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Monday, February 28, 2005

A Tale of Two Sunsets

If winter comes, can Spring be far behind ?

Meant metaphorically to allude to the Bhopal trip that followed on the heels of the Indore fifo.

One of the most poetic cities one can hope to find in the melee of modern India, as usual little is known of it outside the state because it does not have swanky IT Parks, burgeoning supermalls and the aforementioned success-drugged louts.

Gorgeous heavenly wide roads with solid dividers, lush green tress dotting both sides of most roads, decent lighting and a marked absence of pothole ridden tarred lacunae make for total driving pleasure. In fact, many areas actually have parks with glistening water and lush grass with folks lolling about, so it is quite an effort to keep your head craned to the vast emptiness-stretching out before the driver.
The ghouls of traffic are occupied elsewhere so at all times, a feast for the eyes and comforts for the spinal cord dominate.

Of course, I look askance at the raison d’etre of the living folks—at least the unobtrusive majority. No, nothing wrong with being laidback, phlegmatic and content, but perhaps with the so-called social mores of dignity, respect and realism firmly in place, Bhopal can benefit with a little more spunk, success and sauciness.

Not that it cannot—some of the brightest people I have known have emerged from here—the St Joseph’s is renowned as is the Bharat School of Social Sciences. Where it lags is for some folks to return and show how it’s done , as of now the gentry is smug with the odd IIT gate-crasher or the odd job with a telecom/software major. Collectively we need to pull together, and as always, easier said than done.

Most cultured and sensitive place, despite all and excellent to live in ! ( Ed—We’ll take your word for it !)

Was pointedly refused by the authorities when I mooted the idea of having my meetings on those sprawling verdant lawns of the hotel I stayed in—in itself perched atop a languid hill and surrounded by thick foliage. This was the only sore point of an otherwise gratifying trip.
Would have loved to walk barefoot on that grass.
Who says Grass is for cows …
Not Mooooo..
( Ed—Hmm, methinks it was Sanchez-Vicario )

Will end this by speaking of the two most hauntingly beautiful sun views. I cannot proffer an opinion on comparable sunrise settings ( Ed—Primarily as your waking hours would put any self-respecting rooster to shame ) The first on the flight to Indore—crimson streaks etched across the colorless skies and throwing up concords of sweet grandeur. Rivetting, and I sat up smothering up the ravelled-sleeve-of-care through the journey. I’m no poet and I dare say, it shows.

The other was in direct chronological contrast to the sunrise on which I’ve waxed eloquent. On the long way home, a tinge of red lighting up the entire expanse of the Bada Talaab on what must surely be the most picturesque lake in India. Much more scenic than the sordid drain called the Husain Sagar.

Pavements made to stroll on , devoid of leery cohorts and dreamy-eyed lovers, an ode to the spiritually uplifting and a call to prayer. Time stops…

As mortality makes me more aware of its presence, I become more chary of my blessings…..


Thursday, February 24, 2005


Had to pick up the pieces of my heart after the Gunners capitulated against a bubbly Bayern side, grab the axiomatic forty winks and perform the gravity-defying task of waking at four.

Was just beginning to enjoy my anytime-anywhere snooze when was woken by a timorous "Do ya know the way..." in a thick Bhojpuri accent from the cabbie. Am never at my best in the wee hours, more so when the soothing come-hither taped Bhojpuri paeans to the coveted female, were in full voice, and seemingly induced a complacence.

Was blasted out of my dulled thoughts by the bracing wintry air in Indore at eight--again an oversight considering the voice-over had painstakingly explained that the temperature was eight degrees in the shade.

Everytime I am in the winter sun, I feel decidedly out of place in the blazing inferno of a city I make my home in. I feel weightless, serene and completely at ease in winters, and cannot help wonder about the reasons that preclude my living in the hills.

On a cold n frosty morning, I dance with the daffodils--mixed poems but the yearning endures...

Watched the familiar hordes of ardent young pupils of the Kendriya Vidyalayas march, waltz and ride their way to school. Roads largely paved and clean sidewalks.

Genteel poverty lies cheek-by-jowl with ostentation and opulence in Indore. A teeming city of some twenty eight lakhs, it can be easily the cusp of the vast emptiness that is the wont of Central India. Has the ability to marry modernity and tradition, endowed with proximity to several places of learning and peace, its throbbing pulsations have since found more quiet expressions as it strrugles to cope with the inequalities that plague most of India.

Some unsung educational institutes--the BBA course would easily rate next only to the incomparable College of Business Studies-Delhi, the Devi Ahilyabai University is considered well on its way to national recognition. Some schools--Daly's, Choitrams, Agnels, Shirdi Sai and the ubiquitous DPS have found acclaim and may challenge the might of other biggies in more upmarket locations.

Despite having a half-decent CM for most of the nineties, the city is plagued by a discernible lack of direction and focus. The pecuniary arsenal hence goes abegging.

As the non pareil Herriot says, I took some big steps and li'l ones today. Hit Warehouse Road, Siyaganj, Dawa Bazaar, Jaora Compound, Anoop Nagar in the first half today. New-fangled ideas lazily gain momentum , and already some raising Cain elsewhere have been given a decent burial. Supermalls, for instance.. are not the tour de force as they are in other burgeoning cities in India.

( But then Indore does not have the luxury of those success-drugged louts that shamelessly inhabit all public domains..)

The old parts of the city are less isolated, forlorn and penurious than in some others. People are poor, but not condemned to a protracted life of grime and hopelessness. Hope springs eternal...

Annapoorna Road, Rajendranagar and Vivek nagar all bear resemblance inasmuch that they visibly retain some vestiges of happier days long gone. I think education is the key. If so, what is the lock ? Not politics or religion or even reason.
Ours is not to ponder why....


Monday, February 21, 2005


To round off on the all-too-short Bangalore, a word on the recalcitrant straining of a faceless people seeking to find a stable identity( Neigh neigh !).

All the hoardings, shop awnings, bus shelter signages, storefronts and letterings on every conceivable curvature were inexplicably only in Kannada. Pardon my ignorance, perhaps, but I was given to understand that the other Southern states were far more unyielding in their resolve to banish Hindi, reclaim their lingua franca and impute an unheld fidelity to their kinsmen. Apparently now, we are like this wonly .

Came back to have a colleague regale me with tales of the Coorg region, and have me covet what could have been ! Those scenic locales, those windswept vales, those verdant boughs.
Sigh !

Caught up with one of my closest friends over dinner, now ( needlessly ) working with a software major. It is a veritable wonder how some things stand unrelenting and resolute with time, like people.
I’ve known him since the first day of college and I am astounded as to how little he has changed since then. We are both essentially peace-loving, docile, amicable people (Ed—This is a departure from the Truth as we know it !) but blessed with a tremendous ability to ignore reason, logic or persuasion when we feel like it. (Ed—Yeah, that’s true !) That is the only similarity I see .

His love for Indian polity is unspeakably repugnant to me, my sports frenzy is an anathema to him. My appalling lack of knowledge about Syrian military machinations is matched only by his aversion to my music.

Needless to say, we have hardly spoken of any of these things and again, I am amazed as to what we actually speak about, and have spoken about for so long.

Yes, I have never lost a Crossword Competition with him ( his mulish refusal to step outside college had been a dampener)

Feel blessed to have been his friend after all these years…

Read a book of Marquez—Collections of his Short Stories—on the long way home. Macabre to begin with, thawed thereafter and the last few were delightful.
He tried a stunt that was so very effortless that I failed to pick it up on the first read—an entire story of about six pages without a full stop.
“ Innocent Erendira and her Heartless Grandmother” was poignant, moving and typical of the great man—reminded me just a little bit of Llosa’s “ Feast of the Goat”—without explanation.
No other comments, just as silence can be the only tribute to Beethoven, only wordlessness can extol Marquez.
Blessed again !


Thursday, February 17, 2005


It's late in the evening, and like the Eagles' Hell, the bottled fizz on my table has frozen over.

Forced to curl up early, have mastered the art of beating the alarm in the wee hours. Was expectedly the last person to board. Again expectedly, the arraigned driver lost the plot and the route. Round and round we went, as it was a one way street. On the verge of the burlesque when we finally found the place.

Visited all the shops of an area which was decidedly SEC-B-. Was beginning to enjoy myself- I relish all thoughts of market share, facings, PPP, RIG and other assorted patois, when we unforgiveably ran into a theological congregation. Rooted to the spot, we watched amusedly as the devout resorted to self-flagellation, strident singing and incantations.We decided to plough through the crowd and midway was seized with , in no order, fear , self-doubt and intrigue, and yes, in the thick of seething masses of dervish-like humanity. As my partner rightly pointed out, it is not a great idea to ratiocinate in the middle of a mob.
I shall mull in detail later, because even though I am far from godly, I feel a weird inadequacy in explaining my opinionated contradictions about this religion even to myself.
Market visits are always immutable learning experiences, especially when one has a working accomplice who is well-read, articulate and knowledgeable. Today was no different.

Spent the second half climbing escalators, window shopping and learning about the retailing end of business. I am reliably informed that I went to the first of its kind today, established 1905. Wow, talk of prescience !

The weather in Bangalore was disappointingly warm, sticky and humid and there are canards afoot that rain is probable. The people are sloshed to the brim with mindless hubris, there is an unmistakable air of vanity and an ill-behooving demeanour of success due to merit.
Pah !!
But I'll save that for another day.....

Cannot say that I will leave without sampling the hospitality. Have dipped my finger into most pies today--cold coffee, pizza, good bakery stuff, and yes, lunch too.
Did the regular tourist thing of snacking at Koshy's . Was reprovingly guided to a Smoking room, which reminded of, well, never mind. Spent the time finishing off my reports, which like most stuff I do is Top Secret--This Side Up.
The pubs here are honourably full, and so are the English liquor shops (sic) or rather (hic). Always a pointer to the pursuit of larger ideals -as said, the folks think they deserve it.

Pavement bookstores dot the main roads, all peddling the best selling garbage that sickeningly passes for the reading habit nowadays. ( Overheard on the bird--I am a voracious reader, I've just started the da Vinci Code ( Ed--Wrong, sucker, you are merely CARRYING the book ) )

There are signs galore that plaintively read --"Please Don't Litter Here "--typical mentality--applaling lack of civic sense among other senses.

Roads choc-a-bloc with dreamy teenagers and energetic office-goers.
Many foreigners, all at home.

The ritalistic cassette browsing, hurriedly. Was glad to point out to a browser about the music label to purchasea particular singer(banned in my home, sadly !)--his smile warmed the cockles of my little heart ( Ed--And why shouldn't it, that is the first good turn you've did all year )

The canines are large, well fed, blase, husky and successful. God bless 'em !One day, I'll be heralded the pioneer of the Canine Index to rival the Big Mac Index, and will win the Nobel for this.

Preponderance of brands, labels--sure signs of a populace avaricious to consume and to be seen consuming. No Logo !

Happily, preponderance of seemingly good eateries too.

Buses shoddy and bursting to the seams. Yet, buses ply . Traffic is not to be scoffed at--65 lakhs here.

I am fatigued after walking many a weary mile. I need nourishment ( Ed--Again ? )
Tomorrow is another day......


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Watch your pinkies !

In my deportment of careless nonchalance, I opened what I thought was a presentation without looking, only to hear the unmistakeable drone of an all-male audience trying to compose, comprehend and croon the opening bars of “You’ll never Walk Alone “ . ( Poems and Presentations make the strangest bedfellows as Files, but you cannot have it all ). So, after an inevitable and inexorable collective cacophonic endeavour, the turgid rivers of musical aspirations abated , Sanity was restored to her throne and we got on to more prosaic affairs.
Returning to the village of half-baked beans. Mark Knopfler’s famous sire, the Great One, will beat him to the tape, and will grace Bangalore with his beneficence on the morrow. And no, he will not sing !
Let's Hear It !!
The household is agog with pleasurable activity—to our profound consternation, the sibling has cracked the All India PG masquerade for the Munnabhais and munni behens of this country. Only Geography and Specialization to be decided.
For my part, I have partaken of some holy victuals in the form of divine chocolate.

Inscrutably, watched SWADES in a theatre with family over the weekend. As I’ve said, it has been eons since I last went to a theatre, and if the mind were to hark back to the last time the four of us went to one together, I can wager that Globalization had not yet set in, the Internet hadn’t been invented, Pakistan were World Cup champs etc. ( Ed—Let us settle the matter forever, you mean a movie theatre—cos’ Sis & Dad go to Operation Theatres everyday )
Of course, I had made elaborate cerebral arrangements to prepare for the film itself—and armed to the teeth with savouries, wafers and refreshments, we set sail.
I should probably do this more often !

And the film ? Hmmm…

To begin with, one of the multifarious subjects that rile me and make me lose all sense of perspective and balance ( Ed—Your humility is touching, it should make you so proud (sic) ! ) is our entity as Indians and our place in the sun.

Well, sorry but a firm no.

I am convinced whatever be the commercial pronouncements on the film, the director is in grave danger of not even knowing what he has missed out on.

The first hour is culpably let slip by an errant helmsman too caught up in deluding himself into thinking viewers will be impressed by the tacky caricatures of NASA, the purported psychological anguish and indecision of the protagonist are only briefly touched upon, no insight into any background.
Drags on till he meets the inevitable intelligent girl at the bookstore and wastes more time. ( The audience guffawed at the inability of a NASA doyen to add three digit numbers ). Some more hamming later, mounts a house-on-wheels monstrosity and drives off into the sunset. Meets another harlequin troubadour en passant and some music later, arrive at Destination.

The squalor of rural lives are represented , his old nanny is just about the best thinker in the land, the ubiquitous cuddly brother of the heroine, and other such
And so on…..

It is painfully obvious that the director has never been to a village panchayat, been ostracized , known what is to live without power, gone to a bed on a hungry stomach, and largely been a disinterested spectator at a gormless, misshapen existence meander to oblivion, as is the wont of most rural folk. He also appears confused as to who his audience is, and what would satisfy them. Any road, he teeters between a hesitant breeziness and a somber unwieldiness. His message veers between the simplistic and the profound, and he is all at sea.

SRK for his part is impressively subdued and does get some moments of banter and boyishness. ( Ed-Nice checked shirts too !). A marked departure for me, I will not carp about his performance. He could not have done much more.

Gayatri ( Dad:Who is she ? Never seen her before .-- Sis: That’s what the director also thought ) has a wholly forgettable character, and she capitulates completely. Long tresses, limpid eyes and little else.
Cannot act. A expostulatory sermon and chaste Hindi in place of a speaking part dog her throughout, never quite breaks free.

The scheming old woman is way too perspicacious and perceptive to be credible. Almost Duncan-esque in her command and control.

Numerous other quibbles—electricity hardly seems a problem for the villagers, and yet a contumacious SRK can see little else. Casteism, domineering righteousness, gender discrimination, penury are real importunate evils, not footnotes or scenes.
The music was just about adequate, ARR got off lightly. Ends implausibly and ridden with contradictions—SRK speaks about BARC, but is seen only facetiously enjoying bucolic accompaniments.

No, just did not “get” it.

I ended up feeling sorry for AG on the way back. Cannot still fault an honest effort, and so I’ll leave it at inconclusive amity.
And yes, Jai Hind !


Tuesday, February 15, 2005


A book I’d coveted since my school days, mostly because at that time it represented a misty, elusive Shangri-La replete with fresh dewiness and intrigue. Also, been awhile since I read a travelogue—my Michener and Pico Iyer days almost behind me, although am flummoxed as to why that should be the case. My ineffable jealousy at those excellent writers who somehow make one feel ignominiously inadequate and wretchedly penurious, has only been exacerbated in the past days—Wow, One writes as one travels and earns a visibly decent livelihood, what could be better !

The author is a resident student of Nanjing University, who fitfully conceives a plan to reach Delhi, his eventual destination from Beijing by hitch-hiking his way through China and Tibet. Set in the late eighties, it speaks of a time which might seem verily distant and forgotten now—the spectre of xenophobia-dotted Chinese landscapes, the contrast of bureaucratic bungling with affable amity, the surging and wistful aspirations of a people learnt to be repidiated by long years of domineering Big Brothers are some of the themes of this book. In the same breath, once can add that it is far less a guide than a personal and factual narration of the quaint, fleeting and moving experiences of the author.

The tale is for most parts descriptive, again less a raconteur than a tell-it-lie-it-is , which seems deliberate as his musings on the differences and similarities and his semi-wise philosophical observations are tinged with his understanding and memories of India. Names like Turfan, Urumqi, Tatlan roll of the tongue easily enough and one gets glimpses of the Hans and the Uzgirs. I did not know that there were so many Muslim/Turkish influences manifest in China. A rich variety of culinary dishes dot his every journey, and there is an array of resting places too. His friends who accompany him range from the simplistic, to the suppressed, to the seedily spiritual. Language infirmities are taken care warily, as are etiquette and manners. Well at home in discomfiting conditions and in the absence of creature comforts is our author !

On a hunch, he decided to take the trodden path through Lhasa, and this causes him and other assorted helpful officials some sleepless nights but he does what he attempted with a little help. Careful attention to and painstaking reverence for detail exemplify each chapter, juxtaposed with a here-and-now verse contrived ever so often. As he himself says, his agreement and affirmation with many aspects of Chinese ways of living have withered over the years, with some serious doubts about the sustenance and strengths of Chinese realpolitik, but he comes across as a warm, insightful and caring individual, not pedantic or pontificating.

He misses out on less perceptible, less uttered sentiments but is none the worse for it, Perhaps, it was not meant to be a heavy book. Makes light and easy reading, and always the mark of a good book, makes you yearn for the places described.

A 7 on 10 !


Monday, February 14, 2005


Ever so often, one gets a must-do opinion that could be fatal or foolhardy to ignore, and inevitably one is inveigled noiselessly to the clamour only to find that following one’s instincts was the wisest way to go, this time and all times after that.

Having read through at least a couple of the Tolkien tomes, thought I’d take a chance with LOTR:TFOTR . It was a gambling adjudication that was primarily based upon my having the OST for the film for over two years, which in turn was based on my need to hear more of Enya, which …… OK, it’s not as rational as it seems.
The far more sinister variable was that the always-waning balance between my limited attention span (some congenital learning disability) , the lengths to which Peter Jackson would gasconade NZ, and my diminishing faith in my ability to get up at 0400 hours and take the Killer bird to Madras. Was going to be stretched to the limit.

Alas, my review will go the way of my Harry Potter film review, with the significant difference that I liked the book.

For starters, and not the other way around, the film was interminably and inexplicably long. The book weighed a tonne, and the film is an effort fraught with faultless fealty. As most screen adaptations will know, the extents to which a reader’s imagination can be called upon are limitless. Jackson flounders—appalling and repugnant apparitions all right, but not moving. The tale itself meanders along and one is left unclear as to from whose point the tale is being told. The Golden Ratio about human heights comes unstuck and nary a moment does the viewer relate to the Baggins as physically challenged creatures.

To bring alive a scant plot high on fantasy and setting, the director needed to expend much more effort on characterization, “humanization” , motive , and all that. Instead, he perceptibly hopes his visuals and SFX will bail him out—they did, as far as the Oscars were concerned. The turmoil in Frodo Baggins’ mind, his dumbfounded mind laden with vexatious thoughts, his need to do “the right thing” are ignored, and what one gets is a Kurosawa-esque band of brothers who are heartrendingly listless and wooden. Their own personas are sketchy in the extreme too, and the film falls like a house of cards.

No that there were no positives; the cinematography was a delight to behold, and scene after spectacular scene provided the backdrop for this Middle Earth saga. Lush, verdant and inviting.

Could say that Shore did a good job on the music too, I’ll forgive May It Be playing in the end credits for now.

And to think there are two more on the same lines. Chilling !

Mornië ut¨²lië

Mornië alantië


Thursday, February 10, 2005


I have oft wondered, futilely, as to where, the time I had in the past has sublimated into, my habits have melted away and what my own older self has metamorphosed as. In the good old days, I seem to have summoned up the energy to study hard and play harder, all the while reading like there was no tomorrow. While I clearly have frittered away some of these, what I can recall as the most glaring change is that I have not perused through a copy of the Reader’s Digest all these years, not till yesterday.

This seems inexplicable to one whose formative years were festooned with a bewitching array of the magazines, handy and petite as they were and have been. Of course, in the interim, I have also been gently chided about having read Femina and Treasure avidly, although I can now boast of a bag of household tips and tricks which I carefully conceal ( Ed—Lest you be asked to use them ). My braggadocio also extended to completing every issue between the years 1953 and 1990.

So how exactly, or more precisely, why has RD gone out of my life ? It’s not as if I have eschewed magazines altogether, just that they make less and less sense as time goes by. I mused that it might be a little better understood if I read the last issue at one go, and despite the most invidious invective hurled my way by a hectoring father and a conscientious mother, I hung on.

To begin with, there is yet no New Improved avatar of RD, a mighty sigh of relief. The team of Mohan Sivanand, Shanoo Bijlani and the gang appears well in command of their rock-solid ship. Except for some cosmetics like accepting entries through email, Net jokes and some abstruse attempts at keeping up the burgeoning number of professions, the magazine could have well been a copy from those of yore.
A festering argument echoed in the Letters to the Editor space, an article supposedly on beef , a reader protesting, the Ed relenting and apologising, and another reader berating the E for not standing tall and buckling under pressure.

And there somewhere lies my inability to come to grips with RD, and perhaps a veiled fear too. For as I would like to think that I have moved on, it clearly has not. This I aver in spite of it not being a zeitgeist kind of read, was never. The Humour in Uniform, Laughter’s the Best Medicine, Book sections do all point the same way. The tenets of morals and morality, family and filial values, duty and honour, attachments and bonds, seem well out of reach now. Where earlier I sought and found Hope, Warmth, Irony and Good Cheer, I now come up empty. I instead wind up with vacuous witticisms, simplistic and pointless narratives, bathos and a misplaced lightness of being.

Maybe I was at an age where I needed to feel these emotions, and now I have been wandered too far from the shore.
Maybe the joie de vivre and ebullience seem contrived and forced now.
Maybe I feel that the love for the less fortunate, which RD has always espoused, seems cold, unreachable and distant in real life.
Maybe I feel that there are a hundred different ways to tell a tale and fail to yield deeper truths.
Maybe a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries (S & G)


Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Watched ET over the weekend, along with family and the proverbial hearth. Am stupefied at how little I remembered, the last time I watched ET was about twenty years ago. I can say with certainty that some force de jure had struck the epic and shredded it beyond description. I was not aware that ET had more hairpin bends and crevices than the San Marino Grand Prix, and was caught unprepared. It was almost as if this flick had been made after Koi Mil Gaya had been unabashedly devoured by Herr Spielberg , which in itself is a horrifying proposition.

My memory of the film was ET was of a nice story told at a decent clip and comprehensible to kids. Adults wisely played little part in it except when the director felt that some sympathy needed to be whipped up in the theatre by ganging up against the evil clique of robed scientists. At that age, one hardly remembers background scores, and I was no different.

But , ( Gulp ! ) now the whole feel was that of the fugacious appearance of a Messiah with roles for the kids and what not. ET goes from being a dishelleved forlorn waif to a charismatic prima donna and a role to play. The protagonist, who I remember as Alan, is now Elliott and his shyness and reticence is replaced by a machismo that is ill becoming, and has a role to play. His little friend is now all over the place and in most frames. His friends are the Knights of the Round Table and now chivalrous, generous and sensitive. There are endless hospital scenes , miles of wires and tubes and the resemblance to a Bollywood blockbuster is complete.

What happened, is my memory playing tricks? Like the B in B, has Alzheimer’s taken its first wavering step?

And now, I have gone on record saying that I liked Rakesh Roshan’s Koi Mil Gaya. For those who know me well, as my family sure does, this is an ineffable sacrilege.
Which is not difficult to conclude given my avowed lack of warmth towards the Hunk, my refusing to accept that Preity could be attractive to anybody anytime, and my abhorrence for oh-so-cute kids. The music was not my type either, so I was very much the Bill Wright under the cosh of my family’s collective ire as I cowered against an unnecessary barrage of truculent digs bolstered by even more unnecessary innuendoes—all during an elongated film break.

So on the topic is –Why do I like Koi…

Q: Are you very impressed with the storyline ?
A: Not really, as we all know it’s a lift off…

Q: Is the H your kind of actor / male lead ?
A: This rule could have had him using Method Acting, After all, H hammed and moreover….

Q: Preity ….
A: Perish the thought, Vamoose, Scram

Q: Those lovable kids….
A: Should be dunked into the nearest water body

Q: The music was quite decent
A: But I did not like it .

Q: The Jadoo character
A: Was cloying

Q: Rekha was
A: Er, I am getting on but still not that old

Q: Vivek Shauq was spiffy as a sports commentator
A: In your dreams… he was a miscast.

Q: Maybe the subtle turns of plot, interwoven textures..
A: RR is a linear director, hence ruled out

Q: Your innate righteousness, which screamed aloud at watching the heart-rending performance
A: Out of frustration.
( Ed: By Golly, people actually believe that bit on righteousness, is it ? )

Q: So what on earth ??
A:Those pretty mountains, blades of grass, sheep, those sunsets

Q: But that’s what you liked about Kaho Na Pyaar Hai
A: Haan, par woh to Kiwi land tha, yeh to hamara Kasauli hai

So the next time I say I liked a movie, you know those directorial depths I have plumbed, that discerning gaze glossing over nuanced tidbits unseen except to the Trained Eye, the maven perspicacity to intertwine Literature, Philosophy , Melody, Mysticism and ……..


Saturday, February 05, 2005


The world’s most cerebrally-challenged cretin held fort expounding the merits of his democracy, and how he wanted rational like-minded denizens to join his apocalyptical battle against every conceivable form of governance. He defined war on his terms, democracy on his terms and rational on his terms. I even think he defined merits on his terms too. So what’s new—Big Brother gets to train his armoury on a enervated group of sickly nations, and the world queues up to support this dastardly incursions.

India is touched to the quick when our pious neighbours show a sign of recidivism and a measured apostasy to any fleeting pretensions to democracy that they may have had. Responds by unilaterally reneging on the SAARC summit which may be the only POA that those like us have to confront reality and comport themselves with some sort of cohesive response to all that has gone wrong and continues to go wrong.
Abominable and insensitive!

I am told that the Maoists of the region are well-wired and their brothers-in-arms bonhomie helps fuel the fires of an ignored, obviated and thwarted people. I am yet to form an opinion on their motives but their force may prove to be unmanageable all of a sudden if the present passage of play continues. I must try and attend a PWG rally the next time I am in AP/Hyderabad but have been forewarned against it.
Pusillanimity pays ?? We’ll find out.


I have gaily pocketed the hafta at letting the gentry off on Sunday.

Just realized that I will never really enjoy being a trainer because I loathe prattling for so long incessantly ( Ed—My, my, we’d ne’er have known !). Made considerably worse by having to three-peat the performance today. So I am now aware of the agony of an ersatz actor forced to mouth platitudes and undergo multiple takes and retakes. It is a disquieting feeling to know that irrespective of the number of shoots, it is the last/present one that matters entirely. So you have to get it right every single time. Heard somewhere that Monroe once was starred with Laurence Olivier and he lamented that every single shot required about 22 takes and she was much better than him because by the time they got it right, he was exhausted and she had just gotten hang of the scene.
I hate speaking as a rule, let alone like a Brazilian soccer commentator so saying the same things thrice was tough on the tongue and mind.

You cannot wallow in glories of the past, real or imagined. It is the Here and Now that counts, and only the Here and Now. How very contrary to my Inner Self—I have scarcely paid attention to the Present in any venture, and I cannot believe that I will do so in future. ( Ed—So do you have an Inner Voice too ? )

Sorry, where was I ?
Never mind !

Come Monday, I will say four different things to four different sets of folks. Should remind the Security Guard on reminding me gently if I mismatch ‘em.


Thursday, February 03, 2005


Well, again Serendipity has its blessings. I cannot for the life of me figure out why I chose this book to crossword over others. Done in three parts, I, like Oliver Twist, simply kept coming back for more.

Set in South Carolina during the Civil Rights Movement, a fourteen year old Lily Owen is fed up with her wifeless father, Ray T and sets off stoically and impractically with her black nanny, Rosaleen, troubled by her insensitive father and in quest of a better understanding of her mother who dies while she was little. Calamitous events dog her every step, what with the brutal racial violence of the time. With ingenuity, spunk and courage, they find themselves in the House of the Bees, a family of black sisters –May, June and August Boatright in Tiburon.

Their quiet dignity and grace infuses her loveless life as she warms to them and appreciates the careworn of black households, and is nonplussed at the antagonism of the disbelieving authorities who cannot comprehend why she, a white, has consented to live with blacks. Lily learns beekeeping assiduously- a patient and caring vocation and begins to mature when she discovers that this is the same house where her mother had been when she was a little girl. Her blooming romance with a bright black boy is an anachronism and happens inspite of herself.

She reprises her mother’s footsteps and devours every minutiae, but is plagued by misery and torment when she wonders how and why her mother abandoned her. Her father shows up and alleges that she as a toddler mistekenly shot her mother dead, but is heroically shown the door by the five of them, Lily choosing to stay on with the beekeepers.

The yarn is rife with metaphorical references to bees and honey-making , which would point to motherlessness and pronounced need for nurturance which every teenager has. It also hints at the angst to carve an independent identity.
Lily’s unwitting aphorisms, insights, observations and judgments are placed before the reader without sentiment and pretences of sanctimony and these are the voice and soul of the read.

Myriad descriptions of worshipping and consecrating the Black Madonna were slightly beyond me—with my immense ignorance of religion.

This book is breathtaking because of what it is not—a racial vendetta, a soppy and smarmy coming-of-age tale , an oratorio of Caulfield chastisements or even a family catalogue. The prose is gripping and haunting, and there are hardly any spiffy one-liners. The classical and consummate absence of adjectives and the warmth and mellowness, which suffuses the book, is a delight to behold. The imponderable search for completeness, family, acceptance and ritualism is just right.

I am staggered by Sue Monk Kidd, an 9.25 on 10 !


I’ll thank the portly middle-aged gent who graciously acceded to my spotting this book first ( Ed—Most genteel shoulder-push seen for some time ). I am yet to pick up a dud this season and that must be some sort of record.

A languorous, compelling and enchanting story, and far better than “Amsterdam” ever was. Inexplicable freakish events snowball to momentous phases of life, with the characters drawing breath gradually.

The first section begins with a surly thirteen year old, Briony in Surrey who is struggling with growing up, sibling noncahalance, delusions of maturity in mixed proportions. Her inability to use the sparse histrionic abilities of her reluctant visiting cousins, two brothers and a sister, themselves spotted with Fate in her own play, a monument to banal mediocrity leads to scour for other avenues. Her own sister, Cecilia has completed her education and is vacillating on the next course of action and is involved with their charlady’s brilliant son, Robbie, whose College education has been philanthropically financed by their father. A visiting chocolate magnate and another elder brother complete the cast. Briony’s own sullen obduracy wrongly singles out Robbie as a rapist who is then incarcerated.

The second part is on the travails of Robbie as he serves time and protects himself and his two Army friends as they are part of a retreating Allied force in WW2 in France . Loads of material on the vagaries of a war and his own tribulations on keeping an epistolary relationship with Cecilia going. His own desperation and wretched fatigue creep over.

The third pans to Briony who is training to be a nurse like Cecilia against the odds and striving her utmost to make a fist of it. B & C meet up by the time R is back from the war but B is not forgiven for her past.

Cut to many years down the line with Briony as a septuagenarian watches the enactment of her old play with misty eyes and dwells on the past. Her cousin and the chocolate magnate, who was the culprit, have since married. Their grandchildren make merry and Briony revels in their companionship.

Characterization was near perfect and was shaped intricately. McEwan spends a lot of time getting into the head of the individual but is somehow meant to read as Briony’s tale, as she wrestles with herself and circumstances having to live down the lie she uttered many years ago. Robbie’s lower-middle class upbringing and ambition sear and it’s a dampener when it is learn that both R & C have dies just after WW2—so Briony has been alone with her atonement ll the while.

The language was wistful, symphonic, poignant and memorable. The layers unravel easily and masterfully. A thoughtful and expansive plot.

An 8.5 on 10 !


Wednesday, February 02, 2005


On the verge of stopping preening at having averted having work on Sunday, and thus saved 15 + 16 + 16 gasping souls from hearing the Learned One pontificate. We were expecting to work on both days of the weekend and so this is a miraculous letoff ( having to work on Saturday till nice, that is ) . Such is the chess of life, to win a rook, you give up a knight ! ( Ed—Good thing you gave up on the game long ago !)

May just have the blundered my way into the best motivator of all—push somebody up the wall, to the brink of Death and Despair , and then let 'em off . They will climb peaks to compensate. Yet, against my personal beliefs.

Almost succumbed to the temptation of throwing the kitchen sink at Amitav Ghosh’s rubbish –trilogy of articles from the Andamans after the tsunami. My overworked brain troops off…. Even the Kishore numbers playing in the background are beginning to sound nice.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005



A nice adaptation on a difficult theme, challenging in scope and spirit. I’d say Vishal pulled it off with a measure of comfort. Stage versions are more melodramatic, fire and smoke, ethereal effects, more shades of grey and more palpable wickedness.
Could not fault Pankaj Kapur, Naseer or Om Puri but will pick on Tabu—wickedness was scarce, mendacity was constrained and charm reigned. A weak script, maybe. Am undecided about Irrfan, although a tad less certainty in his demeanour may have helped in the second half.

I’ve already vented my spleen on the music—for a lover of this genre of music, it was a big letdown. Daler is awful, Rekha can’t sing/render to save her life and even Sultan Khan is way out of his league--the title song sucks.

Sleepless in Seattle

Guten Nacht !

That despised spectre of Hollywood that appears to have arisen as antithetical to the blood and gore embodiment of the Rocky/Rambo type. A gossamer plot that will fall apart at the first tactile assault, listless performances from the lead cast and the ubiquitous prescient too-clever-by-half brat rattled my nerves the whole ride.
Destiny is fine, but this flick had no pretense of sanity whatsoever. Yes, I know the counter to that would be that it is not meant to be a serious film. It’s a prelude to those sweet mysteries of life. It brought out my worst instincts. A promising soundtrack though , so should have picked that up and skipped this disheartening video.

Maybe the chaps should have insisted on watching An Affiat to Remember as a prerequisite to truly the vacuous joys of this candy-floss iananity.


Seemingly made with the world view of the protagonist five-year old. Two parents who I had not seen before or since. Very slow pace, and to compound matters, a very sketchy delineation of the reason for the divorce that messes up three lives completely. Escapist direction !

The wordless sequences and the silences made sense to me.A little cold throughout !


Rarely have I seen a film so glibly adrift of reality and sensibility. Easily a theme on which some great work could have been done. As usual, the director slips into his comfortable amorous husband-teasing-simpering wife -taunting husband routine, ignores plot, sideshows and misses the bus entirely. Am sure that the leads would have deluded themselves into thinking they were delivering real-life believable roles. And am far from happy with the normally-better ARR too—let’s not even get into the lyrics that GULZAR is supposed to be penning. ( I still someone is ghsot-writing this verbal apparition )Scary !


Caught this in the nick of time last night—switched on my living-room lights just as the credits were rolling. My total unfamiliarity with French impels me to keep glued to the subtitles, and then look above the written word clinging to the hope that some meaning can be culled. A wretched way to watch a piquant film.

Speed to kill in the first half, rushing through the frames with the urge to be cute, wise and witty. The novelty of the narrative ensures no weary viewers drop off in ennui. I may have even liked to speed-read the book, if it was based on one.( Ed--In French, monsieur ?OK, it takes all kinds ) Enjoyable in parts for sure, but thought it all came apart in the end with verisimilitude to even My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Adventurous and enterprise to the fore at the deliberate expense of a storyline. Worth the watch, dccent music but still a country mile behind Il Postino , which would remain my favourite foreign film ( Ed--But DDLJ was supposed to be your favourite foreign philm--thy name is perfidy !)


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