Thursday, December 21, 2006

so far... so good

Well.. I ve made it so far.. and have managed to avoided disaster - for the most part anyway. I have completed a semester of graduate school... and I havent been arrested, or kicked out of school.. or been detained (due to a goatee I sport) as a terrorist of the dreaded Al Qaeda. I havent been racially abused, or in any other way really... and to tell you the truth, its all been very enjoyable.

As I type these words right now...its 2 in the night and I m lying awake on the second floor of a wooden house in suburban new my right is a giant french window and through the glass I can see the distant lights of New York City (note the caps :)) glitter invitingly with the glitter that draw so many to this far away land. A perfect time for reflection.

Firstly let me issue a warning to all you little undergrads out there, dreaming of a nice MS from the US. And I blame all the people I ever talked to this about for, amazingly, never bringing this up. Grad School is hard work. If you have pleasant psychedelic visions of spending your spare time studying crap-easy courses, and the rest of the time discovering America - you are going to be utterly pulverised when you get here - so prepare yourself for a grind.

Not to sound to foreboding, but I cant remember the last weekend I spent not poring over differential equations. Well, now that I think about it - I can remember it actually, but barely.

I ve always loved to travel by train - ubiquitous as it is in India, I have never quite been able to shake off a certain romance I attach to it. Theres a scene in Satyajit Ray's "Pather Panchali" - where Apu and Durga - run to the rail tracks close to their village and look at a train thunder by. Something from that scene has stayed with me - the idea that for a very brief moment you form a part of lives so different from your own, a life that you ll never really know, except from the window of a train.

Thus while my friend and acquaintances zipped their way across the country by ludicrously cheap airlines, I spent the most of today - rather foolishly some would say, cos thats 1 day out of the 10 that I am off work - traveling by train. It was an interesting experience. A brief and sketchy documentary of the countryside of north eastern USA. I regretted not having a camera - I will have one on the train ride back. When the incredibly long goods trains were not blocking my view, there were warehouses at regular intervals with numerous monster trucks stationary in front of them, abandoned stations and warehouses with colourful graffiti all over the dirt walls, picture perfect little villages, and the occasional pond or lake surrounded by trees shorn of their leaves by the winter - all a part of the general scenery - but so different from the ones I am usually used to.

I am officially on holiday, and I haven't a scrap of paper related to mechanics on me - so it should be pretty enjoyable :). I feel buoyant - positively.

Theres something I have noticed that is unrelated - but definitely worth a comment so... I digress -

Me and an Ethiopian friend of mine, with whom I ve struggled through thermodynamics - decide to go out for dinner. Thermo exam is just over - so brief chatter about that as we near the restaurant - but memories are painful and the thermo conversation dies off. There is this awkward lull in the conversation - when... the radio comes to the rescue - theres a report on the Iraq war - I nod and smile at him - he turns and says with a pronounced accent that is somewhere near spanish- "These guys are crazy man!!".

Another time I am walking back home with a Kenyan classmate, well conversation dwindles as it tends to- and I make an asinine comment about the weather. A tirade follows about how the guy's American roommate keeps the heat low in their house, because she actually enjoys(!!!!!) the cold - and there comes the judgment again (The exclamation marks are of my companion, I like the cold too actually - a traitor to the tropics :)) .

Even at the barber's, perfect silence while he shears me of my four month long hair - just the whirring of the shearing machine and the the panting of the overweight dog - when "The Jerry Springer Show" springs forth with one of its usual episodes - about a man with two wives and a lovelife and a love child trail so complex that he himself cannot keep track of the sowing and the reaping - and the barber, a Puerto Rican, nods, guffaws toothlessly and screams "Kick him Bitch!!", looks at me a bit more somberly and says - "Only in America".

I smile back.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Of fall colours and romance - well not quite

As with all my posts this one is long overdue - I squarely blame my laziness.

The Library here subscribes to a copy of the India Today International Edition. Now, when I first picked it up, I expected to see a watered down version of the magazine back home - no so much Pakistan or Musharraf bashing - a little more concern for the views held by the larger international community. I was proven wrong by the cover of last months issue - splashing the General's face on its cover and declaring his book a pack of lies. Since then, convinced that this ,indeed, was the real thing and not a watered down version -I have read every issue since, religiously.

The last issue of October carried a quote in bold which made me feel positively uplifted - "With the support of the US - Musharraf may even win the Booker Prize for fiction this year" - apparently declared an ex - general of the Indian Army. The sheer political incorrectness of the comment delighted me. I dont much care about the political goings on of the world - and I am convinced that I havent heard all sides of any story. But reading the comment made me feel like I was reading it next to chat bhandar in Hyderabad. I have a sneaking doubt that the international edition is merely a reprint - and a part of my mind says that is how it should be - its just unexpected..thats all.

Well anyway..this is all a digression..but what the hell!

The issue in any case was titled Indias best - and featured short writeups about the best India has to offer about anything.Nostalgia stirring stuff. Of course the write-ups are written by fairly famous and therefore fairly well to do people .. and its a little hard to identify with a few of them. But all in all - an excellent article - one thing I would agree vehemently with is that India best Food Street is Kolkata.. the city. It also featured what was supposedly the most romantic spot on India - a getaway near Pondicherry called Dune. It seemed nice ..and made me think.

A couple of weeks back I went trekking on the gorges along the Genesee river. It was beautiful. The fall colours were in full bloom along the gorge and the river itself swollen with muddy rain water. Along the place where we trekked the Genesee passes through three falls - called the upper, the middle and the lower. 50 feet above the Upper falls - over the yawning gorge - runs and old freight rail line.. still in use. The Railway bridge over-hangs the gorge and the river itself. And looking over the railings you see Nature in one of those moments - that defy definition and arrest all thought.

Now that was one hell of a romantic place. Of course I mean romance in the sense it is most commonly used. A word of advice to whoevers reading this - if you ve met this girl you really like - and you're wondering if you should pop the question - the usual butterflies in the stomach thing know.. Take her to this railway bridge - gaze into the view over the railings together and murmur it out into the breeze... it would be impossible to reply in the negative.

Please extrapolate the advice according to your own needs.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

And snowed

This is probably the only thing that has prevented the rest of this vast land from forgetting the tiny corner of it in which I reside. When it comes to the snow, the shop - helpers in the Target here tell me, Buffalo can give Alaska a run for its money!

I had heard of this when I had left "road-tar meltingly hot" Hyderabad, to attend the University here. But boy was I dissapointed when I got here. The first few days that I spent hunting for a house near my Campus ... walking around the then-unnervingly empty roads of America, it seemed like Hyderabad might have been a shade cooler - you can attribute to the ozone layer getting fucked up or whatever but I find the sunshine in this land glaringly unwelcoming.

And so I was settling down to a routine - like I am wont to - some showers here and big deal really.. when last weekend threw it all off. The only snow I had seen before this was on the far away peaks of the Himalayas, while I gazed at them from the far away foothills of the Shivaliks - in Hrishikesh ( my most favourite place in the world btw.. - I dream of buying a house there and settling down one day). was an usual rainy - drippy day in Buffalo... I had just finished wrestling with some Thermodynamics (which to my surprise - and to the immense shock of people who know that I burnt my thermodynamics book and tables when my first semester as an undergrad got over - I am getting to enjoy!) and was having a late lunch next to an immense window - and looking at the rain - when to my disbelief, the raindrops seemed to turn solid and start floating around rather aimlessly in the rather stiff breeze. It was snowing in October!!

On my walk to a class right after lunch I was ridden by groans from students all around who were being informed that it had just started snowing. "And so begins a long winter .. well it was a great summer while it lasted!" seemed to sum up the mood. The next one and half hours went by trying to understand Partial Differential Equations.. and when I emerged from the classroom with a few cronies of mine .. it was still snowing! Walking through the snow felt wonderful - by now it was begining to pile on cars and the lawns were begning to look more white than green - more like what we see in movies.

Most of the rest of the day I tried and walked indoors - cos I was wearing , in my immense short sightedness just my trusty jacket. However, I could hear traces of alarm spreading - it was fast turning into an unexpected blizzard.

When I finally emerged for my journey home it was white all over the place - it was a wonderful sight - the wooden benches that sprawl around in the campus could hardly be seen - all that remained where huge mounds of snow. I soon got on the bus that takes me within walking distance of my place. The journey that takes 10 minutes on an usual day took all of 45 minutes. I was begining to get apprehensive about my usual 10 minute walk home.

But no worry. I had finally clamped down on my laziness and finally bought an umbrella from an Indian Shop on campus. With it - I felt - I could face any precipitation the heavens might throw my way. So.... the time came to get off the bus.

The snow was getting really heavy now - on stepping off the feet landed on what seemed like solid ground - only to sink a few inches down rather unnervingly ..almost bringing me down too..It turned out I was the only one heading home that night - the others having made up their mind to spend the night in the Library. O what the hell - it was just snow - not balls of fire falling from the sky - and of course I had my umbrella. A few steps into the night and the umbrella had too be pulled out .. the snow might look like warm and fuzzy cotton... but too much of it hits your face, and u begin to think of those stories about the guy whose ears just broke of because they were frozen ... or the funkier robo man in Judgement Day breaking into pieces when touched by Liquid Nitrogen.

So.... I pulled my umbrella out and gave it a hearty tug to stretch it out.The thing came out in three pieces . one in each hand and the other depositing itself in the snow... Hmm .. now that was a moment! I tried some assembling techniques out their in the blindingly cold blizzard trying to put the pieces back together - it was now that the Mechanical Engineer that I have sunk 5 years of my life into becoming would end up saving my life - but alas the pieces seemed impossible to have assembled - I wonder if they were ever joined up in the first place !! So.. I decided to leave the other pieces there in the snow - and use the only important part really, the cloth part - never knew an umbrella could be divided into head thorax and abdomen - but i guess this would be the head - to protect the face and start waling on the road.

Only - there was no road - all around me was a blanket of snow - a pure white blanket - it really was beautiful. The trees were splitting all around and apparently some of them had hit an electric cable somewhere - because the only light around was the curious - quite divine looking glow coming off the snow - the little light available reflected several times over.

And so I began my long trudge back home - through the blizzard - and through it I allowed myslef the indulgence of fulfilling one of my childhood dreams - though it was strictly an indulgence. Tintin in Tibet was the first book I read - and had my Dad read it to me before I could even read - and there is a part when Tintin and snowy are walking through a raging blizzard in the Himalayas, looking for Captain Haddock - I ve always wanted to be there - and now - finally - I was. Wading through a knee high blanket of snow with trees snapping around in the wind you and snow coming down in the innocent looking way that it does - depositing on my hair and my eyelashes - with a broken umbrella to protect my face - it was wonderful!!

It was one of those things that you hear so much about - and think that "What the hell .. It can never be that good..". This is one of the things that was - those of you who have seen the Taj Mahal in flesh will be familiar with the feeling.

Of course what followed was weekend of havoc - power outages, food shortages ,no heating ... and basement getting flooded with icy cold water - but that is not really what it is about.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Well.. there is very good reason as to why I havent written anything for such an unusually long time - and a very good one too .. its right there on the title. My first week in Buffalo could not have been more of a travesty - when compared to what the rest of the time I have spent here promises to be. But I guess that is true of any new place ..or a new situation.

I did manage to sneak a trip to Niagara Falls - which is all of 30 minutes away from where I live (For Shame!!) , but I have hardly found any time between meeting profs and tryin to convince them that I am indeed worth their time and far far far more importantly their money, deriving inane equations in Cylindrical Coordinates, and cooking up sulfurous broths for my nightly consumption, by which I mean dinner.

The good thing about this has been I have grown used to the place surprisingly quickly - Buffalo is known for its people being amongst the friendliest - and perhaps, more seriously, racially tolerant, and I have had a pretty good experience so far. I have had friends and aquaintances who have had not so good experiences - the most smelly I have heard so far is of a guy in TAMU getting beat up by Texans - for the sole reason that he was Indian.

The bus drivers of Buffalo are a cheerful lot too- reminds me of the bus conductors back in Hyderabad - they are more than willing to chat on any damn topic under the sun, and dont mind if you are tad short on the is often the case. I have always accurately judged the general populace of the city based on its Bus operators. This may sound corky but has worked like a charm for me - Delhi's Bus conductors are "loud- and no nonsense - no time waste".. they take their business seriously, those in Bangalore speak in strict shuddhh Kannada and glare dissaprovingly at anyone who replies in any other language - the glare is the most disapproving for anwerers in Hindi, those in Hyderabad are always a tad too lazy to get up from their perch on the Bus handle enclosing the driver and make their way to the last seat to issue a ticket. I have travelled WT on numerous occasions on hyderabad buses -- aaah!! those golden days spent saving up on bus fare to consume vitriolic brews at those heavenly chaat bhandaars, always followed by a considerable time that evening spent on the pot -0! nevertheless it was worth it all. Judging by Buffalo's Drivers/Conductors - its a good place.

And while the late Professors of the department of Sociology at the SUNY Buffalo collectively spin in their graves - I shall proceed to an evening show of "Munich" - of course WT!!.

[ BTW - The shot above is one of the Niagara - my roommate risked his cell phone getting water-logged for this one.]

Sunday, August 27, 2006

On a day out

As most people who are even faintly acquainted with me will know, I can be the laziest of guys - thats nothing new. People who know me a little better - will also know, that at the wierdest of times and places I can be possesed by an energy of a maniacal nature. It was this energy that made me plan and execute succesfully, an insane and- in hindsight- extremely dangerous, 45 Km bicycle ride from Pilani to Jhunjhunu on a pleasant October night - it took us all of 8 hours to reach Jhunjhunu and 5 hours to return the following night. That ll make some story for a later blog perhaps - when I need to look back and find material.

It had been an extremely lazy saturday, at one point I remember feeling too lazy to take bath - the whole day was spent reading the surprisingly slow "Bourne Supremacy", listening to some good ole Symphony and Metallica music, and hogging on the ready to eat chicken I stock my refrigerator compulsively with.

Anyway, I had been pretty disgusted with myself and my whole attitude towards America so far. I pride myself in being something of an explorer, and all the days I had spent in Buffalo, NY so far have spent shuttling on the same old routes and university buses. This was fueled not to a small extent by my paranioa of this country, largely fueled by the mass media. As my previous post testifies - I had decided to find out on my own.

And therefore when sunday morning arrived, I woke up with a determination to go do some explorin' in downtown Buffalo. Over a breakfast of surprisingly filling chocolate chip muffin and orange juice, I pored over the Lage Scale map of Buffalo provided to us by the university at our orientation. Orientations, by the way, are as inane and pointless and boring in the US as the yare back home. To top it off I got charged and hefty bill of 85 dollars!!! All in all, the map was the only useful thing I gleaned from the orientation.

The map told me precious little about downtown Buffalo. I brushed all the efforts made by my roommate and some of my newly gained friends to pull me back and visit with them a temple on the holy day of Ganesh Chaturthhi , firmly aside. Bought a $ 3.50 all day round trip ticket on the subway and was on my way.

The Buffalo subway runs, about 3/4 of the distance underground, when it runs more like a conventional metro train, the acceleration and deceleration immense when in the vicinity of stations. However, the rest of the distance it runs on the street, and instantly turns into what reminded me forcefully of the Trams in Calcutta - complete with something similiar to a rickshaw bell ringing to warn pedestrians of it s coming. The good thing though, is that the street on which the train runs has no Traffic allowed on it. I got off the train on the first "over ground" station - called Theatre. As soon as I got off the train, a feeling of foreboding overtook me - the streets were deserted - something like the streets you see in Hyderabad or Bangalore at an ungodly hour of the night. There was literally nobody in sight - it felt like a proverbial ghost town or perhaps - a movie set that I had stepped into.

I was in the theatre district of Buffalo, as the name of the station suggested. All around me were hoardings advertising the latest attractions - among others I recognised "Rent". As I had expected, all the theatre houses were to remain closed on a sunday - any way i started walking. My plan was to walk down Main street, the street with the train lines, venture a little out into either side of it and eventually reach Lake Erie, which seemed to me, from my map of course, where Main Street came to its end.

Well, it was a superb experience, and an introduction to the city where I will in all probability spend the next 1.5 -2 years of my life. Along main street I came across some magnificent monuments, mentionable among them the Salvation Army Monument, The Niagra Square with the immense City Hall overlooking it (the hall and its observatory were closed for the day sadly) and the Liberty Building. I was surprised to find that two of the most immense structures in the city were infact homes to the two biggest banks of the city M&T and HSBC - i guess that says something. Anyway, on my walk down Main and a few of its byroads, I came across several beautiful churches, picturesque parks with old men feeding pigeons and some very pleasant people. The streets were still pretty deserted, but something in my head told me that I was overreacting - being used to the crowded places back home. I recently heard an American lady say that Americans feel intimidated when someone stands too close to them. I had learnt about habitat in my class 8 biology - I just had no idea it applied to such an extent to Humans as well.

As I kept walking my map informed me that I was closing in on lake Erie - I went past the HSBC arena, home to the Buffalo Sabers hockey team, and was astonished to see what was marked in my map as Buffalo Skyway. It was road abound 20 Stories above the grounds, held aloft by steel and concrete. I tried to imagine what would happen if one the vehicles speeding on it were to lose control and bump over the ralings. The effect, in my imagination, was catastrophic - I am sure the ever-fertile minds of Hollywood will soon bring it onto the big screen.

I had in the meantime, reached what could be called the "Harlem" of Buffalo - there were run down houses and shanties with paint sprayed over them on one side of the road, and on the otherside was a Naval refuse yard. I counted 5 fighter jets, one wrecked helicopter and huuuge battle ship rusting away in it. Quite a memorable scene. The map called it "Buffalo Naval Park". Euphemistic - it was more like a Naval Graveyard.

To my dismay, the road on my map, and the one I was on seemed to take a turn away from the direction of Lake Erie, into a locality that appeared more and more decadent and deserted. I decided I had had enough, I had left the last train station far far behind, and decided to begin the long trudge back to it.

I got on a train to the university in 20 minutes time, and sat back on my seat satisfied, I would reach Lake Erie on another day.

I have seen quite a bit of Buffalo today - and am begining to understand this country a little better.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A cliche'

Well... I have become a cliche'. I am now one of the millions of young Indian students who cross the "seven seas" and look for their fortunes in the distant land, whose name only looks the way it should, when lit up in disco colours - USA - the land of opportunities some call it.

I had heard about this cliche' before - there are so many back in India "The vegetarian and strict Tam-Bram", "the Pseudo intellectual super emotional Bong", "the wannabe MTV generation"..i could go on and on... I was safe in the knowledge that I would never be any of these. Well - this security blanket has been pulled away. It hit me - on the flight to the USA, a good old Air India flight - where the air hostesses are pleasantly rude..and the landing reassuringly bumpy. The guy sitting next to me was an employee of TCS going to the US for the first time. Having consumed my second lunch for the day - I was about to settle into a pleasant slumber when the guy next to me thrust his hand out. "Hmmmpphhh" I thought - being the unsociable grouch that I am. Surely and not so slowly, the guy started outlining his plans for the future to me. He was apparently looking at buying a petrol pump in the US and starting his own petrol pump fleet business. He had apparently overheard during a coffee shop conversation that this is a sure shot way to get rich and famous in the US. It was like reading a passage from Amrit Mathur's "The Inscrutable Americans" - but horror of horrors - I was a character in the story - a cliche' used by the author to get his story going. Anyway, in the meantime the future "petrol pump king of the east" - had announced to me that he wanted to meet Bobby Jindal. Bobby who??....I blurted out before I could stop myself. Call me shockingly ignorant of "World Affairs" but show me one american who knows or gives a shit about Madhavrao Scindia..or Jagat Singh...or Phoolan Devi. The eyes were opened saucer wide - "KYA Yaar...u havent heard of Bobby Jindal???He is very close to Bush yaaaaar!! I want to meet him as soon as possible" All I could manage was a "?????!!!!!".

Yenyways.... I also realised that had I not come to the US, I would have never realised how much Hollywood had influenced my idea of the place. As I started, with increasing frequency, interacting with Americans - I realised how prejudiced I had become. I constantly expected some racial slurring, or to see african americans with impossible hair-dos, or to see a gun toting beer guzzling redneck rushing at me in a mad fury. It hasnt happened yet....and god knows I have kept my eyes open.:)

I am still getting used to the place and its very many different kinds of people - and have realised that I have to wipe the slate - scribbled on my Hollywood movies, TV sitcoms, Newspapers, Bestsellers...several others besides- clean and start writing on it on my own. It will take some time until this takes sizeable proportions - and until that time I will refrain from comment.

I am constantly reminded of something I had read somewhere a very long time ago - it sums up to " 99% of what people tell you about anything, is hogwash. Go out there and find out for yourself".

Am I on my way to becoming a cliche'? - I surely hope not.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

bangalore observations - 2

This post is has been delayed long enough.I left bangalore a month back...and have been spending hours at home, stuffing myself..and building up inspiration to go jogging every morning... amongst other things.

As I had commented in the first installment of this, bangalore did not make too good a first impression. Looking back now...things look different. My grandmom says something that I am never quite able to shake off - "when you look back at life - everything seems to take a golden hue" - she should know...she's all of 80..and it probably is the best way to look back at things.

Anyway, its not just just my days in Bangalore dwindled..I was surprised to find that I had aquired a very strong familiarity with the city - and had actually started enjoying living there. This was a surprise since, in my first month in Bangalore I was swindled by several fat- bellied landlords, and was near roughed up by 15 goons on a quiet evening in Appareddy Palya. Well, as you will most often realise when you look back at such things - they were of my own making. But you will agree that these hardly contribute to a good first impression.

One thing that the most virulent critics of bangalore cannot that the weather is superb. Sweating as I am right now in Hyderabad's customary hot and rainless mons0on, almost wishing that I was in Mumbai instead (!!!), the Bangalorean weather has taken almost utopian proportions in my mind. Bangalore, though getting increasingly choked by the stream of population pouring into it from all parts of the country, still preserves something of the beautiful small - town it once must have been. Even, the most hellishly crowded roads, are surrounded by greenery. In fact, the two laned Double Road in Indiranagar where I stayed had magnificent trees down its divider - and not the sorry excuses for trees - a hedge barely manging to hang on to its surrounding cattle - protection wire- that you see in most of such city-road dividers.

Next must come the food - and people who know me will be shocked that this comes third! Bangalore offers tremendous opportunties to a glutton such as myself - to indulge. The steaks at Indi jo's and at Miller's, the fish cutlets at Koshy's, the wonderful kabab's hanging on makeshiftt shops at the side of the streets, the bacon and eggs breakfast at an obscure coffee shop in Indiranagar - it was Food -heaven. This impression of mine might have been embellished by the fact that my previous 4 years have been spent in Pilani - a sorry village in Rajasthan (which too - amazingly- I had come to love) - where food was restricted to the very basics - we literally start having nightmares featuring Paneer Curries out there!!

And, the people. I met several interesting and even inspiring people during these 6 months in Bangalore. Most of them are researchers at DaimlerChrysler - but it would be doing them a greve injustice to say that that's their identity. I resist going into the details - since, it will make it already obscure post even more so... As far the larger picture goes - I think the people of Bangalore go about living their lives as they please - and don't give two hoots as to what you do with yours - as long as you dont step on any toes. A good thing.

To round it all off - on one of my last few days in the city, me and a friend of mine were chomping fish cutlets at Koshy's. I was getting quite sentimental about leaving the place - and was letting my mind form some lazy thoughts. As it so often happens with me and this friend of mine - these lazy ramblings end in a question that I dont really expect her to answer - framed as it were , exclusively to give me an opening to say what I was thinking. So when I asked her - "What do you think the spirit of Bangalore is?" - I had answer ready in my head. I nearly choked on the fish cutlet, mayonnaise, ketchup and coke combo that I was ingesting at the time - when she came up with exactly what I was preparing myself to say - "Live and let live"...and promptly too...

Sunday, July 09, 2006


What a month!!.. If you are a couch adorning sports lover like I am, you would have loved it.. Of course, I had my share of luck. The break between my bachelors and what will hopefully be my masters could not have been more perfectly timed, it was good ole summer vacation time again. Usually, a really bad time to be free and wish there was some football to be watched. All the leagues fold up by the mid May or so, finishing with the final of the UEFA champions league. Of course, Wimbledon takes up a couple of weeks, but for the last few years Federer has reduced it to a fortnight's waste of his time before he lifts the trophy. This month sure was different.

The Football world cup has folded up, with the unlikely Italians winning their fourth. My predictions for a great Cup for Michael Owen and England fell flat on their faces. However, England went down fighting to Portugal, my team to hate in the tournament. Kicking someone who s trying to pull your T shirt of your back, in the balls, does not seem like a crime to me at all. And after Rooney got sent off for doing exactly that, England fought like lions, and actually had more chances than the portuguese. It was all to end cruelly, in a penalty shootout, with the killer blow from my player to hate of the tounament, the pretentious Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo dove his way through the tournament, each time rightously arguing with the referee that his leg was indeed severed!!! But surely, he'll be back with Manchester United soon enough, playing alongside Rooney, and being cheered by the same English public that booed him everytime he touched a ball in the match.

Genius really does seem to come with a dark side. The Rooney stamping incident, and another that is even more vividly imprinted in my mind, that of the great Zinedine Zidane crashing his forehead into the chest of the Italian defender Materazzi. Nobody knows what exactly happened, to prompt Zi Zou to do what he did, but who would have thought that the career of the greatest footballer of a generation would have ended in this manner. Brings back memories of Maradona being banned from International football during the course of the 1994 World Cup, because of drug abuse. If this were a movie you were watching, and it really seemed like you were for a while, with Zidane rising from the ashes, and taking France with him, it would have ended with Zidane lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy aloft with fireworks exploding in the background, and of course a lilting background score playing. The climax, instead, was red card and a silence that showed the disbelief that spread amongst not just the French, but amongst football lovers the world over. Zidane walked, while life turned and winked at you, smirking that cruel smirk.

Anyway, its been treat, now back to seeing if Gerrard can lift Liverpool to the Premiership this season, over Chelsea, the one goal he has not yet accomplished. Almost criminally, and of course widely overshadowed by the World Cup, yesterday witnessed another great sporting encounter, that of Nadal v/s Federer... in the Wimbledon final this time. Nadal gave Federer several serious scares, and many times in the course of the game, the King Of Clay looked set to extend his dominance over grass as well. It was the first time I have seen Federer being not merely worried, but actually threatened at the Centre Court. I say give it one or at the most two years, and Nadal will win one in England.

Of course, there was Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, inspiring India to an away win in the West Indies. And at the end of it, I can sigh contentedly and look over a bleak sporting calender stretching over the next month, wondering what I will do to while awat the time. Maybe, and just maybe, it's time get off my couch.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Cup Fever

Finally!!..The Fifa World Cup is here...and so is the ever present world cup fever... For a country that is ranked 117th in the world, and that lost to Australia by a humilitating margin of 7-0 in the world cup qualifiers, this really shouldn't matter. Who gives a damn!!! Lets all go watch Dravid and Sehwag making the West Indians wish they had chosen a different sport. But this amazingly is not the case.
They say that the largest Faith in the world is not the Roman Catholic faith, not Islam... but Football, if you go by the number of followers alone. Its true that we Indians follow a different religion, that of a willow and a much smaller ball, but the quadrennial defection has to be seen to be believed.
I am not talking about myself. I am, by birth, a Bengali. The race known all over the country for their passionately crazy fascination with several lost causes - be it communism, Sourav Ganguly or yes...Football. The only hint of passion that football generates in India is when East Bengal and Mohun Bagan play...this too, has been wilting over the past decade or so. This is of course exclusive of World Cup fever. Come World Cup and Calcutta is suddenly the city to watch in India. In the weeks leading up to the world cup all the news channels on the web carried several articles on how Calcutta was preparing itself for the WC...the pirated jersey boom..giant cut outs of the Gods... poojas being dedicated to Ronaldinho, Messi, Kaka... Calcutta, or Kolkata as it is now clearly the city officially chosen to spearhead the Indian World Cup fever before ,in a months time, it goes back to taking the back seat as the city of has-beens behind the other metropolises of the nation. (Although Buddha seems to be a very popular topic nowadays).

In distant Bangalore too, the world cup fever has reached visible proportions. Giant Screens are being set up at numerous points in the city. In my workplace too, the few of us who watch football on a regular basis have enthused a few of the others to give Football a shot. This has worked to an amazing extent. An ardent Sourav Ganguly supporter, who a month back asked us who the hell Roberto Carlos was (!!!!), is now a full blooded supporter of Italy, and chants instances of past Glory of the 'Azzuri' as though he were recounting Sehwag's centuries!

Well, my parents have always been terribly dissapointed by my tendency to be "Un-Bengali"... I have hardly ever stayed in Bengal and it is true that over the past few years I seem to able to express myself better in English. My mum shushes me loudly everytime me n my sis have a conversation in English...shouts of "Bangla Jaano na!!!" ("Dont know Bangla!!!") interrupting our conversations... i have always hated Roshogolla, and winced everytime Robindro Sangeet was played or sung...and the most heinous of all a point when Azhar and Sourav were both playing, considering myself a true blue Hyderabadi, I supported Azzu Bhai. I distinctly remember getting mauled by all and sundry during a summer vacation in Kolkata... when the 99 world cup was on. this one respect they can be proud... I used to love playing the game in school...and now, hindered by an increasingly corpulent physique and my dastardly laziness , I play the EA sports version on the computer.

Sadly, in this regard too some may consider me lacking. In Kolkata a WC conversation will surely start with "To, Brazil na Argentina?". To my answer " England" , most people wince and say "Ki...Englaaaaand ??"(What...England (utter contempt)), some smile sadly...some laugh aloud. Well..thats the way it is. In the non world cup years I ardently follow the leagues..and support Liverpool and Steven Gerrard vociferously. And England has always been my team...although this time thay are truly a squad of greats.. any team boasting of Owen, Rooney up front..Gerrard, Lampard and Joe Cole in the middle, Ferdinand and Terry at the back are destined for greatness.

Or so it seems...their display against Paraguay was PATHETIC!!!.. I can't believe Erriksson's using Gerrard as a defensive midfielder... he's the kind of player go can turn a game around by the scruff of its neck..for evidence look no further than tha FA cup final this year or the Legendary Champion's league final of lst year against AC Milan. To use him in the defense is a dreadful mistake... it is sad to see a man who can score from the midfield with shots no human has a chance at stopping scrambling for balls in the defense. Its Criminal!!! Although I grant the Lampard/ Gerrard Dilemma is a huge one for any coach... I say play Gerrard in the first eleven and substitute him with Lampard...or the other way around, when the sapping german heat gets to one of them... but playing Gerrard in defense is just so sad!!!!

Any way I have this sneaky feeling that this is going to be Michael Owen's Cup and England's...we ll know in a months time (hopefully not sooner!).

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

bangalore observations - 1

I think the time has come to put some of these thoughts in writing. For the last 5 months Bangalore, or as it will be called very soon Bengaluru, has been my home. It was an O Henry short story that introduced me to the idea that every city says something. I think it was called "Voice of the City", and the idea somehow stuck, of thinking of a city as a huge,leviathan living being. Well...since then I have tried very hard listen out for what every city says..and its been an interesting and a very rewarding experience..there's nothing quite like getting to know a city. Exploring and living in a city has become something of a personal experience...something of the nature of getting to know a person - it takes time. Hyderabad,Calcutta, Delhi...I ve lived in these cities for verying lengths of time, and have gotten to know them to varying degrees of familiarity. Thus, when I came to Bangalore I was looking forward to get know the city that one hears so much about.

I was a little dissapointed by my initial impression of seemed too much like the yuppie city it has been made out to be in popular conception. There were giant malls..and more Pizza Hut outlets than all of West Bengal or Andhra Pradesh. As I had expected, it took time to find out more.

Bangalore is cultural melting pot...there is an amazing variety of people, who call this city home. It is also undoubtedly the most, to use the hackneyed word, "westernized" city in the country. There is however, a clear divide that runs through the city. Between the "software engineers", such as myself, who treat the city as a stopover in their lives, and the indigenous "bangaloreans", the people who ve been living in the city for generations and who have been witnessing with increasing animosity their city being overrun by the "software engineers". I am obviously talking in very broad strokes.

Appareddy Palya, where I rent a a locality that can perhaps best be described as a backwater district of the affluent Indiranagar area of Bangalore...and probably the best place to understand why I call Bangalore a cultural melting pot. To the fresher at a job, or a student intern as myself it offers an affordable housing option extremely close to the upmarket area of Indiranagar while at the same being homes to numerous autowallah's, labourers, vegetable thhela so happens that all the waiters at a chinese restaurant very close by that I frequent, are also my neighbours. Thus, on my way back to home from office everyday I see people, the very yuppies who frequent the nightclub and disco joints in bangalore..ot maybe well dressed software engineers, in an environment that is clearly not their natural one. What strikes me hard is the peaceful and even comfortable acceptance and co-existance that charecterises Appareddy Palya...amongst such a wide spectrum of people...such a balance is unlikely, and to my Hyderabad and Calcutta middle class society trained eye , unnatural. Yet, such a sight is very natural, perhaps even commonplace, to Bangalore.

Completely unrelated (or is it!!) to the above description is another extremely commonplace sight in Bangalore. Walking on the main is repeatedly accosted by men, dressed in clean pressed formal shirts, cotton trousers, shoes... selling socks. Socks!! The first time it happened I couldnt believe it...the guy looked a carbon copy of the usual software geek returning from office...but here he was selling socks and assuring me that "There is special offer Sir!!". Since then I have grown more accustomed to the sight...but I still cant quite put my mind to rest. It makes me intensely sad whenever I come across one of these guys. I imagine myself getting up every morning and going through the same routine that I go through now, getting ready for office...knowing that all day I ll be asking people to buy my socks.. and be brushed aside rudely by most of them...It somehow doesn't seem worth it. I sometimes wonder what such a job is worth...and fail to come up with an answer.

But, paraphrasing a wise man "It is not what you do..but it is how you do it that counts"..something to think about.

{A nod to all you dirty minds out just struck me...}

Thursday, May 18, 2006

King Curtly

If you ask any cricket enthusiast nowadays "Who was the greatest fast bowler of the 90s?", they will hem and they will haw and will say "mm..Glenn McGrath..or Wasim or was it Courtney Walsh or may be Waqar..". Some people will even hazard "Vaas or maybe... Srinath". I throw up my hands in exasperation. Maybe this is another classic example of the myopic nature of the memory of the Indian Public...or maybe it is because the great man has been retired for some time now, but no one seems to remember the man in the picture above.

When I was a kid..and just getting introduced the world of cricket.. Curtly Ambrose was my unqualified hero. OK, Wasim may have had more craftiness up his sleeve and Waqars may have broken many a toe during his prime ...but to see Curtly Ambrose bound in towards the pitch with the crowd behind him..will remain, for me, the ultimate sight in Fast Bowling. Adding to this already awe inspiring sight of a 7 foot + giant bounding in towards the crease...was the fact that Ambrose was infallible. I have no recollection of him getting smashed over the park by a batsman in the first 15 overs of a one dayer. His economy rate in one dayers is an awesome I can sefely conclude that this is not a case of selective memory on my part.

His last test was against England. He took 4 wickets for 42 runs in the last innings that he bowled in. If great cricketers have a fault in common, it is to continue playing when they are clearly past their prime, hoping to capture shards of their past glory. Even the incomparable Sachin Tendulker has reduced himself to pedestrian. Curtly was the rare exception who knew it was time to go before he was asked to do so. Being asked repeatedly by all and sundry to reconsider his decision he replied "Yes, it still stands. I have my own mind, of course some people are trying to talk me out of it, but I have my own mind and I am sticking by that.'' And there was to be no second retirement. The curtain over one of the greatest acts of Fast Bowling had been closed for good.

Here's to "The King"!!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006


For the last few days the budhia situation has grabbed a few headlines. The memory of the average Indian is notoriously short, and I am sure before long it will be relegated to the back pages of the dailies..right next to the apartment listings. This is absolutely normal, who for example remembers the second wife of one Mr. think she dominated the headlines a week or so ago!! I, being an average Indian myself, will also no doubt, forget all about the li l kid in a few days...this post is to ensure that I remember. you are born into a family so poor that your mum cannot buy you milk. Your dad s a beggar who dies before you reach your first birthday. Desperate for some cash, your mum sells you for Rs. 800. Sounds like a smashing begining for a Hindi film. You of course grow up to be a coolie who is a revolutionary in his own right, before gettin sucked up into the big bad mumbai underworld, and die a heros death before you reach your 40s.

Or, maybe, as I am sure it happens more often in our country, you somehow manage to reach adulthood through hunger and extortion. You ll be lucky if you can read your alphabet and you will be working as a construction worker, or begging on the streets, or if you are very very lucky (and of course industrious) you ll be able to eke out a respectable living for yourself, as peon in a government office, or maybe a rickshaw puller, or a nightwatchman... Dreaming for you will mean going for a hindi movie, buying the cheapest ticket available, amd staring at the screen for 3 hours. Squashed by life, you ll probably never learn what it is like to be able to dream of something more... a better life... adventure.. This is only to be expected, several men born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths resign themselves to a life of drudgery... life never really gave you a chance.

Wouldnt it be wonderful, if in such a life you discover that there is something that makes you happy, maybe makes you forget how much your life sucks. And what if that something is as simple as running? Not harming anyone, not thieving after food, not he rat race for simple as running..endlessly...for tens of kilometers. Surely no one should have a problem with that.

Right now Budhia is aged four...I am sure he is hardly capable of a full realization of what is happening around him. But life, that seemed to have given him such a raw deal, also gave him a talent. And it also, quite magically, gave him an oppurtunity to realise that talent. Surely no one should have a problem with this. It seems like a few people do.

The Orissa Government, that benevolent organisation ,is suddenly tripping over itself trying to protect him. It even went on to do the unthinkable and ban Budhia from running. Surely, they have a right to do this, they had after all done everything to ensure Budhia led a comfortable life prior to his attempting to run 65 Kms...of course they can take away someone's fundamental Right to Freedom. They have since then, been rapped on their knuckles. This is India is a free country.

Ther have been some well founded concerns over the repercussions of a 4 year old running an unimaginable 65 Kms..on his health and on his normal growth. P.T Usha herself has said that this could have adverse effects on the child. It is very obvious to the common sensibility that a 4 year old cannot run 65 Kms without such an exertion affecting him at all.

It seems to me that everybody, right from the courts to the government to the doctors to his beloved coach are fighting for Budhia's well being and his happiness. Then surely, it would make sense, if all of them were to work with and not against one another. The matter needs to be dealt with sensitivity, and not the usual bluster that charecterises that powers that be in our country.

Budhia, I am sure, is blissfully unaware of all the ruckus. He is just happy that the one thing he loves doing, running, has given him a chance to lead a better life, to allow him a chance to dream.

He just wants to keep running, surely no one should have a problem with that.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


To get back from office everyday, I walk to the huge bus station nearby by the name of Shivajinagar. What follows is monotonous. It so happens that there are a wealth of buses connecting my office to my home. However, me and my friend invariably choose to get on the bus that leaves the last. The driver or the conductor of our bus always choose to take their long delayed bathroom break, so while we sit clutching our tickets (which the conductor makes us buy before he goes on his long bathroom break) in desperation, a plethora of buses zoom past us. It is amazing how this happens EVERY TIME. Once our bus does starts moving, the conversation gets going too - everything under the sun is covered, love lifes, future..and lots of trivial stuff otherwise. But there is only so much under the sun, and we do this everyday, so it happens very often that all we too is stare blankly out of the window or into some ones armpit or into someones bald and oily pate - depending of course on where we are seated and whether we are seated at all.

Yesterday my friend was stuck in office with work and I managed to fight out a window seat in the bus. So there was a lot of staring out of the window to be done. Those of you have done this, will know the actively passive nature of this activity. Outside is a whirl of activity, which although I am sure is different in its details everyday, is yet so similiar that it appears almost like an unmoving backdrop through a bus window.

Anyways, there I was stuporifiedly staring out at the roads and the cars and the little ruffians trying to sell windshield wiper-cloths to motorcycle drivers(??). I guess they go unthinkingly for the easiest prey. The window offered a severely constricted view of the outside, which made the stuporified staring something of a challenge.

The bus came to one of the many traffic stops that the insane Bangalore rush hour traffic warrants. Then in front of my eyes an event unfolded that made this a red letter day in the history of stuporified staring. An ubiquitous white ambassador rolled to a stop right next to my window, such that it's rear wind-shield and little else was in my line of sight. For a split second my stuporfied eyes managed to focus on the windshield. What I read made me come out of my stupor, and focus properly on it. Emblazoned across the windshield in bright letters were the words - "Wood is Good". !!!!!! was my initial reaction. I must be seeing things I told myself. The hours spent staring into he computer screen has finally taken its toll. I blink several times and re - focus. There it red as ever. Maybe I am reading it wrong I say to myself. I know English is a funny language, but there are only so many ways to read three words. Having convinced myself that it was indeed "Wood is Good", the hilarity of the situation struck me, and I let out a loud and incoherent guffaw. The other passengers were irritated to have been disturbed so rudely out of their stupor and gave me "I AM JUDGING YOU" looks. But anyway I was still filled with disbelief. Was it really there? I tried desperately to find a mundane explanation but was offered none by my mind which was overjoyed at such first class entertainment when none was expected.

Maybe a less constricted view might give me some answers. So heroically, I bent an impossible angle to get a better view of the car. There was The Indian Flag drawn all over it. It also had a flag stuck at the nose of the car. All this along with the fact that it was a "white ambassador" gave me absolute confidence that the car belonged to the Government of India. This only increased my disbelief and the hilarity of the situation. The goverment of india is probably the most mundane thing that exists in the country, and I could certainly not associate them with the massage without letting out another loud guffaw, drawing more looks. Was the government on a drive to reassure confused adolscents, along with providing enertainment to daily bus commuters? I also felt a deep sense of admiration for the owner of the car. He must indeed be a man worth admiring, if he chose to proclaim his beliefs to the world in such a "wooden" manner...a car sticker...haw haw haw..thts me loosing control again and guffawing.

Well the 60 minutes of the traffic red light was up, and it was too good to have lasted any longer anyway. The bus started moving lethargically. The ambassador, started to move away...and as it did so..the lower part of its rear boot, that had been concealed to me inspite of my heroics, came into view. It read

Government of India (in your face Sherlock Holmes!!)
The Ministry of Environment and Forests


Wednesday, May 03, 2006


There suddenly seem to be too many decisions to be made that are going to affect my life irrevocably. It's actually getting a little tiresome. And it definitely doesn't help when people you know nod in a sagely manner and say - "Take your time. Think it out. It is an important decision.". Not that they are wrong, or that I resent their advice. It is just too daunting to suddenly realise that what your life is going to be like depends on what decision you make. Now this may make me seem like an irresponsible kid, who hasn't had the sense to realise this until he is 22. Let me elucidate.

Its not a decision of the nature of (as my Mom used to ask me on my lucky days) " What do you want to eat? Ruti and Dal or Luchhi (a bengali variety of the poori..delicious) and Chicken Curry". I used smirk disdainfully at the choices life threw at me then.You call this a decision? Its like asking someone to choose between a Premier Padmini De Luxe and a Buggati Veyron . That is not what I am talking about. These decisions have no happiness or sadness directly attached to them.

Maybe it seems like so much because I am relatively new to it and I somewhere in my head I still hope for someone or something to make the decision for me. But no!! Now it really looks like I will have to grapple manfully with these for the rest of my life and maybe someday when I know more of what life is like, I ll enjoy these dilemmas. Thats the hope.

So HOW on earth are you supposed to make these kind of decisions. Its all very well to pose rhetorical thoughts..but is there a solution? thing I did was to take advice. Its available in plenty out there. Another thing that helped is to collect related information. But filtering all the infomation and the advice and making sense out of it is where it gets tricky.

Eventually, I think, the answer lies in intense introspection. If you have got the answer to the question " What do I want?" clear in your head, the rest seems easy.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Make way for the bad guy...Visceral

I dont know if it happens to others, but sometimes I keep thinking about watching a movie without getting down to it. I dont know if it is my dastardly laziness at work again. My previous post was about one such movie..and I gave a lot of thought before I got down to writing this fear of making this blog too one dimesional..but then what the hell..the experience warrants it!!

It also always happens (again borne out by my previous post) that i eventually catch the movie..although purely by chance and sometimes in the wierdest of places. The Untouchables was one such movie. I finally watched it in an SBBJ guest house TV in Bikaner - star movies had chosen that very day to air the movie..and I happened to switch to the channel at the right time.

When I went home this weekend I found out, much to my joy, from a TV guide that Scarface was scheduled to be the 11:25 PM Sunday movie. I made a vague mental note of this. Hyderabad is freakishly hot these days, and sure as hell..I was there with a tall glass of a cool drink on the couch at the right time. Till that moment my only introduction to Scarface had been the poster that hands above Joey Tribbiani's bed. I had garnered that the movie featured Al Pacino and being a die hard fan I had made up my mind to watch it. I had therefore no inkling as to what I should expect.

What came hit me in the stomach like a pit bull raging at red. The experience was truly VISCERAL!! (Warning : Possible spoilers ahead!!)

Al Pacino plays a political refugee from Cuba. He is deported to America and reaches Miami with a insatiable need to live the American dream. Sure enough he finds himself in the Drug Traffickin business pretty soon. His Rise is fast and bloody, as his is Fall. The story itself has nothing much to offer, but it is the way it is told that makes this movie and experience..and of course Al Pacino.

There are several things about the movie that distinguish it from the usual gangster flick. One is the light. There lights everywhere...bright Miami sunlight, Neon lights, Disco lights...if there is blood, and there a good amount of that, there are no dark shadows to camouflage it.

Another is the fact that the director does not canvass with the audience to symapthise with his chief charecter.

Pacino plays Tony Montana, and he is no Michael Corleone. There is no good side/ bad side distinction made in the movie. With Tony what you see is what you get. He see s his friend Angel getting hacked to peices by a chainsaw in front of his eyes without making a move to save him. And it is made quite clear that he will go to any lengths to get what he wants. He is brutally ferocious...a side of him that is brought out brilliantly by Pacino points of the film you feel like you are looking at a monster of the scale of Godzilla... and it is his unbridled ferocity that gets him to the top of the Drug World with speed.

Tony is furiously greedy, he is insanely protective of his sister, to the extent that he kills his best friend Manolo, when he learns that he is married to her(incestous feelings are more than hinted at in the movie), he treats the woman he woo s like dirt after he marries her...the list is long. This is no fallen angel, you realise while watching the movie, this guy is for real. Tony proclaims it proudly himself in one scene, when he walks out of a posh restaurant drunk and stoned and barely able to move - screaming "make way for the bad guy". He is not the suave and polished Mafia boss...I had grown so used to..he reminds you more of mangy rabid monster.

Tony's fall from the top is as sudden and brutal as his ascent. He is eventually consumed by his greed for wealth and the drug that is the source of it. The cocaine, which he heaps (literally!!!) on his table and uses a magazine (not shiny little blade) to separate a portion to sniff...fills him with a sense of power he does not possess. Throughout the movie Montana appears dwarfed by everything around him, and one day it just blows up.He simply takes on more than he can handle - there are no justifications made for this.

He is as ferocious as ever in the Final scene, when an army of gunmen hunt him down. The final scene showing Montana lying dead in pool, and a globe with the letters " The World is Yours" blazing across it has a certain poignancy attached to it.

Pacino plays a monster in the movie, and he pulls it off in style. I have never witnessed anything anywhere close to this before, and would not have believed it possible if it werent for that TV guide. You need to watch it to understand what I am talking about.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Kong

When Peter Jackson's King Kong released in India late last year, I was preparing to leave Hyderabad for 6 months and move to Bangalore. I had exactly 15 days of an interim in Hyderabad during my relocation from Pilani to Bangalore. In the hurried preparations for the relocation I somehow managed to miss the movie in Hyderabad. It was also helped by the fact that King Kong released In Telugu first and for a week while the whole of India (or whatever...) was watching the Kong fall in love with Ann Darrow, fight Dinosaurs et al.. we Hyderabadi s were fuming at what was happening to us.

When the movie finally did relaese in Hyderabad, I had two days left in the city. The move to Bangalore was tumultous. It was the first time I was living alone in a city and it took me for some time settle down. I made a few valiant attempts at catching the movie, but my limited knowledge of Bangalore along with my inherent laziness came in the way. Not that I did not visit PVR or Inox - but the Rs 150 tag attched to every movie ticket held me back. This can be bewildering but in my defense, the last 10 years of my life have been split between Hyderabad, where a movie ticket would cost you a maximum of 60 bucks, and Pilani, where the same would cost you 20 bucks and couple of hours in a bugridden, paan stain decorated and smelly Dabba as we call it there.

Before I could turn into an Inox and PVR hardenned movie goer, who scoffs at the lowly prices in his hometown, the Kong departed from the theatres.

Now I would not have undergone the pains of detailing how I happened to miss the movie if something hadn't happened to change all that. And indeed it did. On my last trip to Forum I was passing by the Landmark shop when a huge cutout of the Kong looking pissed caught my eye. On closer scrutiny I found out that King Kong had released on CD!!! And my first non perishable ( call it non - food if you like) purchase was on the cards -it cost me Rs 300 but boy oh boy was it worth it!!!!

Well as a kid I remember very very vaguely watching the original - nothing much, part of the excitement was perhaps to relive that memory - and I was not dissapointed.

The movie was super!!! I have a habit of loving movies that everyone else hates (Daredevil is a glaring example) but with this one I think I am on safe grounds.

The movie is a classic adventure retold. All the actors do a pretty good job. Naomi Watts in Ann Darrow's role is an epitome of womanhood in all its fragility and strength (my lame attempt at poetry..heh heh). Standing out also was Jack Black's portrayal of the manic movie director Carl Denam.

But if you watch King Kong, hoping to see brilliant acting you'd be wasting your time and a seat in the movie theatre. The special effects are out of the world. The scenes involving King Kong are hair raisingly brilliant. Skull Island,the Kongs home, is picturised in a brilliant manner in the movie. The natives were terrifyingly ugly, the wall around the island gigantically forbidding and the hook that is used to lower Darrow into the jungle barbarically grotesque. All in all it was the "larger than life" ness of the movie that gets to you. ( Although it is overdone at times, gigantic leeches????)

Now to the Kong himself. The Giant Ape is simply marvelous considering he was created out of a computer. Peter Jackson makes him a raw, magnified version of what every man is somewhere deep inside, the flaws are raw but so are the virtues. His fight with the multiple Tyrannosaurus Rex s in order to protect Ann is awesome, epecially the last part of it were The Kong brutally vanquishes the last suriviving Rex.

There were two specific scenes in the movie that took the cake. The first was the scene with the Kong and Darrow gazing at the sunset, the disparity in the sizes of the silhouettes somehow dont seem to matter. The second was the whole sequence with the Kong on top of the Empire State Building, where the fighter planes eventually hunt him down. The times when the Kong repeatedly beats his chest and roars at the approaching fighter planes, fighting a battle that he doesnt have a chance of winning are, wierdly, inspiring. And the final scene where He gazes at Darrow with one eye, till one can see the life die out of them beats the climaxes of several of our Bollywood tear-jerkers by a Kong leap.

All in all an experience I will treasure, and although I am sure I will see the movie several times after this (considering I have the CD) I doubt if it will ever again convey that sense of awe it did the first time.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Finally!! I have my own blog. The past couple of months of my life have been filled with hours spend in front of the computer writing my own code or dissecting someone elses. I will not lapse into the commonly heard tirade over the ills of a software job, but I must admit that this kind of thing can get painfully boring sometimes, and sometimes just painful. It was during these painful times that I first started visiting blogs. I hope a few kindred souls find solace in this one as well.

I am uncertain as to what the purpose of this blog is. At first I had idea of having blog where I would only print (or is it publish??) the short stories that I hazard writing once in a while. But that would mean extremely infrequent postings - and a possible shunning of this page - but I guess I am pretty much running that risk either way - heh heh. But for a long time now the pieces of literature (hyuk hyuk) that I have churned (believe me!!) out are over-polite mails to university graduate offices and obsequious mails to college professors - and I REALLY want to do something about this.

Anyway, I am probably in the stage of my life where almost everything is uncertain - therefore I am not daunted by the idea of adding one more to the list. Lets see how this baby turns out.

(I had to make a very conscious effort not to lapse into e - spellings, if thats the word. Its been a long time and I hope I have succeeded.)