Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Films (and Books) of the Year

I love reading year-end lists. Helps me identify stuff I might have missed. Or tally my favorites with the list-maker. Or just give a last collective thought to things that made the year great.

I didn't watch as many films or read as many books as I have been doing in the last few years. But, the number might still be higher than most people I know. Since there is still a day to go, and since I don't really have much of a partying plan for tonight, the final number is still not signed and sealed.

But, among the movies and books that I have seen and read till last night, here are the ones I liked the most. The list has 18 movies and 6 books. All of them didn't necessarily come out in 2009. I just saw/read them this year (I know because I have maintained a list of all movies and books I have chatofied since 2004).

In no particular order:

Frost/Nixon - For proving that a film can be thrilling even if most of it is about an old American and a younger Brit talking to each other.

Wilde - For Stephen Fry being an even Wilder Wilde than Wilde could have been.

Dev D - For Kalki Koechlin speaking in Tamil on the phone. For helping forget SRK in the Devdas role. For the horniest Paro ever.

Luck By Chance - For that beautiful opening credits sequence. For Farhan Akhtar doing a typical filmy dance number.

Gulaal - For Ransa. For Piyush Mishra's music and lyrics.

Red Cliff I and II - For showing that there is still a lot of juice in a Far-East war film.

Marley & Me - For Marley, the World's Worst Dog.

The Hangover - For making me laugh more than I have watching any other film this year.

Pontypool - For being a zombie film, and still being interesting.

District 9 - For some of the coolest weapons in films. For some of the ugliest creatures in films.

Chintu Ji - For being that small film, which so many more should have watched, and which I almost did not. For Sophiya Chaudhary dancing to Akira Kurosawa (the song).

Inglourious Basterds - For Col. Hans Landa. And for, well, everything else.

Kurbaan - For being a rare Hindi thriller that actually thrills.

Choke - For Sam Rockwell.

Waltz With Bashir - For showing that even non-Nam/Korean/Desert Storm/Afghan war movies are worth talking about. Or maybe more so.

3 Idiots - For being a rare instance where we can say that the movie was better than the book.

Avatar - For Pandora. For Cameron, the King of the World.

Kaminey - For the music. For the Priyanka Chopra. For the Fahid Kapoor.

And then there were books:

The Strain - Even though it got a little tedious towards the end, I still can't believe how scary I found it in the first hundred pages or so.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - I haven't found the two sequels in the same league as the first book. Maybe because the first one had more than one incestuous, murderous, rich men.

Cujo - Turning a dog into a scary creature is about the most sacrilegious thing Stephen King has done. And one of the most effective.

Cuckold - I had been told it's one of the most under-rated books in Indian Writing in English. I think I agree. It took me a while to figure out who the lady being spoken of in the book is.

Palestine - The graphic novel made me realize how so many people today are paying the price because the world still hasn't been able to forgive itself for the Holocaust, and so lets Israel do anything it wants to.

Moonward - Ugly fat creatures. Very little text. Almost no color. Sometimes difficult to get symbolism. What's not to like?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sick People

I hadn't realized I am so well-known. I mean, it's happened several times that people recognized me in public, but someone asking me for my autograph! That's quite something!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Aal Izz Well

I was having a chat last evening with a friend about the movies we have seen in recent times. During the conversation, we realized that I seem to like, or at least enjoy, too many movies. Even the kinds, like Singh is Kinng and Chandni Chowk to China, which a lot of people aren't particularly fond of.

This was towards the end of my day in the office, and I thought about it on my way back home. I was also thinking about it as I was walking back from the nearest mall after watching a late night paid-preview show of 3 Idiots.

I still don't have an answer to why I seem to like so many movies, or, for that matter, movies in general. For instance, I really loved 3 Idiots, even though I am pretty sure there would be at least some critics who would talk about issues like old actors playing college kids, done-to-death jokes, a less than credible script, and more. It's not that I don't see these issues, but I somehow don't see them as issues if the movie worked for me as a whole.

So, I really didn't find Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi or Madhavan out of place, or didn't feel embarrassed laughing whole-heartedly at the jokes I have heard tens of times earlier or didn't bat an eyelid when they delivered a kid using a vacuum cleaner and some other handy gadgets. I loved it all. Because I loved them together.

Maybe that is why I enjoy so many films. I start watching a movie, almost always, with the intention of losing myself into it. I don't like to be made to feel that I am losing myself, I want it to happen on its own. And it does happen in most movies that I see to the end. I don't like thinking too much while watching a film. Which is not the same thing as saying that I only like hare-brained movies. If there's a thought that should come to me, it'll come on its own without my hand being held and pulled in any direction.

Plus, I don't like all the movies that I see to the same extent. I just rarely hate or don't like a movie completely. There are redeeming features in a large number of films, and I don't understand the digital approach (like vs don't like) that people have to films, or to anything else.

I like some degree of honesty in a film, from the director and the actors. I like to want to like a film.

On the other hand, nothing puts me off more than pure artificiality. A very conscious attempt to achieve greatness in every frame. That is why I think Sanjay Leela Bhansali is one of the most over-rated directors in Hindi cinema. A man who has made films as terrible as Khamoshi, Black and Saawariya should never be allowed near a camera.

Which is very interesting because the other well-known director from Vidhu Vinod Chopra's camp, Rajkumar Hirani, is a fair contrast. He also goes very nearly over-the-top, but only very nearly. Almost like Frank Capra. There were points in his earlier films, or even in 3 Idiots, when I thought for a moment - No, he didn't just do that! - but then went on to the next scene because whatever he did seemed right.

So, even though my half-baked theories on film appreciation might sound unconvincing, take this advice: Go and watch 3 Idiots. Maybe take some college-friends along. Don't analyze the film. Believe. And you'll have one of the most fun movie watching experiences in recent times.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Fat, Brown Line

Everytime I travel on a plane in India, I think this: why do we love to line up so much? I don't know if this is common to people from other countries - more well-traveled acquaintances say that it isn't, so it must be some vestige of those times when everything had to be fought for.

You must have noticed, and very strong chances are that you would have done it yourself - people in Indian airports (and I say Indian, because I have been made to believe that this occurrence is limited largely to these shores) line up the moment there is the first call for boarding to begin. They line up and keep standing diligently even if the line extends to 50-100 people. Even if there ends up being some delay in the eventual boarding process.

Even funnier is when the plane lands and stops after taxiing. Despite all pleas by the air-hostess to keep the phone switched off, people start pulling out their Blackberry Storms and Nokia N97s, the moment the plane slows down after landing, and calling people up that they have landed. I am sure their chauffeurs/cab-wallahs/relatives can survive a few more minutes before hearing their loud voices.

Even more curiously, just as they were desperate to get into the plane, now they are rubbing their heels together to dash out of the plane the moment the door opens. At the first possible instance, almost everyone stands up and lines up looking expectantly at the door, breathing in each other's exhaled air even more effectively. I think this might be some sub-conscious remnant of having been used to lining up near the train compartment door with one's luggage near the bathroom to avoid getting caught in the melee of other passengers, hawkers, coolies and general hangers-on who infest all our railway stations. Especially at those stations where the train used to stop for not more than 2-3 minutes.

I have got used to seeing people stand up and start taking out baggage from the overhead cabins the moment the plane halts momentarily during its taxiing, only to be shouted upon by some member of the crew. Watching them lose balance, or their bags, or both, when the plane starts to move again, is priceless.

What is even more priceless is them giving me dirty looks when I choose to keep sitting at my seat, reading my book, and waiting for the crowd around me to pass through. I have cultivated some looks of my own that I hope make them feel how utterly loserly their behavior is.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I saw Avatar a couple of days back, at the IMAX in Mumbai. I really enjoyed the film, which is more like a joyride than any other film I can remember. This was also the first time I saw a film in 3D, so maybe that added to the fun quotient. But, as almost everyone else has been saying, you should definitely let the Na'vis seduce you. Chances are you'd want an avatar of your own.

This is also another occasion when I am getting annoyed with some of the critics for seeing the film for what it is not. Of course, Roger Ebert and Raja Sen (I know it's probably heresy to take their names together) have both praised the film wholeheartedly, but there are others like Baradwaj Rangan, who seem to get a little too anal about the story. Do they not realize that everyone even with the least bit of sanity can see that the film's script is as cliched as they come, that the characters are made of cardboard so fine many of our own film-makers would be proud of?

Rangan, in his review, also makes a rather patronizing statement, garnishing it with the obligatory references to classics like Apocalypse Now to display his indisputable film-knowledge - If visual wow is all you seek from the movies, Avatar is a truly religious experience...
- well, no, I don't only seek visual wow from movies, but I know when to shut the fuck up and not expect a Fellini from a Cameron.

But, at least, he does acknowledge the good stuff too. There are other two-bit film 'critics' who have jumped at the opportunity to prove that they know about this invisible object called script, and have been crucifying the film for not spending more time and resources on it.

I believe a film like this could not have worked if Cameron had made the story too complicated. As it is, the film jumps headlong into the concept of an Avatar, the reasons for choosing the paraplegic Jake Sully, and everything else about Pandora in the first few minutes. After this, I felt it was only right to let the movie take a predictable route, if only to let the audience settle down in familiar territory and enjoy the visual spectacle playing out on the screen.

For all the hoarse crying about Cameron not giving importance to a story as he did in his earlier opus, Titanic, or the ones before that, I remember very clearly reading reviews, from the time Titanic came out, which decried the loss of a good script to the thrill of breaking down the ship.

There's this well-known aspect of our relationships with the elders in our family where their response to a lot of new experiences is that things were better when they were younger. And in time, we probably will start spouting the same shit to people from our younger generations too. Critics seem to play this same thing out, in much shorter time frames.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rocket Singh Woodstock

The last two movies I have seen, or the last two before Jackass: The Lost Tapes at least, have been very nice experiences. That does not mean that Jackass wasn't nice in its own way, but men jumping into crocodile-infested ponds in G-strings and making vomelets (ingesting all ingredients and then puking it out and then cooking it, if you had to know) are things meant for more romantic evenings.

I saw Rocket Singh: SOTY today. I had somehow expected a very over-the-top comedy, with several emotional messages rolled in for good measure. The one-minute trailers hadn't been very easy to bear either. Also, the all-too-easy pot-shots at IIT-IIM losers was not very endearing. But, it's probably because I have enjoyed almost all of Ranbir Kapoor's outings, with the exception of his towel-dropping debut, and the fact that I feel Jaideep Sahni and Shimit Amin are two of the more talented chaps around in Hindi films, made me take the chance. And I am glad I did.

The film is more in the league of a Dibakar Banerjee than a Yash Raj Films, a banner whose films lately have been increasingly soporific. A more serious film than the trailers would have us believe, the initial credit sequence made me cringe at the perfect set direction to make the set reflect a typical middle-class family, only to make me realize very soon that it wasn't all made-up.

It's rare to see the entire cast in a Hindi film delight you - including the very delightful, if slightly over-expressive, 'villain' - and it is extremely heartening when that happens. The story is fairly predictable, and maybe that is the greatest strength. A film with a story we see around us a lot, not often enough on the screen though, and still find it interesting enough to stick around - it does not require Rocket Singh to sell it. Our loss if we don't buy it.

The other film I saw, last night, was Taking Woodstock. The film's about a not-so-well-to-do Jewish family and the not-so-prodigal son, who end up playing host to Woodstock. The film hardly dwells on the concert itself - one short look at it from the distance - but still, and probably because of it, is interesting in the depiction of really weird chain of events behind the scenes.

Another ensemble of some very competent actors, including Liev Schreiber as a cross-dressing, ex-Marine, security guard with a heart of gold - this was a movie that was supposed to be released in India some time back but I seem to have missed.

The film also made me wish, again, so hard, that I were born in that era in the US. Drugs, music, free sex, no inhibitions - life could only go downhill from there.

What connects both these movies is the presence of these loser 'heroes', who do something quite out of their league, with a fair amount of opposition from everyone around, and end up achieving stuff they probably hadn't thought of when they set out. The 'setting out' was just instinctive.

But then, maybe all stories worth telling actually do revolve around such people only.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Small Pleasures, Really Small

The answer is The Aristocrats. To the question asked in the previous post.

I saw Kurbaan last weekend finally - my sinuses were being raped the earlier weekend when it was released - and quite liked it. Liked Paa as well, which I saw this Friday night after work. India are No.1, even though it's only Test Cricket. And I finally got wi-fi at home. Life's made up of such small pleasures.

That's a load of bull.

I am annoyed right now because I was hoping to go to Kerala for New Year's but I have been told it's not a good idea. Despite being on good behavior for days now. Don't have any plans as of now, and spending New Year's eve alone is sad. Even for me!

Anyway, I suppose I'll manage. I came across two interesting sites recently. One was through the gtalk status of a friend. For some reason I thought the author was a woman. Maybe because, like a nurse, I can't imagine a man being a librarian. Love the site for its twisted-ness.

Got to the other site through the blog-roll of the first one. Haven't gone through the archives, but promises some good fun.

I wish right now I could have one of those suburban houses that we see in US films. Apart from the fact that it would help me have a dog (I have been dreaming about keeping a dog with alarming frequency now), I could have one of those garages where the door opens using a remote control and you can just take your gas-guzzler in without having to get down. And you can take stuff from your vehicle straight into your house through the inside door.

And yes, a basement too. Soundproofed, of course.

And a chainsaw. Or at least a good meat-carving knife. And, well, that hook-chain-pulley thing used to hang meat. And a good garbage disposal system. Without nosy neighbors.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Quiz Question

A family walks into a talent agency. It's a father, mother, son, daughter and dog. The father says to the talent agent, "We have a really amazing act. You should represent us."

The agent says, "Sorry, I don't represent family acts. They're a little too cute."

The mother says, "Sir, if you just see our act, we know you would want to represent us."

The agent says, "OK. OK. I'll take a look."

"First I come out, wearing a tuxedo, playing Brahms. Just as the music reaches a crescendo, my wife in an evening gown runs on stage and undresses me before dancing provocatively on top of the piano.

Just as I finish playing the song with my cock, my wife strips and does a backflip off the piano in a split on stage. Once her naked ass hits the floor, my 7 year old daughter and 13 year old son rush on stage juggling flaming lawn darts. My wife does a handstand and catches the lawn darts in her cunt, she then manages to queef them out, making her the third part of this juggling act.

The queefs force her to squeeze out a few turds, which I eagerly start smearing on my naked body, which arouses me quickly. Once I'm fully aroused my daughter and son take turns blowing me while my wife straps on a monstrous dildo and begins reaming each child while i ejaculate in the eyes of my offspring.

Once I cum, I run into the audience, shit-covered body still sticky with cum and grab my parents and in-laws to involve them into the act. I strip them all nude and instruct them to start a circle jerk while screaming racial slurs. So my mother and father-in-law start screaming, "Fuck the niggers" while mutually masturbating, and my father and mother-in-law begin diddling one another and chanting, "I hate spics and jews!" Once they reach a geriatric climax, my wife uses their ejaculate to lube up her fist which she uses to start fisting me.

As my asshole is violated, I start playing double dutch with my kids, and once they get tangled in the ropes, start a torrid 69. All the sucking and slurping cause my in-laws and parents to get aroused again and they start sodomizing and fisting one another.

My wife at this point has completely started dry-heaving, so she vomits all over my ass and my back. I line up each of my family members who take turns licking the chunks of spew off my back and out of my ass.

By now my children have to defecate so I tell them to shit in each other's favorite orifices. My son, ever the trooper takes a thick, dense shit in his sister's vagina while my daughter shits in my son's nose.

My young daughter also conveniently starts her menstrual cycle shortly thereafter, and the menses and boy-shit in her cunt make for great lube, as each of my in-laws begin fucking my daughter. My son, blinded in shit, heads back to the piano and does his best Stevie Wonder impression while my wife runs back into the audience to grab a toddler from the crowd.

She begins stuffing this child into her vagina, while my parents begin screaming how she's possessed by Satan and start performing a nude exorcism on her. The power of christ compels them to kill the toddler, which also makes it easier to cram into my wife's lovehole.

By now, I'm so horny and aroused that I start fucking the dead baby inside my wife while my young son starts licking my asshole and fingering his paternal grandparents. My in-laws finish abusing my daughter and start wrestling each other, which culminates in a huge powerbomb through the piano bench. The impact shatters my mother-in-law's hips, leaving her crippled.

The strain of the throw caused my father's bad heart to seize, and he collapses in a heap on the stage. As he gurgles and foams at the mouth, my daughter runs over and begins rubbing her shit covered pussy lips all over my crippled mother-in-law.

My wife grabs the wooden shards of the piano bench and begins playing her father's dying body like a xylophone. My son pulls his tongue out of my asshole and begins sucking his dying grandfather's cock.

I diall 911 and call for the paramedics who revive my father-in-law and then take turns fucking my daughter and eating the menses and shit out of her tight cunt.

Once he's conscious we all assemble in a large circle holding hands and chanting gibberish before launching into a rousing group impression of 'A Downs Syndrome' perspective on the horrors of the holocaust, 9/11 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

As we're moaning and screaming, my son runs off-stage to get the family dog. The dog runs over to my crippled mother-in-law and begins peeing on her. Once the dog finishes leaving her in a puddle of piss, my daughter stops blowing the paramedics to light the dog on fire.

The dog yelps and howls before collapsing. My son runs over to fuck the burnt corpse while screaming, "White is right!"as my daughter begins goose-stepping around the stage, squeezing shit out of her cunt and offering Nazi salutes to the audience.

My father-in-law begins raping my father, claiming that he's doing it for the forgotten Vietnam vets and POWs. My mother puts my crippled mother-in-law on her shoulders as I put my wife on my shoulders and we play a game of naked chicken.

Once my son finishes fucking the dead dog. He takes the pieces of the piano bench and begins crucifying the corpse. Once the dog is hung like jesus, he begins weeping at the foot of the cross, saying, "Why my god have you forsaken me?"

My daughter mounts the top of the crucifix, using it as a wooden dildo. My parents, my in-laws and my wife join hands at the center of the stage and start singing "The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music"

I grab the lawn darts and shove one up everyone's ass before heading back to the piano to finish off the show with a rendition of Freebird."

For the longest time, the agent just sits in silence. Finally, he manages, "That's a hell of an act. What do you call it?"

What's the answer?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Deer Dicks and Ranbir Kapoor

No, those are not two of my favorite things. Just read on.

But before that, thanks for all the love showered on my humble blog after the last post. Your feedback always encourages me to keep working on becoming a better person each passing day.

Got to know about this website through Vibhor. Mind-boggling stuff. It's difficult to choose between deer penis wine and hermaphrodite frog ovaries. They have this and every other fucking thing described as food! That very well ended up being a pun. Always a good reading accompaniment to my much less exotic dinners. Guess I will have to stick to Karthik's blog only for my dining out ideas. Pass me if you find something for Mumbai.


I went to the PVR at Oberoi Mall each of the last two weekends and watched movies that I quite enjoyed. And others sitting around me seemed to do so too. But, even then, curiously enough, almost everyone that I met would say that they are bad films. The first was Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, which I saw a day after it came out. I told a friend right after the movie that it'll be a hit. Sometime some things just connect with the audience without there being a clear reason for it.

And, well, despite my initial dislike for him, I have to admit it's fun watching Ranbir Kapoor. Especially when there's Ms Kaif for company. I realized the same day that I have seen all his movies on the big screen, not by any personal design.

Last weekend, I saw 2012. Like for the earlier film, the hall was house-full for a 10 am show on a Saturday morning for this one too. And I just loved the comprehensive manner in which everything is destroyed.

Hope Kurbaan, which I am looking forward to watching, because I like Dharma Productions films, makes it a hat-trick.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bird Brained

An interesting thing happened over the weekend.

After the badly ventilated flat I had in Bangalore, I am fortunate enough to have one with two balconies in Mumbai now. It's awesome for the air as well as the light in the flat, and I don't need to switch on any lights till sunset.

The downside of these balconies is that I almost always end up being woken up in the morning by some pigeon's guttural sounds. And those idiots shit a lot too.

QI tells me that pigeons are the only birds that can suck. And they do suck a lot.

So, I have an AC carton kept in my living room balcony, which a pigeon couple had decided to convert into their own penthouse, despite all my acts of discouragement.

On returning from my Bangkok trip, I saw two eggs in the carton. Pigeon eggs are really small. So, I had let them stay for a while as I thought they'd be done with it soon. One of the eggs hatched sometime back.

Yesterday, I got angry with a friend and didn't have anything to vent my anger out on. So, I went and shook the carton really hard. The mom (I am assuming it was a 'mom' because she was sitting on the little pigeon chick thing) flew away in fright, leaving the kid behind. I shook some more and the chick bounced around for a while and fell down to the floor.

That was yesterday.

From last evening till the afternoon today, the stupid kid had shat all over my balcony, while the parents looked on perched on my AC. The maid hadn't come today so it was going to get even worse by tomorrow morning.

So, when the pigeons left for a while I lifted the kid on a magazine and threw it onto the roof of a car parked below my balcony. Was curious to see how the pigeons would react when they came back.

The pigeons came back in a few minutes and took some time in locating the kid. The morons then went on to nudge the kid off the roof on to the ground.

A dog came within moments and made a nice evening snack of the kid.

I threw the other egg down for the dog's dessert. But a crow flew in and ate it the moment it fell on to the ground.

This will teach the pigeons not to treat my balcony as prime real estate.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bangkok Diary - I

Just got back from Thailand after a hectic four-day part-work, part-vacation trip.

The first impression, Thursday early morning, as we moved from the Suvarnabhumi International Airport towards our hotel in Bangkok was good. But it took a bit of a plunge over the next two days, only to go back up over the weekend.

So, in the end, it was a good visit. Enjoyed the place. People are extremely friendly, which is the most important thing. Staying at a fantastic hotel didn't harm either. Food is lovely, which is always a major plus in my books.

Detailed notes soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Strain

I had the scariest nightmare last night.

My dreams are normally quite awesome. Not exactly the way her sweet dreams are, but good fun. Even the slightly bad ones get nasty only to the extent of me missing an exam (yeah, I still have those ones) or losing a grade because of having low attendance.

But, this one was a proper nightmare. Where I actually woke up completely frightened and was spooked enough to not go back to sleep for a fairly long time.

I sleep very lightly and even the least bit of sound makes me wake up. Because of my sinus problems, I snore on some occasions if I am sleeping on my back (I always have to sleep sideways) and end up waking myself with the noise of my snoring. Yeah, it sounds funny even to me, but true.

So, last night I woke up partly because I was really frightened, but also because I could hear myself moan in sleep. That bad. And I could feel the physical pain I had experienced in the nightmare even after waking up.

What probably led to this rare occurrence was the fact that I had gone to bed reading the new book jointly authored by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan - The Strain. It's a fast-paced book, not very different from most other horror/thriller works of fiction, but this somehow got under my skin. And I would like to believe that it's not easy to do that.

On a (hopefully) unrelated note, I'll be in Bangkok for the next 3-4 days. If any of you are also going to be there by some interesting twist of fate, mail me and we could meet up. Would probably need some break anyway from all the presentations.

Monday, October 26, 2009

TOW I Crib Some More

I am typing with one hand again. But that's because I have a particularly gooey piece of chikki in my left hand. Had gone with my parents to Lonavala-Khandala a few weeks back, and all the chikki we bought had been rotting in my fridge. It still tastes awesome.

I am sorry for that fingers stunt. I was getting bored one fine evening, had just watched No Smoking for the fourth time, and this felt like a good idea. Thanks to everyone who bothered to comment, write to me or call. Apologies for being such a moron. And will try not to crack such 'jokes' again.

***********Warning - Serious Crib Alert************

I have been terribly low for the last few days, which has sort of been the general mood actually for most of the last few months. I know it's very boring reading someone crib like this but, well, at least I am not cribbing while talking to you on the phone! I am not exactly sure why I am not in a good or even normal mood, not sure whether there is a reason at all, but it is the way it is.

The fact that I am not exactly in love with my job is very clear to anyone who reads my posts. But it is a genuinely nice firm to work for, and I am not sure I won't regret missing out the chance of sticking around and seeing this firm grow if I leave soon. And there are quite a few days when I enjoy the work I do on that particular day. I feel satisfied coming home tired, having simple food, watching a couple of TV shows, chatting a bit with one or two people, and then lying down with a novel and falling asleep in a few minutes. I particularly love the falling asleep easily bit. Probably for the first time in my life, for an extended period, I have not had problem in falling asleep.

But then there are days when I have this crazy, painful feeling that I am wasting time. I don't have any liabilities, my dad's in a good job and has got a fair amount of time before retirement, and my parents have saved a decent amount of money, my sister's got a job. I am healthy, with no illness. I don't even have a pet animal that could be dependent on me.

I still can't find the courage to experiment. And it's killing me. Or at least making me crazy.

I have been shutting people out with my craziness. I didn't have too many friends to begin with, but have been deliberately trying to lose the ones I did. I said some very hurtful things to a cousin I considered one of my best friends, and we haven't spoken for months now. I haven't called up some of my friends whom I used to talk with every few weeks. And I think was not very hospitable when one such close friend stayed over at my place for a weekend. And over the last few days I have come perilously close to losing the friend I value the most.

I can make things better. But then again, I can't.

Writing this here is just a way to see things better, as crazy as it may sound.

It's also crazy how much 'I' my posts are about. The rare moments when I give my self-centered self a break and look at others, I realize that others have got problems too. Real problems actually. But one's own problems, even if imagined, obviously hurt more.


Added later: Maybe it's just a case of not getting enough sex.

Friday, October 9, 2009


i lost 2 fingers of my left hand yesterday in an accident. hurts like hell, and it is painful typing with one hand, so forgive the lack of caps. will be back with the story once the painkillers wear off completely.

Friday, October 2, 2009

You Do Get Jews In A Bar

Christoph Waltz, as SS Colonel Hans Landa, bites into his role with such delight and has so much fun chewing it that it's difficult for me to be able to write about anything else from Inglourious Basterds. Will have to watch it again sometime soon.

I saw the film last night, at a preview show, which should qualify as first-day first-show. Occasions like these when your expectations are met, and even exceeded, are rare, and worth cherishing. Tarantino's back in true form after an also-ran called Death Proof and aren't we fortunate for that!

They didn't show any trailers at the beginning of the movie at the multiplex I saw Basterds at. Which was good in hindsight, because it might have got me in the wrong mood for the beginning of the film. The film is told in Chapters, similar to Kill Bill, and the first one sets the mood brilliantly. Landa has a long and cheerful conversation with a peasant Frenchman, in which he also explains in delightful detail why a Jew is like a rat (reminded me of Maus), drinks some milk, and smokes the most interesting pipe I have seen, and one understands completely when the peasant, who is easily twice the size of the Colonel, starts crying at the end of it. You would not want to run into Landa in real life.

Unless, of course, if you are a Basterd.

After pages and reels of having seen those bastard Nazis taking it out on the poor Jews, it's the Basterd Jews turn to scalp their oppressors, literally. Or, in case of Eli Roth's Bear Jew, have a few shots at their heads with a baseball bat.

But, the title of the film is actually quite misleading. Even though it's fun seeing the Basterds having fun at the expense of the poor Nazis (that adjective isn't used with that noun that often), this film is also about a parallel story of a girl who lived to take revenge. She gets equal footage, if not more, as Pitt, and very deservingly so.

The climax, where multiple strands come together, is so unexpected and so relieving that the few moments in the film earlier that felt like a drag seem completely worth the patience.

Tarantino's trademark long conversational scenes ending in chaos or anti-climactic non-action are still there, and have gotten better in some cases. The bar scene with the actress and three of the Basterds is one of the most classic ones I have seen. And the first scene in the film is anyway beyond comparison.

Pitt has done better roles than this and I didn't like him all that much. His drawl actually got very irritating at times. The rest of the cast, an assortment of nationalities, is great, as they are expected to be in a Tarantino film.

I had never seen a Tarantino film on the big screen before this, and it's completely my loss. His use of music is legendary, but I hadn't realized how subtly it creates the atmosphere for just the right reaction from the audience till I saw this film. Even the camera angles are so much more effective on the big screen. It is like the big screen, or even the Dolby surround sound, was invented for Tarantino.

I already feel like going back to watching Landa again tonight.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Machher Jhol

One of the reasons for taking a flat this far out in the suburbs - causing a daily 30-40 minute one-way commute to office, which everyone, including myself, keeps reminding me is very sane by Mumbai standards - was to be able to live away from the crazy congregation of humanity that is Mumbai. And it's been a good decision. My flat's balconies don't even open towards the road, but towards the greener, and calmer, backside of the society. Watching Mumbai's famous rains, with the balcony doors wide open, cool breeze blowing in, and reading a nice book, with music playing on my (new) speakers, is as close to heavenly as I have come since I started working.

Of course, one can't spend the entire weekend cooped up like this. One of my weekly engagements is a trip to Hypercity in Malad (W) to do my grocery shopping. It's about 15-20 away from my flat on a straight road, which normally has much less traffic than usual at the time I choose to go there (Sunday lunchtime). On my way back, feeling content with the world after having gotten through another week of boring vegetable-buying, I like to take a look around at the slums lining both sides of the road.

A good amount of space right next to the footpath is taken by these small shops, barely enough to fit two persons, selling all sorts of things from clothes and food items to phones and hardware. I rarely see any customer there. They are almost always occupied by some old man wearing a skull cap and kurta-pajama, very often staring at the road blankly. I always wonder how the shop-owners make a living. Who are the patrons? What are the footfalls like?

Today it reminded me of a similar shop I knew almost a decade back. Before deciding to go to Kota for my coaching, I had spent about 2-3 very painful weeks in Kolkata. I was staying on the 2nd floor of a guest-house, and one of the windows in my room opened on to a section of a road that had a small bakery/confectionery/something like that on the other side.

The person who ran the shop used to pull up the shutters sometime around 11 am, and by the time I got back to my room at 4:30 or so, they would be down. Of course, these were the days when he would decide to open shop at all, because very often the shop would be closed even on a weekday. I wasn't around long enough to figure out a pattern - maybe he took a leave only on prime numbered dates - but it didn't keep me from marveling what a leisurely lifestyle he had. As I got to know later, Kolkata abounds in such life-stories.

And even though I have often made fun about the lack of enterprise among a good number of people in Kolkata, I find myself wondering equally often these days if that is not the better life. Machher jhol and beer, and they don't cost much, should be enough for a good life.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Were The World Mine

Two posts in one day - don't know if I have done that before.

I have believed for a long time now that the theory about the heart deciding a lot of things for us is one of the few inarguable truths of our life. There are some people you meet, some things you see that you know would matter for a long time.

I saw a film like that just now. Had downloaded it several weeks back because I had read about it somewhere. Got around to watching it today. I had been seeing the same first 15 minutes or so and dismissing it as another cliched high-school story. But, I need hard disk space on my laptop (have left my external HDD with a friend accidentally) and decided to watch it today so that I could delete it. Am not deleting it for sure now.

Were the World Mine is one of those films that makes you realize how much English-language, or for that matter most non-Indian, films have missed by not making more musicals. Or at least us, the viewers, have. I last got that feeling when I saw Chicago all those years ago.

It's a film about a gay chap in an all-boys high-school, where he's fallen in love with the school jock, the best rugby player. The usual dilemmas follow, and I was growing tired, when suddenly Shakespeare drops in. This is an unapologetic tribute to Midsummer Night's Dream, one of my favorite Shakespearean plays, and the Bard of Avon would have been proud.

The lead boy is chosen in the school play for the role of Puck, and he discovers the love potion mentioned in the play. Craziness ensues, with the sports coach falling for the headmaster, the boy's mom's boss (who is also the headmaster's wife) falling for his mom, and the jock falling for him.

The point when the entire butch rugby team starts doing ballet on the sports field is hilarious.

The music and the acting is better than several high ranked films. When I see a film like this, I feel really bad because such films should be seen by more people. They are hugely entertaining, but show you a bit more of life too at the same time, without you realizing it.

Cheap Thrills

I think I went a little overboard in writing about my job in the last post. The job's OK. Which I have realized is better than most people's jobs around me. I just need to stop posting here when I am under the influence of spirits, or on Monday mornings.

Of course, there's no bit of frustration that a few good films and books can't rid you of.

My habit of trying out films on my own, and not relying too much on how known or well-received they are, bears fruit very often. I ran into this film called Pontypool recently. It's a Canadian horror/thriller film, and a very interesting take on a genre that has seen some interesting experimentation in the last few years.

The other film I enjoyed - I am not talking about Kaminey because, well, everyone knows I enjoyed it - was this low-budget, really low-ranked, film called Train. It's a mindless gory Hostel-kind of movie. Just the way I like them. The funniest bit is when the lead male star gets caught by the killer while he is running through the train in his jock-straps. His running through the train bit is thanks to this amazingly idiotic game Truth-or-Dare, which Americans seem to take a little too seriously. Getting caught by a deranged killer while you are in your jock-straps must be an ignominious way to die. When you get caught, you feel embarrassed or afraid?

I also saw Mirrors, which I wasn't very enthused by when I saw the trailer a few months back. I don't like the Sutherlands. But I hadn't realized that it's been made by Alexandre Aja. It's fairly decent, with a superb ending. The scene where Amy Smart's character's reflection makes her tear apart her jaw in the bath-tub (I know it sounds complicated) is awesome for its creativity.

Creativity in killing people reminds me - The Final Destination 3D is my most awaited movie right now. I might have written here earlier that I am a big fan of the earlier three movies in the series because of the sheer innovation in killing off people. The plots are threadbare and repetitive. Acting is basic. But, the real star in these films is Death.

I just got done with reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It's worth all the hype that it has created in the recent past. Sourcing it in Mumbai had become really difficult, because it seemed to be out of stock at every bookstore. Will be getting on to the 2nd book in the trilogy soon.

Not keeping with the thriller/horror theme of this post, am reading this very interesting collection of short stories called In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin. I love reading about Pakistan, and the stories here are very simple, leisurely portraits of ordinary Pakistani folk, who are strikingly similar to the folks this side of the border.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jackass At Work

I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job.

I really hate my job.

Or maybe not so much.

Monday mornings aren't exactly a picnic on normal days, but today, getting up in the middle of a particularly nice dream, and then getting wet waiting for an auto, to come to work made me feel like a complete jackass.

The work probably is decent enough. It's actually more because I can get the same amount of work done even if I work from home. The only reason going to work makes sense is if there's a meeting, and today there isn't one.

And the worst thing about my office in Mumbai is that the people are absolutely one-dimensional. I know I have probably not given them a chance and not tried to get to know them better and all that, but after having worked with them for almost 3 months now, I think I have a fair understanding of who they are.

There are about 2-3 people apart from me who don't get food from home and go down at lunchtime to the canteen in the opposite building. I have started dreading having to go out with anyone else, because for the half hour or so that we take to walk there, get food, eat it and walk back, the only conversation we can have is about deals we are working on.

Bangalore office sucked in some regards, but at least there were people who had a life beyond work.

I am gradually starting to have lunch on my own with a book or a magazine.

The funny thing is that I think they probably think that I am a really boring person. Because I pretty much shut up if they start discussing their investor memorandum and financial model and due-diligence report. I go to some wikipedia article on my phone and let them have their fun with their deal-talk.

I am really not cut out to be a banker.

Friday, August 21, 2009

We Suck

Call this lack of patriotism, but I really do wish the Commonwealth Games are taken away from us. Just two hours of rains and Delhi, which almost everyone accepts is the most world-class city we've got, comes to a standstill.

I work in the infrastructure sector, and as part of my work I keep track of infra related developments in India and, to a lesser extent, abroad. When I talk to American or European bankers about the level of development in India's infrastructure, I feel like a bloody sub-Saharan resident.

We are really that bad. And much worse actually. Some of the poorest nations of the world have better roads than us. BRIC is a joke. GS probably wanted an S (for South Africa) in place of that I, but it wouldn't have been easy to pronounce. We don't even have a proper 100 crore+ company in some important sectors.

I love India and all that, but we do suck royally.

And what sucks most is that the only thing I do is crib about it here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Online Shopping for Indian DVDs

Hmong to Champaign, IL - that's one crazy stretch! Even for Bollywood. And yes, I have seen Japanese kids dance on Rajni songs at a school function.

I took a look at the films Nicki had seen as a kid. And I used to think I had a weird childhood.

And please do try out Induna. It's actually as good as Nicki says. It's quite rare to come across good service standards in India, at low costs as least. Just travel by Go or Spice and you'd know what I mean.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tweety Bird

I joined Twitter a few weeks back. Like a lot of things that I join and then lose interest in, I haven't gone back to the site again, at least no more than twice maybe. And certainly haven't made any posts. Or is the right term 'tweets'?

Actually, for some reason it does not take messages from my phone. Now I don't have the patience or the interest to figure out if it's a problem with my net connection, my phone connection, my connection or anything else. Just now I realized that I don't even know for sure if it is meant to take messages from my phone.

But, still, people seem to keep deciding to follow me on Twitter. Unless it's that fan thing on Orkut, or the equally dumb Recommendation thing on LinkedIn (the only two networking sites I whole-heartedly support - I find Facebook too confusing), where it's expected to be quid pro quo, I don't understand why people do that.

Of course no one loses anything on adding one more name to the list of people you follow, but it does give my ego a fairly respectable boost, which could be the secret of my energy, when I see yet another new person starting to follow me on Twitter. And like the many good people who keep sending friend invites on Facebook, I don't know a fair number of the people following me on Twitter either.

No offence meant to people who did add me on Twitter of course. I am sure they are all very nice. And busy.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quizzing in Mathura

I returned to Mumbai (and office) in the morning today, a couple of hours back, after a very hectic and enjoyable weekend.

At Mathura.

had been invited to conduct three quizzes at Indian Oil Corporation's Mathura Oil Refinery, as part of IOCL's golden jubilee celebrations. Both Menon and I were there - the first time after our 1st quiz at IIMC when we have been quizmasters at the same venue.

I did a quiz for college students and then a quiz for employees' spouses on Saturday and Menon followed it up with a quiz for the employees on Sunday. The entire experience was very unique - it doesn't really get any more unique than doing a quiz for housewives.

And the best part is that we managed to get it right. We underestimated the ladies a bit, and almost all my questions got answered without being passed around much, but the more important thing was that we connected really well with the participants and the audience and everyone seemed to have enjoyed it a lot.

The enthusiasm, especially among the ladies, was truly infectious. Made the slightly painful trip to Mathura, barely managing work and making questions for 1.5 quizzes, and generally cribbing about having to make easy questions completely worth it.

This feeling, which I have probably talked about here earlier too, that we are doing the right thing as quizmasters - ensuring that people enjoy a quiz without having to dumb it down or making it too jazzy, essentially still concentrating on having good questions - is immensely satisfying. It feels great when people, who have probably never quizzed in their lives, clap spontaneously for a good question or an inspired answer from the stage. And both of us are getting better in terms of being comfortable on the stage and with the audience too, which adds to the fun.

Of course the money we are making on the side adds to the satisfaction.

The journey to Mathura and back was through Gurgaon, where I had a (partial) night out with friends, drinks and gossip after a very long time. Made the trip even more tiring, but a lot more enjoyable also.

Talking of MnA, this article came out in Times of India (Kolkata edition) recently. The other guys mentioned are probably working on their ventures a lot more proactively, but we have till now largely been picking the fruits falling in our laps without us having to do much by way of pitching. We should be making an effort to pluck some out from the trees pretty soon.

After this weekend, coming back to work seemed particularly drab and pointless.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Let Live

It's really annoying how often people tend to think they are more capable to make the choices for another human being. Almost every day one comes across one more self-righteous fool trying to dictate how someone else needs to live his/her life. I never quite understand why as long as someone's decision is not having a bearing on your life (and the butterfly effect argument is too dumb to count) why you would want to interfere in that person's life.

These days there's this case in the news about a mentally-challenged orphan pregnant rape victim in Punjab being stopped from having her child. Thankfully the Supreme Court let her go ahead with her decision. It's her body, her child. One really doesn't know what the child would want, and till it's born I think the mother is the only person, at least in this case, who can decide for it. Why the hell do apparently well-meaning people want her child to be aborted! There's so little that lady has to live for. Why the hell can't you let her be happy if she feels she can take care of the child!

Monsieur Sarkozy decided to ban the hijab in France. Because it is a secular country. I don't know what the definition of secular is. I have always believed that it is not banning the expression of any religious belief, but instead ensuring that people from all communities are allowed full freedom to wear, worship, speak, celebrate in any manner they want to as long as they are not harming anyone else. Barring a Muslim woman from wearing a headscarf or a Sikh man from keeping a turban, irrespective of whether that person wants to do it or not, is not secularism. It's autocracy.

It's no different from a Muslim emperor in medieval times allowing people from all religions to stay in his kingdom as long as they paid a tax for being allowed to stay there. It's no different from Muslims in a certain Well-known State in Western India living under the constant threat of another riot.

Nicolas Sarkozy might believe that he has done a great deed by liberating Muslim women. I might be wrong, but I do believe that the hijab holds a more important position for at least some Muslim women living in France than just something forced onto them by their fathers or brothers.

Which brings me to the Section 377 decriminalisation case. There have been all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds saying all sorts of things about how homosexuality is against our culture, is unnatural, is criminal, is a portent of the end of mankind and so much more.

The funniest bit that I saw on TV was in an NDTV debate hosted by Vikram Chandra where a high-school kid said with a lot of conviction that sex is only meant for having kids. Damn, that kid is up for so much revelation some time soon.

Or maybe not.

But, on a more serious note, I was just peeved with the time that was being spent on the issue. I know it's one of those things that need to be discussed in the open and not brushed under the proverbial carpet, but while doing that it's really annoying seeing people like Baba Ramdev saying things they obviously have no clue at all about. Why do these people feel it's so important to dictate what I do in my bedroom. Or, for that matter, even what their son/daughter does in his/her bedroom.

I doubt most such people would even have a clue about it actually.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reading Hamza in Mumbai

It's really difficult fitting a whole lot of things to do in the few hours I get free after work and before I go to sleep. Reading Dastan-e-Amir Hamza, playing with my new iPod Touch, playing with my slightly old Wii, watching all the stuff I copied from a friend recently, watching all the stuff I have been copying from other people over the last few years (I still have movies left from the 1st trip I made back to Delhi after joining IIMC), watching TV, watching YouTube videos (I came across these bunch of awesome videos made by the 2007 Civil Engg batch at IT-BHU, actually made by essentially one chap, but starring many of his batchmates), and a lot of other stuff.

Surprisingly, watching TV wins. At least on weeknights.

I am really enjoying Rakhi Ka Swayamvar. As Amit Varma said, WTF-ness abounds. I actually do respect Rakhi Sawant for having achieved whatever she has despite all the apparent handicaps, but that still can't keep me from cringing almost every other minute with what people do there. Of course, you'd know by now that I love cringe-worthy stuff.

I was also enjoying Entertainment Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega before it got over a few days back.

There are two things I saw on TV in the last 2-3 days, which made me marvel at how far we have come from the DD days, for better or for worse. One, they actually showed Chetan Hansraj (who, incidentally, I realized, had played the young Balram in one of the biggest DD hits - Mahabharat) take a shower in Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao. Don't think any of the other Big Brother/Survivor clones had gone into that territory yet. And the other thing was the absolute voyeurism of Sach Ka Saamna. If the first episode's questions are anything to go by, I am hooked. Who wouldn't want to see a seemingly ordinary lady admit in front of her family that she had once wanted to kill her husband! Or computer-ji, or whoever Sid Basu has got in this time, telling the same lady that when she said that she wouldn't sleep with another man even if her husband never got to know of it, she was actually lying according to the polygraph. Late night TV gems are made of these and more.

Have been going to sleep these last few days reading stories from the English translation of
Dastan-e-Amir Hamza. When I was in school, I used to be desperate to lay my hands on any book of fiction and had digested every book worth reading in my school library (it wasn't all that big anyway) and one of the books I had chanced upon was Stories from the 1001 Arabian Nights. Quite evidently no teacher in the school had ever read it (and probably no other student as well, as it ran into over a 1000 pages), or it wouldn't have been available in a school library. I was all of 14 years then, and the descriptions of all kinds of sexual deviance and tasteful paeans to private body parts (both male and female) provided a wonderful introduction to Central Asian literature. The book I am reading currently hasn't reached those standards yet, but I am still in the first 100 pages only. Hopefully, things will get more rewarding.

I hope even more that they do because Hamza was Prophet Muhammad's uncle, and I just love the Prophet. You can't not love the chap.

Friday, July 10, 2009


So I am alive. Very much so.

I hadn't expected that I'll say this, at least so soon, but I like Mumbai more than Bangalore. As I had written in one of my last posts - Bangalore is a dying city. While Mumbai is the most alive, throbbing city I have ever lived in.

Also, my opinion is bound to be biased a great deal by my work environment, since I spend a good time of my waking life at my office. I am the only one in my firm who has worked in both the Bangalore and the Mumbai offices, and I can certify that the Mumbai office is better. My boss here is a lot more mature, unlike my previous one, who had never been able to grow up from this feeling of self-importance he gained while working in a mediocre investment bank, and had a terrible inferiority complex and needed this constant puffing up to prove to himself that he was worth something. Contrary to what the generally accepted belief in the firm is, the Mumbai office gets thrice as much work done as at the Bangalore office, and manages to remain a lot more convenient (and more 'cool') place to work at.

Love being in Mumbai, despite the humidity, despite the crowds. A few friends had told me when they got to know of my transfer that I would love the place, but I never believed it. I do now. There's so much freedom, so much potential. This city just lives so much more. The fact that I can take a train to the beach at 10 at night and get back to my home well in time for office next day. The fact that I can order food from a restaurant at 1 am. And then breakfast again at 7 am. The fact that I can easily find an auto-rickshaw at 4 am in the morning (and I have tried doing that). Mumbai never sleeps.

The vada-pav. The pav-bhaji. The fish. The bhel. Yeah, well, a city for me is defined largely by its food. Delhi still scores higher because of that.

And of course I enjoy being able to converse in Hindi for a change, instead of battling speaking in any non-Kannada language with the awful Bangalore auto-wallahs.

I also had this misconception about the people of Mumbai. I would have to make another post sometime soon about the people of Mumbai, but I have fairly enjoyed it here. Maybe partly because this is being in Bihar all over again.

The distances hurt a bit. I stay in Goregaon, in a flat I am really proud of, and Colaba and Nariman Point seem like parts of a different planet altogether. But I'll get there one of these days. My office is in Santacruz, so I can afford to stay in the suburbs. I look forward to eating Bheja Fry at one of those fantastic restaurants in Town and sitting for hours at one of those Marine Drive benches reading a novel.

Before I forget, what made me want to write here today after such a long while was the music from Kaminey. I just listened to the whole soundtrack a short while back, and I am in love with Vishal Bhardwaj right now. I might buy an iPod Touch because of this.

Aaja aaja dil nichodein!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Kannadiga films

Ambareesh has got to be the ugliest former-actor in the world (too scary to put on my blog). Though considering that he was part of the Kannada film industry, which has by far the ugliest actors I have known in any other part of India, or world, he can be forgiven. If you have seen Dr Rajkumar's videos, you would know what I mean (as an aside, if pubs in Bangalore used to have singers like that, it's hardly surprising that the current government has a low opinion of these joints). This is the chap whose death made people go on a rampage in Bangalore, burning vehicles and stuff. Sad.

You would argue that at least some of these chaps are/were good actors. My response to that would be - Go get your head checked! South India is known for its melodramatic films, the kind Hindi films got done with in the mid-80s. And the actors, or male protagonists to be more accurate (as they can hardly be called 'actors'), know only one thing - hamming. Maybe, and just maybe, some of the Malayalam actors could count as people with acting skills, but one look at the movies of MGR, NTR and all those other worshipped chaps would make you feel rather shocked that you weren't around to take their place - you stood as good a chance.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Leaving Bengaluru - 2

My morning-afters are also moments of realization, except that I don't need to use this. I just come to my blog and realize that I have made a rather strongly worded post in a condition of drunken-ness. It would be obvious to most of you that the only time I feel creative enough these days to write anything is when I am slightly (or a little more than slightly) drunk. I don't lie after drinking, but I do end up making posts that amplify my feelings.

So, even though I don't think anyone's opinion is going to get influenced by my post, I feel I need to write a bit about my previous post.

I did go through a brief period of discomfort when I got to know that I would have to move to Mumbai, unless I resigned from my job (a thought that I confess hasn't been completely absent in the last few weeks), but I got over it soon enough. Much as I have come to like this city, or at least town (calling it an overgrown village is a little too cruel), I have started to look forward to moving to Mumbai. Which does come as a surprise. When I had visited Mumbai in August last year, I had absolutely hated the place, maybe partly because it was marred by loss of my wallet and a one-day, tiring, trip to Singapore, during which I fell ill and developed a hatred of salads that lasted over a month. But, my visit last weekend to look for a flat made me realize that it is as good or as bad as any other city in India. And just as I have ended up loving Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore over the last decade, I am sure Mumbai will also grow on me. Quite a geographical distribution of my love, you would agree.

And Mumbai is definitely a better option in terms of gaining a semblance of social life. Even if I don't meet any of my hundreds of acquaintances there, at least taking that 5-minute auto rickshaw ride to my bro's place will not stop. I pray he doesn't take up a job in Bangalore now!

As far as my rants about people of Bangalore is concerned, even though I don't feel as strongly as the post might have made one feel, I do think there is a problem that the city faces in that respect. For a large section of the population in Bangalore - the not-so-well-off-ones - the IT revolution and the inflow of people from other parts of the country, particularly from the North, has been very disconcerting. It has brought about a change in the living standards of the upper-middle-class sections of Bangalore as well, but I am not sure the fruits have reached the lower sections. If anything, they have felt more left out, been made more aware of their shortcomings. Their response is reflected in the rapid increase in crime rate in the city, very often directed towards the IT professionals. I also feel this unrest, this frustration, is responsible for the attacks against women. There is this helplessness that a lot of men, who don't see themselves being a part of this growth, must feel.

On the other hand, there is this section of people in Bangalore, whom I find even more pathetic. These people rue the demolition of every ruined theater, closing of every loss-making bookshop, shutting down of every unfrequented restaurant, in the name of culture. They are the equivalents of jhola-wallahs of JNU in Delhi, or the frustrated communists spread all over Kolkata, who just suffer from a severe case of cultural constipation.

Even though I mentioned some stuff about Kannadiga culture in my last post, I think I am probably the person with the least respect for this sacred cow called culture. I don't think there is anything called culture in terms of the broad brush-strokes people tend to define it as. My thesis on culture still needs some time before I write about it here, but I do find these 'cultured' Bangaloreans, many of whom meet regularly at that really pathetic restaurant called Koshy's or wax eloquent in Time Out's Bangalore edition about things so pointless that I can't even recall right now, indescribably sad. Bangalore deserves better.

is one section that I really enjoy interacting with. Not that I have had the privilege of doing that much, thanks to the largely insulated, secluded, life I have lived over the last one year. This section is Bangalore's hope, and thankfully comprises a large fraction of Bangalore's population. People who have lived in Basavangudi, Rajajinagar, Jainagar, JP Nagar, and all other parts that I haven't heard of. People who have been here for multiple generations, and love this place, and have taken its change in their stride. Many of these people probably don't enjoy the turn their city's fortunes have taken, but do realize that it was inevitable.

Unfortunately, most of these people are too content in their nice houses, great jobs, loving families and wholesome bisi-bele-bath. They are the quintessential middle-class, or upper-middle-class if you will, which tends to do well in all situations.

Bangalore has actually changed over the course of the one year I have been here. It's continuously evolving, changing, maybe faster than any other city of a comparable size is. Whether it changes for the better, whether it becomes more accepting, or ends up being a mess that it seems headed for right now, depends on these people.

Well, yeah, I have had a few beers again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Leaving Bengaluru

I had expected that I would hate leaving Bangalore. But I have actually been looking forward to leaving this excuse for a city since the time I got to know that I have been transferred.

Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of things that I like about this place. The climate for one. The fact that it is a cheaper place than any other city in India (or abroad) I would want to be in. The fact that there is one really nice book-shop on Church Street here (as against none in most other cities). But those should not be the best reasons to like a city. The main reason why one should like a city is its people. And I think Bangalore scores quite low on that count.

The people of Bangalore have still not been able to come to terms with the fact that their city (or erstwhile overgrown village) is not the same Kannadiga-dominated place it used to be 10-15 years back. They still expect people to learn Kannada, not realizing that the city has developed and grown because people from other parts of India have come to work here. Bangalore, unlike Mumbai or Delhi, is still uncomfortable with its cosmopolitan-ness, and I doubt it'll be able to come to terms with it in the near future. It's sad, because the city deserves better natives.

Kannadigas are an inherently insecure people, perennially worried that the more identifiable Madrasis (Tams), the more interesting Mallus or the more successful Gults overshadow them. They actually do. I wasn't aware of a distinct Kannadiga culture till I came to Bangalore, and I am not sure it can still be called one ("distinct culture") just as yet.

The recent spurt in ill-treatment of women hasn't endeared the Kannadiga "culture" to me particularly either. Bangalore, or at least one section of it, has had this elitist hangover from the Brit times, which is fast diluting in the face of the BJP-backed core Kanndiga ideology.

Karnataka is slowly taking over Bangalore. Bangalore is dying.

The verdict on whether Mumbai scores over Bangalore would be settled one year from now.

Friday, May 8, 2009

To Let - a 2BHK near Cambridge Layout

Am trying to help my land-lord find a tenant to replace me, so that he doesn't lose out on any rent when I move to Mumbai. No, this is not due to some long-lost goodness in my heart that has suddenly woken up thanks to the racket that all those religious fanatics are creating close to my home. I am hoping to patao the land-lord to forgo the extra rent I would be liable to pay considering that I am leaving without proper notice beforehand. No, my company does not reimburse that, as some others seem to do.

Selling a house is about as much fun as selling a project/company, which I do for a living. It's particularly weird letting strangers go through my flat while I am away. Even weirder letting them do that when I am at home. Feels like a doctor probing you in the wrong kinds of places. And my home is not even as clean as I am.

I had volunteered to clean up my flat (it's not that unkempt anyway actually) before my land-lord started bringing in potential tenants on a guided tour, but he said this way it gives a more lived-in, personal, feeling.

One of the chaps who responded to my ad was a Muslim guy. Just like I did with all the other people who have responded to my ad on Sulekha, I called him up, gave some basic info about the place and then passed on my land-lord's number. Turns out my land-lord told him in the first call that the flat is taken. It's not. I really can't think of a good reason why he would do that.

If religion is the opiate of the masses, Indians must be perpetually high. The racket I was referring to ended a few days back actually, but it lasted long enough. I have no clue which of our 10,000 gods' birthdays they were celebrating, but they did leave no stone unturned for the festivities. Quite literally actually, since they completely overhauled a dumping ground close to my place, and turned it into a makeshift pandaal facing the Vinayaka Temple close to it (and left it an even worse mess after that).

And once they had ensured that they had set up a structure big enough that would make two-way traffic even more difficult than it normally is, they brought in a whole bunch of pot-bellied priests, who would keep reciting all these hymns the whole day through. On really loud loud-speakers. This lasted for 3-4 days. They had the good sense of shutting up after around 9 or so in the evening. But, they would start again early in the morning. Didn't let me sleep late on the weekend. And I'll never forgive them for that.

Despite all these occasional issues, the locality where I stay is still a good, safe, family-oriented one.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


I don't understand why people can't realize that the success of democracy, or at least the good of our country, does not lie in every Tom, Dick and Harry voting. Masses are generally dumb, popular beliefs are more often than not wrong and most Indians are too biased by religion, caste, region and issues I can't even fathom. In such a scenario I am not sure asking every idiot to go and exercise his vote, perform his 'duty', is all that intelligent.

I mean, if this creature is considered the front-runner to be the PM, there has to be something wrong with our polity. Who the hell gets a statue of him/her/it-self made holding that dangling purse. But if Kanshi Ram has a man-purse on, the ma'am might as well have one too.

This image of one of those over-rated directors in the Hindi film industry, who are respected because they have white hair in their beard and speak like a retard (thus making idiotic journalists think that there must be some deep meaning to every thing they spout) appeared to me like the best picture to capture the craziness of righteousness that asking everyone to vote in elections is, btw.

What also shocked me is the fact that 74% of Mumbai lives in slums (mentioned in the Rediff article that this pic was a part of)! I am moving there in a few weeks and the thought of being one among the elite 26% makes me feel so happy with my life. But also so sad for almost every other person I would be running into (the Maths is wrong, but I am used to being conservative in my projections).

Since I am in my wisdom-distribution mood, let me also crib about how obviously wrong Malinga's bowling action is. That Sinhalese bastard so obviously throws. Even if the Sri Lankan team is not evenly balanced (communally-speaking) on the whole, they are at least evenly balanced in terms of people who chuck. Muralitharan, who also happens to be the highest wicket-taker in Test and One-dayers, is the Tam chucker. One less injustice that Prabhakaran could crib for!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


After today, I am convinced that having a job (or 'career', for the more ambitious of you) essentially means letting a part of you die every day, every moment. That is what they pay you for - to see how thorough a butcher you are, how comprehensively you become a part of the herd.

Investment banking wins round 1.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Das Experiment - II

Am discontinuing the Cetirizine experiment. I did take 40 pills, but I ended up waking up around 11 am on Saturday. It's an ineffective medicine, though I did not get a cold despite getting wet in the torrential rainfall that Bangalore experienced Friday evening. I am not generally too sensitive, but getting wet in rain-water is a sure-shot way for me to get a bad cold and cough.

Cetirizine is not as deadly as the common Paracetamol, which I OD'd on a few years back, while home during a vacation from college. Paracetamol induces extreme acidity. I took 10 pills before going to bed at around 10pm and kept puking the whole night. By morning I couldn't even crawl from the bathroom to my bed and was puking blood. I had to bear lying down through 4 bottles of intravenous saline solution. And a very painful tube inserted through my mouth and my digestive canal into my stomach, to check if the bleeding was not from a serious wound.

It's almost like getting raped.

Since then, I do some basic research before OD-ing on medicine. If you swallow a lot of these anti-cold medicines by the way with alcohol, they give you a very long-lasting high. I am still not over the drowsiness induced by taking in 40 pills of Cetirizine along with good ol' Kingfisher Strong.

I haven't yet tried eating Iodex with bread. It's one of the more commonly known ways of getting a high. I tried doing it a few years back, but the smell was too over-powering for me to actually eat it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Das Experiment

My close friends have got so used to me doing things that they wouldn't expect a sane person to do, that they have simply stopped reacting now.

I have this occasional urge to conduct experiments. On myself. Using medicine/medical apparatus. I have heard that pharma labs pay people for such experiments, and if you know of any such lab in Bangalore, please let me know.

Readers who have been bearing with me from the time I used to write at my previous blog might remember me writing about inserting air bubbles under the skin of my arm using a needle and a syringe. The bubble doesn't burst and keeps moving around like a small ball for quite some time. It does hurt painfully if you insert too many bubbles, but the probability of you hitting a blood vessel is very low - so it's not as potentially fatal as some experts might have us believe. Try it sometime.

In a similar exercise to reach, and maybe even surpass, the very frontiers of human knowledge, I have been involved in this simple experiment for the last two weekends. There's this anti-cold medicine called Cetirizine, which is available over the counter at most pharmacies. It's got several possible side-effects, but the effect it has on me is that it makes me sleepy.
If I take more than one tablet in a day I can be counted upon to sleep at least 3-4 hours more than my normal sleeping time. Of course, one feels drowsy anyway when one has a bad bout of cold.

So, I am doing this experiment where I am trying to see what effect a higher dosage of Cetirizine has on me when I am healthier. Two weekends back, I gulped down 10 tablets on Friday night with some beer and woke up Saturday morning at around 11 (I normally get up around 7-8 even on a weekend). Last weekend I doubled the dosage and woke up at 3 in the afternoon.

By that rate if I double it further I should be up by around 11 at night tomorrow. Will post in the results of this round once I am up tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quiz and Tell

I have come across this Firefox add-on called ScribeFire that makes writing a blog-post easier. The only issue is that I am still trying to get the hang of it, and the long post I made last night got lost because I clicked on the wrong button.

Which is not too bad a thing probably, because my mood today is fairly different from what it was last night. My recent posts are indicative of the mood I have been in most of the time these last few weeks. I am sick of my work because there is no work, I am supposed to get some stuff done on my own, but I don't feel motivated enough, am bored of seeing the same people everyday, who keep cracking the same painful jokes. Even if things improve and life gets as hectic as it used to be back in July-August last year, I keep thinking if there's something else that I should be doing. It's obvious there are other things I would enjoy doing more, but I might not get paid as much as I get now, and that keeps me from thinking of other options.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Today, partly because of the amazing weather in Bangalore and partly because I finally managed to push myself to start a new project at work, I am in a much better mood.

Mood's also great because MnA keeps doing well. Without absolutely any proactive marketing from Menon or me. When we started formally last September, we had expected to mainly be doing college quizzes for a fair amount of time, till word got around and we got some corporate stuff once in a while. But, we have been luckier. It feels great to have believed that we can do this better than a lot of people around, and being proven right every time.

We just got done with a project for Public Health Foundation of India. The questions were supposed to be submitted in three stages, and we have received feedback (and money) for the first instalment only, but we seem to have done the job fine. A friend from engineering, who works at PHFI now, referred us to his colleagues when this thing came up, and we are grateful to him.

We have had a weekly quiz feature in a supplement for Hindustan Times in some cities in Punjab and Haryana for a few months now. They increased the number of cities where our quiz appears recently, so we must be doing ok.

And last evening, Menon conducted a very well-received cricket quiz for Hindustan Unilever Limited at their in-house conference in Chennai. I don't know how they came to us, but came to the right people nevertheless. From what the Quizmaster tells me, the 700-strong audience and the 25-odd chaps on the stage loved the quiz.

Here's to MnA growing and getting more interesting stuff to do!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Looking back at Dubai

After my trip to UAE last year, I had written about my experience in Dubai. I didn't like the city at all. Even apart from the heat, there are a lot of things about the place that I absolutely disliked. Like the tons of things about the city that spell out artifical in big, bold letters everywhere. I was in Dubai for just one day, spending the rest of the time in slightly better Ras-al-Khaimah, but even that one day was enough for me to realize that Dubai would be one of the last cities in the world that I would want to work and live at.

The reason I am bringing this up almost a year after the trip again is this article I came across today. Even otherwise, I have been coming across stories of how the Dubai dream has soured for a lot of expats over the last few months. And some of the stories are quite shocking. If it doesn't go down in this downturn, at least in the long run I don't think the Dubai model is sustainable. Either its debt burden, or the bigger ecological burden, would do it apart.

Of course, in the long run, nothing is sustainable, so we probably don't need to bother.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Middle Class

There's this series of rather idiotic fuel-saving ads coming on TV these days. If in my 2 hours per week TV viewing I come across these insane ads at least 5 times, it must be a whole lot painful for those of you morons who watch TV everyday.

One ad shows a woman thinking about pizzas for dinner just because she can save 20% on her gas bill. Is India's middle class so miserable that it needs to wait for a stupid INR 500 saving to have pizzas for dinner? Shocking!

There's another ad where an idiotic kid (what's with India's kids these days anyway?) says that he wants to open a cycle repair shop because fuel wouldn't be available to run vehicles when he's grown up considering the manner in which people (and his even more idiotic Ram-Kapoor-ic dad) waste fuel. If the people who made this ad had done the most basic research they would know that there will be fuel for a long long time. In fact, all petrol companies believe that technologies that would make petrol/diesel fairly redundant would come up earlier than the time when these fuels become difficult to source.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Love

I had decided not to write about my personal life on my blog, or at least this kind of personal stuff, after some misadventures at my previous blog, but I am so madly in love now that I couldn't resist it.

Yes, I am in love. Head-over-heels, and any other way possible. I am also pretty sure that the object of my love would not really mind me writing about it here.

In fact, for those of you who are interested, I am linking a pic of mon amour. If someone was this beautiful and this easy to handle and this much fun to be around with, it would be difficult not to fall in love.

Here's the pic.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The comment by Pi at the previous post, and then a visit to this page at Wikipedia, made me want to write this post.

I think I have said earlier, even before the last post, that I have lived in Iraq. I generally do not say it very explicitly because I am very conscious of the fact that this was a very different experience from what most of my peers would have had. I have friends from families rich enough to have had vacations in Europe and the US and all that. But having lived for a substantial time in Iraq is not something too many Indians in my generation would have done, or would get a chance to for the next few years at least, irrespective of how much money they have. The thing is I don't want to make it apparent how much I enjoy the fact that I am one of the few people I know who has been there. A similar feeling is what I get when people talk about Pakistan. I really enjoy all the questions people ask about these two places.

One of my friends has worked in Cyprus, and I envy him for that, and I imagine, even if it doesn't actually happen, that people in some way envy me for my experiences in these two amazing countries.

I have a strong feeling of deja vu writing about my experiences in Iraq, a feeling that I have already written about it some time, but I don't have the patience to check my archives from all the blogs I have written at. So, here goes.

The wiki page has a section at the bottom called 'Cement Plant'. It's a very accurate description of the place, and unless I wrote it in a drunk condition and forgot all about it, it must have been written by one of my schoolmates at Al-Qaim. I don't think anyone outside the colony would have known so much detail.

I lived in a place called Al-Qaim, very close to the Syrian border, from early 1988 to mid-1990. We came back when the 1st Gulf War was imminent.

My father went there about 2 months before us (my mother, my sister and yours truly). I remember the last night I spent with him before he left. I wasn't as aware as I am now, but I did know that there was a war on. The war with Iran. My mom's father had been particularly worried when he heard of my dad's transfer because my mom's eldest brother was posted in Batticaloa at that time, and then another person in the family going to a disturbed area wasn't an exciting thought. I remember I started paying more attention to the images of the Iraq-Iran war once I heard of the transfer. I was scared the night he left.

I was scared till I ran to meet him at the Baghdad airport two months later. This was a little after the overnight flight in Iraqi Airways, where I managed to get locked up in the bathroom. My dad had bought loads of chocolates for me. I actually remember the mint-flavored chocolate he had bought for me. I bought the same thing returning from Dubai last year and gave it to him. We reached Baghdad early in the morning and after spending a short while in ACC's guesthouse (where I saw a bombed building for the first time and realized how close the war was - a building just stone's throw from the guest-house had been bombed the previous night), we left for Kubaisa, where ACC had one of its plants.

We spent a night or so in Kubaisa, where I experienced the terrible desert weather for the first time. I was not allowed to go out during the day and every single place indoors was air-conditioned.

I can't recall whether it was before Kubaisa or after it, but we stopped on the way at Ramadi, one of Iraq's bigger towns, to freshen up. I saw the Euphrates there. Several times after that, I was in a car that drove by Tigris and Euphrates, but I realized much later the historical significance of these rivers. Baghdad has both these rivers flowing through it, and Euphrates also used to flow by very close to where my home was.

We reached Al-Qaim pretty soon after that. We were one of the first families to get there and more kept coming in the next few weeks. I think we had around 30 families there in the colony. These were the families of people at the management level in the plant, and many married men stayed alone for the entire duration of their posting there. Which would account for all the chocolates I used to get from many of these 'bachelors' who were probably missing their children back in India.

My school started off in the homes of the teachers. Wives of employees, who had specialisation in any subject, began teaching it. Till we got a permanent place for a school, we used to move from one home to another for each subject. I had 5 other people in my class. There were classes that had just one student. My mom was our Science teacher. So, on days my first class was Science, I would get up in the morning, get ready and then go and sit in our living room waiting for the other classmates to arrive. This didn't last too long as we got a place for school, which would double up as the club in the evening, where I used to go to play carrom and table tennis.

We didn't have any proper games or sports goods there. I don't know why it was so difficult to find anything in the shops. So we started devising our own games. Collecting matchboxes, cigarette boxes, milk cartons, every damn thing and making toys with them. Inventing crazy games. Going off to places we were forbidden to go to.

There were all these Romanian people also in their own section of the colony (I am assuming you have read the Wiki article). This was the first time I was in such proximity to Whites. We somehow got into our heads that these guys were maneaters. Don't ask! So we would have bets on how close we could go to their houses without being caught (and well, barbequeued). Though I soon realized that they were pretty harmless and spoke to a few of them. But there were no Romanian kids there.

There were some Iraqi families though. We befriended some Iraqi kids, but we generally looked at them in disdain because we felt they were very dirty and didn't understand even a bit of English.

One more new thing was seeing women in swimsuits. Some Romanian women had a swimming pool for themselves, and they would cavort in broad daylight in costumes that were too scandalous for us kids. And we would try not to stare while passing by. Or at least appear not to. I wonder how they got away with it in a Middle East country.

The Chemical Fertilizer Complex that the Wiki article talks about was visible from our colony. They actually released some chemical a few times that made all us kids playing outside cough madly.

There are far too many things, far too many, which I remember almost like they happened a couple of years back. Watching all those Hindi movie video cassettes, trips to Baghdad and Habbaniyah, the three-day state holiday when the Iraq-Iran war got over and when I got burnt on our way to Baghdad in a train, getting the highest rank among all Indian Central Schools for two consecutive years, playing in the first (and only) snowfall of my life, seeing almost every adult cry when the colony's sweeper sang Chitthi Aayi Hai at a function, far too many.

But the thing I still remember most vividly is leaving our cosy home that night in early September in 1990, walking alone in the house for the last time, hoping that I would be back some day to take back all my self-made toys I was leaving behind, leaving like thieves in a bus that was not allowed to switch on the headlights, leaving Iraq like refugees, leaving my dad back, with the very strong fear that I might not get to see him again.

My dad did come back safely, though after the war began. We were staying in Navi Mumbai with my aunt and the morning my dad returned I saw my mom run out in her nightgown into the street and hug my dad. I still remember that day. That image came to me every time there was a tiff between my parents. It reminded me what they mean to each other.

I didn't go back to my home in Al-Qaim. Very soon after our return, one night in the news I saw the colony being bombed to rubble by US aircrafts.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Days of Our Lives

A lot of kids who were born in the 90s would not believe it, but there used to be a time called The 80s, when Disco was all the craze, Krishi Darshan used to be telecast on prime time on national television and Bappi Lahiri was God. It also used to be the time when I was in primary school, and India came out with the craziest bit of Hindi movies. The two - being at an impressionable age and awesome movies - make for an interesting mix, and I am afraid I have been scarred for life.

I somehow happened to come across a clip from the movie Tarzan (the Hemant Birje one) today on YouTube, and the very visible Kimi Katkar made me think of those ladies who regaled us with their outrageous clothes and outstanding dance steps and non-existent acting skills all those years ago. I decided to find out what some of these women have been up to since we stopped noticing them.

Kimi Katkar has a three film filmography on Wikipedia. What gross injustice. All that white-sari clad rain dancing for nothing. She seems to have married Shantanu Sheorey, the photographer. My memory of her: Arre O Jumma, Meri Jaaneman, Baahar Nikal...the music still sends shivers down my spine!

Sonam, the Oye Oye girl, got roles for so long for reasons I can't fathom. Her actual name was Bakhtawar Murad, which I didn't know till today, and she was Raza Murad's niece. She got married to Rajiv Rai and moved abroad when he was shot at during the peak of the underworld-filmdom dealings.
My memory of her: What else, but Tirchhi Topiwaale!

Ektaa, who had been acting as late as 2005 in a movie called Anjaane: The Unknown, saw the highpoint of her career in movies like Awwal Number and Saajan. She married Mohnish Behl, and thankfully gave up trying to act.
My memory of her: Actually none, but fleeting images from the two movies mentioned above.

, the lady from a seriously academic family and Shabana Azmi's niece, and also the elder sister of Tabu, had a short-lived marriage with Dara Singh's stone-faced son Vindoo. What is she upto now?
My memory of her: Her roles in Marte Dam Tak and Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani

Shilpa Shirodkar
, who wasn't technically an 80s actress, but is probably associated with that period, had her biggest hit in the madcap Aankhen. I can remember, rather vividly, her vigorously choreographed dance numbers, many of them in extremely wet conditions. She seemed to have married a banker, which is always a good thing, recession or no recession.
My memory of her: Her dance with Govinda from Aankhen, where she tells him that her dad's gone to the field and her mom's at the market, and so he should make hay while the sun's still up.

Sangeeta Bijlani
, the third in the Tridev trio and former Miss India, is described on Wiki as someone who was known for her dance numbers than histrionic skills. Who am I to argue? She obviously got good value for stardom in marriage to one of Indian cricket's most eligible already married men.
My memory of her: Gali gali mein phirta hai tu kyun banke banjaara...

Neelam (Kothari) was probably one of the richest non-film-background women in Hindi films. Her pairings with Govinda were particularly successful, but that didn't do much for her career. A quick marriage and divorce later, I believe she is back to the Page 3 circuit and jewellery designing, the two last resorts of erstwhile celebrities.
My memory of her: Tip tip tip tip baarish shuru ho gayi...

Anita Raj, whom I remember mainly because of how shocked I can recall I was when I read in a film magazine (most probably Stardust) that she was going to expose a lot in a film directed by her brother. I was a kid then, of course. I actually can't recall a single film of hers, but I definitely saw quite a few films where she came in for the songs, or to provide a reason for the hero to beat up the villain. She maaried some small-time film director and left the industry.

Mandakini, who probably had the most eventful career of all. Being launched in an RK film at the age of 16, with scenes under the waterfall people still haven't forgotten (I saw the film at the ripe old age of 3 with my parents, so you know now why I am the way I am), allegedly becoming one of India's biggest criminal's moll, and then coming back to release two pop albums, she sure did interesting stuff. And, again, I didn't know her real name is Yasmeen Joseph.
My memory of her: Sun sahiba sun...

There were others, for sure, whose names I can't recall. Some like Poonam Dhillon, Padmini Kolhapure, Amrita Singh, Meenakshi Seshadri and Jaya Prada had slightly more successful careers. Others, like Hema Malini and Zeenat Aman, were kids of previous generations. And then there were Sri Devi, Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla, who were far too great to be included in this list.

There's this thing I can recall right now from 1988. Tezaab had just come out, and I hadn't seen it yet. Uttar-Dakshin and Hifazat were the only Madhuri Dixit movies I had seen till that time. One fine evening in Al-Qaim, I was having a discussion on favorite heroines with some of my friends. I actually told them that I don't like Madhuri Dixit because she can't act and she is too thin. 6 year olds know nothing. I saw this very soon. And have been a fan ever since.

And lastly, I didn't exactly mean to make fun of these ladies. If roles weren't being written for women, and the ones that were being written had been cornered by the likes of Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil and Deepti Naval, these ladies couldn't have done much about it. Seeing some of the videos I have provided links to gives me goose-bumps. Marveling at how India has changed over the last 20 years would be one of our generation's favorite pastimes for the rest of our lives.

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