Tuesday, October 27, 2009

For the bookworms...

A nice litereay blog I stumbled upon while surfing the intar-nate:


A lady, Sandhya Iyer, reviews the books that she reads, here. I am tempted to read quite a few of those, like Romancing With Life by Dev Anand, and Star From Another Sky. It was a surprise to find a review of English, August there. That book brings back memories...Do have a look at teh blog

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Whats you score?

The Telegraph has published a list of 100 novels that everyone should read. The list is quite intersting, and it is nice to see Rabindranath Tagore and R K Narayan represented in there. But not for Swami and Friends, its for Waiting for Mahatma...haven't read that one. Also missing from the list is Joules Verne. The father of sci-fi was not a great writer? His novels are not must erad. One has to just erad Juorney To The Center of the Earth and Around The World in Eighty Days to find out just how imaginative and entertaining thay are. Not adding his novels in the list is a great oversight. Another oversight, if you include graphic novels, is The Watchmen by Alan Moore. anybody who thinks that graphic novels or comics are for kids shoud read this novel. It is anything but a kid read. It is rightly called the greatest graphic novel ever.
I know of two people who visit my blog who are avid readers, so come one you two, whats your score? As for me, I have read a solid ten of these hundred novels, and am in the process of reading an eleventh (Ulyses, for the past eleven years :-P).

Monday, October 19, 2009

More Random Humor

Another joke, filched from the intar-nate:

What did the bolt of fabric tell his daughter when she threatened to run away to India?

“Go ahead … you’ll be sari.”

If one day I vanish, please assume that I have been sued by people for steling their jokes, and am hiding in the Himalays...and I have a Big Foot..

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Diwali...

Heres wishing my regular viewers (4 at the last count), the occasional bhatke hue log and googlebot a very Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year!! May you get what you wish for.

Send a picture Scrap - 123orkut

Life is Good...

* What a day!! I quit my old job, and a hired by another company, all within a minute!! Economy doesn't get any better than this!!

* I was craving for dark chocolates for the last few day, and my company's diwali gift is, yes, you guessed it, dark chocolates!!

* People worth following on Twitter, Homer Simpson...sample this... Memo to Bruce springsteen: you rock!

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm Tweety...

I have been micro-blogging on Twitter for the past few days, and it feels like I am updating my status on a social networking website. Micro-blogging is over-rated.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wake Up Sid - A Review

Wake Up Sid is a simple story of an clueless boy finding his meaning in life. It is Lakshya, but less violent and patriotic. The premise is simple, straight forward and predictable, but that does not make it any less fun. Quite the opposite, Wake Up Sid is a sweet, refreshing coming of age tale, told with a light touch, with able actors and a love for Bombay (yes, its Bombay, not Mumbai).
Right from the first shot, we are introduced to Siddharth, aka Sid, a clueless rich kid. He does not know what he wants in life, for him, its just from one moment to another. One look at him, and you know that he does not know where he is going. Any more attempt at looking clueless, and he would look stoned. We witnesshim trying hard to prepare for his exams and getting distracted while studying, only to flunk in his final exams. But it does not seem to worry him, and all he wants to do is hang out with his buddies. While at a farewell part, he meets Aisha Banerjee (Konkana), he opposite, a new girl in the city, out to make a career for herself and gain independence. Over the course of the movie, the opposites gel, Sid finally wakes up to life and responsibilities.
As with other Dharma Productions movies (K3G, Dostana), this movie is also quite unreal in its outlook. The Bombay they exist in is clean, hip and rich. Sid seems to be too rich to be true, everyone seems to speak in only English. Loaded with such unrealities, the movie was bound to suck, but the fresh approach to the subject is what saves it. Full marks must go to the director for that.
For one, there's the view of Bombay, seen in movie after a long time (after Kaminey, lol). There's the necklace, the bombay skyline, the night sky. Without going into specifics, the movies manages to capture a slice of Bombay.
Performance-wise, the actors do a commendable job. Ranbir is spot on in his portrayal of the clueless Sid. Konkana as the no-nonsense Aisha is perfectly cast as his exact opposite. Anupam Kher as Sid's frustrated fater seems bored as the rich businessman, but redeems himself when he scolds Sid for failing his exams. There is pain in his voice as he scolds at him for talking back at his mother. Supriya Pathak as Sid's mother gets on the nerves when she tries to speak to him in broken English. She is meant to be an endearing character, but fails to do so. The rest of the cast of friends are one dimensional in character development. All are true friends, eager to help.
The music of the movies gels with the going-ons. It sets the mood for the tone of movies. Of special note are 'Ek Tara' and 'Shaam Tanha' by Agnee. If you havent heard that song, hear it, its a very nice soft number.
And then theres Bombay. I did not notice it initially, but on reflection, the entire movie is shot in Bombay. This makes it the second move after Kaminey to be shot entirely in that city (there was Sankat City as well, but that was before Kaminey, and really, that movie does not matter). This Bombay is not the gritty Mumbai of Kaminey, rather it is pleasantville, People here are rather good natured, things happen on time, a girls can come to this city and get invited to a collgege farewell party, meets a guy who walks her back to her hostel, later finds her a place to live, sets her place up, and later moves in with her. Totally unbeliveable, but there are certain shots of the city which make it worth it. Theres the shot of the city at night as Sid and Aisha sit on the rooftop, the shot of Bombay rains, the Ursula apts (did i get the name right?).
Overall, the premise and execution of the movie tende to make it unrealistic, but the finer points like the music and the locations and the actors lift it to above average.
Recommended viewing.

Nitpick: Its Not Just Jazz By The Bay, not Jazz By The Bay.


A story about a girl.

A story about a girl growing up.

A story about a girl growing up in Iran.

If I were to choose the line that would interst me the most, it had to be the third line, a story about a girl growing up in Iran. Now to make it more enticing it.

A story about a girl growing up in Iran during the revolution.

And the final enticement,

A graphic novel of a story about a girl growping up in Iran during the Cultural Revolution.

The last line has me in. I love graphic novels, or comics, in common sense, I like stories about the Middle East, I am a bit of a history buff. And while I do like girls, stories about girls doing girly things bores me...sorry, girls.

So it was with great expectation that I started reading Persepolis by Marjani Satrape. Here was a celebrated novel about a gutsy woman growing up in Iran, and I was sure I would like it. Nothing like stories of revolution to stir you up. The novel turned out to be nothing like what I expected it to be. The protagonist is a small girl, who only hears her elders talk about the revolution, goes to Europe, come back to her roots, and goes back again. But I am glad it turned out to be not what I was expecting. It far surpassed my expectation!

Lets start from the begining.

The Story.

Marjani Satrapi recounts her childhood in Iran during the cultural revolution. The story begins just before the revolution, proceeds to the early days of the revolution, right through the Iran-Iraq war. Ms Satrapi gives a honest account of growing up during that time, but instead of the fear and uncertainity that prevails during such times, she shows the frustrations as well as the lighter moments of living in those times. The perspective is totally personal, so we are not told about the events as in a history book, but rather how she received the new about them, lacing them with her perspectives.

The story spans from 1980 till 1994, in which time, Ms Satrapi went from a 10 year old girl to a 24 year old woman. During this time, Iran went from being a secular republic to a theocratic state. But its not all politics, as when she leaves for Europe for further studies, the focus shifts from her rebelling against the mullahs, to her misadventures there, and when she does return, the changed Iranian society is viewed through her eyes.

The book is an honest, heartfelt, funny, tragic memoir of a woman. It is at once a biography, a coming-of-age book, a look at history as it happened. Highly recommended to everyone, espically for women. A chicklit a man would love!!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Yeh Hai India...

While waiting for my office cab today evening, I heard drums outside. Went to to terrace and saw a procession being taken out. This was a long one, nearly one km long. There were tall statues being taken on tempos, pretty girls (at least they seemed pretty from the terrace!) dancing in formation, then an other statue on a tempo followed by a brass band, then a tempo with a statue again with a statue, followed more girls dancing, again followed...this time by a baail gaadi!! Two massive oxen pulling a massive cart, which had some monks sitting in it. The girls wore colorful ghagharas, and the men wore mostly white, with saffron turbans, doing a bored twirls. From the looks of it, it seemed like a Rajasthani Jain procession. I went down to have a closer look. From the ground level, the sight was even better. For all my Indian-ness, my years of living in the Gulf have distanced me with my Indian-nes to an extent, and I tend to search for the exoticness in such events. I probably come out of it, looking silly and wide eyed...a desi firang.
This event did turn out to be a Jain event. It was a long procession, with three brass bands and also music playing on the sound system. In short, it was a very noisy procession, but was well managed. The ladies didn't seem pretty from up close. Right at my doorstop, the procession stopped, and across the road was a pandal set up to serve drinks. What caught my attention was the sight of ladies offering artis to the baail gaadi monks in the middle of the road. It was nice to see people practicing their religion in total freedom, and causing a commotion in the process. I walked all the way to the begining of the procession, observing as I went, the statues of the naked gods, the brass band musicians playing the cacophonic music, the girls doing unenthusiastic garbhas. It was evening time, and I was enjoying the sight. I wished I could show this procession to me bhanja and bhanji. They would've loved it. The procession viewed, I turned to go back to my room.
Just when I was about to reach my building, I witnessed a fight take place on the road.
It started off from the pandal, when, from a distance, I saw two men pushing and shoving each other and other people surrounding them. I took them to be men playing around, but when I came near, I noticed that it was two persons from the society flats shoving and pushing a single man in a black t-shirt. Suddenly, one of the men took out his shoe and started hitting the man in the black t-shirt. In the crowd were also ladies, hitting him. The man in the balck t-shirt was clearly out numbered. He was taking all the punishment. My sympathies were with him, the underdog. The ladies were shouting in a shrill tone, saying that he was a goonda. But the underdog did not give up easily, he kept going back to the pandal, threatening the prople before getting clobbered again.
Suddenly, from behind me, came another man with a hockey stick, and went charging at the society flat people. I saw him hit a fifteen year old boy hard, and also hit a girl as well. He also charged at the society flats man who had hit the man in black t-shirt with the shoe. The man defended himself for some time, but eventually he too sustained injuries. In all this scuffle, a small girl, maybe twelve, snatched his chain and ran away. The man was distracted and ran after him but he slipped and fell on the road. this gave the other men enough time to come charging at him with hockey sticks. He sustained a lot of injury. the hockey gang drew blood from him as well as a girl who, it seems, was his daughter. There was a lot of shouting and crying. Suddenly, my sympathies had shifted, after I saw the fifteen year old boy being hit, crying and folding his hands to the hockey stick gang. He is too youg to be doing that. As for the girl, it seems that she was the root cause of the trouble.
Both these events happened one after the other. It made me think about what living in India was all about, after all. India can amaze you, cheer you, tease you and crish you, all in the same breadth.

Two more other things I want to point out:

This happend on Gandhi Jayanti

The Jains wore scraves that read "Ahimsa Param Dharam"

The Irony is not lost on me.