Friday, January 30, 2009

Dash or dog?

As for the customary weekend discussions, I was having the usual one with Chaitanya Emani and Pravin Dhake at one of our homes. This is the time when everything wavers from junk to something sensible and back to the junk world. So, we were talking about this new movie that was released in India. It is critically acclaimed in the west, east, north and south, except of course at the center, rather at the mainland, where the movie is filmed. Your guess is as good as mine, it is slum dog..errr..dash millionaire. Confusing, eh?

Hindu Jan Jagriti Samiti, a name never heard of before, is fighting for the fundamental rights of the slum dwellers. Why? Because, dog is a bad word. Let us quote this guy verbatim,

“We request that please change the name of the film to Slum dash Millionaire or Slum dash Crorepati. Dog is a bad word,” says a Corporator from Mumbai, Nicholas Almeida.

So, Emani quipped, "What the hell is wrong with these guys man? Dog is a bad word. Coming from a cricketing nation, this really sucks. We have been the perennial underdogs for the last quarter of a century. So, should we find another term to substitute the equivalence of underdogs."

We are not concerned about the eradication of poverty, India as such, is still living in a state of denial regarding the global economic meltdown, and thanks to a few unknown organizations, the headline grabbers are still concerned about the trivialities.

If all this is not enough, Amitabh Bacchan, one of the many talkative Bacchans, has to comment about the western perception of India. Yeah, right, the whole world is trying to understand what India is all about through a single movie. If this is how people in the west are going to be influenced, we should care least about such opinion. If we apply the same logic to some of the critically acclaimed Hollywood movies, then US should get scandalized for anything and everything. What about a movie like Departed, where the underworld mafia is brutally exposed.

What does Amitabh Bacchan mean by saying that some of the other Indian movies should have won Oscars? I hope he is not referring to movies like the one where he commutes to work in his private jet, in a setting based in a lavish castle in England.

Let's focus on what is important today, instead of worrying about which lady is spending her evening at a pub, or which movie is offending the ever offendable organizations. Every political leader wants to come out with a statement about how pubbing is against the Indian culture. Who are these specimens to define what is in the interests of the Indian culture? Just allow people to lead their lives, and you should concentrate on your job, instead of receiving birthday gifts running to crores of rupees.

I don't want to crib about the idiosyncrasies of the Indian society on a Sunday morning, but what hurts most is how our society has to withstand opinions from a bunch of people with inflated egos and absolutely no commitment to the society.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where is the OST?

I generally do not keep track of the music world, except, of course, when it involves ARR. It goes by default that his songs would have made their presence felt on my laptop, and gradually found their way on to my first generation ZUNE (Yes, I know, I am the only guy using this. Honestly, it is not bad even though it is, maybe, as bulky as a 1970 transistor)

I am not a person to make New Year resolutions, but, since I am very contemplative, I thought about a few things. I was just thinking of all those people whom I idolize, and one of the names to hit me, even without thinking too much, had to be ARR. I just admire him for what he is. He has made it a point to talk only through his work, and his modesty, and humility are absolutely unquestionable. What, with that amount of talent, anybody else would have taken an ego ride around the world in 80 seconds! As I went back to his work from the early nineties, I decided that I should be building a collection of ARR's music from a genuine source. I just cannot imagine buying books from street vendors where the author does not get credit for his work. I think, the same should go to music, and if you are an ardent fan of the maestro, I realized that it just does not make sense to get a free copy of his music from one of those millions of websites.

Delhi 6, the latest soundtrack from ARR released at least a couple of weeks back, and I have curbed my natural instinct to download straight from some website, free of cost. Even if I wanted to download a pirated version of the original sound track, you just cannot blame me. I tried different ways to procure the original CD, but all my experience with Google failed miserably, as the query results invariably increased my temptation to stay with piracy. If the film industry wants to cut down on piracy, they also need to make the original music available as quickly as possible.

So here are the images of some Google queries, and you would not blame anyone, if he downloads the music for free. The first query was "Delhi 6 original music cd". Apart from an online store in UK, I could not find any legitimate site.

The second query was "Delhi 6 MP3 Amazon", and again, the temptation for the pirate is just way too good!

And, here comes the juicy full toss. The search query "Delhi 6 MP3 download" gives all that is required to forget buying music for the rest of your life.
If this is the way music CDs and DVDs are going to be marketed, the music companies can be rest assured that they won't be walking away with a single buck. But, having said all this, I am going to wait for the music to hit the Amazon MP3s download store, where it is easy to download the mp3s at a nominal price. I thought it really is a cool feature, but I just hope that it comes to the stores quickly, or it might be too irresistible not to download from a hundred other sources, and that too, for free!

PS: Click on image for better view

Monday, January 12, 2009

A sigh!

I am not regular chatter in the online world; rather I hate chatting with people through a messenger service. I would rather give a call and talk to my friends. It is a one minute thing; whereas chatting is endless. But, just to beat the Monday blues, a quick login to my GMAIL account, and I found one of my undergraduate friends loitering around on what was his Monday evening, rather a late evening. In India, whether financial figures of companies are tampered or not, there is one thing that remains consistently constant - the humongous working hours in the IT sector. People stay on and on and on. It is like Alfred Lord Tennyson referring to the brook,

For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever

In the IT industry, working hours go on forever. Anyway, I am least interested in talking about my friend's work habits. We had a brief conversation for maybe less than three minutes, but the after effects of the conversation lingered with me for the rest of the day. What started as casual "How are you? How is life?" exchanges, gradually transformed to "How is work? What about marriage?" dreads. It is rather odd, how we come out of different ages with different questions, each of them being as significant at that point of time, as what they are now, with a new set of questions. You look back in time, and say "Oh my goodness, did we really talk about that?" The trivia of the yester years become a prized possession for future conversations.

So, as we exchanged the pleasantries, since he is put up in Bangalore, I inquired about the batch of engineering friends. A class of 120 dispersed and a handful of us are in touch with a handful of others.

How is life? I asked.

Same life, same project for the last two years, and getting lonely by the day, and, losing friends to marriages. So, no tours, no meet ups.

The last sentence hit me big time. Losing friends to marriages. I read that again - Losing friends to marriages! That was hard hitting, but absolutely true.

In the last few months, several of them have got engaged, and several of them have got married. I am basically losing contact with all these guys; all these guys who I had taken for granted, he said sardonically!

A casual Mmmm made way to the other side from my end. What could I say for that!!

Both of us quickly found ways to talk about each other's work, the technical talk clearly lifting us from the inadequacy of life and marriage.

There were no good byes! The chat window ceased to exist after some time. Everything was well understood!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The sands of time

Hello Arun, how are you? When did you come back from US? I thought you still had six more months left, gushed forth a chirpy voice on the phone.

Oh, I came back last night. I just had to take care of a few things here before I can return, I said, as passively as ever, compared to her oozing enthusiasm.

OK, this is going to take you by surprise. I am getting engaged next month. Arvind and I have decided to get back, and I think, we have really understood each other well. Our marriage should take place in the next couple of months.

That was a bolt from the blue. Generally, girls come out with this weird statement, "You know, I need to tell you something important?" This sentence is generally the crucial sentence to analyze what's coming next. It does not require an Einstein to figure out whether she wants to confess her love for him or wants to confess her love for somebody else to him. But this was something different. She had blurted out without the usual clues.

I wouldn't even have thought of proposing to her if Arvind was still a part of her life, but both of them had separated at least a year and a half ago. All our lives had changed considerably during this time. Arvind had moved out to Bangalore with a different job, while I took up an on-site assignment in the US. Sahana stayed put in Madras, but worked for a different company. I lost contact with Arvind, by default, since I knew him through Sahana.

I held the phone in my hands. It had been almost a year since I had met her. A million thoughts ravaged the small portion in my head, and my contemplations turned confusing by the minute. I finally realized that there was something between us that was just more than friendship. She too hadn't found anyone during this time, and I was sure, that if there was somebody else in her life, I would have known. I had just returned from India, and friends and relatives had made a beeline to my house. At this point, I just wanted to stay confined to my room. In such a populous country, you just can't imagine how an 8ft by 10ft room can give you a lot of solace. I dialled her number, and just before I could hear the ringtone, I disconnected the line.

I did this a couple of times, before I summoned enough courage to establish my connection with her. My heart was beating as though it was taking part in a Grand Prix.

Hello Arun, how are you?...

I was standing in the airport holding her hand. I am sure it's all going to be fine. He didn't deserve you. Just don't worry about anything. I did not know whether I was comforting her or irritating her. I was never a person to indulge in such talks. I was the last person that anybody would look for at times of discomfort. I could make a complete fool of myself in such situations. I wanted to be careful as to what was coming out of my mouth. My company was planning to send me on an 18 month project to the so called land of opportunities, the United States. A lot of things can change in 18 months, and I was just hoping that even my life changes for the good. None of my family members came to the airport. They had got bored of sending me off on on site projects. It was no more exciting to see me off to distant lands. So, in a way, it was good that I could spend a few moments with her before the flight took off.

So, what's next? I asked her.

I am changing my job for the time being. I don't even want to be in the same company, she said.

I think it makes sense, I said, trying to add something.

After a few months, both of them had a big fallout, on something which was really silly. That's what I thought. All these great relationships come to an end not because of a silly incident, but because, there is so much of friction between between both of them, that at a particular point, the whole thing just escalates.

What's the problem? I asked both of them, who were standing in front of me as if a murder mystery was being solved.

I don't think it is going to work out between us, he said. There are too many differences, that I don't think it is a wise option to stick together. Even if we did try, it will be just a matter of time before we broke up again. Moreover, I want to concentrate on my career now. I just could not understand what Arvind was trying to say. I wanted to tell him, it is easier to make your career if you have the right person to spend the rest of your life with.

So, who wants to break out of the relationship? I questioned.

Neither of us, shouted both of them almost immediately. I thought I had just heard that there were too many differences, but the similarities were just too difficult to ignore.

We do not want to stick to each other, just because we have a few similarities. In the long run, it's the similarities in important matters that matter. She tried hard to reason, knowing fully well, that both of them were not taking the right decision.

Well guys, both of you are mature enough to decide what you want. The least both of you can do now is to part as friends!

The three of us walked on the sands of the Marina. I picked up a stone lying around, flung it as far as I could and shouted as though I had made a million bucks. Ennada, what are you doing, shouted Arvind? I am Murali, the chucker!! Hahaha, I laughed loudly. Why don't you get a ball and bat? Let us play cricket on the sand. Let's practise hard, that's the only way to get into the team.

Dei, what team, which team? You somehow lose your senses with a few drops of Vodka, she shouted to get herself heard, as the sea breeze was blowing away from me, taking the words with it. We better get going. I don't want to be running around with two drunk guys in the middle of the night.

Somehow, Arvind made sure he was in his senses to utter the right words at the right time. I always envied him, for he could pick himself up even when he was drowned in drinks. That was a quality I could trade with him for any of mine. Unfortunately, I had none of the good ones to pass it on to him.

Come, let's go to a movie, I said, the only sensible thing that I had spoken the whole evening.

Yeah right, all the theaters are open now to grace our presence, she smirked with a wickedness.

I want to watch Memento now, I screamed, as though I was fighting for my life.

Great, I want to watch Dracula, she said.

I woke up the next morning comfortably tucked in bed. These two were standing by my side. Because of you, we had to pay two hundred bucks extra to the auto rickshaw fellow!

Arun, I need to tell you something important, she said, as I was sipping my coffee early in the morning.

Just give me a minute, let me finish the sports column from The Hindu, and then get back to you. Just want to see what happened to the test match. Never had the chance to follow the game yesterday. It was a goddamn busy day. Just hold on for a second.

She just pulled the newspaper from my hand, and the top half of the sports section was brown and soggy, thanks to the coffee that had transferred itself beautifully from the cup to the newspaper. Wow, real time explanation of fluids flowing from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration, she blurted out.

What a way to use your imagination! Ok, now that you have got my concentration transfixed on you, tell me, what is it that you wanted to say.

Don't be shocked or surprised. Arvind proposed last night, when we had gone out for dinner.

Poor guy, does he not know you completely?

Just shut up and listen! It was so nice of him, and the setting was so romantic. We have known each other for close to a year now, and I somehow think, that he is the perfect guy for me. So, I guess it's all great the way it has worked out.

Great, then the three of us should celebrate!!!

I am not sure which year it was. I was in the New Year Eve party organized by a group of friends. It was quite a gathering. I was still in under graduate school, or college, which ever is convenient. I was talking with a friend, when suddenly, a friend of a friend of a friend, introduced Sahana to me. We sat talking for a few minutes, when we discovered that our lives were governed by a lot of similarities. It was really funny, and set the tone, for what would blossom into a great friendship.

As we took leave on that night, in her usual chirpy voice, she said