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.

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