Thursday, December 21, 2006

Deathly Halo?

Today morning, I woke up to an extremely important piece of news. The title of the seventh and final Harry Potter novel has been announced as 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'. That is bloody brilliant, as Ron might exclaim, but I do have some questions and comments on the same.

1. Harry must die?
The title is sinister. Is that a setup for Harry Potter to die? I think not. Keeping up with her tradition of bumping off characters in the past few books, I think she'd need book 8 to do so. Reason: people being killed are getting closer layer by layer to Harry. However, Harry's inner circle is Ron and Hermoine and neither of them have been bumped off. By Hindi movie logic, I'd have to bump either of them before bumping off Harry.

2. No change in title?
You mean, the title doesn't change in the US? No hyphenations and word-susbtitutions? Didn't they misspell Halo? They are going to regret this.

3. Horror-cruxed
I have lost count. How many did he have? How many did he need? Is one within Harry? Is that the key to the series? It reminds me of air hockey games. Whoever gets to seven wins first.

4. Hogwash
No school this year for Harry. I bet all that he did in six was to make sure he didn't have to go back to school to slog it out. I mean, I understand. We all remember our twelth exams, don't we?

5. Main tera unicorn juice pee jaoonga
What Harry needs is a little bit of Dharam Paaji! I see him straining his sinews and simmering in anger when everyone around him drops dead, presumably because of him. But he ain't intimidating Voldermort that way. Maybe even Sunny's roar will work better than the Patronus charm when it comes to Dementors.

6. Return of the he-who-must-not-be-named
I am not talking about Voldermort (don't gasp). I am talking of the character who had a mysterious demise at the end of the sixth book. For fear of spoiling anyone's suspense, I shall not reveal the name of that character. Needless to say, he will rise from the ashes.

7. Let me tell you how the book ends
It ends with the word "car". I think. I remember reading it somewhere. Or did one crazy fan tell me? Experts, tell me. Oh, and yes, Voldermort will be dead. Rowling will be filthy rich and will buy Tunisia or Manchester United, whichever is on a deal. She won't write anything for the next few years. Her next book will be about Muggles and will have wizards who don't know of their existence.

Your thoughts requested. By comments on the blog. Don't howler with an owl-er.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Gone With The Wind

What happens when winds blowing upto 80 mph lash against a region full of tall trees? The question was answered this weekend when the worst windstorm in more than a decade knocked out power to more than 1.5 million homes and businesses. It all started Thursday evening when the winds started picking up and in a couple of hours of madness, the Pacific Northwest was blown away, literally. We struggled home late night on Thursday through pitch darkness and debris of trees all over the place. Oh, I forgot to mention the temperature. Hovering around the low 30s or around 0 degrees in Celcius, it can be classified as a temperature you don’t want to have when the heating in the house does not work. Thursday night was a throwback to all the Ramsay movies where the bhoots and the shaitans and Kaali maa all need noisy winds to surround them as they do their supernatural deeds. The sounds were loud and it was tough to concentrate on sleeping when you heard what you thought was a tree breaking. By next morning, we woke up groggy eyed to a calmer day with no power still and mobile phones non-operational due to lack of signal. Calls from the landline to friends brought in news of horror stories. A huge tree lying in the middle of a cul-de-sac, a house saved by a chimney that bore the brunt of a coniferous tree that would have otherwise split the house in two. With no internet connection at home and the house beginning to get colder, we headed to work in the hope that things would be better here. The drive to work gave a good idea of the carnage with trees lying across the road, hanging precariously on the power lines. Work was a disappointment as there was only basic power available. Internet was down, so were the cafeterias. After scratching around for a few hours, we headed home. It isn’t a lot of fun driving through areas with a lot of traffic lights and each one prompting a stop and go from every single car. What made it worse was the roads blocked all over the place and the circuitous routes we had to take to get home. To complete an 11 mile distance, we had to drive 30 miles over two hours, while thinking of food all the time. To our advantage, our house has gas cooking ranges and a gas fireplace. That opened the possibility of food being cooked and all our friends converged at our place to kick off a weekend of great company and a discovery of ways to keep one entertained when there is no light after four in the afternoon. When night descended, the sight of eight adults huddled in a line next to the gas fireplace, in an attempt to sleep with a hint of warmth was mildly amusing. The next day saw us heading out to areas that we knew had power and spend time in malls and restaurants to stay warm. The highlight of the day was heading back to office and playing cards in a conference room and spending time watching pictures of new trips and old weddings. Going back home at three in the night brought the full impact of the black-out to us and the house greeted us with extreme chill as whatever heat the house had retained earlier was lost. It took until 1 pm on Sunday, after three nights and two days of frustration that power finally returned. The banal sounds of television sounded sweet, not having to wear a sweater inside the house felt great and being able to use the microwave seemed like a blessing.

The experience was instructive. You almost take for granted that a first world country should be able to handle disasters more efficiently. But this was a major letdown. Three days without power? We know friends with little kids who had to check into hotels in Seattle. I can only imagine the plight of the victims of Katrina. It also goes to emphasize that hours spent in India without electricity were a piece of cake compared to this. Life is back to normal today, and I am thankful for that. The one thing that I was desperate to know in all the three days of not having internet access: what’s the score in the Test match? The desperation was well rewarded.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Death Wish

It happened on the thirty-fifth day of summer
A rosebud came to life, albeit stealthily
Propped by thorns, bent by its weight
It blossomed, sheltering dew on its red petals

Sixty five hours of its exuberant life
Brought along a sinking feeling of death
As a petal broke slowly, and slid to the ground

Panicking, it bloomed bright and fragrant
And called out to everyone who looked at it
Save me, from being forgotten

Three boys ran past it, so did some retired gentlemen
And none touched the rose
In due reverence of the sign, “Don’t pluck”,

It was left to a bloke reading poetry.
Stumbling along the path, he absent-mindedly
plucked the rose and spread its petals,

to bookmark a poem titled, ‘An immortal rose’

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Discovery

Come, sit with me:
See the snow skate down
The trees, and the rooftops.
Secrets hidden behind a veil of white.

Come, listen to me:
Forget that you know what lies beneath.
Forget that life has no treasures.
Forget that truth is cynical.

Come, watch with me:
The suspense lifting off that heavy leaf,
Like wide-eyed kids with expectant faces,
Snow unwrapping a gift for you

Monday, November 27, 2006

2 hr 11 min 35 sec

I have completed the first half-marathon of my life. Through the blisters on my feet and the extreme pain in the knees while climbing down stairs and the walk of a geriatric; the unchanging, invariate and triumphant news is that I prevailed and completed the Seattle half-marathon in the aforementioned time.

Some highlights of the race:
1. Made infinitely worse the by the one thing you definitely don't want to see the morning of a marathon, especially when it happens once a year in Seattle: snow!!
2. Made fractionally easier and more irritating by the rain that the snow trascended into and which remained from the start of the race to the end. Made tougher by the fact that there are uphills and more uphills in the course making it tough tough tough. A stretch of flat land was like an oasis in a desert.
3. Made interesting by the 7000 people who ran and warmed up the place by their competitiveness and enthusiasm. At no stage of the race was I running alone. There was a crowd to wade through and I was grateful for that.
4. Made uplifiting by people who came out on the streets to cheer the runners through the cold. The best exhorting statement came from the lady who said:"This run is your bitch" :-)
5. Made possible by the mad rush I had in the last three miles, which were run on pure adrenalin and reserves of energy I did not know existed. In the last mile, I gave it everything I had and overtook 30-40 people. Discovered that pain has its own beauty and is as pure as love can be. Through the excruciating pain came the urge to overcome it and get to the finish line as soon as I could.
6. Made quirkier by thoughts like: this is easy; there are only 5 miles to go; what about a full marathon?
7. Made beautiful by running by the waterfront and through different vistas from which the beauty of Seattle was revealed. Passed by the house of Cobain and wondered why he would need to kill himself when he could be running up and down the stretch all the time.
8. Made raising my arms at the finishing line a very deserving and satisfying action. Then the arms fell down to the ground and so did I.

There I have it: my first prize in athletics in my life, a medal for completing the race, the tag of being a half-marathoner.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Rounding Up The Usual Suspects

I was late on posting my review of Casino Royale. There was so much to say about the Bond movie and my experiences as a Bond fan while growing up, but I just lost the enthusiasm to go ahead with that after reading a few other blog posts on the same. Clearly, being first to market has its advantage. Nonetheless, here are some things that come to my mind right now which I haven't read about recently in other blogs, so here goes:

1. Dhoom again?
I saw the D2 movie first day first show today (ya, baby - Thursday 3 pm show). I actually thought it was decent. Hrithik stole the thunder, and made Abhishek look inept in the looks, dance and fights department. The women in the movie were a study in contrast too, with Aishwarya 'like' (you'll get this joke when you see the move) getting to the nerves. At least, Bipasha mainly concentrated on looking good, and did well at that. The story had not much to offer and one could see traces of Ocean's twelve and Bourne identity. The music was a step down from the original Dhoom. I actually thought that the background music too could have been used better. The action was neat in parts, and Hrithik's get ups were pretty cool. Aah, and one more point: the last bastion of Indian conversatism in movies fell. Aishwarya kissed!! After going on in interviews and articles about how Indians don't kiss and she won't kiss, she went ahead anyway (for those willing to debate, the kiss in kyon ho gaya na was a camera trick). Is this the setup for the Hollywood career? In any case, she couldn't pull off all the skimpy clothes in her quota. Desi clothes for her please.

2. Guru no more?
Dil Se was the seminal work of Rehman. I didn't think highly of the music of Roja (again, debaters welcome) and the music of Bombay was also not the making of Rehman (kuchi kuchi rakkama brought it down). Dil Se was pathbreaking, in the sounds and the compositions and the moods. And a big big factor were the lyrics, by Gulzar. After Saathiya being another fine hit, I was waiting to see how they'd team up here. Results are mixed and I am suffering for my own high expectations. The one song that stays in the head though is Ai Hairat-e-aashiqui. The album, as one reviewer mentioned, is typical Rehman. Jaage Hain reminds me of the same music arrangement as So gaye hain from Zubeida. There are numerous such similarities that can be pointed out. Yet, good music overall. Just not what I was looking for. On a side note, what is Gulzar upto? I still can't get over his trite lyrics: "mom maani nahin, dad naraaz tha" from Jaan-e-man. I was dying to get hold of the new Jaggu-Gulzar album online and when I did, I really wasn't impacted as much. Is it just too much to ask for repeat successes?

3. Prote-ass?
We got a drubbing in the first ODI. All out for 91. It really shouldn't have come as a surprise. The problem isn't that we are a good team. I think we are off on our selection lately. It happened in champions trophy and it has happened again. No surprise that barring Tendulkar and to an extent Dravid, no one really settled in. Tendulkar has now been warned. At the fag end of their careers, the Lara vs. Tendulkar battle is in full flow. Lara has thrown the gauntlet, and Tendulkar has to respond. Ponting will in due time overtake them both. It does look very possible the way he is batting right now. But Ponting is just a great batsman, not a genius. Plus, he doesn't have to face the Australian attack :-) I am looking forward to some significant contributions from Tendulkar for the rest of this trip, and of course the world cup.

4. No inheritance lost?
I got a chance to read the Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. I booked it in the library the day the news of her Booker victory came out, and so didn't have to wait too long to get it. I liked the book. At least more than I did reading Arundhati Roy's work. I like her sense of prose, and the insights that pop out of her writing on an average once every chapter. On the flipside, can't Indian authors provide anything other than immigrant stories? How about a story set in Texas with cowboys and no trace of Asians?

5. Maha-thorn?
Some of you may have read a blog post long ago about running a 5 mile race. I had hinted at the possibility of madness taking over and considering running a half-marathon. 13.1 miles of it. Well, I am happy to tell you that I have gone insane, at least in that matter. I am gunning for this run this weekend. Been training for it for a month or more, and while not complete in my preparations, am willing to bet limb and well, more limbs for it. Look at the bright side. They give you a medal for just finishing the race :-) Look at the flip side. That's the distance from Andheri to Churchgate if I were to run on the railway tracks. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Protagonist

The city is me, he thought, and nodded as if affirming that thought. Vibrant yet composed, changing yet constant, and occasionally man enough to live upto the accusations that fly its way. There’s also something about that glass of smoothie he just drank. Something about looking askance and slurping the last two sips, even though there would be a noise that could not be kept down. There’s something about the smile at that little triumph, an act so public, a thought so private. As the face contorts with wrinkles, the smile still remains. The same smile, he reminisced, that came to him when finishing up the cream on the biscuit and throwing the rest away. And never getting caught. Triumph. He jogged through the rain with that little smile of his. Next to him on the bus, someone was carrying ‘The brief history of time’. What about the protracted histories of mankind, he thought? The million universes that exist simultaneously within each second? Like a star born, to die. What about them? What about the little triumphs, and the smiles and the strange sensations that would fill up those universes? What about the music we create and the songs we write, all contributing to the symphony that would never be heard? Every man is a universe by himself. Every man's life is a full length stage production, with all the drama and the music and the tragedy that Shakespeare could never imagine. This is a blockbuster that unfurls every second. And you are a part of it. You are a part of my drama, pretending not to follow the plot at times. But there you are, reading a book next to me, staring out the window, cajoling your kid, eyeing the pretty girl next to you. Your life is a subplot of mine. Look, we even have theories like six degrees of separation to give you hints that in fact, we are connected. So, thank you for playing your part, even though I can’t tell you in as many words and you will never understand if I did. The smile plastered to his face, the superstar got up and exited the bus to a downpour. Life is one long ‘take’, he thought, till the director gives the command to ‘cut’ the scene. In that moment that he saw the whole universe revolve around him, he spread his arms and let the drops envelope him, sheathing him in reflections and refractions. A spotlight, if there was one. Then, with a mix of humility and pride, he bowed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Air-born?

The voices sound altered
Like in the commercials
A bit too happy, a bit too loud
Resonating to a constant hum

A child wails in his mother’s arm
Solitaire being played on a work laptop

Plastic smiles on the face of the hostess
A Sudoku puzzle someone abandoned midway

The microcosm travels with its inmates
On two wings and jet fuel
Six hundred and thirty eight
Frequent flier miles away

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Same-pose-ium?





So, its not utterly accurate. But I saw the Umrao Jaan photo (latter) and somehow it reminded me of the Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam poster (former). Photos courtesy the two sites who have their names spread all over them. Thought I should blog the useless noting of coincidence. More useful would be a blog that has all my favorite Aishwarya Rai posters. At least she can't giggle incessantly in photographs :-)

The music for the movie is out and the movie is a week away from release. I like the music. Its not bad, but Anu Malik has let himself down. Most compositions are inspired by songs I have heard before and Alka is not Asha. Anu Malik had a great chance to outdo his work in Refugee, but he has missed the bus. Yet, it remains one of the better music scores of a year filled with dissapointing music overall.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Truth Is Out There

Shipped it! Internet Explorer 7 is out the door, and I am mighty thrilled. Worked on the product since its inception to delivery and its been a fun and challenging ride. If you are a Microsoft-basher, or inclined to go for other products simply because they are non-Microsoft, this blog ain't the place today. Today's the day to bask and relax for me.

You can download it from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx The site does a good job of explaining the new goodness we have brought to the browser, but I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Maybe you can install IE 7 and use it to subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog. :-) Note that I don't generally talk about my work, and this is an exception. I considered it reason enough. The next such post that comes out will happen when Vista ships. I felt it necessary to post this because it is easy to lose sight of the impact that your work can have. Without a browser, you'd be surfing your hard drive :-) In case of the product I work on, that'd be most people on the planet who surf the internet.

Go IE!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ekta Kapoor For President

I have been on the wagon as far as Indian channels is concerned for the past few months. My parents came to visit me and gave the perfect excuse to get Zee TV and Sony TV back on my viewing radar (no Star TV here). From the brilliant news that Zee TV produces (every news item starts and ends with, ‘wahaan ka mahaul kaisa hai?’) to the ads of Ajmeri Baba and Peer Syed Sahib that promise to end my life’s problems in 72 hours, or my money back, these channels bring a different world to my living room. Don’t get me wrong. I am more desi than pardesi. I read at least four Indian newspapers every day, I watch practically all the movies that are released, I hear more music than most people would spend time on, but television has always been out of scope. Every visit to India though is punctuated with a day or two spent in watching everything that my Mom watches (I have seen Indian men scurry out of the room when Kyonki … starts). I believe Ekta Kapoor must be one of the most influential people of our generation. Flash-forwards, flash-backwards, her serials are larger than movies. Almost like an entire nation is hypnotized.

The serials are absolutely brilliant and very enjoyable if you watch it with the right frame of mind. Sample this. In ‘Kasamh Se’ (no, I didn’t misspell it), the heroine Baani (Ekta Kapoor’s favorite 18 year old Prachi Desai) has just seen her husband, whom she calls Mr. Walia for the entire length of the serial that I have followed, possibly shoot someone. The person with the revolver in his hand has his back to her and when he turns around and turns out to be Mr. Walia, the camera comes crashing down. Not only crashing down, it does about 15 different movements, ranging from left-right, right-left to south-west->south-east. Every jerk is emphasized by an absolutely blank look from Baani (no, she isn’t acting, that is exactly how she looks in every scene) and a whooshy music score. After about a minute of all the camera movements, the dialog starts. There’s disbelief, sindoor and bewafaai thrown in the picture. Mr. Walia tries hard to convince her he is innocent, but she refuses to believe him. And then, the twist. Mr. Walia tells his wife, ”Hilna Mat”. Turns out she has strategically placed herself over a time bomb. If she moves, the bomb explodes now, else it will explode in six minutes anyway. The bland faced heroine balks, then quizzes her husband about a secret, something that happened six years ago, that he never confessed. She says that while she is on her way up, at least she should go with that knowledge. Noble. Nobler Mr. Walia instead pushes her off in one swift motion steps on the plate-bomb, thus maintaining the pre-condition that the bad lighting on the set has to be focused on someone, also ensuring that the bomb does not explode. At least not for the next four minutes. I am on the edge of my sofa now. What next? Mr. Walia, who thinks that acting means blinking in slow motion, then starts a monologue. “I want to tell you what happened six years ago. I want to get it off my chest while I have …. (then stares down) three minutes left”. By now, I am ready to throw the pillow on the TV. What happened next made me throw myself at the TV. A song started. A full fledged song. From Kalyug “Jiya dhadak dhadak jaye”. For God’s sake Mr. Walia, you have only .. (I looked at MY watch) three minutes left before today’s episode ends. But the song continues. The wind keeps blowing, the camera moves in slow motion focusing on the two actors. Sanguine, relaxed, they have obviously forgotten that they have limited time, a six-year old secret to share and a bomb to diffuse. And then, the song ends. Mr. Walia looks like he is going to talk. My salvation is near. He will tell his secret and my life can go on. And he starts:”Bani”. And the credits roll. Someone died that evening. It was probably me.

Postscript: I never found out the secret or how Mr. Walia escaped the bomb. I led my hollow existence, away from the vagaries and struggles of their lives. But I have caught up a few episodes later. I would like to reassure everyone that they are safe and sound, and apparently divorcing each other. Kasamh Se, no life without desi TV. I can barely thank Ekta Kapoor for the great television she brings into our lives. Come to think of it, I don’t even see her flagship serials on Star TV. Ekta ji, well done. Just make sure Mr. Walia spills the beans sometime. Even if the serial jumps thirty years.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rain In Spain

Who said Zeus is dead?
Watch him, wave his hand
Over the planet and command
Sun, clouds, showers, snow


And speak with foreboding

The west shall drench, the east shall freeze
And the south, I bless you with sunshine


Who said Zeus is dead?
He who knows the weather a week in advance
And prophesizes in front of a green screen
Adjusting his tie and beaming his smile

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A New Normal

I exit out the door
and look up, you know, like Sachin
when he enters the ground
at the heavens, examining, absorbing
sunlight, or the beaming halogens

Anyway, I look up and find
very few beams of sunshine
Gray, dark, low-hanging clouds
splatter my spectacles with shards of water

I quicken my step
to my destination, across the campus
constructing my frown
and folding my hands

Ten steps into the walk,
the frown dissolves into a smile
as hints of my favorite season
show up all around me
from a distant land

Another ten steps and a new instinct:
I tug at my jacket
and almost pull the zip up
but resist (freeze unless you absolutely can't take it)

The weather though has made its point
Winter is upon us.
Let the sunshine within prevail.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bombay Dreams

I finally saw the Broadway musical on a non-broadway street in Seattle (the company is touring the city for 20 odd days). I found the show fairly enjoyable, once you are prepared to overlook the terrible clichés. What's the deal with untouchables in slums and kissing in Hindi movies and the other pre-historic notions that are sprayed across the production with gay abandon? Aah, but we are catering to a Western audience. Silly of me. A little criticism of India and Mumbai and the workings of the Indian film industry is ok, but the insinuations are pointless at times. The best part and the saving grace was the music. It was fun to hear all the known compositions being done in a live format. The percussionists especially were excellent. Overall, worth a watch for the fancy and the energy and the music and choreography, but I hope they follow it up with a more realistic depiction of India.

P.S> Been trying to upload a poster of Bombay Dreams, but it keeps bailing on me. Shall try again later. Till then, here's the link

Friday, September 01, 2006

Homo Erectus

Those tender limbs: All grace, no stability
Seven hundred and thirty days into his life
Crawling on all fours was his only independence

Held each step by his parents
The center of all attraction
Needing a good center of gravity

And then it happened one day
He got up and didn’t fall down

Standing on his own feet
For a period greater than two seconds,
He announced

His foray into human society
His first nod towards success
His first step towards failure
Himself

Slower than his steps
Slower than his bemusement
Came shock, to his parents
Then realization

Overwhelmed, excited, perplexed
They watched the kid with his outstretched arms
Waiting to be lifted, to be celebrated

They scuttled, as if escaping bombs
One for the camera, one for the video recorder
Leaving behind

A pair of outstretched arms
And a little boy collapsing on the ground
Down on all fours


P.S> I saw this happen in real life. The only twist here is my interpretation. Just read it, don’t read too much into it.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Legocy

I'd reckon most kids in middle class background who have had a relative/neighbour/acquaintance visit 'phoren' sometime around the time I was a kid has a 20% chance of having played with Lego sets. I remember my first (and only) Lego set. Our neighboring uncle had visited Australia and had brought back a Lego set for me. This one involved an American astronaut and a moon rover. Marveling at the preciseness and alienness of the small structures, I spent hours creating and recreating them (my other favorite was playing with ‘Hot Wheels’ cars). Eons have passed since. Playing with Lego seems like a thing of the past, and the only set of Hot Wheels are on my 2003 Passat. Just when I had forgotten the phenomenon, a colleague at work popped up one day with a constructed Lego set. A full blown adult with a full blown Lego set. And here’s the bright part: he designed it himself. You can take basic lego parts and construct your design online or buy someone else’s design. Apparently, Lego has moved forward while I have gone nowhere in that world. One look at the Lego site told me how out of touch I was. Gone are the US astronauts. Now you have everything from Batman to Harry Potter to Star Wars. I think that’s smart progress. In the age of the Nintendo DS and other handheld games, you have to work extra hard to maintain your clientele. Anyone else with a Lego story to share or am I the only one here?

P.S> The music of ‘Don’ is out. Anyone familiar with old movie will appreciate the subtleties including the use of the theme music in the title song. Heard it a couple of times. Hasn’t caught on fully yet, but I am sure it will. D2 music should be coming out soon too, followed by Salaam-e-ishq and Umrao Jaan and Guru among others. Can’t remember any recent year with so many big budget movies cramped together.

Friday, August 25, 2006

While the world churned

Well, it actually turned too, but the dynamism of this planet is enthralling. Here’s a summary of what’s happening around the world recently that immediately comes to my pop-culturish, politically churlish and sportingly bent mind.

1. No Paris for Parsis
Actually, no Paris for any Indians living in India. Paris Hilton’s debut album was to be promoted with a video for the song ‘Stars are blind’. But it has been banned in India for being too racy. India, rejoice. You have been saved. There is no escaping Paris ‘That's hot’ Hilton here, but this is a blessing in disguise. You don’t have to hear Paris sing. Your tragedy is to keep watching Rakhi Sawant. By the way, I have seen the banned video and Rakhi Sawant might just beat Paris Hilton hands down in raciness. Perhaps, someone on the censor board dislikes Paris Hilton for all the right reasons too.

2. Pluto planet na rahaa
Pluto has been demoted. From the big boys club to the dwarfs ensemble. The emasculated little fellow is now going to be called a dwarf planet. There are several thrills people are getting out of this. One friend referred to the event with the exclamation: “Now there is no planet left discovered by an American”. Imagine what this changes: navagrahas are ashtagrahas now. The ninth rock from the sun has rocked the third rock from the sun

3. North by North-West
Brown is the color of paranoia, especially if it happens to be on your skin. Perhaps the terrorists have already won. One plane diversion a week is a victory for the schism driving scum. A Northwest flight to Mumbai was diverted back to Amsterdam on suspicious behavior by some passengers. The passengers were Indians and were treated very badly. The Dutch government has issued an apology. Not a good time to be a brown man. Pertinent question raised by someone in an article I read someplace: “What if the twelve people were Europeans?”. Really, what if?

4. Are we there yet?
The South African cricket team ran home. There’s no other way to describe it. Perhaps the previous point and this one is tied in. What is it about teams like NZ, Aus, England and SA and their willingness to take the first flight home even when a firecracker is burst? This particular exit pissed me off no end. LTTE has not targeted foreigners, the SA team was given presidential level of security, the other two teams were willing to stay back. I am sorry, but they are wrong. The game has been skewed for the past century, with the sub-contintental teams and management has always suffered from an inferiority complex. They are ever willing to listen to their colonial masters, bend over backwards, allowed to be treated as some sort of undecipherable threat that they will always be vary about. This has to change. We control the game today. I may dislike Dalmiya for a lot of reasons, but I like the fact that he has brought about the balance of power. Penalize SA, don’t bring them to the subcontinent henceforth. Let them learn a lesson on being a decent cricketing citizen. For they are not.

5. Hair-rising issue
While I am sufficiently upset, let me go all the way. This post is turning out to be a comment on the clash of civilizations. This example perhaps the most fitting. Darrell ‘no-ball’ Hair, the man who declared that the Pakistanis had tampered the ball without providing adequate proof, the man who deliberately handled the situation harshly even though he could have done otherwise, has finally told ICC: give me $500k and I shall leave. Brilliant. This episode was a classic case of rant no. 4 showing up in a repressed sub-continental team. When the two W’s invented the reverse swing in the early 90’s, they were labeled cheats. The fact that they were from a sub-contintental team and the accusations came from the fair-skinned masters gave it legitimacy. A decade down the line, nothing has changed. Maybe the Pakistanis did actually tamper the ball. But they have been labeled guilty even without a trial. In the minds of people. Inzi over-reacted, yes. But what caused the over-reaction? The pent up feeling of being run down and being targeted because of past history. Perhaps both Inzi and Hair will be punished. Perhaps Hair did what he had to do. But my sympathies cannot lie with him. There’s too much history to reckon with. Mike Denness anyone?

Ok, agitated rant over. Taking deep breaths. Ok, here’s a moderate level rant to finish it off.

6. Yun hota to kya hota
Naseerudin Shah is a fine actor. Given. What he has is an attitude problem where he keeps blasting Bollywood produce. All the time. He still acts in it, but keeps calling it crap. What next? He gets a chance to prove that he can make the ‘non-trash’ by directing a movie himself. So he makes Yun Hota to Kya Hota. A movie technique about strangers in a common situation: tried before. The treatment is fair, and I wouldn’t call this movie crap, I like it in parts. But then I am just a poor Bollywood movie fanatic. My tolerance is much higher than Mr. Shah. Back to the movie: this is a plot that he has mangled so badly that the script writer has an open letter on his website to Naseer asking him to take his name off because the script is no longer his. Read here. Sorry Naseer bhai, walk the line, or keep your comments in check. You did act in movies like Daava and Takkar.

Finally. Done. Zen-like work shall follow.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Aahista Aahista

Yesterday, I heard one of my all time favorite ghazals after a while. This is a ghazal sung by Jagjit Singh and written by Ameer Minai. Jagjit Singh sang this in his album called ‘Unforgettables’, which he released with Chitra Singh in the year 1975. This was the first album that broke away from the traditional mould and used modern instruments in conjunction with traditional instruments, something that would become part of Jagjit’s style over the years. In my opinion, this is the among the best ghazal albums that Jagjit has come up with (others like A Sound Affair and Milestone would also qualify). Jagjit elevates the lyrics to a different level by his rendition. You can find it here. The rhythm of the song, the slight hint of echo in the recording and the simplicity of the lyrics adds to its brilliance. Enough said, here are the lyrics

Sarakti jaaye hain rukh se naqaab aahista aahista
Nikalta aa raha hai aaftaab aahista aahista
[rukh=face, naqaab=veil, aaftaab=sun]

Jawaan hone lage jab woh to humse kar liya parda
Hayaa yaklakht aaee aur shabaab aahista aahista
[hayaa=shyness, yaklakht = suddenly, shabaab=youth]

Shab-e-furqat ka jaaga hoon faristhon ab to sone do
Kabhi fursat mein kar lena hisaab aahista aahista
[furqat=separation]

Woh bedardi se sar kaate 'ameer' aur main kahoon unse
Huzoor aahista aahista janaab aahista aahista

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Vignette

The second cube of ice clinked in the glass
As the host returned to his chair with a smile
"Where were we?", his friend inquired,
"Suzy", the host added, with a glint in his eye

"Aah Suzy", said the friend, returning his smile
The story started, more cobwebs cleared
He squinted the eyes of his mind
Trying to remember, Suzy's slaying smile

And it slew them both in its deadly wake
Fierce jealousy arose amidst tender crush
As friends in life became enemies in love
Alas the contingencies of reckless fate

The memories laughed as two friends reminisced
Their misbehaved proposals, Suzy's dignified rejection
As they relived the bitter sweet follies of youth
From their present joined a single word: "Cheers!"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Distress of Prices

I live in far far away land. Tucked in the northwest corner of the United States of America, I cling onto my "roots" (refer SD's treatise on postmodernism for details) in the most obvious ways. I play cricket with other Indians, watch Hindi movies, the occasional TV serials, ponder on my five-year plan(for that, refer to my theorem). At the end of the day, the biggest and brightest and most earnest connection is food. My wife is an excellent cook and does wonders in the kitchen conjuring delicious Indian dishes along with other cuisines. The raw material is duly supplied by the Indian grocery store. Its probably ironic that working for a company that is often accused of monopoly, I feel a similar passion towards the Indian store. As Gabbar would ask: "kitne aadmi the?" to which hi dutiful sidekick would have to reply "dus hazaar". "Aur Indian stores kitni?". "Sardar, ek". "Bahut na insaafi hai".

Gabbar's empathy is to be expected. Contending with their huge profit margins, buying ketchups and later realizing that their expiry date is October 2003, never finding the same product twice, buying vegetables staler than the jokes on Mind of Mencia, Gabbar knows a thing or two about tyranny when he sees it. The last straw hit me in the face very recently. There is a shortage of daal in this country owing to the banning of the exports of daal by the Indian government. Fair enough, if the justification is to curtail inflation in India. Far-fetched, but the concern of Indians should be considered before those of NRIs. I am ok with that. What I am not ok with is two aunties in the said Indian store ganging up to inquire whether I read news about India and know about the daal shortage. On the first day of the rationing that they passed onto the consumers, they put up some pink colored posters with instructions printed in font size 10 and put them up next to the daal counter on the store. The limit, it seems is four pounds per family. I didn't read it. It wasn't readable, it didn't catch my attention. Darn it, they should have something more prominent if they want customers to pay heed. Ever seen how many such posters they stick in Indian stores? Then the aunties chastise me for bringing more than four pounds. I inquired about the limit and was asked about my knowledge of current affairs in India. Respectfully restraining myself from uttering a dozen or so retorts in my mind, I dragged myself out of the store.

The incident still riles me up. If I need elderly chastising, there are legitimate reasons and people I can turn to. I feel like I am in line to get food in jail and the guy serving it is laughing the evil laugh. We are all prisoners here, of the Indian store's devise. Trapped, in prices, in monopoly, in substandard quality, in aunty-ly instincts, there is no escape. 'Jaayen to jaayen kahan?' 

Friday, August 04, 2006

Another one passes by

This is an easy post. Completed two years of this blog. This is for the faithfuls: the handful few who read and comment on the blog, and the others who read and tell me they follow my writings and the anonymous whose existence will be a mystery to me till they reveal themselves. Thank you. The words will keep coming and I will keep posting till you are around. When that stops, there's always the old diary one is meant to write in. Till the next post, so long and thanks for bearing the kitsch.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Runners Inc.

The three of them rushed towards me
A hurling mass of metal and body
I slowed down and watched in amazement
Mother, pram, dog
Burning up the sidewalk
In an undecipherable order
A mind-boggling conundrum
Who's running whom?

*******************************************************

There he sees it
Right past the bend
Just across the hill
Water, precious water

The limbs get strength
And the will awakens
As he rushes towards it
The mid-point of his marathon

*******************************************************

Sweat trickles to his shoulder
A smile breaks on his face
He watches people run past him
And wonders, why do they bother?
Then bites into his hamburger

*******************************************************

One small step for man
Doesn't count for much on the pedometer

Thursday, July 20, 2006

For Whom The Ringer Tolls

"I hate Ashish", she said, extracting another cringing expression from her mother. “All of 21 and no control over her tongue”, add her father with a cluck at the end for added measure. Mr. Prashant Dandekar had an amazing ability to comment on everything without contributing anything. He also managed to do that with the least amount of perturbation. His glasses perched low on his nose, his eyes fixed on the editorial of the Times of India, his universe seemingly perfect. His contribution to his life’s and wife’s troubles were wry comments, and if luck assisted, dry wit. Karuna Dandekar had no shortage of wit. Life’s hardships had set her up for failure and she responded to failure with alarmingly smart cynicism. She always likened her marriage to a blockbuster Hindi movie: it could be bad and still have a silver jubilee. In the middle of all this was their lone star (or black hole, as she called herself), their only child, Anoushka. Fire and water, wind and stillness, all rolled into one. Her smile could turn into a frown momentarily, a happy laughter followed by uncontrollable rage, Anoushka was a very volatile person emotionally. In the midst of the million emotions she felt, love came and overwhelmingly swept her off her feet one day. Actually, it was the torrential downpour that reigned on Bombay that forced Anoushka to be stranded on the road when all moving transport had come to a halt. With her cell phone batteries dead, her knight in shining armor came with his own shining blade, the new silver colored sleek Razr phone. She got through to her worried parents and spent the evening in the foyer of an apartment complex waiting for the waters to subside and chatting to no end with Ashish. Oh yes, the same Ashish she has declared she hates at the start of this story. Who is Ashish, you ask? He is our guy next door, if you had a two storeyed bungalow in JVPD Scheme with three cars, three servants and three dogs next door. Born, literally with a silver spoon, Ashish never had to struggle and was not apologetic about it. Like many rich kids who need a degree for degree’s sake and end up doing a B.A. or a B.Com, Ashish chose to do an engineering degree. Stuck in a storm with his Santro half submerged, Ashish noticed the a frowning yet beautiful face of a girl all but ready to break something in frustration soaking in the rain on that troubled day. The gizmo-freak walked up to her and offered her the new phone he had acquired, fresh of the market; grey market that is. As he watched her punch her home number into the phone and speak with her parents, he was filled with the overwhelming feeling that fills all hearts young and tender when spring goes away and rains bring forth droplets of hope and joy and promise: anger. A car went by and splashed a bucketful of water on all three of them, Ashish, Anoushka and the Razr phone. After muttering the requisite curses and finding their way to an apartment complex where they stepped in the foyer of an apartment wing, they exchanged introductions. Anoushka was too carried away in love to bother hiding it. Her eyes, her hands, her heart all betrayed her as she reached for the one that had taken over her entire self. They say love happens in an instance, and Anoushka barely needed a nanosecond to be convinced. Her life had changed in that moment forever. She looked at Ashish and spelt her heart’s wishes to him without hesitation, a trademark Anoushka moment where instinct led the way. Ashish smiled first, and in moments the smile had grown to a wide laughter that spilt over the narrow confines of their shelter. Undecipherable in the laughter were a nod and a muffled ‘Yes’ from the man who never thought life would surprise him thus.

"I hate Ashish", she said, as her mother took her cringing expression towards the door. The door bell had rung twice and Karuna Dandekar took towards it, a helpless mother on a rescue mission. Ashish was waiting on the other side, pacing two steps to his side, restless in anticipation. He had thought long and hard about it, and had decided that he would not pawn his life this way. He valued his independence above all else. A relationship would cost him dear. He would lose his friends, family, everyone he ever knew. Never again would he speak with them. Never again would he sit in an airport and play games and stare at the good looking women passing by. Never again would he be able to wake up on time. Never again would he be able to stand among his friends as equal. No, this had to be ended. This was it. Karuna Dandekar opened the door and asked Ashish in. It was a moment seeped in tension. Everyone knew why Ashish had come. Everyone knew what was going to happen, yet, the pretense of civility was maintained. It was maintained by all but Anoushka, who was too heart-broken to bother with niceties. Her world had come crashing down in one week flat. The classic rich versus poor gap had come in between. She thought this happened only in movies, yet there she was, sitting in Prashant Dandekar’s house, retired school teacher, wondering why such trivialities should affect the grand scheme of things. She walked up slowly to Ashish, tears and temper in check. She had determined that if she had to do it, she’d do it with dignity. She wouldn’t give anyone the opportunity of feeling pity for her. “Ashish, I know why you have come. I know the time is up. I know we agreed to try this for a week and then decide what the future looks like. I cannot complain about the happiness I have got. It has far exceeded anything I had expected. But I guess expecting this to last was unreasonable. I know I can’t keep what my heart wants forever and I can’t keep anything that doesn’t belong to me. You are free to go, and we shall never talk again”. Ashish looked in her eyes, steeled his heart and slid his hands in his pockets. In a brief moment when he reached for Anoushka’s hand, he remembered the moment she had put her heart’s wish to him. In that brief moment, his heart melted, his resolve wilted and he decided to relent. The passion in her eyes did the trick. He didn’t want to break Anoushka’s heart, didn’t want to separate her from the one thing she clearly valued above everything else. A few words later, he turned around and walked out of the apartment, staring at Anoushka’s decrepit T610 mobile phone. Behind the doors, Anoushka was crying tears of joy. She held the one true love of her life in her hand, never to be parted again. Hers to keep, forever: her Razr phone.


P.S.> I keep hearing a lot about kids in India getting new phones every year or so. This story was inspired by that need. I have had two cell phones in my six year stay in this country. I must be unfashionable.
P.P.S> As you might have guessed, I own a decrepit T610 phone. If Razr isn’t exactly state of the art anymore, my apologies. My knowledge about cell phones is minimal. If it dials a number and lets me speak, it is generally good enough for me

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Blood

Blood suffers as only blood can
Flowing through clogged arteries
Surfacing on a cut
To be washed away

Blood travels as only blood can
From your head to toe
Coursing, cursing, living
Ultimate, dried away

Blood splatters as only blood can
From struggling smiling bodies
In the air of terror
On mangled train doors

Blood rises as only blood can
In a city that can never sleep again
In a common man's breast
In protest to utter: Enough

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Life's a stretch


Feeling stretched? Posted by Picasa

This one's for the environmentalists out here. Photograph taken in 'Hip-hop Hollywood', as the kind billboard behind reminds me. How do you take a bad idea and extend it to make it 'badder'. Badder rhymes with Hummer, doesn't it? Wonder what rhymes with stretch hummer!

P.S> Substantial posts coming up. Blame the absence from the blog on visiting parents. Seeing this country and myself anew through their eyes is a learning experience. For once, I am being a good student.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Bring your Alibhais

So goes Hotel California somewhere in the middle of its (oc)cult lyrics. I was reading a discussion board some place where they were discussing what the lyrics mean to you. A common theme in people's explanations dealt with drugs. For eg.

"Some dance to remember, some dance to forget."
(People use drugs to remember, others to forget.)

"We are all just prisoners here, of our own device."
(Drugs are initially taken by choice but quickly become addictive.)

Cut focus to India and Hotel California may well be Hotel Calicut or some such rhyming place. Alibhai, our fictional drug dealer, must be cursing Rahul Mahajan. Suddenly, there is a big focus on the 'partying' crowd and the snort club, as India Today calls it. Imagine if there would be a public uproar and people can't do their favorite brand of drugs anymore. Where would Alibhai go? How will he afford his shanty in Alibag?

Several reams of press have been devoted to the reasons behind Rahul Mahajan's drug orgy. Does it matter frankly? Be it stress or depression or plain pleasure as the reason behind his step, if he got caught with a rolled up paper stuck up his nose digging into white powder, he has every reason to be in trouble. My heart doesn't go out to the Rahul Mahajans of the world. If having money gives you the license to throw responsibility out the window, then I am glad that not all those who have that license exercise it. Speaking of license, wait till someone decides to make a movie on the Pramod Mahajan's death and Rahul's self-destruct mode. Its just a matter of time. While on Bollywood, the only brand of drugs that was smuggled and used extensively in the early 80's movies was brown sugar. I can't help but grin every time I see brown sugar in my trip to Starbucks for my trusted latte. Oops, I am self-destructing with caffeine :-)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Wired for Weird

Got tagged by Aparna to come up with six weird things about myself, so going along with it. Skipping the tagging part though. Here goes the list of weirdness that I can come up with (including a bonus one at the end)

· I like to cross lanes without stepping on the lane markers (this will be familiar to those who have driven in the US). It interrupts the smoothness of my drive :-)
· I remember the lyrics of each song of a movie that I am going to watch in the theater so I can sing it out loud. I always do.
· I like to get a sense of deja vu when I visit a place a second time round, especially if that place is one I am unlikely to visit regularly. For eg. a spot en route to Crater lake, a random STD/ISD call booth en route to Sion. And yes, I like smiling at the little triumph of having made that connection
· Punctuality is (I wish it still were, but it used to be) an obsession. I used to reach before time on most places, and prided myself on readjusting my time accurately to accomodate traffic delays in Bombay.
· I was superstitious of about it raining every year on my birthday. If it didn't happen (and I can't recall a single year in India that it didn't), it probably wouldn't be a good year. Given that my birthday is in July, it would almost always happen in Bombay. There would at least be a very small drizzle. If I go by what happens in the US, I have been having six bad years in a row :-)
· Oh, and taking a cue from Aparna, here's an interesting one. My board exams: physics I paper. At the fag end of the two hour time, I went up to the supervisor to get a supplement sheet. When I got back, my main paper was missing!!!! Turns out I forgot to put a weight on it and it had flown. I traced my eyes upto the window. There it was, hanging gingerly on the grill, just a few inches between it flying out and my entire career down the drain. I just smiled, took ten steps to the window, took the paper, sat down and finished what I was doing. Result was 39/40 and the weirdness was that I didn't panic.
· I have vivid and detailed memories of the cricket matches I have played. With my brother in Surat in summer vacations, to my school games to the current matches I play in Seattle. I remember specific shots I have played, wickets I have taken, catches I have caught (and dropped), my scores and how I got out. While on the subject, I am always playing shadow cricket in the house (you know, no bat, no ball, no ground, no players ... just actions)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Death Knell

The procession streamed out
Men bound by a collective sorrow
Some lashed out in anger
Some slouched their shoulders having abandoned
The will to talk, the will to reason

Could it be perhaps that
life had been altered thus?
The sun would join in protest
The stars would turn off their lights

Could it be perhaps that
Apocalypse has come soon?
The world shattering to pieces
Shaken to its core
By the following five seconds of mayhem?

The middle of three wooden sticks
With two twigs completing a perfect house
Shattered by a vicious demon hurling
A cannonball of leather
And dashing thus, the hopes of a nation?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Revverie

The city deconstructed and reconstructed itself around his bike. It was as if he was flowing through a viscous fluid, cutting a straight line across the forces that were trying to hold him back. They ultimately lost, those silly molecules. Rearranging themselves around him, they paid obeisance by shaping a green outline around his form. The lights danced celebrating his speed, the life in those molecules turned around to look at their hero as if watching a ticker parade.

This was his day. He was Iceman and Maverick rolled into one. Beneath his helmet, the wind whispered the secrets of the stratosphere to him. Iron and steel and fuel were needed to be privy to those words. The common people, who trudged at the speed of snails could never aspire to that knowledge. Not everyone can have a conversation with the wind. The wind will hear you, if you can talk at its frequency.

Today he reached it. He found that perfect pitch, that audible tone. Thrust into that realm by the engine of his Kawasaki, he felt nature coming together to fill in his loneliness. An invisible hand guided his progress out of the city. Beyond the mundane, beyond the static, beyond the teeming masses. He watched the world move around him, rotating in its own turmoil, as he felt an odd sense of detachment creep in. At 180 miles per hour, he found stillness.


P.S> A colleague of mine recently bought a bike. This was inspired by his acquisition. I never had a bike and probably never will. That shouldn’t stop me from writing about it, should it?
P.P.S> I beat the bridge.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Life's A Sneeze

Oh ignominy, oh humiliation
A sorry little sight to behold
Of all conspiracies to bring me down
The one that worked is common cold?


P.S> I have contracted the popular sore throat, body ache, fever, cold 'viral' going around, and its irritating to the core. Especially when the 5 mile beat-the-bridge race is due this Sunday.
P.P.S> Given that the thought process is too blocked to allow creative writing, I'll just wait for the mucus to settle.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Writer As A Muse

An orphaned idea
Clothed with words
A look of confused confidence
I search for a title

Puns lined up
Witticisms ready to launch
Twist after twist itching away
A touch that will elicit a tear
A lyric waiting to flow
Am I trapped in my own clichés?

The joy of creation
And the art of savoring it
Is heightened when consumed
And consumed it is
As I watch the words disappear
The backspace key leaves no traces

I reread it for the fortieth time
And smile to myself in disbelief
And appreciation for the chord it touches
Oh this is the perfect poem
Why of why wasn’t it written by me!

Five lines
Twelve words
One image
An audience captured
A poet triumphs

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I am a Cling-on

With the immigration debate heating up in the country, being labeled an alien has never rung more truly in the United States. Given that Uncle Sam thinks I am an alien, and Uncle Sam is always right, what kind of an alien must I be? Should I own to up my actual entity and risk my green card process being damaged? I might as well.

With due apologies to all Star Trek fans, I am a Cling-on. Cling-ons are a rare species (or rarified when it comes to hair). Characterized by their ability to hold on to things they hold dear, cling-ons walk among humans in an indistinguishable fashion. Why, you may meet me and think I am an ordinary software engineer who did his engineering in India and a Masters in the US. One among the millions. Its just a guise, but the government is smarter than I thought. Its after us, and I might as well reveal the faces behind the masks.

Cling-ons are characterized by these traits and their tendency to hold on to them.
· Old memories
· Junk food
· Movies, everything from Ramsay to Ramu
· Loyalties to sportspersons
· Refusal to work
· Bad hand-writing
· Cricket
· Music

The list goes on, but I must take time out to reveal the main secret. The blog too has been a masquerade. The blog is used to reach other cling-ons in hiding. Are you one? If not, what kind of alien are you? If yes, what do you hold onto? Come out with your answers and trek with the stars.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Still Waters

I am blaming this piece on a lack of original ideas and for Nocturne’s excellent work. Before you read my post, make sure you read Shifting Sands. I wondered what someone at the other end of the letter would write. This is a response to Shifting Sands, titled Still Waters. I tried to match the quality of the writing, but as you know, still waters stagnate.

Words. They narrowed the gap between us, swayed us when the ground beneath us threatened to be firm. It isn’t an irony, but destiny’s leaning that forces us to resort to words once again, now that the ground beneath threatens to swallow us. As I sit sipping coffee in the mug you gifted me so dearly and read your letter, I can only reflect on the nature of life. We spend half our lives trying to find the things that matter so much to us, and once we get that, we spend the other half lamenting the imperfection of what we just acquired. What do I lament? What do I celebrate? The sand that slipped through the fingers? The dew that moistened my face?

Do you remember us, sitting on the beach on a Saturday evening? Two fragments of the universe joined together at a junction of rock and sea, sky and earth. I reached for your face and wiped that drop of water that had settled on your face, breaching the distance between us. A tear, an expression of joy, of satisfaction, a moment dipped in perfection. You glanced at me and a faint smile appeared on the contours of your face. Just enough to break my heart, and render my words useless. Where do we go from a place like that?

Yes, I am dating again. New life, new tears, old struggle. Is it really new though? Visions of your body silhouetted in the dark and my hands feeling it with a familiarity as if it were mine, our lips meeting in a frantic haste before fate would tear us apart, my hot breath on the nape of your neck, a hug marked by the softness of your breasts pressed against my chest haunt me. And yet, having slept with someone else changes everything, doesn’t it? A feeling of dispossession, of having yielded, of having moved on.

When we have given each other joy that cannot be surpassed, we give each other pain. For the moments that you cringed on the floor on your knees, gutted by the few words I uttered to you, there were several that I spent staring at a blank wall. I lost sense of time, for a visceral agony had gripped my being. The knowledge that I was right did not help. I had to lose us in order to gain you. People asked us since to ‘move on’. We haven’t. We have just stepped aside. Stepped aside and watched our past with the curious eyes of someone who can’t understand why a child finds joy in splashing in a puddle. You and I are at the same place today. I just got tagged with the word ‘dating’. It means nothing. You are tagged with the word ‘single’. That means nothing either. Our present will always have a fond eye for the past, an ache that will refuse to go away. So, kiss me when you see me, but don’t search my eyes for a message, and I won’t look for love in yours. We are just two people with disillusioned souls. It will be good to see you, my friend.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

All Things Considered

One of the books that I am currently reading is ‘The monk who sold his Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma. I picked up the book in India solely because it was recommended to me by someone and the fact that it was cheap. The thrill of buying a book at the Four Bungalows traffic signal for about a third of the cost of the original book while sitting in a rickshaw waiting for light to go green is unique. Hey, don’t blame me. I compensated by buying a hard bound copy of ‘Maximum City’. While I am not exactly wasting away in a mid-life crisis, I could completely identify with the talk of utilizing the potential that the author touched upon. It is true (and I am feeling it more often nowadays than ever before) that we tap only a limited amount of our potential. Take writing for example. I have this blog, I have lovely readers and I like to write. And write I do, the unspoken word, in my mind. For every one article that you see on this site, there are ten that I have started and left incomplete in my imagination. Potential wasted, lots of it. If I look at my blog, the last two posts were written totally spur of the moment. I started typing without a clearly direction and five minutes later I had posted something on the site. While spontaneity is a good thing at times, there is no way my writing will go places (wouldn’t it be nice?) unless I have the discipline for it. I guess this is a lecture more for my own good than yours. Perhaps, writing this out and reading it on my own blog might prompt me to take action on my plans. While I am at it, do I really need a topic to write about? Why can’t I just jot down the few things on the top of my mind. So, here goes.

I don’t mix work with blogging pleasure. That was something I decided a while back and I have stuck to it largely. Here’s an exception. We released the Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 yesterday. It has been a great product to work on and the results are rewarding. We are still a little while from releasing the final product, but this product does kick ass. If you are an XP user, you can give this a spin. You can find it here. If you are a Firefox user (for eg. a very close family member), I would definitely encourage you to try this. We are here to win you over. When you use it, do remember. My tears, sweat and seeds of carpal tunnel are all within the product.

Sachin Tendulkar turned 33. There hasn’t been a single sportsperson who has evoked such emotion in me as God has. I am among the worshipping hordes, and I don’t care if I am the last one left on the planet by the time he is done. Loyalty means not abandoning your hero when is suffering. I despise the ungrateful souls who do. You can have the dependability of Dravid or the vicious batting of Ponting or the flourish of Lara, but one shot, one cover drive, one cut, one flick is all it takes to feel the perfection. You need a sense of aesthetic to understand this. You just feel genius, you don’t dissect it. The straight drive six that he hit of Kasprowicz in Sharjah is beyond the realm of mortals. Today, while he struggles, I wait patiently, as do his other fans. It is weird but his failures become our failures, just as his successes were worn on our shoulders by us. God is testing us by being human, and we are just being the ordinary humans that we are.

As the controversy about the Harvard sophomore Kaavya Vishwanathan simmers, my question is fundamentally about the kind of novel she is writing. What is chic-lit? Is it chick-lit misspelt? Reading about her did open my eyes to a few things happening out there. People spend upto $30,000 on agencies that prep your application for the Ivy league schools. That’s incredible. I guess merit can get you only as far. On the controversy itself: what was she thinking? Copy and say sorry? How can you expect people not to notice? By sheer probability someone is bound to notice, right? Unless she didn’t expect anyone to read her book. Things they don’t teach at Harvard, eh? I guess I am being a little harsh. Perhaps, it was unintentional all along. I haven’t read either book (or will be reading it) to decide. Will wait for the media to tell me how this story goes.

The music scene this year has been very bad. Barring RDB, there has been no album worth its salt. I heard Fanaa and I was a tad disappointed. Given that this was supposed to be Jatin-Lalit’s last work together and it was a Chopra production with Aamir-Kajol, I was expecting a scintillating score. Perhaps, my expectations laid me down. Don’t get wrong. The songs are still melodious, but not all. ‘Chaand Sifarish’ is good, but as a friend suggested, Udit would have been a better choice as a singer. ‘Dekho Na’ and ‘Mere Haath’ will grow over time, but that’s about it. Likeable, but not extraordinary. In the meanwhile, ‘Himess’ comes up with the irritating ‘A-a-aashiqui mein meri...' from China Town. My friend who just returned from India said that you can only hear Himesh wherever you go. He has managed to come up with a consistent string of hits, so I guess that’s bound to happen. One song you can like: ‘Bambai Nagariya’ by Bhappi Da from ‘Taxi no. 9211’. He has sung it superbly in his inimitable style.

Oh well. Enough for now. Will try and come up with a longer short story soon. I tend to finish mine in a paragraph. Till that happens, enjoy the five minute outbursts of creativity.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Betrayal of the muse

A fluttering letter on the desk
Edging to fly out
Held together by the will
Of an ugly letter-head

A heart of stone
Chipped at the sides
And black as the night
Barely holds his weak resolve

He pauses, looks down and pulls the paper
And tears it as the stone falls down
The heart breaks into a million pieces
His tenth attempt at a poetry submission

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hook, Line and Stinker

"I am out of change", pleaded our protagonist and decided to disembark ten miles before his stop. The driver gave little of the sympathy he himself got and got ready to close the doors
like everyone did on him. "Here, take this", cooed our mellifluous heroine. Quarters quivered in her hand like the smile on her lips. Gladly, he paid the driver. And then repaid, with a frown for the driver and a smile for the girl, followed by a solemn promise to return the money. She smiled again and fell on him as the driver braked hard, perhaps in revenge? To pay his first installment, he turned on the charm offensive. Blushing, smiling, entrenched: the girl seemed to have given her heart for a few quarters. Ten miles came too soon. He got off the bus waving his hand at our exiting heroine. She gave him a smile that made his heart skip. He smiled and looked again at the paper with her number. And then, she made his heart skip again. Twice in two seconds. His hands fumbled as he searched his pockets for his missing wallet.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

MaraThorn

Men were born to run. Actually chase. I am being very gender specific here. We are good at it. We chase skirts, sarees, remarkably, all of feminine couture that humanity has conjured thus far. It seems we need a sense of purpose. Put us in a shopping mall in an effort to buy something that has not yet been spelt out clearly and we are lost. We tire in a short time, headaches spring up out of nowhere, feet ache and the body simply sends signals that are so apparent it can get the owner in trouble. Put us on a golf course and we can spend all day walking around trying to put tiny balls into eighteen tiny pockets on a vast lush green pasture.

Nonetheless, I digress. I am not delving deep into generalizations. Back to the point of the post, if there is one. Men were born to run. Someone needed to have knocked that into my head early. My gym philosophy has been blogged about before. Treadmills are difficult creatures to tread. By virtue of excuses that no one really asked for, I would escape the boredom of stepping in the same place repeated number of times. But the sense of purpose finally appeared. I am training for Beat The Bridge. I’ll be participating for the 5 mile run. The beating the bridge part is interesting. There is a draw bridge 20 minutes from the start of the race. You have to finish that distance within twenty minutes or else the bridge is drawn and you are out of the race. That’s the first challenge. The second is completing the other three miles.

My wife and I started training for this a month back. Given that my running was limited to 0.6 miles (0.2 walk+0.6 run+0.2 walk) before, it was fun to build up in small increments. Of course, the presence of a more committed spouse serves as good motivation. Last Saturday, I managed to run 5 miles at a stretch. It was a thrilling achievement. The lazy bones in my body tell me, once is enough, let’s try it again on the day of the race in May J Of course, that’s not a great idea. Turns out peaking so soon is not a great idea either. You should apparently build up to that distance.

Nonetheless, this is a great idea for anyone looking to induce a degree of regularity in their gyming and like me, look for a really good reason to maintain that rhythm, you should look to something like this. Of course, there’s the marathon or MaraThorn as I would like to call it. It’s an insurmountable length. A big challenge. A couple of friends are training for the half marathon, a mere matter of 13 miles while some others will run the full 26 mile stretch. As my paining knees (yes, something wrong with my technique) and generally exhausted body feel after five miles, the other eight or twenty-one seem a stretch. Not that I am planning on running either of the two. But hey, a month back, had someone told me I’d be running five miles, all eight kilometers (or close) within fifty minutes, I’d have told him to go take a hike. Or a run.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Telegram for my readers

Consumed by work. Exorcism underway. Promise great reads shortly.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Take a haiku

I am currently in Las Vegas attending the MIX06. Surrounded by an army of geeks and put up at the rather plush Ventian, this has been a good experience for me around getting to know how these technology centric events work. Its not over yet. There's work to be done, money to be won (or lost) and fun to be had. Inspired by the imageries of Las Vegas, I wrote up some haikus. My first attempt at them. If you have been to Las Vegas, the words and the images will make sense to you. If not, I recommend you go to Vegas :-)


The wing lifts
I see from the window
Myself fly

Daily miracle
Crooning on the big stage
Elvis in flesh

The dice rolls
Ten broken hearts pay for
One man's smile

Shrinking world.
The Coliseum seen from
The Eiffel Tower

A Dreamer's delight
An eternal day under
A fake sky

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Self Portrait

Three spots on that face
Speckles of white
Is that rust on her hair?
A cleft on the left lip?
A gash on the wide forehead?

She shudders at the sight and feels
Pity, anger, defeat and fear
Amidst the ruins stand bright
Her eyes. Clear, true.

Then the cleft lip straightens into a smile
A hand wipes the stains on the old mirror

Friday, March 10, 2006

Extempour

I'll start with due apologies to my fellow blogger Extempore. The past couple of weeks have been pretty tiring and I guess the lack of smartness shows. The post is just an extem-pouring of things. I have a couple of good ideas lined up for later. Till then, make do with the this mishmash of thoughts. The better part of this week was spent in preparing for a presentation. Was a fifty fifty deal. The last occasion I had of presenting to the entire team, timing the talk was important and doing a dry run helped a lot. This time, the challenge was to communicate a lot of complexity with a lot of simplicity. I thought I could have done better. Perhaps it is a harsh judgement.

It rained pellets of ice over here today. Hail the size of small pebbles. Luckily my car was underground. Two days back, the wind was so severe that the trash can was flown away to the centre of the street. An entire can, of some substantial weight. The cover of the can of course deposited itself in a pond somewhere from which it had to be fished out. What’s with the vagaries of nature? It is March. Time for spring to arrive. Give me a peaceful break man.

Car travel in the US robs us off a great chance. To observe. Know your city. Know the shop around the corner. The odd sign hanging on the store on the street. The interesting characters that frequent the roads. India was a boon. Walk and observe (not the kind that gets Blog-A-Thonians angry :-)), and simply grasp. Imbibe. It has no purpose and yet it does. You could close your eyes and walk on the broken boulevard of dreams (this time with due apologies to Green Day and Bombay Municipal Corporation).

I was part of a conversation today about marathon running. 26 miles of it. At one shot. And running for better timing. Hats of to those who do. A mile is a long enough distance for me. Running ain’t my thing unless its 22 yards one way. The runner was goading a friend to join along. She mentioned the time it would need to train. Brief little part of your life. Seven months.

I saw three varying movies recently: 15 Park Avenue, Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Maara and Water. All three are above average, mainly because of the story line being different. And somehow, in the different story lines, you’ll miss all the flaws (and there are plenty in all three). We are going the Hollywood way. Movies filled with harrowing experiences (Schindler’s List anyone?) or depressing characters.

The train of thoughts is trailing off. Here are a couple of lines from Hazrat Mishri Shah’s ‘Pritam Mat Pardes Sidhaaro’ to end the post (on Abida’s album Mere Dil Se):
‘nadi kinaare dhuaan uthe , main jaanu kuch hoye,
jis kaaran main jogan bani, kahin wahin na jalta hoye’

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Kill to Time

Oh verse and rhyme, Oh fate and time
Oh patience and virtue, Oh penny and dime
Poor old Sam waits for his turn
Poor old Sam watches time churn
No one lets him move ahead
No one lets him take his place instead
Sam is stuck between several bodies
Sam is stuck between several nobodies
He has planned his flight away
He has planned to fight away
The crowds cheer as their leader arrives
The crowds cheer as a hope revives
The leader throws his garlands on the waiting crowd
The leader throws his best face on, stern and proud
Sam extends his hand, reaching high to make a catch
Sam extends his hand, no the other one, in a flash
A finger pressed hard catches a flower in mid-flight
A finger pressed hard sends a bullet at the speed of light
An eternity of glory breaks a smile on Sam’s face
An eternity of glory shrouded in public disgrace

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The light within

I have been meaning to post these photographs for a while. On an odd Seattle day a couple of years ago, I saw a huge rainbow from the balcony of my apartment and rushed there with my camera. The first snap below is a beautiful image of the different zones of light that form in a rainbow. Notice how the light within the rainbow is much different than the light outside. It is like a lazy attempt at painting, the elements very obvious and beautiful.


Different light zones Posted by Picasa

While I watched in awe at the sudden spurt of brightness and color, there came along another rainbow. Perfect concentric circles, one inside the other :-) (An arranger at a dandia said the exact same words). The second one lives on the outer edge and pales in luminosity to the first. A servant to circumstance, a lamp to a sun.


A band of brothers Posted by Picasa

It was an enjoyable sight. I am wrapping up the post with a close up of the first rainbow. Made me wish I had a better camera or better photography skills, but the result was still enjoyable. Hope you feel the same.


Bow before the rain Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Storming up a cook

Food is the focus of life. It is a way of life. It is what we are brought up on and what we are brought up for. We fill intervals between two meals with such varied activities as travel, work, television, and chatter. Alright, this seems like an exaggeration. It probably is. While I do enjoy food, I cannot approach food the above stated way. What’s my food philosophy then? Food has to be eaten at regular intervals, a little spicy is too spicy, a little sweet is not enough sweet, fruits rock, so do French fries, gulab jamun is the best sweet in the world, and an ideal day looks like this: South Indian food for breakfast, Gujarati lunch and Punjabi food for dinner. Of course, too many ideal days of this kind will send me to heaven a bit too soon  My stay in America has help expand my taste palette. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Malaysian, Mediterranean, Thai, to name a few.

My mother is a fabulous cook. So if my wife. I am lucky to have access to great food on a constant basis. But between the two great parts of the movie, between the two acts of an appetizing play, there was an interregnum. The duration of my Masters study. My tour de force at Texas A&M University. Before coming to the US, I had barely ever stepped into the kitchen. My expertise was limited to boiling milk and ensuring my best to not let it spill over as I sneaked into the hall to catch glimpses of whatever TV program was running. Before heading to the US, my mom attempted to give me a crash course on cooking a few dishes. I also duty noted down some rather precise instructions on cooking up palatable food. I realized how theory and practice are dissociated once I came to the United States. The initial few attempts went a long way to establish me as the worst cook among my roommates. Ranjeet was a terrific cook and Avinash was competent. That left me and my rather inept abilities in an unfair match.

From the watery chick peas to the daal that was a little off, the range was limited and the results consistent. It is a difficult thing to beat reputations. I learnt it the hard way with my cooking. The few times that I did attempt to make good food, the inherent assumption that my food would be intolerable preceded me. To contribute to the same, I took it upon myself to notify one and sundry that my cooking wasn’t talked about. Self-deprecating humor and all that.

Everything that goes around comes around. Times change and people change with time. A skill I had deemed unlearnable is slowly revealing itself to me in parts. While I’d love to continue eating my wife’s fabulous cooking, circumstance dictates that I give her a helping hand. My job from doing the pre-processing and post-processing for dinners needed to move to the center piece. My wife has been kind enough to bear with my cooking experiments and help me along. This version of a live recipe book has served me well. I have picked up some new things with adeptness. Things taste as they should taste. Likeable, palatable, repeatable. Time has come for a revolution. Time has come for reputations to rebuild, old myths to be shattered, critical tastes to be satisfied. Only time will tell if this will work.

Till then, here’s a parting shot at self-deprecating humor when it comes to cooking. Signature statement of a bad cook, straight from Godfather: “I’ll make you a refuse you cannot offer.”

P.S> As is evident, I am back. Thanks for all the inquiries and the words of support. Hopefully, the flow will stay in tact.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hitting the Bottom Rock

For those who religiously do visit this site, this post is for you. I have been playing truant with posting anything on the blog for the past couple of months. "Believe you me", as one cricket commentator (oh, someone please remind me who that was) used to put it, I have tried to think of things to write.

There's the lack of inspiration, the drying up of topics and arguments, passions and peeves, lost loves and love's lost. And then there's the plinth below the edifice of attempts. Boredom. It has sunk in and is refusing to go. It has come in the most irresistible and inexplicable ways. It is as if I woke up one day and decided: Enough of blogging for me. It has spread and how. I have even stopped visiting the blogs that I have frequented with unfailing regularity for a couple of years now.

It does not make sense, and I am hoping it is a temporary thing. The words will start flowing again, and the break in time-space continuum will be restored. Until further notice, the blog is suspended. Hopefully, you'll visit back when I do start writing again. Till then, take care, keep blogging.

Friday, January 13, 2006

And so it has begun

I am sounding like a character from Lord of the Rings. The amplitude of each battle is raised, the destiny of each skirmish worth being a legend. Where does my battle fall? To be precise, the one that I am witness to? As I sit here at 1.30 in the night witness to Younis Khan and Mohammad Yusuf completely dominate a lacklustre Indian bowling attack, I am feeling a mix of emotions.

Happiness: I finally am watching a cricket series in the comfort of my house on TV. Yes, there have been a couple of seasons where I have fought with the frustrating futility of streaming telecasts. But this is the first time since I bought a house and bought Dish TV that I am going to see an entire series live.

Puzzled: How do you expect to win a match with a bowling combination that reads Pathan, Agarkar, Kumble and Harbhajan? Your only hope is to win the toss and bat first. Your spinners will be largely effective only in the fourth innings and the medium pacers will hardly run through the batting lineup. Pathan needs some help from the pitch to be effective and Agarkar averages 46. And as Michael Holding wryly added, that's not in batting.

The shoulder shrug: Ganguly got picked. I don't know if he is going to open or someone else will be made to be a scapegoat. Somehow, I don't think this is going to impact the match enough. Its the bowling that we need to fix. Unless some genius decided to pick him as an all-rounder. I have felt before that his entire case has been badly handled. Now, you are in a situation that can't be salvaged. Let's see how he fares in this test.

Excited: I love watching cricket. Especially test cricket. Most people I meet prefer one-dayers, but I think there isn't enough excitement in watching one team pummell 350 and have the other team chase it. There is no contest, just a slog-fest. That's precisely the reason it would be difficult to enjoy 20-20. Perhaps I am anachronistic. Most people my age enjoy the instant gratification that one-day cricket provides. I am comfortable with enjoying the game and the intricacies and the battles for five days. The pleasure is in the journey, not just in the result.

Nostalgic: About the lengths to which I have gone to watch cricket in this country. I was remembering how we would stay up late in the night to watch the India-Australia series in 2001 in the SCC (student computing center) to get the free feed from dd.now.com. That was a brilliant series and the webcast was brilliant too. What wasn't brilliant is how the other non-Indians in the lab would be troubled with sudden hurrahs that would emanate when Sachin imposed himself on the Aussies.

I don't know how the series will unfold. It seems to me that this will be much tougher for us to win that the last time we were there. On paper, I'd give our opponents the edge. Simply because their bowling seems stronger than ours. But stranger things have happened. As one really funny flight attendant advised us at the end of our flight to watch for displaced luggage contents in the containers, 'Shift Happens'

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hindi Film Songs: Best of 2005

Apologies for my continued absence from the blogging sphere. No excuses. I just didn’t seem to have much to contribute. Many thanks to those who questioned my absence. You guys are super. This one’s for you all. Last year, I wrote up a rather popular entry about a list of Hindi film songs from the year 2004. I had mentioned that if I liked the exercise, I might do it on a regular basis. So, here I am.

A few disclaimers:
1. The songs aren’t listed in any particular order. I have just listed them in the order in which I remembered them.
2. I try to listen to each new album that comes out at least once. However, there are simply too many new movies and too many songs to follow. It is possible that some may have been omitted
3. Some of the movies will be releasing next year (eg. Rang De Basanti) but since their songs have released this year, I am including them. Similarly, movies that released in 2005 were covered in the 2004 list if their music was out then (eg. Kisna, Shabd)

I am open to suggestions on songs that you think should be on the list but are missing.

Song : Aashiq Banaya Aapne
Movie : Aashiq Banaya Aapne
Music Director : Himesh Reshammiya
Singers : Himesh Reshammiya, Shreya Ghoshal
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Himesh surprised everyone with his singing. The tune is good too.

Song : Halka Halka Sa Yeh Nasha
Movie : Chocolate
Music Director : Pritam
Singer : Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Mayur Puri
Why is it on the list? : Zippy, contemporary, well-executed, well-sung track. Pritam followed Dhoom well with this album.

Song : Zehreeli Raatein
Movie : Chocolate
Music Director : Pritam
Singer : Kay Kay
Lyricist: Mayur Puri
Why is it on the list? : This one is a rip-off from a song called Aadat (which now appears in Kalyug). But the lyrics and rendition of this one are better.

Song : Salaam Namaste
Movie : Salaam Namaste
Music Director : Vishal & Shekhar
Singer : Kunal Ganjawala , Vasundhara Das
Lyricist: Jaideep Sahni
Why is it on the list? : Aditya Chopra’s new move into the urban youth heartland begins with this title track and it rocked. The choice of the singers did the trick.

Song : Yeh Hain Meri Kahani
Movie : Zinda
Music Director : Strings
Singer : Faisal Kapadia
Lyricist: Anwar Maqsood
Why is it on the list? : Well written and very well sung. This was a good year-end surprise. This one will grow on you.

Song : Zinda Hoon Main
Movie : Zinda
Music Director : Shibani Kashyap
Singer : Shibani Kashyap
Lyricist: Virag Mishra
Why is it on the list? : Visceral, energetic, different. Goes with the theme of the movie well.

Song : Rang De Basanti
Movie : Rang De Basanti
Music Director : A.R. Rehman
Singer : Daler Mehndi, Chitra
Lyricist: Prasoon Joshi
Why is it on the list? : Rehman strikes once more with a varied album. This one’s written beautifully and Daler infuses great energy in the song. Even Chitra’s shrillness doesn’t take away from the end effect.

Song : Lukka Chuppi
Movie : Rang De Basanti
Music Director : A.R. Rehman
Singer : Lata Mangeshkar, A.R. Rehman
Lyricist: Prasoon Joshi
Why is it on the list? : What happens when you get a legend (that’s Lata), a great music director( Rehman) and a not-so-great-singer(Rehman) together? You get away with a composition that threatens to go below par, be excessively maudlin, but avoids it. The lyrics are good, the tempo of the song well paced, and the orchestration is excellent. Why Rehman won’t have anyone else sing it beats me though?

Song : Dus Bahane
Movie : Dus
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Singer : KK, Shaan
Lyricist: Panchhi Jalonvi
Why is it on the list? : Should I even bother explaining?

Song : Jaaniya Ve
Movie : Dus
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Singer : Hariharan, Mahalaxmi
Lyricist: Panchhi Jalonvi
Why is it on the list? : One of the lesser lights of Dus, but this is a brilliantly sung song. Hear it if you haven’t already.

Song : Deedar De
Movie : Dus
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Singer : Sunidhi Chauhan
Lyricist: Panchhi Jalonvi
Why is it on the list? : I think I am partial to this movie, but what the heck. I love the beats in this song. Trivia for those interested: the song is picturized on Mayte Garcia, who is the ex-wife of TAFKAP (The artist formerly known as Prince)

Song : Barsaat Ke Din Aaye
Movie : Barsaat
Music Director : Nadeem-Shravan
Singer : Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Strictly for Nadeem-Shravan fans. Now that they have split, we won’t be seeing them on the list anymore.

Song : Sabse Bada Rupaiyya
Movie : Bluffmaster
Music Director : TrickBaby
Singer : Chetan, Mehmood, Saira Hussain
Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Why is it on the list? : My distaste of remixes is known. However, this one is genuinely a mixing of sounds. The use of tromobones, the change of rhythms, the very jazzy getup of the song makes it sound like a completely different song altogether. Importantly, it sounds great. Hats off to this first genuine ‘crossover’ album.

Song : Right Here Right Now
Movie : Bluffmaster
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Singer : Abhishek Bachchan, Sunidhi Chauhan
Lyricist: Jaideep Sahni
Why is it on the list? : Abhishek takes to the mike and takes to it pretty well. I like the languid pace of the song and the beats.

Song : Azaadi
Movie : Bose – The Forgotten Hero
Music Director : A.R. Rehman
Singer : A.R. Rehman
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Got to hand it to him for doing another patriotic song and still making it sound interesting

Song : Kajra Re
Movie : Bunty aur Bubli
Music Director : Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Singer : Alisha Chinnai, Shankar Mahadevan, Javed Ali
Lyricist: Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : National anthem of the year. Miles above any other rocking song that came out. Brilliantly written, this modern mujra had it all. Aishwarya, Aishwarya, Aishwarya, Big B, little B and a masterstroke to have Alisha Chinoy sing it.

Song : Jal Jal Ke Dhuan
Movie : Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena
Music Director : Pritam
Singer : Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Amitabh Verma
Why is it on the list? : The guitar piece at the start has been lifted from ‘Fragile’ by Sting (courtesy RTD2), but I like Sonu’s rendition of the song.

Song : Jiya Dhadak Dhadak Jaaye
Movie : Kalyug
Music Director : Faisal Rafi and Rohail Hyatt
Singer : Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
Lyricist: Asim Raza
Why is it on the list? : Soothing composition set in the Pahadi raag. These guys can teach a thing or two about making a melody without heavy orchestration. The flute is the predominant instrument and the subtlety and romance is never lost. Excellent work.

Song : Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi
Movie : Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Singer : Shubha Mudgal
Lyricist: Ghalib
Why is it on the list? : The song haunts you long after you have heard it. Shubha Mudgal can create that aura with ease. One of the best movies of the year, Shantanu Moitra complemented with a competent ‘period’ based score.

Song : Sun Zara
Movie : Lucky
Music Director : Adnan Sami
Singer : Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Adnan’s debut as a music director was the first big musical hit of the year. And rightly so. This song was composed with Adnan himself in mind, but Sonu does a good job of making it his own.

Song : Shayed Yahi To Pyar Hai
Movie : Lucky
Music Director : Adnan Sami
Singer : Adnan Sami, Lata Mangeshkar
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : I liked this one better than the Anuradha-Udit solo Jaan Meri Jaa Rahi Sanam (it reminded me of a song from Sahibaan a bit too much). Lata and Adnan define a soft romantic mood for the song, which takes it above the ordinary.

Song : Guncha (Unplugged)
Movie : Main Meri Patni Aur Woh
Music Director : Sanjay Jaipurwale
Singer : Mohit Chauhan
Lyricist: Rocky Khanna
Why is it on the list? : Alright. So I discovered this song at the very outset, didn’t think too much of it initally (I still think the lyrics are mediocre, but hey, I listen to too many ghazals). However, the raw feel to Mohit Chauhan’s voice (lead singer of Silk Route) is undeniable, and the song definitely sticks in your mind. It did wonders for him too. He got a song in Rang De Basanti.

Song : Soona Man Ka Aangan
Movie : Parineeta
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Singer : Shreya Ghoshal, Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire
Why is it on the list? : It is going to be a tough job to leave out songs from this movie (all except the terrible Dhinak Dhin are good), so I am going to pick my favorite. Sonu Nigam has excelled in this song and taken it to another plane. Swanand and Shantanu Moitra have teamed up to a great job in this album and while I won’t list the rest of the songs here, they all deserve a place.

Song : Mumtaz Tujhe Dekha
Movie : Taj Mahal – An Eternal Love Story
Music Director : Naushad
Singer : Hariharan , Preeti Uttam
Lyricist: Naqsh Lyallpuri
Why is it on the list? : I was dreading this album. Naushad is right up there in my pantheon of great music directors and I did not want him to come back and spoil the image (like he did with his music in Guddu). As expected, the music was short of the mark, but was tolerable. This one was more tolerable than the rest.

Song : Mai Vari Vari
Movie : The Rising - Ballad of Mangal Pandey
Music Director : A.R. Rehman
Singer : Kavitha Krishnamurthy, Reena Bharadwaj
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Another dissapointing score, but this qawwali stood out because it is a difficult composition rendered very well by the two of them.

Song : Kahan Ho Tum
Movie : U Bomsi N Me
Music Director : Neeraj Shridhar
Singer : Neeraj Shridhar
Lyricist: Neeraj Shridhar
Why is it on the list? : Neeraj Shridhar of ‘Bombay Vikings’ fame dons all the three roles and comes up trump. Very hummable track with good music.

Song : Naam Adaa Likhna
Movie : Yahaan
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Singer : Shaan, Shreya Ghoshal
Lyricist: Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : Beautiful lyrics by God, as Shaan lets Shreya take centrestage in this romantic composition set in the backdrop of Kashmir.

Song : Agar Tum Mil Jao
Movie : Zeher
Music Director : Anu Malik
Singer : Shreya Ghoshal
Lyricist: Sayeed Quadri
Why is it on the list? : Loved the way Shreya says “chhod” in the song. In general, Anu Malik scores points for his brand of melody. Good composition.

Song : Woh Lamhe Woh Baatein
Movie : Zeher
Music Director : Mithun and Naresh Sharma
Singer : Atif
Lyricist: Sayeed Quadri
Why is it on the list? : Another track that stays with you after you have heard it. Powered by strong vocals by Atif, this one stands out for its lyrics as well.

Song : Khaali Hai
Movie : Paheli
Music Director : M.M. Kareem
Singer : Hariharan, Bela Shende
Lyricist: Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : One of the most brilliant songs of the year. M.M. Kareem is all class in this composition which features some excellent flute interludes.

Song : Dheere Jalna
Movie : Paheli
Music Director : M.M. Kareem
Singer : Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal
Lyricist: Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : This one's for Gulzar and the brilliant imagery he constructs. Sonu and Shreya excel in this song which is again high on melody.

Song : Tauba Tauba
Movie : Kaal
Music Director : Salim-Sulaiman
Singer : Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan, Kunal Ganjawala, Richa Sharma
Lyricist: Shabbir Ahmed
Why is it on the list? : This movie generated a lot of curiosity, especially since it was a SRK and Karan Johan production. Three songs made the cut for me, but I liked this the most. The duo of Salim-Sulaiman are the champs of giving background scores, so I was expecting a little better product from them. But I guess the producers too had a role to play. The followed it up with the terrible Neal 'N Nikki which finds no place on this list. Even if their music was not bad, the lyrics were terrible.