Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sivaji Trailer Unleashed

The Boss awakens. The Sivaji Phenomena begins.

Amaam! Amaam! Athirithu! Pera Kettaale Athiruthu.

I just hope I get a first day ticket.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Travelogue: Pune

Pune is my favorite city among the second tier cities in India. Mainly so because I have worked here and have had the pleasure of working with some of the best colleagues, I ever had. Its summer is harsh, cruel and unbearable. April in Pune is worse than Madras May. And thats saying a lot. However, outside of March, April and May the weather in Pune is like a dream. Almost too good to be true. The jogging track inside University of Pune used to be an awesome place. Jogging there in Pune weather is a pleasure in itself. I have no idea if the jog track still exists. There is also a Balaji temple near Paashan (you take left on the fork opposite to Univ of Pune), which visited almost every other day, when I worked here. I went there yesterday for sentimental reasons. Due to the flyover construction near University of Pune, this otherwise neat road is now an much abused road.
Vaishali located in Deccan, is my favorite restaurant in Pune. Vaishali's Masala Dosai would not be too ashamed to stand among those made by some (not all) HSBs. The (Kachi) Dhabeli, is the reason why, I am so fond of Pune. I'd crawl on all fours from Madras to eat it. I can't believe they don't make Dhabeli in S. India. Anybody who has ever eaten a Dhabeli will swear by it. So irresistible. And easy to make. I hope some restaurant guy in Madras is reading this. There is a huge market for Dhabeli. And Ragad-a-patties too. On the topic of chats, Pune calls a rose by a different name and it smells slightly different too. I am talking about SPDP (SBDP?), a lingo that is unique to Pune. It might look like a Dahi Puri. But looks are deceptive. A Sev Batata Dahi Puri is slightly special. They put pomegranates into it. Gangotree in Madras raises the level of a Dahi puri by adding some special dhaal. Here pomegranates twist the Dahi Puri into a different dimension. Poha is another dish, I started eating during my time in Pune. That my office served it morning, noon and night helped the taste acquire rapidly. But I love it. I can eat tons of it.
The tall buildings is one of the impressive aspects of the Pune landscape. Similar second-tier cities like Trichy or Coimbatore may be richer than Pune, but the big-building culture here is phenomenal (probably building restrictions are different here). A 10+ floor building is not uncommon to find. And whats more? They are built with in-house terraces. The in-house-terrace concept is quite singular to Pune. Some houses in a building have a terrace (balcony/patio) the size of a living room. In the Pune weather, this is a dream concept to have. When I lived here, I specifically asked for a house (in Parihar Chowk) with a huge terrace. At that time you could get a 2BHK flat + Terrace in Parihar chowk for around 6.5K. Right now I am told that is impossible.
Traffic horror stories in Pune are comparable to that of Bangalore, which I consider to be the worst and the most undisciplined in India. Pune does not have the I'll-switch-off-the-vehicle-and-wait-for-traffic-to-clear kind of jams like Bangalore, but it resembles Bangalore heavily in terms of indiscipline. Like many cities Pune has its own version and style of indiscipline. If Bangalore can boast of footpath-pavement-driving software engineers, then Pune can be proud of the amount of distance people (female drivers) drive on the wrong side of the road. Sometimes, this looks really funny. Female Drivers. I have never cared to be politically correct on gender issues. I strongly believe that severe gender based discrimination should be practised at Indian RTO offices. I wrote this post for Bangalore, but this seems to be applicable to lady drivers in pune. If law ordaining that - no female in Pune between the age of 16-30 should be given a drivers license - is implemented, the traffic situation would improve dramatically.
On the subject of females, Pune has the best collection of hot babes that I have seen in India. Its like an exquisite collection of the best of India. Chicks from each region have been carefully handpicked and left to roam around in M.G.Road, camp etc. My drool quotient was up several notches whenever I found myself in M.G.Road. Such chicks are also enrolled in Ferguson college. Probably this is the reason why gender discrimination happens, but in the opposite direction, in RTO offices. Pune, as many might know is a growing software-hub. Last time, I looked at s/w export statistics, it still wasn't up there with Bangalore, Madras or Hyderabad - but its got the right ingredients to be up there and its growing fast. I know a thing or two about being a GA in an admissions committee, from that, I can say that College of Engineering, Pune is probably ranked as #1 college in Maharashtra by many U.S universities (take this with some pinch of salt, though). Students from COEP more often than not, tend to do very well and have developed a strong reputation abroad. But I ramble.
Other tidbits about Pune? I guess Lakshmi Road is where females from young to old go for shopping. However, it has a reputation for being extremely boring to men (read as - no hot chics). Auto drivers. How can I forget them anywhere? In Pune this species has a strange habit, which I have never seen anywhere else. They protrude a small portion of their index finger outside there auto. If you are driving behind an auto, you need to have 4 telescopes and 14 Argon microscopes all moulded into a single instrument to see that teeny-weeny part of the finger protruding outside the vehicle. That's an indication for a right-turn. Please spot it. Because he will turn left after that. On a positive side, you don't need to haggle with these auto-drivers. They just show you a card and that's it. They should thank the government, which lets them fix the minimum meter charge at a level they desire. This does not expose them to poverty, unfairness and bad-reputation that drivers in Madras are subjected to. Oh! before I forget, Pune is probably the only place where you'd get Chocolate Paan. Try 'Shaukeen' at Null-Stop (This is a signal sort of a landmark, not really a place or anything remotely close to /dev/null ).
Me, now off to Lonavala, Mumbai and then finally home, Madras.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

VVS Laxman

All other trivial considerations aside, hasn't the think-tank made a decision that amounts to - Dhoni is a better middle order player than Laxman ?
How else can anybody explain 2 wicket-keepers getting into the side ahead of Laxman? Karthik can open. Dhoni can't or doesn't. Dhoni rubs the salt further by batting in Laxman's spot in exchange for doing a job, which a person selected ahead of him can do equally well. Either which way - Karthik's (and not Dhoni's) inclusion can make way for Laxman. When that does not happen, my above assertion seems to be the only explanation.
Australia would have done the logical thing. Drop Dhoni and pick Laxman. Something, which we should do in England if we want to 'stop running our cricket like Zimbabwe and be like Australia'

Friday, May 25, 2007

Chidambaram Vs Madurai

A family is said to be ruled by Chidambaram aatchci if the man dominates the wife. He makes her listen to him. He has the final word on all matters.

A family is said to be ruled by Madurai aatchi if the man is dominated by his wife. He listens to her every whim and wish. He has no final say on any matter.

This lingo, after all my buffalo years, I learned in Vada-India.

P.C.Sreeram? Cheeni Kum?

I saw an advertisement for yet another arbitrary Amithabh Bachan movie and suddenly noticed P.C's name in the credits. I am tempted to go and see it for him. But I have a question. What gives?

Has God descended down to Bollywood to take a look? How did this happen? What is the connection? Is this a P.C movie after 'Kanda Naal Muthal' or was there something else in-between?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Parasurama - II

The Hindi-Thamizh bilingual cousins and relatives in north India have a disease of a different kind. They have to see Mega Serials in two different languages. Hindi Mega Serials are every bit as obnoxious as the Thamizh ones. They literally fall down on the floor and bawl their eyes out. The level of drug addiction is so high that they actually have a Picture-In-Picture (PIP) technology in their TV. One screen has Thamizh running on it and the other has Hindi. When the actors start crying or say the mandatory dialog - that according Indian satellite Broadcast rules has to appear every episode - "Mein tere ko chodunga nahi (naan unnai summa vida maaten)" they flip to the screen that is currently emitting this dialog. This is simply incredible. Parasurama has more people to hack in N.India than S.India.
Typical of all Mega Series watchers, they order everybody, including guests, to not talk, breath or in general go to the toilet. From 6 PM to 10PM the entire world is blocked out. You have to watch everybody staring at grown people cry. This to me is no different than watching other people excreting. If it were my house, I'd sadistically pull out the cable wire and watch all these old ladies go berserk trying to adjust the channel (or) I'd simply ask those people to leave the house. When I am outside, I usually take my novel and go upstairs where I can't hear the horrible background music. I came down to eat and in the process of eating I had to endure the 8:30 series blare behind my ears. I had to come down because the food was really awesome. I was asked how the food was. I mentioned that it felt like eating nectar inside a public toilet. This for reason(s) incomprehensible to me, upset everybody present.

Sleeping in the Terrace

I almost felt like Shrek and the donkey staring at moon from a cliff. I have to say, sleeping in the terrace is way underestimated and forgotten experience. I don't even remember the last time I did this. I had a Pedestal fan with double extension cord lending a helping hand against the cruel Baroda Summer. The nights were not so cruel. The cool breeze in the night and the sound of night insects led to a camping-in-forest feeling. Also, the pleasure of reading a novel in street light and staring at the stars during breaks/page-turns. Wow!
Orrey the romantic feelings.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Missing Sivaji

The First Day First Show experience of a Rajinikanth movie is as big an event as the movie itself. The fizz is so great the first day. I'd give my left hand to be there even if I didn't like the movie. In my experience even in Udhayam theater the second day excitement and crowd-power is pale in comparison to the first day. Rajinikanth First Day First Show in Madras beats anything in the world. Thanks to this donkey, I realized that I will be missing First Day First Show of Rajinikanth-Shankar's Sivaji. This is probably Rajinikanth's biggest movie since Thalapathi and the expectations are high. I can't believe I scheduled my trip without taking this into account.

At the time of my marriage, I found out that my wife's uncle was capable of getting me FDFS ticket in any theater regardless of the movie, star, demand etc. So I changed my no-dowry policy and asked for a recurring life-long dowry. He had to give me a FDFS ticket, whenever I asked for it. Otherwise I'd send the wife back to her parents home and they in-turn would forward her to her uncle's home. That, I suppose is incentive enough for him to keep his side of the bargain. This time I am planning to use this technicality to send my wife away anyway :-) Well...maybe after I see the second day first show.

P.S: In Baroda Now. Pilgrimage trip went well with some LSE moments of course.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Travelomania

I am gonna be travelling for the next 20 days. The schedule of the 'Suraavali Sutru Payanam' reads
May 17 - Dilli
May17-21: H-Rishikesh, Badrinath, HariDwar, Lakshman-Jwala and the works (Bhakthi Paravasam adain-jings)
May 22: Mathura, Brindhavan
May 23-27: Baroda (To protest against Arundhati Roy and meet Chandramohan :-) ), Dakhor
May 28 -30: Pune
May 31: Mumbai
I have packed John Wright's Indian Summers, Steve Waugh & Shane Warne's autobiographies and the last two books of Ashok Bankar's Ramayana. I am all excited. The only problem is - I hate road journeys.
I hope blog posting does not become sporadic. Will post travelogues.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Movie Review: Spiderman -3 : Cliche Fest

There is a Viper from outer space that's in Sam Riami's head. It accentuates the arrogance in him. Giving 2 superb movies doesn't entitle him to a third one. If at all they have given him anything that has given him a feeling that he has a sure-shot formula for success. He opened Spidey-1 with a narrative track, which claimed that this story like most stories was about a girl. His essential formula has been to mix a love story and a boy's everyday struggle for employment with Spiderman. The first two movie achieved a cohesion previously thought as impossible. It achieved it so well that Superman Returns fell flat on its face trying to imitate the same formulae. Superman and Spidey-3 make the same mistake of following the formulae blindly and in the process end up with disproportionately mixed ingredients. The sentimental scenes were excessive and there was too much story, melodrama and very less action. Imagine renting a XXX DVD and seeing 1 hour of over-acting before the hot-silicon-framed model undresses. Spidey-3 is just that. Plastic faces who shouldn't act instead try and act. In the process they 'do it' less often. Thats always a bad thing.
Sipdey-3 goes a level further and covers itself with every possible cliche. A standard dose of screaming girls (i laughed when the 3 screamers systematically put their hands to their mouths and screamed when sandman made his first public appearance), models falling off skyscrapers, stereotypical and overly sentimental climax news reporter, news channel anchor, a clumsy climax in a spotlight, villains who really aren't bad but victims of a bad system, overly good characters, a Friend-turned-foe-turned friend taking a bullet for the hero, and last but not least cheap jokes (almost every joke, including the one where Daily Bugle's JJ buys camera off a kid was unenjoyable). It is almost of if the script writers are convinced that the movie will be a hit no matter what (they are right) and decided to give us carefully apportioned doses of every possible sentiment. They even have spiderman visiting the church and jumping off the U.S flag to cover those segments. Overly cautious. Compare this against the previous two Spiderman movies that actually had the gall to laugh at itself. The actors play out the script poorly, thereby managing to bring out the artificialness of the script very well. Tobey McGuire comes across as un-bubbly, old, weak and unconvincing Peter Parker. After Superman Returns this is another maudlin superhero movie, where the superhero punches the villains less and gets beaten up and cries more. Imagine reading a comic book like that. You'd think Mills N' Boon authored it.
Bad, Bad Bad Bad and Bad.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Kabali Times:Call for Protest

The nation should rise and protest against Arundhati Roy for protesting too much. For the first time the country will join together and protest in order to stop someone from protesting. The people want to know - what is she protesting against this time? What about her last protest? According to the ACNeilson survey results published in Kabali Times 72% of the respondents say that she should be branded as a serial protester and jailed. 20% said that if she hasn't registered herself as a professional protester, whose services will be offered to anyone who desperately requires protesting, a'la Management Protester or Technology consultant protester, Kabali Times should patent the concept and file a law suit against her.
Kabali Times has also received classified information that - More than the BJP, thousands of software engineers who contributed to desibaba during late nineties and early 2000s are terribly upset with Chandramohan. They claim that he basically did amateur erotica and got a PhD for it. All the 'Hi I am from Punjab please mail me if you want experience sex' story writers have done awesome erotica that deserve a PhD not just from a lowly Maharaja Sayaji university but from the IITs and IISc of the world. The y2K software engineers of the bygone era will protest in front of the Lok Sabha, Krishna Ghaana Sabha, Lollu Sabha, Films Division, and BSNL demanding a PhD for each and every desibaba contributor.
Reuter
Kabali Times

Sunday, May 13, 2007

MBA Series: The question of 'When' - I

Note: Please read this blog's disclaimer. Especially items 5,6,7,8,9,11,12,13

When should I do an MBA? - is a question that many people begin to ask themselves at different points during their lives. A person who asks this question in his second year of college probably ends up doing an MBA in IIM, XLRI or SPJain. The person who asks this question when he is 35+ probably ends up doing an executive MBA. When is the right time to do an MBA? In the last 6 months or so, I have often thought of how I would have planned my career differently if I had known what I know now. What would have been the most aggressive tactic, I would have employed?

The first section 'sooner rather than later' is for people who are very young and can still benefit from it. This is the most ideal situation. It is not meant to discourage people who aren't young but still thinking of MBA. For other categories of people, other blog posts follow.

Sooner rather than later: I had an opportunity to meet my classmate's boyfriend when he had come down to visit her. He was from Madras and since we had some common topics such as school life to talk about, I probed him on his career progress. I met him in 2007. He had finished MBA from Columbia in 2005 and was working in Bain & Co for 2 years. More importantly, he is 26. His girlfriend, my classmate will join Bain this year. She is 25. So I began to extrapolate their lives into the future. If they follow the formula of 5 years in Management Consulting and then shift to an industry job (which is usually at a VP, Director level) then they would break into senior management before they are 30. Then they have a good 15 years to plan and chart a career that would either lead them down a C-suite path (CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, CMO) or a develop enough money and contacts to start their own company. Not everybody who plans to do this, manage this successfully - but thats not the point because you can say the same for every age group. Compare this person with a person who finishes MBA at 29 joins as a Product Manager in an Industry and takes 7-8 years to make Director. Here are 2 people in the same designation. One who is 30 and can afford to make mistakes, learn and change paths and still have enough time to become a C-employee Vs someone who may not have that much time. Given the uncertainities that prevail in any career would you want to start early or late?

Age is a criteria that is often underestimated. But I suspect it plays a surprisingly crucial factor in senior leadership selections. Ya ya! you can call it superficial, quote a few exceptions but I have come to realize that age matters. You can drown yourself in pedantic philosophical debate about this like my classmates and I did. Most older MBAs don't want to believe this and so would naturally contest this. This is quite natural and in fact the right attitude that this category of people should hold. However, being anywhere early matters more than just being anywhere. In the sample of alumnis, MBAs and senior management folks, I talked to most people agreed that age is a factor. But then again I might have spoken to a sample that thinks like me. They key is not to debate the ifs and buts. The more intelligent people who have set their minds on a management career will want to do it early and will want to know how it is done early. I cant give you a formulae but I can quote a few examples. An important reason why HBS admits a large volume of 23,24'ish people. Whatever a normal person does when he is 26, HBS wants a guys who has done the same thing at 23. I met a HBS admit couple of years ago in Bombay, who was 23, was a Product Manager (such designations matter) and had successfully launched a few products and tried to start a company on his own. I never knew people like this existed before I entered this process. Like 'samayal-kattu-pogai-varadhuKutti' All I knew was that at 23 people either finished their masters or got promotion to senior software engineer. To know what other people do is important. To discuss career paths with arbitrary people you meet gives you information that will open your eyes. If you are in your final year of college with a campus job. Use the time between now and start date to find out people like this. Others who are just entering college, scourge the net and talk to various people on what they did parallel to college to develop a strong application package. I have my own thoughts on this, which I shall put in the 'how' part but the idea is to begin the research now.
How much work-experience is considered aggressive but not too-early or stupid? If you put a gun to my head, I'd say two. The average work-ex in MBA would range between 4.5 to 5.5. It might be less in HBS but this is usually the range. But I have seen several people with 2 years experience. The immediate concern for a person with 2 years work-exp is - how would I compete with people who have 5 year work exp? Would I get interviews ? You'll just be fine if not better. The should-I-call-him-for-an-interview criteria might change if you are younger. For example the GMAT scores and grades begin to assume more importance. While, I can't name a single industry which would discriminate against a younger person I can visualize scenarios where less work-ex is a disadvantage. On the other hand, based on experience Investment Bankers and Management Consultants love young people. So if you are young, have high GMAT, grades and come from brand name institutions, IB/MC folks will love you. Another important positive (and also a distinguishing factor between US schools and IIMs) is that - if you join IB or MC after 2 years work-ex - you will join it at the same level (Associate Level) at which a person with 5 or 7 years work-exp joins. They dont create a level between Analyst and an Associate to accomadate people with less experience. If you complete undergrad at 21 and then you have 2-3 years work experience, you'd typically be finish MBA when you are 25. This means that you minimize the non-value adding non-management career part of your life and maximizing the business experience.
Remember that no matter, when you start thinking about the MBA, there is a time-line for the application process (More on this in the right pane tabs). This should be considered when you are planning backwards.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Movie Review : Unnale Unnale : Bad



If TaraRumPum was a Hindi man's wet dream of a desi competing in Nascar, the Tamil man indulges in his own erotic sexual fantasy of a civil engineer/architect going to Australia on a six-month 'project'. Narain Karthikeyan be praised for infusing such a fantasy among Tamils. While Hindi cinema is all optimistic and ga-ga over a non-existent Indian domination in Nascar and western world, Tamil cinema is its usual mean, dark, cynical self. Focusing on the 'interesting' part of the statistic that claims that 50% of all love efforts go unrequited. Inox theater although not as large as the Devis and Sathyams of the world - is well-maintained and the interior decoration is very pleasing. It is located in the top floor of City Center Mall, Radhakrishnan Salai.



Of course I had several other idiots sitting with me inside the theater. One jumped the line at the ticket counter, claiming he was VIP. He wore a nasty Coat/Suit thing to prove it. This caused considerable distress among the people who were standing in front of me. People objected and harrassed the security guard, who quickly blamed the counter guy and disassociated him from the melee. I felt that the VIP dude should have been given tickets out of sympathy. Any guy who wore a blazer in May needs to be either sent to a mental hospital or 'Unnale Unnale'. If only he showed his prescriptions. My friend and I politely advised the VIP to do such things back-doors and not do it 'bagirangam' in front of every body. This upset a few more people. Inside the theater, things got much better. There was an idiot who was laughing out loud in a screeching voice for every horrible joke that was uttered on screen. He would loudly repeat the joke himself, in case the others in the theater missed the joke that emanated from 30 sets of blaring speakers, kept at maximum volume. He would repeat it and then laugh loudly in his own scratching 'rettai kural'. I couldn't complain because many many years before I had carried a monkey like this to the theater. Two monkeys. Beyond this, there were around 100 people on cell phone talking loudly in 3 different languages. It seemed as if some one projected this movie on a screen in Ranganathan street. Reminded me of the experience of watching Matrix 2 in Pune.



Jeeva wrote, what I would rank among the best screenplays ever in Indian cinema. 12B was a misunderstood and under-appreciated movie (Correction: As anonymous commentor points out, 12B's screenplay was written by K.Bhagyaraj. That makes me happy because I think he is the best in the business of screenplays). So, I went to this movie with considerable expectations. Maybe, I had to walk into two bad movies in two days, which is why I walked into this confused messy movie. The actors in this movie often snap out of their characters and talk to us. That is a very risky undertaking. It might work in a French movie that has an awesome script. With a script as fetid and festering as the one Jeeva has here - such gimmicks look amateurish. You are tempted to say "dei vennai, mudittu padatha podraa ngoiyya". Bad acting, bad story, bad execution, dominated this movie. The only positives being excellent songs (June Ponaal is a really good song) and some very good picturization. Although a few jokes were funny, having Raju Sundaram say an SMS joke was not ( the laughing guy literally had an orgasm for that poor joke, he screamed loud, paused and yelped). This new baby-faced hero showed all signs of rawness. He alternated between poor and decent acting. As luck would have it again, the heroine was Sada. She is so Saada. Where are all the bouncing Bettys such as Namitha and Malavika when I go to watch a movie? The other girl was really bubbly and cute. Thank god for such small mercies.



This movie essentially focuses on an unrealistic over-possessive girl (Sada) who decides to accept the proposal of another unrealistic over-flirting Casanova types. After their multiple break-ups and when-harry-met-sally kind of Boy Vs Girl dialogs she breaks up with him big time. Sada is actually an alien from outer-space with a belief that men should not letch at other women after they are commited. Vinay, clearly a human being, disagrees. There was a huge applause for the very pedestrian and extremely stupid Boy Vs Girl dialogs. I agree that some were good. But I was surprised when the entire theater began to furiously applaud for patent nonsense. One would be tempted to take them aside and examine these people for signs of human traces. So on this incredible, dangerous and James Bond'ish assignment to Australia, this guy befriends a chic on the plane. Sada, well who else, comes to pick up the girl and the usual bubbly girl Vs conservative girl tiff ensues. This boy renews his focus and tries to woo Sada again and again. God knows why? Sada's character is so obnoxious and the Deepika chic is so hot. 2 + 2 = 4? The bubbly girl, who graciously decides to play cupid wants to put a few arrows for herself. The end while not being very obvious is not too great either. The path to the end is even more painful. The actors snap out of their character and tell us 'day 1', 'day 2' etc at the beginning of every new day. This looks disconnected. No one knows what they mean and why they say such things.



Both TaraRumPum and this movie indulged in unneccesary screenplay gimmicks of showing some middle part of the movie first and then going back in time to narrate events that lead to whatever was shown in the beginning. That it worked in 'Kaakha Kaakha' so well, only means that such a style fitted well with KK's story. In these 2 movies it looks like a cheap trick. Jeeva, so far, is all ego and fluff.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Movie Review: TaraRumPum : Vomit

Santham's balcony seating arrangments have no respect for two people who don't intend to make out during the movie. It is a series of two seat couches. I did not know this. That wasn't the only surprise of the day. TaraRumPum, which if I am not mistaken is a Bollywood style remake of a really bad movie called Taladega Nights and the Ballad of Ricky bobby, is a movie that actually does not have Amitabh Bachan. Not even in a cameo role. Its like seeing an advertisement without Sachin or Sharukh in it. It was incredible. What is even more unbelievable is that this movie, evidently a masala movie by Yash Chopra, had just 1 hero and 1 heroine. It did not have 2 couples dancing side-by-side in a hotel room dance floor. I was actually heartened, happy in the expectation that this movie might actually turn out to be good. When I started to get optimistic about the health of Bollywood, they quickly showed an upcoming trailer of another Yash Chopra movie starring Abhishek & girl + Bobby Deol & girl. Tada! Amitabh has a cameo there and the 4 couples dance side-by-side in a hotel room dance floor. Quick to make amends this Yash Chopra fellow. But I was talking about the unnecessarily cozy seats.
If TaraRumPum wasn't the worst movie I'd seen in a long long time, I would have been bothered by the seats. True to the "Iru Kodugal" philosophy, I was literally looking at time every 10 minutes waiting for the movie to end. If you take 5 rotten eggs, stuff it into a sox that has been worn by a sewage cleaner, who hadn't washed it for 2 years, bury it into the ground, where insects and vermins would stick to those eggs, dig up those eggs after 10 years and feed it to Ajit Agarkar, he will vomit those eggs after 5 hours. That vomit would be less disgusting than this movie. After what seemed like an eternity and well after I had ended the mental debate on whether this movie had an interval, the movie had an interval. I stood their open mouth, thinking what else did they have to say in this movie. TaraRumPum is a text book example of bad acting, bad script, bad direction, bad sets, bad technicians, bad songs, bad picturization. You name the field, it was bad. On top of it it had a child artist as a narrator. I have already expressed my desire to see the death of all child artists in Mega Serials (including that little bitch who appears in 7:00 serial Anandam) and movies. If ever a child artist needs to be eliminated in the interest of national security, it is this girl who appears in Tararumpum. If only child artists were 10% as good as this guy, this world would be much better.

The two kids are named 'Princess' and 'Champ'. I am not kidding. Those are their names and they aren't called anything else. This girl, whose voice was extremely irritating, goes on to describe her mom and dad as world's best everything. Best singer, best racer, best bathroom cleaner etc. Saif Ali Khan returns to his bad acting hey days of early 90s, where he was a long haired (un) "cool" guy trying to ape Michael J. Fox. Hindi movies usually have really hot chics with minimal dress. That is their biggest USP. I was thinking at least that would keep me going for the length of the movie. But as luck would have it this one had Rani Mukherjee, who apart from being the protagonist of 'The ugly duckling' also has a horrible voice. So she falls in love with Saif for no good reason and then this movie goes on an unbelievable trip.
Read the next few sentences carefully, that's actually the story of the movie. Saif, a desi, a bum, living in new york, drives Javed Jaffrey's taxi for a few minutes, violating many traffic rules along the way. Javed, a clark-kent-taxi-driver by day and superman-car-race-manager by night, offers him a job as a race car person. Saif of course then goes on to win everything, until he gets knocked by a Prem Chopra'ish white guy. He then is afflicted with 'confidence' problems and can't have his 3rd kid or worse drive a race car. Then after some poverty, standard issue bollywood sentiments, and ridiculous dialogs, he races to save his kid's life, wins the race and all is well.
To be fair to this movie, Taladega Nights was even more ridiculous. But it was really a spoof with the Borat guy playing villain race car driver. This movie irritated me on several counts. They had done a pretty good job of creating the race car set-up, which should have been really expensive. They must have got in some expert who probably knows something about car racing and did some part of creating the racing environment correctly. It gets nauseating when they show the audience segment, which has Rani Mukherejee and those kids cheering ( for most part, the rest of the crowd is silent and they are the only monkeys cheering). Some one should have paid more attention to that. And maybe the director had gone off to take a piss in the first 1 hour of the movie but what bad acting man? The whole flirting aspect of Saif & Rani turned out to be a competition for horrible-acting-awards. I have never seen worser acting ever before.
Bollywood, in an attempt to milk the NRI audience, has for long, tried to feign a picture that NRI Indians who live in Amrikkan big cities have integrated with their culture and become as big an ethnic group as African Americans or Latinos. This of course is completely untrue. But it serves Bollywood some purpose. It appeases the NRI audience, makes them think high of themselves and deludes the Indian audience for the same reason. To this movie's credit, it does not have some arbit stupid hero talking patriotism shit to a confused white guy. I recently saw a clip from an akshay kumar/preity Zinda movie, where akshay kumar, who according to this movie is in London and cant speak any English, was vomiting patriotism in Hindi (some 2 std English composition crap about India is my country, it has 25 languages etc) and some body would translate this nonsense to a stunned white audience. Somehow Bollywood is ultra-focused on telling the white man how good India is and telling Indians how Indians are living-it-up and spreading their culture in Amrikka. Nobody gives a rat's crap.

Night at The Movies

Most people who have gone through college life would relate to this. One of the reasons why that period was so awesome is that you could be in front of the TV at 9:45PM on any given weekday night. Staring at it idly or lusting wretchedly at a mango or a guava. My parents had barely and grudgingly come to terms with the fact that the fee for engineering college did not really lead to academic pursuits. The phone rang. If it was 9:45, it was usually my friend. The same oz-dude who has been calling me since 7th standard. The voice would say "movie?" and I replied "which theater". My mom would later translate the question as "ellu" and my answer as "ennai". The next transaction would be "Sathyam ok'va". Okay.

9:57 PM.

The corridor leading to the parking space was and still is very narrow. I'd be shouting at people in front of me to find parking space in Sathyam, while the friend would be buying black tickets. When I returned after parking the vehicle, he would tell me the name of the movie we'd be seeing. The good thing about watching night show is that - on the return journey, we could race through a near empty Mt. Road. That is probably the only time you can truly see the width of Prakasam road. Panagal park would finally be empty. The combined volcano of Pothys RMKV, Nalli, Kumaran and GRT would have stopped emitting their lava of people. Driving in such empty roads is an experience in itself. It helps that Madras sleeps early. However, the essence of those years was that you really had to ask no one. Parent's approval for a unwanted, unplanned night shows seemed more like president's approval after the Lok Sabha has passed the bill. What is more important for you and shocking for them is that - there was nothing important you had to get up for, the next day. Life has changed much since then. The burden of janma-samsara-bandha-nath weighs heavily on a person as time goes by :-). I had given up hope of doing something similar again. But I was in for a surprise. Now after all these years, I was sitting in front of a mango. The phone rings and unexpectedly the movie-whichTheater-Sathyam was re-enacted. I was taken back in time. Back to those good old days. However, the Kazha-bolt process that is slowly and surely taking me towards the vicinity of the dreaded 30s has been real and irreversible. That does funny things to you. So I ask.
"pondatti?".
Ouch! Reality check. The illusion that had developed for the past 30 seconds is cruelly shattered. The (un)subtle question inquiring if his wife was accompanying him, which would in-turn help me plan for my side makes its - now customary - appearance. Wife is an interesting relationship. Serves several purposes, if you ask me (gulp). You need someone reliable who would accompany you to any movie. The expectation that wife should accompany a husband for any crappy movie is fundamental and should be considered as mandatory dowry. Since the wife replaces the loyal friend who accompanies you to every movie, it may be considered as unfair in certain quarters if you ditch the wife, when the old friend comes back into the scene. But life is unfair. The answer comes "free'a vidu". So I ditch the bhariyal. Change into something presentable and leave the house while she asks "naan. naan" (like the way that girl Anu/Shruthi in Anjali asks Tharun as he slips out in the night for some "Iruvu Nilavu" with Bhanupriya's sister Nishanthi). It is crucial that you feign anger (on something, anything) and slip out of the door within moments. If you linger pause or hesitate, your mom would jump in as her re-enforcement and the battle of wits is suddenly ON. The key is to never enter an argument.
Sathyam.
The pride of Madras. Sathyam has changed the parking repeatedly in the last few years. Now there is no temp place for wait-I'll-see-if-I-can-get-ticket parking. I park and come back to learn that he has brought tickets to this movie called "TaraRumpum". I guess that made this my 5th Hindi movie for this decade (approx) and second one for this year. Life has indeed changed. I shoot an accusing glance at him. "no tickets for any other movie" he pleads guilt. We badly wanted to watch 'Naan avan illai'. But the bhariyals wanted to see it also. "It is difficult to sit through the movie for the second time when you take your wife" - we say in unison. Agreeing that although lying that we have'nt seen the movie is acceptable, going to the same movie with the wife and sitting through it again is not. The closest I have gone to seeing a Hindi movie with oz-dude is a Thamizh movie called 'GolMaal' starring some Telugu actors in Casino theater. We exchanged a comment about ditching our respective bhariyals. "Was she angry?" asked oz-dude. In an attempt to repair the damage (and for those who are yet to get married, you never really know if damage has been caused. you never really know) we did the same impromptu routine the next day to watch Unnale Unnale at Inox theater located in City Center Mall.
It gives a person a lot of happiness to re-enact the rituals of the past again. Sometimes these things are just sweet memories, which you think of when some fragrance or person reminds you of it. It comes to you suddenly in a flash. An unexpected intersection of my vacation with a friend's vacation provided an opportunity to relive those moments. The conversation about significant other only brought home the truth that you never truly get back the past. You do return to the scene of the nostalgia. But you return with your own worries, trials, triumphs and attachments. College life in Madras is truly a once in a lifetime shot.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Top Employers for MBA candidates

CNN Ranks the Top 100 MBA employers. This is a list of companies where MBA candidates say they'd most like to work. Six of the top 7 companies listed here, figured in my personal list of top 7 companies to work for (I had Booz Allen Hamilton instead of Apple). The order in which I ranked them differed slightly. After the Top 7 - the list simply does not make sense. It in fact is a lot of nonsense.
Meanwhile Microsoft seems to be exploring a Yahoo acquisition . I should have really got an Excellent in my Advanced Competitive Strategy term paper for recommending the obvious :-)

Parasurama

One should take an axe, walk around the country and hew off every last being, who is even remotely associated with the production of TV mega serials. The world should be wiped clean of them, their families and any possibility of their future generations. All people who composed the background music and title song for these serials should be handicapped in every possible way (like every possible way) and left to live for another 100 years.
One should take a survey among people who say "some serials are not bad, seriously, you should watch them" - find out what those serials are, and administer a slow, cruel and painful death to people associated with those specific serials.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Conversations during plane travel

To begin, one needs to understand how this Thamizh cloud is formed. And I explain thus. Typically flights from the U.S to Madras hop at least once somewhere in Europe before heading directly to Madras (Unless you fly by the wretched Air India, which hops once inside the U.S and once in Europe, Delhi, Bombay before showing signs of going to Madras). So on the plane from arbitrary_place_metro_airport in US to Europe, you would find less number of Indians, leave alone Thamizhans, travelling with you. The flight mainly consists of a handful of destination_madras folks and the rest of them probably Europe bound travellers. Once all these flights from various cities in the US land in a common hub in Europe, all the destination_madras molecules begin to congregate towards the terminal, from where the Chennai bound flight is scheduled to depart. As these Thamizh molecules begin to attach to each other, a small Thamizh cloud begins to form in that hub. In my case, the European hub happened to be Paris (Charles De Gaule airport would beat Koovam any day in terms of stench and dirtiness).

As soon as I landed and headed towards the Chennai bound flight's terminal a Thamizh cloud was forming around me. Its like that pieces/droplets of mercury joining with each other to for T-1000 in Terminator-II movie. I am sure the same happens in hindi, kannada, telegu contexts as well but let me focus only on the Thamizh aspect. Old parents loudly ask you in English on the whereabouts of the Chennai bound flight terminal. You reply in Thamizh and still they throw back English at you. They keep hurtling their English bombs until the immigration guy at the Meenambakkam counter stamps their arrival date and time on their passport. The call taxi guy narrowly misses the bomb by a few minutes. Anywho the intention of this post was not to talk about poor parents, who are relatively harmless creatures. As soon as the Thamizh cloud has reached critical mass and the line to board Chennai flight is formed, people begin to sense the presence of such a cloud. They realize that what was their own little private language until now is spoken by everybody around them. Suddenly they are overcome by a strong urge to talk anything in Thamizh. This they do purely for the benefit of people in earshot. Unfortunately they attempt what they think is humor and make the already irritating flight journey intolerable. I guess its the same DNA that makes people shout comments in theaters that is responsible for such unnecessary small talk that happens at the epicenter of this Thamizh cloud.

I swear, some of the most stupidest conversations I have ever heard in my life are these conversations by a group of strangers doing small talk in these airport lines. In the name of flexing the muscles of the rusty Thamizh compiler in their brain, they say some of the most ridiculous things that has ever been uttered by mankind. Words like "machi" are spoken loudly and more frequently than normal to provide that casual feel. Probably the world's weakest 'kindal' or the worst 'nakkal' is done here. All for the benefit of having the Thamizh audience around. One guy was insisting that the stranger he was talking to looked like the actor 'Vishaal'. I still can't believe how a person can accost another person and tell the person that he resembles some arbitrary actor. Gay flirting at its peak, I would say. The stranger didn't know who Vishaal was and assumed it to be some one resembling T.R. And so followed the stupid conversation of one taking insult and the other insisting it was a compliment and demanding a 'thanks' in return. The "Vishaal-look-alike" finally asked "seri naan Vishaal mathiri irukken ippo enna venumgareenga" and the other person said "aaanh anju ruba kodunga".
The most serious offenders in this category are these middle-aged women (who are usually found in airport environments with a weirdly named kids) who have put 5+ years of service in America. The conversations about PTC bus, margazhi maasam, weak jokes, cliched comparisons of India with US and inane criticisms made my bile come out. I guess it is the condescension that affects me so much. I wanted to shout out loud "mudriiiiiii neeee" - so loud until every single window pane crashed in the airport and the flight tyres burst apart. One should provide a "Chennaiyil veetukku poi serum varai vaayai mudikondu irukavum" to these women after the seat-belt and emergency exit instructions.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Graduation 2007

The business school had its own graduation affair on the 27th, a day before the Clinton thing. It was a short simple ceremony, attended by the founder of AOL, and conducted in the basket ball stadium at Chrysler arena. A you tube video here, taken by my section mate, shows the ceremony briefly from the point of view of our section's stand (each section was grouped together for one last time). We were sitting on the basketball court while the family and other guests were sitting on the stands.



Here is another video made by my classmates on a few aspects of the Ross experience. In the next 3 months, as I explore vetti-ness in its full glory, I hope to be writing (a post or two every week) my thoughts about different aspects of MBA program such as applying, studying, and job-searching. Hopefully, what I write is without the marketing fluff and call the good+bad of the program as it is.