Location: Madras, India

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Over the weekend

Sandy boy dozed off for a few minutes while watching Casino Royale. Though he blamed jet lag, he didn’t seem to be much thrilled by the latest James Bond flick. Shinoj sensed scam. He said, “This is not a James Bond movie, buddy. This is a Triple X movie. I prefer my James Bond to be the way he has always been - cool, smooth and elegant. Not macho and rugged”. But still, he accepted that Casino Royale is a good action movie. I think he had a valid point. The rest of us liked the movie unconditionally.

It didn’t rain on Saturday. Three of us decided to play some cricket. The ground was empty except for the couple of kids playing with their dog. I guess the dog, being dutch, is not aware of the existence of the great game – Cricket, that can be played with tennis balls. May be he thinks that tennis balls can be used in just two ways – to play tennis or to play burry-burry. As he didn’t find a long net erected vertically on the ground and people on its either side with funny-looking netted-sticks in their hands, he decided that our tennis ball was meant for him to play burry-burry. He pounced on the tennis ball and ran away with it. The kids ran behind him to recover the ball. He effortlessly outran them and the kids were tired soon. He then dug a hole and burried the ball. He wasn’t happy with his effort. He took the ball back, dug a deeper grave and then burried it again. One of the kids switched to plan B. He took a stick and started playing throw-and-retrieve with the dog. When the dog was busy in this game, the kid dug the ball out and returned it to us. Smart kid. We waited for the kids to take the dog away and then started playing. By then, it had started getting dark rapidly. We managed to play for about ten minutes. When I failed to make contact with the ball bowled at ultra slow pace for a whole over, we decided that it was too dark to play.

Excerpts of Shaan’s concert in The Hague were shown in a local TV. It is always a treat to watch the ever-smiling-Shaan. He ended the ‘Main hoon Don’ song as ‘Main hoon Shaan’. Cute, isn’t it? Seems he has been working out lately. He flaunted his arms a bit.

Watched Water (at last). One of the memorable scenes in the movie is when the kid sees Lisa Ray for the first time and involuntarily utters ‘Pari’. Lisa Ray, for sure, looks like an angel in the movie. This is one of those movies that I wouldn’t wish to watch for the second time. Not that it is a bad movie. Infact it is very well made. The problem is with me. I generally don’t prefer tragedies. Particularly the well made ones. I find them difficult to forget.

Found out, to my own horror, that I am now unable to lock my hands behind my back. There goes my last bit of flexibility. I lost the ability to touch the ground without bending my knees long ago. I am afraid I will very soon end up moving around like a robot. Damn.

Friday, November 24, 2006

KANK revisited

Well... well... well... Seems the whole country has taken sides on KANK. You either love it or loath it, but you are not able to ignore it. I guess that is the triumph of the director. Well done, Karan.

Stumbled upon these clips of this particular episode of ‘We the people’. Thanks to NDTV and Youtube. It is a wonderful episode.

Part – 1
Part – 2
Part – 3
Part – 4
Part – 5
Part – 6
Part – 7
Part – 8
Part – 9

At 1:07 minutes of Part – 7, Shahrukh says that he doesn’t think that Dev and Maya would have lived happily ever after. That is exactly what I think. KANK is not about helpless people. Dev and Maya are not forced to go out of their marriages. They in fact opt to do so on their own. In reality, most of us would consider ourselves lucky to have a spouse like Rishi or Rhea. But Dev and Maya are exceptions. Dev is cynical and bitter to the extent of self-destruction. Maya is a dreamer. They can’t live happy with the way their lives are. They run behind illusions. They are sad people. They prefer to be sad. And they will remain sad for ever.

Like said at the conclusion of the discussion, KANK is just a point of view - a wonderfully filmed one. I believe that KANK will be considered a milestone in the future. It is a honest movie. Like most honest things, this too may look bitter. But, that doesn’t mean that the subject of the movie is unrealistic. We never like reality laughing at our face. We, as individuals or as a society, never enjoy our drawbacks being discussed.

Damn. Way am I getting serious? That too, over a movie? May be that again is Karan’s victory. I am not able to ignore KANK as 'just another movie'.

The point is – I adore KANK. I watched it twice.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Do I look funny?

We reached the Amsterdam Centraal Station. Got out of the door.
“Isn’t Amsterdam supposed to be pretty crowded? Beats me...”
Outside the door was IJ.
“Damn. We took the back entrance of the station. Nice way to begin the trip”

We re-entered the railway station and started walking towards the front entrance. This dude comes to me.
Dude: “Bangladeshi?”
* Voice-inside-my-head: “I told to shave off the beard” *
Me: “No”
Dude: “Srilankan?”
* Voice-inside-my-head: “This one is for your dark skin” *
Me: “No”
Dude: “Pakistani?”
* Voice-inside-my-head: “Beard again. Are you going to hear him list all the South East Asian countries?” *
Me: “No. Indian”
The dude then said in heavily accented Hindi, “I just got released from the prison. I don’t have enough money. Give me some”.
Well, that is what I understood with my scarce Hindi vocabulary.
* Voice-inside-my-head: “Wow! How the hell do you manage to attract these sort of people? Four more people are with you and the dude comes straight to you...” *
Me: “Sorry, I don’t carry money. I use card”
Dude: “An ATM is just around the corner”
* Voice-inside-my-head: “Now, that is called perseverance” *
Me: “Hmmm... I am in a hurry. I need to go”
I walked away without looking at him. I still don’t understand whether that prison thingy was to gain some sympathy or to threaten me.

At the tram stop in front of Centraal Station, we approached a group of ticket-checkers to find out how to go to Van Gogh Museum. A TC who was eager to practise his English gave us the details about the tram that would take us to the museum. Towards the end:
TC: “Two Euros per question. That makes six Euros”
We were like “WHAT???”.
Me: “I heard that the service is free on Sundays...”
TC: “Haha... That is a good one. I was just joking”

We were watching Van Gogh’s paintings in his museum. I was trying hard to find out why Van Gogh was extremely popular. A security guy comes to me.
Security guy [with an impish smile]: “Sir, you are not allowed to take more than two pictures”
Me [confused]: “First of all, I thought that taking pictures is totally banned inside the museum. Second of all, I didn’t take any picture”
Security guy [with a broad smile]: “I know, Sir. I was just joking”

Friends tell me that I look like a thug. If it is true that “you look the way you feel”, I have every reason to believe that I look stupid. But, do I look funny? Why would everyone want to joke with me?

Friend bought a replica of Almond Blossom for Eight Euros.
Me: “I guess you are really interested in paintings”
Friend: “Well, not really. When I go back, if my wife asks for account for the 10 Euros I have spent on the Entrance Ticket, I will show this to prove that I have been to Van Gogh Museum. And by the way, I love the container box they give with the copies of paintings”
I must admit that the triangular box, of the shape of elongated prism, was really cute.

Friday, November 17, 2006

‘Jog’te Raho

Growth in any area is desirable, except in waistline. I think I would very soon outgrow my bathroom mirror. So alarming is the increase in my waistline. I have never ever been thin in my life. Though I prefer saying that I look healthy with enough flesh around bones, I must confess that I have always been on the chubbier side.

Then one fine day I thought, “What if my parents fail to recognize me when I go back? What if they doubt that I am someone else who had swallowed their darling son? What if they refuse to take me back? What if I am stranded at Madras Airport with nowhere to go?”. Those thoughts were powerful enough to prompt me to find out a way to reduce my waistline.

The most famous way to reduce weight is to cut down on the diet. My diet is already pretty sleek – Cereals for breakfast, a couple of cheese sandwiches for lunch, biscuits or cake in the evening and rice or parathas for dinner. I am sure I am not into gluttony. But still I manage to gain weight consistently. I will starve if I cut down on my current diet. I don’t fancy fainting at random places due to hunger. The belief that food consumption is directly proportional to one’s weight is not true. I have a few friends who gobble at anything edible, but still remain wire-thin.

That left me with the second most famous way to reduce weight – Exercise. I am no stranger to working out. I used to frequent the gym when I was in Madras. But, I used to keep away from treadmills and cycles, citing acute pain in my knees. Then I realized that the knee pain was imaginary and that I had envisaged the knee pain from the day I somewhere read an article stating that consistently heavy jogging or cycling wear down the knee joints.

Even at The Hague, I had had a short stint at the gym at Mariahoeve Sportcentrum, where I jogged and cycled. My waistline didn’t thin down as I had dreamt. Instead, the frequency and duration of my visits to the gym thinned down rapidly. Hence I dropped out. I decided to get back to jogging. Right at that period, Chellax joined us at our flat. He jogged around the neighbourhood pretty regularly. I decided to join him in his jogging routines.

When I started jogging, I found out that it is a lot tougher to jog in open space than on treadmills under roof. Outdoors have varying wind, steeps, slopes, other people, vehicles and most importantly, dogs. One evening, while jogging, I heard a dog barking. I ignored it. You know, I don’t wear my glasses while jogging. So, I concentrate more on watching the ground in front of me, to make sure that I don’t trip over something. I felt that the barking sound was rapidly approaching me. I looked around. I was startled to see a dog running ferociously towards me. Now, I am not very fond of dogs. I strongly doubt that the dogs, all of them, carry some serious grudge towards me. I have no idea why. May be I did something really really nasty to dogs in one of my previous births and they carry the hatred towards me for generations. I don’t know. But, the feeling is mutual. I believe that dogs are the secret agents of aliens.

This particular dog looked like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the dog world – huge, heavily muscled and menacing. Why do we start thinking about totally unrelated things when we are in tight situations, instead of trying to figure out how to get out of the situation? My mind was flooded with too many questions.
Is this why I came to this foreign land – to be attacked by some random animal?
Aren’t the Dutch dogs supposed to be well behaved?
Does my insurance package cover animal attacks?
Can I sue the owner of the dog?

Worst of all, the voice-inside-my-head woke up. It started lecturing, “The dogs have always been bullying around us humans. What are they? Big bullying brutes. They haven’t even learnt to walk with two limbs after all these millenniums of evolutions. Most of them still have tails and they shamelessly roam around wagging them all the time. They haven’t yet learnt a second word after ‘Woff’. The only thing they can do, which you cannot is to move the ears. And they have slightly better jaws and teeth than yours. If he is the Arnold of the dog world, you are no less. You are... hmmm... well, you are the Inder of your world. You have no reason to be afraid of him. You have suffered enough because of dogs. This is the limit. You can’t take any more. This is payback time. Put an end to their barbarities. Be a man. Mard ban. What you do to this dog should make the whole species of dogs to be scared of you, forever. Even if you die in that process, your name will be etched in the history as the martyr who liberated against the atrocities of dogs. He is used to scared humans running away from him. Take him by surprise. Attack that brute. Run towards him. BITE HIM”.

Then I heard, “Stop. Don’t move”. I was glad to obey. The dog slowed down and slowly stopped barking at me. I thought that my instincts had overruled the voice-inside-my-head and commanded me to stop. But later I learnt that Chellax, who was jogging ahead of me, had said those words. Whatever... All is well that ends well. I was glad to return to our flat instead of getting admitted in some hospital with serious dog bites.

The story didn't end there. On the way, another dog barked at us. This time it was a cute little doggie of the size of a rabbit. I was surprised at the amount of noise that little thing was able to generate. Luckily it was chained and an old lady held it tight. I didn’t have the urge to assault that doggie. Mysterious, isn’t it? May be, I tend to fight only with my equals. May be I don’t believe in confronting the weaker ones. I would love to believe this. Hahahah... ;-)

Let me get back to our main story. I continued jogging even after that chilling experience. I didn’t see the Arnold of the dog world after that day. Even then, I slowed down and look around in full alertness whenever I passed the spot where he tried to ambush me.

I asked Chellax, “How do I know that I have jogged enough for the day?”.
He said, “When you sense a slight pain at around the area of your kidney, you shall assume that you have reached your breaking point”.
I was too shy to ask him where the kidneys are situated. So, I came up with my own method to find out when I reach my endurance level. When I jog, after a point, I start hearing my own heartbeat. The sound of my heartbeat slowly increases. By the time it becomes a thunderous noise, I start feeling as though my lungs could hold no more air and would burst any time. Then I know that it is time to stop.

I jogged for a couple of weeks. Then the Daylight Saving Time ended. These days it gets dark by the time I start from office. Also, the temperature is too low, wind is too strong and rain is too frequent to continue jogging. As a natural result, I stopped jogging. I watch myself gradually moving towards obesity. I sincerely hope that my parents recognize me when I go back. Nowadays, the sweetest of my dreams are the ones where I find, to my own delight, that my own pants are too wide to fit me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

1 to 3 and 3 to 1

Down due to cold, I got to watch quite a bit of telecast of the action from Sony Ericsson Championship.

Justine Henin-Hardenne: Wow! Now this is what I call a killer backhand. Awesome. Thank God you didn’t overdo serve-and-volley, the way you did pathetically at the US Open. Why would you want to serve-and-volley at every chance when you have such lethal groundstrokes? Well, I won’t, if I was in your place. Anyway, you deserve the Numero Uno position.

Maria Sharapova: You do hit the tennis ball really hard these days. Did you by any chance learn the art of looking your enemy’s face in the tennis ball? Where have you gone, Serena? Come back in the same way you once used to rule the tennis courts. You would find your own reflection in Sharapova. By the way, Sharapova, you were clearly not at ease with sliced returns. Patch it up, girl. I tell you, when you have a chink in your armoury, none of these other girls is going to feel sorry to poke at it. Particularly, when your ultrasonic grunts irritate your opponents like hell.

Amelie Mauresmo: Your game is amazingly similar to that of Henin, just a tinge paler. Sharapova is consistent only recently and Henin usually takes injury time out for half the seasons. You still have chances to regain the throne.

Svetlana Kuznetsova: I apologise for considering you a one-time-wonder when you won the US Open in 2004. You didn’t do yourself any good by losing to Sania. But since then, I have seen you playing some amazing matches. Great going.

Nadia Petrova: It is so nice to see you having the scalps of higher ranked players pretty frequently these days. You know what? You look amazingly similar to a old friend of mine.

Kim Clijsters: You know that the Number One spot is well within your reach. Just get clean of your injury picking habits. And, I love the way you do splits on court. Simply awesome!

Martina Hingis: You will be one of my favourites forever. You don’t have the advantage of power or height or temperament. You used to behave like a spoilt brat on court. The Williams sisters literally blew your career away. But still, you have come back. And, what a comeback it has been! You still play more with brain than brawn. You have brought the sweetness of melodic tennis back to this hip-hop era of tennis. And mind you, there still are numerous fans for the melodious R&B. Though you are still as soft as you had been in your first stint, your shots are a lot more precise now. Your serves, though week, are sharper now. And you are more expressive on court. May be you will not be able to reach the throne which used to be yours long ago. But, you will always remain the much-loved breeze amidst the hurricanes.

Elena Dementieva: Oooh! Were you, by any chance, the winner of Claudia Schiffer look-alike contest?

Friday, November 10, 2006

‘Cold’ Ka Side Effect

I love my life. I really do. Well, most of the times. The voice-inside-my-head often tries to convince me that I indeed am a dharthi-ka-bhoj, but I rarely heed to it. There are very few moments in my life when I feel like a scum. Like, when I meet an old friend after years and realize, to my own terror, that I have forgotten his name. When babies start crying at the top of their voices when I go near them. Whenever I have to stand by the side of some six-foot-two-inches guy. When I concede a game by serving four straight double-faults. When I forget my own telephone number. When I have to sing ‘Happy birthday to you’. I generally get away with it by giving a classy lip-sync, when the crowd is large. I run out of luck in smaller crowd. It is on those occasions that the world knows that I know neither the lyrics nor the rhythm of the most popular song in English.

And then, I feel like trash when I fell sick. Falling sick, unable to look after yourself, depending on others... Pathetic, isn't it? I certainly am not fond of being sick.

The temperature has drastically fallen during the last few days. It often rains and sometimes even hails. The sun hides behind the clouds for days together. With the kind of shabby history that I have with cold, I should have taken more precautions. Walking in drizzles, jogging in mist, taking chilled drinks – I did everything to invite cold. And cold did accept my invitation graciously.

I was at the flat, miserable with running nose and marathon sneezes.
Shinoj: Take Lemon Tea, yaar. Good for you...
Me: I just had some chilled Lemon Tea.
Shinoj: Chilled! Good for your viruses.

Jamie: Chew some raw peppers.
Me: And I will not be able to sense any other taste for the whole day.
Jamie: It is not that bad, Inder. The taste of pepper stays only for an hour or so.
Shinoj: It is the garlic whose stink stays all day.
Jamie: Yeah. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Garlic a day keeps everybody away.

Chellax: And you have been running away from apples and oranges...
Me: But I take apple and orange juices.
Chellax: Those juices have artificial flavours, not the real fruits.
Me: Do you think oranges prevent cold?
Jamie: Yeah. Oranges have citric acid and citric acid does a lot of things.

When you are sick, anything and everything that you have done or not done all along your life shall be sited as the reason for your sickness. Sickness also brings a complete change to your routine life. No chilled juice, no heavy food, no bath, no jogging, no workout. Sleep, more sleep and plenty more sleep.

When my dad called, I had to take extra care not to sound sick. I hope he didn’t doubt my chirpier-than-usual tone. Who would want a light cold to scare the parents back home? A harmless lie is not a sin.

I had two options – Pyar Ka Side Effect and Water. John Abraham or Rahul Bose. I don’t mind any of them. Lisa Ray or Mallika. Both are gorgeous women. A realistic weepy movie or a light comedy. I chose the comedy and I was glad that I did so.

Then I read around half of Michael Crichton’s Prey. It is a nice science fiction. The author tries to scare you about a bizarre development of the combination of Nanotechnology, Genetics and Computer Science. It is good read. Hope I will be able to finish it during the weekend.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Aesthetically handicapped??!!

Friend’s face was beaming with zeal. He was trying to explain the greatness of Vincent Van Gogh.

Friend: Vincent Van Gogh is the Bob Marley of painting.
Me: Really? Who is Bob Marley?
Friend: Bob Marley is the Babe Ruth of Reggae.
Me: Oh! Who is this Babe Ruth, by the way?
Friend: Babe Ruth is the Mohammed Ali of baseball.
Me: The Jinnah?
Friend: No. This Mohammed Ali is the Sir Don Bradman of Boxing.
Me: Is it? And, Sir Don Bradman is...
Friend: Grrr...
I ran away from that place before the friend could bite me. Anyway, it was a treat to watch the friend’s radiant face slowly turning into that of a rabies infected hound. It is always fun to flirt around the verge of others’ temper. You should just know when to stop, in order to come out of it unscathed sans bruises and broken bones.

The point is, I came to know that this Van Gogh guy was some hotshot painter and that with my current salary, I will have to work for a few centuries to save enough money to buy one of his paintings. So, I was more than happy to step into the Van Gogh Museum. The museum was pretty crowded, yet very silent. I couldn’t help remembering the level of noise that the handful of my classmates were able to make. The pace at which people moved from one painting to another, snails could easily beat them all. It seemed like the crowd would stand there staring at the paintings for ever. I was told that Van Gogh was not into sculptures. Else, I would have mistaken some of the visitors for statues in fancy dresses.

At the museum, I learnt that Van Gogh cut off a part of his own left earlobe. Shaving mishap? There are only three photographs of Van Gogh. At the age of 37, he shot himself twice in the chest and died two days later. Spooky. Midlife crisis, ehhh? He made some 900 paintings during the last 10 years of his life. So, on an average, he made 90 paintings an year. That means he made a new painting every four days. Holy crap!

The museum also has paintings and photographs by other artists. I remember two photographs among them. One was that of Gandhi, shot with camera just few minutes before he was shot with a pistol. In that photograph, Gandhi was walking along a small crowd, probably to his final destination, with a pretty peaceful expression on his face, totally unaware that he will shortly be shot by a man of his own country, the country for whose freedom he had struggled for some 30 years. A violent death for a person who believed in non-violence more than anything else.

The other photograph is a scene that we can see anywhere in the world. It is that of a pretty woman walking down a street. All the others in the photographs are males of various ages and every single one of them looks at the woman while she walks along completely unaware of the attention she was receiving. Cute photograph. I am sure Roy Orbison would have loved to have that photograph on his record cover.

I learnt a very important lesson in my visit to the museum – “I am blind to paintings”. I have nothing against paintings and painters. The problem is with me. I still am not able to figure out how great Monalisa is compared to the portrait of my grand mom, or any other portrait for that matter. My domain is different. I can relish music, poetry and literature. I can recognize a good piece of code when I see one. I can enjoy a few sports. I can differentiate good video games from the mediocre ones. But, paintings... Painting is not in my domain. Not yet.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tanha Tanha...

What am I doing here? What the heck am I doing to my life??

A friend used to say, “Nobody is an island”. I used to think, “Why not?”. I believe in the principle - “You have no right to bother others”. I try to respect others’ space as much as I love my own space. I am used to and even comfortable with the bheed-mein-bhi-tanha (alone-even-in-an-assemblage) mode. Sometimes I even doubt if I am a psychotic loner.

So, when I landed this country of windmills and dikes and tulips, I thought that it is going to be easy for me. Well, a loner wouldn’t and shouldn’t mind if he lives in Madras or in Mars. But then I realized I was wrong. So very wrong. I miss people – my people. Now I don’t know if I should rejoice or sulk at the realization that I am not a psychotic loner.

Things are pretty fine during the days, when work keeps me busy. To make myself busy after work, I have got myself addicted to sitcoms. The King Of Queens, The Nanny, Dharma and Greg and Will and Grace consume two solid hours of my week days. Then I talk to my flatmates about every nonsense on earth. I have heard my flatmates’ life histories at least thrice. The toughest part of the day is the few minutes after I lie on the bed and before I fell asleep. That is when the voice-inside-my-head shouts, “What are you doing here? What the heck are you doing to your life??”. Damn.

I have got the monthly pass for Pathe and my usual weekend program is to watch almost every movie screened at Pathe. Then I try to burry myself in books. These days I have lost interest in Sidney Sheldon’s mystery novels. May be I am too old and cynical to appreciate mysteries. Nowadays I prefer Sue Townsend’s eccentric comedies. My God! Am I turning into an eccentric?

I spend my days wishing a lot of things. I wish there is somebody with me to watch all the stupid sitcoms with me and laugh at all the stupid jokes. I wish there is somebody to threaten me with dire consequences if I sing. I wish there is someone to talk to when I cook dinner. I miss my office in Madras. I miss Pondicherry beach. I miss idlies. I miss panipuri. I miss my mom shouting at me for no reason.

God! Why am I blabbering? My salary here is a digit more than what I get back in Madras. My resume is getting heavier. I get to see different people and places. Above all, I’ll be back home soon.
I should be glad.
I am glad.
Am I not?
Am I?

Crap. I should get over my addiction to BSB’s Show me the meaning of being lonely and Shaan’s Tanha Dil before they make me crazy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

She still is a Godess

Shreya Goshal may have made a mess of my favourite song (its original), in the pronunciation department. But still, she is a Godess :)