Monday, December 22, 2008

Son-Rise!

India will have to wait, because a little someone had some other plans in mind. In all his wiggling, crying glory, my offspring has made his appearance in this world. My wife and I were blessed with a beautiful boy with a mind and schedule of his own. Parenthood is here, and I am thrilled, excited, and awed. I'll probably be off the radar for a while, or maybe you'll just see some posts on my new experiences in parenting. Who knows?

Here's introducing Aarush Parth Pandya; whose name means the 'First Ray of the Sun' (you can see the optimism of the parents reflected here: may he sleep until dawn). Both mother and son are doing fine, and father, well, he is surviving too :-) The blogger has turned father, and requests the blessings of his readers for his son and patience while he adjusts to his new role. In retrospect, there was one post left for 2008 after all. As it turns out, it was the most important one of them all!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ready Steady Go!

India beckons. Mumbai calls out. My shortest trip in all these years (all of nine days including travel). So short that you wouldn't have noticed the difference in the frequency of posts. So short that I doubt I'll be crossing over the borders of Andheri and Parle while I am there (other than a day to the Central side). Wonder if the scarred city of Mumbai is going to be any different given that I am just going to touch the surface. Brabourne was one of my scheduled destinations this trip before the world turned upside down a little while back, and now, that long cherished dream of watching a test match live seems irrelevant in its incompletion. But happier occassions beckon in this sojourn and I expect to make the most out of it. Yes, the trip is on and this then, will be my last post of the year. I'll be back with my annual song listing come January (a public commitment might hopefully stir me out of inaction). Enjoy your holidays and wishes in advance for a great new year!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Afloat

He looked at the sheet of paper in his hand. Blow-out sale on Herbal supplements, it said. “Cleanse your system, improve your memory, wipe away those wrinkles”, it claimed. He read the sheet without absorbing its contents. The words and colors were not relevant. The shape was. He goaded his hands into remembering. The paper was showing strains of his effort. Folds appeared all over the pages, criss-crossing the surface like wakes left by boats criss-crossing near a lake shore. Near his hand sat his adjudicators, two children of three and five respectively. Beads of sweat formed on his brow and a tear welled in the corner of his eye. His hands wrung in despair, flailed in violent desperation and the paper lent itself as a canvas to his struggling imagination. Rapturous applause followed from his captive audience, as they took his creation and ran away to the rain on the porch. The victor cried. He had beaten his enemy again; just. His life was afloat, fragile, like the paper boat he put together. An impassionate comment rang out from the television set in the other room,” Currently, there's no cure for Alzheimer's”.

Friday, November 21, 2008

De Mentor is here

This is De Mentor, the French reply to the British cultural offensive, or offensive cultural offense, or their 'offend culture' offensive .... never mind ... Britain's attack on French sensibilities, Harry Potter!!! I am here to teach you all the real meaning of Harry Potter, the real origin, the real story!!

Come hither, my pupils, iris, retina, cornea ... and the rest of you ... I shall teach you Hogwarts is nothing but Hogwash!!!! Harry Potter is not British. He is Indian. Harry Potter is the Anglicized version of Hari Kumbhar, the poor uneducated soul, whose ancestors were exiled to Elba coz they too were Able, along with Napoleon. A century or two later, his poor four fathers, with their poor English, read the wrong ship name and got on to the Yeast India Company ship!! The ship developed a lick(or was it a wine slick), and they had to stick their heads into the holes to keep the ship afloat. His four fathers' two sons floated ashore to the Middle East, chopped off the heads of their ancestors, and opened the Madame Tu Saudi's wax museum in their memory. ...... that's enough for the preview for ye, my pupils, eyelids, eyebrows and teardrops!! More to follow in the 'Sachai - The truth, by De Mentor'

P.S> Random blast from the past. There was another group blog I was contributing to where the rest of the posts were more ridiculous than this. Brain's not working much today, hence the recycle.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tragedy On 8th Avenue

He took a rapid drag off his cigarette. In the cold depths of a Seattle evening, he didn’t seem like a lone rebel stirring the nicotine pot. People around him were exhaling smoke through their mouths, one unlikely to hurt a secondary smoker. He tugged at his overcoat till it fit him snugly. The cashmere apparel was well complimented by a muffler a fan once sent him. “Thank you, for enriching my life”, the note had said. He couldn’t remember why he retained this. Other offerings were promptly dispatched through his man Friday for encashing, sometimes, even without opening them. “Enriched indeed”, he thought, allowing himself a smirk. Another drag from the cigarette followed as his imposing frame grew taller, waiting to exhale. It was impossible to escape his presence. Certain people are born with a striking personality, and those that enhance it by way of mystique and intellect earn the epithet magnetic. He was nothing but a strong magnet drawing people by the droves.

At that moment, he was drawing someone else altogether. A destitute man walked up to him, hunched with the burden of hardships, extended hands exposed in places where his gloves had torn off. “A quarter Sir, for some warm soup”, a raspy voice emanated from the depths of that slim frame. A man’s pride has a tipping point after which there is a gut-wrenching free fall. The penniless man teetered on the edge as he waited for a response from someone who seemed perfectly capable of giving. “Get lost, you old fool”, was the response he got, in tones, both irritating and insulting. The scales tipped over, and a shaking teary man wracked by penury and ravaged by hunger took the free fall.

A moment of panic ensued, as someone was dispatched to go out the backroom to find the speaker while the announcer took to the stage. “… my honor to introduce the famed author of ‘The compassionate soul’ …”. The murmuring anticipation gave way to a rapturous applause. It all but drowned a blood-curdling scream from the back. Wide open eyes stared back at the source of the scream, face morphed in surprise, hands limp on the side while a muffler unwrapped itself from its death grip. Dispatches to newspapers screamed its telegraphic headline: “Street crime claims friend of the poor”.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Autumn

Shapeless blisters on textured lawns,
Those bright colored leaves.
Scatterings of rainbow on the ground,
Those bright colored leaves.
Abandoned children of barren trees,
Those bright colored leaves.
Infrequent whispers of a moody sky,
Those bright colored leaves.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quiet Indignation

Dust
Forms an even coat
On a silently suffering car

On the rear door,
A little kid fingers
Its cry for help
“Clean Me!!”


P.S.> No, this isn’t autobiographical :-)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The beginning of the end

So, it has begun. The first of the modern day greats of Indian cricket has begun the exit march. Saurav Ganguly’s saga has never been a predictable one and the end only validates the theme. I think he made the smart move. He was always going to be the one that would be the first to go because he is the least indispensible of the lot. I wasn’t surprised when he was not picked for the Irani trophy match. Saddened, but not surprised. But when he was ultimately selected for the series, he did the smart thing by latching onto a chance for a graceful exit. Chances are the clamor for young India would have only increased as the series would have wound to a close.

In some sense, this is an exit forced by the new India that disheartens me. We have become a country of snap judgments, of sensational headlines, an impatient nature and opinions expressed in SMS polls. Public memory has never been shorter. The coverage on the 24 hour news channels is depressingly dramatic and aggressive. Yes, we lost the series in Sri Lanka, and yes, every player has his shelf life, but it seems to me like every failure is amplified to gargantuan proportions nowadays. We lost to Sri Lanka due to a collective batting failure but what gives that can’t possibly be enough to sack an entire middle order. Earlier that year, we gave Australia a run for their money and while not in prime form against South Africa, we didn’t lose the series. In the middle of all this was a series of inconsequential one day games which for the most part, no one can remember. What has changed dramatically? Perhaps it’s the romantic in me that wants to see proper respect given to the people of the caliber of Sachin and Dravid and I feel that the nation today is incapable of providing it. Dhoni’s ‘Youngistan’ may go on to do well in the future but I can’t see them being the same role models of professionalism and perseverance as the current middle order. Dhoni’s decision to skip the test series in Sri Lanka has dropped him a notch in the way I perceive him. Test cricket is sacrosanct to me, and preferring to play in T20 over that shows where his priorities lay.

I am rooting for the oldies of the team. I am rooting for these champions to do well because that will at least shut up the doubters for a while. India start this series as the favorites, but the media is already pulling them down by putting this extra pressure on the seniors. Ricky Ponting is a shrewd guy and has already read the situation perfectly. He said in his interview that with a single failure, the media in India will only add to the pressure on the seniors and that will play right into the hands of the Australians. With a new look side that doesn’t have the same class as the previous visiting Australians, Ponting will be hoping for the Indian media and public to help him with the job.

Objectively speaking, I expect India to win the series 2-1 or 2-0. I am most worried about Bangalore because of our track record here and the fact that Australian fast bowlers will do reasonably well. I hope that we press the home advantage and prepare spinning tracks. No shame in that. I don’t expect Ponting to fall to Harbhajan like he has in the past so we better be prepared for the likes of him and Clarke scoring well.

I’ll be eagerly looking forward to catching this test series the best I can (it will start late night for me, so one session at best before I need to sleep). Moreover, I’ll be waiting to catch some gorgeous off drives from the Prince of Calcutta, the most successful captain India has ever had. After this series, on the off side, only one God will prevail.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Theft

My pen plagiarizes
From my mind

My day steals
Some winks from my sleep

My past pilfers
The carelessness of my present

My words pinch
Impartiality of any thought

I protest mutely
And abet silently
For I bribe myself with
The spoils of life

Friday, September 26, 2008

Postcards from Chicago

Here are some photographs salvaged from one half of the trip. The best views were on the architecture cruise, but getting those online is a subsequent project.

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The Tribune Tower

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View of the Magnificent Mile from the Hancock Tower

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View of Lake Michigan

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Never had coffee served like this

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Hancock Tower

 

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The Crown Fountain in Millennium Park

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Chicago Skyline visible through the Cloud Gate

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Another view from the side

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Vortex of images from underneath the bean

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Lesson in politeness on the corner of a sidewalk

Monday, September 22, 2008

Windless in Chicago

Winding down after winding up a weekend in the Windy City! I made my first trip to Chicago this weekend with the missus. Aided by fabulous weather and absolutely no wind (thus the title), I spent a couple of days in the downtown area on what was a low-key relaxing tourist sojourn. We stayed at the Westin River North which was very close to the Magnificent Mile area and it turned out to be a very good thing. Being so close to the riverwalk and other spots in the downtown made our job easier.

Art Dekho

We ruled out the museums in the interests of time (I know they are a big highlight), but without doubt, walking around the city gave me more than my fill of art that I needed to see. Sprawled around the river, the buildings in the downtown, constructed after the great fire are a testament to great architecture. Numerous instances of buildings styled in art deco as well as postmodernism abound. To the untrained eye (mine) too, the subtleties aren't obvious to grasp. What helped though was an architecture cruise that we took that snaked through the river highlighting in great detail, excessive at times, the history behind the different buildings and the varied styles in which they were constructed. Walking around the downtown in the evenings was also a rewarding experience, especially along the RiverWalk. The buildings however weren’t the only art highlights. The Millennium Park was a treat as well. From the “Cloud Gate” to the “Jay Pritzker Pavilion”, it was great to see a public space with such emphasis on art and architecture.

Khana Khazana

While in Chicago, eat the deep dish pizza. At least that is what I had been told. So we headed off to Giordano’s, known for its world famous stuffed pizzas. We ordered a small, which claimed to fill in 1-2 people. I am not sure what appetites they had in mind while prescribing that. Between the two of us, we made it around 80% of the supposedly small pizza. That a human being can single-handedly eat that delicious offering beats me. While on the food, I also liked some of the offerings at India House.

Touristas

Besides the tour and the Millennium Park, I did due diligence to my duties as a tourist and made a trip to Hancock Tower. The only difference is that instead of going all the way to the observatory, I hopped over to the Lounge on the 95th floor per a friend’s recommendation and enjoyed the view sipping an impossibly expensive cup of coffee (alcohol might have been cheaper). The view of the shoreline was amazing. Walking along the Magnificent Mile was fun; what with the expensive shops all along and us skipping by for want of time. Navy Pier was another hop along the way and having been to the Santa Monica Pier in California, this one definitely came across as a place with more substance. Finally, we also caught the play Wicked at the Oriental Theater in The Loop.

Photographs

Yes, shouldn’t the post actually have some on here? The momentous event on the trip was not getting a great picture atop the architecture cruise. The momentous event was getting none, especially with my digital camera. My Canon s-50 finally died. After 5 ½ years of diligent service through thick and thin, it finally coughed its way to a tragic end. The shutter was stuck halfway, like Trishanku; unable to go in or fully come out. While I have photos from some part of my trip, I am going to have make arrangements to offload them, so this will have to wait. For the architecture cruise, I had to go low-tech and buy a disposable camera. I have no idea if and how those pictures will turn out. I guess I should look for a new camera now. With technology having developed so much since the time I last bought a camera, lots of research and a better product await me.

That’s about it. Enjoyable trip and I’d definitely recommended it. If some good pictures are salvaged, I shall share them with you. Final tip: Do stay in the downtown. That’s where all the action is.The train service from the O’Hare airport is well set for anyone to just get off and get there.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jo Dikhta Hai Woh Bikta Hai?

I’d like to start off with thanking those who wrote in asking me to post a post soon. To my great satisfaction, this was one absence from the blog that wasn’t caused because I ran out of ideas. It wasn’t the case of a Writer’s Block … simply a Blocked Writer. I was reading an article online where they commented on how a good blog is one that is updated daily. Which makes mine occasionally good I suppose. I see some logic in that argument. Blogging is good practice for an aspiring writer. Blogging daily would require rigor and discipline and a commitment that is hard to estimate upfront. My blog is the longest writing exercise I have certainly indulged in. If I keep at this, some day there would be enough material to cram into a book (notice how I avoid mentioning that the book actually needs to sell). Not a radical idea though. Others have done it. I saw a debate on NDTV; a program called ‘We the people’ where Barkha Dutt moderates discussion on a topic which on most occasions involve raucous adults in serious need of being taught manners in letting others talk. The topic of the debate was the state of blogging in India. One of the participants was a young girl who has a personal blog called The Compulsive Confessor. She’s single and writes on topics ranging from drinking to dating to sex and offers what can has been termed as a mild (or heavy, depending on what other blogs you have seen do this) dose of voyeuristic pleasure into the life of an urban Indian woman. There’s more to her blog but there’s a reason nothing else catches the eye. A lot of discussion went on about whether the blog was read because of the nature of the content or the quality of it. In the absence of other blogs in the same genre from the same gender and nationality, her blog definitely is its own USP. I looked up her blog online and thought it was alright. I have read several other blogs that are much higher quality in their choice of topics and execution. But the reason I bring this up here is that recently I read about her in Outlook India. She has her own book coming through. My first reaction is cynical. Would she have gotten the offer were commenting on non-controversial things? I am not so sure. I haven’t read the book obviously and I don’t think I’ll get my hands on it either. I am not shooting for a book contract so I can avoid from pouring out details of my personal life on this blog to entertain and titillate. But if that's a short cut for going onto greener pastures, isn't something amiss somewhere? It makes me wonder if Rakhi Sawant’s famous dictum: “Jo dikhta hai who bikta hai” is true. Is modern India so wrapped up with things that are bright and shallow that quality is a function of visibility? How many girls from ‘Chak De India’ went on to bigger better movies? To my knowledge, only the ones who had the glamour quotient. My commentary might be a tad too caustic and judgmental based on limited examples and I’d love to be proven otherwise. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Rukawat Ke Liye Khed Hai

Famous Doordarshan Message Translated: "Sorry for the interruption." Wanted to drop in a line about the ongoing break from blogging. Life happened. Will resume transmission shortly.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Transient

I am but
A simulacrum of self.
Slightly different
From a moment ago.

Like a whisper
Separated by decibels
From the uttered word

Like a shadow displaced
On its owner’s
Whimsical moves

Friday, August 08, 2008

Chakraview: India Quiz 2008

My quiz club, the Microsoft Redmond Quiz club is organizing Chakraview: India Quiz 2008 for AID (Association for India's Development) on August 23rd at 2 pm on Microsoft campus. I have been involved with the club from the start and this is by far our biggest event, hopefully exceeding the 70+ people who showed up on a weekday for the Bollywood Quiz I conducted. I thought I might use this forum to garner support from locals (Sridhar, that's you) and slightly remote (RTD2, that's you) for this event. We are doing a fairly good job at making sure that if you are in Seattle, you are most likely to hear about it, but it can't hurt to spread the word and extol the virtues of an event like this. Most people get intimidated by the concept of quizzing and I submit that good quizzes are where you already know the answer to the question and it isn't a test of trivia. We have strived to do that in our club and this event will be no different. Plus, it is for a good cause.

Here's the text of an e-mail I had sent out about the event: feel free to pass it around to anyone you know who might be interested in this.

What links common English words like catamaran, shampoo, bungalow, juggernaut and pajamas?
Which Indian cricketer’s restaurant serves ‘Multan Ke Sultan Ki Tikdi’, a dish priced at Rs. 309?
What Indian organization beats Chinese People's Liberation Army, Britain's National Health Service and Wal-Mart as the world's largest employer?

The answers (English words derived from Indian languages eg. catamaran from the Tamil word kattumaram, Virendra Sehwag and Indian Railways) all relate to our great country, a place Mark Twain called the ‘cradle of the human race’.

Come join us for Chakraview as we embark on a journey of rediscovery of India. From Tendulkar to Tagore, from Panipat to Pushkar, from Amitabh to Ashwathama, come test your India Quotient. This will be a fun event for one and all where you answer questions on Indian history, culture, sports, rulers, entertainment, mythology and much more.

When: 2pm, August 23, 2008
Where: Microsoft Bldg 99 (14280 NE 36th St, Redmond, WA 98052)
Open Registration -- there is no entry fee!


Visit
http://seattle.aidindia.org/chakraview to register and try out some fun questions. Write to chakraview2008@gmail.com if you have any questions.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Fourier Transformed

Fourier=Four Year. You get the idea. The very same quality of bad punning maintained, its been four years to the day that I started this blog. Perhaps I should get a long service award if this lasts another year. Thanks all for being a loyal and willing audience; those that do comment regularly and those whose silent presence I feel. Onward march to the next year!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Entropy

Coffee had spilled out of one side of his cup in an orderly file, leaving a stain on the white surface of his favorite mug. He stared at this deliberate disharmony. It felt like a rebel streak against the blandness the cup lived and died by. He envied that for a moment. To rebel is to live with a cause, regardless of any phrases you may have heard to the contrary. It’s a passion discovered and pursued, even if you are a few drops of water squeezed out of beans at a very high temperature.” Passive passive”, a colleague had once described him jokingly, referring to his apparent lack of proactiveness, and surprisingly enough, reactiveness too. It’s as if nothing moved him, nothing challenged him, nothing motivated him. He was flotsam in the massive river of corporate progress. A minion among many. Destined to follow, never to be roused. And thus transfixed he spent days and weeks and months at his desk, filing his reports, doing his chores with nary a hint of zest. Now he stared at the coffee and his own inconsequence. Something within him clicked. Inspiration struck him when he least expected it. What magic a brown lining on a white cup won’t do? Twenty minutes of furious work at the keyboard and he was good to go. A quick walk to the server room, some copying of files and a forceful pressing of the enter key later, a sly grin broke out on his face. He walked out of those doors one last time. The next morning the happy lot walked to their sleeping computers only to find their data corrupted, system brought to its knees, the company wiped out and an image of a dancing clown with the message below: A Taste Of Nikhil’s Nihilism!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Atrophy

Petal after petal
Gets pared away.
In death, the rose
Repeats its murderer’s question
“She loves me not?”

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lonesome Love

Unrequited, platonic,
puppy, all-conquering,
romantic, religious,
lost, true.

Love must be awfully lonely
To never survive without an adjective

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sundance Festival

What do I do with sun's charity?
When it goes over the top
Scorching to bed and searing to rise
My sleep screeches to a full stop


P.S> An ode to two days of scorching summer and the red-eyes the red hot sun has given me. No one thought it to be a good idea to have air-conditioners in Seattle. Local warming anyone?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Yellow Dawn

Absolutes scared him. Finality of any sort was anathema. You could call it a commitment issue. Binding himself to half-truths was his way of life. Every morning he’d touch his tools of trade with a touch of reverence before he started. Keeping his coffee just out of arms reach, he cracked his knuckles, adjusted his glasses and pulled his chair a little further. Thus began another day at work. Sitting in front of a computer, he fired up the neurons in his brain and transported himself to a world of make-believe, a potent concoction of adventure, romance, scandal and intrigue. A world where he was God. He didn’t go there alone. Wrapped in his sub-conscious were chunks of information, names of people, and a deadline to meet. Those pieces entwined with his fertile imagination and then there was light. As if possessed, his fingers obeyed and the monitor complied as God’s words appeared: ‘Aishwarya marries a peepal tree’

P.S> I have been reading Amitabh Bachchan’s blog daily (he is far more prolific than most blogger’s I know). You may or may not agree with his ideas and clarifications, but I admire his effort. This short post was inspired by his civilized rebuttals.
P.P.S> The title is a play on Red Dawn and Yellow Journalism

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Daily Dose

We live in the age of information overload. Knowledge is power but there is a fine line that you tread in terms of the time you can invest to get the data you need. What does one consume? How much does one consume? How much is relevant? How much is accurate? What do you need to retain? What can you discard? In the democratized world of the internet, knowledge is democratized too and spread far and wide. There isn't a single source of good relevant information and one needs to hunt. I wrote to a friend of mine today morning asking him suggestions on sites he visits and blogs he reads in order to stay abreast of the latest in technology news. Its a necessary skill to have. If you need to be sufficiently aware, then you need to troll in an adroit fashion as well.

My mind went back to a post I had written in August of 2004. This listed my daily quota of browsing: sites that I would unerringly spend time on each morning to gather my daily dose of data. I am reproducing the list verbatim here:
-- TimesOfIndia (Yes, yes, it is a tabloid, but I have read their newspaper since I could read one)
-- Google News
-- New York Times
-- Mid-day (I need my dose of Mumbai-specific happenings)
-- Rediff (for news, movies, cricket)
-- Indiafm (my daily dose of Bollywood happenings)
-- Dilbert (daily dose of humor)
-- Slashdot (a brief glance into the geek world)
-- Cricinfo (there is always some cricket happening all around the world)

Here's the big surprise: four years hence, I still revisit the entire list still without any new additions (the only deletion is TimesOfIndia. It has sunk beyond redemption). Clearly this net I cast has withstood the test of time. The two sectors I think the above list doesn't cover too well are business and technology. I read the Economist, Newsweek, OutlookIndia off and on, and also have the Time magazine delivered to my place each week, but that is clearly not sufficient. The radio serves me well too, as I follow the NPR on a regular basis. The list of sites has served me well thus far and my obsessive need for knowing things is largely satisfied (it also stands me in good stead in my quiz club :-))However, I'd be interested in knowing how the rest of the world copes. Drop in a line. Tell me about your morning quota of browsing. Suggestions to add to my list are also welcome.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Silver Screen

Light slashes
A cover of darkness
From far above.

Giants walk,
Fairies sing,
Miracles happen.

An alternate reality
Mesmerizes the devout
Four times a day

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Chaanta Laga

The “obnoxious weed” (courtesy Matthew Hayden) is at it again. A couple of weeks into the Indian Professional League, Harbhajan has usurped the most entertaining factor in the league: the cheerleaders. Somewhere down the line after the mind-numbing display of batting over the first two weeks, the matches are beginning to be regularly lop-sided. I get it though. IPL is not about the cricket. It’s about entertainment. It’s about Shah Rukh Khan jumping in the aisles and Preity Zinta rushing to the ground to give “her” team a good old hug for finally winning a match. It is about the razzmatazz and the ability to satisfy the short attention spans of the viewing public. The format of the game is biased towards the batsmen and it takes an extraordinary bowler by McGrath to dictate terms. We’ll get to that later. The debate on the merits of this form of the game can be endless. To get back to the top selling points of IPL, the cheerleaders were heralded as the great “innovation”. Vijay Mallya brought to India the pom-pom wielding Amazons from the Washington Redskins. Their presence was warranted so much that Dravid and co. were banned from the ground while they perfected their routines. They hogged the limelight, they hogged TV time by jumping to action anytime a four or a six or a wicket came about (and there were plenty of those to come by) and the hogged the radars of the moralists who are worried about the length of their skirts upsetting the rather delicate minds of the Indians who apparently can’t keep their eye on the ball.

They had the center stage, until Harbhajan arrived. He captained his side, the Mumbai Indians, to a third successive loss in the IPL. Perhaps his patience gave way. Perhaps the culprit, the man who can single handedly bring down India’s cricketing reputation down, Shantakumar Sreesanth, needled him a wee bit too much. But it happened nonetheless. Harbhajan’s hand rose above his head where you couldn’t fault him for not bending his elbow enough, and it came down with the grip of a doosra, one that an inexperienced Sreesanth couldn’t be faulted for not anticipating. It landed on Sreesanth’s face just in the right area sending his head into a spin that he couldn’t handle. On being thus dismissed, he let his disappointment known. Tears rolled down his face uncontrollably and the rest is televised history.

Perhaps Harbhajan took his loyalty to his team too seriously. Aren’t these players a bit like hired mercernaries? Would a Pollock really care Mumbai wins or Bangalore does? What’s his loyalty to the city? As per the franchise system he might get transferred somewhere else. These matches are a bit like matches I played in our building while growing up. Two strong players would be captains and the rest be picked turn by turn. Everyone just played to get their chance to do their bit with the bat and ball. Winning would be a bonus. No teams would be the same over two days and it really was entertainment. Perhaps this simplistic view of the IPL is necessary for me. Cricket after all is my passion and I’ll love IPL, even if I end up treating it with the partiality of a step-child. While IPL doesn’t give me the satisfaction of watching cricket, the least I can derive of it is the entertainment. For that, I need to thank Harbhajan and congratulate him for topping my charts. It’s a slap in the face of the all-domineering cheerleaders.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Interview

He treads intrepidly
Through the claustrophobic
Passages of memory.
Failure closes in
Garbed as questions;
Attempted yet Unanswered,
Much like life’s mysteries.
A circular linked list,
A binary search,
Oh, and your toughest challenge please.
He swats them aside; these thoughts
Straightens his tie
And walks right in
“Good morning”, indeed.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dough aur Dough Paanch

The aroma of mouth-watering, spine-tingling, soul-uplifting food spreads outward from the kitchen. About fifteen feet away, I am going through my justifying a day of leisure by gorging on EPSN’s collection of twenty-five greatest cricketers. The smell makes me stop at a eulogy to Viv Richards’s legendary World Cup final performance. Even the King can’t arrest my attention any longer. There is Ambrosia in the house, and as is the norm, it hasn’t been cooked by me. I have been spoilt by riches to which I have direct access: great chefs. From my grandmother to my mother to my wife, I have had access to some terrific cooks. I can’t leave out my roommate back in Texas A&M who was the Indian Association’s chef-in-charge for our entry into the International Food Day contest. Luck by chance, I have nothing to do with it. I was blessed into a family of great cooks, and I don’t remember asking my wife how she cooked when we dated. It is in these circumstances that my inability to cook is highlighted to the extreme. Am I driven by the abject desire to cook badly so I don’t have to cook at all? Does my devious mind deliberately misunderstand the emotional reactions insufficient salt can’t bring about? No, no, absolutely not. It is said that when one of the senses if impaired, it heightens the others. Perhaps my lack of ability to judge when a vegetable has crossed over from being cooked to being burnt has helped me memorize directions better. Who knows?

I learnt to cook a few days before I left India for the US. My abilities till date had been limited to boiling milk in the kitchen that I dutifully did. With generous doses of training from my other and recipes written in my own hand-writing to avoid any contention, I headed to braver shores to try my skills. Alas, as Avinash and my other roommates would agree, the results were far from desirable. It is as if I couldn’t get it at all. The recipes might just as well have been a regional language movie I am watching. I could grasp the story but not the intricacies. The chick peas swam in a sea of excess water, the pulao often turned brown as it stuck to the bottom. The jury was out, and I was limited to cooking once a week for everyone’s benefit. Marriage didn’t change matters much, with my wife’s fabulous cooking and the wondrous division of labor that all married couples duly agree to in order to function as good roommates.

Years have passed and I have exercised my right to cook once in a while. Yet, the tag has stuck. That I am an ordinary cook has been written into my hand (metaphorically) like Vijay in Deewar. The self-deprecatory jokes (and this article) don’t help either. As is my wont, I generally go onto the internet to look for recipes for things as simple as Alu Sabzi. As an engineer, I have an analytical mind that can follow detailed instructions. I have attempted to apply these skills to cooking. But how does one contend with improper specifications: what does a ‘handful’ mean? What size of the spoon were they referring to? What is Nigella called in Gujarati? I grapple with these question and my soul searches for answers as my daal rightly falls short of salt. I may be an ordinary cook but I aspire for greatness too. Perhaps my heart will once find the right balance of spices to make Alu Gobi, or ambition will take me into making a concoction involving paneer. Till then, I struggle in the shadows and let the experts do their work. I reassure my guests at every dinner party that I had nothing to do with the food. They breathe easy. But it will change one day. A dish would be present in the mix that no one identifies as tasteless or off or difficult to eat. It will be cooked by me and no one will know the difference. That would be the ultimate compliment. Redemption will come.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Uno Momento

Each moment arrives ripe with possibility, with the promise of the unexpected. Some crystallize steady liaisons into life long affairs, others trade old romances for new ones. Some let it pass through while immersed in the silence of rippling water on a small electric water fountain; some choose to jump towards the earth, held only by a shred of plastic and a cord that absolutely must function. In some strict sense, each iota of time is the same, yet can be measured differently by the impact it has. Which makes some moments more important than the others. Each moment is hardly just that, it is a decision. An inalienable bit of truth that you can’t detach from you for the times to follow. And there are others when time stops and stretches itself, like an extended yawn on a Sunday morning. I love those moments. When you see a rain drop tear itself from the sky and watch it pass by you onto the ground as you stare out the window of your third floor office, or when you see the ball seem to slow down as it comes from the bowler’s hand, as if to give you that extra half second to play your shot.

We live in large measures of time: hours, days, years too. Yet most of life is humdrum and just a straight line connecting the dots that are the highlights of one’s life. And by that, I don’t even mean all significant events, but simply those that stand out without warning, that approach you without announcing the unbridled special feeling they bring along, and they are rarely spectacular to others but yourself. Here’s to celebrating your own private collection of extraordinary instants. For there's a charm when a moment is passing; watching that transience take over when you’ll never be what you were and never be what you will become.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Permanent Insanity

BCCI has done it again. It has riled me enough to wake me out of my blogging slumber. For days I have been searching for something that I feel passionate enough to write about. Trust the greediest organization that exists today to do this. The IPL tamasha has been in full swing. They have put an end to the international careers of people like Shane Bond because they aren’t competing in their twenty-twenty league. Now they are nailing the coffin efficiently by shunting out test matches. I saw a news article today about how BCCI will sacrifice a test match during England’s tour of India to accommodate, hold your breath, seven one day internationals and two twenty-twenty games!!! Ostensibly, the reason being given is that England’s players want to be back by Christmas. Forget for once the fact that Indian players in the past have always had to tour around Diwali. I mean, you can’t expect the Indian board to care about that, right? However, sacrificing a test match to accommodate two or three more mind-numbing, inconsequential bouts of fifty over games is infuriating. Who the hell remembers these games? Raise your hand if you can recollect any of the matches of the seven match one day series between India and Australia last year. Now, raise your hand if you remember what happened in the test series in Australia soon after. I rest my case. I know of course that I am in a minority. I cling by the silly romance of the test match, the belief that it is a true test of skill and quality. I know that most cricket viewers today don’t have the patience to watch a day long game, and would rather be done within three hours. Watching a test match is out of the question altogether. I know of course that in the long term test matches will reduce substantially, what with BCCI in full pursuit. However, I am entitled to my frustration. Today’s cricket viewer probably deems cricket as mere entertainment, where bowlers are props and the number of boundaries and sixers is directly proportional to the amount of satisfaction a viewer ends the day with. Subtlety is a curse. Unfortunately, BCCI will speed track that argument to satisfy its thirst for money. I feel for my game, and the shabby treatment it is being meted out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pitches for the South Africa test matches turn out to be deadpan batting tracks resulting in draws (akin to the Pakistan team’s turn) thus allowing BCCI more freedom in killing of what is obviously no golden goose for it.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Street Sell

Stained,
Chipped,
Faithful,
Honest,
Listener,
Confidant,

Heirloom,
Grandmother's
Mirror,
Priceless,
Yours ...
For a buck

Monday, February 11, 2008

Eviction

There there
Don’t believe
All you hear

There are no
Women on Mars
Or men
For that matter

We haven’t
Erred enough
To be
Banished again


P.S: Rumours of a woman spotted on Mars

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Glimpses of India

As promised, here are some pictures taken from my India trip. There was not much scope to move around, so here's a little bit of what I have.

Let me start with, what else, a picture from sunset at a beach (regular readers might know of my weakness for the sea and particularly, its shores) Here's a little slice of heaven from India: Alibaug to be precise (a few hours drive from Mumbai).

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I made a trip to Ahmedabad to visit family and spent a day going around. The first stop was Sabarmati Ashram, a beautifully maintained sanctum sanctorum of the Father of the nation. Particularly soothing was the wind blowing through at the bank of the river Sabarmati where the ashram is located.

This is R.K. Laxman's tribute to Gandhi, a series of cartoons drawn in his trademark style

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Gandhi's working quarters during his stay at the ashram

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Next up is Adalaj ni Vav a step well very close to Ahmedabad. The architecture of this place is marvelous. Enjoy the effect of what seems like a series of never ending arches.

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Beauty rising out of ruins

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Next stop was at the Sun Temple in Modhera, the only second one of its kind (the other more famous one is in Konark, Orissa). The highlight was the massive stepped tank in front of the temple called Surya Kund. There are 108 miniature shrines carved in between the steps. I didn't know this before the speciality of a sun temple is that the first rays of the sun fell on the image of the Sun God during equinoxes.

A section of the aforementioned tank.

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Intricate carvings

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The Sabha Mandap

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Here's an odd picture to complete this post. Spic and span, the new shining (pun intended) India. A mall in New Bombay on a weekday.

Picture 463

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monkey Business

The verdict is out and Harbhajan has been cleared of the racism charge. After the extreme drama where Mike Procter handed out the initial judgement to the constant pressures applied by the BCCI, this has been the ugliest story of the cricketing season. While the suspension was pushed away until this hearing so that the tests could proceed as planned, BCCI took to extraordinary tactics to put pressure on ICC and CA (Cricket Australia). They threatened to cancel the tour, kept their players in Adelaide etc.

Predictably, the Aussie media retaliated with criticism of the reversal of the charge against Harbhajan. They all talk about how CA & ICC bent over to accomodate BCCI. However, the Australians are missing the point. There issue snowballed because (a) Ricky Ponting decided to escalate the issue despite Kumble's suggestion not to (b) the obviously biased Mike Procter gave a horrendous decision where he took one man's word over another's. That the trusted party was white does not help matter.

Australians need to understand that this isn't the first time Indians and Asians have been at the receiving end of such treatment. The Mike Deniss incident was another case in point. It is the pent up frustration of this treatment at the hands of non-Asian teams and match referrees that has led to this.

If BCCI put on pressure, its only because ICC and CA would understand only that language. The fact is that the first judgement was wrong that the only right thing was its reversal. Is it so difficult for anyone to see? In what court of law would you proceed on one man's word over the other? If it can't be proved that Harbhajan uttered the racist comments, then obviously the charge against him is without basis. I am not a big fan of BCCI. It is a powerful yet greedy organization which has never cared for the betterment of cricket. But on this issue, I support their actions. It is a matter of national pride, an assertion of identity. Non-Asian teams have rolled over the Asians for years now with the consent of the ICC. Now, there's no need to take that kind of nonsense anymore. I can clearly see how only BCCI could have achieved this. Imagine if this would have happened with a less influential cricketing board like Sri Lanka. Do you think the player would have had a second trial and be exonerated? That being said, players like Harbhajan and Sreesanth need to be told by the BCCI to conduct themselves better on the field. For all the drama, Harbhajan had a very ordinary series and I would definitely rather pick Murali Karthik for the upcoming series against the South Africans. Put your performances where your mouth is. There is a reason no one sledges Tendulkar.

Friday, January 18, 2008

London Chronicles

As promised, here are some select photos from a stop over at London. This was an absolutely touristy stop over in the city and the photos will reflect that

1. Buckingham Palace

Waited and waited for the queen to call us in for a cup of masala chai and some farsan, but that did not happen.

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Instead we were greeted by the sights of a bunch of guards going in and another coming out for the routine change of guard that draws in the crowds. Guess the guards got their dose of caffeine.

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2. London Eye

London ki aankh! The slowest ferris wheel I have ever been atop. For all of thirty minutes, people get into 'capsules' that take you high and above the ground allowing for really good views of the city all around.

Picture 059

The light had been ordinary till then, and we weren't sure how that would affect what we will get to see. Instead we got some fantastic views of the Parliament and the Big Ben with the light peeping through the clouds as shown here.

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Here's another picture from a different height and angle. I love the detail that is evident in the bridge across the river.

Picture 080

3. Westminster Abbey

A place for a lot of famous royal ceremonies, we missed out on seeing this from the inside because of a time clash and some unexpected closures. I didn't have too many good pictures of the outside. Here's a rare one.

Picture 119

4. Tower Bridge

The fun part is that I always thought this was the London bridge whose fall was being reported to the fair lady. Oh, the things you find out when you step on the actual London bridge. My camera is lousy at night shots. While a little blurred, this is still a tolerable picture.

Picture 136

5. Lords

My personal high point of the trip. There was a one and a half hour tour, most of which was spent in the pavilion and long room as seen in this picture. There was also a museum with the original Ashes urn. I felt like an enthusiastic kid in class, shooting my hand up to answer all the trivia questions that the tour guide was asking.

Picture 167

Here's a view of the media center on the other side of the ground. Fairly modern structure for a ground so old. The view from the media center itself is fantastic, since it directly overlooks the pitch. The famous Lords slope is also very evident from there.

Picture 168

Here's a magnificient view of the ground basking in daylight. A fantastic visit overall. Of course, it helps that my wife is also an ardent cricket fan :-)

Picture 181

6. Sherlock Holmes Museum

A neat idea. They constructed a Victorian era house based on the description of Sherlock Holmes' house in all his stories, and better still, situated it on Baker Street. In the house, they had a bunch of wax figurines of characters from some of his stories. Shown here is the man with the twisted lip.

Picture 197

7. Bath

A small town an hour and a half away from London, this is from the times when London was a Roman city. The focal point, not surprisingly is a bath, a natural hot water spring which was considered a sacred healing place by Romans. The bath itself wasn't anything major to write home about, but the structures were fairly nice.

Picture 214

The actual bath shown below.

Picture 221

8. St. Paul's Cathedral

One of London's most famous landmarks, this was a fantastic place to go see. Its marvelous to see such an old construction still retain its magnificience when surrounded by all things modern. The views from the top were also very nice. Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed inside the cathedral.

Picture 260

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Hindi Film Songs: Best of 2007

In continuance of an annual tradition, I am back with the fourth edition of the list of my best Hindi film songs from the year. Thanks for the clamor. It makes the effort worth it.

Reiterating the disclaimers:
1. The songs aren't listed in any particular order. I have just listed them in the order in which I came across 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. In particular, I have not followed any of the December releases well since I was on vacation. I might include them next year.
3. Some of the movies will be releasing next year (eg. My name is Anthony Gonsalves) but since their songs have released this year, I am including them. Similarly, movies that released in 2007 were covered in the 2006 list if their music was out then (eg. Guru)
4. I am going to attempt to limit the number of songs per movie to two. That does not imply that there aren’t any more on the movie’s list that I like. For eg. Saawariya has more than two songs that I enjoy. I follow that rule under most circumstances just to keep the length of the list in check.

A new feature this year has been added on request. Instead of just listing the song, I am also going to attempt to provide a direct link to the song. You can click on it and hear it out. Caution: I have noticed that musicindiaonline tends to be very flaky at times, so if the link doesn’t work, scoot over to other sites, but do listen to the songs.

I am open to suggestions on songs that you think should be on the list but are missing. I am also open to debates on my choices but as is the nature of blogging, one who owns the blog has the final say. Hope you enjoy it.

Song : Chak De India
Movie : Chak De India
Music Director : Salim-Suleiman
Singers : Marianne D'Cruz, Salim Merchant, Sukhwinder Singh
Lyricist: Jaideep Sahani
Why is it on the list? : The song that rocked the nation. Its an unconventional song for an unconventional movie sung by an unconventional singer.

Song : Aaja Nachle
Movie : Aaja Nachle
Music Director : Salim-Suleiman
Singer : Sunidhi Chauhan
Lyricist: Piyush Mishra
Why is it on the list? : The song got into an ungainly controversy around the use of the word mochi. That aside, it’s a typical Madhuri Dixit composition, if there is such a thing. What was surprising to me was the use of Sunidhi instead of Alka for this song.

Song : Ishq Hua
Movie : Aaja Nachle
Music Director : Salim-Suleiman
Singers : Shreya Ghoshal, Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Jaideep Sahani
Why is it on the list? : Regulation romantic song with what is fast becoming a very successful combination of singers. Fine breezy composition.

Song : Apne
Movie : Apne
Music Director : Himesh Reshammiya
Singer : Sonu NigamLyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Despite their much publicized spat, Himesh-Sonu got together for this song which is excellently composed and rendered. It is also effectively used in the movie.

Song : To Phir Aao
Movie : Aawarapan
Music Director : Pritam
Singer : Mustapha Zahid
Lyricist: Sayeed Quadri
Why is it on the list? : Yet another pakistani singer with strong rendition abilities. The song is beautifully written and sung but sounds so similar to the other Pakistani group Jal. The original composition I believe is by a group named Rox3n.

Song : Bhool Bhulaiyya
Movie : Bhool Bhulaiyya
Music Director : Pritam
Singer : Neeraj Sridhar
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Is it possible to not list this song this year? Another one that really caught on.

Song : Laal Laal Dikhe Hai Mujhko
Movie : Big Brother
Music Director : Anand Raaj Anand
Singers : Ustad Sultan Khan, Zubin Garg
Lyricist: Anil Pandey
Why is it on the list? : Didn’t expect to find a sufi/qawwali composition in a Sunny Deol movie. Well composed and the odd pairing of singers make it worth hearing.

Song : Baatein Hawa
Movie : Cheeni Kum
Singer : Shreya Ghoshal
Music Director : Ilaiyaraaja
Lyricist : Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Very refreshing tune refreshingly rendered by Shreya.

Song : Cheeni Kum
Movie : Cheeni Kum
Singer : Shreya Ghoshal
Music Director : Ilaiyaraaja
Lyricist : Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Old wine in new bottle still tastes as good.

Song : Bhula Diya
Movie : Dus Kahaniyan
Music Director : Anand Raj Anand
Singer : Anand Raj Anand
Lyricist: Ibrahim Ashq
Why is it on the list? : ‘Tis the year Anand Raj Anand resurfaced in a big way. Nicely composed, written and sung.

Song : Jaaniye
Movie : Dus Kahaniyan
Music Director : Gaurav Dasgupta
Singers : Sunidhi Chauhan, Aanchal Malhotra
Lyricist: Virag Mishra
Why is it on the list? : This is an odd selection. A sensuous female duet, a throwback to the days of Nadia Hassan, especially with the disco beats. This beat out some other good songs from the movie to make the cut.

Song : Roya Re
Movie Name : Dhokha
Singer : Shiraz Uppal
Music Director : MM Kareem
Lyricist : Sayeed Quadri
Why is it on the list? : Bhatts generally do better than this on music. This is the only song from the movie that registered with me. Nicely written.

Song : Kitni Der Tak
Movie Name : Delhi Heights
Singers : Rabbi Shergill, Sonu Nigam
Music Director : Rabbi Shergill
Lyricist : Rabbi Shergill
Why is it on the list? : I liked the song enough to actually blog about it during the year. Refreshing composition, very well rendered by Sonu.

Song : Tere Bin
Movie Name : Delhi Heights
Singer : Rabbi Shergill
Music Director : Rabbi Shergill
Lyricist : Rabbi Shergill
Why is it on the list? : I am still fully deciphering the Punjabi lyrics and it has been several months. Yet, that hasn’t changed the way I feel about this song.

Song : Chanda Re
Movie Name : Eklavya - The Royal Guard
Singer : Hamsika Iyer
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Lyricist : Swanand Kirkire
Why is it on the list? : This gem of a song stood camouflaged in a largely songless movie. This appears very briefly in the background if I remember correctly.

Song : Hey Baby
Movie Name : Hey Baby
Singers : Loy Mendonsa, Neeraj Sridhar, Pervez Quadir, Raman
Music Director : Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyricist : Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Among SEL’s weakest music scores, this was the only stand out song from the movie.

Song : Sajnaji Vaari Vaari
Movie Name : Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd
Singer : Sunidhi Chauhan
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Lyricist : Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Rendered with gusto by Sunidhi, this is one of the better fast numbers of the year.

Song : Yeh Ishq Hai
Movie Name : Jab We Met
Singer : Shreya Ghosal
Music Director : Pritam
Lyricist : Irshad Kamil
Why is it on the list? : I was in India the whole of December and if there was one song that I heard over and over again wherever I went, it was this. I liked it the first time I heard it because Shreya has sung it in a manner which is a departure from her usual style. The lyrics are catchy and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this song feature in the annual awards.

Song : Aaoge Jab Tum
Movie Name : Jab We Met
Singer : Ustad Rashid Khan
Music Director : Sandesh Shandilya
Lyricist : Irshad Kamil
Why is it on the list? : Here’s the googly. Off all the songs I could pick as my second song for the movie, I picked this beautifully sung number. I thought this would have been cut off in the movie, but surprisingly it was left as is. As a footnote, I didn’t escape Mauja Hi Mauja in my India trip either. Overall this soundtrack was fairly replete with good numbers.

Song : Move Your Body
Movie : Johnny Gaddar
Music Director : Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Singers : Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani, Loy Mendonsa, Hard Kaur
Lyricist: Des-C, Hard Kaur
Why is it on the list? : One of the most well made movies of the year also got a well thought out soundtrack to go with it. Although the songs make the list, it is actually the background pieces that were absolutely brilliantly scripted and used in the movie.

Song : Johnny Gaddar
Movie Name : Johnny Gaddar
Singers : Suraj Jagan and Akriti Kakkar
Music Director : Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyricist : Jaideep Sahni
Why is it on the list? : The song, especially the opening riffs build an aura of suspense that blends perfectly into the mood of the film.

Song : Jhoom Barabar Jhoom
Movie Name : Jhoom Barabar Jhoom
Singers: Kay Kay, Sukhwinder Singh, Mahalaxmi Iyer, Shankar Mahadevan
Music Director : Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyricist : Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : If you have survived the movie, congratulations to you. The music was much better and much more tolerable and this song is evidence. There are multiple versions of the song for those who want to savor more.

Song : Kiss Of Love
Movie Name : Jhoom Barabar Jhoom
Singers : Vishal Dadlani, Vasundhara Das
Music Director : Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyricist : Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : This might be another surprise for most, but I am hooked to this inane number. The tune gets in the head and stays put.

Song : Ram Milaye Jodi
Movie Name : Just Married
Singer : Sukhwinder Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan
Music Director : Pritam
Lyricist : Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : This movie had an interesting combination of music director and lyricist. The results were mixed. This was probably the best of the lot, a situational song.

Song : Khoya Khoya Chand
Movie Name : Khoya Khoya Chand
Singers : Swanand Kirkire, Ajay Jhingran
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Lyricist : Swanand Kirkire
Why is it on the list? : The song has very good orchestration throughout and it ends especially well.

Song : O Re Paakhi
Movie Name : Khoya Khoya Chand
Singer : Sonu Nigam
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Lyricist : Swanand Kirkire
Why is it on the list? : A song written for Rafi that only Sonu can execute in modern day. A throwback to the songs of yore, this one is a classic that rides purely on Sonu’s voice.

Song : Its Rocking
Movie Name : Kya Love Story Hai
Singer : Alisha Chinai
Music Director : Pritam
Lyricist : Shabbir Ahmed
Why is it on the list? : An intro with ‘Ude jab jab’ seamlessly blends into the song which is refreshingly composed and sung. In a movie that sank without a trace, this song was the only redeeming factor.

Song : Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
Movie Name : Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
Singers : Shubha Mudgal, Mita Vashisht
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Lyricist : Swanand Kirkire
Why is it on the list? : A tour de force by Shubha Mudgal, this is a very interesting take on the Manna Dey classic with commentary by Mita Vashisht.

Song : Ehi thaiyya motiya
Movie Name : Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
Singer : Rekha Bharadwaj
Music Director : Shantanu Moitra
Lyricist : Swanand Kirkire
Why is it on the list? : My second unconventional pick from this movie. A rare thumri by the rarely heard Rekha, this is beautifully composed.

Song : In Dino
Movie Name : Life In A Metro
Singer : Soham
Music Director : Pritam Chakraborty
Lyricist : Sayeed Quadri
Why is it on the list? : Soham’s big break (he had sung unnoticed for movies like Kaal in the past). This follows the soft rock tradition combined with classical singing brought across from across the border. Nicely done.

Song : Kar Salaam
Movie Name : Life In A Metro
Singers : Pritam Chakraborty, Soham, Suhail
Music Director : Pritam Chakraborty
Lyricist : Sayeed Quadri
Why is it on the list? : A song with a lot of energy, be it the singing or the guitar pieces. The tune is reminiscent of Koli numbers in its lilt. The lyrics are good too, and aptly comes in the culmination of the movie.

Song : Tum Mile
Movie Name : My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves
Singer : Kay Kay
Music Director : Himesh Reshammiya
Lyricist : Sameer
Why is it on the list? : The tune sounds fresh and could almost have been an Anu Malik composition in the 90’s.

Song : Jab Bhi Cigarette
Movie Name : No Smoking
Singer : Adnan Sami
Music Director : Vishal Bharadwaj
Lyricist : Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : Creates the aura of jazz in a seedy bar. Gulzar had enough practice with Beedi to write authoritatively on a smoker’s mindset.

Song : Phoonk De
Movie Name : No Smoking
Singer : Sukhwinder Singh
Music Director : Vishal Bharadwaj
Lyricist : Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : More on smoking ironically from a movie which says No Smoking. Even the Rekha Bharadwaj version is good, it has a much different treatment.

Song : Main Jahaan Rahoon
Movie Name : Namaste London
Singer : Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
Music Director : Himesh Reshammiya
Lyricist : Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Another excellent composition by the much vilified Himesh.

Song : Ajab Si
Movie Name : Om Shanti Om
Singer : Kay Kay
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Lyricist : Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Delightful melody, though an interesting theory I heard was that Abhijeet singing this song would have turned out better. Yet, very hummable.

Song : Main Agar Kahoon
Movie Name : Om Shanti Om
Singer : Shreya Ghosal
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Lyricist : Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : A violin piece that sounds like a tribute to RK, a song set to the beat of waltz and that man Sonu made this my second choice for this movie. Shows my bias towards Rafi I guess. I picked this over ‘Jag Soona’ and the taxing ‘Dard-e-sabko’

Song : Soni De Nakhre
Movie Name : Partner
Singers : Labh Janjua, Sneha Pant, Wajid
Music Director : Sajid-Wajid
Why is it on the list? : Irritating yet addictive. Masala track.

Song : Thode Badmash
Movie Name : Saawariya
Singer : Shreya Ghoshal
Music Director : Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Lyricist : Nusrat Badr
Why is it on the list? : How do you pick two songs from one of the most comprehensively good soundtracks of the year? I loved the music of this movie with its emphasis on melody. Barring the Kunal Ganjawala tracks who I don’t believe has the range for these songs, all the songs are exquisitely handled. I picked this one because of Shreya’s rendition. Notice how the opening alaap is similar to ‘Dil Cheez Kya Hai’.

Song : Yoon Shabnami
Movie Name : Saawariya
Singer : Parthiv Gohil
Music Director : Monty Sharma
Lyricist : Sandeep Nath
Why is it on the list? : There are layers to this song and the tempo changes several times yet never loses hold of you. Beautifully rendered. The climax beats sound remarkably similar to those used in ‘Taal’.

Song : Aakhri Alvida
Movie Name : Shootout At Lokhandwala
Singer : Strings
Music Director : Strings
Lyricist : Anwar Maqsood
Why is it on the list? : The piano piece is a straight lift-off yet the song is done in typical Strings fashion. It grows on you.

Song : Thaare Vaaste
Movie Name : Shaka Laka Boom Boom
Singers : Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan
Music Director : Himesh Reshammiya
Lyricist : Sameer
Why is it on the list? : A movie on the music industry had surprisingly insipid music. This is the only one that stuck in my mind.

Song : Maa
Movie Name : Taare Zameen Par
Singer : Shankar Mahadevan
Music Director : Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyricist : Prasoon Joshi
Why is it on the list? : A kid’s perspective written and sung sensitively by adults.

Song : Taare Zameen Par
Movie Name : Taare Zameen Par
Singer : Shankar Mahadevan
Music Director : Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyricist : Prasoon Joshi
Why is it on the list? : I like the arrangement of this song. Soft yet evocative. Excellent lyrics.

Song : Beete Lamhein
Movie Name : The Train
Singer : Kay Kay
Music Director : Mithoon
Lyricist : Sayeed Qadri
Why is it on the list? : Mithoon follows up Anwar from last year with some more trademark beautiful composition. Kay Kay sings it with the right amount of pathos, and the languid pace of the song takes you in.

Song : Mausam
Movie Name : The Train
Singer : Mithoon
Music Director : Mithoon
Lyricist : Sayeed Qadri
Why is it on the list? : And he can sing too. I love the use of piano and drums in this song.

Song : Saaiyaan
Movie Name : Ta Ra Rum Pum
Singer : Vishal Dadlani
Music Director : Vishal-Shekar
Lyricist : Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Odd choice of singer but he delivers. Movie with big expectations but no music worth speaking of.

Song : Aasmani Chatri
Movie Name : The Blue Umbrella
Singer : Upagna Pandya
Music Director : Vishal Bharadwaj
Lyricist : Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : The composer and lyricist paint a vision of hills and magic and a little blue umbrella with this song.

Song : Kiya Kiya
Movie Name : Welcome
Singers : Anand Raj Anand, Shweta Pandit
Music Director : Anand Raj Anand
Lyricist : Anjaan Sagari
Why is it on the list? : Doesn’t Anand Raj Anand sound like Sukhwinder at times? One of the hits he has delivered this year.

Song : Uncha Lamba Kad
Movie Name : Welcome
Singers : Anand Raj Anand, Kalpana
Music Director : Anand Raj Anand
Lyricist : Anand Raj Anand
Why is it on the list? : Tune is good, though the lyrics are very ordinary.

Song : Cash
Movie Name : Cash
Singer : Sunidhi Chauhan
Music Director : Vishal Dadlani-Shekhar Ravjiani
Lyricist : Vishal Dadlani
Why is it on the list? : Ode to Pulp Fiction? Very catchy.

Song : Naa Puchho
Movie Name : Cash
Singer : Sunidhi Chauhan
Music Director : Vishal Dadlani-Shekhar Ravjiani
Lyricist : Vishal Dadlani
Why is it on the list? : The voice over by the male voice in parts is a fantastic improvisation.

Song : Billo Rani
Movie Name : Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal
Singers : Richa Sharma, Anand Raj Anand
Music Director : Pritam Chakraborty
Lyricist : Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Poor man’s Kajra Re, yet good enough to make it to this list.

Song : Ya Ali
Movie Name : Aap Ka Suroor
Singers : Himesh Reshammiya, Sunidhi Chauhan
Music Director : Himesh Reshammiya
Lyricist : Sameer
Why is it on the list? : Good composition and rendition in this singer centric movie. Also check out Kya Jeena from this movie.

Song : Dard-E-Disco
Movie Name : Om Shanti Om
Singers : Sukhwinder Singh
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Lyricist : Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : By public demand

Song : Jaagte Raho
Movie Name : Just Married
Singer : Sonu Nigam
Music Director : Pritam
Lyricist : Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : On repeated insistence and my soft spot for Gulzar sahab.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Neitherland

I am back from my fourth trip of the third world. It is heartening to see that the bridge between the third and the first world seem to have reduced, yet the distance needs to be traversed. It is as if there is a narrow suspension bridge one has to cross, and until the traversal is complete, life itself remains in suspension. It is as if one is in no man’s land. The body is neither here, nor there. I wake at three in the morning and threaten to collapse on my office desk after lunch. There is the strange experience of food not being presented to you, and the temperatures in Fahrenheit over here are remarkably close to the temperatures in Celsius in India. The sounds of silence around make me yearn for the mindless honking I had begun to anticipate. My brain is probably missing the place more than my heart is. Neither here nor there.

My mind is torn between the myriad tasks to be done. I have around eight hundred photographs to download, process, and stick to my customary routine of uploading with captions to the awaiting audience of family and friends. I am hounded by what should be a delight: multiple topics on which to post on my blog. My annual Hindi film song list, my experiences of India, photographs and stories from London. All that need to be done today, yet can’t be, since time has still continued at its usual pace. Then there’s the allegiance to the paycheck and responsibilities of the house. The state of suspension needs time to resolve. Thank you for the messages in my absence. I had the unique experiences of celebrating several new years as I flew west on the night of the 31st. Hence, I’ll accept unique wishes from you for the unique new year’s I passed. I am hoping to resume normal services soon. Till then, I’ll wait for the surreal to pass me by.