Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mundam: The state of being without cell phone

The Verizon/LG cell phone that I bought promptly croaked after 1 year of service. The battery drains out in 2 minutes. This is not uncommon among phones today and my phone certainly wont be an exception in a positive way.
Seattle is a place that doesnt allow you to make calls cheaply also. Its three hours behind anybody you know. By the time you hit your night-time minute zone, everybody is sleeping. When you wake up they are already at work. For the past 3 days I feel like I've been getting up at 9:00AM and sleeping at 2:00AM. I am neither here nor there.
This city has no Air Condition (the colling part of it). I think it is unheard of. The first two days it was sweaty and uncomfortable. Thank God! it changed. Now it is rainy and cold.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back Home Its called 'The Raghavan Instinct'

Note: Mild Spoilers

Kamal hassan plays a character called Raghavan, who gets these hunches. His intuition that guides him, bridges the small distance that logical deduction leaves him short of. He runs 9 steps based on deduction and classic police work. The 1 step that he falls short of, his instinct takes him there. Sometimes his intincts make him look good and sometimes it kills off his partners. But he puts it on the line everytime and the movie runs on that extra step, he takes based on his instincts. This is a slow, methodical and patient movie. It takes you through the leg work that Raghavan does to find the dead bodies of the victims. He talks to the STD booth fellow and the beggar to find the direction and vehicle in which the victim was kidnapped. He then calculates the difference from the time the victim was kidnapped till the time the post mortem pronounced her dead. 30 minutes. He drives for 30 minutes in that road that she was kidnapped, takes the only left turn available, confirms that the vehicle carrying the victim was brought there from eye witness accounts. Follows the tracks of the said 'red maruthi van' till it stops. So he is almost there. Logic and simple legwork has taken him there. Then the famous Raghavan instinct tips him over to the dead body. The small distance. The second instance where he fishes out 4 more dead bodies was simply an extension of his first experience, which he euphemistically calls as 'instinct'.

This is the kind of movie V V is. It literally means 'Hunt and Play'. Raghavan 'hunts', while a serial killer on prowl 'plays'. He plays by killing and planting the finger of the victim in front of the victim's house. Raghavan hunts and hunts as the games get more personal. It is a patient movie of deduction and method unlike its predecessor Kaakha Kaakha which was more emotional and instictive. The difference was that Kaakha Kaakha was something you could relate to. It grabbed you by the heart and smashed your head to pieces. There was no way you could not get involved. VV is like its lead character, Raghavan, detached and cold. You dont empathize or get involved as much. The character development is so lacking in this movie. You could almost smell who ACP Anbuselvam was. Here, Raghavan doesnt grow on you. However, I found no glaring logical flaws in this movie. There were certain cinematic liberties (Raghavan could have brought more cops in the end as back up but it wouldn't have altered the ending much) but nothing I would call illogical. The only flaw is that this movie is released after Kaakha Kaakha. The way the villian character is sketched is similar way (but less explained and not as well developed as Pandya), names ring a bell and well some aspects of the hostage situation involving Jyotika is similar. Some of the scenes in second half have been rushed through like KK. But these similaarities are superficial and the differences between the two movies are more.
I got up in the morning and wondered about Gautham flirting with the sexual orientation of the killers. While I loved the fact that they werent overawed by the use of homosexual concept itself. Some movies are so thrilled about the fact that they are dealing with that concept that they don't move forward at all. I loved the fact that this movie used it casually than as a PR vehicle. Raghavan uses it to poke and infuriate Amudhan. The whole villian duo characters are grosly under developed. While one can argue that it is kept short and sweet, it lets us assume that both are mentally screwed up to commit crimes from childhood. There is no initial tigger. They are just woken up from hibernation in this movie. But it sort of leavaes you with a feeling that the movie could have been more longer and more descriptive. It seems rushed in certain parts much unlike the first half.

Kaakha Kaakha used extensively what I found Altman and Guy Ritchie use. In that they compacted a lot of events with quick cuts. This way they told a lot of the story in very short time. It was fast and looked slick. Both these movies (VV & KK) have been edited to a level that just stops short of making them look like photo slide shows. A frame does not extend more than 4-5 seconds. The quick cuts are blended wonderfully and appear in a cool slick way. Antony the editor who was introduced in KK also shows his signature morph-merge kinds of edits in 'chikki mukki' like the way he showed in 'sutrum vizhi sudar' in Gajini. One frame merges into the next frame and the actors assume different postures in different backgrounds and a morphing effect is produced during that transformation. This happens very fast and blends with the music and make editing appear like an art similar to choreography. 'Chikki Mukki' was the best picturized song in this movie. A movie which was quite irritatingly flippant with the picturization in the first half. Harris Jeyaraj and the Italian choir group in 'manjal veyil' (the best song) and the side-screen for the bike ride in the Unnimenon Song (second best) was plain funny. The songs in the second half looked way better than the first half. But I liked the continuation of the sober colors and the minimal contrast theme that began in Kaakha Kaakha.

I had high epectations from the movie and hyped it in my blog. I love doing it and will continue to do it for movies that I think have the billing. Frankly I was pissed off with Kamal Hassan doing crappy movie like MBBS, Thenali or Panchatantram. I was literally begging for a 'different' movie from Kamal Hassan and who better to deliver than Gautham. It would be an understatement to say I was a tad biased towards liking this movie and consequently any praise for VV in this space would be less surprising. However, I cant bring myself to critisize it just to appear balanced. Because that would be incorrect and unfair. I liked the movie. It is not a Nayagan. Its not a Hey Ram, Iruvar or a path breaking Kaakha Kaakha. But its a damn good movie. It doesnt get overawed by the presence of foriegn actors and shows them like normal actors instead of slobbering all over them. I cant believe they shot NYC so well. But its no surprise that this movie is technically sound. Its slick and Kamal Hassan brings in a subtlety thats just perfect. I wondered why he was needed for this movie and someone said why not? True. He is the best actor, I have come across in India. I wouldn't have spent so much effort for anybody else. What can one say? He underplays the role to the right level. If somebody asked for a slightly overaged 'kazhabolt' cop, who was measured, methodical and was in every bit as human as his instincts, Kamal Hassan delivered that on a platter. Kamalini Mukherjee joins Ambiga(Vikram), Amala (Vetri Vizha), Rani Mukherjee(Hey Ram) as the wife who dies and Jyotika joins Preethi, Vasundra Das et all to become Kamal's second love interest. I know that Jyotika's character sketch from Seattle to NYC to Chennai is 'real' and very close to Gautham's heart :-) He deems it fit to use this story here in VV than dedicate a whole movie for it, which it deserves. Its his choice.

Manirathnam, Kamal Hassan and now Gautham are trapped in a world where they get whistles when the title credit shows their name. The expectations are so high that it can rarely be met. It is a curse they have to live with. One thing is sure, this movie doesnt seem like one that was beset with problems from the beginning. If it does then I cant imagine what the problem-free delivery would have looked like.

"Revert" - Who changed the meaning? - redux

I have spent most of my life in India. I have traveled to many places within India and enjoyed the diversity of our people. Yes! We have developed expertise in English and in some years can stake claim to the "native speaker" status. I do not disagree with all of this. But who the hell gives us the right to alter meanings of harmless words? Can we change the meaning of the word "mango" to make it mean "contract". From tomorrow I'll suddenly start saying - "India and Pakistan signed 4 mangoes to take the Kashmir peace initiatives to a new level". "Chappell just signed a mango with the BCCI and the players mangoes have been announced". Isn't this fun? Kister Monductor?

Imagine my surprise when, a couple of years before, a recruiter in India sent me a mail which went like "please send me your resume and I will revert back to you." So I looked up the dictionary to find out if they changed 'revert' to mean something else.

1. To return to a former condition, practice, subject, or belief.
2. Law. To return to the former owner or to the former owner's heirs. Used of money or property.
3. Genetics. To undergo reversion.

re·vert (r-vûrt)
v. re·vert·ed, re·vert·ing, re·verts

To return to a former condition, practice, subject, or belief.
To undergo genetic reversion.

Main Entry: re·vert
Pronunciation: ri-'v&rt
Function: intransitive verb
1 : to come or go back (as to a former status or state)
2 : to return to the grantor or his or her heirs as a reversion —re·vert·ible /-'v&r-t&-b&l/ adjective

v 1: go back to a previous state; "We reverted to the old rules" [syn: return, retrovert, regress, turn back] 2: undergo reversion, as in a mutation

The way I understood things were that there were two states.
State1: The state of a person/law/situation at time 0.
State2: The new state of the above mentioned entities at time 1.

Now at Time 2 - if your situation goes back to state 1 again - it means you have reverted. If human beings suddenly started giving birth to monkeys - we have reverted back to our previous evolutionary state. If you are an ugly ogre and then became a handsome prince. When you revert - you become an ugly ogre again. So you say to the other ugly ogres - "I was a handsome prince before but I reverted back to you". This is how the word revert is used.

So when I read the mail from the recruiter I thought - "Is she calling me a monkey or an ogre". I was thinking she hasn't even seen my resume and she already thinks low of me. In fact she thought I was some kind of a lower state and she had progressed to a newer better state. Now she suddenly feels she is going to revert back to - a older worse state - which is me. I have to say my confidence in her wasn't necessarily high at that point.

Turns out "revert" means "reply". This was like dawning moment, an awakening, an epiphany. So I understood that if a person says, "I will revert back to you". It means the person will reply back to me. Who would have guessed this? [ Answer: the person who would have guessed mangoes = contract.] It is like a waiter in Saravana Bhavan coming and asking you " Sir do you want conglomerate dosa". You gulp down some water. Slowly absorb the shock. Think for a while and figure out that now people are using "conglomerate" and masala interchangeably. If "interchangeable" and "goiyyaka" were also being used to indicate the same meaning, I have to say "people are using "conglomerate" and "masala" goiakkably". What else has been changed recently?

Does it look like I am protesting against such sacrilege on the English language? Wait.. lets hear some typical responses from our countrymen on this subject. It should go something like - "How dare anybody protest? Mera Bharat Mahan. We are patriotic Indians. We have more command over the English language than anybody else. Who stops us from making up our own meanings to words. This language is anyway not perfect. Why not add some Indian style imperfection to it. Jai Hind"

My biggest worry is - who the hell is making up all these new meanings? Who first started the trend of using "revert" and "reply" goiakkably? Is there a masala of these people somewhere out there who are making pickles (decisions) like this?

Anyway coming back to the mail-from-recruiter incident. A colleague in Dallas jokingly asked me the same question. I think he was struggling hard to control his laughter when he asked "Now is this usage of revert in such a context common in India". I thought - Thats cheating. I found this joke before him. He is not the only one to find this usage funny. I laughed hard at that recruiter too. I am from India and No! this is not common. Nobody taught this in school. You can roam anywhere in India and you will not find many people in the academic circles reverting back to each other like some gene mutation virus broke loose. In my 20 odd years in India I have never seen such a usage of revert. Never.

Suddenly the software generation and the computer people morphed the word to have new meanings. And it makes no sense. There is no mango signed with Thesauras to allow the usage of revert and reply goiakkably. Some pranksters are making dubious pickles out there which is putting a lot of other people to shame. Pee you. Good-Underwear

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Longest Interval of My life

Note: Rewrote the whole post

People who 'tried' to 'see' the movie in Chicago must, by now, know what I am going to say. But nevertheless. Before I say anything, I have to say the reason VV is so jinxed and the reason things happened, the way it happened in chicago theater, was because of me. I think such things can only happen to me. I seriously believe so. And the reason other 300 or so people who came to see the movie suffered was a result of my jinx. So without further delay. Chicago as it happened -

August 25th.

3:35PM: Bid adieu to my internship employer. Came back home with an intention to load my stuff into my car. See 7:00 clk show of VV and drive back to Ann Arbor straight from there. As mentioned before here.

4:30PM: I remember (suddenly. like these things have a way of appearing in your conciousness) that I have to return the comcast settop box, modem.

5:30PM: Friend who is joining me arrives (from now on he will be referred to as 'friend')

5:40PM: After innumerable traffic jams, I return after returning the equipment. Totally Frustrated . This is getting into familiar terriotory. I know how this ends.

6:40PM: I (okay we) finally load my stuff into the car and we start from the theater (which is 1 hr away)

6:50PM: I realize, I did not take my online ticket vouchers.

6:55PM: I call up the Chicago distributor asking him what to do. He tells me 7:00 clock show cancelled. The tickets are valid for 10:00 clk show. Reason: Prints still in transit, in flight. I make a randomd decision to see 10:00 clk show and drive to Ann Arbor at 1:00 AM. I ask the distributor twice if the 10:00 clk show will certainly get screened. He assures me in all earnestness that it will.

8:00PM: Dinner at Noodle garden near Kellogg. Go around Kellogg. My friend, an alum, takes us through an excellent guided tour. Its really a beautiful school. One of my biggest regrets.

9:00PM: At the theater. I meet the distributor and ask him "potti vanthidcha" (. This is the first things I ask him. At this point people dont know the prints/reel has not arrived). While this question surprises a few onlookers, the distributor laughs and replies in affirmative.

9:40PM: Commotion in exchanging online voucher for tickets. My friend picks up the first fight of the day by arguing with a guy who keeps pushing him from behind. My friend apart from being a Kellogg alum is an Ayothi Kuppam alum too. Swear words are exchanged to give a Devi theater feel to the situation.

10:00PM: Inside the theater.

10:30PM: Prints have not yet come. The distributor had lied at 9:00 when he announced the prints have arrived. My friend and I pick up fights with the distributor. My friend has cultivated insulting into an art form. In the 10 years that I have known him, nobody, I repeat nobody, can insult and putdown a person, as aggresively, as consistently and as ruthlessly as he does. If I were the distributor I would have committed suicide. For close to an hour he heckled him. I have to say if my friend hadn't started questioning the distributor the crowd would have been pretty much docile. Only a handful of people were actually offended. the others took things lying/sitting down (bending over backwards)

11:20PM: Prints arrive. Distributor announces that movie will start in 15 minutes. A 35'ish lady came storming into the theater and made an announcement, which basically was a 'sermon' on how bad things were and said people who wanted to go and come back later should demand a refund now. Have you read somewhere else or have people told you that if there is one thing tamils are known for it is 'nakkal'? One guy shouted immediately, "no we want to see the movie. we dont want refund". And then the rest boo'ed the lady out. It was a fruit-kid-booed-by-rowdy-gang kodak moment :-). I would have LMAO but since I had 'family' around, I had to pretend that laughing at the lady was a bad thing (she gave a big lecture about babies, kids, health etc...c'mon. fruit).

11:45PM: The reels are being loaded. Tempers raise. Children in theater are crying. People are suffocating inside the theater. My friend is well into 3rd degree torture phase. The conversation goes like.
Friend: Is this your first time. Is this why you are so incomptent?
Guy: I have released telegu movies before.
Friend: Don't release tamil movies anymore. Please torture only telegu people.
Guy: Sir. This has become too much. Dont advise me on how to run my business.
Friend: What business? where is the business? You can't run any thing. Do you think you are running something now.
Guy: You will understand only if you do this sir.
Friend: Which is why I dont do it. You shouldnt be doing this either. If you dont have a di** you shouldn't be fu***** around. Why did you lie about the prints? Why didnt you cancel the 10 clk show. Is it because you already paid the rent for the theater an dont want to lose on it.
Guy: Its not like that.
Friend: Then go in front of the theater and say you lied. I want that. Its 6 hours since I paid the money. Where is the movie. will you be okay if I saw the movie and paid the money after 6 hours.
August 26th.

12:00: I proudly become the first person among the 300 assembled to ask for free movie + refund. The people pick up this thought as on cue and demand the same. Big ape war happens.I quote the pizza delivery analogy to press my claims. Insult the distributor even further. Although I have to say given what my friend was doing to him, which was basically raping him through every possible orifice, I had only negligible impact on his overall wrecthedness.

12:10AM: They screen the movie. I am looking at driving at 3:00 AM to Ann Arbor. There is a small sequence before the title credits. People assume that the movie has been screened from the middle and scream, shout etc. After the title credits get over (where Kamal kills everyone at sight. He kills kills kills) comes a blood churling scream from some one " Konnudu daa.. ellaraiyum konnuu da .. ennaiyum serthu kollu da kamala haasa" (Kill.. kill everyone. including me kill everybody)

1:45AM: Interval.

1:46AM: The movie reels have been wrongly tied. Post Interval. The movie starts playing upside down, with no volume.

1:50AM: Hell breaks loose. I yell swear words at the distributor. My friend is almost enjoying another go at the distributor ass. 100 people are at his neck. Everybody is shouting.

2:00 AM: It is announced that somebody will come in 15 minutes and he may/maynot fix the whole thing.

2:10 : We leave in frustration. Without watching the movie. The distributor announces that he will refund the ticket and almost suggests that the movie will not continue. I had 1 window of opportunity to catch this. I tried my best and I leave angry and pissed off.

3:00 AM: Decide that driving to AA is risky. I have returned my keys to the apartment person. I have no place to stay. I take the risk. I go to my apartment (the cell phone opens the main door) and find that the door is unlocked (we hadn't locked when we handed over the key). So we litrally sneak back into the apartment and We take a bed sheet and sleep on the floor.

6:30 AM: I start driving to AA

1:30 PM: I am writing this blog from Michigan.

Needless to say I am pissed off. I have visualized 34682391 ways of torturing the distributor and 16713256 painful deaths for him.

The Movie: I personally like 'serial killer', sherlock holmes, 'seven' kind of movies. Very slick and all. But I don't see a need for Kamal Hassan to star in this movie. It could have starred anyone. Whats in this movie that needs someone like him? I haven't seen the second half. Don't know whats going to happen. Not talking to anybody about the ending. But 5 minutes before the interval they sort of 'reveal' 2 people as killers and I was dissapointed. I wanted a major twist. It was fast paced and I was interested all through. But if this second half doesn't pick up this movie up its pretty much average.

10:00PM (PST) Update: Reached seattle finally. The flight was a 8 hr bitch. Makes this the longest day of my life. Pissed off still. Throughout the flight I was thinking of the stupid incompetent fellow. spent 8 hours to watch half a movie. Because of a bumbling idiot.

Apparently the movie was finally screened at around 2:45AM and it ended at 4:10 AM in the morning. I am thinking I should have stayed.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Things I do for a movie - Update

It is not everyday that one of the greatest actors (or should I say movie maker) of our times teams up with a hugely promising director who gave Kaakha Kaakha and got Hollywood calling him. Kamal talks about the second movie of Gautham's trilogy on encounter cops. And many other things. Gautham had already stated that Vijaykumar, the real life cop who caught Veerappan, was the 'inspiration' behind this trilogy. Kamal, it seems, potrays Vijaykumar'ish character, as a 40 year old cop.

I planned to leave Chicago on Friday evening, spend the night in Ann Arbor and fly off to Seattle for a week of timepass in Seattle. But Kamal Hasan and Gautham have changed my plans. Vettaiyadu Velaiyadu.

The movie releases on Friday, Aug 25th in Chicago, Detroit etc. But only releases on Sept 9th in Seattle. So if I miss it now in Chicago, I may never catch it in theaters. Ya! I can see you agree that this is totally an emergency situation. So I am finishing up my internship on Friday, rushing to the theaters for a 7:00 PM show and the driving from the theater to Ann Arbor (like a 5 hr drive) after the movie is done. I will probably reach AA at 4:00 AM in the morning and then I will have to rush for the Seattle flight.
I am sort of positive the movie will be worth it. But I have been told that the Fox Lake theater is like the shittiest theater in the world. I am hoping it is not as worse as the New Jersey Theater which screened 'Kannathil Muthamittal' (it was the size of a living room filled with noisy mannerless people).
What would I give to have a Sathyam theater in the US?
p.s: wife is okay with this.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Driving Mr.Johnson - The curious case of the Parking Problem

Note: An online extract of an opinion piece, by an Expert Columnist, that appeared in the middle page of Aug 22nd issue of Kabali Times.

"I just don't know how you walk around with those things" - Elaine in Seinfeld
Nettaiyan, when he was 14, comprehended thus. Mr.Johnson was not an easy vehicle to drive around. Finding the right parking spot was not just a chore but an art form. You see, growing up, for men like Nettaiyan, was never an easy affair. For the first 5-8 years his wardrobe choice was usually not made by a man but by women who could barely comprehend what Mr.Johnson was all about. Women did not own automobiles. They did not know what was it like to own one. On this topic Mr. Gendelffson, CEO of Johnson & Johnson remarked, "it is easy to play for a few hours with someone else's scooter but owning your own vehicle is a different proposition. And we understand that problem, which why we are here to help". But all they came up with is baby powder which really did not address the problem for Nettaiyan. Friends were helpful, but not logical. "Park on the left man", said Kuppan. "Always park on the left. Its discreet, safe and Mr. Johnson likes it that way". But Nettaiyan asked "why left?". Nettaiyan was confused by the lack of logic. Left and right are the same thing? But why did it make a difference? It worried him no end. Now that he thought about it, he couldn't get it off his mind.

When he was a small boy in diapers - he did not have to worry about the parking problem. oh! what wonderful times they were. He was a baby. Other people parked his vehicle. Plus babies don't care. When he grew up to the age where he suddenly woke up and realized he owned an automobile (which literally was mobile and automatic) he also realized that he had to park it daily. It would be embarrassing for a grown person to ask somebody to park vehicles for him. Parking it in the morning before he went to school, was his biggest problem. Its rush hour, you have to dress up fast and rush to school. Not an easy thing to work on left/right aesthetics. Initially he wouldn't care and just park wherever he pleased and left to school. But the mind is so freaking paranoid. He would think, Is it parked right? Is it discreet? What if Mr.Johnson wasn't parked like others and was jutting out on the road. Would he be ticketed? Are people secretly laughing at him? Was something abnormal about Mr.Johnson? Thoughts such as these would drive the poor boy mad.

It is common knowledge that discussing automobile issues is common among men. For many years that's all they talk about - cars bikes and Johnson. Oiling, covers, rain protection, shrinkage, garage. They would ask among themselves - Did you drive it to this garage? Is this parking lot better than that parking lot? Which car wash is better? Is parking in a parking lot in movie theaters safe? What about hotels, restaurants? The topics of discussion was endless. Although Nettaiyan intuitively understood why parking on the left was preferred, he could see there was no logical difference. Why would left be better than right? But whenever he tried the right hand side of the road, Mr.Johnson would be appalled by the right-side parking. It was like leaving Johnson naked. No protection. It seemed like the society was forcing him to park left. Over time when Nettaiyan stopped becoming tall and his shoes and dresses began to fit him perfectly, he did not have to worry about outgrowing his shirt size. It was not about size but style. He bought Gucci shirts and Armani suits. He was rich and constant. He never worried about Mr.Johnson again. Occasionally when Mr.Johnson slipped into auto gear, for reasons from massage to Salma Hayek, Nettaiyan would wonder "why is left better than right" now? He is 40 and he never had the time to pause and think what the answer might be?
- Kabali Times Copyright

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Law 21: No mention of 'honor'

Law 21 - subsection 3 (a) , 3 (b), 3 (c)

3. Umpires awarding a match

(a) A match shall be lost by a side whicheither
(i) concedes defeator
(ii) in the opinion of the umpires refuses to playand the umpires shall award the match to the other side.

(b) If an umpire considers that an action by any player or players might constitute a refusal by either side to play then the umpires together shall ascertain the cause of the action. If they then decide together that this action does constitute a refusal to play by one side, they shall so inform the captain of that side. If the captain persists in the action the umpires shall award the match in accordance with (a)(ii) above.

(c) If action as in (b) above takes place after play has started and does not constitute a refusal to play(i) playing time lost shall be counted from the start of the action until play recommences, subject to Law 15.5 (Changing agreed times for intervals).(ii) the time for close of play on that day shall be extended by this length of time, subject to Law 3.9 (Suspension of play for adverse conditions of ground, weather or light).(iii) if applicable, no overs shall be deducted during the last hour of the match solely on account of this time.

Isn't 'technicality' an euphemism for details? If the exchange between Inzamam and Hair, reported in cricinfo is right(knowing media the whole version will change tomorrow) Hair is right. Pakistan forfeited the game. Thats all one needs to know. Whether there was tampering/Who tampered the ball is so moot. India atleast proceeded with the game in South africa.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Death to Death

You must have heard of Death takes a vacation, Death takes a holiday etc. Imagine death losing out on something that was 'first come first serve' when Muhammed Ashraf arrived at his funeral moments before his body arrived.

Family members of Muhammed Ashraf got the shock of their lives when the 36-year-old walked into his Malappuram home amid preparations for his funeral.

Muhammed Ashraf must have borrowed from Mark Twain and said "the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated"

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Maybe its too smelly for you but its so not for me.

Many years ago when I was living in a hostel, one of the toilet/septic tanks in our school hostel had a problem. In that it started leaking and needed to be unclogged. The stink was so bad that we couldn't even go near the place. The warden called the watchman, who took one look and said, he wouldn't touch this with a 10 foot pole (no offense to people from Poland). The cleaner (aaya) for the hostel came, poked around with a stick and said she wouldn't do it either. Then the warden called the school authorities who then arranged for some coporation people to come and clean out the place. They came and did their business as usual. They were laughing and joking as they scraped shit and threw it.

What that taught me was - thresholds . Thresholds to withstand pain, nausea and in general stink. Look at the spectrum of thresholds. We, the students, living 3 floors above the septic tank, couldn't even bear the stink. The watchman, working 10 yards from the place, could spend a night near that place. He was allright with the stink but he wouldn't touch it. There was a person who would touch it but wouldn't clean it. And then there are people who would clean that stuff.

ya! there is a point to the whole thing.

So there was an explosion near the Taj Samudra hotel where India, South Africa and Srilanka are staying. 1 Km from the place. There were three teams. One team was so alarmed by the whole thing that they basically could not think of anything except leaving the damn place and getting the hell out of there. South African players, it was reported, were extremely conerned and could not focus on their cricket at all. Their government did a security analysis (read as stink analysis) and said the place was too smelly...err.. to dangerous for their team. So they left.

And then there were two.

What disturbs me is not that we have chosen to stay. But Dravid in an interview has said that "we are not concerned about the bomb explosions. We are not even thinking about it. Many players want to prove themselves and are more worried about the weather and winning the game". India may have done a security analysis, atleast they must have, for eyewash's sake, pretended that they were sniffing around to see if they could smell something funny. They say they don't smell anything. Maybe thats because our noses, brains and balls are clogged like that septic tank. This got me thinking - where are we in the spectrum? For a moment if we set aside our great progress in the fields of IT services, IT services and IT services and focus solely on the segment of 'tolerance towards terrorist activities' - I would conclude that we are basically immune. A bomb explodes "ha! its good spirit to go to work.. lets move on". Its almost become like some car accident. Its sad and all but you just move on. Our threshold for terrorism is basically the same as car accidents. "bomb blast, 50 people died... okay!... whats for lunch dude". I do the same thing. Frankly, I did not care much for any of the terrorist activities that happened recently. I wasn't terribly moved or pushed towards patriotism. It was basically terrorist news, dilbert and some movie news. Apparently, I now learn that most of India is like me. I seriously want India to play. So that I can watch some cricket action. This whole bomb news is insignificant to me other than the fact that it reduced the excitement for the tournament. When the South African's left, I thought "sigh.. less of entertaintment. But let us play". I am not sure what the South African public feels.

South Africa is not the safest place in the world. Johanesburg is no heaven. And they refused to play. They refused. We played. Very funny. Reminds me of Senthil telling Gowndamani, after the latter laughs at Senthil for marryng an ugly girl, "she is such an ugly girl. i married her. but look on the bright side - if such an ugly girl rejects you - you have no hope at all". We are like those corporation cleaners. It can be too stinky for South Africans but not for us Indians. And some people see virtue in the whole thing. I almost vomitted when someone said it was brave act to stay. No kidding man. There are two things going on there - (a) money and (b) no other option. Either way we are pathetic. You, a borderline player, if you raise your voice on such a "trivial" issue - then its bye bye batting spot. If I was eating on a marriage dining hall, and someone found out that the vegetables were rotten and spoilt. I would at least set them aside (even if if I cant sense that it is rotten and I can still eat them). I would at least pretend to have some 'level'.

Voluntarily or involuntarily that is where we stand in the spectrum. Actions speak more than 1KB of data. Our actions have spoken about our 'level'. And we have to come up with lame excuses such as virtue, 'we are used to it' etc to justify our pathetic state.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Yippeeeee - Finally

My most anticipated movie of this decade gets the green signal. Finally.

According to producer Manicam Narayanan, the problems faced by the producers have been solved. It will go before the censors on Wednesday.

"The film's music is already popular. It took time to sort out all the problems. We are going to make more than 200 prints for the release and I am confident of its success," said Mr. Narayanan. A large part of the movie co-starring Jyothika and Kamalini Mukerjee, was shot in the United States.

Shall we Vettaiyadu Velaiyadu or shall we Vettaiadu Velaiadu?

P.S: There is a web game based on the VV theme in the website.
P.S2: According to anonymous commentor - the producer is releasing the movie at a loss. Although I anticipated it, I think it makes sense because of the opportunity cost of not releasing is much higher. It makes sense that he releases it than not release it. Distributors will rake a lot of money if the movie is a hit. I am sure manicam himself is a distributor in many areas.

'Google' not a verb just a proper noun.

Recently Google has sent warning missives to media organizations that use the word 'Google' as a verb - 'google'. Whenever Google does anything - most tech bloggers write posts about it. This issue is no exception. I wanted to write something about tech and this gives me a reason to join the BW. Google apparently prefers to restrain this transition of the word from a noun to a verb. This is counter intuitive considering the fact that 'google' as a verb is far more likely to stamp itself in the minds of the people and diffuse more faster into the non-tech consumer base.

However, Google does not think this way. Some analysts believe that Google is pre-empting a possible branding issue that can arise in the future. Companies cannot 'brand' and copyright commonly used words. Allowing 'google' to become a commonly used verb exposes Google to a possibility of competitors hijacking the name and cashing in on the popularity of the word. If it does not act now, it can't do much in the future.

Have we heard this situation before? Maybe - maybe not. I always thought 'walkman' and 'discman' were Sony copyrighted words. In that, if you say "I have a walkman" it automatically meant that you have a Sony. But over time I guess this blurred out and 'walkman' became a generic term for mobile audio tape players and 'discman' just meant mobile CD players. I never checked up if Sony ever had such a copyright or if they completely missed the trick on this.

Another company, which does not want to miss this trick is Apple, which seems intent on copyrighting and de-verb'ifying the family of 'pod' words.

Monday, August 14, 2006

"KANK not a threat to Gillette" - Bachan Jr Furious.

Kabali Times, Mumbai Aug 14, 2006:

In what is a new twist to the concept of 'blade', Gillette, the makers of razors, have filed a case in Mumbai High court that the makers of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (KANK) are conspiring to lock young men in theatres for an indeterminate period of time. Thereby denying them a chance to shave in a timely manner. Among the first batch people who had successfully watched KANK till the end, 53 people filled the Kabali Times survey. 41 people needed a shave when they came out of the movie. 17 of those were women. Vikram Jetmalani, representing counsel for Gillette, said in his submission to the court that Abhishek Bachan, conspired with movie producers to achieve this end. Gillete claims that Abhishek has draconian plans to make everybody to grow a beard like him. The PIL said that "The movie has been kept deliberately long, to keep youngsters as hostages in theaters for eternity. As a result they have not come out to shave and Gillette has seen 73% drop in revenues after KANK released" . Gillette CEO while talking to the press said "we respect people like Mahesh Bhatt and Subash Ghai. They are man enough to compete with us directly by making blades of their own. We are appalled by this underhanded effort of hijacking the shaving community in theaters for years. Shame! Shame!"

When contacted, Bachan Jr, who was hoisting I-Day flag in Thane Beard Club and distributing chocolates to young bearded men to annul his manglik dosha, became furious and denied the allegation. "What does Vikram Jetmalani know? Having a beard is style, it is Gillette who are against beards. I am just showing people the South Indian way of life. Beards rock - it got me into the sack with Aishu".

Meanwhile several parents in Pune, Maharashtra have started complaining to police that their children have not yet returned after setting out to watch KANK. Jalaja, resident of Parihar Chowk, complained to Kabali Times that the police were not taking prompt action. " my son went last Sunday to watch this movie, he has not yet returned", said Jalaja in tears. When the Aundh police station was contacted, it was confirmed that the SP Ghokle, who had gone to see the preview show 13 days ago, had not yet returned. The Governor S.M.Krishna returned half-way through the movie complaining of severe dehydration. His 5-year term had expired when he was in the preview theater and the government clarified that they had no severe impact as a result of the Governor being absent for almost half his term. Chief Minister Deshmukh did not see KANK as a result if his son not being part of the movie. "My son can cry too", complained Deshmukh, "Sharukh Khan is limp and Abhishek is inadequate. My son could have done both roles. He is a natural". The US Consul general denied reports that the American government was considering KANK as a replacement for capital punishment. "We don't want Human rights organization to get alarmed at such sort of news" clarified Robert Clive, the Consul General.

Meanwhile, men support groups have been launched all over India as men begin to cling to each other in an effort to seek encouragement. The idea is to thwart female members of their family from hijacking them to KANK. [Warning: Kabali Times would like to warn audience that the following news items may contain violence, shock and is potentially dangerous to husbands with heart problems]. The level of threats by women folk has increased to shocking levels and the men are barely surviving the brutal nagging. "My wife has refused to have sex with me for last 8 days. Just because I refused to take her to KANK" said Mr. Shukla speaking over the phone from Hyderabad. "I am newly married and the longest we have gone without sex is 4 days. But I cannot go to KANK, I simply don't have that much vacation left and... my beard grows really fast... I need a shave every day....sob..sob..I love my shave...I like sex too...waaaaahhh!", he sobbed uncontrollably. These sort of threats has caused unbelievable panic across the country. Men from all over the country are taking confidence from each other to somehow survive the threat of sex, blackmail and nagging and are praying Sidhi Vinayak temples for the KANK threat to pass quickly. Mumbai, known for its famous spirit, Johnny Walker, showed extra-ordinary resilience, when a group of well-meaning neighbors kidnapped Mr. Lakshmanan Balachandran from being dragged into the theater by his wife Kulamageswari Palaniappan. One of the neighbors said " Ms Kulamagal dragged Lakshmanan on the basis of her knowledge of Hindi learned as second language in Madurai. Who was she kidding? Mr.Lakshmanan has no knowledge of Hindi. What will he do for so many years inside the theater? He pleaded to her and then to us. He was on his knees begging for 3 days. We took pity on him and framed him for the bomb blasts. I used my connections with the police to do this. Now he is happily spending time in Jail. Lucky Soul"

In an unrelated incident, Karan Johar could not 'cut' and 'paste' things on his computer because he has a handicap. He cannot see the words 'e d I t'. He reportedly could not answer the fill in the blanks question of "the person who edits is called the ------" in his Pune Film institute final exams. A Kabali times reporter is spending the last 6 months undercover inside Mumbai's Metro theater waiting for title credits to get over and report to us if the movie ever had an editor in the first place. From reports received from inside the theater, we can reliably confirm that they are providing bed pans, filter coffee, pension, gratuity, and 6 month bonuses for the audience watching the movie. Special in-theater coaching classes have been provided for young Ajay who missed 7th and 8th standard while he was in the theater. I.D cards are being issued inside the theater so that the kith and kin of movie watchers are able to recognize themovie goers after so many years of change.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

So Funny Ya!

(Warning: 'R' rated. You may not get this joke if you dont understand tamil)

I was watching this movie called Enakkum Unakkum Something Something (apparently a remake of the telugu super hit Nuvasth... Nuvunt... - thats all I can remember of the name). The hero Ravi is just wearing a towel, nothing underneath, and is in Trisha' room messing with her. She kicks him out and bolts the door, in the process his towel gets caught in the door and our man is naked. In comes, xyz comedian(so many new faces), also clad in a towel. Ravi grabs the comedian's towel and runs away.

Exactly that moment the granny of the house comes with a tray full of coffee/Tea and she takes one look at naked comedian, drops the tray and falls down. This comedian says a dialog which really cracked me up - (look for something that rhymes)

Avan Avanukku Gandam Thanni'la
Ana paati'kku gandam .......

He doesnt say the word. But it is there. I laughed so much. Things have come a long way from the famous kiss scene of Thayagaraja Bhagavathar in Manmadha Leelai. The thing is - its so much a Nellai word, not many in Madras use it. Anyway feel silly for laughing so much now!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It Happened to Me - II

Its the darnest thing. Straight out of a Seinfeld episode.

I was late for office today and planned to catch the 9:31 train to work. There are two tracks in station I board in. One track goes Inbound to downtown Chicago - this is the one I catch. The other track is outbound which goes away from Chicago Downtown. I was waiting on the platform towards downtown. The new iPod excitement hadn't worn off and I was listening to Vettaiyadu full blast and wondering why such awesome songs and potentially-awesome movie can't get released.

As the clock ticked 9:31 the train became visible. The train was still very far away from the station. It was honking and doing its regular stuff. Suddenly an announcement came in the PA system. It said that the train would actually be arriving on the platform where trains going *away* from downtown would arrive. I wasn't terribly surprised. This happened day before yesterday and people just crossed over to the other platform. So out of sheer habit (as a result of 4 years of suburban train travel in Madras) or absent mindedness caused as a result of 'Vettaiyadu' music, I crossed the track and went to the other side. The train's honking noised increased manifold, I could sort of hear it inspite of the HJ music blaring in my ears. It was still far away. So I went to the other side leaned on the wall and waited for the train to come by. The train stopped and I saw some uniformed men coming towards the platform. I didn't care and I continued listening to "manjal veyil".

So one uniformed guy approached me and asked, "Did you just cross in front of us". I slowly removed my ear phones and said "excuse me". He said "I asked, did you just cross in front of us". I mean front of us is like a relative word. A loose term. Its like the Martians coming down to the earth and asking me "did you come between us and the sun". Well ofcourse we did, but you gotta be kidding. If this was Mambalam station, I crossed when the train was near Kodambakkam station. I mean, c'mon. Day before yesterday about 10 people crossed the tracks with me. I thought it was common. I said "yes".

And he said in a matter-of-fact way, "As a punishment, I wont let you get on this train. Catch the next train"

I am not sure if I was stunned or embarassed. Embarassed is a very good word to use here. I stood there and saw everybody get into the train leaving me out. I asked the conductor (I sort of know him, we've done small talk before) "are you kidding or are you serious" and he said in friendly tone "normally we wouldn't let you on Metra at all, but we are letting you go with a mild punishment. Don't ever do this again man.". It was like Joe banning Kramer from the fruit shop. It had been a long time since I was sent out of a class or in general banned. I frankly forgot my stock sheepish grin, I reserve for these moments. The prospect of walking back home was not appealing. My wife isn't in a very charitable mood these days. I wonder why? I walked home and she was on the phone with my parents and she lost no time in narrating the whole thing to them. Believe me, when you think it can't get any worse - it does get worse. So, I had to listen to a lot of commotion and "are you a villager" questions from my dad before walking out to catch the next train (which was at 10:10).

Like Seinfeld would say "you know George, this can only happen to you"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I love Apple - iPod

As I mentioned before here, my iPod crapped out on me, less than 2 weeks after I bought it. I went to the Apple store. There is a panel called Genius Bar, which helps out with your Apple related problems.

I went there. The person connected my iPod to his computer and grimaced "Oh! my gawd". I looked at hime and he said "This is dead". Before I could say another word, he replaced my iPod with a new one

Thanks to Da Jillako. for the timely advice. Please visit Arvind's site for tech related stuff.

Avani Avittam Upakrama

Did you know that this day, on the month of Shravana, was the first day of the Fall semester in the good old vedic schools? In the pre-historic days of the vedic schools, the Kshathriyas, Vaishyas and Brahmins attended school from Aug/Sep to Jan/Feb. Different vedic schools (rig, sama, yajur, atharvana) had different start days and the date and details of performance of upakrama ritual corresponded to the vedic school that the student followed.

Initially, once the harvest season began in Jan, schools closed and students were forbidden to continue with their education and learn the vedas after Jan. It was considered a sin. Imagine! the very concept of formal education was considered a sin for 6 months every year. I want this law brought back. This is an awesome law. Later, this practice was considered inefficient and students were allowed to rehearse, whatever they learned in the first six months, from Jan/Feb to Aug/Sep. So the students rehearsed during spring and summer semesters whatever they learned in Fall & Winter :-) and when they began the next new academic year, they sought atonement for such a sin.

Upakrama is a ritual done on the first day of the academic year every year. It is done till date in the 4 southern states, Maharashtra and Orissa. It consists of Yajnopavitam change, seeking atonement and vedic-style hair cuts for the new academic year. The second day of the academic year involved reciting the Gayathri Manta - 1008 times. While the Upakrama date varied depending on the vedic school, the Gayathri recitation date was the same for all schools. Learning of the vedas never stopped until a person died. So a person regardless of age or marital status did this every year. As mentioned before, each of the 4 vedic schools had different start dates With Sama Veda having the latest start date in September (on the day of Vinayaka Chaturthi). I am not sure why they got such a large summer vacation. Maybe they were slow learners and needed more rehearsal time :-) or maybe Sama veda with all its musical intonations was difficult to master and hence the students needed time. I have always been curious about the relationship between Vijayadasami and Avani Avittam. Vijayadasami is considered the day of beginnings by most people, whereas Avani Avittam had already marked the beginning of school. So what is the deal here?

Avani is the Tamizh name for the Shravana month and Avittam is the star that appears on the month of Avani. The Panchangam (calendar) is used to decipher the date on which the Avittam star will appear. It is also believed that this was the day in which education as a concept began. Following the creation of the world - it is on this day that Brahma, the first being, was supposed to have learned the Vedas from Lord of Knowledge - Hayagriva - thus becoming the first ever student.

P.S: Raksha Bandhan, is celebrated in N.India on the same day (sharavana purnima) as Avani Avittam every year. I do not know much about the significance of this day except that it is attributed to many legends including tying of sacred thread by Sage Brihaspathi on Lord Indira's wrists, Tying of sacred thread on the wrists of King Bali by goddess Lakshmi, Yamuna tying raakhi to Yama etc.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

iPod Click Wheel

There is an Employee Purchase Program going on in the company where I am interning in. This program allowed me to buy a 40 GB iPod for 60% of its cost. I bought it totally forgetting that I traditionally have a poor relationship with electronic items.

For example I can't take print outs. Can't believe it right? Come take a print out with me. I have a 99% hit-rate. The moment I try and take a print out, some snag will happen and the printer won't work. My group mates found that to their horror in the 11th hour of our project submission, like many other group mates found out in the past.

So the iPod got screwed within 4 days after I got it. It can't synch up with my PC and I can't format it or do anything to it. I have wasted 2 days surfing the net and trouble shooting the iPod. One more restart request and I will throw my laptop into Lake Michigan. The basic problem is the iPod won't mount on my PC, the iPod updater can't see it. It doesn't appear as a USB storage device in My Computer. I have done the reset, restart, re-install things iPod wants me to do. I can't restore it because the PC won't detect the iPod. I can't even convert the iPod to a storage device. I guess I have entered the zone of H/w errors. Time to look for an Apple store.

One thing I've learned in this process is that this iPod thing is extremely fragile. This problems of iPod not synching up (and in the process showing a exclamation mark with a sad iPod icon) is extremely common. I guess even if it is slightly common, I will hit it. Sigh...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Popular Bloggers

Note: I have been writing this blog for a week. Much before the Kiruba bashing started. I have somehow been unable to finish it. In the interim many other bloggers have come up with the concept of blog reviews on their own. Although I will follow up their cue and indulge in blog reviews, this post is a result of some other trigger. I don't care if you think otherwise.

Boring Precursor to the review: When I came into the blogging world, most of the blogs I followed were MBA applicants blogs. This is a category of blogs where, applicants discuss their GMAT, essay writing interview and admission trend experience. Blogs provided a great source of information apart from providing a personal first-person perspective on the application process. At a time when I thought there were no Indian blogs, I came across two bloggers and I started sporadically following them. I constantly saw these 2 names while bloghopping, they were Kiruba and Lazy Geek (Guru). These 2 bloggers were kind of early starters to the blogging concept and had a huge readership base. The blogging world has changed considerably since they started. Blogs are being written by diverse set of people from ones who actually work on movie to journalists to younger, hip'er people. I have some thoughts on whether these behemoths have handled this change. A blog, as I see it in the desi blogosphere, is a source of entertainment. It is voyuerism. If it is informative its a bonus. In the future this definition may change but as it stands now, this is my view. It is also a cliche that these 2 bloggers have the right to write whatever they want. Its their blog. But like a movie review, this review of their blog is also for entertainment. In general I like essayists. People who write like R.K.N or Ramesh Mahadevan. In general I look for quality of English prose more than content and some original thinking. I like a well-written post about nothing than a poorly written super-analysis. And that is the perspective I use, when I choose blogs to read. Also these 2 reviews is complete conjecture and I extensively second guess the bloggers. I stereo type, unfairly criticize, show partiality and in general behave like an assole.


Well! I never read much of him anyway. I came across a mention of Kiruba in Instapundit in the context of a blogger quitting due to fatigue. It later turned out Kiruba was doing an April fool's joke. I was disgusted with that stunt and lost whatever little respect, I had for him. I agree mostly, with the criticism leveled against him. He mainly tries for the fast-food entertainment, throwing out quick small posts, which are, as it is now cliche, forwarded emails or nothing-news about his blog-related speeches. I don't think intra-company blogs are useful in the IT services sector. I have been there done that. But that's a different topic. Yes! even I can't fathom who would listen to these blog speeches by him. It defeats the whole point of the blog. If you need to invite someone to talk about something, I don't understand why he has a blog going. I guess he mainly survives as a result of a upper-management forcing engineers or middle managers to go and listen to this speech because they think 'blog' is a fad. I would not be surprised if he cashes in on the loophole caused by lack of 'real' knowledge, typically exhibited by the upper management in IT services sector and becomes an Indian Blog Guru. But that is not the point. He has the right to survive and he is doing it.

My main problem with him was lack of originality. He has never had an original opinion to offer. At least I haven't read one of that kind. But the more recent goof up by him shows a much deeper malaise than absent-minded ness. Yes! Everybody makes mistakes - that's okay. At the risk of making a sweeping generalization based on reading him for the last 2 years, the mistakes showed that beyond being un-original he is also impersonal. In that there is no passion for him to write blogs. He is like a newspaper editor, who does this - not for pleasure - but as a process, as a routine, as work, as a chore - possibly just to promote himself in the corporate world and keep a machine running. It shows a level of detachment where he publishes a story to account for a day's post than actually sitting and thinking about it. I do not like such blogs, like the way I do not like TOI. If the western media and domestic people form opinion about Indian blogs based on his blog, it is bad. It is like Western audience forming opinions about Indian movies based on 'Devadas' and 'Paheli'.

I do not think he is doing a mistake, a crime or is deluding people. It is India's inalienable right of being host to the world's largest stupid population that results in glorifying certain people as "India's #1 blogger". I have never understood people's motivation in calling someone a "king" etc. Especially Kiruba. It happens in movies and politics. It is so demeaning and insulting. But we do it as a country. You can't blame Kiruba for being born in a stupid country. It is what it is and he is what he is. If we have unfair expectation on him based on our own lack of knowledge about him - it is our problem not his. It is the same stupidity that results in many readers assuming that Kiruba criticism's have some sort of vendetta against him. I do not know what I will be attributed with - jealousy perhaps. It is the problem of some of the audience not being mature enough to treat a disagreement as just that instead of a deeper personal connotation. But unfortunately being part of a public domain, subjects you to unfair criticism and reviews, as much as it gets you "king" kind of accolades. This is, in a way, what this post is. It is the 'if you can write about anything, I can write about you' argument.


Out of these 2 bloggers Lazy is my favorite by a big margin. What is his space? I think he mainly writes about movies, and literature. He does not write a lot outside his space and I frankly like his stuff in the moviespace only. He is a big fan of Sujata and literally dotes Sujata. He articulates an average movie goers thoughts very well. I assume people who visit him are looking for general time-pass, movie tidbits etc. I also think he has been blogging since 2001/2002 period. While his readership has risen along with the growth in popularity of blogs, he seems to have off-late run out of gas. For the last 1 year at least, he has certainly been showing signs of fatigue and writers block. He has publicly been debating about the use of blogging and his thoughts on continuing his blog. After a small break he came back. I personally found his posts post-break completely jaded and lacked his usual enthusiasm. The downward spiral in which the Lazy Geek space ship was plummeting seemed to have strayed into the maanga's puke zone. Not that maanga is a QA or that sigma indicator but it does give some sort of a controversy analysis data point. I have read every post of Lazy in the last 2 years. He offers a lot of original opinions. But he has become 'politically correct' which blunts the personal'ness or gutsy'ness of a blog. I find that a bit of a dampener. I think he has to forget his readership volume and piss off a few people and be an assole in general. That will get some adrenalin running.

Lazy is on a another extended sabbatical now. Probably recharging his batteries? Who knows. I assume too much. That's my specialty. But I think - fatigue, as a result of a gzillion blog posts has what made lazy spiral to standards, he is unfamiliar with. He has a reasonably logical thought process. I miss reading him in the morning and I hope he returns after taking the well-earned break.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

'Kanni' Raasi

Have you ever seen a movie scene that you thoroughly enjoyed, but thought "naah! this can't happen in real life". Then to your complete shock it happens to you in real life?

The movie Kanni Raasi was Pandiarajan's first movie as a director. He was an intelligent director and picked up his mentor Bhagyaraj's (for hindi folks - woh saat din, aakree raastha etc) subtleties very well. This movie starred among other insignificant people, India's greatest philosopher of the modern era Shri Gownda Mani (aka Kounda Mani, Kavundan, Goundan). It was a time when Gownda Mani was at the peak of his powers and was doing what he was great at, making sarcastic remarks at the ways of the society and mocking the public, for leading pathetic drab lives. This author of this blog, owes lot of his wisdom, maturity, education, ambition and perspective to this great philosopher and has been deeply ifluenced by some of Gaundan's theories and postulates. Gounda Mani was an expert in many fields, he disproved one of maxwell's equation, corrected chebyshev's filter bias, discovered several statistical modelling techniques and at the same time was India's biggest anthropologist, social commentator and philosopher par excellence.

Look at me.

'Kanni Raasi' is a movie where Gownda Mani is a married man with a teenage daughter (Revathi Menon). His wife is from the village (played by the atrociously sexy Sumithra). Anyway that was not the point of the post at all. Gownda Mani, in the course of the movie, passes comments on family, society, role of women, role of a wife, and life in general. Early on in the movie, things get to a point, where he fights with his wife (she refuses to cook him a tasty meal, get up early, and generally play to his whims). Frustrated at the loss of control over his own family, he puts a garland to his own photo, thereby signifying his death. All this is told in a very funny style - mind you.

Exactly at this juncture - In comes Prabhu, who plays Sumithra's brother, from the village to stay with her family for a while and search for a job in the big city of Madras. The developments in Gownda Mani's household become extremely interesting as a result of his arrival. Sumithra gets up early in the morning, starts cooking stuff that Gownda Mani has never heard of. She prepares "soup" (a 'term' or 'concept' which Gownda Mani has never heard of or seen before). In a classic scene where you will die of laughter, she serves food atop a Banana Leaf(which tradionally is used a plate for a grand dinner) and asks Gownda Mani to sit and eat from a particular banana leaf. He insists on sitting and eating from a different leaf, stating that it is his house and he has the right to eat from any leaf he wants to. He sits on the leaf reserved for Prabhu and begins to eat. In what is a classic movie moment - As soon as he begins eating, he observes that 8 very good large eggs (supreeyor qualti) have been hidden under the rice for Prabhu's consumption (a moment accentuated by a sudden blast of music from the harmonium). He then proceedes to check the rice on the leaf that was reserved for him. Naught. He then makes a long monologue about women's partiality to their brothers and the reasons behind their complete neglect of their husbands. Apart of tearing your stomach with laughter, the monologue has been recorded and archived in the National Treasury by the then Indian Government.

So that the 'varungaala santhathigal' (future generations) will learn from it.

Now you may ask - what is the point of this post? Guess what?

My brother-in-law is in town.

My wife has never, I mean never, woken up before 10 AM. Have you heard of pumpkin sambhar? I have never heard of Pumpkin Sambhar. It has been almost year and a half since she made Rasam and Sambhar on the same day (incidentally we have been married for a year and a half). She got up at 4:00 AM for past two days. 4:00 AM ladies and gentleman. She got up, cooked Pumkin Sambhar, Rasam, and Okra for her brother who was leaving for work at 6:15 AM. Today it was vadai, fried appalam, kalantha soru (cocunut rice, tamirind rice, bagela bath, cocunut payasam). Chicago is now really hot. The summer heat of May in Madras looks like a harshly cold Alaskan winter compared to this heat in Chicago. Its that bad. She asked me to move to a non-AC room so that her brother can sleep in the AC room. Today I lose my bed to him. For the last 2 months when I leave for work at 7:45AM, I will hear a voice from somewhere, buried underneath the comforter, "can you eat Cereal and buy Taco Bell for lunch?"

O' Gownda Mani! What gratitude do I owe you? What does the world owe you?

HairCut II

The previous post and the comments in it made me think about good haircut places in Madras and also discuss what different people say when they visit a barber. The whole haircut thing has been gnawing in my mind for the past few days and I really want to put an end to this misery.

So here is a review of Haircut Salons, I have visited.

Madras is known for throwing nasty surprises to new comers from unexpected quarters. It is a relatively inexpensive place for many things but not for haircut. I seriously think a haircut here costs twice as much as most other places. People infact make too much out of a trivial thing like a haircut. I generally think its a big business opportunity for people who want to invest in this sort of business.

Many people from Travelling Haircut Guy in Pondicheri (the guy who walks on the road and sells haircut service by shouting on top of his voice) to Ramesh in Nungambakkam have given me hair cuts. This is just a mention of the salient few.

Kerala Saloon: There is the famous Kerala Saloon in Pondy Bazaar, near the police station. It is traditionally the "cheap & best" category. The kind of place, where fathers patronize. The barber there acts as if he already knows how to cut your hair and your preferences are 'optional' information for him. You can already see him mentally tuning out your cries for "short on the sides" as he puffs the poorly aimed water spray in your face and hair. But you know what! the cut in the end will be much better than what you ideas would have resulted in. The people there have seen everything and know everything. The hair cut is like Rs.35 or something. Compared to the going rates, its peanuts. You get all the tabloids from Dinamalar to TOI here. Spending time waiting for a haircut is a breeze. Since this salon is full of our friendly neighborhood mallus, they talk to you like you've known them for years and soon the conversation takes deep philosophical undertones. Its all fine until you realize you forgot to bring any money. Then you get suspicious frowns and stares while you are allowed the '1-phone call' home. Things get back to normal when they see your angry father bring in the moolah. You are recognized as a 'regular' and they all join him in regretting the decadence of the younger generation. Only negative: Does not have A/C. Sometimes you do have to tell them to put new blades. Just as a precaution. The rest in the list dont need to be said anything of this sort.

Ramesh Hair Stylists: Extremely expensive. As babs would say "friggin' expensive". Located in the plush Nungambakkam high road, right next to Gemini flyover. A hair cut and a shave costs more than 200Rs. There is no fixed rate here. You can never see the menu or know the rates in advance. Unless you are a 'regular' and he knows you by name. It is quite like the autorikshaw of the haircutting world. The rate starts at around 200 and it goes up depending on the barber's estimation of your worth. Truth be said, the haircut you get here is the best you will ever get anywhere in the world. Talented bunch of folks these people. The funny thing is, they keep dropping these hints. When they are cutting your hair, they talk to each other and say "last customer. very generous man! gave 100Rs tips". They say it not once but several times, until they make sure you got the point. In reality, their reaction is the same if you tip them Rs.100 or Rs.5000. They always give a look, which tells you that they feel they deserved something better. If you stay long enough some movie star may pop in for a cut.

Oddessey: I have blogged about this and I have pampered myself shamelessly here. I have a fondness for Thirunelveli. The 'annachi' here is from Thirunelveli. Its located in Arya Gowda road, West Mambalam. Its all like a family there. The service is good. For once you get to hear tamizh being spoken in Madras. This is really a rarity. The price is really high its Rs.100 for a shave, haircut and oil massage.

Ramesh II: This is too expensive. Way beyond belief. a Haircut alone is Rs. 150 or upwards. They give the bill in a box. Once my father opened the box, saw the bill and said, "I don't want to buy the box. A haircut will do just fine" and did not laugh back when the hairstylist laughed. The best thing about this place is the porn. Seriously! I am not kidding. Its got all sorts of porn books in the waiting area. Penthouse, Playboy, Debonaire and some really wierd stuff. It totally sets the Sunday morning mood. I have to warn the guys who are reading this that it can prove to be an embarassing disaster if you are not appropriately dressed. Since you would want to know the address now, its in Brindhavan Street Extn, W. Mambalam, last time I saw. The haircut here is bad. He gives unsolicited pimple advise, which really ends up screwing your wallet more than your face.

What do you tell them?

If you are interested you can leave comments on what you tell barbers to do, to achieve certain results. I have told my usual but unsuccessful dialog for many years. To me this whole haircut thing is random. The barber is no Einstein. Its not as if he has put his Harvard University degree up there to say he is an ivy league barber. To be politically incorrect and brutal. I am thinking the very fact that he is a barber could in all probability mean he is some sort of a loser, who is probably very very frustrated in life. I would be if I was a low-paid often-yelled-at barber. Most of them are. So it really boils down to how he feels that day. Most probably, he hates his work, hasn't washed after he dug his nose in the morning, never had a habit of washing his hands after he goes to the potty, the thought has never crossed his mind in his life, ever. The funny thing is - you know all this when he smears powder or shaving gel in your face, lips and nose with his hand. Beyond all this you know that he probably does not want to be doing this right now and needs to be somewhere else. For you to get a good haircut, he needs to be in a charitable mood.

P.s1: Teju's Hair cut post is here. Very interesting

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hair Cut

Many people, who know me also know my adventures with the barber. My love-hate affairs with the barber has existed since the dawn of time. It is a matter that has caused constant embarassment to my standing among my gentleman friends. Let me throw out one of my classic experiences in the hair cut shop.

[ This is about 8 years before. The place is Columbus, OH. The hair-cut is over. I have paid the bill and I am about to leave. The hair cut person was a chinese woman]

Barber: wutch u like appon
Me: huh! Excuse me
Barber: woultch you ..eke.. a pon
Me: I am sorry I didn't hear you
Barber: wud you like ko-pon
Me: No Thanks. Sorry.
Barber: Shocked
My friend1: Shocked1
My Friend2: Shocked2.
Barber (in a sad voice): would cu pon
Me: No! I don't. Sorry.
(everybody becomes sad... we walk out)
My Friend: Why did you say that?
Me: I didn't want a coupon.
My Friend: What coupon?
Me: the coupon she offered
My Friend: She asked if you liked the haircut??!!!

So needless to say I don't hear other accents very well.

This super-hearing accent powers does not always end up insulting the barber. Most of the times I am the butt of most jokes. Like the instance where I walked into the hair cut shop and said "short on the sides and long in the middle. Lets say you start with a 3 on the top and 2 in the sides and taper it down to a 1 near the ear". The woman nodded enthusiastically and used a 1cm machine all over my head. And if you can recognize machines by the centi-meters, a 1 cm machine leads to tonsure. And there I was, a new employee, in my first job, walking around like a trainspotting lead character.

I have never had a good hair cut in my life. I am still searching for it. Yestarday, I took time to clearly explain the "short on the sides and long in the middle. Lets say you start with a 3 on the top and 2 in the sides and taper it down to a 1 near the ear". I made sure she understood it and then let her cut. In about 20 seconds she tonsured me clean. I think 3 cms in Chicago is different from 3 cms in Ann Arbor and 3 cms in Dallas or Columbus. I seriously think this cm thing is a scam. I did not know 3 cms is short. Short enough for people to stifle a giggle when they see me. She was working on a 2 cm thing on the side of my head and I stopped her. I asked her, if there was anything left to cut except my head. She seemed to think there was. Maybe if they kept a microscope on my head, she could have found a strand or two to cut. My wife fell out of the chair when she saw me walk out of the chair. I have grown tired of the jibes. It is so insulting when she uses my head as a mock tabla instrument. My gentleman friends at least spared me from that ignominy.

p.s: I look like 'sethu' Vikram