I often overrate my instincts. I do have huge self-destructive tendencies. On such days, I pick a really bad movie to watch. Today, it happened to be "Dus Kahaniyaan".

I had no big expectations from the movie. The movie was just 2 hours long. That makes it a mere 12 minutes per story. Even if 3 stories are good and a few are not unbearable, I felt it was not a bad choice and it did not seem too risky. How wrong was I! I would not bore you by writing about all of them, but definitely a few that got on my nerves.

Strangers In The Night
Mahesh Manjrekar and the lady with the longest face, Neha Dhupia are a weird couple who spend their anniversary day disclosing their past infidelities. Neha discloses that she had kissed a stranger in a railway station before meeting Mahesh. Flashback, we get to see Neha kissing the stranger's palm, her chin touching his elbow! She kisses his palm, his fingers - some of the most innovative ways of kissing never seen before on celluloid. Flashback again, in the railway station a small muslim kid runs towards her crying for help, she hides him from the rioter carrying a sword, confronts the rioter, kisses him on his palm and diverts his attention long enough for the kid to escape. I had tears in my eyes. I actually had cold!

Zahir
Manoj Bajpai, an ex-banker, a wannabe writer and a pessimist comes to stay at a friend's apartment for writing his novel, where he meets the retarded looking yet optimistic Dia Mirza. They talk, drink coffee and when Manoj falls for her and tries to kiss her, she rejects him and goes away. Disappointed Manoj goes to a bar to get drunk and finds out that Dia is a call girl interacting with a 'customer'. When Dia comes over to Manoj's place for giving an explanation, Manoj teaches her a lesson (there is another word for this - "rape"!) without letting her tell what she intended to say. Few months later, now in a hospital, the unshaven Manoj realizes that she had come to tell him that she had AIDS and now he is also affected by AIDS. This becomes the story to his novel. What? Why? WTF? Yeah, I too had those questions. Sanjay Gupta releases his movie the same month as World AIDS day and leaves a message - Never rape a HIV patient!

Lovedale
A soon-to-be-married girl meets a woman on the train, who gives the lone ear ring that she wore and suddenly disappears (You guessed it right, she should be a dead person with a great motive!) The girl gets off at the station in search of that woman and she stumbles into Aftab's house, where she has coffee with him. Then, she meets him again at her engagement ceremony, finds out that Aftab is her fiance's friend and her dad Anupam Kher asks her if she is really *really* happy about her marriage. The girl obviously displays the utter confusion thats so natural for a typical desi heroine, to which her dad gives a lecture on *true love* - he narrates a story of his youth, where he had met a beautiful lady on the train to whom he had gifted a pair of ear rings, one of which has remained with him. Surprise surprise, it matches the one she had got from the woman on the train. She runs towards Aftab and hugs him, comes to know that the woman was Aftab's mother, dead 10 years ago.
Had the woman being alive and Anupam Kher married her now, the girl and Aftab would have been 'socially siblings'! On the other hand, if the girl and Aftab had married first, the oldies marriage would be cross-in-laws marriage :D

Sex On The Beach
The career-going-nowhere, still-depressed-from-Bipasha-dumping Dino Morea is vacationing in a lonely island. He discovers a book buried in sand, opens it and makes his signature. And out of nowhere, a lady in skimpy golden bikini storms in a water boat towards the sea shore. After exchanging blank glares, she invites him to her home. Dino reaches her home and accidentally drops a pack of condoms on the floor while talking to her (Wah, the "maturity" of Bollywood!) and waits on the couch, while she excuses herself to 'slip-into-something-comfortable' (why do people wear uncomfortable clothing so often? ;) ) When the lady takes more than the average time a woman takes to get ready for a party, Dino enters the bathroom and finds that the lady is dead, her eyes as expressionless as when she was alive. He gets panicky, runs out of her home, on the way getting confronted by the lady bhooth and the next morning, the kids playing on the beach discover Dino, as dead as his career. A new visitor on the island discovers the same book, signs it and the lady in skimpy bikini storms in again (and so on and so forth).
Somebody comes to know of it and carefully turns this virgin beach into a burgeoning tourist destination (Sorry I made the last one up - my sense of humor seriously affected by this gem of a movie)

Rice Plate
A businessman buys a pack of cookies and enters the airport lounge. A shabbily dressed man comes and sits next to him. He picks a cookie from the pack the businessman has kept by his side and starts eating. The businessman takes a cookie from the pack and looks angrily at the man. The man picks yet another cookie, the businessman takes the second cookie and walks away, thinking how rude that man was. On entering the flight, he opens his bag to discover that his cookie pack is still intact and it was he who was taking cookies from the other man's pack. Moral - Never judge others. Ever read this forward? Replace the businessman with an old Tamil woman who is prejudiced against muslims, replace airport with railway station, replace cookie pack with rice plate - and you got an original from Rohit Roy!

Gubbare
A couple traveling in a bus start quarreling over some trivial thing and the angry wife gets up and sits a few rows behind. She sees a very calm Nana Patekar holding 'gubbare' (balloons, if you didn't know) He talks to her in maniacal calmness, about how he also quarrels with his wife and he takes her gubbare to pacify her. He narrates his stories very fondly, with the pouted heroine listening to it with a "ooh so cute" look. It did not take me a second to guess that Nana's wife must be having Alzheimers, in a coma or already dead. I was right, we see Nana sitting by the side of his wife's grave, planting the gubbare there and narrating all the trivial details with maniacal calm affection.

I remember listening to a bunch of people over the last few days as to how Bollywood is changing and making different movies. "Bold" topics, extra-marital affairs, using words like 'bitch' and 'bastard', awkward kissing scenes, showing a pack of condoms - if this is what qualify as world class, Sanjay Gupta deserves standing ovation. I guess I should go back to my "I-wont-watch-a-Bollywood-movie-unless-strongly-recommended-by-some-sane-person" mode. I think I will!

P.S: I found the hugely criticized, self-obsessed largely mindless "No Smoking" to be quite a unique and interesting cinematic experience!

Meeep

Tring Tring. Tring Tring. Tring Tring. Tring.
"You have reached the automated voice messaging system of so-and-so. Please leave a message after the tone"

Can you talk to the voice messaging system the same way as you would talk to its owner? If you can, I envy you. If you cant, do you know if there is a name for this disability? :)
Just like anyone else, I talk to different people in different ways - the way of addressing, the tone, the language changes with each individual. Its like a protocol set between two people. The response of the person on the other side of the conversation is very important to that protocol. If its a voice messaging system, which is nothing but a dumb recorder - I cannot talk to it like I talk to its owner. I have tried it too hard, but it does not work! I try to sound as normal as possible, but I sound too weird!

My recorded-voice-o-phobia is not limited to voicemails. I also hate calling customer support centers - it makes me very uncomfortable. If you are one of those who make business with me - charge me 50 or 100 rupees more by mistake, I wont bother calling you up. If you get too greedy and increase it by more than that, I would get someone to call you on my behalf ;) No, I am not that bad actually, but you get my point!

"Thank you for calling us. Your call is very important to us. All our agents are currently busy. We appreciate your patience. Please hold the line while we transfer to the next available operator or go hang yourself (I mean hang up :D)" Cant anyone think of less boring and less stressful messages than this? Who discovered this lifeless tone, this pitch and frequency? I guess this was a practical joke started by someone when they were asked to design a polite and friendly voice message! I guess nobody has done a study on how this tone of talking can be seriously injurious to mental health. I would love to find out the statistics of mentally unstable persons and the frequency of customer support calls that they made in their lifetime - I bet it will have an interesting result. These automated messages are repeatedly played accompanied by some piano music or Kenny G instrumentals. Have you noticed that the same songs that otherwise sound very melodious and soothing get on your nerves when played during a customer support call? To me, the whole exercise seems too tiring - listening to the recorded message, some music, message again, music and after a few iterations, the message suddenly changes, I hear "Hello" a few times and it takes me a while to realize that I am no longer listening to the recorded message, but an agent with an equally lifeless voice.

The only place where I can tolerate a voice message is in Google Talk. Actually, I adore it. Every time I call someone using Google Talk, there is a part of me that silently wishes that the person would not pick the call and I can hear the recorded voice of the lady say "The person you are trying to reach is not available. Please leave a message after the meep. Meeep". Its sounds so silly actually, but it makes me smile even when I hear it for the thousandth time. There is a certain childish exuberance and non-mechanical friendliness about the lady's voice that makes it so adorable. Especially the way she says "meep" - its almost like making a mockery of "beep" messages. Dont you think its high time all voice messages go "meep"?

Howls That?

Its a very chilly night, perhaps the coldest I have seen till now. The sleeping pads, the heater, razaai just making sure that the death count in Grand Canyon does not go up. The thermals, jacket, sweater, gloves, socks, sleeping bag - losing the battle against the invincible cold. I am slightly shivering, unable to sleep.The whooshing wind outside acts as the perfect partner for the cold. Just like the pace bowlers, they hunt in pairs. My co-occupants of the tent - Krupa and Saif are sleeping peacefully. May be they were too tired by the travel or they have had their share of struggle with cold already. After more than an hour of losing sleep, I feel a bit drowsy.

I enter my home in Mysore. Its too crowded. Dont know why there are so many people, may be some function. I proceed to the backyard, where a few cousins are sitting and chatting. I join the conversation. All of a sudden, I realize that there was a cricket match the previous day. What happened to the match, I ask my brother. He has no clue. I make my way into the room saying hi's to the relatives sitting along the way. I open Cricinfo and see the heading - "Match ends in a thrilling tie" The home page has the picture of Stuart Clark holding a stump in his hand and another Australian who is not visible in the photo, possibly running towards their team in celebration. The two Indian batsmen are behind them. Che, let me see the full scorecard. Australia 317/9 in 50 overs. India 317 all out in 49 overs. Last over reads 0-4-1-0-W-W. What??? Now, I can understand why Aussies were so happy. On any other day, for them, a tie is as bad as a loss!

I know that the tent is placed on a vehicle, I can feel it move. How else can it be so windy?


The green cricket ground. Shoaib Akhtar is the 12th man. He is running towards the pitch from the boundary. He has discovered a new type of ball that resembles a mace. The ball tied to an elastic rope, the bowler holds the rope, swings sideways and throws it at the batsman. This is so batsman friendly, that the ball can travel higher and farther. The batsman plays the shot, the ball travels higher and higher and I can see it traveling over my home in Mysore, going past my neighbor's house and landing inside the compound a couple of houses away. They send me to fetch the ball. I go there, I can see the ball next to the gate, surprisingly its size twice that of a football now. Half of it has become very muddy. I see a fat fair lady inside that house watching tv with a remote in her hand. She is wearing an off-white long gown, which somehow does not suit her. She is changing channels with absolutely no change in her facial expressions. I shout at her if I can come inside and take away the ball. I get no response. I decide to enter and take it, when I see a man emerging from the muddy pond in front of her house. He is bald, covered in mud from head to toe. I get scared and run away.


As I approach the end of the road, I see a few dogs coming to the middle of the road. Four dogs become eight and then twenty. They dont show any signs of urgency to attack me. They howl very loudly at me. I remember Hitchcock's "Birds" - I can slowly walk and get away. The dogs come nearer and nearer till they almost block the road. I howl at them in return!

The tent is still moving and it suddenly comes to a halt. We have stopped to get Gems chocolate from some store. We get out of the tent and see lot of 2 dollar coins near a telephone box at the corner. Why are there so many 2 dollar coins thrown here, I ask.

I wake up. Its still dark, cold and windy. I recall the vivid dream I just had with the minutest detail and wonder if I really shouted or I only shouted inside the dream. I get sleepy again.

After getting up in the morning, I hesitatingly ask Krupa.
"Did I shout in the night?"
"Not exactly, you howled", she seems really amused.
"I was not exactly barking I guess"
"No, your howling was cute. You were almost pleading in that howl"
"I know, I was not shouting at the dogs, I was just trying to convince them that everything was okay". I was least embarrassed even as I speak so incoherently.
"I should have had a voice recorder", she starts laughing.

We all have a hearty laugh. She starts telling about her dream - where Deepak Tijori was the murderer and how she could not convince us about that!


I have always been fascinated by curse words or abusive words. Though I am quite familiar with abusive words in other languages, I will give more examples from Kannada, as those were part of my growing up.

Let me start by analyzing how cursing works. The main intention of abuse is to insult and also hurt the other person. Thats the key. If you have a set of vocabulary that your recipient does not understand or does not consider derogatory, sorry sir, its a waste!

Kids begin their cursing using simple words like "stupid", "idiot", "fool" etc. And it does not take too much time for them to realize that these qualities are so common and acceptable, they cease to be curse words in the long run.

And as kids, our abuses were mainly restricted to the animal names. A typical kid fight when we were young would go like this:
Kid 1: "Kaththe" (Donkey, not ass ;) )
Kid 2: "Kothi" (Monkey)
Kid 1: "Naayi" (Dog)
Kid 2: "Goobe" (Owl)
Kid 1: "Handhi" (Pig)
....
....
This would go on and on till our limited vocabulary of animal names were exhausted or one of the kids would decide that the best way to tackle a verbal abuse is by your fist! I dont know if kids quarrel the same way even now. I dont think so, they know more animal names by watching NGC and they would have learnt more sophisticated curse words by watching TV!

There were few other variant words of demon/devil like "Devva", "Bhootha", "Pretha", "Peede", "Pishaachi" - it helped kids like me, who knew very few animal names and not too keen to get into fist fights!

I dont know how kids choose only certain animal names for cursing. Is it just following what other senior kids used for cursing? Or do they possess a sense of perception of inferiority or superiority in animals? If so, does it depend on their appearance, the work they do, the way they are treated? How do they actually decide if an animal is abuse-worthy or not? I have never seen a kid cursing someone as "You lion", "You tiger" or "You cow". I dont know why! An animal like hippopotamus, donkey or a pig intuitively becomes eligible for abuse. A cat somehow escapes being used as a curse word, whereas a faithful, widely loved, not bad looking (unless a street one) animal like dog ends up being the most used abuse among animals. [Dog is the only species where the females dominate the curse world! :D]

As we grow older, most of the animal names lose their effect. In fact, some of them change their meaning altogether.
"Kaththe", "Kothi", "Handhi" almost move out of ones vocabulary.

"Goobe" becomes a very affectionate word, reserved for very loved ones. There are so many versions of this like "Goob", "Goobs", "Goobal", "Goobad", "Goobalt", "Goobald" etc. usually accompanied by false anger, a suppressed smile, a pout or admiration in the eyes!

"Naayi" however takes different meanings altogether. Here are a few examples.
"India Australia kayyli naayi thara hodskondru" (India got beaten badly in Australia's hands)
"Avnu naayi thara thinthane" (He hogs a lot, like a dog) - Dont know if dogs eat a lot, I think "naayi" here takes the meaning of "too much"
"Avnu naayi thara odhthidane exams ge" (He is reading very well for the exams)
"Avnu naayi panta!" (He is an expert)
Dogliness is not always an adverb, it can be an adjective too!

When childhood is over, innocence is lost, animals can no longer help, the "real" abusive words come to your rescue. More on them in the next post!

It was just another tuesday evening. A bit more strenuous perhaps. Yet another conf call. Tired voices. Stressed out faces. The projector looks the brightest in the room, almost too inhuman. I am just rocking in my chair and all of a sudden I am rocking more. And suddenly less. I shiver. Tense faces show unusual signs of alertness. "Hold on guys, we may be having an earthquake", tells my manager. A less tiring day, he would have screamed it. The realization had not hit me. I could not visualize the wreckage, the pile of garbage and unrecognizable dead bodies yet. Its just a little jerky boat ride. And then a slightly bigger tremor, that gives me what cricket commentators call butterflies in the tummy. "Will call later" declares my manager as he disconnects the phone.

We all head towards the door. A colleague is just standing there coolly checking the message on his phone. Another colleague gets a text message within a few seconds from his brother - "You felt it?" Yeah, technology! We have a laugh. The cool colleagues asks us why we are going down. If you go down, the lamp posts and other things may fall on you, this is the safest place, he tells and gets back to his phone. Yeah, office on the sixth floor and safest!! My manager runs back to the conference room and asks us to stand near the door holding the door frame. Oh yes, table is a good option too, it looks quite strong, tells another. I have a great rush of adrenaline, I am completely excited. I cannot control my big grin. Its way too exciting to be scared. Am I the same person who gets scared when a dog barks in the next street?

Everything is still within a couple of minutes. Calls from the families asking if they are okay. My manager who might have seen at least half a dozen earthquakes is visibly shaken. He knows a lot on them too. He keeps giving trivia one after the other. Usually, if there is a small tremor and a big tremor after that, the impact is huge. Sometimes, even though there are no visible damages, there may be leaks in gas stations that can cause devastations. There is some geological week spot that runs through California, which makes it so vulnerable. US is never safe from earthquakes, tremors, typhoons. This was BIG, must be 5 or 6.

The other colleague, who had his first earthquake experience like me, was a bit startled. But, that did not stop him from opening his browser. Tab after tab, we were reading google news which did not have this news. USGS, within the next few minutes, had already updated this info on their web site. Wow, tells the colleague. Must have been 5 or 6 on the Ritchers scale, this was BIG, tells the manager again. The colleague refreshes the page. The scale shows 5.6! Bingo! He replies to all the text messages and answers the calls from family. Will there be updates on twitter? Blog search reveals that many bloggers have already blogged about it. In a matter of minutes. Only blog addiction can make a man lose his self preservation instincts. The colleague refreshes the page again and there is a question mark for the scale value. Must be they have multiple servers and its not cached on one of them, opines my techie colleague. We techies are like that wonly saar. One more refresh, it again shows 5.6 and verified by a seismologist! My manager recollects the earlier earthquakes starting from 1989. Few more people join in the room and start telling their experiences.

"Here we are along with a very visibly excited Vasuki" tells my manager as we begin the conf call again. The funny thing is the people who knew a lot and experienced were more worried and I was having a real real great time. May be thats why they say that ignorance is bliss. Its quite strange too that small application errors and slow servers can annoy us to no end and big things like earthquakes can give us great joy. Yeah weird, I know. I am too excited to sleep now. May be I will relive those memories a few more times.

Whhoo-ah!

Judge...Admire...

RK of RwB has tagged me to write on the kinds of people I judge and things I admire.

People I judge:

  • Myself (I am too self obsessed to ignore myself!)
  • Who dont maintain eye contact while talking
  • Who talk extremely loud
  • Poor listeners
  • Who give advice even if unasked
  • Who cannot accept a different opinion or view
  • Who are extremely polite or overtly nice
  • Who watch soap operas
  • Couples who sit side by side (and not opposite to each other) at a table in a restaurant
  • Who dont have a passion about anything in life
  • Who tell that they dont have time for anything
  • Who use Internet Explorer (No, not exactly, well, yeah, may be!)

Things I admire:
  • Honesty
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Cartoons
  • Humor
  • Exploring different things
  • Inquisitive mind
  • People who manage time very well
  • People who accept their faults gracefully
  • Left handed people (Sounds too silly, but its very fascinating for me!)
  • People who know what they want from life and achieve it
  • People who are knowledgeable, without having 'holier-than-thou' attitude

I am not as familiar as RK about the Inky Pinky Ponky methodology. So, I would tag anyone who would be interested in taking it up.

No matter how strongly you love something, there are some aspects about it that will irritate you. I happen to love cricket very much. I think Manindar Singh - Yashpal Sharma - Arun Lal brigade's hindi commentary easily takes the first position among things I hate about cricket. The second place deservedly goes to Charu Sharma, "I-will-give-cute-smile-by-stretching-my-mouth-to-fit-wide-screen-tv" Mandira Bedi and the entire Sony channel who turn the game into soap opera. The next place definitely goes to the losing captain's cliched speech in the post match presentation ceremonies. Here are a few samples:

"We had a bad day at the office" (I hate the guy who invented this statement. Why not work from home for a change?)
-----
"We are playing non-stop cricket for the last few months. Its taken a toll on the players. I know we are professionals, we are proud of playing for the country, but, well, I mean, you know...(and the show me sympathy look)"
The opposite is true too.
"We had a long break leading to this game. The boys are rusty. We have lost the momentum. We should be better going forward"
-----
"Its the first time we have been outsmarted in this tournament."
"Mate, you are 0-4 down in the series, what are you talking about?"
"I knew you would ask that. In the first three games, we were outplayed by the opposition."
-----
"I think there are three things we need to focus on in the future games. We need to bat well, bowl well and field well. Simple!" (Wow, such a relief to hear that. So, you mean you are well prepared with your hairdos and antics, right?)
-----
"We are beaten by a better team and we are not ashamed to be on the losing side" *with hands on his hips* (If you had seen the ICC rankings table before playing, it would have saved so much trouble)
-----
"I think our opposition dominated for most part of the game and we did not have a chance" (Most? If you ignore the lunch break, the opposition dominated the 'entire' game. Correct?)
-----
"We were never in the game" (Waw, I thought it needed two teams to play cricket!)

J And J Went Up

When was the last time I had met U? (No, I am not a messaging freak. So, U does not mean "you", U means "U")
U looked majestic as she walked, her Irish skin glowing in that evening sun. And there was I accompanying her. (For the uninitiated blog readers, I does not mean "me", I means "I")
Both U and I offer me handshakes and we sit on a bench nearby.
All of a sudden, U asks me "Can I get some pepsi for us?"
I looked surprised. It surprises me too. U was the laziest person we had ever seen and completely surprised by this question.
"What happened Madame Lazee?", me teases her.
"Hey dumbo, I loves searching vending machine, he will get the pepsi for us. Me aint goin' nowhere no more" My guess was that she has been listening to lot of R&B nowadays.
I gets up and goes searching for the vending machine.
"Know what, I have never told this to anyone. But, I was in love with U since the college days", I tell her.
"Really dumbo? Why were you silent all these days? Its too late, nothing can be done now right? At least I feel happy to know. Thank God, I is gone, coz I get scared when I becomes jealous"
"No fool, I was talking about U. She used to sit next to you in the exams - you had consecutive registration numbers!"
U seemed a bit disappointed, for some reason I could not quite figure out - "Oh I got it, I thought it was something else, I is coming. Stop!", she said as I comes balancing 3 pepsi cans in his hands.
We watch the fireworks in the distant skies as we slowly finish our pepsi.

----------

Agreed, that was a lousy little story. No doubts about that. The point I was trying to make is even after more than two years of serious blog reading, I find it extremely stressful to read posts where people have single letter acronyms. The effort increases drastically when someone meets their friends R1, P1, R2, R3, P2, P4 and J (For those of you who might be wondering why P4 after P2, P3 could not make it in the last minute! ;) )

Does anybody feel the same way or is it just me?

There are only three reasons I can think of for SLA (Single Letter Acronym) approach.
1) Laziness - I am always a huge supporter for laziness. So, go ahead and use R1, R2 while you write. Once you are done, do a search and replace with actual names. Easy!
2) Abstraction - I dont think my friends will get upset if I use their real names (not unless I say mean things about them!) In fact, they would be happy that you have not reduced their identity to a single letter. Yet, many non-anonymous bloggers use SLA. It looks cool, but definitely not reader-friendly.
3) Anonymity - A few bloggers remain anonymous and they would want to extend that anonymity to their circle as well. Thankfully, nobody has used M, F, W, H when referring to mother, father, wife, husband. It is not so easy when you are talking about multiple relatives, friends or colleagues. How about using abstractions like "coolguy_78", "hotbabe_blr", "pathetic neighbor", "friend, another friend, yet another friend" - or something like that. That was bad suggestion, I know. So, how about changing their names and writing the post? The best approach would be to write their actual names and still retain anonymity. [Example: A blogger named Vasuki cribs on unnecessary things (name changed to maintain confidentiality)] :))

I am scared of the day where kindergarten kids will be taught:
J & J went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
J fell down and broke his crown
And J came tumbling after.

Uno Cero Cero

"Impossible!"
I have now learnt to use that phrase very judiciously. I would have used it two years back, if you had told me that I would open a blog. And here I am writing my 100th post! Yaaayy!
Thank you, thank you (in advance, for all the congratulating comments :) )

There are a few posts that gave me great joy while writing and I happen to like them even now as I read them. So, here are my favorites - for those who came late to my blog, for people on bench with great taste, for people whose managers are on a long vacation and those who have to read a post for the second time to get motivated to leave a comment :)
American GaadegaLu - This post got published in Vijaya Karnataka (with no reference to me) as a forward from some reader (this post still amuses me, apart from teaching a lesson on copyright protection)
A few funny incidents, without such, life would be so dull - Howz it goin'? A What? Reducing Prices
A trip down the memory lane posts like Pens and Cut Cut Cut
Stories like Auto Manja and Why he felt miserable
India's Contribution To World Cinema - Thanks to all those who added to this list by commenting
Humor & Oversensitivity
Allenified - I admire Woody Allen a lot, but for all you people who keep telling "you are just like him", I would say - I dont have red hair, I dont wear glasses, I am not well read, I am not seeing a shrink and I am not having affairs with tall women :)
Forgetting Names
On The Same Page

Some unwanted analysis like these that I cannot not do:
Tell me your mail id
A picture is worth a thousand words
Patriotism
The Difference

Audio:
Crime Diary - This showed me the power of internet, within a week it was all around the globe.
My first country Song - Volcano Girl - A song that is very close to my heart, I even made a few friends because of this song :)

I have been thinking of writing more on the movies I watch, in fact I wanted to start a new blog on movies. Most of the movies I see fall under "No comments" or "Dont care" categories. The others are real gems, very close to me, that I feel too scared to write about them (its the same level of awkwardness you feel if you are asked to write an essay on your mom, while you can easily write an essay on cow or pollution :D) Most of my friends say that I cannot have a decent conversation for five minutes without referring to a movie. I understand their predicament, so not sure if I want to scare away the few readers I have got. More than anything, I still have not got that real kick, so till then my movie blog is on hold.

Blogging gives me great pleasure. But equally satisfying is getting to know different people, alternate views, the attention, compliments, criticisms (and of course being so greedy about comments!)

As Mark Twain once said, "It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech" - I had been thinking what to write for this post from a few weeks :D

P.S: I have used at least 5 subtle mind techniques to induce people to comment. How many did you notice? Which one did you like the most? Let me know ;)

Rose [Is A Rose]+

I have been tagged by Of This And That.

There are 3 rules.
Rule 1. The rules must be mentioned in the beginning of the tag.
Rule 2 You must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
Rule 3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag.

Well, I dont have a middle name. So, I would choose "NIHIL" (I like the sound of it. "Nihil" means "Nothing". So it kind of makes sense to have it when you dont have a middle name :D)

Numbers
I am obsessed with numbers. I dont like even numbers in general, more so if it is divisible by 2 and not divisible by 4. If I see a 4 digit number, I will try to see if the digits in that number has any relation or not. Prime numbers hold special fascination for me. (If you see a guy staring long at your vehicle number plate, that must be me) I can tell the square root of a number up to the first decimal place accuracy (I used to do it constantly in my spare time during my PU days. My speed has reduced now, but I can still manage)

Imagination
If there is an old couple and the old man's son from his previous marriage wants to marry the old lady's daughter from her previous marriage, is it okay? No?? Then, is it okay, if a young couple marry and the girl's lonely widow mother wants to marry the guy's widowed father? Yes, I can come up with hundreds of such hyper-active unwanted, totally useless imaginations. I keep imagining, thinking and analyzing totally unnecessary things that people's reaction varies from pity to disgust to shock. Well, I wish to be like them, but then I would not be me anyways.

Humor
If there is one thing I am proud about myself, thats my humor. Be it an irresistible PJ (Ex - Q:What do Hritik Roshan's friends say when he tells something amusing? A: Gimme six! :D) a great pun, a very sarcastic remark or my weird movie scripts. I know there are so many people who get slightly annoyed by my humor, that makes it all so worthwhile :). Life, without humor would have been so unmanageable!

Irritation
I get irritated very easily. I dont get angry in general and I dont shout or scream or act rude. But, things, very small things irritate me. FM radio channel RJs, bakwaas movies, daily soaps, traffic jams, crowded choultries, loud people in long queues, dogs and over-enthusiastic dog owners ("Dont be scared, its a very mild dog. Come on, give shake hand to uncle" types!), people who give unwanted suggestions, inefficient people, inefficient settings in a computer, lots of desktop icons, internet explorer, view mode in icons or thumbnails...oh, the list is endless!

Luck
Its not that I have never put in any effort and been offered everything on a platter. But, for some inexplicable reason, I strongly believe that I am hopelessly lucky.

Now, I tag Krupa, Soumia, Venu, Shruthi and Madhuri.

P.S: The title represents the "Rose is a rose is a rose..." statement as a regular expression. I hope I have got it right.

California Dreamin'

I love airports. I always remember the opening scene of "Love Actually". There is so much positive energy in there. It is so unlike the air travel itself, which is pretty boring and congested. The lady standing next to me in the check-in queue had a quiet confidence about her, her hair carelessly tied up that made her casual look so lovable. "Shall I help you?" she asked me while I was trying to lift my heavy baggage. I guessed I was probably unconsciously mimicking someone, thereby exaggerating the difficulty in lifting my bags. "Girl, you look thinner than me. And I don't want to disrupt your carelessly tied hair" No, I did not say the exact words. "No thanks, I can manage". I am not against taking help, its just that I could easily manage myself.

While standing in the queue for getting boarding passes, I was given a form to fill and filling forms is one thing that I hate so much! I am generally very conscious while filling forms, as I am paranoid about losing concentration and entering wrong data. Name? This was the easiest, I filled it out without much difficulty. I looked around at the newly refurbished airport lounge. Looks decent than before, may be even slightly better than KSRTC satellite bus stand. Passport number? I looked a couple of times, before entering it in the form. I verified once again after filling it up. It was right! (I was so overconfident some time back, that I had entered my passport number wrong in the visa interview form without looking at my passport - had swapped the last two digits - and had also argued with the official there that I had entered correctly :D) I looked at the lady who had offered me help. Her eyes showed the complete courage to take on the world, oh! Date of birth? Careful, is it MMDDYY or DDMMYY? Okay, I got it right. One of the air crew girls in ash grey suit walked skillfully against the conveyor belt and crossed to this side. Sheer magic! Date of expiry? Must be 2057. No, it is 2058. What about the day and month? I dont exactly know when I am gonna die. Should I ask the personnel there if entering the date is mandatory. It took me full 10 seconds to realize that it was the date of expiry of the passport! I was so relieved.

While I was having my near death experiences, the lady was gone. It was good, she was slowing me down, I would have missed my flight! Singapore Airlines was very good. No no, I am not just talking about the air hostesses, but the service and seating etc. :D The air hostesses wore some traditional looking dress - a combination of dark blue, purple and orange colors - which otherwise does not please me, suited them perfectly. They spoke so softly, that I failed to imagine how they would look yelling at others! I was too tired, so decided against watching movies and slept peacefully after having dinner.

Reached Changi airport by 7.00 AM and I had more than 2 hours to explore around. I love looking around in a place and find interesting things about a place. My logic is that, you can tell how different a place is from others by looking at rest rooms! The pee pots in the rest rooms here were huge and long (a kid can almost hide inside there!) and they were very low. Do they have lot of short people here? Standing there, I felt as if I am very tall. I read the caption just above the pee pot. "No touch required" What the hell is wrong with these people? No. I sometimes judge too prematurely that I had failed reading the second line - "Automatic toilet flush control"! The shops here were the usual - jewelry, bags, electronic goods and for a long time, I did not see any food places! Do these people eat up the electronic goods, I wondered. Then, I found the food court where most of the names were unknown to me - then I saw Subway! But, I would not need it anyway, I would be off in a couple of hours. Rinko Kikuchi walked up the escalator with a big suitcase and nobody seemed to notice her. Should I go and talk to her? No, she looks to be in a hurry. In half an hour, I had seen at least a dozen Rinko Kikuchis and my face recognition skills were seriously being questioned in this part of the world. I returned to my gate, 10 minutes to go for it to be opened, listened to the announcement - "Flighth number one zero thoo thoo..."

I opened my eyes and saw nobody around, I realized something was wrong and I ran to my gate. I asked the woman at the gate, "SQ 3, flight to SFO?" "You are Vasuki Raghavan?" How does this lady know my name? Does she read my blog? No, you fool, they must have announced my name. "We called you sir, the gate has been closed now. You have to get a transfer" The flight was at 9.15 AM. The electronic time display showed 9.08 AM. The voice in the announcement had a soft Singaporean accent - "Gates will be closed 10 minutes prior to the departure" 3 minutes! I had to find someone to blame. I blamed Billy Wilder for making "Double Indemnity" which made me sleep late 2 days ago, then it was the thrilling India-Pak Twenty-20 match and finally the lovely air hostesses of Singapore airlines! I blamed the training provided for the announcers - the monotonous tones are never the best ways to wake someone out of deep sleep. May be they should have shouted my name!

Finally, I coughed up 150 Singapore dollars for getting a transfer ticket. Strange things happen to strange kind of people! But, the good thing is whenever a screwup happens, a lot of many things occur in great synchronization to make the screwup less painful - I had got another flight for the same evening. I was feeling hungry by now and remembered Subway. My geography failed me again, as I failed to find the route I had discovered earlier (I could not even figure out even after looking the map!) One left turn and I saw a topless Keira Knightley covering her breasts with a big hat. Yes, I remembered coming into the route now! Thats how I found Subway, but instead opted for eating Poori Bhaaji at Kaveri!

I did not go to the free movie show or the free Singapore ride. One bitten, twice shy. I did not want to miss the flight again. Strolled around, got a great foot massage from the foot massaging machine called "Big Foot", did a Singaporean crayon artwork myself and most importantly got the elusive topic for the blog post. All for just 150 Singapore dollars!

The flight to San Frasisco was smooth and I came out of immigration by 8.00 PM. Courtesy her super exaggerated animated hand movements, I could spot Krupa and Saif in that airport. She had a grin as big as the Caltrain. I was expecting her to tell me something like "Good to see you", so that I could irritate her by saying "I know that" in my Jack Clouseau accent. She hates my mimicry, so she did not give me an opportunity to use my french accent. The cool breeze hit my face as I remembered the conversation from Annie Hall:
Tony Roberts - "Lets get the hell out of this crazy city. We will go to California, Max, all the show business is out there"
Woody Allen - "You keep bringing it up, but I dont want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is you can take a right turn on a red light"!

Moral Story

The dark lady was sitting on a chair in the opposite row. Next to her was an innocent kid in weird red pants. Must have been her son I guess. He had a story book in his hand. The book did not have many pages and each page had a colorful picture with a sentence describing the story. The lady was translating the story into Kannada, which the kid listened to with astonished look on his face. The story was something like this:
Peter (looked like a small bear or rabbit or some animal - could not figure out properly from a distance) was strolling around near the forest.
Peter stopped for a moment as he saw a car parked there.
He thought for a while and approached the car.
He noticed that the car was unlocked.
He got into the car and turned it on.
He pressed the accelerator as the car sped away.
As he was going down the road, he tried to apply the brakes.
The brakes did not work and he panicked.
He shouted "Help, help" out of desperation.
Finally, he jumped out of the car and fell on a teal's nest.
The angry teal stung him with his beak many times.
Peter got lot of wounds on his body.
He went into the forest crying.

Moral of the story? Stealing is bad!

It was one of the most weird and hopeless, yet amusing story I had ever heard. The book name was "Peter stole a car" or something like that. Aesop must have shifted uncomfortably in his grave!

I had been to "Chak De India" on Sunday. The movie was into its third week, yet the crowd was substantial considering a rainy afternoon. A group of "commenting" spectators were sitting a few rows behind us. As soon as Shahrukh took the hockey stick in the opening scene, the "commentators" yelled "Goal missed, guru"! Yes, they were right! During the players registration scene, when Nethra tells "Nethra Reddy from Andhra Pradesh", one of them yelled again "Yaake Karnataka avru yaaroo ilwa?" (Why nobody from Karnataka?) This smart comment was received well by his friends, who cheered him with loud laughter, that would have put the movie villains of the seventies to shame. Even in the noisiest of scenes (when spectators in the stadium were cheering for the players) the group never missed an opportunity to comment. And loud enough to be heard across the hall.

After the movie ended, we saw that this group had no more than 5 people. "Why do these people come to the movie if they are not interested?", my dad remarked, obviously annoyed. I looked at them - they were the tapori looking guys in their twenties and nobody wore a shirt with less than two buttons unbuttoned. "These guys have not come to watch the movie. If you had observed their comments, they knew what was coming up next. Its quite easy to say that they are watching the movie for the third time at least. So, they have come here to spend some 'quality time' with friends. It shows that they have no other work to do. They are considered worthless at home, so they spend most of their time with their 'friends' - who not only sympathize with them but also acknowledge their smartness. If any of them had anything interesting to say about the movie, he could just tell it to his friends. But no, thats not the point. Whats more important for him is that he should be "heard", people should know that he exists. Its okay if people hate him, but he wants to be recognized more than anything else. He would have fallen in love with some girl in his locality. He would not have had the courage to convey his love to that girl. Even if he had, the girl would have been married to someone of her parents' choice, as he was not yet settled. And these guys would have turned into the 'Ee hudgeerella hinge' philosophy. And these are the only people on earth who believe that the movies where they show a millionaire's daughter falling in love with a good-natured auto driver - as reality" I finished my elaborate analysis, turned towards my dad and smiled. "I think you are right", my dad nodded.

Coming back to the movie, my expectations were low considering the fact that it was from YashRaj banner. But, I was pleasantly surprised. I am not with the euphoric crowd who are declaring the movie as great, but it is a nice and enjoyable film. There are some things which makes the movie work.

  • Feverish patriotism - Even I felt it to some extent while watching the movie, but back home when I was thinking about the movie, I started feeling that it was just a match after all
  • Public fury over cricket (The disappointing performance of Indian cricket team in the world cup has caused a euphoric love among the public for other sports. Will students bunk their classes and employees skip their office to watch a hockey match in future? I have serious doubts on that!)

The problem with a movie of this genre is that it will be stuck with cliches, which are often unavoidable. Problems and conflicts in the team, regional stereotypes, starting as underdogs, making a comeback from a difficult position to win - are some things which become very essential for a movie of this kind. [Indian cricket team's comeback victory against Australia in Kolkota test makes a great sports movie, but Australia thrashing Srilanka without any upsets in World cup final would make a very boring sports film :D]

Though the director has tackled lot of issues like gender discrimination, regional differences, administrative loopholes, lack of facilities and technology support, religious intolerance - he has not gone too overboard or made it preachy. For a change, Shahrukh did not get on my nerves - in fact his performance is very restrained and likeable. Thank God, he has given his overworked facial muscles the much deserved rest. This movie is no 'Swades', but still quite a decent film in the flood of junk that Bollywood produces week after week.

We often hear people talking very lightly of Indian cinema. I am myself guilty of this crime many a times. Agreed, we have never made a great biography (we needed a Richard Attenborough to make Gandhi) We have not made a decent "road movie". The nearest we have gone to make an animation movie was the irritating parrot in "Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon" (other than Esha Deol making weird faces at the camera, of course!). Our war movies are always jingoistic, highly cliched boring sagas (Somebody try a "Thin Red Line" or an "Apocalypse Now" please!)

Apart from the shameless Hollywood rip-offs and NRI romances, we have not actually fared that bad. We were the pioneers in a great many things (for which we rarely get credit) and some of them are so original that nobody has dared to copy. Here is an attempt to honor them.

  • Lost n found
King of all plot devices. Parents never learn to hold their children's arms firmly, children are not afraid to be lost - and in a country as crowded and populous as India, the lost ones are found at a later time. (And the password family song. I was too scared of getting lost as a kid as my parents had never taught me any password family song. What if I was lost, keep singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and my parents would think I was just another child who was tortured with rhymes at a young age!) Just wondering why it was so tough to find a lost woman on an island in "L'avventura"!

  • Multiple roles
I tried real hard to recollect non-Indian movies where an actor has performed multiple roles (all I could think of was Nicolas Cage's "Adaptation" - in that too they are twins. Even if there are others, its we who make too many multiple-role movies I guess) Nobody has crossed the heights our creative genius - where grandfather, dad and son all look alike - with varying mustache sizes and silver content in hairs. (I wonder why sons don't resemble their mothers in the movies :P)

  • Accidental deaths
"Mere mummy pappa plane/car accident mein guzar chuke", and that too at a time where most of the people walked all the time (I have never heard any movie character's parents dying when they were walking on footpath or traveling by scooter!) People who travel by car/plane are not as lucky as people who get lost in melas. Law of averages catches up.

  • Stop Bullet
The speed of a bullet is inversely proportional to the desire of the person to protect his friend and sacrifice his own life instead. An average bullet-ridden Indian survives 6.34 times longer and talks 20.41 times more than a bullet-ridden person of any other country.

  • Last moment marriage stop
Imagine this - Hugh Grant is holding Andie MacDowell's hand in his left hand and the camera is focused on the diamond ring he is holding in his right hand. Bang! The door opens and Whoopi Goldberg walks in with two hapless kids and screams her lungs out - "How could you do this to me? Didn't you remember these children's faces?" (Wyyyaaaaaan)
Or how about this? Hugh Grant is holding Andie MacDowell's hand in his left hand and the camera is focused on the diamond ring he is holding in his right hand. Bang! A dozen cops rush in and yell at the top of their voices - "LAPD. Mister, we have proof that you are a criminal. Don't you move. Put the ring down. On your knees" The priest tells "You may kiss the bride now". Cop - "Father, anything you say can and will be hold against you in the court of law". No, never! And that's when I miss Indian movies so much.

  • Talking to God
No one other than us would barge into a lonely temple and start conversing with God. It could be a pitiful "Why me?", an angry "WTF is going on?" or a silent "Please-save-my-hubby-from-his-manager" talk. I wonder why God does not appear and say "You talking to me?"

  • Doctor breaking news
This is a personal favorite.
Doctor - "Santosh, neevu appa aagthideera. Congrats!"
Santosh (completely bewildered) - "Nija na doctor?" (still surprised)
Happiness is one thing, but "you sure?" or "did I?" astonishment is something I am not able to understand, but this scene is pure cinematic magic!

  • Thunder n Lightening
This is the most subtle, symbolic and brilliant of all plot devices. Its a cloudy day. The macho hero is not overtly aggressive. The docile heroine rarely lifts her head. There's lightening followed by a thunder and she runs into his arms. Very poetic. The closest second should be - see the cockroach, get scared and jump on the hero (I have an interesting theory for this - the heroine being docile and all that cannot make the first move. And what better pretext to hug the hero than thunder or cockroaches :D)

I guess this is becoming a very long post, I will stop here. Can you think of any other great "contribution" of us to World Cinema?

Smile

I smiled.
Nothing even remotely close to funny had happened that day.
For a change, it was not even one of those quotations from Groucho Marx or Oscar Wilde or Woody Allen that made me smile.
No, it was not even the cool evening breeze.
I wondered if it was that cynical smile I wear quite often. No, it was not - there was something so pure about this smile.

The sheer meaninglessness of everything seemed so trivial. And nothing mattered.
There was no joy, no pain, no sarcasm, no irony. I felt nothing. It was just pure bliss. I realized what Nirvana really means.
I wished somebody took my snap at that moment. [I feel so very uncomfortable smiling for the camera, that I appear awful in all those smiling pics of mine. This could have been my ideal profile pic. Well, anyways!]
Could anybody be in that state for eternity? I wish I could, I would have given anything in the world then, to be in that state forever. But, I knew it would fade away soon and I had to relish it as long as it lasts.

I look a long look at the mad world around me and smiled for the last time!

Vasuki Thy Name

If you ask me why I respect my parents, this one would definitely figure in top five. The name they have given me. :)
Now, there are lots of trivia behind my name.

The tradition in our family is that the eldest son should have the name of Subrahmanya or of the Snake God. Fortunately, my parents did not settle for a Nagesha or a Nagaraja (No disrespect to anyone with those names, its just that they dont define me!) I would have preferred even obscure names like "Sakala Kalaa Vallabha" or "Bhaktha Jana Samrakshaka" to those Naga-prefixed names! ;) While discussing the alternatives, they bumped into the name 'Karthik', but it was dropped (probably feared being called 'Kar-thika' by people - as it does not sound too good in Kannada!)

I dont know who suggested this, but they opted for the name 'Vasuki'. If Vasuki was not unusual enough, my parents decided to name me 'Vasuki Raghavan'. There is an interesting story behind this too. My mother was approached by some woman who had prophesied (Oracle?) that a son would be born to her (she only forgot to mention that - a son who is crazy enough to watch more than 400 movies a year!) and that the child should be named after Raghavendraswamy. So not sure how to fit in Mr. Raghavendraswamy with the serpent God and also fully aware that their son would grow into a lazy person incapable of writing a very long name, my parents decided to truncate Raghavendraswamy to Raghavan (in the process, cheating the linguistically poor Raghavendraswamy - as Raghavan is the name of Rama!) Was it just this or did my parents anticipate the arrival of the Web and knew that people with very common names have to depend heavily on underscores, numbers and hyphens, to get a valid id - I dont know, I need to check with them.

I run into quite a few problems with my unusual name. "Are you a tamilian?", is the most common question I am faced with. No! "Are you Iyengar?" No sir! Then, I get that "why-in-the-hell-you-have-such-a name-then" stare. For a long time, I did not know that the great Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar's wife was named Vasuki (I dont know whats the meaning of the female version or if there is one) and I have had the privilege to disappoint a few new joinees in my company who expected to see a pretty tamil girl (when they'd heard my name, before seeing)

I know many people who have unusual names and quite a few of them have no idea of what their names mean. Not knowing is one thing, but the complete lack of curiosity and inquisitiveness about their own names is something that beats me. Here are a few interpretations I give to my name.

  • Vasuki means the king of snakes ("Sarpanamasmi Vasuki-hi" as told in Shloka 28 of Adhyaya 10 in Bhagavad-geetha)
  • In Indian mythology, Vasuki was the snake used to churn Ksheerasagara (ocean of milk) So, Vasuki is a symbolic representation of the thinking power (Mount Mandara represents the mind and Ksheerasagara represents the data) that makes humans superior to dogs and cats. :)
  • Vasuki, means V(We) comes first and I comes last. So, its symbolic of team mindset, which helps humans improve as a group. :D
  • Vasu means Krishna or Vishnu or 'the supreme lord', and "ki" in Japanese means energy (as in Rei-ki, which means soul-energy) So, Vasuki means the energy of the supreme lord (Okay, stop screaming now!)

I can go on and on, but even self-obsession should have some limits. I will stop!

Patriotism

Janani Janmabhoomischa Swargaadapi Gareeyasi

I read this adage in some blog yesterday, I remembered hearing this during my school days. What I did not know was that Rama told this to his brother Lakshmana, when they saw Lanka full of gold. This quote had definitely seemed very "inspirational" when I was a kid, but now that I question a lot of things, this sentence no longer holds the same impact for me.

The good thing about "Janani" is that its not abstract :) But what was Rama referring to when he said "Janmabhoomi"? Was he referring to the city of Ayodhya? Or the entire Kosala kingdom? Does his "Janmabhoomi" change with conquering and relinquishing certain portions of the land? Tough to answer!

I somehow cannot admit that the very earlier freedom fighters were actually the "freedom fighters of India". No, I am not questioning their commitment - but its just that most of them fought for "their kingdom". I am not sure how many of them would have cared for anything happening outside their kingdom. Had the states not been formed after Indian Independence and we still belonged to the Mysore Presidency, our loyalty would remain to the Mysore Presidency. We should just be proud of Rahul Dravid and anyone here cheering for Sourav Ganguly would be called unpatriotic! Seems strange, right? The quote from George Jean Nathan seems so meaningful - "Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles."!

Actually I love my country. But, I dont walk around making statements like we are the greatest country in the world (Bernard Shaw has said beautifully "Patriotism is the conviction that your country is superior to all others because you were born in it.") And there are things that I like about my country and there are some I despise. Assuming there are rebirths, you will not find me making a statement like I want to be born here in all my rebirths. I dont mind, in fact I would want to be born in different countries. I think its the best way to see the world for those who cannot afford air tickets! Does talking like this make me any less patriotic than my chest-thumping fellow countrymen? I dont know!

If this post seems rude, I am sorry folks - that was absolutely unintentional. I think very objectively. I love questioning things. I try to look everything from different perspectives. But, I love my country, in my own peculiar way.

Happy Independence Day!

P.S: I also love this outrageously funny statement from Orson Welles - "Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch." :D

Cut Cut Cut

Its a small barber shop in one of the oldest localities in Mysore. And my regular haircut saloon for the last two decades. As I went there for a hair cut, the main barber salutes with his usual exclamation "Saar". He has 3 other co-barbers who are employed there from a long time (no attrition here sir!). "Your father and brother are not seen nowadays?", he asks me concerned about the reducing business from my family. "Oh is it?" I mumble, not sure what to say. "What?" the co-barber asks him. "Vallu thammudu...", he translates my incoherent answer into a weird combination of telugu mixed with kannada. I just say "Medium, comb-able (not too short)" Too easy, he has done that for years!

I just wondered how this place looked in the 80s. Quite unsurprisingly, its exactly the same. Two huge mirrors placed on either walls, parallel to each other. It was almost like magic for me when I had first visited that shop as a kid. Reflection in one mirror, acted as the image for the other mirror, and recursively, there are multiple images. I used to wonder how many images can exist like this. It was during my PU, I learnt the formula to realize that with 180 degree separation, the number of images is infinite!

There is an old portrait of Mysore Maharaja, which shows the obvious respect he has for the king (lot of old timers still consider him as their master!) There are 2 or 3 photos of his deceased elders (no, these are the places which dont think that such photos ruin the ambience) The usual board on the wall that says "Olaga players available for marriages, upanayanas and other auspicious functions" (Traditionally, the barbers are experts at playing Olaga - a type of wind instruments used during traditional marriages in Karnataka)

An old radio playing a very very AM channel. The ad aired is for some computer institute - which is a conversation between two people.
"Sunil, what are you doing after college?"
"Nothing"
"Oh, then why dont you join blah-blah-blah institute for hardware and networking course?"
"Whats the use of that?"

"You not only get good training, but there is an assured job placement"

"Oh is it, thank you very much. I will join today itself"


The advertisement is so 70s, that it makes "Washing Powder Nirma" and "Vicks Action 500" look ultra-modern. A few local guys keep visiting the place, updating the barber on the happenings in their lives, lost friendships, loan dealings and local politics. He listens to their stories without any boredom, hums along line by line to the radio song, while performing his craft with scissors. No matter how ordinary a person is, parallel processing comes very naturally to Indians.

He is done with the hair cut and I ask him, "How much?" - partly because I was not sure how much I had paid last time and expecting a probable price change. "You give saar", he tells - he is still from those old days where quoting the price explicitly was considered greedy and rude. I remember and give him the same amount I had given last time. Yes, the price has not changed. So he is. You may say that India is changing and changing fast. But, some places just remain as they are, probably to show us what India was a long time ago.

There are two theories about how to win an argument with a woman. Neither one works.
Now, what was your first reaction when you read that quote? You found it funny and a smile crossed your lips? Or did you frown, started screaming that its a stereotypical statement that is offensive to women? If you belong to the first group, cool! If you belong to the second group, cool down, here is a statement that might please you.
What is the difference between men and pigs? Pigs dont turn into men when they are drunk!

No no, this post was not to trigger a venus-mars supremacy fight. I was just thinking how difficult it is to be humorous without offending anyone. And the second quote might upset not just the oversensitive men, but also the oversensitive drinkers!

Just to give a few more examples. A conversation that happened at the lunch table.
"Did you meet the new manager, he is sick"
"He is sikh (sounding as sick)? I thought he was hindu" (we all laugh)
Do you seriously think that I was trying to be demeaning to other religions? Or can you accept the fact that I was too tempted to let go of an opportunity to make a pun?

If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse. - Woody Allen
If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever. - Woody Allen
I adore these quotes. You call it blasphemy? Is it too sensitive that you are already praying to your God/Gods to punish/forgive me?

I simply love Peter Sellers with his exaggerated French accent in Pink Panther. Would that make me a racist?
Now, what will happen to all those "What did the ant say before making love to an elephant?" type PJs? Oh no, Maneka Gandhi may be offended!
Little Johnny jokes are a strict no-no as it shows children in bad light. Where does this end?

The point I am trying to make is that, if we become too oversensitive about religion, region, caste, gender, accents, age group etc. etc. it becomes virtually impossible to make a spontaneous joke without hurting someone (I dont think its reasonable to perform a feasibility study and impact analysis for every joke!). If a sardarji is constantly bombarded with Santa-Banta jokes, he has a valid reason to get offended. If someone is telling a specific category of jokes, with the sole intention of offending you, its okay if you react strongly to that. I dont claim to be super cool, not offended by anything, but I make a conscious effort not to read too much into it, unless its too repetitive and explicit. Otherwise, I think we need to just enjoy a joke without finding too many hidden meanings.

Hee Haa Hhaah!

I still remember that saturday afternoon last summer, when I watched the movie Wild Strawberries. The only thing I knew about the movie was that it was in IMDB top 250 and it was a Swedish film. It was the story of the aging professor Isak Borg - his coldness, his reflections on life, his insecurities, fears and nightmares. It was unlike any movie I had seen till then. If you ask me if I loved the film, I am not yet sure. But, it was something so very different, that it made me think and I could not get it off my head. Then, I got to know about the man behind the movie called Ingmar Bergman.

The next movie I happened to see was his most revered The Seventh Seal. It was a weird movie about a knight who, on his journey through the lands affected by Plague, is confronted by Death who forces him to play chess with him. It did not impress me much and I felt it was a highly over rated movie.

It was when I saw Persona that I was completely bowled over by Bergman. It would be an understatement to say that this black n white movie was very captivating. The mind games played by the actress and the nurse was so surreal, I was left wondering if the drama was taking place in that hospital/island or in my mind. That whole week I was in the Persona hangover.

I followed it up with the very under rated The Silence. Its a story of the emotional turmoil between two sisters - a very symbolic clash of different value systems, masterfully picturized by Bergman and it happens to be my most favorite among his movies. The red-white color combination will always remind me of Cries & Whispers, though very dragging at times, a visually appealing movie. His other non-abstract films which I have seen are - the tense mother daughter union in Autumn Sonata (dont you think its such a beautiful name?), with a brilliant Ingrid Bergman (this movie is the inspiration to the Urmila-Shabana-Diya starrer Tehzeeb!), the teenage passionate affair Summer With Monica, with a very natural Harriet Anderrson oozing raw sensuality, a very depressing almost voyeuristically directed marriage saga Scenes From A Marriage.

If you ask me if Bergman tops my favorite list, I would say no. If any of his movies makes my favorite top 20, it would again be no. Most of his movies are too weird or abstract - that I sometimes feel if he had any concrete script in the first place. But, the affection with which he creates a scene is hard to match. The intensity in his movies is almost frightening. Coincidentally, my other favorite Woody Allen happens to be the biggest fan of Bergman. And nobody can be as depressing as Bergman and I always recommend my friends not to see more than a Bergman movie per week. I still have some movies of Bergman in my "Yet to watch" list. Hope I will see them soon.

Ingmar Bergman passed away yesterday and I felt like writing about him. Thank you Mr. Bergman for giving us those wonderful movies.

Venu has tagged me to write 8 random facts about myself. If you are self-obsessed and running out of ideas to write a post, is there any better option than getting tagged? ;)

Okay, here it goes!

1) I love black n white photos very much. Its a great pastime in our home to browse through very old albums. Even now, I take at least a few black n white photos with my camera. Sepia is my second favorite. Color photos are a distant third.

2) I had diphtheroid at the age of 8. I was easily prone to cough, cold and fever at that age and I could not go out without a monkey cap. From then on, I've been taking Homoeopathy medicines and my resistance has increased dramatically. Now I constantly eat at hotels and roadside chats and I rarely fall ill (apart from the occasional visit from that dear old friend called 'common cold'). The cap has gone, the monkey stays!

3) I learnt cycling when I was 10. After a very minor accident, I had not tried cycling for 3 years, till I got myself a red Hero Ranger when I was in class 8.

4) My first memory of mimicking was when I was 9. I had learnt to mimic my science teacher. Having the image of a good, studious boy (surprising how I got that!) I was scared if my teacher comes to know of the mimicking. After that, I have mimicked my family members, teachers, friends, movie stars, television people etc. I honestly think I am a very very ordinary mimic. But, I am a great "observer" though.

5) I am scared of dogs. And cats. I hate holding or touching them. Anything that has 4 legs, restlessly fast and has the ability to lick. I am not too scared of cows or donkeys or horses though. The only tolerable pets are fishes, which are neither obtrusive nor the "licking" types!

6) I thought I believed in God till I was 22. I was actually scared of God. Now, I am an almost agnostic I guess. I am not the "Nooru devaranella nookaache doora" atheist. I love being part of Ganapathi Habba and listening to that very entertaining story called "Symanthakopakhyaana". But now, I don't ask anything from God. There may exist a God, there may not be - and it does not matter too much either way. I am no longer scared of God. I know I can screw up my life far better than an angry God!

7) The first computer I had, had a 512 MB hard disk (not RAM my friends, hard disk!) and a 6 MB RAM. The second computer had a 8 GB hard disk (the capacity I thought was too huge and useless) I thought that people who have more than 1 GB songs are insane. Now, I have a computer with 160 GB hard disk, an external one of 250 GB - both almost full and I have around 60 GB of mp3s and I have never felt as sane or inadequate.

8) I used to paint a lot as a kid. I was not so good at mixing colors or giving shades, though I enjoyed my ordinary paintings very much. Most of my paintings and my brother's outrageous paintings are compiled by my parents, which is a great thing to go through on a lazy saturday evening.

Okay, now I tag Vedu, Krupa, Soumia, Vijay, Shruthi to write on 8 random things about themselves!

World & Me

Today was a cool breezy morning. The cloudy skies had the perfect script for sun's late arrival. The drizzle was very optimal to my comforts. Chamundi Betta looked as fresh as a girl just out of her shower. Everything was so perfect, it was almost like heaven. It would have been pure bliss on any other day.

Though there were a good amount of people, it was not suffocatingly crowded. You can easily categorize the people there.
I saw a bunch of college kids just out of their teens, talking non stop about latest mobiles, orkut and campus recruitment. They were blissfully ignorant of unhappiness. I cringed at their loudness. Or was it that I envied their exuberance and optimism?

The next type you can always encounter are those on the wrong side of their twenties, primarily the unfortunately-extant boring species called software engineers. I can easily bet my index finger that they talk nothing other than real estate prices, torturing managers and the dark unknown future that lay ahead. If you ask me how utopia will look like, I would say it wont have lorries and software professionals!

The old uncles will usually be wearing impeccably white colored full sleeve shirts, hair neatly combed and have thick rimmed glasses. They constantly talk about politics (the funny thing is that though all of them are pessimistic about the political future, nothing dampens their spirit to talk nonstop about it), children settled abroad, children who are about to go abroad, children who did not go abroad.

You will feel that the middle aged women in those incredibly faded chudi daars are the ones who know and talk on an array of subjects, till you realize that all those things are part of a couple of night time serials. Just walk by their side for an hour, you will get the monthly summary of Minchu, Preethi Illada Mele and Manthana!

The world which would have otherwise amused me looked like an irritating collection of stereotypes. I was getting angry for no reason at all.

I know its not the world, its me. When you are feeling rotten inside, even Scarlett Johannson will not look attractive!

Well, as they say, movie is a religion in India (by the way, who the hell are "they"? ;)) I think its very hard to find a person who is completely uninterested or ignorant about movies. I was just thinking about how my movie journey has been. As a kid, it was just the occasional movie we were taken to during some sundays. I dont remember feeling any movie as "bad" at that time. Typically a movie would have a hero and a heroine. All we needed was a "hero" who could fight. And we used to come back home and replay that fight with my granny's soft pillow, visualizing a villain in that. Then came television, and the sunday movie got added to our basket.

During our pre-teens, our movie watching was pretty much restricted to Sterling and Skyline. These theatres used to screen only English movies then. Apart from an occasional Ten Commandments or a Mackenna's Gold, our syllabus consisted mainly of action movies. Our movie world was full of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris etc etc. School time discussions were mainly about Arnold's biceps and how he uses the sword in Conan the Barbarian!

I feel we had had enough of "action" in the pre-teen period. Teens were dedicated to Bollywood masalas. Our school/college was at a strategically good position, where there were more than 10 cinema halls within 2 km radius. What was it that gave us more pleasure - bunking the classes to prove that we were longer kids, standing in the queues for hours discussing filmi trivia or just the thrill and achievement of first day first show. I dont know. During my PU days, I was a regular reader of 6 film magazines every month and thats where I learnt words like "gotcha", "wanna", "gonna". It finally took the most crappy movie of that year called "Raja Hindustani" to enlighten us that movies can be really "bad". I guess probably that was the time when I started viewing the movies critically. The first day first show - standing in the queue craze was gone, as I had started judging the movies.

Surprisingly, the movie viewing intensity had reduced during my BE days. There were the occasional visits to the cinema halls, but we used to be very discreet in our selection of movies. Then, there were VCDs of course. It was the time I started watching some very good international movies (though in very small numbers) like Schindler's List, Life is Beautiful and Good, Bad & Ugly to name a few.

After coming to Bangalore, movie watching became a routine weekly activity. Any movie released that week, lets go. Just for timepass. Its so boring otherwise. Oh yes, that was the logic. I had even seen a lousy movie called 'Muskaan' (yes, I am still ashamed of it!) It was after 'Muskaan' I guess, I decided that I would rather devote time to do other things than just watch movies for timepass. I was growing!

And then the trip to US changed my whole outlook towards movies. Lot of time at hand, heavy snowing outside - I had to take refuge in movies. I watched the movies of Scorsese, Hitchcock, Tarantino, Copolla, Woody Allen, Kurasawa, Bergman etc. etc. Noir movies, existential movies, surrealist movies - french, italian, spanish, japanese I had ventured into almost all categories. People who have interacted with me in the last two years would have realized how obsessed I have become with movies and how I cannot continue a conversation without bringing reference of a movie (my room mate recalls now that for almost a month, I used to say "Whhoo-aah, liar liar your pant is on fire" like Al Pacino, while brushing my teeth) To me, movie is no longer a timepass. Its an art, its an expression and its an adorable obsession! A movie should touch me, challenge me, haunt me, teach me something new or it should at least make me think. Yes, I now watch movies only for that cinematic experience!

Why I wrote this painfully long writeup? (And I am not done yet!) As I look at myself, I realize that I have grown from a kid who used to fight with pillows to an objective greedy cinegoer whose expectations have soared. I sometimes expect the whole world to be mature. And I am thoroughly disappointed. Why? I was reading some blog, where that author had criticized the movie "Sivaji". And he was getting lot of hate comments and his orkut account was also attacked. Now, you can like someone very intensely, but what prevents you from listening to an alternate opinion (you just need to listen, you need not agree) Now, if someone comes and tells me that Al Pacino was a bad selection for Godfather or Annie Hall was the worst comedy movie of all times, I may argue with him, but I would definitely allow him to express his opinion (though I would rate him as a cinematically dumb person in my mind!) Now, why do these "fans" behave that way? Why do they think that their "idol" is God and beyond criticism? Why do they want some "idol" in the first place, whom they want to emulate? And why is this idol worshipping a very south Indian phenomenon? As these questions start popping up in my mind, I remember this quote from Voltaire - "I strongly disagree with what you say, but I'll die to defend your right to say so". Why cant we be like that?

Astronomical Doubt

Whats an year? - The time taken by the earth to complete its orbit around the sun.
Whats a month? - The time sun spends in one constellation.
Whats a day? - Time taken for earth to revolve once on its own axis.
Whats a fortnight? - Time taken for the moon to go from new moon state to full moon (and vice versa)

Well, whats a week? I dont know! I have no clue as to how this time slice is arrived at. I have asked this question to lot of people and all I have got is sheepish smiles (and sometimes "dont-bother-me" stares) Some are creative enough to answer that 2 weeks make a fortnight. But I am not convinced. If you want to split up a fortnight, why 2 weeks and why not 7 "2-dayers"?

You have any idea as to whats the rationale for defining the time slice called "week"? Even if you dont know the exact answer, any thoughts on this are absolutely welcome. And wrong answers carry no negative marks!

Cheap Corruption

I got down from the bus at Majestic. The cool breeze made the overcrowded platform much tolerable. I was thinking about something else, when I heard somebody yell at me - "Surpass"! What? What did he just say? Was he really talking to me? What does 'surpass' actually mean? May be I am dreaming, I said to myself. No, I heard 4 more people tell the same thing to me within 20 seconds. 5 more persons and 30 more seconds later, I realized what they were asking, when a man in faded jeans and a fake Nike cap asked me again. Now, it was clear. It meant "Sir, pass?". Within a minute, 10 people had asked me if I had a daily bus pass, so that they can get it from me and save some cost!

I think it was not too long ago BTS came up with daily passes. It was very useful for people who would take 3-4 buses in a day. And just a couple of weeks back, I had seen a slogan inside a BTS bus that said something like this "Dont share your passes with others. Its a crime. It amounts to cheating with the BTS". And now I realized how rampant this 'crime' was! Which made me think about what makes people corrupt - and corrupt to this level. I can understand two kinds of corruption. First is extreme need, when you need something very badly and you cannot afford it. Second is extreme greed, people tend to become corrupt when the returns are very high and they can make tons of money. But, the kind of corruption I witnessed belonged to neither of these categories. None of those ten people who asked me for a pass looked like very poor who could not afford a bus ticket (anybody who can afford a fake Nike cap can surely afford a bus ticket!) and a ticket would cost less than 10 rupees, and a desperate attempt to save that money, standing there and confronting lots of people like me was miserable.

The same I have seen with auto drivers. I am okay with auto drivers who look at you with pity and shake their heads, when you ask them if they can come to Jayanagar. I am even okay with auto drivers who demand double the fare upfront. They may be dishonest and irritating, but they are at least honest about their dishonesty. But, if someone deliberately miscalculates the amount multiplied by 1.5, I get irritated. He is trying to be dishonest very subtly (he is not even being honest about his dishonesty ;)) and he is insulting my basic arithmetic skills. Its unacceptable!

And the bus conductors! If the ticket costs 8 rupees, I feel like hitting them when they tear out the ticket, turn it, take out the pen from their pocket (or worse, on top of their ear!) and scribble some illegible numeric notation to represent the change to be given (There is no other rationale for not giving the change instantly. It takes very less time to just give the change than this complicated procedure) And I love to see the disappointed look on their faces when they realize that I have not forgotten to get my change. Some are dishonest to such an extent, that they give 1 rupee change and act as if they thought they had given 2 rupees change. Disgusting!

In all these cases, its not the money that makes me very sick. Its the attitude that I hate so much. Excluding the extreme-need and extreme-greed corruption, is there any other country other than ours that has this levels of 'cheap corruption'? Does this 'cheap corruption' irritate you as much?

Suicide

I had stumbled into a blog yesterday afternoon. There was a post on happiness index and suicide rate country-wise. It had lot of interesting statistics (like China is the only country where women outnumber men in committing suicide etc. etc.).

Yesterday past midnight, I randomly picked up a scene to watch, from one of my favorite movies Annie Hall before going to bed. It was a stand up comedy scene where Woody Allen says "I was depressed at that time. I was in analysis. I was suicidal as a matter of fact and would have killed myself, but I was in analysis with a strict Freudian, and, if you kill yourself, they make you pay for the sessions you miss."!

Traveling by cab today morning, I was reading Godfather. It was the chapter where Sonny gets killed. And Lucy Mancini tries to commit suicide by taking an overdose of pills.

Its a strange coincidence that the topic "suicide" appeared from 3 different sources in less than 24 hours. I had a quick breakfast in the morning and started wikipediaing on this topic. Wikipedia had a very elaborate article on this topic. The details were overwhelming:

  • Men outnumber women in committing suicide.
  • Women attempt suicide more than men.
  • Caucasians die by suicide more often than Africans and Hispanics.
  • Suicides happen more during summer and spring, though its a common misconception that suicides happen more during winter etc etc.

I just wondered how the mode of suicide is so culture-specific. One of my American clients used to say that he would slash his wrists if he is asked to work on a very slow laptop. I just wondered how to translate "slash my wrists" to Kannada. And then I realized that slashing the wrists and lying in the bath tub is so much of a western phenomenon and I guess its the most common type of suicide there, along with taking poison and using a gun I guess. I have never heard an incident where an Indian has tried to commit suicide by slashing his wrists. We seem to be more of hanging, drowning and self-immolation types. Can you give an equivalent translation in English for "Naanu Kere no Bhaavi no nodkotheeni" or "Naanu seeme enne surkondu saththogtheeni"? Nah!

I personally believe that suicide is a stupid thing. Whatever the reason be - personal, political, honor (like those samurais) - it is stupid. I think people who realize that anything in life is very trivial compared to life itself will never even think of committing a suicide.

On a lighter note, if suicide is considered a horrendous crime (as some religions and countries believe), can suicide survivors be killed for that offense? :)

Innocence

"Oh, he/she is so innocent"

Have you heard this statement quite often? At least I have. And "so" becomes "soooo" or "choo" depending on the gender of the statement maker. If you know me, you would have very rarely, if ever, heard me making such a statement. I have always had this confusion as to what innocence means. I seriously did not know the exact difference between innocence and ignorance. You always call a child as innocent, and not ignorant. If somebody has not committed a crime or has no knowledge of the crime, he is called innocent. But, if a person does not know about lets say anthropology, he is said to be ignorant about the subject. Definitely not innocent!

So, I started this little research on the word "innocence". People mostly use the word "innocence" to define people who are trustworthy, dependable, not cheating and a whole lot of "good" qualities (including, not being aware of bad qualities). Innocence means "Freedom from sin, moral wrong, or guilt through lack of knowledge of evil" (Reference: answers.com). So, if lack of knowledge of evil is what constitutes innocence, is it right to glorify that quality as something great? I seriously dont think that innocence is a good quality. And as I saw that definition from answers.com, I realized why I dont often make such a statement.

If you call a child as innocent, there is no guarantee that the child will not grow to be evil. It is the lack of knowledge of evil, at that point of time, that is making him innocent. So, the good quality is not because of awareness or conscious choice, but because of ignorance towards evil. Now, you cannot expect a child to be "aware", so its okay for a child to be innocent. But, why give a compliment to a grown up as "innocent"? Assume that there is a villager, who has stayed all his life in his village, where all the people are very honest. So, this villager "is" very honest. Now, if he moves out of his village to some other city, where he witnesses that there is something called as dishonesty, he might become a dishonest person. So, the honesty he had till now was not because of a conscious decision, but because of lack of choices! But, if another person lives in an environment where he knows what dishonesty is, but still has taken a conscious decision to remain honest, he is to me, a really honest person. Going by the same logic, can you really judge a person who never had any temptation, the same way as someone who never yielded to a temptation? If you can judge both the same way, I would call Glen Mcgrath a great batsman, because he was dismissed only 30 times in his entire ODI career!

Am I making sense? Do you still feel you are giving a compliment when you call someone as "innocent"? Or is awareness a better option than innocence?

Ringtones

Why is it that most people don't keep their mobiles in silent mode, in general and particularly in meetings, movie halls, theaters and concerts?
Why is it that people who hate silent mode, don't ever use "Increasing ring" feature?
Why do such people use very loud ring tones?
Why is it that most people use a very common ring tone and it takes them eternity to pick calls? (Yes, they don't even realize that its their mobile that is ringing!)
Why is it that people with the most irritating ring tones are the ones who get calls very regularly?
Why is it that most of the ring tones are monotonic? (Don't you think polyphonic ring tones are so less irritating on the ears?)
Why is it that people so frequently use the default Nokia monotonic ring tone or a badly played version of Malgudi Days? Why have I never heard a nice polyphonic ring tone of Hotel California or Pulp Fiction theme or something?

Why?

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