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