Sunday, November 02, 2008

Thank you Anil Kumble...

One of the legends of the game retired today. Anil Kumble, take a bow! You truly are one of Indian cricket's gems. For the last 18 years, you have been instrumental in providing some of India's finest moments in cricket. You will certainly be missed a lot... Having watched you for a good part of the last two decades, I just thought I should thank you in the only way I could think of - on my blog! And not without reason...
  • You made millions of Indians get back the faith that their team could win. Right from the time the demoralized team came back home in 1992-93' to face England, you have injected the team with the necessary confidence to win. The thumping series win against England was just the start of many series wins at home... In ODIs as well as tests...
  • You were one of the key reasons why India became a tiger at home! Sure, the 4 batting stalwarts of India scored tons of runs. But we needed someone to take 10 wickets every inning. And 20 wickets in the match. And you sure took the first statement to heart, when you bagged all ten against Pakistan in the same venue that would become your last as well... Not one in the 10 test playing nations has been spared of your tremendous effect...
  • You have infused terror in the minds of many an opponent batsman. And made them sit up and take notice of a thin tall bespectacled man who could only bowl straight balls without an iota of turn. Yes, so many were apprehensive on how long you would last with that one delivery. But you put paid to all their doubts by sending back batsmen 600 times in test cricket with literally that one single type of ball...
  • Your amazing energy to bowl at the stumps even in your fiftieth over in the inning is just awesome - as Steve Waugh once famously said, the batsman can never rest when you are bowling to them because they know if they miss, you hit the stump or the pad...We sure knew we could expect you to always be tight and bowl a deadly line and length at any point in the match.
  • Your child-like glee when you get someone out with your rare googly, or when you specially position VVS in a second wide slip for that leading edge to be caught, made the layman viewer emotionally attached to your every single move on the field.
  • You gave us the lighter moments too. We know you don't like fielding as much as your bowling. (But for that matter, just one or two people in the Indian team ever took to fielding properly!) The way you dived at the ball only to let it always pass, or the way you run towards the ball only to raise your hand to warn the fielder in the deep that it is inevitably coming to him... These are mannerisms that have sure lightened our cricket watching!
  • But you were a lot more adept at batting to save India the blushes quite a few times! With an exaggerated forward movement even to the fastest of bowlers... Specially when you made that fighting half century against South Africa in Eden Gardens along with Azhar, or when you stuck around with Srinath to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Australia in the tri-nation prelims, or the time you struck your first hundred against England last year... Or even the fighting 40 to take India past 600 in your last test match...
  • Not resting on your laurels at home, you finally proved your detractors wrong by wrecking havoc overseas as well. You were instrumental in our away wins too, and thus kicked all your detractors in the butt! Though Dravid did get the most of the honours for the wins deservedly, somewhere unsung were your contributions to that series win in Windies, or the great Adelaide win in Australia or even the last test series win in England.
  • Your passion for cricket, and your unflinching resolve to try and take wickets probably of every ball. More importantly, every time you had the ball in your hand, you made India believe you could get a wicket, no matter what the match situation was... Or who the batsman was... Just that impending feeling of the opponents getting out caught to Dravid at silly point or getting plumb in front or seeing their middle stump knocked off, gave sheer delight to the millions of Indian cricket fans...
  • Your never say die spirit needs to be embodied in every single Indian cricketer. With a bandaged jaw, you came back and took Brian Lara's wicket in a test at West Indies. And even in the last test match, with 11 stitches on your left hand and visible pain on your face, you ran back all the way to take a fantastic catch to dismiss the last man... These are qualities that Indians don't normally see even in the other great cricketers of this era who prefer to sit inside the dressing room with the slightest of injuries.
  • Above all, you have been a gentleman in this era of the over-the-top Harbhajans and the perennially vocal Australians. A gentleman, and a thorough professional. Be it when you were a player, or when you were the captain. And the game of cricket needed people like you to balance out the ruffians in the game...
Hats off to you Kumble, please do take a well deserved rest now. And let all of us hope the next generation of spinners has at least one of your kind... Some day maybe...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rock on is classy...

Last evening, I had a chance to rock on. I have tried to provide an "unbiased" view of the movie! Rest is left to your choice...

Five reasons why you should watch the movie...
  1. It depicts life realistically - {WARNING: Too many life fundas to follow} All things do not have fairy tale endings. Everyone houses an element of nostalgia in a corner of their minds, which they either keep thinking about or consciously do not want to be reminded of. People have various dreams but a majority of them fine-tune themselves to reality and customize their life and work with the opportunities around them. Life does sometimes give a feeble second chance, it is left to the individuals to seize the opportunity. There are impulse decisions that people take, which the individual's ego would never agree is wrong, but over time, some just get over it. And as the various characters in the movie keep saying every now and then, "Everyone compromises on something or the other"
  2. The class and the consistency is amazing- There are various aspects of a typical movie that keep fluctuating over time as the movie progresses, and you start wondering whether something changed in terms of the people involved in making the movie. For once, you just feel that you actually watched one whole coherent movie. You may think its a bit slow. You may think that the colors are a bit rustic. You may feel that the dialogues are short. You may think there are not much expressions from anyone. You may even feel its very predictable. And still you are completely OK with all of it. Because it actually feels like one whole movie. And you really want more of the movie. You want to see the actors reunite. You want to hear the songs. You are so much part of it. For once, you dont care about anything else that belongs to the glossier aspects of film making. And you just feel at the end of it, there should be more such classy Indian movies made.
  3. A casting coup - There is not a film in recent times where the characters fitted their roles so well. Be it the 4 leading gents, or the ladies, a lot of thought has been given in finding the artists that would bring out the emotions in tune with the overall feel of the movie, yet would not give you the feeling that someone overacted or underplayed their roles. And the camera has captured their moods and their characters excellently. The hidden emotions of Farhan, the miniature expressions of the soap opera star Prachi, the helplessness of Arjun Rampal, the anxiety of his wife, the lighter mood of Purab and the burning nostalgia of Luke. Each and every character has been given due importance in some form or the other. You feel that even the smallest of roles, including Jo's kid and mom, and the tea stall owner have been so well thought out.
  4. 'Don't get too senti' - Just as KD tells his friends during the movie, the user also need not get too senti at any point of the movie. There is not one moment that goes over the top. There are certainly various instances along the movie where you would feel a slight lump in your throat. But the movie just moves on, without letting the characters, or the viewer get too sentimental. This way, it is so different from other Hindi movies where one of the two has to happen to engage the user.
  5. The music works like magic - Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy have just eclipsed all else. Letting a new singer (Farhan) sing 5 songs may have been the biggest risk of their career, but its paid off so well. Every car and every radio channel should be soon playing Socha Hai, Sindbad the Sailor and the title track... A guy who has no clue about Rock Music as such would still be able to tap their feet to the songs. They dont even need to understand the lyrics (which should give even more fun apparently). And without hearing the songs beforehand, you would still enjoy them the very first time - thats a rare thing for any song!

Now, to complete the review, lets look at 5 reasons why you should not watch the movie...

  1. You don't like to watch movies
  2. You don't like to listen to good music
  3. You are over the age of 80 and it becomes very difficult to follow anything that goes on around you
  4. You are so damn lazy that you can't move your butt to the theatre (don't watch this one in a pirated CD, save that for the other 4 - 5 bollywood films that released y'day)
  5. You are a language fanatic and cannot go and watch Bollywood movies that have English titles

I am finishing up this post with the music of the movie blasting away to glory in the background. Just to sum up, go watch the movie without thinking too much. Do the thinking after watching it...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A visit to the gym

One of the latest experiments that I have undertaken in life is going to the gym. I certainly don’t want any of those mighty muscles or the perfect man-body that a majority of the enthusiastic gym-goers want! All I want is to be able to continue to eat my ice-creams and sweets without having to change my wardrobe too often on account of an increasing waist-size. Of late, I have also been finding it very difficult to be able to hunt for Triple XL T-Shirts.

Starting off to the gym in itself is a very time-consuming process. I have to first go past the millions of reasons thrown up by the logical mind that resides on top of my completely inertial body, to skip the gym visit. Reasons can include existing or impending imaginary body aches, anticipated long overnight office work, over-due house chores given by my madam and such. Once the mind wades through these, there is the physical inertia itself that has to be won over. Bangalore traffic is just the last hurdle that the already under-motivated soul wants to surpass.

After chugging along in my vehicle at a snail’s pace, I come face to face with the walls of the esteemed sweat-shop. Having a cafĂ© or a pastry vendor in the vicinity of a gym is one of the most miserable punishments that can be meted out to gym-visitors. Having the gym on the 2nd floor without a working lift just about manages to beat that.

As I enter the building, the high-decibel sound of loud English music can be heard well and clear. For a person like me who cannot typically differentiate between one fast English number and another, memories of Cacafonix from the Asterix comics series flash up. I yearn for a good fast dappaanguthu Tamil song or even a fast Bhangra number. But sorry – those are a strict 'No-No' in this modern machine godown.

A quick glance on entry shows the many different faces of the men and women around. . A gym is a very good example of a true melting pot. You have people from various cultures, economic backgrounds, occupations that visit it. Actually who am I kidding!? – you either have filthy rich people or jobless software folks who get a free pass from their company to enroll.

Of course the one diversity amongst the people is the size of their paunches. It can be as little as that of Hritik Roshan or as bulging as that of a local policeman after a nice dinner. In addition, the depth of sagging man breasts (phrase courtesy Chandler from Friends) is also a good indicator of the varied type of folks around.

A third category of diversity is what I call the amount of ‘pseud-ness’ that can be attributed to someone. On one end of this pseud-ness factor are the total fruits (like me) who just troop in silently and do some minimal cardio exercises for unimaginable satisfaction. On the other end are the highly sophisticated “dudes” (or show-offs) who consider their daily gym visit very close to a fun-filled excursion to “dream-land”. Words in Tamil that serve as alternatives for these dudes include bandha / filim parties.

These dudes have a burning rage inside them to show off their prowess to one and all in the gym. They can be very easily spotted though - one or more of the following features will identify them in a jiffy!

  • Dudes have a hi-funda headphone set on their heads all the time. God alone knows whether they are secretly taking English lessons on those to impress the opposite sex with their firangi accent. Fruits only have the burden of the approaching drill on top of their heads.
  • Dudes have a fancy bottle of water all to themselves, while fruits usually use those small disheveled paper cups next to the water dispenser
  • Even if the device was not used before, dudes ask the helper folks to spray, rub and clean the device as if they were giving it a Kerala massage
  • Dudes would be watching VH1 or Zee Studio or Wimbledon on Star Sports on their personal TV screens, while fruits typically favor regional channels or even SrilankaBangla cricket matches
  • Dudes would usually hog the device for at least a 30 minute period at a stretch at the highest possible speed of performing the routine while fruits take a prolonged break after around 5 - 6 minutes of continuously slow activity.
  • Last but not the least, compared to the silent fruits who avoid the instructors, the dudes make it a point to talk to all the gym instructors to prove that they literally own the place.

Of course, that is when the gym instructors are not busy talking to the handful of females who come to the gym. Females can broadly be classified into the above categories too. However, there is a third category here that does the highly musical soft-tone coochy-coo talking to the instructors for God knows why. Apparently, the number of pre-marriage last minute visitors amongst the fairer sex has dramatically increased, though it is still way off from such numbers for the male breed.

One thing I always notice in the gym – I typically run into someone that I know either from office or from a previous company or college… If they are regular visitors to the gym, questions on how long I have been visiting the gym pop up. To ensure that my morale is not affected, I typically give a highly elongated figure on the number of months I have been ‘slogging’ it out. Prior questions on when the other person visits the gym go a long way in helping me come up with a suitable answer. If they are regular evening visitors, I position myself as a recent convert to evening visits after over a year of morning visits. And vice-versa! If my paunch size is revealing the fact that I have not set foot on the gym for a long time, I take a deep paunch-hiding breath before I talk to them.

Once the talking is done, I start diverting my mind to the original purpose of my visit – some calorie burning sweat generating physical labor. A couple of lazy floor exercises act as fillers till someone vacates one of those fancy machines. These floor exercises have to be done very carefully, else you are most likely to encounter a nearby gadget with your stretched arm or some floor-exercise performer’s neck with your leg.

As I take my position on the treadmill, I think about the approaching painful endeavor of trying to cook up a sweat. Not often would anyone be as enthusiastic about producing sweat as they would be inside a gym. And ‘calorie’ here is the other magic word. The sweat is a great measure of your success at burning those targeted calories. You start wandering within the confines of the 2 ft X 4 ft. treadmill floor in the hope that the magic figure of 100 calories would be reached soon. After varying activities that include walking, jogging, crawling and standing still, over a time period that makes the HAHK movie look brief, I am completely excited to see the calorie figure inch its way towards 100.

The smile re-emerges. A feeling of having achieved something finally… That light at the end of the tunnel… In the moment of delight, I continue for a couple of more minutes and reach somewhere around 110 Cals. Wow! The apex of achievement!

At the pinnacle of my satisfaction, I turn to the next guy with a look of disdain on my face to see how many calories he has managed to burn. A casual look at that meter is all it takes – to come down from the fanciful pedestal of attainment to the abysmal depths of reality. When I see that calorie number close to 450, I start getting second thoughts on whether God was intending to be cruel to me today.

That is the moment when I become all philosophical and start thinking about the meaning of life and whether one needs to take oneself so seriously. As I grudgingly move my body down the two floors back to my vehicle, a fight between the good thoughts and the gym routine start playing up inside my head. A thought on the dinner awaiting me back home is the only redeeming factor in the whole episode. After all, I do need to eat well to give strength to the body to visit the gym tomorrow…

And the story continues… Forever…

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Remembering the fun posts from my IT Services days!

An article today in IBN talks about the raining money in IT, giving Infosys appraisals and bonuses as an example. Not so long ago (in fact just over 4 months!), I was working in the IT Services area myself! It reminded me of those good old days :) Its too late in the night, hence I am not going to write a blog post on it. I am just using this opportunity to link out to some of the best pieces (personal opinion!) of my blogs last year.
  1. Some may consider it adult humour, others may think of it as an innocent conversation during a couple's first night...
  2. India is doing very well in cricket nowadays. Not so long ago (remember World Cup 07!?), they were performing pathetically. An article wondering what if the Indian cricket team was part of the IT Services industry.
  3. If you feel people around you are not giving you your due importance, what are the 10 gimmicks you can do to make yourself act important.
  4. If you have been in the IT industry for sometime now, there is no way in the world you would have NOT gone onsite. Typical characteristics of an onsite return...
  5. You interface with so many people from many different walks of life. What must these people be thinking on your sick practices and habits...

I actually quite like the last post and reminded of the different people I face in this industry, actually any industry. So maybe, I shall write a blog post dedicated to these folks sometime soon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A typical South Indian dinner at the in-laws place

Sunday evenings are typically reserved for visits to the in-laws place. My entry is treated like that of a king entering his mansion. As soon as I come in, I suddenly experience a never-before felt cool breeze in the peak summer of Chennai, courtesy a couple of ACs which get switched on when I set foot out of my own house!

Soon after arrival, the madam goes into the kitchen to talk to her mom while I start a conversation with dad-in-law on various topics including but not limited to health, wealth, career etc. Discussions typically veer towards what is going on currently on the TV channel that is presently being watched.

After sometime, tiny sounds (generally heard as “kada-muda”) from my stomach act as alarm bells to the in-laws. These are sounds of the type that are heard from the stomach of a person implicitly starving for a long time in anticipation of a feast; sounds that happen after the feast are reserved for later. A cup filled with three gulab jamuns comes flying at me like a tracer-bullet (word copyright expert commentator Mr. Ravi Shastri)

Thoughts of the word “diet” that had so eagerly arrived on my mind a couple of days back slowly start dissolving in the sugar syrup that surrounds the three large-sized gulab jamuns. Any word of refusal immediately raises eyebrows and low decibel conversations between mom-in-law and my madam asking whether hubby has developed sugar trouble. To ward off any such thoughts, the jamuns are gulped down the throat at the pace they came at. Here, some amount of caution needs to be exercised. If the speed of gulping down is too fast, more jamuns fill up the cup in no time. If it is too slow, frequent voices from inside the kitchen to finish off the sweet-dish interrupt your TV viewing.

Once the sweet dish is over and done with, the TV viewing typically continues for around 3.5 to 4 minutes (basically for the next set of items to get heated inside the kitchen). Then, there is a call for dinner. As I slowly tread towards the dining room, a large table awaits me and the madam. In the center of the table are three dishes that stare at me gleefully with ‘high cholesterol’ written all over them – urulai (potato) roast, fried pappads, and vethakozhambu (tough to explain – in short, a south Indian spicier dish similar to sambhar)

Nice shiny stainless-steel plates, resembling those carrying unlimited extra-jumbo meals in Saravana Bhavan, are placed in front of me. An additional sweet-dish (typically rava kesari or halwa) is served in line with the “start-with-a-sweet-dish” sentiment. Then lands a big mass of white rice: measures such as removing the plate away and use of force to hold up extra servings of rice are outright rejected. Typically, half the plate is filled with rice before you can realize what is happening. The other half is reserved for the aforementioned side-dishes.

A spoon with an extra large capacity to hold the dripping nei (ghee) gently passes over my plate. Within half a second, the white mass of rice is nicely soaked in the same ghee. Then land litres of vetha-kozhambu, and tons of urulai roast and fried pappads.

My History class in school would have ended sooner than the rice in my plate. Mammoth efforts to eat the food seem to all go to waste as I witness a never-ending supply of items in my plate. Desperate measures such as loosening my pant-belt and talking while eating (to let the ingested food digest) seem to just be desperate gimmicks without any success.

When finally I do manage to just about finish the rice on my plate, more rice, first with rasam and then with the customary curd / butter-milk (thayir-saadam) follow in equal quantities with even more side-dishes that literally seem to pop out of hidden corners in the kitchen. My concealing tactics are greatly tested here as I try hiding unfinished portions of the food under half-eaten pappads and potato chips. In parallel, I am constantly reminded of the weight I have lost over the last few weeks (the weighing machine always has a different opinion here) and how I should eat a lot more.

Eventually, after what seems like a patient Dravid inning, it is time to get up and wash my hands. It is not a good practice to meander on at the eating spot without washing one’s hands. But when the food is fully present uptil your throat and your pant belt is not the way it is supposed to be, you really do not have a choice. The 3 meter distance to the wash basin seems like that last mile for the completely exhausted marathon runner.

As I put in that last ditch effort to get up, there lands a plate of freshly sliced banganapalli mangoes. At this point, I cannot even open my mouth to talk, leave alone voice any denial. As the smooth and silky mango slices slowly but surely find their way through the food maze into my stomach, I more or less start thinking on when I am going to regain my capacity to talk and walk!

After the finger-bowl style washing process, I manage to get up, go and sit in front of the TV. As I try to muster up a smile and a nod of the head in response to every question, one can hear appreciation on how the son-in-law is such a nice silent guy. I very silently thank the food that is sitting right till my throat for the gentle remark.

According to our traditional Tamil culture, a glass of milk is essential to round off the day* (see footnote for explanation). At this point, you have totally lost all control of what gets into your system. The milk manages to find its way through the mouth of a half-conscious me. I have already started thinking on whether I would fit into my car door on the way back home and whether the car will be able to take the extra load. After the customary good night and the promise to come same time next week for an even better dinner with more items (like they do usually for next-week show announcements on TV), I walk in a trance towards my car, guided by the madam.

As soon as I get into the car with the madam, thoughts about the impending diet for the coming week to compensate for this food start afresh in my mind…

* - No references of any kind whatsoever exist

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Oh Dear God (Kamal)

Thank you for being born in this world as an actor. You are one of the world’s best acting universities. To stop kindergarten children from writing big essays about your worth in your latest movie, I suggest you implement the following 5 commandments in your movies going forward.

  • Please do not do complex subjects based on stuff such as chaos theory, butterfly effect, existence of God, weapons of mass destruction, etc. Most of our audience may not understand such stuff, and the movie ends before the average film-goer realizes the various nuances and how you have tied all loose ends up.
  • Don’t bother to do your roles to such perfection. The problem that arises out of it is that people think that it is 10 different people who are doing these roles, and then, the film becomes bland. In an era where people can’t make double roles look different from each other, doing it 10 roles with such precision to detail may make people think it cannot be the same person.
  • Subtle humor it seems is not the order of the day. If you keep doing Panchatantiram and Sathi Leelavathi type of movies, people start expecting Crazy Mohan type dialogues even in Anbe Sivam maybe.
  • Please use well-done songs (and a lot of them) in the most meaningless of places in the movie to help disrupt the flow of the movie. It seems that underplayed songs that merge with the story are not the order of the day.
  • Do not use computer graphics in your movies – people will start comparing you to Hollywood graphics. They don’t understand that such movies are made with budgets ranging typically in the Rs. 200 Crores range. They won’t compare you with other Tamil movies where nothing else in the same scale was ever done.

Last but not the least, on a serious note, I do hope that your next film will not see you in any make-up since the expressions on your face go for a toss with all the make-up involved.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

All Rash Abuses

God, it was a really bad day for me.

I started the morning very late. Hence I could not even take a bath. Unshaven, I took the bus to office. It was crowded and hence I was sweating and smelling bad. I reached office and immediately caught a very bad cold. I was not able to breathe properly and started making puffing and panting sounds that one may consider irritating even if they were the ones contributing to them! The guy sitting in the next cubicle had a hard time, hence he was mumbling something to himself – I was already pretty irritated. I made faces at him and asked him to politely go and attend to other freaking duties. The effect of the missed bath had started spreading to my various areas and I had started itching bad. One hand on my nose, another hand on different parts of the body, a vaguely sounding voice and a twitching face - In utter desperation, I uttered to myself “Oh God! Please give me Than ki shakti, Man ki shakti to bear this pain”…

I returned home and slept thinking that the worst was over, until I came back to office the next day.

My company sued me on 6 counts of racism towards Andrew Symonds and I am now facing so many law suits…

When I go to office tomorrow, I fear they will pull my hair, remove my badge and sing farewell to me…

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Best wishes for a great new year

Wishes to one and all for a great new year. Here's my new year creation with my usual sense of pathetic rhyme :-) Enjoy!

Two thousand seven, for some it was heaven,
for others a demon, its time to enliven...
Time to rewind, and look back at the grind,
request you to be kind, the silly rhyme you should not mind...

Saurav back, World Cup whack, T20 hack, Dravid sack...
Modi win, BJP grin, Karat din, Manmohan sin...
Sivaji hit, OSO fit, Saawariya bit, RGV ki Aag $hit...
Stocks boom, retail dhoom, IT gloom, dollar doom...

Time to look ahead, Forget what was said,
Just wake up from your bed, lead your life in good stead...
Two thousand eight, let there be splendid fate,
With results first rate, enjoy it well mate...

P.S: I have a long list of 2008 resolutions. I know resolutions are there to break the next day! Let me see how long the blogging regularly resolutions lasts!
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