overrated!

Am pretty sure all of us go through that one day in our mid life, when it finally dawns upon you, what an asshole you have been to many people, in your short life….friends, enemies, people who loved you, family and even people who have had absolutely nothing to do with you. Like the time when you gave a big piece of your mind to the call center guy who caught you in the middle of a terrible bad-hair day, or the night when you got unreasonably irate with your girl, for getting overtly emotional about a triviality (to you).

You dont necessarily become a ‘better man’ at the end of that day. You probably feel bad, repent and all that good stuff….but it doesnt change you much….if anything, you only become a bit more cynical towards life…and may be even come up with a list of the top 5 things that you think are highly overrated in life 😉

(in no particular order)

a. humility
b. loyalty
c. job security
d. god
e. Pamela Anderson

Us and Them

So, the latest World bank estimates are out. If $1.25 is taken as the new poverty line (ie. The amount of money required for a person to take care of his ‘absolutely essential’ needs for one day), then 455 Million people in India are below that.

In other words, 42% of the Indian population is among the Poorest in the World (Africanesque and all). So, the next time someone tells you that India is shining or twinkling or doing somersaults, you can politely ask them to go fuck themselves.

Anil the cabbie and other optimists

Had to travel to Delhi to meet a Client. The last time I was at the capital, it was on Dad’s LTA. My height was about 4 feet and I had never shaved in my life. Or in other words, it was 1990. I have no memory of it, except for the ‘super bad’ picures my dad and me had clicked using the ‘hotshot’ camera. If you are a 30 something Indian male or female, you WILL remember ‘hotshot’!!

Besides those pictures, my only other memory was ‘Palika bazaar’. I remember PB distinctly, because it was the place where I was fleeced Rs. 50 for a VHS tape that was supposed to have 5 episodes of ‘Tom and Jerry’. When I opened the box after coming back to Chennai, I realized that it had just a one minute long tape inside. That night, I swore to kill the shopkeeper using a two-barelled rifle, while riding my horse in a cowboy hat.

Cut to present. I won a ‘Reebok’ backpack on the ‘scratch and win’ competition onboard the flight. It was apparently worth Rs. 1,195 and I could get it for Rs.500. Not wanting to get into another draining decision making exercise, I decided to decide later whether I really wanted that backpack.

Got out of the airport and confirmed with the client that they had sent a cab. Stepped out, pulling my two piece luggage into the sea of cab drivers waving placards. I started to skim through them, looking for my name. 10 minutes and about 300 placards later, I could not find my man. Went back to square one and tried again slowly. 15 minutes later, no luck.

Its one thing to not have anybody to pick you up from an airport. Its quite another, to be decked in a suit and a tie (I will come back to the tie again, later in this post) at 11 AM in the middle of a Delhi summer and not have anybody to pick you up from the airport, especially when your cell phone has died on you.

The funny thing about a booming economy is that while more people have fancier cell phones, the Public Call Office is suddenly not in vogue anymore. It has especially become uncool anywhere near an airport terminal. Had to walk all the way to the arrival terminal to find the only PCO in the entire airport in our capital. Thankfully had the cabbie’s cell phone number.

It has been a while since I had a hindi-only conversation with anybody and my linguistic capabilities are inversely proportional to my angry state of mind. I was shocked to find out that Mr. Anil Shinde, my ‘sarathi’ for the next 3 days was indeed standing near the arrival terminal. How stupid of me. I should have looked more closely.

‘Main blue pant our blue shirt main hoon, sir’. Blue must really be the in thing this summer, because I walked all the way back to find about 5 people at the specified spot, all dressed in various hues of that color. The third shoulder I tapped was Anil.

He did not have a placard. I was furious. I asked him if we had met before. He din’t get the joke and instead went on about how he had never left Delhi. I wanted to hold him by the collar and scream “what were you thinking? how the fuck were you planning to recognize me and have you really been fancying your chances for the last 45 minutes??”. However, he did not give me a chance. By the time I gathered my luggage, he had already walked across the road and I would have lost him again, if not for the blue, which thankfully was not so much in vogue on the other side of the road.

Through the ride to the hotel and over the next 3 days, Anil would become my new best friend in Delhi. I would develop a certain kind of love for the Air freshner he uses in his Indica and how it mixes with the smell of his supari to create a heady mix. I would also develop a deep respect for the man’s optimism. One of those evenings, I asked him to take me to JNU so I could meet a friend there. He had no idea where JNU was and he did not think it was worth his/my time, to ask somebody before we started driving.

He simply started in his favorite direction and left the rest to people he would stop next to, at the traffic lights. In the dying moments of the red light, he would roll down his window lazily and ask his neighbour for directions, the last few parts of which would invariably get drowned in a sea of irate honks from those behind us. But find JNU, we did. The decisive last direction came from a chap who had just emptied his bladder next to a roadside tree and was mildly flattered to see a car waiting for him to finish up.

Anil and me talked a lot. Me, talking in a broken version of my national language and he concentrating hard and encouraging me along. We talked about our familes and he told me that I was his second best customer ever. I lost gold to a 30 plus girl from Bangalore, who took him to lunch on one of the days she drove with him.

We survived each other. I wanted to surprise him with a big tip on the last day on the way back to the airport, but as ‘Murphy’ would have it, the cab company decided to send a different car on that day. Anil is a legend when it comes to optimism. In my mind, he is second only to the dude who came up with the fantastic idea of the ‘necktie’. So fantastic that its only fair to talk about him in an exclusive post!

between hard and a rocky place…

What would you like? a lot of money or very little money?

do you want to be buried or cremated?

Royals or Royal Challengers? (i know!)

how would you rather be tortured? waterboarding or tickets to ‘kabhi kushi kabhi ghum’?

‘SIMPLE DECISIONS’. Are’nt they wonderful? Black & white, easy to make, you will never repent them (like for example, the guy who chose waterboarding), you dont have to discuss it with your friends and best of all, its chop chop! No time wasted.

cut to my life.

“would you like 3 or 2 buttons on your suit?”

“white bread or wheat bread for your sandwich?”

“well…you can either take TTK road and make a right or take RK Salai and make a left. Its the same distance. your call!”

“Cafe mocha or Cafe latte?”

“I have tickets to both Aruna Sairam and U Srinivas. Where do you wanna go?”

Time out. After almost three decades of ‘Deciding Between Equals’, I am officially retiring. It is a thankless job. Seriously.

I have to use all the neurons in my very small brain to weigh two perfectly equal options , do a pointless SWOT analysis, look at the long term vs short term gains, check the ROI and eventually pick ‘A’ over ‘B’ (for really no fault of ‘B’, by the way)….all in 5 seconds and what do I get in return?

K- Mocha
Coffee shop gurl: OK….that’ll be $3.50

K – two
Suit shop guy: OK….you can come for trial in a week

really? ‘OK’ is all you got to say about it? How about a lil appreciation?

“Sir, I know the pain you had to go through….and I think you are a genius”

“two buttons? wow….you just brought down your carbon foot print and saved the earth from global warming”

“you choose Aruna Sairam??….will you marry me?”

Now, THAT will be ‘fair compensation’ or ‘minimum wage’ (depending on how ‘left’ you are). Unfortunately, we live in a thankless society and I just have to pay up, pick up my sandwich and leave – like as though Nothing happened in those few seconds!

Prayer

  • I hope I will never have to watch another cricket match with Arun Lal’s commentary
  • I hope Vodaphone will be declared bankrupt in my lifetime (They are actually getting away with an online recharge system that does not work!)
  • I hope Karunanidhi lives for another 45 years, stays in power and remains my neighbor, so my apartment never has to worry about security, water or power cuts
  • I hope Rahul Gandhi develops a medical condition that prevents his larynx from working
  • I hope Arjun Singh’s english teacher will spank him hard and make him understand that the word ‘reservation’ is not the synonym of the phrase ‘equal opportunity’
  • I hope watching southpark for 2 hours everyday doesnt mean I am a sicko
  • I hope the trainer at my gym, who was born and brought up in Theni, would talk to me back in Tamil, someday.
  • I hope Arun Lal dies a painful death (“Sourav, quick as he is, could not stop the ball” he said today).

I hope.

Wedding bells

It was the ‘sashtipurthi’ of my parents’ one time neighbour. They lived next to each other during 1974. The only social event I have ever attended in my life, where I did not know anybody else besides the people I chaffeured. Surprisingly, this was not the worst part of that morning. The troupe that played nadaswaram for the day, rendered what was easily the most horrible and the most besur recital of ‘Nagumo’ in the history of mankind.

Surprisingly though, no one seemed to care except me! Reminded me of the time when I DJed for a dear friend’s wedding reception. Very excited with the job description, I chose the most exotic instrumental collection for the night – Ravishankar, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Vanessa Mae, Izhtak Perlman, Bach, yada yada yada……only to be asked the next morning by my friend….”why dint you do anything about the music?????”

So my new hypothesis is that wedding music is the most inaudible genre. It is the only gig where almost nobody in the audience (except jobless chaffeurs) gives a damn about whats being played! In fact, the next time I am asked to DJ at a wedding, I plan to mix ‘Eminem’ with ‘Lalgudi Jayaraman’ and see if anybody notices it…..takers?

While on weddings, I gotta say that its an absolute laugh riot to be 30 and single and meet your relatives after a long time…

K: Hello Uncle, how have you been? long time…
Uncle: why are you like this?
K: huh?…like what?
Uncle: Eppo da kalyanam?
K: oh that….i dont know, uncle….am having the time of my life. So am not sure if I really wanna get married now. So how have you been? whats the real estate scene in chennai?
Uncle: How can we be alright when you are like this?
K: Really, uncle…am doing fantastic…so dont worry….so did you see any movies recently?
Uncle: if you get married at 35, your son will still be in college when you retire!!!
K: jees, mama! this is hilarious. I think we are getting a wee bit ahead of ourselves. I dont even know what I’ll be doing in September ’08….BTW, what do you think of the bangalore Royal Challengers?
Uncle: oh, they are a bunch of test cricketers, I say….not good for T20…
K: Thats exactly what I thought….

god bless IPL!

quick notes from Madras…

  • Mylapore smells the same, but for a whiff of Davidoff in the air
  • Theres traffic jam on mount road at 11:30 PM on a thursday
  • An Apollo “1066” ambulance (siren blaring), for heart related emergencies was stuck with me in the same jam. We both took an hour to go from little mount to guindy. Ironically, their tag line is “every minute counts”.
  • Am definitely having the “1066” episode in my film
  • Aachi masala is presenting “National Treasure – book of secrets” in the city
  • After years of yearning for it, finally made it to a family wedding. Filter kapi, Nadaswaram, the smell of sweat+jasmine+Davidoff+homam+pongal, paati, chiti, gorgeous relatives…..life’s good!
  • The foodworld in city centre has snickers, mars and cigarettes near the checkout counter
  • Have been holding on to Shantaram for a long time, but surprisingly have not crossed page 11. I think I will start Sujata’s “Kanavu Thozhirchalai” instead
  • There is no “comedy central” in dad’s satellite TV plan
  • Went to Akkarai sisters’ violin kacheri. I am now a fan!
  • I think the 100 rupee note is the new 10 rupee note.

10 Realities of Moving

#10: You can categorize your things how much ever you want – Clothes, ties, books, CDs, fancier ties, the stuff you bought from the india store but never used, etcetera. However, the sad reality of the 11th hour is that all of ’em go into either of the 2 bags that you plan to travel with. In fact, there are only 2 categories – bag A and bag B.

#9: “A friend with a gift is a friend indeed” (I tried rhyming that, but gave up!), is a myth. After the first beer in a reunion, almost nobody will care.

#8: There are things and there are Things! How much ever objective you are in getting rid of stuff, you are always going to end up with a set that “you can neither sell nor throw away…..nor pack!!!”. Like your bookshelf, your IKEA lamps and your pressure cooker!

#7: When you moved into your apartment, you chose the top floor because you did not want kids running above your head in surround sound? Bad Idea. BAD IDEA!!!

#6: When you were 24, shopping for your friends meant that you hit music stores, duty free shops, game sites and book stores. When you are 30, most of your gift shopping happens in ‘Babies R us’ or ‘Toys R us’. Its scary!

#5: Sell your car first. Shop last. Not the other way round.

#4: That 1955 8mm mechanical film camera that you bought from a remote antique store in Wilmington, might be special….but that issue is between you and the camera. You cannot expect your suitcase to relate to it!

#3: Buying a CD every time you visit the ‘Half price book store’, is not cool anymore. Especially not, if it becomes 20% of your travelling mass. It is about time you started buying music from iTunes.

#2: You cannot afford to be emotionally entangled with your coffee mug.

#1: Packing is work. You are not supposed to be enjoying it!!!

The K Awards…

ok….am a bit jobless right now…..but hey, almost everybody else is doing it….’Of the Year’ awards seem to be the best thing that man can do in December….I refuse to be left behind!

The 2007 K award for the real ‘weapon of mass destruction’

With the exception of suicide bombers and ‘philishave’ users, every other man I know is willing to put a couple of blades more to his face, once every 6 months…just because gillette says so….from 2 to 3 to 5 to ‘i have lost count’…..and did i mention, paying a fortune more every time?….but damn, they are good!

The 2007 K award for the ‘Rapidest of Rapids’

The Chennai MRTS project started when I was 8….I am 30 now…it is still ‘a work in progress’….this work horse has successfully weathered through 7 wars….4 recessions….25 Rajini films….countless prime ministers….an entire highway connecting the 4 corners of the country and 2 other transit projects…..a lil birdie tells me the Delhi Metro project took only 4 years to complete…what a loser! Thats almost a premature ejaculation!! Go Chennai!

The 2007 ‘This film makes me want to go to the restroom and stay there for 2 hours’ award

The sweetest half bake of 2007…

I think child actors, when they are good, come off really stunning on screen….be it Shamli in ‘Anjali’….Anna Paquin in ‘Piano’…the kid in ‘sixth sense’….or Darsheel in ‘Taare’….something mesmerizing happens, when real innocence and real talent mix….something that will never be possible for an adult to pull off, ever.

During Taare, you never get enough of Darsheel, in spite of him being in almost every frame…his performance seems so genuine, that it is difficult to believe he would have just repeated what was enacted to him.

The song montages are an absolute treat….especially the one where Ishaan has his day out on the road…wow!…I think it is these montages that make a rather simplistic film flow over 3 hours, without boring you – most of the time! Actually, coming to think of it….the film must have only 3-4 pages of dialogue….because i cant remember a stretch longer than 5 minutes, without a song…

if only aamir had not lip synced to that intermission song! ;(

if only the mother character was not mutilated half way though the film ;( and the father’s, murdered!!!

if only the flip book was not flipped 7 times….

if only aamir’s (girl)friend had something to do in the film….

if only the teacher did not ask for poetry interpretation from third graders….

but hey….the film has so many things going for it, that it almost gets made up for – almost!

the special effects of the kid’s hallucinations are especially slick

prasoon joshi’s lyrics for the ‘ma’ song are bound to haunt you for years to come

aamir’s framing throughout the film is that of a seasoned pro…not a first time director!

SLE’s music is lovable – once again……this is one of those films that u will love instantly if u r a ‘buy cd before seeing the film’ person….

even if none of these work for you, a pair of bunny teeth is sure to keep you tied to the seat – most of the time 😉

Lilith Fare…

My doctor’s office probably has the most intriguing decor ever. Grey walls plastered with fading old world maps!!! Probably because everybody there is dying for a vacation…or probably fantasizing about it 😉 Since I’ am finished with all the magazines they have, my newest activity to kill time there is memorizing countries and capitals! i think the last time I did that was for a GK test in class 5….

Anyway, point is….I discovered ‘The Federated States of Micronesia’ – on the map! I had no idea such a place existed…dont even remember seeing them in the Olympics!!!!….a group of islands somewhere above fiji and they are apparently ‘federated’ because they got independence from the US in the eighties….I dint know ‘independence’ was still en vogue in the ’80’s…;)

While on geography…theres something else I wanna pen down before forgetting….last night, the History channel ran this film on the search for the ‘Garden of Eden’….a hunt for the actual location, based on the account in ‘Genesis’….and the winner is!!!!!!!!…..Iran or Venezuela!….wonder what Dubya thinks of that….and hey, if he decides to invade either in the next few months he has, he at least has a sexier pretext than WMD. What fun!

etymology….never heard of this version before….whats the origin of ‘Lullaby’?……apparently, “Lilith Abi”…..Lilith – Adam’s first wife eventually became a child stealing demon after she left him – according to The Book…..so neo-lithic mothers used to scratch the words ‘Lilith Abi’ (meaning ‘Lilith be gone’) on house doors, to keep her off their children….hmmm….so it had nothing to do with ‘Saawariya’….apparently.