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.

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