Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Long time no post, I know, I know. This post more than proves my devotion to blogging.

I'm sitting here in a FabIndia kurta. My left-hand fingers are coloured in mehendi. The remains of a scarlet teeka are still on my forehead, from the khetpaal ceremony of the morning. I'm not allowed to leave the house now, until the baraat starts off. My Kakas, Mamas, other badey-log, are having dinner right now. Too nervous to sleep, eat, or sit at peace, I'm all set for my marriage tomorrow.

Yes, there are those little things left over. My bag needs one more going-over. Perhaps I need to pack one more pair of socks. My bride-to-be's sister is trying to get the two of us some time to talk, perhaps in a coffee shop. (Certainly my folks at home are going to find this idea strange, unconventional.) My cousin still hasn't arrived from Bangalore, she'll be here at eleven. My brother and Mom have gone to some mandap-guy for more last-minute arrangements.

[My buaji's now urging me to eat, else dinner will be cold. This narrative continues after dinner.]

So now my father's gone to the airport to pick up my cousin. They're slathered one more layer of mehendi over my left hand, so I'm typing this with my right hand now. Just finished with a pooja dedicated to my poorvaj. The house is in bedlam, now more than an hour ago.
We, the baraat, are leaving tomorrow morning for Mumbai. Before we leave, we need to perform the Ganesh pooja, so we're all getting up at 4 AM. Added to all the relatives coming in, there will be little time for sleep tonight. Not that I could have, even if I had the time. By this time tomorrow, I will be a married man. The girl who has been in my dreams for the past few months, with whom I spent every evening, every morning, on the phone, and with whom I felt truly not-alone for the first time in my life, will be my wife. Nabokov himself would be at a loss for words at this point.
I spent today thus: Woke up with black woollen fibres in my nose (I HATE those black kambals the mangal karyalayas hire out). Talked about The State Of Social Work In India with a -

So the second coat of mehendi is now off. The luggage is packed, I'm shaved, all we're waiting for is my cousin to arrive from the airport. To resume my narrative.

-with a cousin. Underwent the Peethi - this is when you sit wrapped in only a towel on a verandah, shivering, while your aunt slaps on cold gobs of umtan all over you and then rubs them off, to 'make you fair'. Underwent the Khetpal ceremony. This is where you pray to the 'Earth Gods' and to your ancestors to make your Union successful. Had lunch. Copied a bunch of Garba CDs in preparation for the Sangeet ceremony, which will be immediately after my wife - yes, my wife - arrives here. Composed a poster saying Sudarshan weds Payal, for the Qualis' in the baraat. Redid same four times. First coat of mehendi on hand. Slept with an old newspaper spread out under said hand. Woke up to phone from fiancee. Pottered around doing other stuff.

Now my father's given me an ultimatum. I really must sleep, since I'm waking up by 4. The cousin still hasn't arrived; I'll meet her in the morning now. No matter. Tomorrow's going to be a long, eventful journey.

Don't know when I'll blog again. This exercise too was mostly useless; I haven't been able to express how I feel. Suffice it to say I'm looking forward to this big adventure, to be conquered with my wife by my side.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

So here's a great business idea. The guy who did this has probably retired by now to his villa in Southern France :).

1. Create a really good joke related to the seasons or festivals. This is the hard part. It has to be a joke that'll get forwarded and published every year or maybe even several times a year. If you can't create such a joke, pick up a newly created one of this sort which is likely to enjoy circulation for a while. Our entrepreneur either created or used this popular list called 'Rules for Halloween'.

2. Insert a reference into this that people don't understand. Treat the reference as something everyone ought to know. In the above case you'll see that rule no. 15 refers to some obscure town called 'Nilbog'. Then it rubs the point in by saying "You're in trouble if you know this one". The funny thing is, I've never met anyone who knows of that reference. Equally funny is that this particular line has been in every iteration of this joke I've seen, since I got an email id, about 10 years ago.

3. Create a web page that has as the title, the obscure term you've inserted into the popular joke or story. Make sure you put up a google ad or something similar on that page. In this case we've got a page like this, which *always* shows up as the first item on any Google search. If you try to access this site today , you'll have trouble because there are apparently way too many people googling for Nilbog, getting this page, and trying to find out this apparently well known thing.

4. Retire on the proceeds of the advertising.

5. Invite me to your villa when you get the chance :).
So what else is blogger for, if not to vent and rant? :).
Came across this article on the PassionForCinema site, which article professes to be about 'the Lost Art of Lyric Writing', and raves about how amazing the lyrics of some songs are while others suck. One of the examples of 'good' songs is what he calls 'Kajra Re'.
FOR ONCE AND ALL : The word is Kajrare, it is an adjective used to describe those 'kaale naina' later in the line, and it means 'made dark as if by applying kajra'. Kajra isn't some babe you're addressing with a Re. Why not call Omkara 'Omka Ra', Parinda 'Parin Da', Koyla 'Koy La', and so on?
God knows which ingliss-medium-convent-ijicated marketing guy mislabeled that song, and it's stuck since then. Aaargh!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I sat down, after God knows how many months, to hammer out a new post on this blog. The edit window was open all day, and remained empty until I shut down the computer late at night.

Melancholy, loneliness, depression, bad luck, hope - this blog has been witness to all these over the past years. Sometime in the past few months, though, pure unadulterated happiness knocked at my door, found it unlocked, and made itself at home in my mind without telling me. When I looked around and noticed it living there, it was such a novel sensation that I couldn't figure out a way to express it in mere words.

No point in being all literary about it, I suppose. The news in brief is this : I'm engaged. To be married. To the cutest girl in the world (tm). We met a few months ago, through a common family friend, thought about it for a few weeks (mostly about how lucky we were), and decided to hitch.

And now every spare moment of my day is spent in talking to her on the phone (she's in Mumbai). The date is set for mid-December; there's not much time. Both our families are now busy with the planning and logistics and whatnot.

So, maybe the road ahead still contains sadness. Atleast I'm not facing it alone. Touch wood.

Addendum : And, as JR says in his comment to this post, the quizzing has taken a hit in the pat few months. Not only the quizzing, the blogging, the writing, the socializing, the movie-watching, have gone down. Funnily enough, the reading is still on track and in fact I'm doing more than ever of it. :)

Monday, June 05, 2006

I meet you every now and then, and never know what to say to you. Usually I know the bare skeleton of your life : your education, your parents' names, your job, one or two photographs of you. Usually we both know that our horoscopes match well enough for us to meet.

But none of this makes for good conversation. Because in the back of our minds, we're both frightened of being rejected. We both know that if we like the other too much, and then if the other rejects us, it might leave us in a bind. So we're afraid to smile too much, to talk about anything other than current events or our recent pasts. Pasts are safe to talk about; they will not change if we're rejected. The future, however, composed of jobs and houses and lives together, changes every time I meet a different you; so it is dangerous to talk about it. We venture only diffidently, step by step, into that territory.

So many times, I've wished I knew what made you laugh, what made you happy. So many times, I thought that even if we aren't fated to be together, I ought to leave you happy, leave you feeling good about yourself. Everyone deserves to feel that way once in a while. But if I knew how to master that secret weapon, I would have used it on the dozens of pretty girls I've fallen for at one time or the other; perhaps we wouldn't be meeting like this, again and again and again.

So often, I've wished to reassure you, when you spoke of some sadness you've passed through in your life; divorce or death or loss or loneliness or failure; wished to reach out and hold your hand and say to you that it won't always be like that, that there will be happiness soon, whether from me or from the next me you meet. But I don't know how to say that, either, without venturing into the dangerous territory of futures.

Every time I was asked, "What do you want?", I've wanted to say, "I want a good friend who loves me," but, fearing that would sound too selfish, have replied vaguely with adjectives like intelligent, homely, balanced, and that dreadful catchall, understanding. And we both nod at each other, both knowing that the answer made no sense, nor was it expected to.

My best friends are those that have known me for years; how do I show myself a loyal friend, a good companion, a nice guy, in the few minutes, the few questions-and-answers that we have together? How can one distil a personality into a questionnaire? Who knows what demons keep me awake at night, what daydreams you have when you wait in queues? Who knows, then, that we might be perfect for each other, yet are rejecting each other because of a hunch, a feeling, a gesture of the hands? Is it not safer, though, to let a hundred perfect matches slip through than to allow one mismatch?

But is that all we can be? Matches, mismatches? Not friends, pals, acquaintances? There's only a binary answer to our meeting : Match or mis-. Let us, then, forgive each other in advance for being critical, for silently imagining our possible futures without ever speaking of then, and look beyond them.

All that we speak of, possible lives, careers, homes, are built on the days, hours, moments, that we might spend together. Moments such as this sampler, single-serving moment that we've been given now. Let's not grasp this moment as if it were the last we have, let us treat it instead as the first of many, and see if we like it better that way. Let's talk about the movie we saw on TV yesterday, about that funny man at the next table, about the pranks we played on our grandfathers. Let's not drown this moment in heaviness.

Wasn't Aamir Khan funny in Andaz Apna Apna?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Don't normally post reviews and suchlike, but what the hey...

Since no one has posted a review of Darna Zaroori Hai so far, and I saw it last night, I guess it's my turn to write this. Wanted to see this movie ever since it was announced. Especially since I really, really liked the first part, Darna Manaa Hai. Apparently there were many more like me - the theatre was full of young folks, all intent on having a 'good time' - said good time consisting of making loud noises every time words like 'chudail', 'amaavas ki raat', and so on were spoken.

So anyway, on to the movie. No spoilers here, unless you're one of those folks who don't want to know who the director of the movie was.

I was very apprehensive about the choice of Sajid Khan as director of one of the segments, but it turns out I needn't have worried. The placement of his segment (the first) was superb and did the all-important job of getting the audience primed and ready for what was to follow. All the standard horror movie cliches were tossed off and the audience had a field day shouting. This was a self-referential segment, by the way - the main character goes to a theatre to watch Darna Manaa Hai. :) Only RGV movies have that sort of humour in them, methinks.

The second story, the Amitabh Bachchan one directed by RGV himself was IMO the best of the lot. Very tight direction, very short story (less than 10 minutes), excellent open-ended climax. Paisa vasool right there. But after that it all went downhill.

At least two of the stories seem to be variations on stories from DMH. Astute viewers will figure out the 'twist' ending about halfway through. Another story, the one with Rajpal Yadav - an idea with a lot of potential, methinks - was just a total waste. The Chekravarty segment (The one with the police inspector) could have done with much less explanation. Why oh why do directors insist on treating viewers like idiots who need to be explained everything?

The production values were superb throughout, acting was mostly great (thank goodness no Sanjay Kapoor this time), background music appropriate. The only thing that let me down was the stories themselves. The standard RGV trademark - stupid letdown in the climax - was there too.
The 'cover story', within which the smaller segments were narrated, was just as hokey as in DMH. But that was expected, I guess.

All the way home, I kept thinking up alternate endings and twists that would have worked better. Ended up jotting down three story ideas that'll probably make it onto this blog someday. Now if only RGV reads this blog :)

In short : It's worth a watch if you liked DMH. It'll probably work best for folks who don't read too many horror stories. There are moments that make the whole thing worthwhile. And atleast one genuinely creepy moment that sticks to your brain.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Been noticing some really, really sucky ad campaigns for a while. I mean, these would have belonged to Ramanand’s JaDE Hall of Shame, but I cringe from sullying that hallowed institution by adding these folks.

1.Harpic: Yes, we’ve all see the close-up shots of people’s loos and Aman Verma the bhangi showing us how to clean them, on TV. But apparently this didn’t increase sales enough, because these guys came out with a lucky draw scheme. Stop for a moment and try to think up a name for such a scheme. Go on. Whatever you thought, it doesn’t have any hint of Loos, toilets, suchlike in it, right? But no, our geniuses went ahead and named the campaign ‘Pot banaye Kismat Hot’. To emphasize exactly what ‘pot’ they’re talking about, the logo (sic) for this campaign has a western toilet seat in the o’s of ‘Pot’ and ‘Hot’. Lovely.

2.Godrej Hair dye: Well, these guys created some new hair colours, Auburn and Copper and whatever names makes women think they’re exciting colours. They then created a print ad with photos of models wearing said colour dyes. So far so good; now you’ve got a quarter page ad with like 6 headshots and ‘auburn’ and whatnot under each shot. Now comes the genius. They took this lovely ad, and saved money on the campaign by... printing the ad in the inner BLACK AND WHITE pages of all the major newspapers. All the models now look grey-haired. Thank you.

3.So there’s this ten minute radio program on Vividh Bharati that comes on every morning. Stop right here. Think of the target audience for a RADIO program. Well, whatever you thought of, this particular program isn’t reaching its target audience for sure. It’s a program talking about types of HEARING AIDS and is sponsored by Mandke Hearing Services. This is like having a silent ad on TV advertising white canes.

4. Tiny ad in the Aaj Ka Anand paper advertising a new housing scheme. Ad extols how close it is to all the facilities: Only few minutes from Airport, Railway Station, Camp, Schools, Yeravada. I swear to you, these are the five ‘facilities’ listed in that ad. For those not in the know, Yeravada is a Pune Suburb most famous for its Paagalkhana and for its prison. So these guys are basically saying that you, target audience, are going to be in and out of mental hospitals and jail all the time, why not buy our place, it’ll be more convenient for your relatives when they want to visit you?

Friday, February 24, 2006

This blog has been, over the years, mostly a platform for me to post fiction, ramblings, PJs, and other suchlike stuff which isn't closely connected to the outside world. But sometimes an event occurs that so closely echoes my personal belief that it deserves, nay, requires to be posted here.

Manjunath Shanmugam's murder was not exactly one of those - we have seen it happen several times. But the response from 'Young India', folks like us, to this event was amazing. Though the case had been buried by the mainstream media, it was folks like Gaurav Sabnis that dragged it back to life. Newspapers went on to give momentum to the issue and brought the case into the spotlight.

The next logical step has been taken. A formal Trust has been created by his classmates, to make sure the case comes to the correct conclusion. Gaurav posts the mail from the trust on his blog. Please, do what you can to help.

Unless you want to spend your life talking about how India's a terrible place to live in and how society's going bad.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Submitted an entry to the Flash Fiction contest over at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. So their short list came out today, and my name isn't on it. The story of my life. Anyway, here's my rejected effort. The only reason I entered the contest is to force myself to write something, anything. Guess I succeeded in that.


A sudden chill in the air awakens me. The sound of the train continues unabated, the passengers remain asleep; the flickering green night-light in the next compartment is the only illumination. I am still wrapped up in my blanket, still in my middle-berth, still sleepy. Groggily I look around. There is an undercurrent of hush in the air, a sense of some invisible timelessness. It is as if this journey is eternal, spanning worlds. We are travelling to some nether land, I whisper to myself, carried along by my fancy, and I look over the edge of my bunk at my co-passengers, afraid that I’m traveling alone. They’re asleep.

Someone far off in the distance mumbles a few words, in a language I don’t understand. In my dreamlike state, it doesn’t sound even human. The sound of the train has taken on an echoing, organic quality, like horse’s hooves. Something about the atmosphere brings to mind the ghastly, gothic, form of Death, skeletal, dark-robed, scythe-in-hand. Death, I think to myself, Death, on his black horse, is following us.

No, I correct myself. We are entering his domain. Death has been here, or will be soon, or is surveying the results of his handiwork here. The hoofbeats slow down. I pull myself out of the reverie, note the yellow squares of light marching along the floor of the compartment. From my position it is hard to make out which station we are pulling into. I twist myself out of the blankets, get my head as far down as possible, look out the window, looking for the rhomboid squares that will tell me where I am. Finally one comes into view, remains in view as the train comes to a halt. In English and Hindi and Gujarati the sign reads: Godhra.