhasnagar and Jhumri Talaiya and such like, and they are so crass that a brilliantly impossible story and kickass punchlines can't hold their attention for one hundred and sixty odd minutes unless your vertically challenged club bouncer of a hero struts in wearing his form hugging floral shirt and breaks into a vulgar jig every now and then to the tune of some asinine music. You'd also feel somehow that the God-meets-man-and-shows-some-tricks scenario can only appeal to the audience if presented with the right sort of special effects,e.g, melting skies, a road on the clouds, folks walking on air and vaporising at will, that sort of stuff. You'd moreover, doubtless require that between your bouncer and his girl, there should be a rival lover angle for comic relief. Hell, it worked in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, and it worked in MPKK, didn't it? It always works man, and you know how to do it. In fact, your first half should only comprise your brand of triangular fun, right? God? Oh He'll wait. You know your crowd too well. Hell, you can twist them around your middle finger, huh, Rumi?

(But guess what, Rumi Almighty? While you were busy touching up the special effects, somebody's gone and changed the rules. The audience now, most unfair of them, are hardly pining for an item number on Aksa beach. Even your mentor doesn't know what the viewer wants anymore. Yes, the formidable Dhawan grapples today with the balancing game between the republic of Barka kana and the plex crowds. And you thought you had it all made, didn't you?)

Nuff said. If you were Rumi you wouldn't make these mistakes, I'm sure. I know I wouldn't. The trick here was making it with minimal creative liberties. One had perhaps one of a dozen greatest original comedies of all times, and all one needed to do was add small desi touches here and there. One needn't let loose a creative diarrhea. One certainly needn't select a lead actor who plays all his roles like he is on stage doing a live show (my choice was Arshad Warsi, remember?) and a former beauty queen who looks like she hasn't slept in a week (Priyanka, go spend a month at some spa, please, and quit worrying how Katrina is moving ahead). Speaking of mistakes one shouldn't make, one should also never, never include that mad monkey Sohail Khan in any sort of cinematic enterprise.

In the original film, the homeless man never talks to Bruce Nolan. He does it with his puns on the placard. In the last scene, his board reads: Armageddon outta here. And his face morphs into God's (Morgan Freeman's) as he walks away. In Rumi's edition, he's made that man Salman's chummy and confidante. Towards the end, he is granted a long denied wish, and turns into a barking dog. They put him in a cage and take him away. An eye-opener on how far backwards Rumi had got it all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The King and I

The song on my scroll sidebar. I don't know why in my mind it associates with incessant rainfall. Isn't only because it mentions "pouring rain" once. The association probably has to do my listening to it a lot during the rains in a hazy, distant past almost two decades ago when I used to play it on my walkman while riding on a motorcycle, stopping at some dhaba for chai and a smoke when it started to pour.

This year again, a long monsoon is playing itself out. It refuses to go away. The song won't, either. Playing through my mind all this week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Road Rash

One day, when I have enough money, I will buy a big bad SUV. And I will fit it with extra strength wraparound grills made of thick steel tubes on the front and rear bumpers. And I will drive it out on the national highway. And I will bump off the assholes who drive their 100cc motorcycles on the middle of the road one by one. I will give me five bucks for every creep bumped and ten for every fuckface sent flying out of the road. Every time I make a hundred, I will open a can of cold beer from the ice box I'll keep handy on the cabin side of the said monster. And oh, I forgot the cattle grazers. Those boys that let loose their herd on the highway. If there is one group of people who have caused me the most physical harm and irreparable mental trauma, they're IT. I intend to do them maximum damage. For them I'll carry an air gun loaded with .22 caliber bullets. I might have to pull off the road for these cattle-men sometimes, but I'm more than willing to take the trouble. Whenever I spot one of them scums trying to unleash cows on the asphalt, I'll slow down and shoot that man in the ass. Maybe shout out a term of endearment too, for good measure. I can do it throughout the day, across state boundaries, while listening alternately to Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin. Yeah that's my medium term ambition in life.

You ask what I'm gonna do in the long term then? Oh nothing much, really. I'll only trade off my SUV for a 12000 cc sixteen cylinder DaimlerChrysler truck. And I'll bribe some official of the Steel Authority of India into selling me some scrap at a cheap price. You see, I need these two pieces of 20 millimeter thick and 250 wide hot rolled steel arisings, about 10 meters long, which I'd put under a shaping machine to give them a sharp wedge shaped profile, and fit them onto the sides of the undercarriage. I'd love it if these attachments could be made to slide out and retract hydraulically, but that feature, while extremely flamboyant and James Bond-esque, might come prohibitively expensive, I suspect. And I'll drive my truck out on the national highway. And on a good day, there will be any number of rogue truckers with emptied cargo traveling at 75 km an hour and trying to overtake other loaded trucks moving at 70. They will easily hold all traffic at ransom for an agonizing 10 minutes, liberally snorting the black soot they belch out. They will take great pleasure playing out this long drawn charade that is the staple of our great Indian highway system. It's precisely at this point that I'll step in. At first I'll politely flash my lights and ask for passage. Failing this, I'll meekly honk my horns at them three times. Upon which, the rogue trucker will extend a condescending arm from his cabin window and ask me to wait. After a few minutes of this, we will be on the clear and he will wave that arm again with supreme benevolence, beckoning me to come take that passage. While passing his truck, I'll smile and wink. And casually scrape my steel wedge against his chassis. I might even slash a tyre or two if I get lucky . After every three rogues I've maimed, I'll treat myself to a bottle of cold Kingfisher I'll keep handy in an ice box etc. I can do it all day, across state boundaries, listening alternately to Daler Paaji and Sukhwindera.

Please don't get the wrong picture here. I'm a thoroughly non-violent man, given to harming nothing and nobody in particular in course of my simple journey through life. For the most part, I'd even rather not talk about my secret fantasies on a blog post. It's only that I took on myself a road trip on my car, driving some 150 km to and fro in a good holiday spirit, on Independence day. And that the cattle grazers and other parties I met on the way brought back lots of older memories. And that these memories gave vent to many a bridled emotion. Also that I still get the recurrent vision of a tall strapping calf flying out athwart my windshield, which wakes me up sometimes in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Revisiting a dear cousin

No one pulls the wool over the eyes of a Gambini. Especially this one.

This piece of news. Somehow it doesn't make me too happy. Maybe because the film about to be remade is a great big personal favorite. Maybe because I'd wanted to make it in Bollywood when I grew up. Maybe because I just cannot look at Ravi Chopra without a certain amount of disdain. He of the B-films. (This is something I just noticed, but all Mr. Chopra's films now seem to start with a B, not unlike Ms. eKta K-apoor.)

But first things first. Do I have reservations against Govinda playing Joe Pesci's role? Let's see, in all of Joe's illustrated career, this will perhaps be rated as one of his two finest roles (the other of course, being Goodfellas). Can Chi-Chi be quite as good? (Will he look too old? C'mon, surely nobody can look older than Joe?) Well, I'm prepared to give him a proper go at it, with a proper director and all. I have faith in him, I do. Not in Mr. Chopra's sensibilities, I don't.

Up next. Is that Lara there playing Marisa Tomei's character, or Tabu? Either way, where is the role for the other? I can't conceive of one. Another sweet brainwave of Mr. Chopra? Look, we can't play much with Ms. Tomei's role here, can we? It was her winning the Academy on an outside chance for this role, remember?

Remember these immortal lines?

Vinny Gambini: What about these pants I got on? You think they're okay?
Mona Lisa Vito: Imagine you're a deer. You're prancing along. You get thirsty. You spot a little brook. You put your little deer lips down to the cool, clear water - BAM. A fuckin' bullet rips off part of your head. Your brains are lying on the ground in little bloody pieces. Now I ask ya, would you give a fuck what kind of pants the son-of-a-bitch who shot you was wearing?

Delicate delicate stuff, constructing this character. Doesn't make it any easier when you want to distribute footage between the lawyer's fiancee' and the defendant's girlfriend.Or is Tabu playing Judge Chamberlain Haller, by an wild stretch of imagination? That, would be fun to watch.

Apart from the lead actors, then, and every other peripheral detail, the film is about two Americas looking at each other with a lot of distrust and hostility. The southerner's attitude to the big city slickers who, as a matter of fact, are Italian-Americans, or worse, Jews, borders on xenophobia. And the City slickers? Their take on these hicks is best summed up by this line:

Vinny Gambini: Hey Stan, you're in Ala-Fuckin-Bama. You come from New York. You killed a good old boy. There is no way this is not going to trial.

Hard to be set into an Indian context, but then, you're reminded of our own north-south divide and you're reminded of Ek Duje Ke Liye and you say, OK, not that hard.

On another level, this is the story of the underdog winning against unsurmountable odds. Because he has truth on his side. Because of John 8.32."ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free". Whenever in my limited power of appreciation for works of art I've had doubts about the quality of something, I've asked myself this:

Does it bring a lump to my throat? Did I come back with a tear in my eyes?

Yes, it does. In more ways than one. And I'd always wanted this dear cousin to be revisited like that. With a tear of joy. Somehow, I find it hard to believe Mr. Chopra and team will be able to recreate that ethos.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The ballad of Billy the kid

The Oracle has spoken on the last of the big time spenders. As is his wont, he is absolutely thorough and masterful. Nothing, in fact, needs to be added to, or taken away from that tribute. But since he has kindly linked me in this post, I felt obliged to put forth my two bits on when and how I started to worship the same idol.

I was not a big fan of the man when in college. In fact, I never quite understood his music at that point in time. In college, we were listening to Wham, MJ, John Denver, Eagles, a little bit of Pink Floyd and Dire Straits and all sorts of wrong kind of sound, an ignominy called Modern Talking included. Coupled with the fact that lyric books were not easily available in the 80's, that we would only listen to medium wave radio and some dubious quality tapes on mediocre equipment, made the soul of his lyrics to be largely lost on me. I remember having listened to and vaguely liked Piano Man, and having read somewhere that Manna De's Bengali hit on Coffee House was loosely inspired in theme by it.

Then came 1989 and Storm Front. Even though mtv was not here yet, the crazy video of we didn't start the fire was getting beamed on DD and immediately caught our attention. The power and pace of that dynamic ode to fifty years of Americana and other world events was hard not to get swayed by. It is learnt that he had fired all of his existing band members save the trusted drummer, revamped his team and worked with a new producer to create that new sound. And new it was. It turned everything else on its head.

But the moment of truth for me came on the 1994 Grammy Awards night. River of Dreams had been nominated in more than one categories. And in the runup to the awards the song played over and over. I had never listened to anything like that before. I had hoped it would win song of the year. With due respects to The Boss and sir John, lesser numbers own that year. On the night of awards, the man performed his song. I have been frantically looking for that video on utube and other places, but it's since been removed due to third party copyright issues. (It should be mentioned here that earlier the same night Frank Sinatra was cut short during his acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement award.) Billy might have known he was not going to win it that night. He looked dour. At the breath reprise ending the third stanza, where he builds up a crescendo :

I don't know why I go walking at night
But now I'm tired and I don't want to walk anymore
I hope it doesn't take the rest of my life
Until I find what it is that I've been looking for....

He always takes a longish pause at this point, straightening his neck, taking a sip of coffee and all. On that Grammy night, he just seemed to stop on his tracks. A full fifty seconds maybe. Then he said, nay, made an announcement :

Valuable time is passing by. valuable advertising time is passing us by.

He took a sip from his mug, and resumed his song all on a sudden. At that very instant, he made a true believer out of this casual fan.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

You have freed me traveler, now go free yourself.

To reach the castle of the Zade emperor, you must take the north road. And cross the border between Heaven and Earth. Then you'll have to pass through the gate of no-gate. (Which means you either have to be a Zen master or you must be carrying something very special.) On to the Five Elements Mountains, land of the Immortals. Where, once every 500 years, the Jade Emperor hosts the Peach Banquet. It is here that the Heavenly Ministers gather to celebrate the longevity and drink the elixir of immortality.

Don't know about you people, but me, I'm a sucker for such crypto-Confucian nonsense. Over the weekend, I'd been watching The Forbidden Kingdom. As usual, late to the party. But having a whale of a time.

It is said in enlightened circles that even the greatest Zen masters and Taoist immortals could not actually defy the laws of gravity until a genius named Yuen Woo-Ping came along and introduced them to the invisible wire trick. You see, the no shadow kick, the Buddha palm technique and the one finger death touch were all very fine maneuvers to have in your repertoire, but when push came to shove, they just couldn't make you fly. Only when they learned how to give a fuck for physics, did they become the stuff of Academy awards. To borrow an expression from the movie, their ch'i became like fire. And I became a true fan ever since.

I hear the biggest action flicks of today question the very demarcation of right and wrong. They delve deep into the mind of the evil and try to find out what drives him. Logistics not permitting, I have not yet watched the greatest superhero/action movie ever made, so you can call it a case of sour grapes, but I still doubt if I'll be equal to the task. Given a choice, I'd pick the simple Amrish Puri type villains over the uber-complex Joker any day. In this regard, the Chinese hardly ever disappoint. Their villainous warlords are straightforward and true to imagination. Take a regular despot like Mao Zedong. Throw in the flowing tresses and some high kicks. Add a goatee for effect, and you're pretty much done.

A good villain is a good start. However, he alone is often not enough for a good evening's entertainment. You need to have a silent monk doubling as the crazy monkey, a drunken immortal who mouths the most confounding Zen philosophy, but as it turned out, was not really immortal to begin with, and an orphaned kid prodigy mysteriously named the Southern Sparrow, who for some unknown reason shifts back and forth between the first and the third person while alluding to herself. A witch who performs most of her sorcery with the aid of a mile-long whip, or, in the absence of it, her silver white wig, which can magically grow to, like, a length of fifty yards instantly at the moment such need may arise. That is to say nothing of the misfit hero who has little to do except looking lost and acting dumb. Only then you can look forward to time well spent.

What else? Oh there's plenty. Gems like this when Jackie Chan (Lu Yan) gets the wrong side of an arrow and is looking at slim chance of survival without his elixir.

Jason : He needs wine. It's his elixir.
Medicine man : We will send a walking monk.
Lu (From the bed) : Don't you have a running monk?

Or during the famous fight scene between Chan and Jet Li ( the monk):

Lu Yan : [the Silent Monk does a Praying Mantis stance] Praying Mantis! Very good... for catching bugs! But not Tiger!
[does a Tiger Stance]

Paisa wasool. Plus I also learned the Mandarin for "Cheers". Which is, Tamb'ei!
I recommend. But then, I'm shallow. You watch at your own risk.

In other news, we'd been at work studiously perfecting the Moj'ito. Wonderful drink for warm monsoon evenings. A little birdie tells me that Castro had once remarked, " Moj'ito ergo sum".

Friday, August 01, 2008

Viru se takkar ?

28th July 2008, The telegraph, Kolkata. Sunil Gavaskar wrote (I'd been looking for a link for the better part of an evening, in vain, so I took a shot and put it up) :

(Last time India batted out the last two days of a Test match to avoid defeat).....In Adelaide perhaps,when Sehwag played an innings of such responsibility that when one sees the manner of his dismissals in recent games one wonders where and when the change to being casual has come.
of course, he does not want to get out but at the highest level unless there is a discipline in shot selection, the road back to the pavilion...blah blah.
....Viru can demolish and demoralize any attack in the world but only if he stays away from premeditated shots.
Then he will be unstoppable and India will get the start that they need to put pressure on the opposition.

There is nothing profound about Gavaskar's view on that column. Nothing we did not know already. Except the uncanny timing of the comment. On July 31st and August 1, 2008, Viru did just like the little doc ordered. Sambit Bal writes :

Sehwag has scored many gigantic hundreds but this must rank among his best. It came against massive odds, and it came when India needed a saviour after the two Sri Lankan spinners had humiliated their batsmen. Seen in isolation, he destroyed them.

India may yet lose this match. But I'm very very happy for Viru. I believe his is now the highest individual test score by a batsman from any visiting team on Sri Lankan soil. The way Sri Lanka has traditionally maimed big bullies in their own backyard, we needed somebody to show 'em.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The interview

Last night I dreamt I was facing a job interview. A tough, no punches pulled, "bizarre, new world" job interview. Now most people who have a faint idea of who I am and what I've done so far with my life, will be quaintly amused with the absurdity of the notion. The last proper job interview I attended was in the wee early nineties, when people were still sending telegrams, and the blogger and the fan reunion was more than just a motion away. In recent years, whenever I'd gone to discuss an opening with some prospective employers, they seemed to have a fair knowledge of the archetypal me. They never ask me about my strengths and weaknesses, or, why did I think my skills would be a good fit for the job. They know, to the exact decimal point, what I was capable of not doing, by dint of my sizable experience in not doing anything in the capacity of a technical manager in a behemoth organization. And whenever the subject of dope would be broached, lots of rolled up eyes and muted laughter on their part at the remunerations I'd require. As a rule, these discussions tend to culminate in perfectly amicable disagreement over the issue of moolah alone.

But this being the season of cross-voters and cross-dreamers, what should I dream of but this, a bizarre, tough, new world job interview. Say your howdys to Anita Bruzzese. Her idea of such a interview questionnaire is like

• If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you select?
• If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see playing the lead role?
• If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
• If you could compare yourself to any animal, which would it be and why?
• If you were a salad, what dressing would you be?

She has a theory it brings out grace under pressure. That there are no right answers, only the manner you respond which is analyzed. Surely they would have a manual for this. Y'know, the shallow drifter sort for thousand island, the power exec for blue cheese, and likewise? Set me thinking, and I pondered over it for long before dinner. Then I had this dream.

They were interviewing me for some job. Oddly, they were asking me personal questions. Oddly again, the interviewers were all pretty young women in their 20's. I know, men will be men, and one is allowed such liberties while dreaming.

If you were a cocktail, which one would you be?
If you are an MP who has cross voted, which party you'd rather be from, and why?
If you could marry a celebrity, whose husband would you be?
You suspect your boss is a closet gay. What color clothes would you wear to office on a Friday?
You're the leader of this terrorist outfit that is into serial blasts. Which city will you do after Bengaloor and Ahmedabad?

The second one was a sitter. I blurted BJP even before she finished. The fourth one I'd cross check with Mr. Shenoy. Apparently he's done some research in the area. The last one was not a happy question. I was in no mood to answer.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The ever growing Salman Khan
If he kept saying no, how would he ever grow?

Until now, it must be me only, but the way Salman Khan is growing taller by the day is a phenomenon all of us must soon recognize and suitably marvel at.

1994 : Andaz Apna Apna ; Salman and Amir were the same pint size

2008 : Dus Ka Dum ; Presto! Salman is three inches taller. Now, you'll say Salman has pimped up hair and Amir has tonsured his head, so here's another :

2006 : Rang De Basanti premiere ; See, see?

1998 : Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai ; SRK looks marginally taller

2007 : KBC ; Salman towers over both SRK, and KAT, who I thought stood a head above both!

At the rate Salman is vertically reaching out, grabbing progressively taller girlfriends, and surpassing his co-actors in stature, I think I should post another picture in advance:

Watch this space.