Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mumbai Pune Mumbai

Many aspects build up to make an enjoyable movie. Fantastic plot, technical brilliance, good actors are just some of many such. While Mumbai Pune Mumbai has a little bit of each of these for different viewers, it succeeds most as a movie which you can relate to; more so, if you happen to be from Pune. Admittedly, it does go over the top on some occasions, but thankfully such moments don't ruin the experience.

The premise of the movie is quite simple. It warms up the audience to an arranged marriage situation where a guy and girl are about to meet each other and goes on with their interaction through the day. They first meet when the girl arrives from Mumbai and interrupts a game of gully cricket to ask directions to the house where the guy lives. With some luck, she manages to find the right house but is disappointed to see no one home. With not much to do by herself in a new city and time to kill until the evening train takes her back, she agrees to spend time with gully cricket batsman guy. They spend the day together roaming all over town, connect, click and it's a happy ending.

Watching this movie with 3 other Punekars set up a lot of interesting discussions about .. what else - food! It is anyone's guess from an average desi's waistline that we love to indulge in gastronomic delights and Punekars are no exception. The movie starts off (food wise) in Cafe Coffee Day. How CCD manages to serve expensive swill, call it coffee and stay in business is still a mystery to me. From there on they visit more places like Saras Baug, Tulshibaug, Sinhagad, etc and every location shown brought back memories of favorite foods from the neighborhood. Bhel from the Saras Baug chowpatty, the old Jayshree pav bhaji; misal from Shri Krishna and lassi from Laxmi near Tulshibaug; dahi, kanda bhaji, gavraan chicken, jhunka bhakri on Sinhgad, the list just kept going.

I don't know if I enjoyed the movie because it evoked so many memories or whether it was watchable overall. In the end though, we added a few more places to eat at when we visit Pune this year ;)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Turn The Page

Turning a decade older can do strange things to people. Some choose to question God why he turns people old, some prefer to let it slide. I chose to look back and assess and the only thought that came to my mind - You've come a long way, baby!

A lot happened in the last 10 years. I spent 4 years completing formal education, 3 years in complete financial freedom and 3 years in captivity ... err, being married.

Personally, many things changed. From never having lived away from my parents for 22 years, I spent the next 8 in a distant land. I went from weighing 135 lbs to 180 lbs, from driving a 35cc joke of a vehicle to a 3.5L gas guzzler, from carrying data on floppy disks to carrying data on phones. I made my first ever paycheque; and then some. I traveled extensively. Friends turned into mere acquaintances, and acquaintances, friends. As the years turned over, I saw myself trying hard to blend in when earlier I was trying to stand out.

The world around me changed rapidly too. We entered a new millennium. The global threat of terrorism thrust it's ugliness in our face in the form of 9/11. Train bombings, subway bombings, hotel bombings followed. Bush screwed with America twice over. Gay marriages were legalized. India elected it's first ever woman president; America it's first black president. Tsunamis. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Oil Spills. Social Media.

The more things changed though, the more they remained the same. Tendulkar is still cricketing God. Ten years later, Laxman is still holding the Aussies at bay. Ponting is still chewing his finger nails. Afridi is still 17 years old. Kobe is still top dog. Derek Fisher's rainbow shots still find the pot of gold through the net. Lakers,under Jackson, still have a shot at a 3-peat. Oil, gold and real estate continue getting expensive by the day. Thalaivar still rules the Tamizh heart. Salman Khan is still debating marriage.

I guess I've rambled on way too much already. To sum up, the last 10 years have been a great journey and as I continue to grow, I continue to learn. The idea is to get better with age, but it comes with one caveat - growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional ;)

Here's to the years to come!

Post Title: Metallica - Turn The Page

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Stay Tuned

I am still around and alive and kicking. I dont have one specific reason for why I havent been blogging lately, actually I have quite a few of them =)) For one, I've been unbearably busy at work. It is tough getting used to the fact that I actually have to work to get paid and I no longer get paid for just showing up everyday (whatever happened to that plan?). So after I am done working the day I have no motivation at all to spend some more time in front of the computer screen. Besides, I dont think it is fair for the wife either that I dont spend time with her even when I am home. So that shoves blogging further below in the priority list. Someone may argue (if anyone were to, really) that I could do this on weekends. But dont you think I'd have better things to do on the weekends, especially when I've been married only for 7 months?!

Oh well. Enough with pointing fingers at Nupur for everything I do or don't. Truth is, she's been egging me on for the last few months to write - its just that I've been lazy (although the work part is really true). So without finding more reasons to cover up my lazy ass, I will make an attempt to write more regularly. Till then, keep watching this space!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tashan - Movie Review

They have the ishtyle, the goodluck, the pharmoola. What they don't have, is audience in the movie-hall. This, my dear phellows, ijh the sad ishtory of Tashan.

Tashan is the story of ... well, that doesn't really matter. It is a rehash and replay of classic cliche riddled Bollywood movies. The movie starts off with a Mercedes crashing off the roads into water and makes you wish this was where it all ended. Unfortunately, for the luckless few like me, who have actually paid to watch the movie, it is just the beginning. There on, Jimmy Cliff (Saif Ali Khan) goes on to explain the journey hitherto (downhill).

As the story goes, Jeetender Singh Makhwana aka Jimmy Cliff is a call center employee who trains people for their accents. Jimmy tells us that he has had his fair share of hot chicks so far and is beginning to look for 'the one' girl now. To quote him 'roj roj burger pizza khaake pet kharaab ho jaata hai .. akhir ghar ke khaane ki yaad ati hi hai'. Enter salwar kameez wearing, dripping wet Pooja Singh (Kareena Kapoor) in a cliched 'it was raining when we first met and I didn't have an umbrella' scene. Pooja is out looking for an English tutor and when she mentions private tutions Jimmy eagerly agrees. Jimmy, to much dismay, realises the tutions are not for Pooja, but for her boss, Lakhan Singh, otherwise known as Bhaiyyaji (Anil Kapoor).

Bhaiyyaji is expecting a foreign delegation in few weeks time and wants to be able to talk fluent English (like George Bush, nonetheless) to seal the deal. Against the backdrop of a larger than life replica of the Mona Lisa, Bhaiyyaji, wearing the most hideously designed suits ever, starts his English training. If you forget to park your brains outside the movie hall, you might wonder why he starts to practice nursery rhymes, but that's beside the point. Not that the movie has any point .. but anyways. While Jimmy trains Bhaiyyaji on English, a romance blossoms on the sidelines between Pooja and him. Rightfully cliched, Pooja is working for Bhaiyyaji to repay debt, but is also plotting for revenge. When Pooja hatches a plan to repay Bhaiyyaji with his own money, Saif joins in. We all know Pooja will run away with the money and that's exactly what happens.

Bhaiyyaji summons ganga kinaare wala help in the form of Bachchan Pande (Akshay Kumar). Bachchan, the recovery specialist, and Jimmy set off in search of Pooja and the money. Right before going to Haridwar to perform the last rites of her long dead father (murdered by Bhaiyyaji, ofcourse), Pooja manages to slip into a bikini and sing a song. Soon enough, the duo find her, and they set off on a cross country tour to recover the money that Pooja has hidden all over. While doing so, more inane romance blossoms, this time between Bachchan and Pooja. Just when you thought you've had enough cliches already, you find that this is a long lost couple, who were in love when teenagers.

Right around this time, you begin to wonder when the movie would end and start making plans for dinner. You are awoken from your reverie when you see a familiar setting which is claimed to be Bhaiyyaji ki duniya and you realize that this is the climax of the movie. Oh that familiar setting is from Tezaab, remember Pasha Khan and his den ... pretty much the same one. The movie inches close to an end after a long lasting, near comical fight and finally ends for real with the death of the villain, Bhaiyyaji.

And then, happy toh I lots being yesterday. Ok, tata, bye-bye.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mandatory 1 Year Post

It's been exactly a year now that I've started blogging, and like most bloggers do, I thought it's time I wrote a rambling reflective post. But who's got the time here to do that?! Since marriage happened, I have been running short on time at all places, no matter what I do. In effect, I have been at the receiving end of not-so-kind words from friends, family and colleagues alike. Now, one would assume, that this means I am spending a lot of time with the missus. I could be, but she doesn't agree. So while I am still trying to master the art of effective time management I am left with precious little time to blog. Excuses, I know, but that's my flavor of the season ;)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Strange, yet right

Something's wrong. I can't concentrate on work, I can't seem to enjoy reading, I don't find any motivation to write, hell I can't even sit through a movie! These days there's just the one thought that has taken precedence over all. This Thursday, coming to an airport near me - Nupur! My wife is all set to join me after close to 6 weeks that felt like eternity. Never ending phone calls day and night, txt msgs, and IM kept us connected during this time, but electronic communication can only do so much and leave so much left undone. It is funny how two people can get emotionally entangled within such less time. This feeling is unkown to me yet something tells me this is just right, what I've been longing for all this time. Two months back I didn't even know this girl and today I am so excited to be with her that the feeling is inexplicable. That we've planned it for V-Day makes it even more special. It's been a long time coming for me as far as a special V-Day is concerned. The only memories I have of V-Day are the asinine celebrations in college which almost always meant nothing. This year, I am glad I will be spending the day with someone who means so much to me. Forget that damn day. I am glad, more so, that I am about to spend each day thereafter with the woman I adore. The countdown has begun, 3 more days to go!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Scary Thought

If distance makes the heart grow fonder, what happens when those distances fall apart?!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


When I went to school at Wright State, I remember this line on one of the professor's home page, 'Why work for a living when you can work for a passion?'. I really wonder how many people can righteously claim that they work for a passion. What joy it holds, I may never know!

With the performance review cycle going on, my manager and I sat down to have a quick informal discussion about how things were going, what to expect in the coming year, etc. Somewhere during this conversation we talked about how there's some things that we don't like doing and yet end up doing for lack of choice. My manager was quick to respond, 'I don't like coming to work! I don't like coming to work. Period. But every day I have to wake up and drive here and get busy. Do I enjoy it? No I don't. Will I keep doing it? Yes. There are some things in life where you don't have a choice at all. Right now, for me, this is one of them.'

I think I too am sinking in the same boat as he is. Somehow, I have a feeling that most people in IT are aboard too. Hell yeah, we need a job that pays the bills, we need the big bucks. That's what turns us into code monkeys banging on keyboards all day, staring at the computer screen till our eyes start screaming for rest. I know I hadn't signed up for this when I was looking for a job. To quote Peter Gibbons from Office Space "Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements."

Would it have been any different if I had gone on to study something that I enjoyed more? Would it have been more enjoyable if I was working in the same discipline that I studied? Would I have enjoyed coming to work more than I do now? Would this really have been a better choice on all counts? I guess it's too late to find out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Shaadi Ke Side Effects

My last post explained in much detail what I was upto all of December. All went well, but given the number of things that happened in such little time I experienced a lot of side effects. Note that some of these side effects could be unique to my situation. Your experience may differ ;)

Shaadi ka pehla side effect: Talk around the clock
The wedding is fixed for 8 days later and you know that you don't know each other well enough. What do you do then? You talk. A lot. Till you're breathless, till you can't think of any more words, till your throat is parched, till you dread the thought of waking up the next day to start talking once again. And all this time, she listens. Might as well talk it up while you're given the chance. You know you'll be the one doing all the listening in just a few days ;)

Shaadi ka dusra side effect: Forced insomnia
No matter how much you love your sleep you have to let go of it in lieu of wifey dearest. Refer side effect#1, where wife wants to hear you talk and know more about you. That she holds her cards close to her chest should not be a concern, because once the floodgates are opened, you can run but you can't hide! With the timecrunch during the day, we had only nights to meet up. Every night we had dinner someplace and then chatted it up all night at the most lukkha places around town one can imagine. As it starts to get late in the night and you start yawning at the rate of 14 per second, this should serve as a signal to the wife that it's time for you to call it a day. Be warned that all such advances are conveniently overlooked and you will not be allowed to leave until she gets called in by her parents atleast 5 times. Sure you have to wake up early tommorrow morning and get ready to run around town some more, but so does she. If she can wait longer, you MUST.

Shaadi ke teesra side effect: Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
With all the jewelry and clothing that is part of a traditional Indian wedding you are expected to actively participate in jewelry and clothing selection for the wife. You may not be able to tell the difference between a paatli and a baangdi, but if you stand around chatting it up with the other men in the family, while the womenfolk hunt the perfect piece of jewelry, you're inviting trouble. Conversely, if you're out shopping and you happen to suggest 'I think this will look good on you' you can never tell which way things would go. If the wife doesn't like it you're let off lightly ' Ohh! Our choices just don't match at all!' or 'That one. Really?'. However, if the wife likes it, you're screwed. 'How the hell did you know this would look good? Have you already seen someone wearing this? Which girl was wearing this?' You know where this leads to.

Shaadi ka chautha side effect: No more eye tonic
Let's face it. No matter how much you love the one you're with, our eyes wander. We know, a thing of beauty should be appreciated. Make no mistakes - do not EVER try this with your wife around. Hell hath no fury like your wife catching you eyeing other women. Also, do not attempt to impress with witty sentences like 'Just because you're on a diet, does not mean you cannot take a look at the menu.' Rest assured, your wit will go unappreciated.

Shaadi ka paachva side effect: All we need is just a little loads of patience.
Patience is a virtue. If you don't have it, go get it from somewhere. If you have it, go get some more. You'll need all the patience in the world while the pieces of this puzzle (read, wife) fall into place. While you're working on that, another highly recommended suggestion is to start understanding what women say and what they actually mean.

Shaadi ka chhatha side effect: Run. Then run some more.
If you're a poor clueless soul living with roomies who suddenly gets married when he goes to meet family, I've got news for you. Run! There's so many things in this world that need to get done before you can bring your wife over to uncle sam's land. Find a new place to live in, move out of the old place, figure out what to do with the current lease, get all your docs in line for the wife's immigration process, ... it's a pity you'll be doing all of this while completely sleep deprived :P

Shaadi ka saatva side effect: Manage 2 fulltime jobs
You may or may not love your current job that pays the rent, but you've just been promoted to manage another one simultaneously. God save you, if you and the wife are currently living in timezones day and night apart. You can show up a little late on your day job, but skip a second on the other job and be ready for a tirade. All you can do is listen. No matter what you try to say, it will never get through.

Iss blogpost ka side effect: To be disclosed later. If you don't hear from me soon enough, please inform 911.

Post Title: Pyaar Ke Side Effects

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I went. We met. We married!

Last time I wrote, I had some idea that my India trip was going to be hectic but I had no clue of the final outcome of this trip. I knew my parents had some girls lined up for me, setting me up for an arranged marriage, so I was somewhat mentally prepared to come back engaged. Reading through some of the previous posts one can easily identify how uncomfortable I was with the idea of an arranged marriage, but I guess when you know it's right, you know it's right.

As it happened, in all excitement I boarded my flight home last month knowing very little what lay in store for me over the next 3 weeks. My ideas were clear - arrive at some decision by the end of the 1st week so we have enough time to get through the engagement (yes, I really was prepared mentally only for that part) or else we have enough time to go on a nice family vacation. My brother was about to join me in the US to begin his Masters and it would've been a while later that we could have gone on to spend quality time as family. Honestly speaking, I really was interested in taking that vacation =)) Don't get me wrong, but that's how guys are. Never ready to commit, always wanting to enjoy their days as bachelors, doing what they will not giving a damn about anything in this world. Getting married is a hard sell for us when we see what we're about to give up - and that's exactly why we don't give it up until we're absolutely certain she is the one we want to give it all for. During this trip, I was lucky to have found her. And now I'm back - a married man!

I landed in Mumbai late on a Friday night. Oddly enough, I was the only one around who was not complaining that it was too hot. Guess that's one of the ways San Diego spoils ;) Within a couple of hours we were home in Pune. It had been a long, painful 15 hr direct flight with my lower back starting to act up and I was glad to get some sleep before I got ready to meet the handful of girls who had been diligently sifted through the stack. My bro had recounted numerous instances when he was bored to near death after my parents tugged him along on some occassions, and I was only glad that I didn't have to relive his experiences. To add to his misery, he almost always was told that the two of us look very similar (like he hadn't been told so 10,000 times already). Needless to say, this was a lesson learnt for him to avoid going through the same process a few years down the line :))

The whole process for potential bride selection had been efficiently streamlined by my parents and they made sure that everything was in place before I reached India. Saturday afternoon I was scheduled to meet the 1st girl. My parents had met her family a week ago and as luck would have it they turned out to be long out of touch acquaintances. To add to coincidences, the girl's brother and his family lived in San Diego in the exact same apartment complex that I live in! Despite all the last minute rush, I had already met up with these guys in SD before I reached Pune.

Back to the story, on 12/08/'07 I met this 1st girl, we talked like long lost chums catching up and I went back home. Knowing. After that, one after the other, I met a few other girls. I don't think I should mention any details here - but what the heck?! One was too demure, another was below par, while a third was over the top. It really seemed to be going downhill after the 1st one and by Tuesday evening I felt like I was running low on motivation to meet the rest of the pack. Wednesday morning while talking to my parents, I expressed as subtly as I possibly could, that I knew where I wanted to go with this. Just as we were talking, 1st girl's mom called up to find out our thoughts after the 1st meeting. We gladly let them know, that we'd like to take this further and meetup once again before arriving at any decision. So we had another family meet and greet on Thursday, this time at our place. While the elders talked about ( who cares?) , 1st girl and I caught up some more like long lost friends. After a while I was certain that whatever thoughts had been crowded in my mind since the first time I met 1st girl were completely devoid of infatuation and I knew she was the one. After we walked downstairs, smiles plastered on our faces, both sides of the house confirmed that the two of us were ready to get married.

Stage set? If only, it were that easy. My mom and dad wanted me to get married before I left for SD on the 3rd of Jan. I think that they were worried that if I had enough time to digest what was happening I would never come back home to get married =)) On the other side of the house, there were potential roadblocks in getting this done though. Those folks had another wedding scheduled on Dec 28 and were busy with those preparations. Apart from that, if you rewind a bit, remember 1st girl's brother and family live in San Diego and it was not possible for them to come to India on such short notice. With further discussions on the topic between elders, we were left to our own. Not so surprisingly, 1st girl was reeling from the after effects of the conversation she had just heard. She wasn't mentally prepared to get married as yet, more so at such short notice and even more so leave the town and people she was so fond of to go live with a complete stranger in some place she had only heard about.

Friday evening I met 1st girl once again. We had a big long debate about what our choices were before stepping up on to the altar. Her family was hellbent upon getting this done later while my family was eager to get this done sooner than later. While we discussed our options between the two of us, our families discussed their stands and Friday night each family had come to a conclusion before both families were scheduled to meet Saturday morning. Saturday morning, once again there was a lot of debate between the elders of the families, with no side letting go of their stand. A few hours and a lot of convincing points later, from one Saturday to the next, our wedding day was fixed - for the Sunday in the coming week.

The chaos that kicked off cannot be explained in words. Every able member from each family was running around town to get things in line for the wedding. Piling on the chaos, my brother was scheduled to leave for the US on the 27th so there was a lot of stuff that he needed to get done in good time as well. While all the shops were open during the daytime, everyone was in different directions, in different shops trying to get to the end of the to-do list. Nights was the only time 1st girl and I got to spend time with each other and talk, talk and talk. Needless to say, given the race against time, I had to sacrifice my most favorite thing - sleep. I barely got 4 hours of sleep each night during the entire trip, with no regrets whatsoever. Against all odds, my brother-in-law's family was able to make it to Pune, well in time for the wedding.

Finally, on the 23rd of December 2007, I married 1st girl Nupur to accept her as my lawfully wedded 1st wife.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

One for the road

I leave for home early tommorrow morning. It's been quite an eventful year down in San Diego and I'd like to make the most of my near month long vacation. I have many things to look forward to on this trip and I leave with a sense of some excitement, some resentment, some anxiety, some fear (and a hint of nutmeg LOL) From the looks of things so far, this trip could end up finished before I can catch a breather, so I don't think I'll be blogging for the entire month. Besides, I should have better ways to spend free time in Pune ;)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tossing the captaincy hat

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. When the crown in question is for captaincy of the Indian cricket team, the magnitude of that proverbial uneasiness is magnified by a billion hopes. No wonder then that Sachin Tendulkar refused captaincy for the Test team. He knows what it's like to be in that position and to fail miserably so. With no other senior players ready to face this challenge, Anil Kumble stepped up and has been appointed the captain for India's Test team. An unconvincing choice really.

Anil Kumble is not one to shy away from adversity and he could potentially be a good leader for the team. His appointment as captain though, brings disappointment to the advocates of youth. Kumble's tenacity and commitment to the game is unparalleled. He has the experience and cricketing acumen necessary to wield the team out of tricky situations. Somewhere still, the general feeling lies that this was not the right time for him to be appointed captain, even if for a short period of time.

The other choice the selectors had was MS Dhoni, already leading the side in the other 2 forms of the game. Test series' against Pakistan and Australia would've been baptism by fire for MS Dhoni. The way he has been leading the team from the front in the ODI's, I don't see any reason why he wouldn't have been able to grow into this job too. Admittedly, Test cricket has it's own twists and turns by the session and experience is the only bankable factor, but Dhoni has the luxury of shepherding some of the finest cricketers in the country and he could have drawn from their collective experience in leading.

Stop gap arrangements never prove conducive and hence the selectors logic in appointing captain cannot be justified without actual results. No doubt Kumble will do a fine job, but therein lies a wasted chance for MS Dhoni. We'll wait and watch.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What the hell?!

Last time I checked I was living in San Diego and not frikkin Seattle. The sun hasn't showed up in 2 weeks. Where's my Vitamin D, bitch?!

Price to Play

It is human nature indeed to lament what it does not have and not celebrate the moment. We are in the midst of Diwali, one of the most important and widely celebrated Hindu festivals. Reading some blogs from people based in India (no I will NOT link them here) I seemed to sense a growing sense of discontent about this festival. Some rue the fact that the air will be heavily polluted, some seem to despair over not having enough time to celebrate while some still yearn for the Diwali when they were 10 years old. And then there are people like me, who want to celebrate, but havent been home this time of the year in the past 6 years. I am so pissed off, I'm not even wishing anyone a happy diwali anymore.

Yes Diwali was when I was home, with family. The aroma of good food in the house, the acrid smell of firecrackers outside it. It was when we had to walk the streets carefully watching all around not knowing when and where the next firecracker would explode. It was when I would wake up early in the morning to claim that it was me who burst the first firecrackers in the neighborhood, when I would try to sleep early in the night but couldnt because my neighbors kept bursting firecrackers all the way into the night. It was when I found one more reason to shop for new clothes and to meet friends and family over long lunches and dinners. It was when even passerbys on the street would wish you a Happy Diwali, when sweets and gifts were exchanged way past the festival days. Times when the streets were a sight to behold in golden hue, lit up with a million lights to celebrate the Festival of Lights that is Diwali. It was when the good times rolled.

All of this was then. And what do I have today? Thursday.

Post Title: Staind - Price to Play

Monday, November 5, 2007

Good guys always win ...

.. or atleast that's what they'd like us to believe. Jab We Met is the story of Aditya (Shahid Kapur) and Geet (Kareena Kapoor). Of how Aditya loves Geet while Geet loves Anshuman (Tarun 'whatsup with his hair' Arora). Of how Aditya comes to terms facing the challenges in his life while also winning over Geet with his selfless love. And that's when you realise such syrupy, sugary, diabetes invoking froth only looks fit for the screens.

As the story goes, Aditya succeeds his father and is at a point in life where nothing seems to be working out for him. His girlfriend dumps him, business isn't going too well. In dejection, he sets off on a train to nowhere. Enter Geet, a sikhni from Bhatinda, who is on her way home from Mumbai. Geet's only mission in life seems to be never missing trains, getting married, running away from home, living life by her own terms. She is as chattery as they come and starts to chat up Aditya. Aditya gets fed up of the constant perky chatter and gets off at one of the stations midway. Realising this, Geet gets off too to get him back on the train while the train is about to leave. No prizes for guessing both of them are left stranded. Geet blames Aditya for this and tells him she won't get off his back until she gets home safely with all her luggage.

On the Bhatinda bound journey Geet and Aditya get to know each other and Aditya unknowingly falls for Geet. Geet, however, is planning a runaway wedding with Anshuman. So Aditya leads her home and also runs away with her later on to get her to meet Anshuman in Manali. Leaving her with Anshuman, he returns to Mumbai and transforms his dipping fortune. Some time later, Geet's family comes hunting for Aditya in Mumbai and are shocked to know the truth about Geet running away. Aditya promises to bring Geet back. Somehow he manages to find her, a million miles away from her former self. Gone is the bubbly, chattery Geet. Instead we now have Geet, au naturale, dumped by Anshuman, working her way through life, taking it hard on herself for all her follies all along. When Aditya persuades Geet to go back home, Anshuman shows up and confesses that he still loves Geet and would do what it takes to marry her. Then the three set off to Bhatinda, more confusion follows and Geet realises that she too loves Aditya as much as he loves her. And thus the triumph of selfless love.

The movie rolls brilliantly in the first half and there are quite a lot of comic moments and not the stretched, slapstick kind. Of particular mention are Kareena's scenes with the TC, the station master and the motel owner and then there's one in the 2nd half where Tarun Arora goes nahi dekhni yaar mujhe ganne ki kheti =)) Kareena has done a laudable job in playing Geet. Shahid P Kapur, however, still looks like he is trying hard to be the next SRK. He is mostly convincing for his role but has the only single constipated expression that he has mastered while doing emotional scenes. It would certainly do him a world of good to fix that quick. Rest of the cast is passable, music - no clue.

To sum up, a movie with a done-to-death hackneyed plot, pulled up by decent acting, backed up with unassuming dialogues. Worth spending 2.5 hrs of time on.

Packed Weekend

There are rare weekends when you get a lot done and still on Sunday evening you feel like you're ready for the coming week. This was one such weekend. Went to the office party on Friday evening, cleaned up the apartment on Saturday, went to the beach, watched American Gangster, gained an hour (of sleep) on Sunday, went to the gym, wrapped up my laundry, did my groceries, ran some errands, finished my weekly cooking, watched Jab We Met, all of this thrown in with a lot of talking on the phone and it was 10 pm on Sunday already! Time just ran by. And to think that I had no particular plans :)) I'll take more of such weekends :D

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Let the music play

Warning - Insanely long post. Heavily link littered for the benefit of those who could use some musical enlightenment ;)

A post about music on this blog should fall under 'knew this was coming' category, going by the numerous times I associate my post titles with song names and lyrics. So why now? Uhmm, why not I thought. Hence.

The early days

My oldest memories of music probably date back to the mid-80's. That was a time when tapes were the rage with a dual cassette player/recorder being the zenith of luxury. I don't know whether music was as easily accessible as it is today (legally or not) but there was quite a stack of cassette tapes in the house, courtesy mostly my uncles. Dad was never so much into music. Ghulam Ali, Pankaj Udhas, Anup Jalota, Mohd. Rafi, Sudhir Phadke, Arun Date, Asha Bhosle, popular filmi music and some english tapes thrown in for good measure, all jostled for space on that ever filled up rack of cassettes.

Moving on in to the 90's and cable TV spreading itself into everyday average households I was attracted further to music, latest filmi stuff mostly. I remember walking down the street to the music shop with either of my uncles. Here we used to sift through latest releases and pick a bunch of songs to be recorded onto a cassette. This saved the dough to buy an OST for a movie when only 2 out of 8 songs were worth listening to. Ofcourse, the recording was more expensive than buying an OST but it made economic sense to have only the good songs and spare your ears of the crap. My sense of rhythm was growing up on a steady diet of Bollywood fluff.

Inglish know you?

Somewhere down the years, I think 7th grade, I chanced upon English pop music. Like every kid my age then, I started off with MJ, Madonna and the likes. The list soon started to grow with more 90's music to include Bryan Adams, MLTR, Ace of Base and one off Canuc acts like Snow kept things interesting. This was also the time when our very own desi version of Vanilla Ice, Mr Baba 'Thanda Thanda Paani' Sehgal was churning out album after album with utmost sincerity. This was a time when rap was cool. Rap in Hindi, ubercool. Indipop was taking root and soon many artistes followed. Mehnaz with Ms India promised much but disappeared into oblivion too quickly. Her competitor in chief, Anaida, was a looker, but her looks only took her thus far. If only she had a voice to match her self-proclaimed patli kamariya things would have worked out much better. She too disappeared much like Mehnaz within the blink of an eye. Alisha Chinoy was the more consistent among the 3 female Indipop artistes of the early 90's. Acts like the Colonial Cousins came up and delivered a good song or two.

Moving away from Boyband litter

By the late 90's I was completely lopping up whatever crap was being dished out on TV, Channel [V] to be precise. Boyzone, Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, Ricky Martin, Savage Garden were regulars on the playlist. To add to the English crap was middle eastern spice in the form of Khaled, Alabina, Tarkan, Araba, Cheb Mami and others I don't recall. Yes, I listened to all that crap too. At the same time, MTV had one show on Sunday evenings which played the latest in house/techno/experimental electronica with artistes like Josh Wink, Daft Punk, Chicane, Paul van Dyk, ATB, Groove Armada, FSOL etc and I began to completely enjoy this form of music. Apparently, the only place to lay hands on such music on tapes at that time in Pune was Vibrations on good ole' Main Street. Soon Vibrations was my temple with weekly visits and near monthly dosages of new techno music.

For those about to rock

It was all going well and good in much the same vein until the third year of engineering school when I was introduced to Metallica. I was a late bloomer on the rock scene but got hooked and caught on really quickly. Again, like most people, I started off with the Black album and just couldn't get enough. Soon, I was listening to a whole lot of Pantera, Sepultura, Sabbath, Van Halen, Iron Maiden and I found a weird sense of peace within the music that sounded like cacophony just some time back. Within no time, I had transformed myself from a happy go lucky trigger hippie to a serious headbanger. My love affair with rock music continued during my Masters and I found great music from alternative/grunge bands like Oasis, Nirvana, AIC, STP, Radiohead, RHCP, GGD, etc etc etc Ofcourse classic rock could not be ignored and I was also frequently listening to music from the holy trinity - Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

Back to the roots

One fine evening in the US I realised how much I missed listening to the Marathi songs that were played on the radio early morning as mom went through her daily household routine, radio in tow. I think I snatched all available marathi songs off coolgoose that night =)) In the meantime, thanks to my roomies, I was also being brought back steadily on the Bollywood diet.

More styles

During my techno/trance tripping days I had found some music from Infected Mushroom and Astral Projection. As soon as I got my first laptop I was ready for more music and Soulseek obliged. I hunted down an insane amount of psy trance and once again started jumping the happy hippie way listening to IM, AP, Skazi, Talamasca, CPU, Hujaboy and their ilk. With psytrance on, it's pole opposite, ambientcouldnt be far behind. Artistes like Shpongle, Hallucinogen, Ishq, Adham Shaikh, Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk etc soon found their way on to my hard drive. Aphex Twin also led me to exploring some more IDM, but some listening to Venetian Snares and Squarepusher convinced me that IDM didn't have so much of an I in it. Ambient naturally progressed towards an eastern influence and I found an artiste by the name of Karunesh. Karunesh was the tip of the iceberg for the whole asian electronica scene that I then discovered.

I listened to Talvin Singh's Butterfly and I knew I wanted more of this kind of music. I had earlier listened to OK but wasn't impressed back then. More digging around and I was listening to Karsh Kale, Midival Punditz, TJ Rehmi, Badmarsh & Shri, Niraj Chag - the whole asian electronica scene. I was so impressed by the marriage of tabla with electronica that I knew I had to check out what Indian classical sounded like by itself. Then came Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ustad Sultan Khan, Hariprasad Chaurasiya, Anoushka Shankar etc but I found it a little too bland for my palate.

A trip to the pind

With so much Brit influence in the asian electronica scene, I slowly moved towards the old Brit favorite, DnB. Bally Sagoo has incorporated a lot of DnB influence in his albums and while listening to some of his songs I started enjoying Bhangra. Soon I was all hands in air to the tunes of Panjabi MC, Juggy D, Lehmber, Malkit Singh and all their punjabi brethren. I couldnt understand a word of what was being said, for all I knew, the music was really cool :)

Choose one?

With so many different genres of music, it is no surprise that I find myself being thrown in all directions wherever I find new music. No harm in sampling new music anyway, like it - find more of a similar style, don't - trash it. Keeping this simple mantra at the back of my mind I have been enjoying all my music so far. Nowadays I often find that my mood dictates my choice of music. If I'm in a reflective mood, I listen to some alternative rock, marathi or some old hindi songs which make sense. If I'm in a chaotic state I turn up the music to some hard rock. In happy carefree moods I usually dont care what I'm listening to as long as it is upbeat, could be bhangra, could be electronica, could be classic rock or it could even be some jhatang bollywood music.

Well, as long as the music keeps playing, I'm eager to soak it all in. Let the music play ...

Post Title: Shamur - Let the music play

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Marriage Misconceptions

You can tell how much everyone is waiting for the weekend when we're out at Joey's Smokin' BBQ for lunch on a Thursday. As we were waiting for our food, talk veered towards marriages. C is about to become a father soon and has no plans for a wedding yet. He started talking about how both of them think it will be a big waste to spend a lot of money on the wedding and instead plan to do something on a smaller scale. Everyone seemed to agree with his point of view. S told us how a friend of his bought a boat with the money he had saved up for his wedding and just threw a small party at some local hotel later. Needless to say, everyone was in splits on hearing that. And from there on the topic of arranged marriages cropped up and I was left to defend all of their misconceptions.

R always thought that arranged marriages meant you just show up on wedding day and get married. You dont know who the girl is, what she does, your parents choose a girl and the deal is sealed. So I went on to explain how it works and not how he imagined things were. That left him a little relieved and he said 'yeah cos I was about to say. What if things don't work out for the two of you? Can you take her back to your parents house and tell them 'You liked her. Keep her in your house. I don't want her.' He was convinced though that this was a good system. 'Not like they do it over here. Call you each year on your birthday and go 'You're getting older now. Better get married' and I'm like what do you want me to do? Go to a bar, get trashed and start hitting on every chick I see there?'

C suggested that one should atleast get to see pictures of the girl before meeting her. So I told him, it actually worked that way. Ofcourse he had a brilliant idea immediately. 'So if you don't like any of the pictures that your parents send you, just call them up and tell them 'Can't come to India. My manager gave me a lot of work' Blame your manager, there's nothing anyone can do about it.' He knew what he was talking, he is my manager =)) At this point R asked if there was a lot of alcohol in marriages. I told him that in some communities it does, but not in ours. He went 'You know what you could've done then. If the girl is not pretty enough, drink till she starts looking pretty!'

If this was brilliant S had reserved the best for the last. 'So when you meet her can you take her to a beach or something? Get to see her in a bikini?' He definitely had the right ideas but I did not have the heart to tell him that desi girls' beach attire comprises of punjabi suits/jeans/capris rolled up to their knees. That would have certainly left him choking on his pulled pork sandwich. So I told him that the place where I live in India there is no beach close-by. He went 'Oh! Thats easy then. Tell your parents I want every girl to participate in a wet t-shirt contest and ask them to send those snaps over. Tell them that's how we do it in America!'

We finally finished off our lunch laughing our asses off like drunk idiots and drove back to work. I was definitely amused by everyone's suggestions on approaching arranged marriage with an American mindset.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ramble On

... 'cos still so much is left unsaid. My intentions are clear. I write purely to vent. It is poetic justice that I find such a beautiful song to go along.

Leaves are falling all around,
Its time I was on my way.
Thanks to you, Im much obliged
For such a pleasant stay.

I leave with nothing but pleasant memories. Of what should have been. Some bitter thoughts, but nothing against you. It is the bitterness from the situation that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Who's to blame then? Isn't you, isn't me, is it things that I can't see? Does not really matter. The end result is disastrous any which way. I think I should've known better than to go down the same road again; but I've made mistakes, I'm just a man. Everybody does. The important part is to not keep brooding over it and move on. I know my time has come and I thank you for the memories; self-constructed nevertheless. If there is one thing I should learn, it is to not take anything for granted before I move on.

But now its time for me to go,
The autumn moon lights my way.
For now I smell the rain,
And with it pain,
And its headed my way.
Ah, sometimes I grow so tired,
But I know Ive got one thing I got to do,

I can't stay in the same place any longer. I did. I waited long enough. You always tried my patience and you always won. Think about it. Did you win or did you lose? Did you enjoy testing my patience knowing that I spent sleepless nights with but the one thing on my mind? You never really cared. You always played me for a fool. What was that thing I said before? Ahh yes, I should not have taken things for granted. How naive of me. I should have seen things straight. My love for you never let me do that. There. I just said I love you. Was this what you were waiting for? I couldn't say this all along because I feared my love would go unrequited. But now there is no hope. Losing all hope is freedom. It's only when you have lost everything that you are free to do anything. Someone has rightly said love is blind. I'd like to add on - love makes people stupid. Ofcourse I was wrong. How did I let emotions win over my rational mind? That's what happens in love, no place for logic. Didn't I just mention love makes people stupid? Oh great, hindsight is 20/20 vision indeed.

I do smell the rain. You know how I hate the rains. It's been raining since you left me and now I'm drowning in the flood. You always knew how to break through my defenses. Always left me tattered and torn. Did you take a look at yourself in the mirror then? Who's shattered now? I know this pain that's headed my way. I've been through it once and I'm ready for it again. It won't bother me so much this time around. It's been but my only companion over the last few years. Infact we are quite fond of each other now. I feel ashamed for having walked out on you though. Your pain was a stranger to me and I do not have the time now. Because there's one thing I need to do ...

Ramble on,
And nows the time, the time is now
To sing my song.
Im goin round the world,
I got to find my girl, on my way.
Ive been this way ten years to the day, ramble on,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

Got no time to for spreadin roots,
The time has come to be gone.
And tho our health we drank a thousand times,
Its time to ramble on.

I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again. I need to get far far away from this place that invokes all memories of you and I. You and I, not us. There never was an us. It hurts. But nobody said it was easy. I can't be stuck in the same place for too long. You know how familiarity breeds contempt. My contempt gets delivered overnight. And I owe it to myself to get the hell outta here. I have nothing to dwell on. I've learnt my lessons, I'll live through the pain. I'm young. Got a whole life ahead of me. I'm gonna go half the way across the globe and find my girl. I hope you find the strength to pull yourself out of that hole too. I don't have anymore energy to try and lift you out. One word of commitment from you and I would have gladly died waiting. You just never had any intentions for me, never gave me a chance to prove myself.

I aint tellin no lie.
Mines a tale that cant be told,
My freedom I hold dear;
How years ago in days of old
When magic filled the air,
Twas in the darkest depths of mordor
I met a girl so fair,
But gollum, and the evil one crept up
And slipped away with her.
Her, her....yea.
Aint nothing I can do, no.

You know I never lied. You know I never cried. But the thought of you and I not being able to make it till the end of our lives brought a million tears to my eyes and I cried a river. Did you know you had so much power in you? What was that line? No woman is worth your tears; if she is, she won't make you cry. I guess there is some truth to that after all. Too bad I chose to ignore conventional wisdom. And now that I know what I need, I also know what I can't have. And I can't tell anyone what it is. I can't proclaim my failure with any hint of self-respect left. My only saving grace is, I know I gave it all I had. God knows I gave it all I had. But it really is about winning and not how you play the game. Such talk is best left for the losers' locker rooms.

Gollum struck just when I wasn't there. Oh who am I kidding. I was never there. I thought I was, but I found out I was living in my own dreams. Gollum cast such a spell on you that you chose not to see beyond him. Such a shame then that while you cry in despair over Gollum I cry for you. Ofcourse I couldnt care less for Gollum, may his tribe burn in hell. But I did care for you. Too bad for you, you never realised what you could be missing on. But now it's all gone. Come to think of it, you still are in a better position. Atleast your feelings were reciprocated. Imagine how lowly I feel. But I guess I had to learn this the hard way and I'll do what it takes to get over this. I hope you too will find the srength to pull yourself out of this self-inflicted misery. Forgive me, if you may, for not being there in your time of need. I do wish you well. Now we can never get what could have been, but what we had will remain till eternity. And now, there's only one thing left for me to do ..

Ramble on,
And nows the time, the time is now
To sing my song.
Im goin round the world,
I got to find my girl, on my way.
Ive been this way ten years to the day, ramble on,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

PS: An absolute waste of time trying my hand at abstract fiction. I know I can't do this well. Look at me pilfering lines from songs, movies, sitcoms and what not LOL Emotion is not me. I should stick to sarcasm.

Post Title: Led Zeppelin - Ramble On

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Too late Too late

Timing is everything baby! It's what makes the difference between ordinary and extra-ordinary. It's what separates the could-have-been's from the has-been's. Think of a box of mangoes kept too long; wait too long and the sweetness is gone. You might eat the mangoes nevertheless, but where's the fun?

That's exactly what happened with our Men in Blue. Lost their sense of timing, lost the plot and the series. One look at the scorecard might suggest they gave it all they had, but to what good is such an effort when there is nothing left to fight for? If you don't play to win, it's not worth playing at all. Now they might, just might, go on to win the last match in Mumbai (although history isn't in favor of the Indian Cricket Team while playing in Mumbai) and try to 'salvage some lost pride'. Instead, I think, they should search for their pride in some rusty salvage yard near Nal Bazaar after the series is done and over with.

A classic case of too little, too late. Hope Team India get their act together in the next series and don't leave all the efforts to the last minute.

Post Title: Metallica - Too late Too late

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

You can't fix stupid!

Boring Monday morning, I walked into my cubicle. I was still half asleep even though it was way past 9 am. Don't blame me. No amount of sleep on the weekends is ever enough to bring a spring into my step to get to work on Monday. Every week, I suffer from a severe case of the Mondays.

As I browsed through the crapload of emails in Outlook I realised that the bossman was out of town for the week. Yay, I went for a split second without any tangible reason. I don't know what it is that when the boss is not around I feel more relaxed, because it's never like he's on my ass when he's around. This week though I didn't have much time to relax since there was a lot of crap flying all over the place which needed to be put back where it belonged. I had been delaying some things for quite a while now and had come to the conclusion that it had to be sorted out quickly. Technically, I have 8 weeks to get it done this year. At the end of the 8th week, I'll be on a monthlong vacation. Sweeeet!

Sipping on some green tea, I started working. Nothing gets me in the mood to complete work than the thought of an upcoming vacation :) Fifteen minutes later I got an email marked with High priority. This was sent by a user for whom I'd setup some Test cases for UAT. First thought - Daim! What did I miss now?! Then I went through his email and by the time I got to the end I fell off my chair laughing.

This guy was trying to logon to the system and was having issues. So he sent me stepwise screenshots of what he was doing and how he was unable to get in. Ofcourse the system was up and running. But how the hell can you login to a system if you hit CANCEL after entering your username and password?!?! I mean come on! That I am the system admin does not mean that I need to tell people to hit OK or press the Enter key on the keyboard to login. Isn't that basic computer sense? This coming from a 40 something guy who is a Business Analyst. Really? Gawd! How can someone not realise such a basic mistake after having attempted it a couple of times already and then while doing the same thing to take screenshots of the process?

Mr Ron White, your words are gospel. If something was wrong with the system I would've gone and fixed it. But "You can't fix stupid. There's not a pill you can take; there's not a class you can go to. Stupid is forever." Amen.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sticky song

I was out for lunch Thursday afternoon at a nearby desi restaurant where I heard this song for the first time and it's been stuck in my head ever since. I checked my Winamp counter, I've played it 11 times already. Add to it the number of times I've played it on my work computer and on youtube and it could total a scary number. While the song isn't all that great, the lyrics scream 'I'm a fucking loser' and it almost sounds like Atif pronounces bin as bill, there's something about this song that it's stayed on my mind.

To quote George Costanza, from Seinfeld "I can’t get it out of my head. I just keep singing it over and over. It just comes out. I have no control over it. I’m singin’ it on elevators, buses. I’m singin’ it in front of clients. It’s taken over my life."

I haven't reached that extent yet but here's the video off youtube.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Anoushka Shankar and Karsh Kale - Breathing Under Water

Just as I was thinking of writing a review for this album, I happened to glance over to ET where Derek has written a truly mind-blowing review for this masterpiece [Link]

Words really fail to deliver any justice to this near-orgasm-inducing mish mash of sitar, tabla, electronica, soulful lyrics and stunning vocal acts that is 'Breathing Under Water'. Sunidhi Chauhan on Ghost Story ... oh my gawd!! Definitely the high point of this album for me.

Good thing I checked the website first, my literary skills would've never measured up to such standards :)) This is the first of Anoushka's albums that I've enjoyed completely and I pray this is just the beginning of more great stuff coming along the way. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some music to listen to.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The fiftieth !

No rhyme or reason, this one's just one for the count. Finally I made it to fifty!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So Called Chaos

Time waits for none. Another day, another year. Time lost, age gained. Everything else is stagnant. I don't know what I am looking for. Objectively I should be happy with the way things are. I lead a normal life, pretty much like average Joe. Work, play, have fun. Something is still missing. I don't know what it is. Or maybe I know what it is but I don't want to own up to it. It could be because I know what I want and I know I don't stand a chance of getting it. Why does it hurt so much to know that the one thing you always wanted is the one thing you can never have? Why do I still feel compelled to put up a brave front inspite of being on the losing end? Is anyone even winning? Would success taste sweet if I get it now or would I throw it all away? Who is at a loss if I don't get past these daemons? How long should I fight for lost causes?

Am I doubting myself? Never. Am I questioning the futility of this whole exercise? Most possibly. I can't tell, I don't want to tell. Whatever happened to the fun guy inside me? Did he grow old too? Or did he just leave town for a while?

I'm confused. Is this my Quarter Life Crisis?

I feel like destroying something beautiful.

Post Title: Alanis Morissette - So Called Chaos

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gotta love these coach-less wonders

4:46 am - Got my wakeup call from Pune after India won the toss and elected to bat
4:48 am - Got my wakeup call from east coast after India won the toss and elected to bat

10 minutes later I sleep-walked into the living room, switched on the computer and started looking for a channel to watch the match. A few agonising moments and I found someplace which was broadcasting the game and I snuck up cosily with a blanket. It was coooold early in the morning! I struggled to stay awake as India struggled to force the pace early on. Caffeine ensured that I stayed awake and Gambhir played his part to make sure India did not lose the plot. At the close of innnings, India fell well short of the 180 odd they were hoping to get. It was clear that the bowlers had a job cut out for them. Fielding had to be right up there too. Over the past few games the fielding standards had been uncharacteristically high from this Indian side, lack of a penetrative 5th bowler was India's Achille's heel though and Pakistan knew well enough to exploit this weak link.

I was out of the shower in record time as India took to fielding. RP Singh had been impressive thus far and Sreesanth had a good last game (despite all the histrionics his performance was top class). RP got off to a great start with his 1st over wicket and India were right on. Sreesanth, however, looked like he had lost his mojo. His first over went for 21 runs and it brought back memories of that fateful 1st over from Zaheer Khan in the '03 World Cup final against Australia. India never got back into the game after that over and I bet every single soul who knew this piece was praying to God this wouldnt be a repeat performance. Luckily this wasn't a 50 over game and there were no Gilly and Hayden to send India on a leatherhunt. The Indian bowlers stuck to their job and Pakistan's batsmen played with overt eagerness to their own undoing. Ofcourse all of this did not end without the high voltage drama that can be expected from a India Pakistan match. Towards the end Harbhajan got clouted for sixes by that man once again, Misbah-ul-Haq, and it seemed like the match was slipping away as Sohail Tanveer got into his act too. Sreesanth and RP Singh got a wicket each and the last over was on to Joginder Sharma. Jogi had been sent to all parts of the park in his earlier games but had held his nerves to bowl a splendid last over against the Aussies in the semi-finals. The question was could he prove it wasnt about a single game. And prove he did, much thanks to the cheeky arrogance from Misbah who decided to play a fancy scoop behind the wicket. He was unable to get a single off the last ball to win the last game against India and this time failed to get 6 from 4 balls. Oh how this would give him nightmares for the next few years to come =))

Finally a young Indian team did what nobody had expected them to do. Win a 20-20 world cup. In a game relying heavily on power hitting, accurate bowling and spectacular fielding no one, including yours truly, had given this team a fighting chance. We were without the legendary star power that is an intimidating force for bowlers around the world and we had a first timer captain shepherding a bunch of relatively unknowns into uncharted territory. The relatively unkowns rose to the occassion and went all the way, each playing a significant part in one game or the other and gelling together to form a championship winning outfit. Who knew Rohit Sharma would bat as well as he did in his 1st game at the international level, who knew MS Dhoni would trust Joginder Sharma with last overs inspite of him being taken to the cleaners, who knew Joginder Sharma would justify MS Dhoni's faith in his abilities, who knew Freddie would get fingered so bad by Yuvraj Singh? But it all happened, and to good measure.

As the feeling sinks in, questions arise. India have been enjoying their cricket for the past few months and it shows in the results. They lost the one day series against England but it was one hell of a 7 match series. It could be argued that they played without the pressure of expectations and hence were able to perform. The most significant aspect, to me, is that India have done all of this without a coach. When was the last time any team won a major sporting event without a coach? Much has been written about India's earlier coaches and how there was always tension within the dressing room. The rifts between John Wright and Greg Chappel and the senior Indian players are now part of BCCI folklore. Whether it was due to a difference in idealogies or a difference in approach to the game or whatever other reason, the end result always failed to flatter. What it did was bring a lot of politics into play. After a hard day's fight out on the pitch the Indian team had to fight these internal battles off it. Was the no-coach a blessing in disguise for this team? Ganguly had mentioned not too long ago that at this level you do not need a coach. MS Dhoni and his boys proved Dada right. Dhoni did well to utilise his resources efficiently, all the players performed as was expected of them and well deserved success beckoned.

I don't think BCCI will be looking out for a coach sometime soon after this recent run. It's all good as long as the smiles continue and the victories keep coming. We got your back Men in Blue. Git 'er done!

Friday, September 14, 2007

What do, New York couples fight about?

More appropriately the question should be what New York couples talk about. I'm not too concerned about the Yankees. What I'm interested in finding out is what do couples talk about, whether they're in New York or New Zealand or New Orleans or Navi Mumbai.

A friend of mine recently got engaged. To her luck, it is an arranged marriage. Now that they're engaged the couple is in the 'happy' courtship period. To begin with, I am not so comfortable with the way arranged marriages happen. You get to meet each other once or twice and then decide within the short time whether or not the other person is a good fit for a life partner. When you think you've got it right, you get engaged and then there's some time before you wed. What if during this time you find out that your partner is exactly what you were hoping s/he would not be? What if you failed to read the signs in those 2 meetings before you said yes? How long does it take before you can actually interpret all those signs in the right manner? Is there a way out once you realise what a schmuck you've committed yourself to? But I digress. Enough with my own insecurities and on to the story of the couple.

So it happens that both work the long hours and catch up in the evenings daily. Both hardly know each other and so it seems like there would be lots to catch up on and that they would not have enough time to know each other despite the long courtship period. Its been about a month now and it all seemed to be going well. Almost. As it turns out, her fiance, like most men is pretty reticent. I mean thats how its always been, right? Women talk talk talk and talk and men (pretend to) listen. But we have a new problem here when women expect men to talk. We can'd do that! We just aren't conditioned to do that! What do you think spawned that joke about the mothertongue? It's called the mothertongue because the father never gets to use it. Huh? Or that other joke? Why do you think that when guys talk on the phone the conversation is over in 30 seconds flat and when girls talk you wonder if you need a calendar and not a clock? Not saying that we can't hold conversations but its just natural that after some time of listening to the woman talk and trying to keep her interested in keeping the conversation going we deserve a period of silence. My friend does not subscribe to this school of thought. It was getting increasingly difficult for her with each passing day to meet every evening and do the bulk of the talking. Meeting up everyday after working till late left her little time for herself and to get her stuff done. To add to her woes, if she tried to bail out on one day, they would end up giving each other a piece of their mind the next time they met. All of this, during the courtship period. Things certainly weren't going pilaan ke mutaabik =))

Without playing the blame game let's try to realistically assess the situation. Guy is eager to make the most of the courtship period and get to know the girl but does not have the gift of gab. Girl is (naturally) glib and is also eager to know more about the guy. However girl keeps facing intermittent road blocks when she has to come up with topics to speak on every-frikking-day. I guess the guy can be blamed partially in this case but such a judgement begs more questions than answer the existing ones.

So how important is it to keep on talking throughout the evening? Is it really necessary to exercise the vocal chords in full blast all the time? Can't we have some moments of peace? Whatever happened to 'har baat lafjon mein bayaan karne ki jaroorat nahi hoti hai'? No? Not anymore? I know it takes the fun out of meeting up if you're not going to talk much, but what if you realise that you are committed to someone whom you cannot talk to for more than 2 minutes? I know, I know, my insecurities are coming in to play once again here, but spare a thought for this situation. What in hell do you do then? Alright, lets say you somehow manage to get through all of this and get married. What happens when the both of you come home after work and have nothing to talk about? Worse yet - wife stays home, husband comes home after a long day and wife starts nagging. Such an exciting prospect, innit?

Right now the way things are for most of my friends and I, we dont have a lot going on. There's nothing new or exciting happening any given day and we are pretty much slaves to the routine. Whenever I have conversations with my friends, all of us dread the 'aur kya' type questions. There IS no 'aur'! If things stay the same what do we talk about when we get home? Funny questions all, pertinent nevertheless. I guess I'll have to wait my turn to find how things pan out.

Post Title: Morcheeba - What New York couples fight about

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hearing without listening

The other day I had a brief discussion with a friend who seemed to under-mine the importance of lyrics in a song. I agree the melody is what catches your ear first up but then the lyrics add a whole new dimension to the song. Not to say, I don't like music without lyrics, I could as easily be tripping over Astral Projection;) I'm not such the senti mushy types but this song gets me almost every time. Aww yeah, Oasis rocks! Now if only they had a video that did justice to the song, this could've turned out into a sobfest like Maps. But I guess that would be expecting too much from the Brits :P

Click here for the lyrics. My favorite lines?

.. Damn my education I cant find the words to say,
With all the things caught in my mind ..

Post Title: Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Asian connection

When I was living in Pune, sighting Asians on the streets wasnt such a rare occurence. Clearly, when I say Asians, I mean all the -ese : Chin-ese, Japan-ese, Vietnam-ese etc. Pune had a lot of international students all across its various colleges, and was also a pretty laidback city to hang out in, for tourists looking to get away from the madness of the bigger cities. Granted, those times I was so ignorant I couldnt tell a Nepali sweater-walla from a Japanese (well, almost :D) and they were all pretty much the same flat-nosed, noodle devouring, funny looking people to me.

Interaction with these guys was pretty limited, only if someone asked you for directions (and you could figure out what they were talking) This changed drastically when I came to the US. It was going on in much the older vein, until I registered for a class under a Chinese professor at school in Ohio. Now this guy's English was part of desi grad student folklore and we were advised by some old-timers to take a crash course in Ce-101, Ch-english 101, before classes began. Sure enough, the real fun started right in the 1st class. The professor went on talking about an-gay, o-gay, shesho votay with sho-rans and so many other things and half the class was clueless as to what was going on in a hardware design class. Our Ce-101 experts helped us figure that he was talking about AND gates, OR gates and threshold voltages with tolerance :)) We were more comfortable thereon in class and became experts in this brand of English quite soon. Thus began my first brush with the Chinese. I knew little then, that, hindi chini bhai bhai would become very pertinent for me in the years to follow.

Carrying on through school, I used to play bball with a lot of Chinese guys who crowded the courts in the evenings. I could never remember any of their names despite playing with them regularly, funny enough they managed to call my name correctly. The worst part of playing with these guys was they would never ever speak a word of English, and whenever they were calling teams I used to stand by the side, watching in all amusement until ball was in play and I was told which way I had to shoot :D Moving on from school, I thought I wouldnt be around Asians any longer and I could not have been more wrong.

When I moved to Chicago I was staying with 2 roomies, one a Vietnamese grad student and the other an oddball reticent desi who preferred to answer all questions in mono-syllables than go through the effort of speaking in complete sentences. When I first moved in, the guy who was moving out of that apartment told me that the Vietnamese fellow kept to himself and very rarely talked with the roomies. As the days went on I found that the Vietnamese guy was more communicative and the desi, uhh, he was not much of a people person. It was an odd little apartment with queer roomies around and the only saving grace was that I had a few friends around town. Needless to say, I was barely home on weekends.

Luckily, I was out of Chicago and away from those weird roomies in a little bit and I moved to Michi(n)gan for my next assignment. This time around I made sure I would not end up staying with stitched-mouth roomies. Although I was not living or working with an asian guy/girl, the asian connection was still present. I had a friend living at about half an hours drive away from where I was staying and I used to visit him once in a while. I wasnt surprised to find out that his landlord was Chinese, 3rd gen American nonetheless, of Chinese descent yet. The story was that they were classmates in grad school and he had been put up in her house since a long time. My friend also regaled me with stories of his alleged 'involuntary personal alliances' with her and being upto his game for all these years it was clear he was shooting blanks :P

Done with Michigan, I moved to Milwaukee for the next project. Yes, I spent a good part of the last 5 years in the Midwest. With my past experiences with asians, it looked like I could certainly step it up a notch. This time around, my landlord was Chinese and we had another Chinese guy living in the house. My landlord was a pretty cool guy, except in the evenings all he would do was sit on his ass and watch some Mandarin television programs on his big screen TV set. I had nothing to do when I got home after work and it was getting pretty frustrating to stare at the TV screen when I was not understanding a word of what was going on. Their informercials were not funny and I was not interested in finding a Chinese Lois either. Visuals, regardless of audio, can only be satisfying at such times. Thanks to him, I decided to join a local fitness centre to get busy in the evenings. The other Chinese roomie had his own share of issues. He usually went late to work and apparently his sleep would be cut short in the mornings when I took a shower. Not because I did a Himesh in the shower, he was a light sleeper. Somehow we worked things out, earplugs saving the act. I made a lot of Chinese friends in Milwaukee, courtesy my roomies, and it was fun while it lasted.

Early this year, I moved to California and I wasnt sure what to expect from this chinki konexion. I've now come to terms that this is a 'you can run but you cant hide' scenario for me, no matter where I am. No asian roomies anymore but my next door cubicle dweller teammate here is Vietnamese and another Chinese guy joined our team recently. The asian connection just doesn't seem to let go, we'll see how far it goes. Until then, I'll keep enjoying my Kung-Pao Chicken ;)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

5 years and counting

5 years back I stepped foot on American soil tarmac on this very day. Its been one hell of a joyride ever since. I faced my fears, lived my dreams, made some good friends, lost touch with some, lived through unrequited love, learnt to fight my battles on my own, survived, struggled, survived and struggled some more, lost count of how many times I moved base, surprised myself on occassions, smiled when my persistence paid off, cried when I ... well I never really cried ... but you get the drift.

I was going to write a long winding melodramatic post about life as it happened over these years .. but who am I kidding. Writing on such topics is not my cup o' tea, so I'd rather leave it at this. Here's to the years that come. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Two guys, a girl and a Thai lunch

One of the advantages of working in a young company is that even the seniors are not really 'senior'. The average age of our team of 6 could probably be 30. The vibe is really swell, everyone can laugh at the same jokes and its a great bunch of guys to hang out with. Typically all of us head out for lunch together and we're doing team lunches almost all through the week (except that we foot the bill and we do NOT talk about work). Today was one of the rare days when none of the senior guys from our team could head out for lunch as usual, since they were caught up in a meeting.

We'd been planning to go to Spices since last week and everytime something or the other was foiling plans. Today since the 3 of us had enough time on our hands we decided to head for the Thai place. Spices is notorious for its lunchtime rush and S had warned us well in advance that whenever we were doing lunch there it'd be best if we made reservations or went in late. We were already late heading out, so this was our best bet.

I was the designated driver for today since S had already driven yesterday. Not surprisingly, 4 out of us 6 drive coupes. The 2 who drive sedans reluctantly, are married. The place was a short drive off the highway but the hardest part, like always in SD, was finding a parking spot. Now this place has a huge parking lot with lots of shops in and around, but to our luck we were left driving around, debating whether we should switch plans and head to some other place nearby. After completing 2 rounds of the lot we found a spot, ironically, right in front of the restaurant.

A 10 minute wait and we were comfortably seated with lunch on it's way. I was feeling really adventurous so I ordered the Spicy Noodles. S stuck with her staple Pad Thai and L ordered Broccoli (!). My roomie had been here a couple of times earlier and had recommended the Thai iced tea. Usually, I'm not big on the whole iced tea thing, but since my roomie had (almost) sung paeans about it, I decided to give it a shot. I was glad I did. This was probably the 1st time that I enjoyed an iced tea, Thai or otherwise.

L has joined us about a month back so he started talking about how he was finding a lot of things unusual at work, stuff he'd never seen in other places he'd worked so far. S is the senior-most of us juniors, working for close to a year here now. She told us that when she started here she used to be at work promptly before 8 am. Soon enough it was 8:15, then 8:30 and now she comes in anytime between 9 and 9:30. She told us how she was getting late to bed (10pm!) almost every night and was snoozing the alarm for close to an hour everyday before finally waking up. I too am going through a similar phase right now (8:30) and I was glad to know that I wasn't the only one (slacking :P). All of us unanimously agreed that waking up early morning was a hard thing :) One thing led to another and our talk veered towards names.

L & S have closely similar last names. Oddly enough, L is of Chinese descent and S of Vietnamese. I had assumed that L is Vietnamese too, making this association with S's last name and I was surprised to find he's Chinese. He said he got that a lot because of his unusual last name and told that sometimes people even went so far as to ask him if he was sure he was Chinese and not Vietnamese =)) While we were on that, L got another of his name pronunciations right. We have a colleague at work and almost everyone comes up with his own way of pronouncing his name. S was happy to fill in with the right way to say his name. She said she hated it, growing up, when everyone butchered her last name and so she now has a thing for pronouncing names correctly.

The food arrived quickly after and it was delicious, totally worth persisting to find that parking space. Running through all the food quickly (it was past usual lunch time!) we trudged back to my car. On the way back I realised an interesting thing. A chinese, a vietnamese and a desi just had a hearty Thai meal :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Munnabhai : Act III

Sanju baba should've given judge Pramod Kode a jaadu ki jhappi before his verdict was delivered. Well, maybe now that he is sentenced to six years in prison, he could arrange to have his local florist send flowers to Mr Kode's house everyday. After all even the greencard mongers gave up against such valiant Gandhigiri tactics resorted to by the Indians waiting in endless hope for their applications to turn current.

It is really easy for me to sit ensconced in my cubicle and pass half-informed sarcastic comments on this topic. I still wonder whether this judgement was too harsh, in Dutt's own words a durgati of sorts; a sign of times to come perhaps. But then another train of thought argues that he got what he deserved. There's two sides to the coin and this debate can rage forever, much like Coffee - Toffee. Unfortunately there is no one answer here telling us it is coffee in a toffee.

Sanjay Dutt was accused of conspiring with the masterminds behind the 1993 mumbai bomb blasts which killed 257 and left many more injured, and for illegal possession of arms. Although he was cleared of charges for being involved with terrorists in 2006, he was drawn to court again in early 2007. Sanju baba had already spent 16 months of jail time immediately after the '93 bomb blasts, but justice seekers did not feel this was enough time behind bars for a person who had the worst of the worst misjudegments in keeping a AK-56 rifle for himself. Apparently, whether or not he used the weapon was immaterial; what went against his favor was that the weapon was part of the contingent which was used in these blasts. Did he know what was going on when he was given 3 AK-56's, 25 hand grenades and some more weapon miscellany? Perhaps not. But who in his right mind would want to help notorious criminals by extending such inexplicable favors? Then again who would want to attract their ire by refusing to 'park some weapons in the house without using them'? Granted, the weapons were taken away in some days, why did he feel the urge to keep one for himself? It is an AK-56 for God's sake, one of the most dangerous combat weapons! Did he intend to hang it on the wall like a showpiece?? He cited the reason for his act as 'for the sake of family protection'. Me thinks he was doing the sticky-icky then.

Dutt's intentions on keeping the weapon werent quite clear but he was sending mixed signals for sure. When he was asked to return to India for questioning his alleged involvement with the terrorist act, Dutt almost instinctively asked his posse to get rid of the weapon. An indicator that he knew some titbits behind this sinister monstrosity? Maybe. Whatever the reasons, it is hard to feel sympathetic for him. Caught facing the repercussions of a stupid decision he made 14 years back, he will now face 6 years of RI. Bollywood will miss one of its premier actors. 6 years from now, there's an 'inspired' theme for his comeback film. Munnabhai making the prison system a better place!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Run for cover Himesh, you've got competition!

Apparently, Houston girl Mauli Dave has been creating waves in Sa Re Ga Ma this year. The lesser known Shekhar of the Vishal Shekhar duo has gone so far as to call her a performer! Uhmm I dont think I'd be shelling out money to watch a performer make a face like she is undergoing severe constipation everytime she hits a high note, but I'm no BappiDa to talk abt mujik. Besides, I'm sure some mutineers from SM would have a thing or two to say about the drapes, the trimmings and the carpet.

Check it out for yourself. Sorry :))

Modern Day Chakravyuha

Many moons ago Abhimanyu was slain fighting his way out of the famed chakravyuha. The story has it that Abhimanyu had the knowledge of breaking into this formation but did not know the way to get out. In a valiant attempt, he laid his life fighting against all odds. Some of us desis living in America today seem to be caught in an identical situation. Although there are no warriors to slay, there is a vicious circle to break out of.

For the last many years, getting into America has been relatively easy. Young graduates rush into the country as soon as they complete their bachelors back home, on the premise of gaining higher education. Premise is a misleading word because many go on to complete their Masters/PhD's and then on to snatch lucrative jobs. This is the part where a desi is knowingly/unknowingly fighting his way into the chakravyuha. The way in is easy, for unlike the chakravyuha, this has been tread by scores of desis before. To get to this point, the best efforts come merely in the form of emulation.

Education completed, job in hand, desi parents get eager to see their offspring settled down (read married). At the risk of invoking the ire of the feminists, I will continue to write this from a guy's perspective hereon. Desi guy marries someone from the des or someone who is here and made it through the chakravyuha quite like him. First few years pass on comfortably and then the oft overlooked thought of returning to the homeland takes centre-stage. This is the point where our Abhimanyu wants to get the hell outta this place and does not have a clue on how to break free. Now the biggest question playing on his mind is, what is a good time to return? Like someone has said, it takes a successful man to know when to stop. Although desis are successful generally, I dont think they know when to stop and that's where they have to resort to survival tactics (err ... sachin, saurav, kapil dev, gavaskar, dev anand, amitabh, himesh :P ... quite a long list really).

For reasons yet unknown to me, a lot of people tend to think that when their savings exceed the $100k mark, is where the sweet median lies. In other times, 100k would've been a good strategery. Alas, the dollar keeps slipping and the rupee continues to get stronger by the day. What would you get for $100k today? Somewhere around Rs 40 lakh. Is that enough? Yes and no. The whole scenario depends on how well you have the setup back home. For most people it takes quite some time to get to that monetary level and a lot of American 'values' get deeply ingrained into the system. If you are some such, the first thing you would want is a house of your own (if you dont have enough privacy in your parental house and/or if you mind living with your parents). House-hunting is no piece of cake (and for 40 lakhs all you might really get IS a piece of cake). Realistically looking at the rate the value of real estate is booming in any big city, you would be a fool if you are hoping to buy a decent sized house with that kind of money. Consider the fact that you've been thinking of moving back for a while and with this plan in mind have never bought a 'house' house in the US. You would really want to buy a house in India then and not a condo (which are relatively easier to buy). This is when the desi realises that 100k aint worth jack.

Lets now look at the other side of the equation, the getting to $100k part. On an average, lets say a desi would probably make $80k a year. With household expenses, etc he can hope to save at the most $2k per month. At this rate it would take him atleast 4 years to get to this mark (unless ofcourse you work in Google, sell off some stocks and bang! there's a 100k). All of this is hypothetically speaking, that no other expenses occur at all during these 4 years (which is as impossible as Sehwag scoring runs these days). Now with a working wife things can get a lot faster, but the more money that flows in, your expenses remain proportionate. With so much cash flowing in, I dont see why anyone would'nt be tempted to trade in his Hindu Accord for a smashing new Merc and the wifey's Odyssey for a X5. Point is, money tends to flow out easily in this consumer driven market and it takes quite a while to reach whatever point in the bank balance you feel is good enough.

Say you dont want to move back home and you decide to buy a house here with all the money coming in. Good luck with that if you're living in a big city. Where I live right now, in San Diego, million dollar homes are everyday ordinary and for about $600k you might get a matchbox sized home. Lets assume you are foolhardy enough and decide to buy, you put the 10% down and the mortgage is easily around $5k monthly. Scary enough if either of the working duo quits/loses the job.

Now by the time you get to this point (let's say 4 years from marriage), you probably already have the green card, have a kid or two, have everything going on smoothly professionally as well as personally and there is no real motivation in throwing off everything that you've done so far and going back home just because the motherland beckons. You'd be hella lucky if you have a supportive spouse, but in some cases the ease of daily life here is too much to give up on and even if you are willing, your dear (now) old spouse might refuse to co-operate. Now you're stuck spinning wheels, contemplating what it would take to get out of this ever confusing chakravyuha and get back to the one place you would rightfully want to call home.

Inspired by a weekend phone conversation & countless thoughts thereafter

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Skirting the exercise

What really gets you off the couch and into the gym? Excess weight, gut flowing onto the belt, feeling physically weak, getting bigger or plain killing time? Whatever reason gets you into the gym and for some exercise, kudos to you. You should be proud just for the fact that you are not one of the many who say you want to get there, but just keep finding newer and newer reasons to avoid getting there. I love Nike's new store ads where they show a woman running with the print reading - 'Someone busier than you is running right now. Just do it.' Fact is, if you really want to do it, you'll do it, whether it is at 5am or at 11pm. I guess half the battle is having enough motivation to do it.

So I ran into an old friend the other day (lets call him K), and boy, he looked like he'd packed another 100 lbs since I last met him. I dont know whether or not this is a desi tendency to put on weight once you get here (I am one of those desis too :P) but the least you can do to maintain atleast some sort of self respect is not give stupid reasons for that excess weight. So K tells me he's been concentrating on his career lately and that he's been eating a lot of outside food since he barely finds time to cook. Yea right! Like show me one desi who isnt serious about his/her career and show me half a bachelor who doesnt eat out regularly. Then, my friend, I will listen to your excuses. I mean who are you kidding - your own self obviously. As if that wasnt enough, he comes up with the kicker. He tells me it wouldnt take him more than 2 months to get rid of the excess weight. Hee-haw! Ask people who try to lose weight how hard it can get to lose a pound, forget 40. I, for one, have forever been trying to get down to the 170lb mark in vain and God knows I've been trying!

Hitting the gym is much easier said than done. Why take all the pain when you can comfortably lounge on your leather sofa and laugh your fat ass off watching re-re-re-repeated episodes of Scrubs and Seinfeld? Yes, your old clothes might not fit you any more - buy bigger clothes! You might look *really* fat in the mirror - stop staring at your own image Narcissus! But please dont take the efforts to get off the couch and into the gym. Your knees might already be in a state of atrophy and might not be able to support any physical activity. Rest is important, so is the double cheeseburger with large fries and a diet soda. Oh how I pity such foos!

So if you're getting whatever form of exercise regularly, cheers to you. If not, thats okay too. Go eat some more.