Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rekindling the good old times!

Finally, we decided to meet up at Washington DC after quite a lot of convincing on Prasad and MAK's part to get me here from Rolla. As usual I was confused and indecisive in coming to a conclusion - whether to go or not! So, at 1:30 in the morning of Monday, I booked the tickets on Southwest Airlines and headed to the St. Louis airport on Monday exactly twelve hours later. People may think that it was a quick decision, but things are not exactly like what they seem. It is easy to travel anywhere within the world, but to get a ride from Rolla to STL is one of the most complicated things in the world. All travel plans are structured based on the availability of ride between these two places.

As I got out of the DC airport, I waited for these two great guys to pick me up. One of them was the usual "giving out opinion" type talking about anything and everything with ease. The other was the chess master discussing hazardous moves and with a totally vanishing hairline (Of course it was not as bad as what that wise guy M told me). As we sat discussing about the good old days of yore, we came to a conclusion - come what may, nobody in the world can change our opinions, atleast ask Prasad. We just had to discuss some issues, and he would be reeling out adjectives - That $&&$^%*$*$ (please don't even try to figure out what in the world this stands for) did not know a damn thing! He is one %$^$^$&#. We know what he is worth!!! Obviously, the members of the G gang knew exactly what to expect from this superfluous guy. He hasn't changed a bit for the better or worse. MAK is one guy in the world who can make all sort of statements talking like an idealist. He would agree for almost everything that is ideal, but ask him to get to the practical aspect, he would have no answer. I was almost fooled into thinking that he had a Russian girlfriend, and then knowing MAK's penchant for chess, it was not a big deal for him to come out with a Russian name.

How can I forget the whiz tour of the city. The monuments tour was a great hit with Prasad. He sat in the bus cursing the entire trip. I had the pleasure of listening to Prasad more than the guide. His outrageous comments evoked laughter and more laughter from me. Every memmorial would be followed by thousands of comments. But, anyway that tour didn't mean much to us, as we already had a good idea of all these places before taking the tour itself.

The G gang got together minus some members on a telephonic chat. It was a one hour talk with Anand M, Kanna, myself, Prasad and MAK. It was great to get the conference going with each of us pulling the other's leg on a wide array of subjects. The conversation meandered endlessly for a long time before the card ran out of time.

The three of us were discussing about the lecturers in college and we were counting the lecturers who had kicked us out of the class. Not surprisingly, we had been kicked out of every lecturer in every semester. The best part is there was this particular lecturer who had taken our class three times during our stay, and every member of the gang has been driven out in her class. No prize for guessing her name guys!!!

Marriage talks cannot get any interesting without Prasad's comments. He has his own way of coming up with weird quotes and ideas. As usual, MAK was talking as if he was ready to get married the next moment if he found the right girl. We were wondering, what will happen to MAK-D? She was obviously the major topic of discussion. By the way, we fixed Prasad's partner thanks to his acceptance. No discussion can get complete without talking about the dynamic duo of our class - AT Rajesh and Ramesh Kumar Yadav. These guys have made our stay at PESIT totally memorable with some out of the world comedy situations. His "game of death" is a legend with the gang members and Kaun Banega Crorepathi just got bigger thanks to Amitabh Bachchan's voice being rendered by AT. AT's antics can not be compiled even in multiple volumes. AT's masterpiece "Everything is OK but What is the yellow?" is an alltime favourite quote coined in the ITC class! Again, no prizes for guessing who was taking that class.

I will be getting back to Rolla with absolutely no intention of eating a complete Indian meal at St. Louis. I have had Indian lunch and dinner in almost every restaurant here. I am at a stage where I just cannot handle any more Indian food for some time in the hotels. If somebody asks me what I saw in DC, I can tell you about every Indian restaurant and Prasad's guided tour of the city. Truly a wonderful experience with talks dating back to the good old times.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Pencils and Rubbers

It is easy to wax eloquent about those simple things in life that give you complete happiness. As a part of childhood, there are certain things that give you maximum bliss that would have no effect on others. I had this craze for good pens, pencils and rubbers (that's what I call it even though you have a better term in erasers!). That fanciful thought of buying new things came to me as and when I saw a new pen or pencil in the store. This theory worked for books too! The greatest aspect of my growing up can be attributed to buying the latest copies of Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha, Champak and Chandamama from the local stores, as well as getting them from the library.

On a more materialistic note, I used to envy my class mates who used to carry those sleek fountain pens and the so called jazzy pen-pencil (yes, that's what I call them. It was more like a pen, with a push pull projection at the back that could control the amount of lead coming to the fore). I am sure almost every one of us would have started our student life with the traditional Natraj pencils from the nearby stationary vendor. These pencils have the characteristic red and black lines bolting across the length of the pencil giving them a simple look. There was not a touch of sophistication associated with these pencils. They served the actual purpose. As you put down pencil on paper, the ease with which it raced across the paper added to my thrill. I always thought pencils to be of miraculous invention that had the best way of translating thoughts to words. As and when you make a mistake, you had the Apsara rubbers to wipe out the error in an equally neat way. I somehow never liked the Natraj rubbers for some reason. It could never get the paper to be spick and span after a mistake. Apart from Natraj pencils, I loved the Camlin(or Camel, I don't remember) pencils. They were white in colour and the pencil was filled with purple flowery structures. Later with time, these pencils went on to become my favourite as it had a quality that was completely different from the other pencils in the market. Sharpeners were another aspect altogether. They are so critical to refine your pencil quality. It was always a challenge to have a good sharpener and win the argument with your friends proclaiming your pencil to have a better streak of sharpness as compared to others. If you can win an argument at that age with your class mates, you can be sure of one thing - you are good at winning arguments or your product is really really good. As the wooden coating slipped out of the sharpener, the waste could either get into the waste paper basket or they would slither into the middle of your book. As a school kid, it was a fancy to see if there was any development associated with the flowery kind of wooden coating emerge out of the pencil waste. As the flowers got embedded in a fat book, it was mandatory to see the state of the development every once in a few days. Invariably, due to the thickness of the book, the flowers would have got hardened, and I would be gloating in excitement on the thoughts of having discovered a new process in the path of evolution. It was crazy stuff but the joy was very much there.

Though the advent of computers and PDAs have lightened up the process of writing huge pages of notes, the joy of writing with that wooden piece is truly incomparable. Even today, when I see a new pencil or pen, the joy I get in using it for the first time is unmatched by anything else. That look of gleam and happiness one feels when writing a sentence on a piece of paper with the pen or pencil you like can come nowhere close to the hundreds of text editing tools today.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The greatest of the era

There are certain things in life which will stick on with you for a lifetime. Be it something personal or something not related to you at all but there are some mesmerizing things which cannot be wiped out from the gray matter. The greatest thing in life is to live for something you cherished throughout. Growing up in a cricket crazy nation, learning ball by ball facts of each and every game being played, watching repeat telecasts of some of the greatest matches, glossing over the statistics of even the obscure of players, remembering the titans of the game are some of the things that will remain with me, as I still continue with the growing up process. I was never in an era to witness the Don play out thousands of deliveries in gay abandon. I have never witnessed the charm of Barry Richards or the angry glare of Michael Holding or Joel Garner. They may be some of the best players missed out but luckily I had the opportunity to see the greatest legspinner of all times, Shane Warne, bamboozle the greatest of batsmen with some outstanding out of the box deliveries. Literally, it means out of the box balls (no pun intended!). Warney, as he is popularly known, announced his retirement from all forms of cricket with the end of the Ashes series at Sydney. Australia demoralised, destroyed any confidence, killed any kind of fight in the English players in what could be hailed as yet another one sided Ashes contest of the century. Come on! Whatever happened last year happens once in a hundred years with this current Australian side. It was all the more expected to see Australia strike top notch from with a flagging English side. People were actually saying that this Australian side is getting old. Why not? Warney is hitting 37, but seriously the English would have been happy with Warne retiring early!!

When you talk about a bowler, it is common to say "Wow, that was a great spell!", "That delivery to get rid of so and so was brilliant", "He changed the match with that wicket". But with Warne, it is quite different. The adjectives would have to flow out as he has repeatedly produced some amazing spells, got brilliant batsmen out with brilliant deliveries, and has changed the match many a time by taking crucial wickets at crucial junctures. How many times have we seen Warne spoiling the party of the opposition with his flippers, googlies, straight ones and those legspinners which pitch way outside that strip in the middle, beats the batsmen by another twenty inches, and from nowhere in the world clips that off stump with an angle that no mortal can fathom. Ooof!! Sensational! Absolutely sensational! No words to describe the deliveries that get the batsmen out from improbable angles and at seemingly impossible situations. We have seen it all from the great man! Ask Mike Gatting, Basit Ali, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Strauss and a host of Warne bunnies who will scream in glee on hearing the great man flee!

He might have had a lot of off-field controversies and some on-field controversies. But one should remember that what he has contributed to the art of leg spin is immense and huge. The game has received a huge facelift due to players like him. It was always a sight to see him comeback and deliver the goods to his captain. He was one person when as long as he was there on the field, the match was totally imbalanced. Obviously, in favour of Australia! He could come in and in a space of a few deliveries create panic in the opposition. Before anybody could realise, Australia would walk away with the honours.

Talking about Warne, how can one leave out the accuracy machine - Glenn McGrath. The best fast bowler of the modern era, and one who could bowl in that corridor of uncertainity a 100 per cent. He was a captain's delight as he would get top order wickets in a heap. The best part about McGrath was that he knew how to target some of the best batsmen in the world and take their wickets also regularly. He had made bunnies out of some of the English players in various Ashes over the years. Ask Atherton, and he can certainly not hide. Though Lara has played some great innings against Australia, he knows what it is to face McGrath. Tendulkar nowadays maybe getting out to every Tom, Dick and Harry, but at one point of time, at his prime had encountered some brilliant duels with McGrath. He has single handedly won many many matches for Australia within the first hour in Test cricket. That is something sensational! It is definitely a shock to see these two great men - McGrath and Warne hanging up their boots at Sydney. The world will miss these two brilliant Australians who have contributed so much to the cricketing fraternity.

One should actually appreciate the timing of these two great players. I remember Kapil Dev who was a dying horse at the fag end of his playing years. He just wanted to continue simply because he wanted to break Sir. Richard Hadlee's record. He frustrated every Indian supporter by playing even when he was well past his playing days. I remember that period when he took almost two years to go from 400 wickets to 434 wickets. Certainly, one of the worst period of Indian cricket. Even Sachin Tendulkar should take a clue from these two players and retire before he makes a complete mess out of himself. Sunil Gavaskar, who is obsessed with Indian records, might force Tendulkar to stick to cricket and break all the records. At the end of the day, nobody cares as to what record he holds.

But now, let us just enjoy the contribution of Warne and McGrath to World cricket and surely these men receive a fitting farewell.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Call this sheer coincidence?

I have this habit of checking up periodic updates on RK Narayan on the internet. Last night when I googled RK Narayan after a long time, I stumbled upon an article written by N. Ram, the editor of The Hindu, titled Reluctant centenarian. There was a sentence in the first paragraph that really caught my attention, and as I read that sentence, I went back to this link to verify from where it was taken. I was truly surprised. Just read the first paragraph of both the links and check out the similarity.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Quote me right

As I have always reiterated, meaningful quotes have had a huge impact in my life. When you read a sentence, something strikes you so much in it that you go back to ascertain the hidden nuances in the words. Many a time, you are left wondering at the simplicity of the sentence. The profundity in the meaning is taken to new heights and all this with very simple usage of words. Reading books sure does lend a lot of much needed wisdom and gets you to the point of striking the perfect balance in life. Some of the movies have come up with unbelievable quotes that they just remain embedded in you for life. I was watching The Shawshank Redemption for the nth time and it just keeps getting better with every viewing. Strange are the ways of life that you still anticipate for certain things when you know what to expect(Looks like I just created a quote! Wow). Remember Red, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies! is certainly one of my all time favourite cinematic quotes (courtesy: Stephen King). Hope cannot be expressed in a much better and complete sense. I take this quote whenever am in a sobre mood and this quote just keeps getting better and better with time. Get busy living or get busy dying! from the same movie is another beautiful way of looking forward to the good things in life.

Peace isn't merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice. One just has to read this quote and gasp in silence(AirForce I). You can't help wondering how true it is! Talking about life, Forrest Gump immediately springs to mind Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. It gets interesting to see Tom Hanks come up with dialogues with such an innate expression Why don't you love me, Jenny? I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is. In the same vein, one can hear him say with ease Mama always said, dying was a part of life. Now, how can one ask for more simplicity from these great Hollywood flicks.

A good sentence is like a good meal. It can be cherished for a lifetime. I don't think anything in the world can give me more pleasure than a couple of words here and there fitted to a nicety in a sentence. Be it in books or movies, good quotes have a way of attracting your attention. I remember the times when my father and I used to sit back and relive some of the good quotations of all times. He, an avid reader, used to pick quotations out of thin air and remember them as if he is about to write an exam in the next couple of hours. I would wonder who is getting old;him or me, for I can't remember all the quotes unlike him. Literature, according to me is the greatest gift to mankind, and with a cornucopia of books, I can spend all my time in the world in the most desolate of places. How I wish I can come up with literary quotes to influence people and write my name in history!!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Water with "noise"

The pronunciation of words seriously has a telling effect on the listener. It is easy to mistake a word for something else, thanks to the sensitivity of the ear. Atleast, I have got caught on many occasions trying to figure out what the other end is trying to convey. Many times I have been at a loss giving a slight nod of the head, so that the other person has no idea that I have no idea of what he is talking about. It also depends on the person whether you can ask him for an explanation or not. Depending on the outcome of the explanation, and placing it in context, you realise how out of place it is with respect to the actual word. That doesn't mean that the listener is always wrong. Maybe the teller is not uttering the word in a right way.

My latest tryst with "being in the dark" as far as words are concerned happened as recently as a couple of days back. I was in a restaurant with a friend, and as the bearer came to pick the order asking us what we would like to drink, my friend blurted out ", Water with noise". Now, I was perplexed. I frantically searched the menu card for what that is. I stared at the bearer, and he gave me one of those "What's wrong with that?" looks. Now, I was totally blank. I had no idea what that was. I looked at my friend, who with the same cool expression replied back, "Yeah! Water with noise". I again was looking for that elusive drink which I had never tasted before. So, I looked at the bearer and putting on a confident expression said "Water with noise". The best or the worst part was that he nodded his head and went back to get us water with noise. I was at a loss. I had come to this restaurant many times in the past and I had no idea of this drink, while my friend who was coming here for the first time knew so much about this noisy water. I had to get this clarified. So, I asked her, "Now, what in the world is Water with noise? I have never heard of this before. Is it some new brand?" She replied back, "Come on! It is water with noise." I was like "Oh! But I have never heard of it before. Ok! So why do they call water with noise here?" Now, she was confused, and after some thought replied "It is Water with NO ICE". You should have seen the expression on my face as the actual explanation came forth. I was relieved to no end!!! No wonder they were mesmerised when I said I had no idea of water with "noise".

When he came to me later and asked me whether we wanted more water, I coolly retored, "Yes, Water with noise please!!".

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Mystery Month

August 2006 was certainly a mystery month for three protagonists in Rolla. Before I get into the details, let me clarify a few points.
  • If somebody comes and asks us how much we spend on an average in Rolla, we will definitely not say that it is about 250$.
  • If somebody comes and asks us whether there is any possibility of saving with a quarter time, we will trample him.
  • If somebody says that Rolla is a small town where you will never spend a penny, send him to us. He desperately needs to talk to us.
All these conclusions stem from the fact that Rama made the monthly calculations for the last three months and ended up giving us devastating figures. Now, let me round up on the mystery month. Rama comes up with these huge grins and expressions when he gets excited, and today morning at 3:30 AM was no different.

Yadu matte Praveena, do you know how much we spent in the month of August? What the hell do we know? We were obviously clueless, and gave out a loose figure of about 250$, the standard figure of Rolla or atleast that's what we unassuming fools thought. Illa Kano! Munnoora Nalavath aidhu dollar (345$) screamed the excited creature. WHAT!!! Yadu and I leapt to our feet. If this was something unexpected, Rama comes up with something all the more unexpected - Oh my God, I forgot to divide by 3. The total amount is divided by 4. By now, I had no guts to listen to what was going to come out of Rama. This was something that was going to get truly unbearable. Ok guys, this is the final figure, it is 460$ for each person here in Rolla. Since we were prepared for the worse, all the three of us now seriously leapt to our feet amidst peals of laughter. Bloody hell!!! All of us are vegetarians and we had no idea for what in the world we were visiting Walmart as if that was the only source of happiness in life for us here at Rolla. Of course, the final figure slightly bettered when we realised that I had fed some wrong data. Better but not great. The figured toned down to 400$. This is bad but luckily atleast we saved 65 hard earned bucks. But somehow, the other months had the figure consistently maintained at 300$. There is another "best" thing about the mystery month. This was the month we were in Utah blowing up few more bucks, and ideally the amount spent at Rolla should have been much lesser than that of the other monthly figures.

We are either gluttons blowing up so much money or we surely must be spending on something which we don't realise. If in India, atleast these figures are understandable or in the worst case, if you have a girlfriend, again these figures are understandable. But, here in No Man's Land, we are bearing the brunt of big bucks!!!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

India over the ages

The theme for the biggest event in Rolla this year - India over the ages. Diwali is celebrated in UMR with pomp and gaiety, with a mammoth effort put forth by the biggest organization on campus - India Association. Every year, it is a revelation to see people take part in large numbers, and it just keeps getting better every year. People hailed this as the best Diwali celebrations ever at UMR. The audience lapped up every programme in glee, and what with a wide variety of cultural extravaganza, it was truly a cultural treat.

The programme started with the origin of Diwali, depicting the gest of Ramayana, transcending to the present day celebrations of Diwali. This was followed by various dance programmes, interspersed with short presentations portraying India over the ages, from the Ancient India to India Today. The dances broke the myth of conventional hip movements and shakes with innovative steps choreographed by passionate individuals.

The 1950s was a period of classical elan and ease, where cinematic glory was all about simple music with profound meaning. Raj Kapoor is a popular figure in Indian cinema, and his movies evoked a passion and aura that was soothing and simple. The comedy drama found much delight with the audience when emulated on the UMR stage. The early 1980s witnessed the cinematic legend Amitabh Bachchan light up Indian cinema with his angry young man image that found immense popularity with the Indian people. This dance was replicated by enthusiastic participants of UMR lighting up the stage with wonderful dance steps.

Fashion show is a delight in any part of the world, and to display the wonderful costumes of India is certainly a consuming aspect of stage performance. This is because India is culturally diverse, and to display every costume can be totally consummating. But, it was a wonderful experience to see the team come up with an astonishingly wide range of costumes fill up the grandeur on stage.

The Musical performance group did a wonderful job in recomposing the National song Vande Mataram in accord to the original spirit of the musical. The hype of Modern India encompassing the loose western steps was checked out in Miner Boyzz' Tollywood performance of some fast musical, followed by some fast foot tapping steps from the Footloose dance. There was so much life and flexibility on screen that mesmerized the audience.

The All India dance had the main elements of Indian dance integrated in a composite structure - South Indian Diya dance, Dandia, Garbha, Bihu, Bhangra and Qawwali. All of them found their way in a single dance which was stitched in a nice sequence. There was so much colour and vibrance all around that it seemed as if all the colours of life had joined in at a single place at the same time. It was an enthralling experience.

The final call was the Grand Finale, and the patriotic fervour associated with the song charged up the audience. Three songs formed the composition and Vande Mataram reverberated the stands from Rahman's high quality vocal chords putting any fear of monotony(if any) into the backburner. This song has the capability to wake anyone out of their blues, and the only fear when somebody tries to bring this song to life is how anyone can choreograph the steps for this song. But, all this was laid to rest as the choreography for this song was top class with some fantastic formations. It was imagination at its best. A perfect end to a perfect event.

Cooking for 1200 people can be no joke and the cooking team laid out a rich plate of delicacies truly unimaginable. Let's get to the menu

  • Chole
  • Capsicum Masala
  • Vegetable Biriyani
  • Coriander Rice
  • Sambhar Soup

  • Butter Chicken
  • Chicken Biriyani

  • Malai Sandwich/ Double Ka Meetha

All this supported by butter naan.

Finally, it was the hard work of 138 dance participants, about 100 general volunteers and another 100 volunteers for cooking that saw the event roaring to a success. It was truly an unforgettable experience at the end of the day.

View the complete event on Google Video. Here is the link.

Also, give the search string as UMR Diwali on Google video to view all the presentations.

  • Origin of Diwali
  • Awakening of the past
  • India's freedom struggle
  • Ascent of India
  • India Today
  • Rolla Coaster
Enjoy the magnum opus - Diwali @ UMR!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Into the shadows...

I was walking down the road,
That elusive figure invaded me,
I thought and thought about her,
Carrying me into the realms of restlessness

Questions surfaced and resurfaced,
Thoughts flashed across my mind,
Afloat in the corner of my heart,
Struggling to contain an unexplainable bliss

An entity I did not possess
Mightily I was surprised,
How much I thought of her,
Life wasn't too straight

She just evaded me,
Late into the night I lay,
It was clouded at the top,
Yet, I looked for the stars!

At the crack of dawn,
Sad to see the light of the day,
Countless moments lost in the awakening,
Time to put my eyelids to rest,
Atlast, she came to me
And I plunged into the shadows!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Multifaceted Amma

As I sat back on yet another day, figuring out what I have to cook for lunch, the monotony of the routine was killing me. I was filled with the same question once again What do I cook today that is something totally different? Internet and suggestions taken, I would attempt something that beat the normal items. But sometimes, when there is no time to experiment, and you just want to finish up with something, the end product has to be something usual. That was when I thought, how mothers at home can come up with different things every day. Remember, they cook everyday. I still remember the time at home, when I used to grimace and swallow, if an item that was made a couple of days back was made again. Why can't you do something different? Is it the same thing again? I would eat it up as if my mother had committed a grave sin. The best part at home was that it was not the question of a single dish, but a minimum of three dishes was compulsory. Rasam, Sambhar and Curry was the norm of everyday. Any slight deviation from the routine resulted in an additional dish like Kootu along with the other three items.

I remember those days when I used to call up home at about 8 or 9 in the evening, and inform my mother that I was going out with friends for dinner. There were days when I used to take a couple of them home without even informing her. The response on both the situations used to be the same, the typical OK, without a frown or grimace. I never realised how the extra food got adjusted on both the occasions. It was a mystery and it still remains a mystery to me as I juggle and struggle with my cooking. Thankfully, it is a good experience in the sense that it makes me realise the importance of getting good food at the right time. I think one of the toughest jobs Indian women have is to maintain a household and put up with all the tensions, and end up pleasing everyone at home. Had I been half as organized as my mother, I am sure I would have been much more productive in my work. My college days are something that I have to write about. I had my college bus at 7 in the morning, and by the time, I left the house, I was filled with lunch in the morning. Yes! Lunch it was. Apart from that, my tiffin box would get packed with something different. Of course, then I used to shout at my mother for being so overprotective and caring, and for spoiling her health. But then, it used to fall on deaf ears as usual, and I used to end up having all the delicious items she made. By the time, I returned from college, my evening snack used to comprise of something totally different.

As I write this entry, I am reminded of this wonderful quote that RK Narayan, through Chandran comes up with in the Bachelor of Arts, Mother is a sacred commodity. It is a commodity whose value we don’t realize as long as it is with us. One must lose it to know what a precious possession it is. I can't think of a better quote than this to summarize her.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

ARR's Vande Mataram

Sometimes, people benchmark a particular song or music, and elevate it to an unscalable point, that anything seemingly less comparable to the earmarked audio sounds astoundingly trivial. High quality music can always be stretched to eternity surpassing all doubts about its survival in a race against time. Any thoughts of it dying down with time is pulverized as events relayed from the past reflect the strong bonding etched to futuristic events. AR Rahman's Maa Tujhe Salaam or Thai Manne Vanakkam, all under the broad classification of Vande Mataram, falls under this supreme category. Rahman came up with this composition, along with BharatBala Productions in the year when India readied itself to commemorate the fiftieth year of Independence from the British. Both of them readily strike a good vibe when it comes to portraying national footage that exemplifies the class and beauty of India. That was the year when India turned defiant in Pokhran signifying one of the greatest moments in Indian history and every Indian citizen was beaming with pride like never before. This moment was further enhanced, when ARR came up with a high quality composition, evident both in its audio and video, sending the nation into an unimaginable patriotic frenzy.

ARR's musical rendering skills had hit the headlines in Bollywood, but to come up with something like Vande Mataram, which was out of the world was sending the nation into a vibrant mode. Vande Mataram was rendered in a way that was totally way out of the conventional appeal that the song had created for itself. MTV had saved its time for only the new album of ARR. On the day of its release, MTV devouted the entire day playing the video footage that was as passionate as the score. ARR cited in the interview that he wanted to come up with something that would charge up the average Indian, and that he wanted to shed the image of a silent, soothing and touchy music so commonly associated with Vande Mataram. The end result was nothing sort of sensational. He had changed the face of the Indian national song in no uncertain terms. People began to associate a passion and a fervour that was unheard of before.

I have listened to this song innumerable times, and each time it just livens up the atmosphere with a passion and a sense of pride towards India. A hair rising experience, it generates a feeling of having to do something for the sake of motherland. It emboldens a sense of awakening to a nationalistic cause. ARR's magic wand had created one of the greatest unmatchable patriotic songs of all time in a way that brought about a transformation to the average Indian.

If you are wondering why this post has come out of the blue, the India Association at the University of Missouri-Rolla is getting ready with the Annual Diwali fest on 12th November, and ARR's Vande Mataram figures in the list, with some wonderful choreography and great dance from the participants.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mahabharat - Not anymore obvious

Once upon a time, Indian mythological stories used to take centre stage amidst the growing kids. As generations and generations of children grew up, it was not anything out of the way to have the characters of Ramayana and Mahabharata etched in the young minds. Tales of valour and honesty were retold by grandmothers and it was one of the key factors of the growing up process for Indian kids. I had the good fortune and privilege to be associated with several such narrations at various stages of my childhood. My mother retold several hundreds of mythological stories, and my grandmother supplemented with more during the summer vacations. Summer vacations were fantastic, in the sense that all the cousins used to sit together to get the briefing dating back to good old times. Grandmothers are the best companions for young kids, and we were awed and surprised by the turn of events in Indian Mythology. Apart from this, we also had Amar Chitra Katha to look forward to. The Amar Chitra Katha series truly represents the powerhouse of Indian culture and tradition. I could get a lot out of those comic strips, and simple narration and style got me hooked to the fascinating journey taking me down the memory lane.

But, today is a different story. Almost in every conversation, while taking the reference of any character from the great epics, we do not owe an explanation to the other party. It is taken for granted that you have grown up with the epics, and that it is embedded in you. I was in for a rude shock today, as I got to know the extent of epics some of them knew. Draupadi - Oh! I know, she is the wife of the Pandavas. Panchali - Of course, I know! She is the mother of the Pandavas. Who is the eldest of the Kauravas? Karna! Now, this is something new in Mahabharata. Who won the war? There is a slight gap, as the thought process is getting ready. After some sighs and gasps comes the answer - Pandavas. Thank God! I did not have the courage to pursue with the second set of characters like Kunti, Madri, Pandu or Vidura. There was this classic. Atleast, tell me who is Yudhishtira? Come on, I know this. I am not that ignorant. He was the person who is blind right, came the answer! By this time, I realised that the Mahabharata discussion had to end before the characters were marauded and crucified, and of course, before the mythologies were replaced by their own set of characters with a new storyline.

In India, we can't have these epics in our classroom studies, else we will be accused of favouring saffronism. But, people should realise that India is heading in a totally flawed direction or rather in an absolutely erratic, westernised path. There should be a sense of pride in us to preserve the glory of the yesteryears, else we will be lost forever.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Writing style

Writing is a favourite pastime, and it is highly variegated for obvious reasons. No two individuals are alike, and it is not a surprise that no two people have the same style of writing. All the same, it fills me with awe to look into different writeups on the same subject, but with very different and contrasting styles. This can be easily observed when in your school days, you look into your friends' essays and wonder How I wish I could have written it that way! But, at that point of time, you don't realise that the feelings are mutual. It is all the more interesting for school teachers to examine hundreds of essays, see the various viewpoints and thoughts originating from such a big group, and observe the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in style.

The popular authors of the last century have inculcated within them a style of writing that makes it easy to identify them through their works. A topic can be approached in many different styles - humour, wit, sarcasm, philosophical, sentimental, superficial, intense, terse, descriptive or simple. Writings influence people, and it is easy to determine the nature of a person, by just knowing his favourite author. His favouritism to an author conveys so many different things that may go unnoticed when you observe the person through your lens. It is also important to notice from where a person gets his school of thoughts. There definitely is that intricate source which propells him to write the way he writes. But, ultimately, the way you put forward your thoughts ultimately rests on the writer. It is very difficult for a person to change his way of writing come what may. A person can write on many different subjects with ease, but the underlying style remains consistent for any topic.

At a point of time, it becomes easy to identify the author from his works. It is easy to read a particular sentence, and attribute it to a particular author with authority. Be it journalism, movie/book reviews, essays, novels or short stories, the writer would have stamped his seal in his composition. At the end of the day, it is this style of writing that tends to bring the fan base to the writer. The content is the same, the meaning conveyed is the same, the views are the same, but it is the style that makes the final difference.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Deepavali Dhool

Diwali, inarguably the biggest festival in India, evokes strong emotions from all parts of the country. Truly a momentous occasion, it sparks off sentiments unmatched by any other Indian festival. The country truly comes to life with a great feeling of goodwill and happiness harboured by one and all. It is a festival that treads past religious barriers, bringing together a feeling of communal harmony and certainly a harbinger of peace. The baton is passed across generations and generations of lineage without any distortion and break up. The spirit has remained the same always, without a trace of boredom. In spite of that, Diwali is not just a routine every year, with every year being a fully filling experience.

In India, Diwali is directly related to the economy. Almost everyone is attracted by the magnitude of the festival, and nobody wants to be left behind. Shopping is taken to new heights with attractive offers from every superstore lined up well in advance, and the post Diwali shopping scenario takes it well past Diwali. People take time to come out of the frenzy and they take a long time to do that. In the current age of the software industry, and pressing deadlines, with a fast pace of life, people still do not compromise when it comes to spending time with family members during Diwali. The official holiday for Diwali is just a day, but people take almost a week off from the daily repetitive walk of life to come out of the blues of everyday life. No wonder, everyone gets charged up and excited about Diwali more than a month in advance of the actual festival. On the day of Diwali, even a bat would get up early in the morning to stay in tune with the events for the day. The television programmes would start from early morning and continue well past midnight. This is the best time for everyone to make money - starting from the street vendors to multinational advertisement companies. The feeling of togetherness is taken to new heights with every festival and Diwali adds spice to this wonderful moment. The telephone does not stop ringing in the morning, what with numerous calls from numerous relatives and friends. During Diwali, people make it a point to wish as early as possible and the calls arrive right from 4 AM, as anything beyond 7 AM is considered late! Though, there are talks from environmentalists about the cons of bursting crackers, pollution and its hazards to the surroundings take a backseat amidst children and elders alike, and everyone gears up to wake the neighbourhood with a 100 wala. It is a wake up call to the sleeping thugs.

Staying away from home makes you realise the importance of customs and festivals back home with a renewed vigour and energy. The unimaginable feeling during Diwali sinks in deeply as you sit back the night before Diwali, thinking about the wonderful things happening back home. The aura of the festival just binds you tightly with everyone around, and for a moment, nostalgia takes centerstage like never before. Diwali - spirited, colourful, lively and unexplainable in words. If in India, bask in the glory of the most important festival of the year, and just cherish the good times. Wishing you a very happy and prosperous Diwali!

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Generation Gap

I just had this feeling sinking in when in my final year of my Bachelor's programme, and that was way back in 2003. The incoming batch really had me in a complex, what with heavy put on accent and jazzy gadgets accompanying them always. They had a perpetual tilt with their head resting on one of their shoulders. Obviously, it is no easy task to talk all the time on mobile phones, what with terrific mobile plans in the offing. If Airtel and Hutch was trying to popularize something, SPICE used to be one notch above. Having a mobile was no longer a status quo - and we were really thrown into the oblivion. All of us were a bunch of jokers, carrying ourselves with utmost ease without a care in the world. Virtually, all of them had migrated from the good old bike days. There was a constraint of space due to the increasing number of four wheelers. By the way, Maruti was out of vogue. People had jumped to WagonR, Santro and the other new sleazy vehicles. Of course, cars had backseats!!!! Almost everyone hung out in pairs. The idea of being single was looked upon as a joke. My mind was whizzing thanks to the transition. Everything seemed out of place. The way the new set of kids carried themselves around left us in a state of ancient time frame.

Things did not quite change much when I started to work. Atleast, I felt I was still the same. I really had to look upto things. One year into my work, and in front of my office emerged a glossy mall. It was one of its kind and the first in Bangalore. Forum Mall had hit the headlines in Teenage Times. It had everything. Once you entered the place, you needn't come out for anything. Movies, Restaurants, Clothes, Music, Books and almost everything found its way into Forum. The concept of Multiplex found a new meaning with the launch of this sophisticated building. PVR hit the right chord with the movie goers. It is right in front of my office and how could I miss it. I loved to go to Forum just because of Landmark. The range of books that adorned Landmark was truly amazing. It was a reader's paradise. During my visits to Forum, I just used to get amazed at the purchasing ability of the public. Go to any movie, and all you could see was a house full board. By the way, tickets in PVR is not all that economical. You had two range of tickets - one costing 100 rupees and the other an exhorbitant (that's what I thought) 500 rupees. Almost all the software sector, and the college youth found their way to the PVR cinemas. Every individual had a supporting individual! Yes, it worked only in pairs. On one hand was a mobile, and the other hand rested on his girlfriend, and the shopping spree continued to impress the better half. I mean, the better half for that day. Things change in life and so do these things. Imagine us from the office, going in a big group to Forum, and getting involved in nothing more than window shopping. After all, what more can we do? In order to maintain our stability, we stopped our visits to Forum over a period of time and decided to move on with time. Life @ Forum was too fast for us!

Today, all of us have a hearty laugh(with concern too) looking at the cultural change that is gripping Bangalore. Money is pouring in abundance, and with the booming economy, one can get almost anything he wants. It is not all that surprising to see people flaunt their wealth on anything that is trivial. Everything seems so ethereal, unrealistic and unsure. Pubs, Booze and Party have all become trite. Social drinkers have emerged from nowhere, and everything seems to be alright under the current scheme of things. Discos and dance parties are the order of the day (rather night). The young kids want a good nightlife, and they complain if the pubs close at 11 pm in the night, as if that is the most outrageous thing in the world right now. A teetotaller is met with a response You don't drink? with aghast. Looks like I am out of place with a serious generation gap!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I remember those days when my parents used to go out on important functions to travel out of Bangalore. It used to fall on a weekend, and generally, my brother and I stayed back home fighting out minor squabbles. I would make it a point to tell my mother not to tell the news of her travel anywhere outside, lest neighbours and relatives invite us for lunch or dinner. Anything appealed to us, except going out to somebody else's house for the sake of food. That has somehow not fascinated me or my brother much. Both of us would rather shell out that extra money on a good hotel outside and fill our stomach. But, going out to somebody's house exclusively for the sake of food is a strict NO NO.

OK! If a couple of extra bucks have to be saved, save it on other things. Why cringe to buy good food? In all my years, anywhere, I have never cared to find out what my neighbour is cooking or what is going to be offered by whom. I still remember the times when my brother and I used to stay back at home, and find excuses to avoid other people's homes. Thanks, aunty! We are just going to my friend's place for dinner. Thanks a lot for the invitation. We will make it some other time. What are you planning to do for tomorrow? Oh! That! We have been invited by someone else. Please don't worry! With a blatant lie, both of us would head to the hotel. It is not in the food that lies the difference. It is just that with certain people, you wouldn't want the relationship to extend beyond basic courtesies. So, when that happens, your conscience would not permit you to go to their place just for the sake of food. It would be an uncomfortable proposition for the giver as well as the taker. Again, it is a different matter that if I go to some people's homes, I have asked them what is there to eat. That is altogether a different relationship. I would hate to go somewhere, get involved in family talk when least interested, with deep sighs and grins leading nowhere, with one part of the face staring at the food, and the other part of the face askewedly facing the person, all in heights of unexplainable unpleasantry. A half filling meal, with half hearted smiles and answers, and then fleeing the place as if you were getting chased by a lion. That's being a thorough diplomat, and for nothing in the world would I want to invoke diplomacy from my side or from the other side.

Inspite of all this, there was an interesting incident which still fills me with rage and laughter. Contrasting, yeah, but that's the way it turned out. Once, my parents had to go to a function during the weekend. As usual, my brother and I opted to stay back at home. Sadly, Mrs. X got to know about that. After having run out of lies, and having been caught red handed, we had to go to Mrs. X's house for lunch. We were writhing uncomfortably, when Mrs. X came to me with a plate of adai. It was delicious no doubt but the supporting statement had me transfixed in amazement. Do you want one more? followed. Now, we were sort of people who wouldn't move out of the house even if there was an earthquake without eating atleast 4-5 adais. How could we explain this to Mrs. X? My brother and I exchanged furtive glances sealed in a concealed smile. Thanks to her generosity, we had one more adai on our plates. How in the world could I explain to her that it had not filled even 10% of the quota in our stomach! But, we walked out thanking her profusely for the "hearty" meal. We came out of the house, and instead of heading home, we took to the nearest hotel, ordered everything we wanted and the whet appetite was finally toned down with great difficulty.

All this done, the next day, my mother had to bear the brunt of my anger. I told her that the next time she is going out of town, let alone other people, she is not going to tell even us about the travel plans.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Ramanujan stood on the terrace of his house observing the gully cricket played out by the small kids in the neighbourhood. He was fascinated by the amount of satisfaction the game generated to the young boys in such a small area. It was hardly a place to park a car, and the kids had created a playground out of the space. The wall adjoining to the landlord's house served as the stumps, with the mark made by a red brick serving as a perfect debatable wicket. As always, the player who wielded the bat missed the ball more often than once, and was caught in a dilemma as to whether the opposition is going to appeal him out or not. He was, as usual, ready to confront an argument with the close in fielders, an argument finding all the unknown words in the local language, and irreproducible. Summer holidays was generally the busiest time for the kids, and for the mothers, an unexplainable agony. The game generally progressed from 9 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon, with about an hour for lunch. The kids assembled back at 2 to play out the rest of the day, which usually ended well into the night. In the midst of the game, there used to be several head banging arguments, which could easily bring down the neighbourhood. Just like any other neighbourhood, there were these elements, who never fancied young kids playing all day.

Ramanujan watched all this with the eye of an artist. He loved their games, their fight, their arguments, and he also appreciated at some of them for the way they played the game. His son and daughter-in-law left early in the morning for work, and he after a good breakfast got ready to watch the day's proceedings. His grandson went to school, and his parents dropped him on the way to office. He would eagerly wait for him in the evening, so that he could narrate to him about the day's events. He had been doing this for the past many years, seeing generations of kids grow up to adults. He had never been bored by the game, since there was always some difference in the fresh batch of players. After his morning walk and breafast, he would stay on till about 12 in the afternoon, grab a quick lunch, read some philosophical subjects, and get back in the evening for the game. If there was an international game, then the area would be deserted, and the lunch session would witness some pathbreaking analysis. Ramanujan had found perfect peace in the world, and so, was at peace with himself. He always felt that the time he spent with his grandson were the best moments of the day. He would tell him about all the teachers, about the homework, about his fight with the other boys, about his sports events, and about all the things that had no special significance in anybody else's life. Ramanujan would be an avid listener, adding suggestions to the conversation. His relationship with his grandson, he considered it to be invaluable. His son and daughter-in-law had given him complete freedom at home, and he was free to do what he wanted. He was never questioned about anything, and they felt it to be their duty to take advice from him. Ramanujan, on his part, never really troubled them with unnecessary criticism and sarcasm.

His morning walk to the Malleswaram Railway Station, he met many people whom he knew for many years. He would strike a conversation with them in the most friendly way, inquiring them about their day to day activities. He never got bored with the talks even though it had been that way everyday. He was treated with respect wherever he went and people appreciated his non-interfering attitude. The stationmaster in the railway station was a good friend of his and both of them would spend some time discussing about the current state of affairs in the country.


His routine fell in place to a nicety and he was happy with the way things were progressing in life. But, in life there are many a hurdles to clear and it is how one manages to steer his way through them is what really defines life. One day, on his way back from his morning walk, he saw a group of violent elements manhandle a guy. He walked away unconcerned, with a feeling of animosity and hatred towards the tough guys. He went back home with a very disturbed mind, feeling totally uneasy with himself. He was feeling guilty for having not got involved in the issue someway or the other to rescue the person who was getting thrashed. For a second, all the principles and values that he had lived for all his life seemed to be waning away. It was the moment of truth for him, as he realised that what you preach is useless unless and until practised in the same vein. It is tough to point out when a person is doing something wrong, than to go around telling people not to do wrong, when they are not doing anything. That was the situation Ramanujan faced that day. He felt that the entire system crashed on him, and he would never be able to be the same again. The least he felt that he could have done was to call the police, and walked away from the scene. He did not even do that. He sat back reclining on the chair wondering what else he could have done. He then got up, opened the door, and headed to the station. But this time, it was a different one, the police station. He went to the inspector and narrated the situation that took place sometime back. He also told him how he did not have the sense of duty to call him earlier, and that he regretted for his actions. The inspector listened carefully and listed out the event in a report. He thanked him for his social concern and appreciated him for his help. Such was the nature of Ramanujan. He was an idealist, with a very socialistic approach towards life.

There were times when he would be in disagreement with his son and daughter in law over certain issues. But, the argument would always end in a positive note, with Ramanujan not hesitating to pick the positive points from the discussion. He liked to be a liberal man with a very simplistic way of living, and never cared for what others thought about him as long as he was on the right path. The border issue had taught him a lot of things in life. His good friend had purchased the adjacent plot of land and constructed a nice and sophisticated building. Everything was good with it, except that a part of the building encroached Ramanujan's area. He tried reasoning with his friend, explaining to him that he did not feel comfortable with the encroachment. His friend never saw from Ramanujan's perspective, and both the families got into a feud that threatened to wreck the peace of the environment. The families entered into a court case that meandered for more than a year, without any conclusive agreement in sight. Ramanujan saw that the court case was serving as a hindrance to everyone concerned. So, one evening, he decided to strike a conversation with his friend and reach an agreement on the issue. He went and told him that whatever may be the outcome of the case, he has no issues with his part of the building jutting into his compound, and that he has no problems with forging old ties. People and values have meant a lot to him in life and he did not want to lose them over something materialistic. Both of them spoke about their old days together. The talks gladdened their hearts and filled them with ease. The next day, his friend removed the structure that was reaching out to Ramanujan's house. The court case was withdrawn and both the families are enjoying the best relationship since then.

Ramanujan's attitude towards life focussed more on people's lives and their well beings. Materialism and wealth creation are just a part of the package towards a good lifestyle. They are not the be all and end all of life and can never be so. People like Ramanujan who have understood this basic fact of life are always bound to do well and suceed in life.

Monday, October 09, 2006

In all Glory

It is not easy to relinquish your position when you are at the peak of your career. There is always that urge to carry on in life, even though you know that the end is not far off. It is normal for any individual not to give up when in your final phase of what you are doing. The inherent selfishness in an individual rises to the surface on such occasions. One has to realise that all good things must come to an end. But, one also has to know how and when to put a stop on everything.

Michael Schumacher, inarguably the word's best F1 driver, is going to step down after this season from Formula 1. The F1 fans around the globe have become so used to the Ferrari cap adorned by Michael Schumacher, that it is going to be very difficult to imagine F1 without Schumacher, and more importantly, to see someone else wear the red cap for Ferrari in his place. It would never be easy for Ferrari to replace this amazing driver, who single handedly has got Ferrari victories from the jaws of defeat. It was also fascinating to see the Ferrari-Schumacher combination beat the guts out of the rivals by simple and effective pit stop strategies. The passion in Schumacher will definitely be missed by all sports buffs, simply because of the way he carried himself in the large arena. There were times he hardened his stance by taking certain uncompromising decisions, which was rebuked by all critics. But that's the way he has always played the sport. In an era of high competitiveness and "result is all" attitude, it is not difficult to realise why Schumacher carries his passion on his sleeve. He was loved by many and equally, or rather more than that, hated by many. Obviously, he has got into many controversial situations in many many races. But then, imagine for how long he has been driving. He is in the F1 circuit for more than a decade, and in such a large span of driving, one is going to face many stirring situations. Schumacher too was not different in this aspect. He has been a part of too many races and each race besets a new problem.

Alonso was on a roll last season with Ferrari struggling to cope up with the speed of the Renault. Renault was walking away with the championship with more than half a dozen races to come. People were speculating about Schumacher's position in Ferrari. Ferrari obviously did not want to let go of the genius. Schumacher too did not want to leave Ferrari with a big low. He stayed on for one more season, and in 2006, showed why he is regarded as the best in the circuit. With just one more race to go, Schumacher might come second in the championship, but there is no denying that what he did in the last decade will be remembered by every F1 fan. It is also good to see the sporting genius retire on a high, when things are working in his favour. Rather than being kicked to the sidelines, he has chosen the right moment to come out in all glory. That's what is needed from a true sportsman.

There are a lot of people in the global sports arena who want to squeeze out the maximum from their playing days, and stick on till the end, even when they know that they are not giving their maximum to the game. But, Schumacher with perfect timing is walking away with all respect and accolades.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bus Number 188

He stood waiting for the bus at the Malleswaram Circle bus stop with a sense of restlessness and uneasiness. He was already late for the morning bus, and he just hoped that the bus is late than usual. As such, he was getting used to coming to the bus stop more than ten minutes late, since the bus driver never kept his time. The bus was supposed to reach the bus stop daily at quarter past seven in the morning. The routine late arrival by about ten minutes meant that he never came before twenty five minutes past seven to the bus stop. Now, his normal time had shifted to the new time. He started timing his arrival at the bus stop to this new time, which meant that he was not able to meet the ten minute delay schedule too. Expecting a bus to be more than fifteen minutes late was something that was not extraordinary. Buses were never meant to keep up time. It was not the end of the world if he missed his bus, but that would mean an additional travel time to the main bus stand, and catching another bus from there would result in inevitable delay for his class. To spruce up further, delay for his classes meant a lot for him, as he would end up losing his morning nap that added as an extension to his previous night's sleep. The extension seemed to stretch as long as he was seated in class.

Today, it seemed that the bus was definitely on schedule. He cursed his lack of time sense that seemed to inhibit his daily mode of functionality in some way or the other. He always regretted having to take the bus to the main bus stand. It meant changing two buses, and he never knew, whether he would be able to make it to the first class on time, if he had to catch the bus from there. He had little time to think about his next course of action. He could either wait for five more minutes for the direct bus to college or take the next immediate bus to the main bus stand. There was always this borderline case whether the bus would still make its appearance or not. Since Malleswaram circle bus stop was an important point, there was an average of three buses every minute. So, he had to make sure that he did not miss his bus in the melee of other buses and large commuters. He could see the different buses heading in totally different directions - To Yeshwantpura, Mathikere, Shivajinagar, Koramangala, Ulsoor, Jayanagar, JP Nagar and other such places. But he could not find that elusive bus that was supposed to take him to Hosakerehalli. Though the direct bus did not yield him any extra benefit other than not having got to change the bus, it did not provide him with any luxury either. This bus was fun since all his classmates who were from Malleswaram and Suththa Muththa boarded the same bus to meander off in endless conversations and stories. Each had his own share of comments and tales to supplement the endless chatter from other fellow passengers. At times, the driver would be so irritated that the conductor would have to shout at the top of his voice at the students to keep the students from the aimless talk. Of course, there used to be days when all of them used to be busy with internals and exams, that the bus used to resemble a silent zone with everybody having their gaze fixed sternly on their books.

Bus number 188 provided a lot of comfort in such aspects for its commuters. Once the students got their seats, it assisted them in their quest for exam preparations. Everyone would get busy discussing the various concepts that had kept them elusive until the day before. Comments such as Yaako concept bagge yochane madthiya! Marks Mukhya Concept amele nodkolona. (Why do you think about the concept? Marks are important. Let us worry about the concepts later) This is not an important question. This example problem is important and other such talks would do the rounds. Each comment would be lapped with special significance as each one of them would not like to be left behind in his preparation. Thought ultimately what each one of them got in the internals and externals is altogether a different blog topic in itself.

So today he waited endlessly for the bus. He just had one more minute to take the decision. He would be taking the next bus to Majestic (Main Bus Stand). He knew it would be futile to wait for a longer time. There were two buses coming one behind the other. He saw that the first one was definitely not the bus taking him to the desired destination. The second one parked itself atleast twenty yards away from the actual bus stop. The usual hustle and bustle of commuters made it difficult for him to enter bus number 188. He heaved a sigh of relief and greeted his friends.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

When Black touched my heart and "Gandhigiri" stemmed

In the midst of a hectic schedule, I caught up with a recent movie which received rave reviews from all quarters, and an other one, released in 2005, which took the nation by storm. The two movies I am refering to are Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006) and Black (2005). Both of them are emotional and touchy, with fantastic messages passed across.

After watching Parineeta, the simplistic Vidya Balan had hit the right chord with the masses. Her elegant and graceful South Indian looks was enough to bowl out almost any stone hearted individual. The grace and elan she evokes is so different from the other heroines. She plays the lead role in the sequel to Munnabhai MBBS. The other characters had the star cast lifted from the prequel - Bomman Irani, Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi. Arshad Warsi had his career going to great heights after the first part, and to be honest, he deserves all that he is getting and more. He has played a terrific role in this one too, with classy dialogue delivery and the typical maamu stuff. Sanjay Dutt, as an emotional goonda, listening to Gandhi has been dealt in a very subtle manner. Now, why is Lage Raho the most talked about movie of the year? Rajkumar Hirani has shifted away from the monotony of the routine Bollywood masala and has come up with something highly entertaining and meaningful. In the days of violence and monstrous activities committed everyday, Hirani has tried to convey the importance of non-violence through simple examples. The theme is totally refreshing and more importantly it is handled deftly, without any strings attached. It is never easy to live upto the expectations of the people after the first part. People never expected the second part to be as good as the first one. I am sure even Hirani wouldn't have expected the movie to evoke such a tumultous response. Terms like Gandhigiri has found its way through some catchy sequences. The catchy term used for the first time in the movie was enough to generate considerable curiosity.

This movie aims to convey to the society the harsh realities in a subtle way. A preachy philosopher is never accepted in the society, but a clown with a smiley is sure to attract the masses. This is what Hirani has employed to convey a strong message to the community. He does not get bogged down with preachy dialogues aimed at the critics, but the end product has resulted in such a way that it has pleased the critics as well as the usual cinegoers. Unlike Rang De Basanti, which conveys a totally flawed message, this movie can walk upright with a socially strong message appealing to the masses. Hirani and crew have hit the jackpot here without attracting any hint of negative publicity for the movie.

Coming on to Black, the first thing I felt after seeing the movie was, why this one wasn't sent to the Oscars? I could not even think of how this movie was thrown out of the equation by a totally lacklustre movie like Paheli. Where is the comparison? Guys, give me a break! No movie can come close to this movie in any way not just in 2005, but maybe for a decade. This movie talks about the life of a handicap (blind and deaf) child, who is pruned to the social life by a teacher. The child grows up to be Rani Mukherji, and the teacher happens to be Amitabh Bachchan. The emotional trauma faced by the child is sure to bring tears to the eyes of the viewers. The emotional hardship juxtaposed with the harshness of the reality which the child is not able to understand left me dumbfounded. I can go on and on about this totally flawless movie, the cinematography, the theme, the picturisation and everything. It made me realise for an instant as to how lucky I am to be bestowed with the gifts of God - the ability to feel, sense, see, hear and talk. They undoubtedly can be bracketed to be the greatest gifts to us. Everything else materialistic pales in comparison to this natural wonder. Both Rani and Bachchan have essayed magnificient roles, and have shown how the handicap can be overcome to play a significant role in life. There are moments while watching the movie, I was thankful that there was nobody else watching along with me. The first time the child understands what it is to relate meanings to words left me with so much happiness like never experienced before. The way the family forgets everything around them to realise that their daughter was learning the ways of life is unforgettable. The classroom activity, where Rani explains to the class that it is not the eye but the mind that has to imagine things is brilliant. The family dinner, where Rani and her sister who is getting married, realise how each feels in the other's company is truly touching. The point where Rani realises, that she would never understand what it is to be loved by a man, is superbly capturised. One really feels for such a girl, who has to forego all happiness in her life because of her handicap. But the final speech made by Rani on her graduation is the scene of the movie, which can really lift your spirits and instill a new found inspiration and motivation in your life.

Black is one movie in recent times, where from start to end, it was taken in near flawless fashion. It also made me realise the trauma associated in the life of such individuals. If I have to say that I was moved by this movie, it would be the understatement of the century. A class movie with an awe-inspiring message, and I really don't understand what made me miss this movie for so long. It is also sad to realise that we kicked a potential Oscar winning movie due to our foolishness.

On an overall note, Black takes Indian cinema to new heights, and it would be just not possible to compare this movie with any other movie I have seen. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has stitched an highly compassionate movie in the finest fashion. A heart rendering, soul searching and an emotional shake up that left me asking for more.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ties and Knots

A day prior to the career fair, we had to get our bearings right. This was our only exposure to the industry world through the school. So, off we went to JC Penney to buy formal trousers and neckties. I somehow have this fancy for ties. They look so colourful with a tinge of cushion protruding at the end. Myself, Samarsen and Karthik Sadanandam took a cab and we expected to come back in about an hour's time. Samar and I had a tough time selecting our trousers. Trousers that suit our waist size along with perfect length was tough to find. There was not many a choice to make the selection. We roamed around the store for quite sometime trying out various combinations to select the best fit. After a great difficulty, both of us ended up getting the right colours and the right fit. Then, we had to go to the ties. When I saw the ties from a distance, I thought that it shouldn't be all that difficult to get the right tie. But only after I started seeing the ties did I realise how difficult it is going to be to chose the right one. Samar and I explored various available ties and trashed everything with some explanation or the other. Oh! This is too dark. No, this is too light! Come on, the pattern on that tie doesn't look too good! This has no stripes! Oh! That has too many stripes! It has stars! This is good but it wouldn't go well with the shirt! It has this and that and what not! Karthik was a silent spectator to this mental onslaught. We had to make the decision and it had to be quick. Finally, both Samar and I picked up ties of our choice. We were still not sure. Is this better or that stayed in our minds for quite some time.

At the end of it all, we were fed up with our selection policy, and headed back with what we thought were the best ties that could be picked up from the store. I never realised that shopping could be such a nightmare. Thank God my mother did the shopping for me when I was in India!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Natiya Peroli Padmini

One of the greatest artists of the seventies, Natiya Peroli Padmini was in an altogether different league by herself as far as her dancing skills were concerned. She was undoubtedly one of the best in her era or maybe one of the best ever. Dance is a vital component of mainstream cinema, and Padmini, in the yesteryears, played a decisive part in popularising the art, thanks to her inimitable style. The flair and grace associated with her dance found her many fans amidst a lot of movie goers.

Tamil industry will never be the same again without this talented actress. Those were the times - Savitri, Vyjayanthi Mala, Padmini, Devika, Saroja Devi and KR Vijaya had created a niche in Tamil cinema, playing the leading ladies to two of the most popular actors - the late MGR and the late Sivaji Ganesan. Padmini had a lot of films to her credit, and some of them were phenomenal and treasured in the history of Tamil cinema. Chiththi had Padmini playing second wife to M.R. Radha (another versatile actor of Tamil cinema). The poise and composure she displays in the movie can move anybody to tears in this wonderfully crafted drama. Vanjikottai Vaaliban had two of the tamil beauties - Vyjayanthi Mala (one of my all time favourites) and Padmini featuring in a mind-blowing dance. This dance will definitely be embedded in the minds of her fans, as it featured terrific movements from both the danseurs in a glittering performance. Who can forget Vietnam Veedu? If you notice the title, it is strange for a Tamil movie to have a Vietnam in it, but then once you see the movie, you realise why it is kept that way. This had Sivaji at his best in a tear jerking drama ably supported by Padmini. She also featured in a good number of Hindi movies with Raj Kapoor.

Padmini's sad demise is a loss of a great artist and one whose void is truly irreplacable. The Thillana Mohanambal, has captured many a hearts on the way and she will definitely linger in the hearts and minds of her fans for a long long time. There can be none who will be more enthusiastic about dance as this veteran. She lived and breathed dance all the way through her life. Though Padmini has found her way to the heavenly abode, the great timeline of movies left by her will all along remain unforgettable for ages to come.

Monday, September 25, 2006

All that glitters is white

This forms the main ingredient of my sunday once in two weeks. Taking my laundry bag and walking upto a mile to wash my clothes at MOBIL is undoubtedly the most painful experience of the fortnight. Imagine doing this on a wintry afternoon at sub-zero temperatures. The pain would start two days before actually doing the laundry. The most common feeling would be - Oh No! Not again! The next obvious question would prop up almost at the next nano second - How I wish I had a car! Sadly though, student life does not yield handsome income, and we have to make do with what we have. But, this is definitely a much better situation to be in than washing it on your own. That would have been even more frustrating. No wonder I can imagine most of the hostel guys to wear the same old clothes for a long period of time. The colour fades to different shades, the original colour is lost by not washing it at all, and the brown tinge adds a totally new stinking sensation to your clothes. Most of them would dread to go near the hostel guy fearing a bad outcome. No wonder, fellow hostel guys flock together, and only a hostel guy can understand a fellow hostel guy's situation. Thankfully, here, all these things can be avoided.

The machines at MOBIL are just great. Pop in 2$ in quarters, come back in half an hour, and your clothes are washed to a nicety. I get reminded of the Rin advertisement back in India, where a beautiful lady is draped in a lightning white saree. The freshness associated with the clothes, thanks to the softener, brings a nice feeling to the senses. After this, the dryer is filled with the washed clothes, and post heavy turbulence for about 25 minutes, out emerges the clothes, as if it was hanging in your courtyard the whole day. I am ready to bask in the glory of washed clothes for two weeks.

Two weeks later...

Saturday, September 23, 2006


! What the hell is that? I think the best way to release your pent up emotions is to blast your way through a short writeup on undoubtedly the worst movie of the season. Last night, my friends and I caught up with a one hour viewing of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (KANK). I don't know whether it is a Naa or a Na, since you see Karan Johar is pretty superstitious about these silly things. To top it all, the media gets excited when Karan Johar changes the title from some silly name to another equally silly name. Obviously it has to be, since only a single letter gets edited in his new title.

Now, let me add some adjectives to this movie: silly, idiotic, stupid, outrageous, maddening, foolish, nerve wrecking, head breaking (not path breaking please as KJ claims), goofed up to the core, foolhardy, reckless, unwise, pathetic, nauseating, wretched, pitiable, dismal, sad, deplorable, useless and above all disgraceful. I wish I had more time to look for worse adjectives in any online dictionary. I can go on and on and rant about this totally mindless and time wasting drama, which makes absolutely no sense at all. I just cannot fathom what triggered a debate after the people saw this movie. All that I could think of was fleeing from the hall and getting back to bed with about a dozen painkillers. KJ is too happy to talk about his movie in his interviews. I am happy that my movie has triggered a debate. Even I would agree to that, but not about the movie, but whether a Karan Johar movie should be watched in the future or not. As such, we started seeing the movie after one hour from the start and got out in 45 mins. We were not even in a position to make fun of the movie, as we could not decipher what the hell was happening on the screen. Just because your marriage is not working out doesn't mean you end up in bed with somebody else. The best part is, the side relationship goes on with the main relationship. Now, don't get me wrong. I am getting the KJ effect. What I mean is, even though you are not happy with the relationship, stick on with your wife and go to bed with somebody else forms the theme of the 45 mins which I saw.

Amitabh Bachchan has made a complete mockery out of himself with his role in the movie. It looks so put on and hopeless. Shahrukh Khan is forgettable in the movie. His acting is so plain and totally lacking in strength. He gets perturbed by all the idiosynchracies happening around him. Abhishek Bachchan has atleast demonstrated good acting abilities, but since the script is so weak and tortuous (obviously, that's what I felt since every scene was rounding up on the same points), he had nothing much to do. He shouts at his wife(Rani Mukherji) for not satisfying his sexual whims and fancies. The best part is Shahrukh shouts at Rani for maintaining an intimate relationship with Abhishek. So, Rani is at the receiving end from two people at the same time. By this time, I was driven to madness and my friends and I dashed to the exit before more pitfalls could catch our attention. But, Rani and Preity Zinta are amazing in the movie. They are ravishing. But then, how long can one look at the beautiful ladies if the plot is maddening.

At the end of it all, we had to come to this conclusion. KKJMND. Still not sure? Kabhi Karan Johar Movie Naa Dekhna!