Monday, December 27, 2004

Vegan delights

No, I am not changing my food habits all of a sudden. I am perfectly happy eating vegetarian food interspersed with omlettes, cakes and other delicacies that egg has to offer. I am referring to Vegas. Yes, I am back from my 8-day trip that inlcuded San Diego, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The trip was awesome. Totally energizing, rejuvenating, and all the related adjectives. I am half tempted to write a travelogue, but I am still settling back into my groove (i.e. I am feeling too lazy right now). So, here are a few highlights that stood out for me in the trip

1. There is an exit called 'The Zzyzx Road' en route to Las Vegas from San Diego. I am not kidding. Apparently, someone else was as intrigued and did some research of his own. Another has a picture of the same
2. I started off with one dollar and promptly converted it to $50 in a matter of 15 minutes over slot machines and Russian roulette
3. I promptly lost all that money the next night
4. I like the false skies that they create in casinos in vegas
5. I'd like to stay once in the Bellagio or the Venetian
6. I'd like a lot of money to pay off the bills for the above venture
7. Hoover dam reminded me solely of the opening scene in Golden Eye
8. The musical fountains in Bellagio rock. I saw them from the Eiffel Tower.
9. For those who wonder what the Eiffel Tower is doing in Vegas, you can visit Paris, New York, Venice and several wondrous cultures of the world without having to step outside the 3 mile strip.
10. I'd like to thank all the Americans who stayed back home with their families on the 24th of December so that there were no queues at the Universal studio theme park.
11. The Universal studio tour was fun, especially seeing the sets where the movies have been shot and seeing the same place in a scene of the movie
12. I drove up Beverly Hills through Mulholland Drive. A movie by that name is right up there with Memento in its complexity
13. Californians deserve the high prices they have to pay for everything. It was 70 degrees, sunny with people playing beach volleyball in shorts and much lesser clothes.
14. The beaches in La Jolla were terrific. For that matter, all beaches were terrific. Readers of this blog already know my weaknesses for seashores.
15. The Hollywood Walk of Fame was a letdown. I did enjoy seeing the Kodak theater, the place where the Oscars are held.
16. The dolphins in Sea World are amazing. I think their trainers must be commended even more.

All said and done, I was very glad to be back in Seattle, back to my home, back to the gloom, back to the rain, and though I must mention this grudgingly, back to my work too!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Able was I ere I sawed my Elbow

End of a tough day at work. I thought I'd spend some time sampling the songs of Kisna and Shabd that have just come out. This year has seen the comeback of the qawwali. First came 'Tumse Milke Dil' from Main Hoon Na, which rocked, then came 'Aaya tere dar par' in Veer-Zaara which was more along the lines of traditional lines and now comes 'Chilman' from Kisna, an Ismail Darbar composition. I loved Darbar's compositions in Devdas even though the music wasn't as big a hit as expected, and given his track record, it seems like he needs a musically inclined director (yes, Ghai qualifies as one) to extract good work from him. I love qawwalis. 'Na to qarwaan ki talaash hai' is the all time best qawwali in Hindi movies according to me. It has never been bettered and never will be. If you haven't heard it yet, please do so. The movies is 'Barsaat Ki Raat' and the music is by none other than the great Roshan (yes, Hrithik's grand-dad). Rafi is the king all the way in the song, and I can't ever get over the fact that Bharat Bhushan got to enact this and many more of Rafi's great works!!!

Feels good to write something after a while. The break from blog was influenced by a few factors
1. We lost the match badly. Juvenile at 26? Perhaps so, but I felt depressed due to that. We just started on the wrong foot, and it ended horribly for us.
2. The adrenalin to blog regularly was missing
3. I wanted to get on top of my work before I leave this Saturday on a trip to San Diego (to meet Sachin), Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
4. I am short on ideas to write about. That sinking feeling, when contrasted with the pleasure derived from reading Caferati (thanks Geetanjali for writing about it on your blog) just compelled me to stay away for a while. I sawed my right elbow for a while, have attached it again

I started watching 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' last night. I am attuned to a Charlie Kaufman script, so it didn't throw me completely off guard. The only surprise was seeing Jim Carrey in such a role. I also managed to catch 'Ocean's Twelve' last week, and it was strictly ok. I think the director played it smart. The doses of self-deprecating humour also helped.

I'll be missing the first day first show of 'Swades' (no SRK bashing: just repeating for those who don't already know), but I am assuming the thrill of Seaworld, casinos in Vegas and seeing Univeral studios might more than make up for it.

I do regret having missed Sachin's century (no SRT bashing too please) even though it was made against Bangladesh. If he decides to relent in the next match, he might make century no. 35 and his 10,000th run against Pakistan next year, and I'll make sure I'll catch it.

BTW, what's with all the cell phone misuse in India? First the DPS clip and now the Kareena affair. 1.5 world country, Tarun? :-)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Makke di DVD aur sarson da blog

Sorry for the bad rhyming. Couldn't get anything better to rhyme with saag. However, I am accurate about the Makke (corn) di CD. A Japanese company (where else can this innovation come from) has developed a corn starch DVD. It is possible to apply the new substance not only to a DVD, but to a CD and blue ray disk, which is a next-generation memory storage device, the company said. Read this amazing fact.

What about sadda Punjab? Chak de innovation??? We can make corny movies, but not corny media?? I can recollect only two uses for corn: eating and nostalgic references in Yash Chopra movies.

Think about the myriad innovations possible:
'If you don't like the movie, eat it up'
'Dinner and a movie' (very American concept)
'Tea, coffee or DVD?'

Oh, I can't think of anything smarter here, but if you are commenting on this blog, feel free to chip in. By the way, as the only known Punju reader, Tarun, what EXACTLY does 'Chak de phatte' mean?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Recovered drive

I have never tasted any sporting success. At least, not before. When I was at school, I wasn't blessed with height and power. I was sprightly as a kid and largely confused that with being athletic. I never won a single medal in any track event at school or college. In fact, the only race that I finished first was slow racing (the aim is to not fall of your cycle and be the last to cross a certain distance). I had taken some coaching in cricket but my school never had a proper team, so I never got into playing cricket anywhere besides my building. I also learnt tennis for three years, but the racket was about half my size. The only tournament I ended up playing in saw me win the first match 6-0 (they decided who wins based on a set) and losing the second round 9-7. For all the great things my school had, what was missing terribly was the push for participating in intra-school sporting events. Junior college and engineering college had the same story. Over the years, I have realised that my belief that I was athletic wasn't entirely misplaced. I have picked up table tennis, badminton etc. very quickly and play them with a great degree of comfort now. But I never entered any tournaments, and didn't have a sport story to feel good about.

After a few months in Seattle, I joined a cricket team to participate in the oh-so-large-and-competitive cricket league. At that time, the team was fully staffed with quality players, so I had to wait to get my turn. The first time I got a match, I picked up three wickets for next to nothing when all the other bowlers got mauled. Susbsequently, in that league, we made it to the quarter-finals. I got promoted up the order and played a really good innings to make a respectable total. Unfortunately, we lost the match. The next season was better and I compiled quite a few good innings at the top of the order. We made it to the semis, but unfortunately, I had some out of station visitors whom I had to take around. I missed the match, and never got picked for the finals, which we lost. The league after that, I played a match and then twisted my ankle badly in practice which kept me out for the rest of the season.

Before I continue the story, I should indeed explain how the league works here. We play with hard tennis balls (imported from India), 8 players a side, 16 overs an innings on different grounds here. Some are astro-turf used for soccer while others are school grounds with a very uneven pitch and terrible outfields. 65-80 is considered a good score, and anything in excess of 15 is a good score from a batsman. I missed the first two games of the league which my team lost. After that, me and a couple of other players joined in and the results were immediate. We won all 4 league matches after that on a trot. In the fourth of its kind match, I made 21 not out which was my highest score in the league thus far (and got me picked as a man of the match). While it doesn't seem like a lot of runs, one should realise that the conditions are not conducive to run-scoring with the type of the ball and the outfield. After winning the quarter-finals last week, we had our semi-finals today. Here's how the story went

The match was supposed to start at 9 am this morning. When we reached the ground, we were treated with (you will never guess) ... SNOW. Yes, it was snowing, with the temperature around 30 deg F (or 0 deg celcius). It was chilling cold even with a couple of layers of clothing and the wicket-keeping gloves that I was wearing. We were asked to bowl first and trust me, most players were hoping that the ball would not come to them because they'd have to take their hands out of their pockets. The opposing team were scoring freely having lost just one wicket till the half way mark. At that time, I decided to have a bowl (vice-captaining gives some privileges) . I am not a regular bowler, but do turn my hand over with some slow-paced bowling. Today must have been my day ... I got three wickets, including their two most dangerous batsmen ... all bowled. Figures at the end of the innings: 3/15 in 4 overs. We were set a target of 64 in 16 overs.

The one thing I have been concentrating on doing is to keep my wickets intact. In all the previous leagues that I played, I would invariably run myself out not having figured out any other way of giving my wicket away. This league too, I have scored close to 90 runs in 6 innings with two dismissals. This innings though, turned out to be quiet special. I ended up staying right till the end, hitting the winning runs in the 15th over .... and scored 30 not out. We lost a couple of wickets on the way, but a good opening partnership and consistent scoring ensured that we got there in comfort. In the process, I also hit two boundaries on the leg. It turned out to be my best score in the league, in a do or die match, and coupled with my bowling figures, a man of the match award. Winning this match was crucial to us making it to the 'B' league, irrespective of what happens in the finals

Man of the match in a semi-final of the league C of the American Recreational Cricket League in Seattle wouldn't mean anything to almost all but 12-14 souls in this cosmos. One could also argue that this award would not mean much if we lost the finals. But hey, its a success alright. It isn't the World Cup, but shining on a big stage in this tournament after three attempts gone awry means a lot to me. I know this is a self-congratulatory post, but hey, every blog has its way :-) Everyone on the team is looking forward to an enthralling finale with a very tough team (they are yet to be defeated in 8 matches). Reminds you of India vs Aus? We hope to change the script. Wish me luck

P.S> Since I felt that this called for some special kind of celebration, I corked open a bottle of my all-time favorite cola, the one that I don't consume much nowadays, but is always available for a $1.25 in the Indian stores, the baap of all colas: Thumbs Up! (Yup, taste the thunder)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Would you rather be a Greek God?

'Greek God looks' screamed Filmfare, when they carried a series of photos on the prodigal Hrithik Roshan when Kaho na Pyaar Hai was nearing completion. Kabir Bedi is often commented upon as having non-Indian Greek God looks in his prime. There are a select few on the list that I have read being complimented similarly: John Abraham, Fardeen Khan (!) ....

It appears to me that Indian Gods never did excel in the looks department. You may be 'sarv gun sampann' but 'nirgun' when it comes to looks. Ram was never a dasher in comparison with Adonis, Indra wouldn't strike a 'vajra' (thunderbolt) in the hearts of women like Zeus would. Our mythology has consigned the average Indian man to a life of indignation about his looks, pushed him to the backfoot with a quicker one, removed all hope of being loved and desired for his tobacco-stained teeth, bushy moustache, absentee muscles and well-rounded belly. Its an attitudinal thing: "Even our Gods never looked good, what chance do we have?"

But all is not lost for us. To borrow and tweak a line from Spiderman, "With great looks comes great fallibility". These poor Greek souls probably had their minds screwed up with their good looks, what with stories of incest, Pandora's boxers (that was the name I used for my quiz team back in my college festival days) and what not. Being surrounded and hounded by women was second nature to them. That may be an inapparent reason why they are revered so much

Our Gods are a study in contrast. The one time a Supanakha approaches Laxman, he cuts her nose off!! Not the winning of hearts by courtship the way our Gods take. Indra sneaked and peeked and disguised himself as Gautam Rishi to get close to Ahilya.

How does one explain this extreme behavior? Is there an inherent inferiority complex here? Are these the role models we have? Do Indian (or any) men have nothing that they can be equated to an Indian God for? Have you ever heard of "Oh, look at his face, it is glowing bright like Lord Rama" or "Look, his biceps are like Hanuman". Is this the best we can do? You see a good looking man, you tag him as good looking ... you see someone better, you tag him as a Greek God? I think Raja Ravi Verma missed the point when he made our male Indian Gods look ... well, Godly. People don't want to just look good, they want to look Godly good ... to be precise, Greek Godly good.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Interviewing Kareena Kapoor

I was on a self-imposed work-influenced break. During Thanksgiving, I was in Vancouver, Canada enjoying some really good Indianized Chinese food at a restaurant called Green Lettuce. A lot of Indian film stars have frequented there and in fact, it was inaugurated by 'Tiktik Roshan', as our Chinese waitress so enthusiastically mentioned.

I have been interviewing a lot of people of late for my team and it is something that I have really come to enjoy. It is definitely a skill that one needs to develop over time. Last week, I was woken up by an e-mail from the recruiting company which had on its title the name of a famous Indian actress. To avoid any legal issues, I am not going to mention her name, but it was mighty surprising. Imagine if you got an e-mail on a busy Monday morning titled "Resume: Aishwarya Rai". This actress isn’t Miss Rai and isn’t among the top of the lot, but is well known enough.

I sat down and wondered what would happen if I indeed had to interview an actress, let's say Kareena Kapoor. Here's how a hypothetical interview with her for a software engineer position would go

Me: Morning Miss Kapoor, how are you doing?
KK: Doing what? Haven't I told you I don't give interviews between shoots?
Me: Shoot me!! Wake up, this isn't your film set. You are interviewing for a job here
KK: Oh, is it? I must fire my secretary. I could have at least dressed for the occasion
Me: You ARE dressed. That's sufficient. Have a seat .... no, not mine, the one in the corner.
KK: Ok shoot.
Me: What attracted you to ...
KK:(interjecting) Why can't you let go of this topic? I have told time and again that we are just good friends
Me: ... Computer Science .... never mind. So, I see you went to Harvard ...
KK: Yeah, I went to Harvard for a course in microcomputers and information technology. I did it for three months.
Me: What happened after three months?
KK: They booted me out
Me: (Polite smile)
KK: (blank face, ruminating)
Me: (Awkward look)
KK: (bursts into laughter) Oh my God, I made a joke
Me: (serious look) Very well Miss Kapoor, let's talk about inheritance?
KK: (still laughing)
Me: Miss Kapoor .... let's talk about inheritance
KK: Oh well, I have inherited this talent from my family. I am the best, you know
Me: No, no I meant, if I had a class ...
KK: I don't know about you, but I am class act. If I were in Hollywood, Julia Roberts would have died to play my mother
Me: (in frustration) Ok, alright, can we talk about computers? How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 in ...
KK: 11, nothing more, nothing less.
Me: Would you even let me finish my ...?
KK: Are you finished? That's good.
Me: ...question? You are right though. I think I am done. I will inform Mr. Shah ...
KK: Didn't I tell you we are just good friends? Why should he know about this?
Me: (the last issue of Filmfare appears in my mind). Oh, not Mr. Kapur Miss Kapoor, Mr. Shah
KK: Whatever!
Me: You know, I am a big fan of yours. I thought you were mind-blowing in Khushi
KK: (face lights up) Really? I think the critics and the masses just didn't get the movie. Neither did they get tickets for it, neither did they get the DVD. ... oh hell, they didn't even get to the remote to switch the TV on. Mind you, 15 years down the line, they will be all calling it a classic
Me: I am sure, anyway, it was nice having you over. We'll mail our results in a week. Do you have any questions for me?
KK: No, but do let your CEO know that he needn't feel bad.
Me: About what?
KK: Losing his job to me, of course. You know, whatever!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Kasa kaay, Uruk-hai?

For those unfamiliar with Marathi, 'Kasa Kaay' is the closest you'll get to 'Wassup' in Marathi? If you aren't familiar with who the Uruk-Hai are, I suggest you first read Lord of the Rings. For a quick summary though, read this. For those who do know, read what I stumbled upon.

This post wasn't supposed to be entirely dedicated to Uruk-Hai (I hope my blog doesn't get blasted by the Uruk-Hai Defamation League). This was supposed to be for the entire trilogy. I must shamefacedly admit that I wasn't aware of the Lord of the Rings till I heard of it in Texas A&M. This was before the movies came about. There was a nerdy character who claimed to have read the whole trilogy 15-20 times (Avi, am I accurate or did he claim a greater number?) Sufficiently piqued and substantially unemployed (this was during my 8-month phase of joblessness or job search as I call it respectfully) , I picked up the trilogy and in 10 unputdownable days, I finished it. While my job hunt wasn't on its peak during the period, the time was well spent. Instantly, this made an entry onto my favorites list and it shall remain so. I was so happy that my name featured in the book (Boromir dies at this place) I particularly enjoyed the homage Tolkein paid to various mythologies. You can see how Rowling tries to do the same in the Harry Potter series.

My general experience has been that movies aren't ever as good as their books (Godfather being an exception). The trick is that the director should stop competing with the author in an effort to better the work and focus on making a good 'movie'. Peter Jackson did just that. He made a great nine-hour movie. I am keen on getting my hands on the DVD set of the trilogy. Should be a collector's item.

I was once in a training session with a huge audience and the speaker generally asked the question ' What was Gandalf's sword called?' No one answered that time, but I know several people who could have answered that in their sleep. People get so enamored by some books that they it just becomes part and parcel of their lives. They remember the minutest detail with the greatest ease. Some become gurus (like Avinash when it comes to Harry Potter), some remain moderately knowledgeable enthusiasts (like yours truly) and some like to enjoy and forget. If you haven't heard of the LOTR, please see the movies. If you have seen the movies, please read the books. If you have read the books, do share your feelings on the same.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Handkerchief: the Indian accessory

Ever entered a bus or a train in India and spotted an empty window tantalisingly close to you? You move ahead in excitement, with a mix of joy and trepidation, pushing through people just enough to still be on the right side of politeness, with starry eyes dreaming of a great time staring into the world outside. You overcome your obstacles, gather yourself for the final step, hold you head high, survey the vanquished around you and with a solemn sense of pride and responsibility, lower your body to the seat .... when someone shouts out to you, "Arre bhai sahab, woh jagah meri hai". You turn around, half perplexed, half vexed to spot the face that spit out those words. But the face is nowhere to be spotted. It was if God had spoken. Oddly enough, God seems to be speaking to me from outside the confines of the bus. In fact, from right outside the window. I spotted the face of God and it was triumphant. Annoyed like a little child, I asked God insolently, "Yahan pehle main aaya tha!". "Haan", continued God, "par maine apna rumaal rakh diya tha". There it was, irrefutable, non-disputable logic. God had extended his kingdom with a piece of cloth. Rumaal Rules!!

That, of course, is one among the many uses of the handkerchief, which I am convinced, is solely an Indian phenomenon. Not for us masses the tissues that everyone uses in the US. We want our handkerchiefs and we want them the way we like them: different sizes, different colors, embroidered with the man's initial, dark in colour to make dirt look part of the makeup, white in colour so that you could wipe your brow and comment "My God, this place is so polluted", qualified enough to be gifted in a pack of six, and used in the household for many purposes.

Oh, that Indian handkerchief. How else would a typical Bollywood scene come through where the 35 something hero chases a 18 something girl with a handkerchief to ask her "Excuse me miss, aapka rumaal shaayad gir gaya tha"

Oh, that Indian handkerchief. How would people on two-wheelers in Ahmedabad cover their faces in blistering summer heat and still not pass off as terrorists? How would I have passed those evenings in Saki Naka (the most polluted square in the world) where the bus would take 40 minutes to cross a traffic signal without covering my mouth? How much more would have we sweaty Indians reeked without it?

I don't know how the rest of the world survives without it. They must have tried and given up, unable to cope up with the cultural might of the handkerchief. Maybe they threw in the towel early, and waved, what else, the white handkerchief.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Sonnet Lumiere

After a long time, I put on my Shakespeare jersey, which prompted some memories, which prompted this entry. Texas A&M University has an annual Shakespeare festival. A bunch of people get together, have workshops on the bard's work, stage some of his plays etc. A couple of years back, they had a sonnet writing competition as part of the festival. I had not written a sonnet in my life, and having read some of Shakespeare's work, was aware that it isn't the easy thing to do. There are several strict rules about the structure, the rhyming (iambic pentameter et al). At the end of the day, a good sonnet is one that doesn't look contrived (Mine does). Nonetheless, I wrote up something and entered the competition and won it (of course, I did, mine was the only entry .... seriously). I remember reading it out to a small audience of 30 odd people at Barnes and Noble to a good reception. I have reproduced it below. I didn't like it then, I don't like it now, but it did win be 'Quotable Quotes from Shakespeare'.

My opinion on my sonnet is reflective on my opinion about my writing for the past few years. I did write well once, and actually liked what I wrote. I wrote in both English and Hindi. This blog has been an attempt to get some form back, and I'd say the experiment has been partially successful thus far. I hope I can produce some good work over the next few years, since I used to find writing a very satisying activity at a point in time.

As far as the T-shirt is concerned, I won it on a raffle that day. The first and the last time something like that has ever happened to me. I never win in lucky draws.


How true is your love, my soul mate, my dearest!
You have come to see this traitor once again.
The flowers you have brought me, smile at your behest;
As false as my love, as true as your pain.

Years have passed since I left you alone;
Laying to rest a union so divine.
Sins are those, which one can atone;
Wonder what I can call that treachery of mine.

Desertion and deception are not too apart;
Broken vows of love are a lover's shame.
Heed my call and let go of your heart;
Tear asunder each trace of my name.

Erase me forever from your memory's way;
With these tears you shed on my grave today

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Diwali is corrupt, Sitting year, Maar dollar and much more!

I missed blogging for the past few days, but work, laziness of my fingers and Arafat's flip-flopping condition (any excuse works, doesn't it) kept me off it. Now that the uncertaintly has been laid to rest, I am back with a bang(you know, the one that goes off on those e-cards people send you wishing you a Happy Diwali with 'Jai Jagadish hare' playing in the background).

Maybe other bloggers can share their infinite wisdom on this matter. Have you ever encountered a situation where you thought of a really good title for your blog entry, but had nothing substantial to write? It happens to me all the time. I love little word-plays, smart references that make me go 'That was good, wasn't it?', puns that I conceive at the drop of a proverbial hat (I always top off a good pun in a conversation by collecting the compliments and then saying, 'After all, apnapun hai' .... That WAS good, wasn't it? :-) )

Today, I am going to list different blog entry titles that came across my mind in the past three-four days. I wanted to write on each of these topics, but they didn't excite me enough.

1. Chucker Bali or Chuck de phatte
Now that we know that 99% bowlers chuck, I wonder who the remaining 1% are. Maybe they should be called for non-chucking. Murali stands vindicated and I am very happy for him.

2. Maar dollar
Patriotism aside, sending money to India has never been costlier. The dollar just keeps getting weaker and the rupee stronger. Go India (but buck up USA)

3. Assi-mov, tussi great ho! or Russian Rule-it
Terrific writer this Isaac Asimov. I read 'The best science fiction of Isaac Asimov' and was completely bowled over by it. Science fiction has never held much appeal for me because of its unidimensional nature. Asimov explores it from the human angle, the sociological impact, the metaphysical aspect ... he is just brilliant. I also thoroughly enjoyed the short stories, which I think are very difficult to write.

4. Diwali is corrupt
Well, not really. Diwali is a corruption of the Sanskrit word 'Deepavali', which when literally translated means an array of lights. Why not a linked list? Sorry, sad Computer Science joke. Anyway, wish you all a very happy Diwali.

5. Sitting year
Literally translated from the Gujarati phrase 'Bestu varas'. It basically refers to the new year that dawns this Saturday. Happy new year to all concerned as well.

6. V-desis
I think there is a show by this name now, but I thought of this when I was in college. When Javed Jaffrey was ruling the waves in a channel 'V' show, I would think that they should have a program for NRIs titled 'V'-desis (for those who may be unfamiliar, Videsi in Hindi means foreigner)

Oh well, that's about it from me right now. Y'all (in keeping up with the elected American president) be happy.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Multifarious Movie Watching

I must have mentioned this in passing on this blog, but here comes the emphatic statement. I am a movie maniac. I watch tons and tons of movies, in different languages, from different countries, of different genres, and love most of them. However, this whole facet deserve a different post. It shall happen some day.

I was just wondering how in a snapshot of 2 days, I saw four movies, all so disparate. Here's how it went

1. The Incredibles (this is just to make a ton of people jealous)
My entire team was taken to a really good theatre in downtown Seattle in the middle of the day on a Friday to see this movie. This one cracked me up at times. Extremely well done animation (note: there is a different look than Shrek, and that is an achievement), witty at times, and an obvious homage to the typical 'American Family'. Though the script falters on several occasions, you'd surely enjoy it. This one is being dubbed in Hindi with SRK and his son Aryan doing the father-son duo.

2. Monster
Mind-blowing performance by Charlize Theron. She simply becomes Aileen Wuornos in a way that I would have thought impossible. The transformation, not just in appearance, but in body language, and her understanding of the character is just brilliant. She deserved the Oscar for this. Note: this movie isn't for the faint-hearted.

3. Thirteen
Written by a thirteen year old, this one too isn't a soapy love story. A scathing look at what peer pressure can do to kids in America, this is one wild ride of a girl who goes at great lengths to be with the most popular girl in school. The road to self-destruction is laced with drugs, sex, stealing, abusing, failure and the performances (especially by Holly Hunter of 'The Piano' fame) make it an interesting watch. There is an underbelly to America that is ugly and scary, and movies like Thirteen and Monster explore that.

4. Kal ho na ho
Candy floss time. Warning: Avinash, no SRK bashing on this blog please. I am a fan of Shah Rukh Khan, and unapologetic about it. Although I did not like this movie as much as DDLJ or KHNH, this one wasn't that bad either. I believe that there is a thin line between being excessively maudlin and getting it just right. Unfortunately, this movie went to the other side once too often. Yet, some of the jokes were really funny(not including the offensive Gujju jokes), the music was good and performance were ok. Enough to make me watch it again.

This has been an uninteresting, boring and dry post. I think I am suffering from 'Writer's Blog'. For those who wanted the translation of the ghazal from my previous post, please check the comments on that post.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

One last time

ranjish hii sahii dil hii dukhaane ke liye
aa aa phir se mujhe chho.D ke jaane ke liye aa

pahale se maraasim na sahii phir bhii kabhii to
rasm-o-rahe duniyaa hii niibhaane ke liye aa

kis kis ko bataaye.nge judaa_ii kaa sabab ham
tuu mujh se Khafaa hai to zamaane ke liye aa

kuchh to mere pindaar-e-muhabbat ka bharam rakh
tuu bhii to kabhii mujh ko manaane ke liye aa
ek umr se huu.N lazzat-e-giriyaa se bhii maharuum
ai raahat-e-jaa.N mujh ko rulaane ke liye aa

ab tak dil-e-Khush_faham ko tujh se hai.n ummiide.n
ye aaKhirii shamme.n bhii bujhaane ke liye aa

6 brilliant shers. 6 reasons why I love ghazals so much. 6 reasons why this is one of my favorite ghazals. 6 reasons why it sounds brilliant when Iqbal Bano or Mehdi Hassan sings them. Thank you, Ahmed Faraz.

As always, write in to me if you need translation

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Fall back, but don't retreat

Its that time of the year. Daylight savings. The clocks get set one hour back this morning. A lot of people feel good about it. The underlying logic is that they have gained an extra hour of sleep, added a modicum of seconds to their time-cramped lives. I disagree. It makes me sad. Let me explain. I am a very light sleeper. If someone three miles away were to drop a plastic spoon on a carpetted floor, it would wake me up. It is a slight exaggaration ... the spoon could be metal as well, but you get the picture. I got up at 9 am today, despite sleeping close to 2 while watching 'The Last Samurai'. I tried to conjure up the fatigue of the week, the thought of going to office tomorrow, the dullness of the weather outside to stay in bed just a little longer. Nothing worked. Here I am, sleeping 6-7 hours on a Saturday night despite not wanting to get up. Didn't add an hour to my life, I ended up subtracting it. It is only 8, thanks to the adjustment. Now, not only have I slept very little and am feeling very groggy, I am also suffering the ignominy of getting up at 8 on a Sunday morning. I thought that was reserved only for festivals where your parents would expect you to get up early, take a shower and get dressed, so that they can tick those items off their to-do list.

Anyway, it is just a few hours to go for my cricket match. I play for the American Recreational Cricket League ( Funnily enough, there are no Americans playing in the league. Only people from the Asian subcontinent and a few Brits and Aussies. It is a must-win match for us, so I hope everything goes well. I am also enjoying my shift from being an all-rounder to a wicket-keeper. The in-house joke is that because of my name and my capacity to fumble catches, I am best suited for the job. (For those who don't follow Indian cricket, the ex-wicketkeeper is a kid name Parthiv Patel who has the same initials as me, is a left-handed batsman and is a Gujarati)

While it started as a joke, I got really irritated with all those daily mails about good matches for me (or my name twin). I am really not interested in 'gujjugrl', so I went ahead and changed the e-mail id to a blackhole. Too bad for the blackh0le.

Done with morning miscellany. Let me get back and do something more fruitful with the 'extra hour' that I have earned.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Right envelope, wrong address

I got two mails from All right, all right, its Same difference. The first one thanked me profusely for creating a profile on and informed me that my profile is under screening. As I recovered from my sudden good fortune and took in the impact while reading through it to decipher this story, the mystery unraveled. They even provided me with a unique id (I was almost in tears of gratitude by that time). I realised then that there was a second treat waiting for me. The next mail informed me that my profile had met their terms of use and it had been activated. Activated, isn't that a great word? My self-esteem just went up a notch, my pride got re-activated.

I rushed to the site and duly entered my id .... and discovered myself. Here's who I am : verbatim "my self parth pandya, male, 29years old, from baroda, i very confident, smart, fun-loveing, and hard worker man, my occupetition business&agent, i like someone good life partner, my hobbies cricket, movies, free time reading knowledge book, ....more, i always happy, i am modernet persons, and very cool & freeminded,"

But wait, I am not 29, i am not from Baroda, and I am definitely not a 'modernet' person. How could it be? If its in e-mail, it has to be true, right? Could it be that the 'hard worker man' just typed in the wrong address? Could he be my 'name twin'? After all, we have matching hobbies. I do like 'cricket, movies, free time reading knowledge book'. If only I could match his other qualities.

I am distraught, and appalled that the million proposals that he will get will dump themselves in my inbox. No, this travesty cannot be allowed. I'll go and promptly change this data. But where to? How do I know his real address? I can only pray that when he doesn't receive any proposals one week down the line, he'll realise that something is wrong, and promptly accesses his account. Till then, I'll have to bear the burden. For those who think this whole post is a big round lie, you should know that I can't possible lie. After all, that's not part of my profile, is it?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Ragging fire, child beer .... all in all, a wonderfull post

"Ragging fire causes havoc in Andheri East". Came across the headline on a website and it had me in splits. Hoarding and headings in India can create moments of unintented and unbelievable humour (of course, the guy whose house must have got burned might not agree with me). Ever read a shop advertising 'child beer' or dropped your clothes off at the 'londry' ? If so, then I am not alone and neither are you.

I am wondering if that's what Shiv Sena had in mind when they went to town (pun intended, and Mumbaikars will get it) painting the shop hoardings written in English, in black. With such 'funtastic' spelling, what impression would Aamchi Mumbai put forth?

However, there is a definite charm associated with the travesty of the English language by the ex-colonites(especially the commoners). The Americans have already butchered and simplified the English language to suit their needs, why don't we do the same? Look at the Queen's language. Words like desi, paani-puri etc. are part of the Oxford dictionary. Language is a tool for contemporary expression. By its very nature, it is transitionary. Back in India, the current generation has swept in a new lexicon, and made it really popular. I didn't think I'd hit upon the definition of Hinglish on Wikipedia. Apparently we are not alone. There's Spanglish and Greekish to keep us company. My Hindi is either interspersed with English or Urdu words, and even when it isn't, it is not pure Hindi. It is Bambaiyya Hindi, which thanks to Hindi films, is a nationwide phenomenon. Personally, I like purity in a language. I would love to speak chaste Hindi, or Gujarati or even English (the killer American filler words, 'like', 'so', 'whatever' make an appearance in my sentences once in three days :-( and that is dissapointing), but I have to be really conscious about it.

Anyway, if anyone has any other interesting 'titles' to share, please do so. Till then, 'Happy BonVoyage' (spelt verbatim off a poster outside the Hyderabad airport)

Monday, October 18, 2004

I am Navratrilova

Stumped you, right? No, I am not changing my surname because I am a great fan of Martina (which I am by the way). Read carefully, very carefully. Its 'Navratri-lova'. Yup, I am talking of the nine day festival dance-a-thon. Now, I was born with two left feet, and I came to terms with it pretty early in my life. Discotheca was not my preferred place to be, I was more concerned with the bibliotheca.

However, the Gods up there must have been smiling on me. Someone invented the Dandiya. I finally found a dance form where I knew exactly what to do with my hands. Baby steps, five in all, and once the smile of triumph crosses your face, you move to your left with a heart brimming with pride to meet your next challenge. For all the ineptitude that comes when I try to shake a leg to other beats, somehow the rhythm of the dandiya beats stirs up some nascent dancing abilities in me. Maybe it has to do with my Gujarati genes.

Navratri is a big thing in Bombay (which I am told compares poorly to the scale in Ahmedabad and Baroda) and I fondly remember going every year to play Dandiya. However, I could never muster the courage and confidence to do garba in my life. It is too complex, and there is only a limit to which a person can be allowed to look graceless while dancing. The inhibitions surrounding doing garba that I had were one too many.

However, I decided to conquer these demons when I got a chance to do garba in my first year at the Texas A&M University. It was totally graceless and totally enjoyable. Of course that was the simple two-clap. This year, I graduated to the rather complex 8-step. I can do the first 6 ok, but turning round to land on my right foot (literally) never works for me. I did garba this weekend and caused a couple of accidents with people tripping and falling over me. But I prevailed, no major casualties were reported, and I am happy to announce that I have climbed the Everest.

I digressed. The post wasn't about my ability to do garba. It was about the fact that I love Navratri. I love the beats, the music, the dancing, the good dancing, the bad dancing, the Gujju clothes, the smartly dressed people, the Gujarati garbas that I know, the crescendo that comes at the end of a round of dandiya, the calories that I burn while enjoying it and the excitement that I feel every time I step onto the dance floor. I hope you see now why I am a 'Navratri-lova' (I am stating this a second time so that someone would care to compliment me on the smartness of the title :-))

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Buland Bhaarat ki Buland Tasveer ... in Boston!!

I was on the east coast this weekend on a short trip. Beautiful fall colors, beautiful red-eyes (mine after the night long flight) and of course beautiful Boston (or Baastan, as the locals pronounce it. It was great to finally see a city in America with some history. You know, they actually have references to the 1700s. Boston is a nice city, with the quaint mixing with the modern. It is especially reflected in the architecture of the buildings. The subway is easy to get around in, and I even spent a little while in Harvard (sorry MIT, shall visit thy campus next time I am there) . There is so much weight associated with the name Harvard. You almost expect geniuses pouring out of each street (four years in the US have wisened me, but I would have believed that 10 years ago). Hell, even my office-mate is from Harvard (or Haavard, keeping in sync with the right pronounciation)I have never posted any photos to my blog, and trust me, my first one is going to be a blockbuster (its a deep pun, good for you if you get it). Ladies and gentlemen, here is the most unexpected piece of beauty in the most unexpected place. Buland Bhaarat ki Buland Tasveer --- Hamara Bajaj!! Its the Bajaj Chetak in Boston downtown.

Chunnu-Munnu ke paapa ki sawaari Posted by Hello

While on the topic of unexpected Indian things in unIndian places, here's one more that I saw in Boston downtown.

Bustling Bhindi Bazaar in Boston (how's that for alliteration?) Posted by Hello

While on Bhindi Bazaar, for those who aren't aware, there is actually a gharaana in Hindustani classical by the same name. The most famous product of that gharaana is known widely and has also found a mention in my blog (easy for those who have actually been reading it :-))

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Fear Factor

It is the peak of the election season in the US, and it is impossible to escape the impending sense of occasion that seems to be hanging all around. This one seems to be one of the most closely contested election, and in a larger context, very important for US and indeed a large section of the world.

I did not follow the election campaign in 2000 as closely. I had just landed in the US and my world started and ended with my graduate school. A lot has changed since that year, and this time I have made it a point to follow the events more carefully.

The most striking thing about this election to me is that it is being fought on 'the fear factor'. If you don't elect us, you'll be dead is the simple message sent out to the Americans by the Republicans (Cheney said it literally in a rally too!). Issues like healthcare, economy, schooling, taxes have all been swept under the rug. The only deciding point for an American voter seems to be: which of these men can keep America safe? I don't blame them. Michael Moore brought that point out very well in the documentary 'Bowling for Columbine'. The American media has built a culture of fear. One look at any news program confirms that. They especially highlight crime and war in all the newscasts, speak in unbelievably grim tones and give a general impression that the moment you step onto the road, you are likely to be killed by a terrorist or a mentally deranged person or a sniper or some one else. You get the picture? When there is a slightest hint of a danger, the newscasts highlight how some paranoid Americans are building underground bunkers in their houses, or storing ration for a long haul, or buying gas masks. It will make you feel as if that is the reaction of an average American to crisis.

Compare and contrast this to news coverage in India (that is the only one that I can compare with). Is there a lesser danger or terrorist attacks in India, or is there lesser aggression by the ones wanting to destabilize the country? No. Even a city like Mumbai has seen tons of bomb blasts. But do the newscasts play on that all the time? No. You can't live in this fear all your life. You could step out of your house and get run down by a car, for all you know. Do you put your life on hold while worrying about that possibility? If anything, you can blame Indian news for a degree of apathy, but not an attempt to instill fear.

What scares me are the two options available to Americans. On one hand, you have an existing President whose administration LIED their way into a war and gave the terrorists a reason to unite. Not only that, they refuse to acknowledge the ground realities and carry on as if they were right and are doing well in this 'God-given' right. Now, the contender. Forget the fact that he dilly-dallies around the war. Now, he seems to have decided that it is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. He talks about killing the terrorists and bringing the troupes back at the same time. Huh? Are you giving the terrorists a time-table that they need to look at to survive? He talks about getting other nations to participate in policing Iraq. If is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time, are the other countries foolish to send their men to die?

What a mess!!! As scary as it sounds, it can only get worse from here. If these are the two choices America has, then really, God Bless America!! Do I sound like I am instilling more fear here? :-)

On a different topic, read this excellent article on opinion polls in America.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bride and Preju-dicey

I spent a lot of time yesterday reading reviews of Bride and Prejudice on the Internet. Unfortunately for me, the movie released in UK and India, but I will have to wait till December (I believe) to get to see it on the big screen in the US.

I was curious about the fate of this movie for two reasons: Can the Bollywood style of film-making be exported to an audience alien to it? Can Ash Rai succeed in opening the doors for other Indian actors?

I have seen Brazilian, Italian, German, French ... in short, movies from different countries. We are so far apart in our style of film-making and our movies from them that you can almost see daylight between the pillars. As an non-Indian filmgoer, it is much easier for me to watch a French movie if I am used to, let's say Hollywood productions. However, the 3 hours+ 6 songs formula is completely opposite of anything I may have seen till date. It is like an arranged marriage at best. Your Indian friend/aquaintance introduces to the a Hindi movie, you sit through the first one shifting uncomfortably in your seat, smiling politely yet trying desperately to enjoy it, and wondering what prompted you to go for it. Some like the colors, some like the music, some like the costumes, some like the dances and others find it amusing for the loud dialogs and overt sentimentality, but for most, it takes time to make the adjustment and enjoy the experience.

How does one win such an audience? I think the answer lies in baby steps. Don't show them a DDLJ outright. Cook up a bhaji like Bride and Prejudice. Make it in English, have some American actors, inject Indian values, Bollywood philosophies, music masala and you have the right Anglo-Indian movie ready to serve. Let them get used to the conventions of our movies: the songs, the emotions, the lack of kissing scenes, the group dancers, the heavy dialogues etc. Then ... take the best of Bollywood talent, a universal story, damn good music and attack the west. I think the reception to that would be much better.

To get back to my two points: Yes, our style of film-making can be exported to a 'receptive' audience (I have already explained how we can make the audience receptive to Hindi films). About Ash. I started off as a fan since her 1994 Miss India days. There were two unchanging facts about her then. She was exceptionally beautiful and she couldn't act. The two truths still hold. Unfortunately, she is the only poster child we have whom we can export to the West right now. The only known 'face' on the international map. As brilliant as Tabu maybe, she may never make a dent in Hollywood for lack of recognition and marketing. When Ash Rai went to Cannes, it was embarassing to see her with people who had such a body of work behind them. All she had was the Body. However, I still want her to succeed. The more of India and Indians that appear in mainstream Hollywood movies, the more the chances for Indian actors to make inroads elsewhere.

So what about Bride and Prejudice? At the risk of making a conclusion without having seen the movie, I can state that it will be a moderate commercial and critical success(based on the extensive number of reviews that I have read). However, it would be foolhardy to expect another hit like 'Bend it like Beckham'. If it were to garner reasonable acceptance with the non South-Asian audience, I think the movie would have done its bit.

P.S. > Ash Rai in a saree is God's gift to mankind(pun intended). However, she never has the same impact in Western clothes. Can anyone proffer an explanation besides the fact that Indian clothes rock?
P.P.S> My attitude isn't one of need for recognition from the non-Indian movie masses, but one of conquering the world, and having confidence in our abilities, inline with the new India in an increasingly culturally diverse world

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Hand it to me

Have you ever noticed what people do with their hands in photographs? The whole arm, from socket to fingertip. Not their heads, or their feet, or their jutting paunches. Just hands/arms. Most of them are at a loss. There is a ungainly shuffle after which some simply fold their hands, only to find the other three in the frame doing the same, some leave them in suspended motion so awkwardly that they feel like ropes hanging off your shoulders, which others would simply stick them into their pant pockets while the rest try to find a shoulder to hang them on. Truly, there is no good solution to this problem. What do you do with your hands when someone really asks you to stand in attention? (Isn’t that really the drill behind the photograph?) The longer it takes for the snap to be taken, the funnier your pose becomes. If you are with someone very close, use their shoulders/waists/palms to dock your hands. But that need not be the case all the time.

Actually, I found the same issue when I tried my hand at acting. I'd be on stage trying to enact a character waiting for my turn to speak my lines while the other characters ramble on. In a sudden moment of realization about where I am and what I am doing, the first thing I’d worry about are my hands. What do I do with them? If I am supposed to stand still, where should they be? I know it is not a unique issue because I have seen others struggle with the issue when I used to direct.

Random observation, but thus and no farther will my thoughts go this morning.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Mighty Khan storms Bollywood in Tezaab-The Acid of Love

Move over Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman. The latest addition to the ‘Khaan-daan’ is here. Introducing : Mighty Khan!! Is it a name, is it an adjective? No silly, it’s a grammatical miracle!!! With a name like Mighty, how far are you from toppling the big guns!!! I can already see the new mantra in Bollywood: “Mighty is righty”. Think about casting Mighty in a mythological where the court announcer goes “Aa rahe hain shaktishaali Mighty kumar” which when ably subtitled would be “Entering the court is mighty Mighty”

Enough from this Mighty groupie about what could be. Let’s talk about what “is”. Mighty Khan is making his debut in ‘Tezaab – the acid of love”. Thank you. I had no clue about the acidic tendencies of romance. Now I know what someone means when they sing “Seene me jalan ….” when lost in love. It’s bloody brilliant. The sequel could be ‘Ksharavishishta – the alkaline side of love’ (feel free to correct my translation). Am I looking forward to it or what?

Of course, even Mighty Khan needs a waist to wrap his mighty hands around. That thin waist belongs to Miss Shruti Sharma. Shruti is a former Miss India, and after making the perfunctory statements about admiring Mother Teresa, she is promptly doing her duty towards the poorest of the poor – by entering Bollywood and entertaining the masses. I don’t know why people think it is hypocritical. It makes perfect sense. Of course, the missionaries of charity shouldn’t expect her resume anytime soon.

For those whose interest has been sufficiently aroused, please see a trailer of this movie (please note that the file is 5MB in size). Now to the rant. It doesn’t take a genius to look at the trailer and figure out that it is another remake of ‘Unfaithful’. If Miss Mallika Murder Sherawatwas not enough, Miss Sharma, suitably aided by Mighty, take the risqué factor to a new level (no risk here). I have defended the formulaic Bollywood output for years now, and could still hold a lively argument on the topic. But this kind of titillating output in every second movie that comes out is disgusting. If you thought this trend is going to end in a nude scene in Hindi movies, well, it has already happened (Miss Janaki Shah in a movie called Shaque … don’t even get me started on the premise of the scene!!) There is a place for erotica in Indian cinema, but it should be a niche area and it should be done tastefully. This isn’t the way!!!

Oh well, the post got heavy at the end. If anyone from India is reading this, do inform me if you see the exact same promos or a toned down version on TV (I know internet sites don’t have censoring, hence the question)

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Morning Miscellany

Fifteen things that are exactly and approximately accurate today
1. I am creatively dead
2. I write a blog
3. Point 2 does not change point 1
4. Mount St. Helens is seeing a lot of siesmic activity. I am a 150 miles away from a possible volcanic eruption
5. Four people in the world read this blog
6. I am one out of those four
7. I occasionally watch pathetic serials on Zee TV since that is the only Indian serial I can get my hands on
8. I take a month to read a book that I would have read in 4 days, a few years back
9. I am a big fan of the White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks
10. I think I will struggle to stay up all night to watch the India-Australia matches
11. I bring too much bottom hand into my cricketing shots, especially when I hit on the leg side
12. I tried my hand at cereals once more, with all sincerity, but I still hate the taste
13. I am hooked onto the music of Veer-Zaara right now
14. I can't pronounce certain words as I used to. My pronounciations are Americanized
15. Spell check has doomed by spelling

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Lata forever: Dulcet tones from a great soul

I was watching 'Once upon a time in Mexico' last night (for Johnny Depp, who was a letdown in the movie). A piano teacher is explaining to a mafia boss (what was the pianist thinking?) that a purity of soul is important to achieve depth in music. Of course, his hands went downhill, as did rest of the movie.

Cut to the present. Today, in fact. Lata Mangeshkar turned 75. All of five and seventy. Just a week back, I wrote up this post about the comeback of Lata with Veer-Zaara. Comeback? Who am I kidding? She owns this place, she owns this generation, and the one before that, and the one before that. She owns the highest pedestal for a civilian in India, she owns the respect of one and all in the country, even those who don't listen to old songs, even those who don't listen to Hindi songs, she owns the respect of many outside the country, she owns the mornings of people who faithfully tune into All India Radio and enjoy her voice, she owns the mornings of people who don't need a radio jockey to play them Lata songs, she owns the emotions that she evokes with her voice every time I listen to 'Lag Jaa Gale' or 'Sili Hawa Choo Gayi', she owns the success of a million Latas that sprung up in India solely inspired by her, she owns the heights that Rafi would never have scaled had he not got the company of Lata, she owns the success of music directors who composed for her voice and till date compose songs with her in mind; she owns our senses for the five minutes her dulcet tones surround us during a song. For one so rich, it is only her greatness as her person that she still has the same values that helped her on the road to fame and success: humility, determination, effort!

There is nothing I can really say about her that hasn't been said before. But, on this, her 75th birthday, I sincerely wish that this melodious journey continues on and on.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Are first impressions over-rated?

Are first impression meant to be last impressions or simply, lasting impressions (long or short)? I guess a behavioral psychiatrist would comment on it better, but I wonder what it means to a layman. We all meet new people day-in day-out (unless you are in solitary confinement, or aboard the international space station) and often times, the meetings are for very small periods of time. This is especially true in interviews that I have started conducting off late. I realized that to make an objective assessment of the interviewee without letting a subjective personality analysis is tough. Of course, the more I interview, the better it gets, but I wonder where the improvement will end. Aren't factors like body language, confidence, eye contact, enthusiasm etc. items of subjective assessment? However, can you completely overlook all of these factors and focus only on the answers the interviewee gives?

That was of course an experience at work. What about personal life? I have sometimes formed an opinion about a person, changed it over a course of time, and changed it again (sounds like John Kerry on Iraq? :-)) It makes me wonder about the value of the first impression. Certainly, it is not the last impression you will have of the person. In fact, I don't think it will even be a long-lasting one. If you meet people with an infrequent regularity, chances are you keep creating first impressions repeatedly.

Third example. Dates. It is the ultimate impressionating or impersonating game. The objective is to present your best foot forward and at the same time conduct an evaluation of the subject opposite you. You are a patient and a shrink at the same time :-)

Treat this as an experiment. If this is your first visit to the blog, form an impression and see if it actually sustains over a period of time or changes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

To name a storm or two

I am saturated right now. With fats, work, caffeine and other exigencies of modern-day living. The past few days made me realize why blogging cannot be a daily affair. Its one thing to have content to write everyday and another to have time to do so. Of course, if I could rant about my work, I’d be blogging 24 hours a day, but am bound by the non-disclosure agreement :-) Actually, work has been pretty interesting off late.

Anyway, to get to the point. It is hurricane season in America.

‘Ivan comes, Charlie goes;
This will break my house, don’t you know’

No, this isn’t mine. I remember these juvenile lyrics of a song called ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ from a long time ago. Just tweaked them around a little.

I was curious to know how they name these hurricanes. After all, not all people with the name ‘Charlie’ could be singled out for such special recognition. What’s wrong with the name Parth? Turns out that the weather guys have a system for it. All hurricanes are given names to help us identify storms and track them as they move across the ocean. But what’s the reason that they have names? Remember, there can be more than one hurricane at a time and without naming them, we could get confused and not know which storm we're talking about. The World Meteorological Organization is responsible for the names. The most destructive names (oops, hurricane names) are retired. It is almost like retiring the number 10 jersey because there would only be one of its kind.

This system was started in 1953. Sailors then named storms after their girlfriends, wives, mothers-in-law. "Presumably these storms shared personality traits with the namesakes," jokes Frank Lepore, spokesman for the Hurricane Center. This system stuck. Forecasters found that when storms were personified, they had an easier time telling them apart. This held until 1979 when Florida feminist Roxcy Bolton badgered the Hurricane Center until officials agreed to stop naming hurricanes exclusively after women. The female of the species hurricanus horriblus is equally destructive!!!

The next time you hear that Charlie swept her off her feet, or Sheila rocked my world, do not forget to consult this article.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Triumphant return of Madan Mohan

I have always been a great Madan Mohan fan. In my opinion, he is one of the best composers to have given music to Hindi cinema. He was the one to gain maximum success with ghazals, reserved his best for Lata Mangeshkar and gave us unforgettable music. Sadly, this great man was never given his due respect when he was alive. Who can ever forget the music in movies like Mera Saaya, Woh Kaun Thi, Anpadh, Heer Ranjha, Haqeeqat, Mausam .... the list is huge and the so is the quality and variety of songs he composed. Read this interesting article by his son Sanjeev which gives you a brief inside look at his life and times.

Yash Chopra's films have always been associated with good music. Whether you agree to the content of his films, its hard to disagree with his music. Melodious, soulful, eminently hummable. Yash Chopra has come up with an interesting experiment this time. Madan Mohan left behind various unutilized compositions, which could not be recorded by him during his lifetime. Yash Chopra and Sanjeev Kohli went through the recordings and pencilled 11 of those compositions for his forthcoming movie 'Veer-Zaara'. The highlight being the presence of Lata Mangeshkar on this sound-track. At the age of 75, she has recorded 9 songs for Madan Mohan, and only true connoisseurs of Hindi film music can understand how significant this reunion is.

I have been eagerly waiting for a few months for the sound-track to come out. For the past two days, I have been listening to the songs repeatedly to get a feel of the music and answer the crucial question: Was this experiment successful? I'd have to answer yes. Before you listen to the music and make up your mind, please note the following factors.
1. The composer has been dead for the past 30 years, and has no active input in the songs
2. The director is the one responsible for picking the tunes. He has no way of knowing what the composer really thought of what was essentially, trial work.
3. While Javed Akhtar is a very good lyricist, I am a great believer in composer-lyricist teams. Frankly, he is not Raja Mehndi Ali Khan.
4. The music arrangements have been done by the composer's son. There is a conscious attempt to make the music sound 'contemporary'. It tests how timeless the compositions are, and frankly, can have mixed results.

Ok, here's the deal. The entire album is full of soft, melodious songs. There is a distinct lack of any 'fast' or 'peppy' numbers. This is more on the lines of Silsila or Lamhe. Lata Mangeshkar sounds really sweet and melodious at her age. Hopefully, this should shut the traps of those who have been criticising her voice quality for the past few years. You miss Rafi so badly in some of the tracks .... Udit and Sonu can only try to fill that void. It will take time for the songs to grow on you, so give it more than one hearing. Here are the songs that you should really watch out for.
1. Tere Liye (Terrific composition, Roop Kumar's rendition is not a let-down)
2. Yeh Hum Aa Gaye (Tujhe Dekha to yeh ... wannabe, this is easily the breeziest track of the album)
3. Main Yahaan Hoon (Udit tries hard, really hard ... make your own mind up about his success here)
4. Do Pal (very good composition)
5. Aaya Tere Dar Par (a qawalli without a difference, probably situational)
6. Tum Paas Aa Rahe Ho (bonus track, Lata and Jagjit ... I am a sucker for slow compositions like these)
7. Jaane Kyon (Lata solo ... rejoice)

The remaining 4 are also good, but I thought I'd suggest a few from the list that I liked the most. This work is not of the same calibre as Madan Mohan's earlier work, but in the context of the aforementioned points, I would call this album a success. Come Nov 12th (this is a Diwali release), I am going to be in the theatre humming these songs.

Before I forget, you can listen to the songs at this link. Find more information about the movie 'Veer-Zaara' on

Friday, September 17, 2004

Outdated dreams

I was reading this post by Tarun about the phasing out of Maruti 800s in India. It brought a momentary frown on my face. Let me explain.

We never had a car in my house in Bombay. Never needed one. The bus and train services were brilliant besides the auto-rickshaws and the taxis, and you could get from one place to another, day or night without any discomfort. But a car is a car is a car. Everyone wants one, especially if you are 16, fresh in Engineering, and moving around in a friend's car reasonably regularly. A desire/dream/ambition formulated in my mind. I had a new object of desire: A Maruti 800. I was fascinated by the car. It looked small, but could fit five persons, it could be parked anywhere (you should have lived in Bombay to realise the import of this statement) and it was (for lack of Santros, and presence of such cars as the Fiat and the Ambassador other such cars) at that time: hold your breath -- COOL!!!

I was very clear about my choice. I wanted the first car that I bought to be a Maruti 800, dark blue in color, with Air-conditioning and a great music system. I would have compromised on the air-conditioning, but no chance I'd do the same with the sound system. I have believed all along that the sound system in a car is the best environment for listening to music. I was so sure about it. Of course, at that time, CD players weren't in the picture (for those who are wondering by now what era I am talking about, its circa 1995). Oh, what would I have given to drive down to the beach with a latest Hindi film song blasting on my stereo!!

I graduated in 1999 and took up a job with Mahindra British Telecom as a software engineer. They paid me enough to be able to realize my dream. Alas, a Masters in USA beckoned. By the time I joined MBT, I was already applying to universities in the US, and it didn't make much sense for me to buy a car with a year to go.

Now, I am a Volkswagen Passat owner. It is black in color, is a fabulous car, and has a great sound system, not to forget the AC. There is little chance of my moving to India immediately, and after reading the post (and based on my recent trip to India), buying a Maruti 800 seems like a pipe dream. Oh well ... some dreams are impossible to achieve. Some, it seems, have an expiry date. If only everytime you dream, there should be a disclaimer that says "Best before .... 10/2006"

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Crimes of India

This is it. This is the last straw. They can't possibly go crassier and cornier. From now on, The Times of India online is my uber-tabloid. Look at the sample headlines they have today:
1. Why Sachin Tendulkar should say goodbye?
2. Tell us how India can beat Pak.
3. Michael Douglas' Fatal Attraction (no, its not about a movie of that name)
4. Sachin does not play for India
5. Thongs face the downward slope
6. Lingerie lust: Season's flavor

Thank you so much. I have got my share of news. I am completely upto speed with what is happening in the world right now.

To top it all, they actually have a Tabloid section now (can you beat this irony?) They call it Tabloid-Shabloid. Sample this: My first sexual encounter Are you kidding me or are you kidding me?

I know, I know, the online edition has always been that way. But I can't help but be frustrated. As a kid growing up in India, this is the newspaper that I read everyday. I was comfortable with the format, the reportage, the coverage etc. It was but natural that I would catch the same newspaper online. But I am done ... done with a capital D.

I will be exploring other options: Indian Express or The Hindu. If you have any suggestions, do let me know.

Alright, Bollywood trivia pop quiz: In which movie will you come across a newspaper named 'The Crimes of India'? Since this is a tough one, I'll drop a hint. The heroine plays a journalist in the movie, and the editor is one cranky fellow who gets misdirected calls on his desk.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Hacking in the 21st century

I was discussing the rise of biometric readers with a colleague yesterday. One application of the same is to basically scan your thumb print each time so that you don't have to remember your password.

Made me think. A new wicked way of breaking into someone' s system would be to take an axe and chop off someone's thumb. That would give a new definition to the term 'hacking' as we know it :-) Hackers of the world, please take note.

Now that I think of it, wasn't the concept explored in 'Minority Report'. Remember the eyeball replacement surgery on Tom Cruise?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Dil-e-nadaan tujhe hua kya hai

dil-e-naadaaN tujhe huaa kya hai ?
aaKHir is dard kee dawa kya hai

ham haiN mushtaaq aur woh bezaar
ya ilaahee ! yeh maajra kya hai ?

jab ki tujh bin naheeN koee maujood **
fir ye hangaama, 'ei KHuda ! kya hai

hamko unse wafa ki hai ummeed **
jo naheeN jaante wafa kya hai

jaan tum par nisaar karta hooN
maiN naheeN jaanata duaa kya hai

maiNe maana ki kuchch naheeN 'GHalib'
muft haath aaye to bura kya hai ?

* This is a selectively edited ghazal. I have retained my favorite paragraphs.
** Extra star for my favorite shers in the ghazal

If anyone wants a translation, ping me. If you understand the words, bask in their brilliance.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Who's next?

Taking a cue from someone else's blog, I committed myself to a session of random 'blog surfing'. There is a button on top which points to the "next blog". I decided to follow this for a few blogs to see what I hit on the road. The first five gave me a thorough insight into the wide variety of things that people write about, or simply occupy webspace for.
1. The first one was set in Canada by a girl who had pictures of her latest weekend excursion with the family where they collected live crabs, killed, battered and cooked them. She had pictures of the crabs in all stages of their, what I'd call 'reverse evolution'
2. The second one had free porn movies (no, I am not providing a link to that blog, do your dirty hard work yourself)
3. The third was about the oil crisis around the world and had tons of articles about it
4. The fourth one turned out to be a Bush supporter (she seemed more anti-Kerry than pro-Bush, looking at a few posts on her page)
5. The fifth was exactly opposite, it was by three guys (off which two were desis Srinivas Ayyagari and Shankar Duraiswamy) and their political views. They were frustrated and without a shade of doubt, pro-Kerry

Of course, this is but a tiny snapshot, but it does tell me that mine is an in-between blog. With no clear direction. Off no fixed address (if you tell me who is the author of a book by that title, I'll send you a free copy of the second movie he has made) Would also love to hear from people as and when they do crash-land on this site.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

We aren't the best, until so says the west

'Ash gets waxed at Tussauds'. Sorry, it was too difficult to pass that opportunity. This has to be the corniest headline I have come across in a while. Actually, tabloid journalists do have a flair for pun and wit, even if the content matter is disgusting at times.

However, I was thinking of something else. We seem to be blown away by the so-called recognition that Aishwarya Rai is getting. It is with a degree of redemption that we observe her 'acceptance' by the western world, her break-through in Hollywood, her appearance on American TV in a L'Oreal ad. I am singling her out because she is a shining example of this trend. We are so uplifted morally when Bradman singles out Tendulkar as his replica, and write letters of frustration when Wisden leaves him out in their top 100 innings. (I agree with Bradman's assessment, but that's besides the point). We hold writers like Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy in high esteem because of their success in the West.

I am not making a point here, just raising a doubt. Are we a bunch of under-confident people who need to be told by the West that we are good? Is the hang-over of the burra-sahib mentality from the Raj days still omnipresent? Are our movies good only when they make it to the Oscars? Are Indians bright only when they make it to the finals of the Spelling Bee? Is our food good only when it makes its presence felt in the Western world? Do we need the Western media to pat us on the back for being the vibrant democracy that we are?

I think we as a country still suffer from an inferiority complex. We are over-awed by the power, stature and grandeur of the west. We look upto the West for everything, forgetting conveniently that the sun rises in the east. Take Japan as an example. Their attitude is one of self-confidence and self-awareness. We are like that kid in class who is waiting for the most popular guy to take him in his group of friends.

I think this needs to change. India has seen a resurgence off late, which is unparalleled in its history. No need to follow the class leader. Form your own group, and watch your following grow. I think its time that we moved away from pandering to the Western pallete to believeing and doing our own thing. Move away from asking them the question "Am I good?" to telling them "I am good"

Monday, September 06, 2004

Under-graduated, over-excited

I was at the State University of New York at Buffalo yesterday, en route to the Niagara falls. I was driving over from Akron, Ohio, which is a 4-hour drive from Buffalo. The intent was two-fold. One, to meet Avinash's sister, who has recently come for her Masters, and two, to start early the next morning for Niagara falls, before the crowds start to swell.

It was a terrific experience to meet up with Medha and her room-mate. They turned the clock back four years for me. For most, coming to the US is the first stab at leading an independent life. When you come to the United States as a graduate student, it is a mixture of many things. An adventure, a responsibility, an exploration of self, charting a path in life .... they are all bedfellows in your stay here, and you are more than likely to meet them at each step in the way. The attitude with which you approach this experience is the most important ally you will have in this country. The key component is facing this with an open mind. Everyone has one gripe which is more painful than the others. Some are homesick, some worry about funding, some have issues adjusting with room-mates ... the list is huge. How you tackle this is the best learning experience you will get. For me, the experience here was a Masters in Becoming Independent.

I was really happy to see the way Medha has adjusted to this life. Extremely enthusiastic, terrific zest for life, and the satisfaction of having worked hard and coming through the initial period of struggle. She brought back memories of my intial days in my Masters. Deciding whom you are going to stay with, the initial days of staying with seniors with 15-20 days before we got our own apartment, our adventures with cooking, scavenging the trash can areas for used furniture, those Friday night dinner parties, walking the campus in the harsh sun looking for jobs, that rehearsed speech "My name is Parth Pandya and I am an international graudate student who have come this Fall ....", those blunt refusals, those polite refusals, those refusals, the 'inside information' about an open position, the trips to Walmart to set-up the apartment .... the list is long. I realised how far I have come from 27th July 2000 when I stepped onto the plane to come to the US. I guess I have mellowed over time, the enthusiasm tempered with experiences I have had, and the maturity that comes with the experiences you face makes you less of a child. But meeting those kids was great. Their enthusiasm was infectious. It wasn't circa 2004 any longer. I felt I was back in July 2000 and within a matter of a day, relived the first few months of my stay in the US. ......"My name is Parth Pandya and I..." :-)

Friday, September 03, 2004


Couldn't resist this one. A friend of mine got a new cell phone number in India, and came up with an unforgettable number: 1234-SUSHIL (I have replaced the first few digits with some random numbers so that no one can give him blank calls. Of course, if you are on the lookout for a dashing, handsome, smart software engineer ..... you wouldn't be interested in this number anyway :-)) .... Sushil, please don't murder me for this!!!) Whether he got this number by design or choice, I do not know. If he got the number and then came up with this mnemonic, then ..... smart thinking Sushil. If he ever gives his phone number to a girl and she forgets it, there are two benefits. One, she can never say that she forgot the number for want of admitting that she is pretty dumb. Two, if she really forgets the number, Sushil knows that it might be time to graciously disengage.

Jokes apart, some of these 1-800 numbers are really interesting. In fact, it would be an interesting excercise to come up with an algorithm that takes any 1-800 number and finds a meaningful mnemonic out of it. You can verify the word that you generate against a dictionary.

I don't know if this phenomenon has started in India, but in the US, it is an unescapable part of life. It is pretty handy too. I believe the toll free numbers in UK are numbered differently. The outsourcing phenomenon has not left this area untouched. You could call a Dell toll-free number and you would end up in Bangalore talking to Srinivas, or similarly named gentlemen or gentle ladies. Some people use this to an undue advantage. I heard a case of a student in the US whose other half was at a service center in India. A toll-free number would ring the phone at his desk directly and they could talk for a long time, on an international call, free of charge!!!

Of course, I am equating a valid cell phone number that Sushil has to 1-800 numbers, which isn't fair. But I like the concept of mnemonic based personal numbers. How about 425-BUG-PARTH?

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Perfection, insanity or sheer brilliance?

It was on this day in 1968 that Gary Sobers of the West Indies achieved an unbelievably rare feat in cricketing history. It is a day that Malcolm Nash would love to forget, but never shall. Gary Sobers, playing for Nottinghamshire, hit Nash, playing for Glamorgan for six sixes in an over. Think of the enormity of it. Not gully cricket, not your average Joe, but first class cricket. Not one, not two, but six in a row. What a batsman Sobers must be, and what a bowler Nash must be. The reason I mention Nash's bowling abilities is because he got hit again, almost for the same score. Nine years later, at the same ground, an over to Frank Hayes cost him 34 runs!! I am sure he must have relieved when one of the balls actually bounced on the ground before crossing the boundary.

It made me sit and think. How must he feel? He knows that everytime someone mentions Sobers' feat, he is an inextricable part of the picture. Malcolm Nash, hit for 36 runs. It could shatter you as a person, or you could shrug your shoulders and say, "I suffered at the hands of a genius. No shame in that".

Of course, Tilak Raj should know about that. Ravi Shastri (yes, the same guy who got booed by Indian supporters for playing slowly in the latter half of his career) hit him for 6 sixes. I remember reading that he refused to be photographed with Shastri, when asked by Wisden. The request itself was like adding insult to injury.

I have seen a lot of cricket over the years. Two sixes in succession seems like a monumental task (yes, Zaheer Khan hit 4 in an over, but that is a paranormal event) .. six in a row is unimaginable. So, here's to the two S'es, Sobers and Shastri for their phenomenal achievement, for that moment of insanity, for that flash of rare brilliance.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Network se network milaa ....

My friend Avinash introduced me to it. Orkut. Socializing, but in a trusted circle of friends. You can get an membership only if someone invites you. That way, the circle is confined in a sense. Makes you wonder though ... who invited the first guy? Who's the Orkut God? I am back to my paranoia about evolution. The concept of communities has been around for a while, but somehow this is better.

Friday, August 20, 2004


Its inevitable, and it just got worse. Our showing at the Olympics. Ever watched a movie scene that makes you squirm and wish that it would magically skip ahead the next time you watch it? Olympics are a little like that. Every four years, we gather together a few grams of pride, a few ounces of talent, and put the collective weight of a billion people on the shoulders of a few unlucky athletes, who believe it or not, are glad to have simply made the cut.

This year it just got worse. The number of doping scandals involving India outnumber the number of medals we have won thus far. What a race we are fighting!!! Are we short on talent? Are we short on funds? Do we suffer from an inferiority complex? No. What we lack is national pride. Let me illustrate.

When West Indies toured England in 1976, the English captain Tony Greig said that he believed England could turn over the West Indies. "They are a good side," he said, relaxing on the balcony at Hove. "But when they are down, they grovel. And with the help of Closey [Brian Close] and a few others, I intend to make them grovel". Greig was born in South Africa, and at that time some people saw all white South Africans as being inextricably linked with the apartheid regime. To them, his comments were a racist reference to white supremacy. What happened next? The West Indians got fired up and took it upon themselves to humble Greig. They won the series convincingly and shut up the likes of Greig for good.

That is national pride. That essence of wanting to do the best for your country, not taking anything lying down, proving that you are better than the best. Leander Paes does it, and I respect him for it. His 'miracles' in Davis Cup matches and his bronze at the Atlanta Olympics is a testament to that. (Unfortunately, I just read the news that we missed out on the bronze for the doubles tournament in this edition).

What else can we expect? Anjali Bhagwat bombed, Kunjarani Devi feigned an injury, our hockey team is struggling ... do we have to grovel for every medal?? Where is the national pride, the focus? Look at how the Chinese targetted and won medals. They groomed their long-distance runners till they became a formidable team. No babudom, no ministers running their personal fiefdoms. All they had was a clear 'Lakshya', and they got to it. Yes, Rajyavardhan Rathore won a silver, but how much of that contribution came from the system?

Is their hope? Not right now. I am sad and angry at these results. Ask this question again after a few months, and my optimism may bounce back .... till then, keep limping!!!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Achingly perfect

Are there memories that are so achingly perfect that one dare not touch them, for fear or rendering them impure? Are there moments when one feels lost for the right words to express a feeling? What does one do with them? Does one dare spell them out to give some form to that sensation that these memories evoke, while risking their trivialization.

Avi's blog entry has brought the same issue before me. Rock Beach ... that place so close to my house, that place so close to my heart. I don't remember the first time I, Sushil, Avi and Sachin frequented that place. But the attraction was immediate and the effect was permanent. We were hooked to the place. Come to think off it, what was really so special about that place? Just a few rocks lining a rather vocal stretch of sea. Exactly what you would see in a million different places. Come to think of it, don't people worship idols ... which are well, stones at the end of a day.

The rock beach was our own piece of stone, where we carved our memories and strengthened the bonds of our friendship. How many evenings would start with a phone call to either Avinash or Sachin or Sushil, 'Let's meet in 10 min at the Four Bungalows signal' ... Sachin, Avi and I would gather and walk towards the next rendezvous point where Sushil would be just about on time (a 10 minute delay was mandatory for him :-)) We'd walk in those chappals that were the norm for us in those days, wearing not our fancy track suits, but those jeans, trousers, formal shirts, the works that we never cared about during the four years of engineering.

The conversation would commence and reach its zenith when we would hear the first whispers of the waves as we entered the rock beach through that narrow entrance. We'd walk a bit and settle down on a rock. Each of us responded to the sea differently, and the response varied everyday. On days, I would be a little quite and enjoy the salty breeze. On days, Sushil would be introspective while Avinash and I carried out an engaging debate on a current affairs issue. Of course, very rarely would the day end without a mention of girls. How can you pass from an age of 17-21 and not mention that? What a phase it was ... no cares, no worries. The irony was that we'd actually think that we were approaching life with a major philosophical bent of mind. How often have I given Sushil 'deep fundas' on females, studies, relationships, as if I had it all figured out. The best part would be waiting till the sun set on us, as if asking us to retire for the day. We'd retire alright, walk back to Seven Bungalows, pick a car to lean against, and admire all the good-looking females that would walk by :-)

We went there .... day in, day out, for years, right till the end of my stay in India. Of course, Sachin had joined IIT before that, and we were reduced to three. But there weren't too many weekends when he'd come back and we wouldn't go to the joint together.

Now, it is all over. As I sit here in my apartment, typing out this post, I wonder ... is this change for real? After all, it has been just 4 years. Has my life changed so much that my past seems so dissociated? So different? Why do I feel as if I am talking about a different age, a different world, a different life? Change is inevitable, I know that. Why am I not at terms with it? Why this ache, this longing for the times gone by. What would I not give up right now to be back there, right at 6 in the evening, with my three friends? Perhaps everything, perhaps nothing. Maybe this loss is worth it. For I have got something priceless out of it ... a memory that can never be tarnished, a writing in the sand that no tide will erase ... perfect, achingly perfect.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Early morning quota of browsing

Mornings in Bombay were good. My father would habitually and diligently read the newspaper each morning over a cup of coffee, and I picked up the habit from him. Of course, our "pattern" of reading the paper was different. I'd start from the last ... the sports page. After that came the cartoons, then the headlines, news about the city, and the editorial. Somehow, news about the business world would not excite me as much. Of course, all of this was to be had with a cup (and I must add the saucer here) of refreshing coffee that my Mom would make. Wonderful start to the day.

Things changed once I got here to the US. Firstly, we never got any newspaper here. They seemed expensive and redundant when I was a student. The coverage in the local newspapers is hardly worth reading, and the sports page is a major disappointment (what, no photo of Sachin!!! he just crossed 13000 runs!!!) Now that I have a PC at home, the newspaper has been replaced by my keyboard, and the coffee is still refreshing.

I have settled into a habit of checking a set of sites for 20-30 minutes each morning before I leave for work. I think I need to streamline it better. Maybe change the list a bit, try something new. I'd appreciate any suggestions on the same. So, here goes
-- TimesOfIndia (Yes, yes, it is a tabloid, but I have read their newspaper since I could read one)
-- Google News
-- New York Times
-- Mid-day (I need my dose of Mumbai-specific happenings)
-- Rediff (for news, movies, cricket)
-- Indiafm (my daily dose of Bollywood happenings)
-- Dilbert (daily dose of humor)
-- Slashdot (a brief glance into the geek world)
-- Cricinfo (there is always some cricket happening all around the world)

Do chime in and let me know if your list differs from mine

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Geeks take over nostalgia

I was reading this article today morning. A Bayesian walk down memory lane isn't exactly the thrillride I expect when I hark back to the old days. Lets be practical though. They (the scientists out there) made a science out of dreams, they are making an effort to uncover how the brain works to the minutest details ... the romantics are being ignored entirely. Someday you will no longer be troubled with trying to memorize anything. You'd end up 'downloading' your journey through the day, your thoughts, ideas etc. onto a seemingly endless capacity hard drive.

Do I like it? Is it really the best thing to happen? I think I am ambivalent about it. How often have I forgotten names/places/faces/events that I'd love to remember and recall. I can either attribute it to bad memory or lack of attention. On the other hand, when I do recollect something out of the blue, it does bring a smile to my face. The moment when the recollection hits me is worth cherishing.

Aah well ..... too much psychobabble for a day.

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Magic of Abida Parveen

My Abida Parveen collection is growing, and I am thrilled about it. About a year back, I chanced upon the music album 'Faiz By Abida' online. It blew me away. Her full-throated voice, he style of singing with gay abandon (khuli-gayaki) was mind-blowing. Her voice reaches out and touches you in ways you do not expect it to. Added 'Mere Dil Se' to my collection after that. Now, I also have a 2-CD collection of her ghazals and another album titled 'Heer' with foreword by Gulzar.

Of course, she is predominantly a Sufi singer. However, I am not that inclined towards 'Dum Mast Kalandar' and the ilk. Ghazals make me stop everything I am doing and pay rapt attention :-)

P.S > She deserved a better debut than the one she got in 'Baghbaan' as far as Hindi movies go


As if to justify my mentioning lack of sleep as a worthwhile point in my profile, Insomnia has visited me three nights in a row now. Some people need less sleep. That is just the way their body is conditioned. I wouldn't mind having that condition, as long as I don't feel sleep-deprived the next morning. Without my morning cup of coffee and necessary 'awakeness' for driving my car, I would still be trying to shrug off the sleep when I get to work. Thankfully, the effects of insomnia don't spill onto my productivity at work. Just gives me 30 minutes or irritable behavior in the morning (and of course the secret wish that I would get some more sleep). Of course, it does not help that I am a light sleeper. Can't sleep if the TV is on, or the lights are burning bright or simply that people are talking around me.

I guess the bright side is that I have the opportunity to catch up on writing my blog :-)

Thursday, August 05, 2004

In search of a good blog name

Its a stumbling block. It really is. I have spent time trying to think of really interesting blog names that either
a. are really witty and funny
b. summarize in a few words what my blog is above
c. a combination of both
d. any original interesting-sounding phrase that I like.

These are some that crossed my mind.
1. Ciruclar circle
2. Sleep less in Seattle
3. Punnishment
4. Life etc
5. Binary reflections
6. Cogent Cogitations
7. Blog meets world
8. Papyrus leaves

The quest continues ...

What are the odds?

The famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti's last name has always seemed funny to me. Pav and Roti together, he really must love bread. I found out today that he really is the son of a baker!!!!! Off coincidences and more ......

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Taking the plunge

Finally. After months of procrastination based on my inability to agree upon a title for the blog, here it is. The blog, that is. There is a title too, but it isn't witty by any means. How long could I have continued without doing this? The "Shoot for the moon" theory wasn't working for me. This is much better. I have decided not to fly to the moon. I will jump off the table and land on my two feet on my carpetted floor. Lets see where the baby steps lead.