Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cheeni Kum - Especially post-interval!

"You see, George, you really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?"
- It’s a wonderful life

No, am not going to talk about the plot or the actors (I think enough justice has been done to them in various blogs and critique review) Herez a recount the top-of-mind thoughts about the movie 12 hours after I watched it.

- Tabu looked ravishing. If I weren’t married and if I had had alternate preferences, I’d’ve made her pic my bathroom beauty! (the only other time she looked so wonderful was in a tamil pic ‘Kaadhal Desam’)

- Loved the gumption of Tabu when she says she is going ahead with her marriage plans and couldn’t wait for her dad to die. (Aravindswamy in ‘Bombay’?) Or the nicknames they had for each other (‘En Arumai Pattikaade’, anyone?) Or the lighthearted repartees (a la Mani Ratnam – ‘Agni Nakshatram’, ‘Anjali’, ‘Roja’, ‘Bombay’?) Not that am complaining. Similar genre I think.
- Amitabh was cool. His ponytail and single-rich-man demeanor was brilliantly executed. (Straight out of an Italian Count/Greek shipping magnate/Mediterranean Prince M & B!) The only other man who could pull this off (debatably) is Kamal Hassan (yes, kill me non-tams!).

- Ilayaraja rocks (coming from an A R Rahman fan, it’s a lot!) I’d forgotten how his music was the most hummable(MS word refuses to accept this word) and romantic pieces ever. Pure melody. Velvet smooth. Reminds me of a waiting-to-be-loved, warm mellow feeling after a few drinks on a nice breezy evening. :)

- The cinematography was fantastic. Light. Airy. Real at the same time. Yet, a place I wanted to be in, not currently in my grasp. Brilliant! P C Shriram is brilliant.

- Zora Sehgal was a riot. Nutty nag. (here’s a secret, my grandmom-in-law is a WWF fan too!)

- Paresh Rawal should’ve been a Hyderabadi or a Tam Brahm. The characterization would’ve been perfect then (arguably). He seemed a little over-the-top, especially the drama at the end.

- The kid was wasted. Precocious. Too smart for her age. Too sad. Unnecessary melodrama. Her lines, atleast in the first half were great, then they began to jar.

- The second half seemed like a private joke.. a mockery of commercial cinema with laughable long speeches (a la the Angry ‘Young’ Man!), silly references (Iron pillar at Qutub anyone?) and suddenly dampening Tabu’s joie-de-vivre(notice her dumbness when Amitabh comes to put ‘sindoor’ on her maang..silly!)

Overall, a wonderful movie. After a long time (after tamil movie ‘Mozhi’) I laughed so much in the theatre and enjoyed the repartees to the hilt. Restored my faith in Indian cinema after a disastrous ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’ last Friday! A must-watch.

"I love that you get cold when it's seventy-one degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're lookin' at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely. And it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
- When Harry Met Sally

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Pursuit of Happiness

How many times in our lives have we started a conversation with "I want..." Pretty often. And once we do achieve the "I want..", do we stop saying that? No, probably not.

I read a couple of articles this morning in the papers that set off this line of thought.

# 1: Mukesh Ambani's house
Mumbai Mirror reported that he is building a 27-storey house with features such as helipads, mini theatre, swimming pool, 6 floors of parking space (to house upto 168 cars), two floors of guest rooms, 4 floors of living space for the family and 600 service staff to maintain the mansion. I wonder if he’d be happy with this, or want more, once it takes shape in concrete and mortar?

In contrast, my maid told me this morning that she is thrilled to have found a first floor asbestos roofed 1 room house before monsoon and she aims to buy a one room shack in two years time!

Who would be happier once they move into their dream house? Would they want more after that?

# Cars and Car Owners
Bluetooth backseats, warm seats, I pod connectivity, moon roof, run-flat tyres.. the list goes on. As if it were not enough to own a BMW, these are some of the extra features that are regularly asked for by BMW clients.

In contrast, my colleague has begun traveling by rick once she moved into this company. She says she is much happier without having to fight for a foot of space on the train each morning. She is saving up to buy a second-hand car in 3 years time.

Will a BMW go faster in Mumbai traffic as compared to a 3 wheeler? Who would be happier traveling in their mode of transport on a rainy day? Would they want more?

When some material, spiritual or emotional change brings us comfort, it doesn’t last, we want more. Want more salary, want children now that we are married, want to go to all jyothirlingam sites….

When do we start saying ‘I want’ and when do we stop?
Who is happy with what they have... my maid? Mukesh Ambani? Me? You?

“It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. How did he know that? “
- Will Smith in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness'


Monday, May 28, 2007

Best Friend's Wedding

My best friend is getting married today. And I am going through a wave of feelings. We were really close in childhood and took some brave life-changing calls together. We did different things later on in life, and even lost touch for a few months in the course of life. However, the bond has always remained, for both of us. We still take off from wherever we left our conversations the last time and all the gaps - time, distance and life, just melt away. And till date, I am myself with her, no airs and no put-on personality, just me in all my truthfulness!

I am thrilled for her of course, she is marrying a person she has known for 3 years and am sure he would treat her well (as a lady should be treated) and bring her laughter and security on a daily basis (and I am hoping lunch to her on a tray often too!)

Am apprehensive about any tiny misunderstandings that could happen during the ceremonies and I pray her wedding goes off flawlessly (just as all her accounting papers in school would always go!)

Am feeling guilty that I am sitting a thousand miles away, typing this blog, instead of being at her side wishing her well in person. My spirit and thoughts are with her (it took me all my energy to drag myself to office today!)

Am feeling happy that she is going to discover a world of togetherness, of being woken up in the goofiest way possible, of enjoying wonderful moments of intimacy, of feeling strong enough to tackle the world knowing that there is a one-man army to back her up, of having a shoulder to rest on and a person to share the world and the rest of her life with!

My dear friend A, wish R and you a super life ahead.

PS: I know I have to do a lot of prayaschittam, rest assured, I shall, and hopefully soon!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Men, Cricket and Kitchen

Am trying to understand men (I know the futility of it, but full marks for my tenacity!) Your views appreciated.

All men that I know (especially the ones who are married) cook at least a bit. But cooking is just creating the dish. It rarely involves the accompanying activities -
a) Cutting the vegetables (forget buying, washing/cleaning)
b) Getting the appropriate cooking vessels
c) Returning ingredients /spices to its appropriate place of residence!
d) Dumping used vessels in cleaning area
e) Transferring cooked preparation to serving bowl (actually, thankfully they don't!)

But watching an F1 match or better still, a cricket match on TV gets men to do ALL of the following -
a) Adjusting the drapes to set room ambience
b) Buying beer
c) Putting beer in fridge (wow! you know where the fridge is!!)
d) Locating and using the bottle opener
e) Calling the grocer to buy snacks (Hmm!)
f) Locating the remote without assistance!!

Talk about conditional processing!

ps: Dear Men, will thee consider ordering food the next time?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sikhs and Cicadas

Two news items caught my interest this morning.

One pertained to the brouhaha over Godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim who leads a spiritual organization called Sacha Sauda(henceforth referred to as SS), which runs campuses called 'deras'. The organization has over 2.5 crore followers, several hundred acres of land (also used for agricultural purposes), runs charity institutions like colleges, schools and hostels and propounds a way of life that includes a certain form of yoga to be practised for a healthy life. However, SS has had a chequered past, with sexual scandals, murders and land cases tainting its reputation. SS is also supposed to have political connections with Hindu parties (translates to non-Sikh parties)

But the current controversy has nothing to do with SS's way of life, court cases or murder; it is to do with a dress worn by the leader on some occasion. Huzoor Maharaj Sant Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh Ji (as he is referred to by his followers) wore a dress that resembled closely the dress of Guru Gobind Singh, the last guru of Sikhs, which really hurt the sentiments of Sikhs. This resulted in angry protests, a 'hukumnama' (edict given by the temporal body of Sikhs, the Akal Takht) that all deras (in various places) were to be forcefully evicted immediately. Some right wing radical factions of Sikhs even broached the idea of sending suicide squads to various Sacha Sauda deras.

So SS retaliated by deciding to hold blood camps on the same day (today) in its campuses.

Counter again.

My opinion is this - at the end of the day its a garment. Did Mahatma Gandhi not ape Christ's last loin cloth? SS as a sect is non-violent. It doesn't advocate any negative philosophy either. Nor is it prejudiced against a race, caste, community, religion, country or social practice. If the leader preaches a philosophy similar to Guru Gobind's, so be it. Plagiarism is the best form of Flattery! By extension, SS followers are a quasi-Sikh community. Why not allow them their path to the Big One? Everybody has their way to God, hope, the Supreme, a super being, faith, fate, the Big Man with a Pipe, destiny, or whatever you wish to call the Un-named force. Restrictions are unnecessary and cause sectarianism.

"Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or out"
- Robert Frost, 'Mending Wall'

The other article I read was certainly lighter (though personally scarier). Not hundreds, not thousands, not even millions, but BILLIONS of cicadas are expected to make their way into Middle Earth from underground this June across northern Illinois, parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. The monsters are red-eyed (yup, grandma always maintained horror creatures were red-eyed) and the size that scares me most... shrimp-sized. Fortunately, they do not sting or bite. But billions?

Their mating calls (chirping? More like mini wood saws!) are expected to drown most other sounds, including television and telephones. Dogs, cats and other insect-lovers can have a feast though, these cicadas are supposed to be high in protein. (yikes!) I believe they surface once every 17 years or so. They live underground (about a metre or so below surface), go through six life stages and in the sixth stage burrow a tunnel to the top soil. They wait for good climate (17 deg C) and then emerge like superstars. They then quickly molt and start mating. They are called 'nymphs' at the 'emerge-from-the-ground' stage. Then they turn 'maniacs'. (Yeah, used in conjunction with the 'nymphs'!)

They mate like crazy. In fact that is ALL they do for the next 30 days, the last 30 glorious days of their life, one super orgy(yeah, baby!). The males then drop dead from exertion. The females lay the eggs and die too. The babies once born just burrow into the earth for the next 16 years of hibernation, awaiting their prom-orgy!

Lots to learn from the cicadas... just love and make love. Why fight over clothes and the lot? Life is short. Chill, chill, just chill!

ps: All views are solely mine. And are not intended to make fun of or hurt the sentiments of anyone.

Friday, May 18, 2007

May mein...

Things am looking forward to in rest of May

  • My ma-in-law's famous kozhakattais (modaks, sweet momos, steamed sweet south indian delicacy)

  • Thalaivar's 'Sivaji'.

  • Going home to be with my dad on his b'day.

  • My Insti's alumni meet in Bombay. (hope to meet batchmates after passing out ages ago!)

  • Buying some kurtas at FabIndia.

  • And some good times...for good times = Santori times! (I love 'Lost in Translation')

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cooking in Hell!

As a child, with my parents and all living grandparents (3 of 'em) staying with us, I grew up royally pampered.Yeah, true!Never learnt how to make tea or coffee or even 'thayir saadam' (curd rice). I know it translates to 'ultra-spoilt' and sub zero cooking skills!

So that being the prologue, let me cut to the actual incident that occurred last evening.I decided to make a simple 'dal-palak' khichdi and cucumber raita for dinner last night.Decided one couldn't go wrong with cucumber raita.Peeled the cukes. Cut 'em beautifully. Salted 'em. Added milk, curd etc etc. And then tasted it proudly and professionally (yeah, like the cooks in 'Iron Chef').Then spat in disgust.

Did you know that there are some world-weary BITTER cukes in the world???
I learnt yesterday!

To the embarrassing sound of laughter-directed-at-you, I heard my beloved patidev go on to describe my cooking exploits many moons ago, to my ma-in-law. A hitherto secret gaffe,now out for the world to smile at!

I got married a coupla years ago. Traveled across many seas to a new home with a brand-new husband! Patidev showed me a kitchen bigger than my current house at Bombay!The next morn after he left for work, I decided to use my brand new Meenakshi Ammal 'Cook and See - I' and make a fabulous sambaar. (New Husband = Full Enthusiasm)

Like a good house husband, my patidev had stocked various colored spice-powders in similar looking jars in a row. There was a red one, an orangish-brown one and a yellowish-orange one. So I decided that the first one was 'sambaar podi', the second 'rasam podi' and the third 'Turmeric'.
Made sambaar EXACTLY as per proportions in the book.
Tasted it.
My tongues protested at the red-hot sting.
Drank a gallon of water straight.
Crying, I threw away the sambaar.

But I don't accept defeat too quickly. (at least I like to believe that!) So I tried sambaar the next day.
Same result. Trash.
Again the next. Same result. More trash.
Trash. Sigh!
Trash. Hated sambaar by friday evening.

Saturday arrived. My patidev announced he'd make sambaar :(

I decided to 'supervise' him :)To my horror, he pulled out powder II to make it(yeah the orangish brown one) So (with me quaking in my boots in 'realization waiting to occur') I asked him what the powders were.
yellowish-orange = Rasam Powder (turmeric is YELLOW only)
orangish-brown one = Sambar powder

red one = Chilli Powder (Drat, they powder chillies too!)
Did you know that there are three standard spices in a south Indian kitchen????
I learnt that day!

Felt as enlightened as Gautama Buddha.

Shall never stop hearing about this gaffe. Can already imagine a conversation 75 years later at a south-Indian wedding, with my grandson reassuring my grand daughter-in-law, "Oh, don't worry about cooking. You'll learn. Even in those bygone days, cooking was never an issue. Do you know what my grandma did....."


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Have you ever stood at crossroads, wondering which road would lead you to your destination?
Felt confused?
Prayed you were choosing the right one?

I have!

Personally, it is difficult to choose between two options. And standing at the crossroads, confusion prevails.

It is probably a better idea to choose a road, figure out if it is smooth enough, and if not, return to the crossroads to choose the other.

But what if the other one is bumpy too?
Is it wise to keep going from one road to another?
What if choosing a road is irreversible?
What if crossroads are important decisions in life... such as family, career etc?

Decisions decisions... too many crossroads in life.

Reminds me of Richard Bach's 'One', where he talks about many of us starting at the same place, but turning out differently because of decisions we make at each junction.

"There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark."

Monday, May 14, 2007

I promise...

...that I shall never be associated with Bacchus or Dionysus or Liber or the lot...grroooan!

"Little drummers in my head
Practising for the R Day parade
Did they slip in with the wine?"

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Comeback Kid

As my rickshaw was perilously close to being crushed between a monstrous looking truck and an overcrowded bus in the maddening Bombay traffic near the airport, I promised the Big Man Up there that I would do many things, but needed to live with 32 intact to do 'em. It included getting in touch with long-lost friends, cleaning my clothes shelf, being more regular in my calls to my grandparents, losing weight(always!), giving up chocolates, not arguing with my partner...and reviving my fledgling of a frozen blog.

The thawing and de-freezing attempt is this post. (yeah, 'the crushing embrace' was that close!) In an attempt to leave a memory for posterity (if the world is not destroyed and blog sites do not become dusty libraries) herez my list of favourites ever & dislikes ever(relatively in my 27 wonderful years of existence).

Lets start with the usual.

Books I swear by
JLS, The Godfather, Love Story, The Kite Runner, Gone With The Wind, Bridges of Madison County, The Alchemist

Movies I'd've loved to be in
The Godfather, Silsila, Lost in Translation, Brokeback Mountain, Sound of Music, Crash, Roman Holiday, Casablanca, A Streetcar Named Desire, Mouna Ragam, Bombay(the tam version)

Places I HAVE to see
Srilanka, Greece, The Great Wall of China, Egypt, Jerusalem, Alaska, Leh-Ladakh, Kashmir, Disneyland, Scotland, Germany, Turkey, My dream home

Food I can't do without
Coffee, Chocolate(!), Italian food, VennPongal, Vella cheedai, Kozhakattai, Bhelpuri, Sauvignon Blanc, Mint Tea

Fave Songs Ever(for their associated memories, the music, the lyrics)
Uyire Uyire(Bombay), En Mel Vizhuntha Mazhaithuliye(May Maadam), Dil Se Re(Dil Se), Edelweiss(Sound of Music), Sweet Child O'Mine(Guns 'n Roses), Time(Pink Floyd), Losing My Religion(R.E.M), Come Undone(Duran Duran), Like a Prayer(Madonna), Top of the World(Carpenters)

Best Features in a person (what I dig, baby!)
Sense of humour, Dignity, Crisis management, Ability to laugh at himself...easily, Honesty, A ready smile, Dimples (that had to creep in there!) Of course being Successful and Famous and Rich help, but not much!

Pet Peeves
  • Spitting on the road...often
  • Rudeness
  • Raised voice
  • Violence, abuse of any kind
  • Letting parents/grandparents fend for themselves.
  • Pettiness
  • Money-mindedness
  • Eyeing other women openly
  • Kids crying (it breaks my heart)

I enjoy..

Being woken up with a smile, Smell of the first rains (petrichor?), Breezy walk by the beach, Romantic candlelit dinners, Surprise gifts, Sound of a deep-throated chuckle, Good Coffee, A movie/play/musical concert/speech that moves me, Stand-up comedies, Good simple food (Preferably my mom's!)

"Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things"