Friday, December 23, 2005

'hic'ory dickory doc

What is the correct remedy for a hiccup? Drink water, inhale deep, scare the person shitless so that the hiccup is dispelled like a bubble..or some such thing. Right? Well, so I tried that method with my daughter the other day. She went 'hic, hic, hic' for more than half an hour. So I and wifey waited for the right moment and then I went 'bow!' on my unsuspecting tot. And lo and behold. She was cured. But then I heard my wife from behind me - "hic". I guess I was a wee bit loud. Talk about blowing out fire with fire. Or starting it. Or..whatever.

Moving on to TV shows, the one show that really tickles my funnybone is this one on Pogo - Takeshi's castle. And it's not the weird antics of the gamers that get me; it's Javed Jaffrey's commentary, in his inimitable style. And the game itself is a non-stop nonsense for a half hour, offering full timepass. It's one helluva stress-buster. Go watch it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

No comments

Finally did it. Made Anu read all my stories. And this is what she had to say - "hmmm, nice...but your stories are like somebody wearing the trousers first, then underwear, then shoes, then the shirt, and then finally...the socks." She also compared my shorties to a college student hurriedly making notes in class to be elaborated at home (which the student rarely does). Interesting analogies, but given the fact that she doesn't much prefer spooky stuff, and she's not a frequent browser; doesnt have a blog, doesn't want to have one; she was patient enough to go through every single one of 'em and critique 'em. You know, she's been my worst critic, and I say this at the cost of sounding cliched, but that's how it's always been. Her critiques pack more punch than my stories and every once a while, I lug them to her. Helps for some creative defragmentation.

Her parting shot? "I like the comments on your blog better than your stories".

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Gale mein khich khich..."

He thought he heard someone cough in the adjacent room. It startled him, because he was alone and his brother wasn't due till morning. But you never knew with him, sneaked in like a cat most times.

"Nikhil?"

No answer. He went and checked the room. Nobody. But he was 100% sure he wasn't hearing things. He had distinctly heard a cough. He scanned the room. It was silly. How could someone be here? It was plain as daylight. The windows were closed, so it couldn't be the neighbors. He switched the lights off and went back to his room.

There was a lot of talk about thefts in the area lately, but he knew a thief would be much smarter than to be just coughing around the house he intended to burgle. He smiled to himself, shaking his head. He got back to his novel.

And somebody coughed, again.

He didn't want to admit, but his heart skipped a beat as he sat up.

He looked around for something to hold, something he could use as a weapon. He tiptoed to the door, his hands a little shaky. He didn't want to forewarn the intruder, whoever it was. He just sneaked to the door and looked out of the room. Suddenly the silence screamed at his ears. For a minute, he again felt silly doing this. He couldn't afford to be seen dead in this position, not in the least by Nikhil. Five minutes. No sound. He stepped out of the room, moving to the adjacent room again. The glow from the street light outside spread vaguely on the bed. Did he see something move? His hand slid on the wall to the switch board. Click. Nothing.

******

He groggily opened the door to his brother who walked in, shaking his head. Should he tell him about the weird incident last night? He silently closed the door behind him and followed his brother to his room.

"Drats, I left my cell here last night. I must've got a hundred messages." He grabbed the little instrument and started checking.

"That's funny; only two messages." Nikhil said, pushing his hair back.

Just then a new message came in.

A cough.

"Cool tone, huh?" He smiled at his brother, who looked as if he'd swallowed a lot of tooth paste.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lights, camera, action replay...

Had written this article on Sulekha a few years ago. Conversing with Pre, I suddenly chanced upon it and thought, 'hey, why not lug it to my blog?" So, here it is. A word of caution tho'. From the time I wrote it until now, a few of my own opinions about the article's content have...well, not changed, but let's just say I've grown up to accepting, and I realized later that I did in fact falter here and there writing it...so please if you feel strongly about something I wrote in here, hold that thought a moment. The article's 4 years old and a lot has changed since then.


Making Films in India. It's Different!

Snippets from a typical Indian movie promo on TV:
Director: “Yeh film hat ke hai. It's different. Achchi story hai” (This film is different. Good story).We see a boy and girl dancing and singing in Switzerland. Great. What a different story!

Actor: “Uh, jab maine script pada, to mujhe laga ki yeh role bada hi challenging hoga” (When I read the script, I realised the role must be very challenging).We see some shots from song no. 2. True. Those steps are indeed challenging.

Actress: “Uh, mera role bahut hi bold hai. Do achche gaane hain”(I play a bold character. There are a couple of good songs).A wet number follows. It does take courage to prance in the rain with your saree clinging to you and of course, more than two dozen folks watching.

I've been watching movies ever since I was a little boy. Having grown up in a very culturally inclined family, dining table (heck, just about any table) conversations always began and ended with the arts.

“Which raga did Bhimsen Joshi render on television last night?”

“No, Shyam Benegal has not directed any regional language film.”

“Ma, stop making fun of my favourite actor!”

“I'm not gonna miss that Steve Martin movie tonight.”

Now I know for a fact that movies told stories and entertained. Then came music. Background score. Dubbing. The rest, as the clichéd phrase goes, is history. As technology advanced, so did the other aspects of filmmaking -- from the traditional 'drama' form of just mouthing written dialogue and emoting, we graduated to the more realistic portrayal of life around us. Real life locations, gripping dialogue in 'life-like' clipped tones, advanced cinematography, etc.

When movies came to life on the American screens, musicals were the in thing. The song and drama format captured the essence of life in a more surrealistic atmosphere. That was another era. Movies back here too started out pretty much the same way. A basic story. A love angle. Studio settings. Songs, dances, emotion, drama. The works. Good time pass.

Cut to present day India. People are more exposed to the outer world, thanks to cable TV. But in terms of our movies, I don't think we have made much progress. Oh yes, technically we have improved. Production values have gone up. But then the very foundation of a good movie has got buried in the process of churning out movie after movie, ensuring that the Indian film industry is the largest in the world, thank you, but in terms of quality -- uh huh, needs work.

Two things. Why only love stories? And why so many songs? Come to think of it, can't movies be made without songs? Why are we so stuck up on them? Doesn't it sort of make stories so very artificial? And kill the continuity of a good story? This song and dance routine in some movies goes to ridiculous lengths. Things were different back then when the only medium of entertainment was the movies. But now, after TV, do we still need to see those countless songs thrown into song-like commercial breaks? We have music video channels. We could watch them there. Why show them in well-made movies at all?

Suffering mother -- sing a song to cure her. Dying brother -- sing a song to make his dying easier. Boy falls in love with girl -- sing a song to show his feelings. Any eventful scene in an Indian film -- sing a song.

Just watch a movie of the 70s and then watch a present day one. How different is the treatment? How much has the basic premise changed? I'll bet my last penny -- not much. Why? “Because the people want that.” “Because we're Indians, we love songs and emotions. Loud dialogues.” “Because we are a country of villages, of the masses. And they can't appreciate quality stuff.” Bull. And more bull. We all know that these reasons are illogical and childish. We have the capacity to digest more themes and topics in movies than any other country in the world. And why not? We are such a diverse culture. Each family, each house has a story to tell. Our country's history has so much to tell. Then why this cheap fixation for 'boy meets girl, boy fights baddies, boy gets girl' theme that has been done to death? “Hey, that's not true! We have changed themes nowadays,” you may counter. Well, yeah, ok. It might have. But ultimately that's what forms the very core of the film. How many movies have you seen in the last few years and come out confidently telling, “Hey, this one was different.”

Bottom line: A good story doesn't need songs and heaving cleavages to set the box office on fire. What it needs is a good story line and a sharp script. Remember, it's how you put it across what sells a good story. Yeah, yeah, commercial interests, popularity charts and all that. The producer has to make money. Ditto the entire crew. But tell me something, isn't it high time we invested in quality projects rather than making this another 'assembly line' profession? Let the intensity show in the dialogue itself rather than the 'loud' way in which it is delivered. Silent anger can be more effective than shouting your lungs off. And love, well do you really think romance is only possible when a dozen nymphets shake a leg behind you? Doesn't it touch your heart when eyes speak? Cannot a gesture touch your heart? And most of all, do you think a dramatic situation really needs loud background score to chill your spine? If you ask me, deafening silence makes it more realistic.

Ok, a few guys from the movie industry could rough me up and say – “Lay off, pal. You don't know a thing about entertainment. That's what people want. So we give it to them.” Oh, really? Why, have they taken a door to door consensus on what people want? Or have directors held press conferences and invited people to ask questions on how they want films made? If you bring up a tiger on grass, it doesn't know the taste of anything else. We have been brought up on songs and dances from Alam Ara, so it's obvious we don't know how to make any other kind of film. A formula is a formula is a formula.

The truth is, directors and producers have never really bothered with what people want. Aren't the recent debacles in the box office proof enough that this song and dance formula doesn't work anymore? People want to see substance. They want to see good stories being told. Considering India's cultural diversity, imagine her potential to provide stories. The topics that could be generated are immense. Not just urban, even rural stories that have substance can click. Why stick to the same old story of boy meets girl? Do humans have these feelings only for one another?

And please, stop blaming people for your inefficiency as a director or a screenplay writer (that's another article altogether, what say Abbas?). Ok, so you want to have a song in your movie, without which you will suffocate to death? Fine. Just have a background number when something important happens in a movie. Won't it work? Of course it will. We've never tried it. Never taken the risk. Remember, unless you show people what good films are, how will they know?

Stop feeding the tiger grass. Let us have some meat please. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

game for it..

Do kids play as much as we did in our times? I doubt it. Well, I do see kids running around in family-dos and other social gatherings, but they seem to be doing only that - run around. But do these guys play the games we used to? 'ice-pice', 'laal pathar', 'satkhopdi', 'kith-kiththa'(essentially a girls' game) and there are so many others. I know most of these games by their hindi/bihari names, but am sure they are the same for kids all over the country. Oh, what fun. And we used to enjoy playing these games in summer and especially on a moonlit night. 'Satkhopdi' was a favorite with us guys. Also marbles. And oh yes, tops.. we used to call these crazy li'l things lattu. I remember once my father had made one such top for me. He'd taken great pains to make me one and boy, were the other guys envious of me. See, as kids the novelty or pride was not in the sleekness of such toys but the crude, home-made kinda feel. They'd gun me for my top, borrowing every now and then...made me feel really special. And then there was this neighboring kid who had a real 'clint-eastwood'ish toy pistol. It had this really long barrel and was metallic black. *sigh*, I don't mind owning one like that even at this age (only the cops and anti-terrorist squad would be on my trail now). And those kite flying sessions. Sheer pleasure. Having lived in a colony, we kids were a real close-knit gang and always upto something or the other. We'd climb trees, walls and steal fruits and we'd wait eagerly for festivals when we could really test our limits as mischief-mongers. We had a great time with all these games. I for one, wouldn't have imagined a childhood without these. We had so much to look forward to.

And then came the TV.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Short story long...

Drat, I don't seem to be able to post anything aside from stories. Or maybe I'm just getting plain old and have nothing to contribute to the effervescent blogworld. I remember I started blogging at the behest of a friend/colleague two and a half years ago. It's funny 'cause I remember being very reluctant to enter this world.

"An online diary? Whatever for?"

"Well, it's a great way to vent your thoughts, feelings etc. And you may try penning down those weird stories of yours there instead of feeding on my brains" was the answer my friend had for me.

"And how do I get into this...weblog, or blog, or whatever it is that you call it?"

"Simple. I'll give you a link. Just go there, sign up and that's it."

"That's it?"

"Yeah. You just open your diary each day and type away."

"And..."

"There's nothing much to it actually. Well, there are other ways to customize it the way you want it to look. But that's a long way. Start by just writing something."

So there it was. Got an account with blurty and started 'typing away'. I found it a little odd initially. A diary is something very private, something very close to one's heart. But here, it was diferent. Here it was like, you enter a stage, do your mono act and then wait for the audience to critique you on the spot. Or you don't, if you didn't want others to read it. I said to myself - awww, what's the fun if others can't read what you have to say. And hey, it'll be good fun to exchange thoughts and ideas, read other writers. So there I went, not looking back since then.
In between, I even shifted to rediffblogs once...but eventually returned to Blurty. And stayed there until recently when I shifted once again to blogspot. It's like you change drama companies on the move.

Going by most of my co-bloggers, I felt I was a tad old to be in the crowd. And then slowly I blended in. And it's been great fun. And I get to flick some of my own posts from blurty and paste 'em here whenever I want to repeat myself. Cool, huh?

Drat, I just posted something other than a story. :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Long story short...

Ok, the stories. How do they come? How do they form inside of my head and spill forth here? Who was it...? Yeah, it was Shub who asked me this in one of her comments..These are questions that don't have easy answers, even from me. I mean...but I sat back and mulled over it for a moment. And looking back, it all begins with an idea that just springs up and I build a story round it, with characters, some a figment of my own imagination, some inspired by people around me. And funnily, the stories are much better when I just caught on to a germ of an idea and put it down, then and there. Not much thought, not much mulling, no editing whatsoever. Straight from the heart, as they say. And whenever I've played around with an idea for a few days and then written it, it's got diluted. And I end up feeling, 'sheesh, this could've been better'. And I always wonder about this. Does the impact lie in the spontaneity of the thought? The freshness? Maybe...that's when the characters are still onstage in your mind. But isn't your story supposed to be well etched if you write it after much thought? I guess that's just a problem with my mind. :)

I guess the difference is in the thought process. The shorties are best for...well, shorties. They come in spurts. The slower ideas need more processing time. Maybe I should try writing longer versions of those. Maybe some idea will find it's way into a bigger book someday.

It's like the difference between a 100m dash runner and a marathon runner. Well...

Monday, November 28, 2005

whodunnit?

He sat smoking silently on the dark stairway when it all began. Heard like crackers at first. But it was unlikely - no cricket match,Diwali was still months away and the celebrations (of any kind) couldn't have started so suddenly; at least not in this area. He heard running footsteps, several of them. Then car doors opened and slammed shut. The shots continued. The stairway was half hidden behind a pile of boxes. He started descending, slowly, like a cat, to get a better view. Just then a figure appeared at the foot of the stairway, blocking the street light for a moment. Staggered, in fact. Their eyes met. He leaned against the wall, clutching his waist. Then a lone shot rang out, pushing him forward against the stairs and he slumped. He was not down yet. He lay there and pointed his gun at the half illuminated stranger, who now stood still.

"Aye! What are you doing here? Do you want to die?"

And in a moment, that face was clear. The dreaded gangster Madhav. He started getting up. But it was too late, the small swiss knife blade shone in the light for a fraction of a second, in front of his eyes before plunging deep in his neck.

******

The encounter was not a new thing that the city witnessed that night. But the cops were having a hard time trying to figure out the post mortem report. They were damn sure they'd shot the gangster down. But death due to a knife wound?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Guess who...

Aparna turned to Meera.

"Just what do you think that guy's profession would be?"

Meera turned to see. Ok looks, stubble. He was engrossed in his magazine as he sipped his coffee. It was a Sunday. Hard to tell. Even CEOs looked like they were dressed for a picnic on Sundays.

"Ummmm...playwright?"

Aparna laughed. "How can you tell?"

"I don't know, I just...it just came to me. What do you think?"

Aparna looked at him, the smile at the corner of her mouth not making any efforts to hide her amusement.

"I think he's a software engineer."

"Ah, come on. Every other guy is that. It's too easy a guess."

"Well, I might be right." The girls chuckled. Too bad he wasn't looking at them. Actually by now it was pretty obvious they were using him as a dart board, but it just wasn't getting across to him. EVeryone else, but him.

Meera lowered her voice and leaned across. "You know what appu, he should turn out to be some psychopath, and he's going to kill us both because we're making fun of him. I mean come on, this is feigned ignorance. He knows very well but...he doesn't want to show it. Don't you think?"

"Yeah, right. And the moment we enter our apartment building, he'll be waiting in the dark to step forward and slash our throats."

"Hmmmm, Jack the ripper." Meera said, deep throated, like a TV promo. Their laughter erupted for a second before they brought it down, shooing each other, like a couple of school girls. The giggling continued behind cupped hands.

They turned now again, but he was gone. Ah, what a shame. This was getting to be a lot of fun. But well, it was time to leave anyway.

********

Aparna got off the rick and headed down the street leading to her house. Damn street lights. She almost tripped on a rock lying on the road. She suddenly sensed another pair of footsteps behind her and almost immediately her mind went back to the prank she played with Meera. She walked on, not turning back. Her heart beat faster now. Come on Appu, she told herself - Don't be silly. It couldn't happen. Didn't happen in real life. And then she turned. It was him! A groan escaped her mouth. This is ridiculous. These things happened only in Stephen King's novels or the movies. She hastened her steps. And then he called out.

"Ma'am."

She virtually ran now. Her building was just four houses away. She cursed herself. She cursed Meera. And what happened to all the cars in town?

"Hello, ma'am."

She opened her gate and ran in. He stopped outside. "Ma'am".

"Don't you dare come inside,or I'll call the police." He looked genuinely puzzled by this.

Something was not quite right here, a part of her brain protested. Why would a psycopath call out to her and then try slashing her throat? She was breathing heavily now. He chuckled. What cheek!

"Ma'am, I just came to hand this over. Your diary."

She immediately reached to her bag. And then it all came back. She had dropped her phone book (no, she didn't like storing all the numbers on her cell. She and Meera had had innumerable debates over this) and the guy had come to return it. But he left earlier, how did he find it?

"Where...where did you find it?"

"I was outside the hotel ma'am, smoking. I called out when you and the other ma'am got into the rickshaw, but you didn't hear me, so I followed you."

Followed? So fast, on foot? And as if to answer her question, "I rode with my friend who dropped me here."

She didn't know what to say. Well, so much for guessing professions.

"Uh...look, sorry I shouted at you. Just leave it on the gate."

"Ok, ma'am." He shrugged and left.

Heaving a sigh, she quickly grabbed the diary and ran to the door. Once inside, she laughed and dialled Meera's number. She had to tell this to her. She had dropped her on the way. She half expected her 3 year old son to answer the call. But nobody answered. Funny, she shrugged after trying a few more times and kept her bag and diary on the dining table. Something fell out of the diary. A note.

"I know you both were discussing me in the hotel."

And then her cell rang. In the calm of the night, the sound made her jump. She reached for the instrument, her hands shaking. It was an unknown number.

"He...hello."

"he..hello..." imitated the caller's voice, sounding suspiciously like Meera's. And then laughter.

"Meera? What the...?"

"I know that you both were discussing about me in the hotel." Meera said, deep throated.

"Meera, I'll...I'll kill you."

In between laughter, Meera replied. "You just met my cousin Jatin and he was in it from the start. How was it? APRIL FOOOOOOL".

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Just like that...

I love the smell of old books. Whenever I pick up one of the classics or a really old book, you know the ones where the pages are almost like papyrus, crumbling at your touch (ok, maybe I went too far with that), and I smell the pages,mmmmm, it literally transports me back to that time when the book was written, or well, whenever, donno what, but the feeling's really good. You feel one with the characters of the book or the author who's penned it. It's comforting. Especially on a lazy afternoon. And hey, has this happened to you anytime - you're listening to this familiar number that you've heard at home countless times, and when the track stops, you half expect to hear the song which came right after that in your compilation. It's like the jukebox in your head has already begun playing that number.

Well, just a rant...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Well...

They sat at the kitchen table. She munched. He sipped. They didn't speak. Just munched and sipped. She was hungry. He was thirsty. Jussst...munching and sipping. No speaking.

She wiped her mouth with the napkin and cleared her throat. He looked at her. Kept looking.

She bit into her food again. "Mmmhmm, mhhmm?"

He placed the glass down. "Sorry?"

She swallowed hurriedly. Boy, was she hungry.

"I'm sorry. What I meant was, Do you want more?"

He shook his head.

She nodded and went back to her munching. He was done sipping.

He rose.

She sat watching.

He wanted to leave, obviously. He just raised his hand, but didn't wave.

She smiled through her mouthful. Or was it just his imagination?

He left. She munched some more. A few moments later, she stood watching him from the kitchen window. He turned at her one last time and disappeared into the darkness.

She looked down at her bulging tummy and waved her palm on it. The baby moved. She looked into the darkness again.

She wondered if she should tell her sister about the Indian burglar, who didn't have the heart to rob them. After all, this was a country foreign to him as well. Poor guy. She thought about her husband, snoring so lovingly. Should she tell him?

She let it be. For now, she wanted to rob the entire kitchen off all the goodies. Boy, this guy's one helluva eater, she thought, looking down again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chasing cars and unfinished dreams...

The hot car chase. Adrenalin rushing. You watch with your heart pounding. You want the hero to somehow shake his trail off. You want him to disappear into thin air. You want him to lose the big guy driving like a madman behind him. And you probably didn’t even notice that there were a dozen cars that got mowed down in the rat race.

Imagine the scene after the hero and villain vanished in the cloud of exhaust smoke. Imagine you’re a bystander and you watch the carnage they left behind. You move your eyes slowly toward the pile up. Time stands still. Crowds flock to the mangled remains of the cars. Innocent, unsuspecting people. That guy you see pasted to his wheel was probably rushing to office because he had a presentation to make that would bag him his first promotion. That woman who’s trying to step out of her car, screaming when she realizes she’s left both her feet in the floor of the car; probably a mother of two, rushing to pick her children up from school, or probably going to the mall to buy her mother that lemon green saree she’d promised her. You see that brand new hatch-back resting on its back, its driver clambering out? He’s had multiple fractures, probably even a hemorrhage that the doctor later that day, would mournfully announce to his family members. The new car was bought after much discussion with wife and parents, after considering a myriad opinions and factors so it would not be hard on him and his family. He wanted only comfort for them, nothing more. And…and that cute little red car you see pasted atop another sleek looking machine? That car was probably an emotional attachment of an old retired man, whose son didn’t have the heart to sell it, despite having enough money to buy him an SUV.

I know it’s only a movie. But just imagine.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The thin read line...

Some time back, I watched this movie 'Meenaxi - A tale of three cities'. Well, the movie was nothing to write home about, but the premise was interesting. For those of you who've not seen it, first advice - you didn't miss a lot, so relax. Next - The central character (well, might not be wise to call him that, but well, for convention sake) is a writer who goes through some trying times while penning a novel. The character of his novel appears in his thoughts (to us, she appears as another character in the movie) and leads him through the story. Often luring him into areas that he normally won't go as a writer, because he as a writer believes in a certain style, a certain plot idea. But this girl, his main character, coaxes, goads, cajoles him into coming out with different plot ideas for her.

Interesting plot...like I said. I've always imagined that myself. What if my characters come to life and start telling me what to do with my work? Going by the kind of stories I dish out, it would be a living nightmare, for me at least. But we're digressing. The point I like to make here is that, this idea is intriguing and the director could've done better with the material, rather than treating it like one of his paintings. You can appreciate a piece of canvass with colors and patterns that don't make head or tail to you, but lemme tell you - it's a totally different thing when you're trying to tell a story on celluloid. You need to have your story on the screen like an architect's blue print. Clear. Sharp. Oh well, there are those other kind of movies as well, but we're not going there today...

But I've thought about this idea often - character of a novel comes to life and talks to the writer. And slowly the character takes the wheel and it's a drive to hell. Ok, here's the deal. How about you guys building on this basic premise and sharing your thoughts here? Something. Anything. Go wild. It would be great...since some of you have some great stuff on your blogs.

Just for a lark.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Raksha Bandhan revisited...

Something I posted in Blurty long ago... And when I saw a friend's niece 'n' nephew battle it out at a party the other day, I couldn't help recalling this particular incident. This was something I witnessed near my ex-office. And I kid you not, this is real, not made up. Read on..


I saw the small girl punch the boy almost double her size. He sat down, holding his bleeding nose. The mother came running out.

"Why did you hit him?"

"Because he pulled my hair."

Turning to the boy now...

"Why did you pull her hair?"

"Because called me a thief."

"What did you steal?" (Note how there's no effort on the mom's part to corroborate this piece of information)

"I didn't steal anything. I borrowed her pen."

"He stole it. He didn't ask me."

The little fist was still clenched. The mother just shakes her head and goes back in. The boy looks at his hand, now red with the bloodied nose.They're silent for a few moments. I bend down to tie my shoelace. My document can wait. This is getting too interesting a plot to walk away from. What next, I wonder. The girl brings out a small hankie from her pocket and wipes his nose. "Sorry."

The boy doesn't know what to say. He pushes her away. She gives him the hankie. "Keep it."

He throws it down. The next moment, Mohammad Ali says, 'Want to fight? Hmm?' He starts prancing, sparring, with his fists at his chin.

The plot thickens. The girl says, 'Don't be silly."

''Yeah? Let's see...' he comes near her and tries to hit her. The little girl moves at lightning speed and kicks him in the knee. He yowls and crouches. And before he can bring up his protesting face, contorted with agony, a small hard fist lands on his left cheekbone, keeling him over.Now I'm realllly impressed. Is this a Charlie's angel in the making or what? The mother comes out now, livid.

"Enough Meena. Don't practice your karate on your brother.'

Then she looks at the brother. 'See? I told you to attend classes regularly. This is what happens if you bunk."

I couldn't take it anymore. Chuckling, I continue walking, leaving behind a triumphant sis.

When this duo reaches college, I know who needs to be saved from the baddies. Heheheh...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Between worlds...

Violence begets violence. He knew it. But he didn't care. He fed on it. He could breathe when he was violent. It was like recharging his batteries. There was no moral battle inside of him. It was something he didn't know about. He'd heard about it, seen it on TV and the silver screen. But he didn't care. He did what came naturally to him. And violence was the food he grew up on, on the streets. Survival was not some fancy word used in history text-books, but a way of life for him. He knew that if he had to survive the day, he had to push his way through. He had to fight. He had to be violent. That was his world.
And then, to this world, she came. Like a whiff of fresh air from an open window. She stepped in accidentally to this world. To his world. He didn't know whether to welcome her or to send her away. She explored. She questioned. She was distressed with the way he existed. She wanted to hold his hand and lead him out into the other world. A world not so much violent as his. A world that had happy faces. Of people. The civilized world, she told him. He raised his eye-brows. Civilization? Where was it? They argued. They argued about it at length. But he was tempted. He knew it was going to be difficult. And he knew he might not fit. But he wanted to do it. The very change of heart in him, surprised him. He'd never felt like this before. He'd seen it happening in movies. But this was life as he'd known. And it was happening to him. Should he relent? But what would he get? For that matter, what did he have? He knew only one way of living. He had forgotten how to smile. He didn't know how to talk to people not from his world. She was his only contact.
Was it love? He didn't know. And then, with this thought came fear. Something which he'd not known for a long time. His heart never beat any faster than this before. He knew it was fear. He had feared once, but that was a different kind of fear. That fear was not accompanied by another fear. But this fear had companions. And it troubled him. The fear of loss was supreme to any other fear he'd known in a long time. But then the feeling of hope slowly rose its head higher. Hope that he might not have to be violent anymore. He might not have to play the game of death every other day. He had to change. For her. It was numbing that she could change his feelings in this way. Almost humiliate his soul in this manner, but he pushed those thoughts away.
She waited. For him. For his decision. And then he came and gave her his hand. To go to the new world. There was no looking back now. He was about to throw the gun away when she held his hand.
"If ever this forces you to go back to your world, this will remind me to accompany you."

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Deepawali!!

Here's wishing all my bloggerheads a very Happy Diwali! Have fun, but safely, folks...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Wonder Years

The process of growing up is intriguing if you don't see the subject grow up in front of your eyes. And this is so especially in the case of childhood friends (yeah, girls), who turn out to be totally, absolutely unlike their earlier selves as kids. Funnily enough, I don't know if many of you have observed, girls who don't so much as raise eyebrows as kids, tend to blow you off your mind when they grow up into fine young women.

As a kid, I used to be friends with a lot of neighborhood girls. And you know how it is right, the 'wonder-years' kinda atmosphere where you trade loyalties and even love interests for tops (the spinning ones) and marbles? Well, we used to live in a colony and there was this pesky, spectacled girl who was NOT a tomboy (as we see the transformation in bollywood movies), but more like plainer than plain Jane in her appearance. She was the no-nonsense types who could turn you to pulp with her candidness. There were other pretty girls in class who the guys would give up their marble games for, but this one - uh huh..she didn't garner enough interest. And she wasn't bothered either.

As someone who used to participate in a lot of these school plays and functions, I used to be the butt of major ribbing when it came to her. She was a good dancer ( but required a can of makeup to make her presentable onstage, so you get my drift)..And without her specs on she was...well, let's just leave it at that - don't wanna be impolite to her in case she happens to read this (duh!). And more often than not, we'd end up backstage arguing about something or the other, with her having the last word of course. But none of the other kids saw that. They only saw us onstage smiling and laughing and acting out our parts. (Now you know how those rumors about filmi pairs start, hmm?) It was frustrating, these teasers from classmates, cause I didn't want to be even mentioned alongside her name, forget having her as my girlfriend.

Years later, by which time I didn't even remember someone like that existed in my childhood, in the first year of college, I happened to spot her in Bangalore. In a bookstore. Imagine, of all the places. She recognized me first (don't ask me how) and walked up to me.

"Ummm...Ramana?"

"Yeah?"

Wow, this is some girl.

"Remember me?"

Make that a trillion wows, she thinks I know her.

"Umm...sorry, I don't..." Sheepish smile. Followed by some serious memory jogging. I must've lost 10 kgs if I were really jogging that hard.

"Reena*."

"Reena? Ummm..." Sheepish smile returns. It's embarrassing.

"From Jaduguda. Remember? The school plays..?"

A million light bulbs go up inside of my head. You could play cricket in this flood light.

"Aaaah! What a pleasant surprise. How come here?" What am I saying? I should say - where were you all my life???

"I..my fiance lives here. We're moving to the US in a couple of months."

Now she tells me. Well, to cut a long story short, we small-talked for a while, exchanged addresses, phone nos. etc etc etc..and she was out of the bookstore and my life faster than I could say Reena.

For a minute I thought, is this the same Reena? How do girls manage to do that? How do they manage to transform from plain janes to fairies?

And how come they always recognize you? Speaks a lot about OUR change, huh? And how come they always get engaged or married to someone else?

Well, anyway....that's that..

*Name changed to protect Reena's privacy.

Friday, September 30, 2005

;

It's not difficult to post everyday. I mean, all you gotta do is write what comes to your mind (or life, not necessarily in that order), right? But then again, it's not about blogger's block or writer's block. That's not what's holding up this page. On the highway called blog, I just pulled over to a side, to smell the rose called life. The road trip's not over yet...be back soon. Pretty soon.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Don't mind...

Man's strength lies not in physical or mental prowess. It's in the fact that his mind can't be read. The moment you read a person's mind, you can bring anybody on earth down to his or her knees. Well, how they go about kneeling is a different matter altogether, but that's besides the point. Most of us hide some of the world's deepest, darkest, most dangerous, damaging secrets that we sometimes don't reveal even to ourselves, lest some face reader read those secrets through our expressions. So imagine if somebody just walked across the road to you and disclosed your inner most thoughts to you? But it's just so and all's well and wisely made. There are some things that were specifically excluded from the human design document. After all, whatever brought about this world and all of us along with it, might've given this whole concept of the brain being the strongest vault in the entire universe as we know, a long good thought. And our brain is not for nothing, called the most lethal weapon. And the beautiful way in which this organ compartmentalizes it's functions is what's amazing. The ability to forget is perhaps another fantastic feature in this program, much more helpful and life saving than the ability to remember. And there are a host of other features, am sure. And sometimes, some bugs in the program do crop up contradicting the basic cerebral design. As a result, you have psychics and other mind-game players walking the planet. But I sometimes wonder how it would've been...just so...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Long story short...

(I was tagged into this...)

The elevator climbed. He looked at her tall frame. He’d never kissed a tall girl. Not that these ‘man’ things bothered him a lot. But he preferred someone shorter. His hands accidentally brushed her bag, dropping it. She bent.

*******

He unwound the metal string off her neck, easing her onto the floor. Lovely eyes…

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Twitch in the tail

It's funny how some things have this strange effect on you. If somebody's voice suddenly goes hoarse while talking to you, you get this urge to clear your throat. And remember that favorite prank while in school? You want to irritate someone just for time pass, just run your finger nails on the black-board (Exhilirating experience, huh?). Each time I clean my ears with an ear-bud, for some godforsaken reason, my eyes start to itch. Can you believe it? My eyes. And this has different effects on different people. That's what makes it so much fun. My wife's throat acts up every time she does this. And remember that concentrated 'nimbu' squash you had in summer? Did your throat go sore or your ears? With me it's always the throat; it would happen so much that now I start clearing my throat at the very mention of squash. And then there are these weird things like deja vu' and all happening all the time. Sometimes I feel, we're not humans, but some kind of loony guinea pigs, planted on this planet by some loony guy sitting in some other planet, planet years...errr, light years away. And..pray what's it about yawning being contagious? You open your mouth, and the entire room lights up with all the other pearly whites shining and the air suddenly going all warm and danky due to the bad breaths. Sheesh! But well, I guess these are all the manufacturing bugs we come with. After all, the great God of knowledge and good beginnings Himself had to make do with a pachyderm's head. But it didn't stop him, did it?

Happy Vinayaka Chaturthi to all of you!!

Monday, September 05, 2005

House arrest

You've got to move on in life. Well, that's a cliched philosophy which all of us know, almost from our mothers' wombs. But you know, it's a funny thing how it feels when you get to see, touch or feel that particular item from your past. Recently we moved residence. We lived in that house for almost 6 years. So, we were pretty close to our neighbors and especially close to the couple right opposite. We hook up every now and then, over weekends, for a drink or two, generally just chatting up. They love Aayu and the li'l one goes all nuts at the mention of their names. We were there last night. As we tiptoed out at about midnight, I saw our old house. 6 years. A whole truck load of memories associated with it. Aayu learned to walk in that house, Aayu did this, did that. There is a memory sticking to every window pane, every brick of that house. And strangely, last night, in the pale street light, an unfamiliar car parked in front, new set of curtains hanging inside the windows, suddenly I felt detached, like I were watching a house I never lived in. I know it's funny, cause even now, when I think of all those cozy moments we three had in the house, or whenever I think of some family activity that brings a smile on my lips, I imagine that house. But when I stood in front of it in person, expecting that magical moment, it never came. It felt strange.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Made for each other

He'd first seen her at the shopping center. Well, that's what it had been, back in those days. They'd brought the entire structure down a year back and now it donned a new look. A new name even - mall. It was called the Sphere. It was sphrerical in shape, maybe that's why. And here's where he'd first seen her, falling in love with her, almost instantly. She had not noticed him,though. How could she? He was a pretty plain looking guy, somebody who'd be lost in a crowd. But she was something else. Her long flowing tresses complemented her fair skin, her almost flawless features could win her a beauty pageant anywhere in the world. But it wasn't about her beauty. It wasn't about how pure in thought and soul she looked either. It was something else. Something which told him that he had to talk to her, get to know her.

They had got talking in front of the cinema.

"Hi."

She turned and his heart skipped a beat.

"Hi."

"Arun."

She smiled. Another beat.

"Krishnaa."

"Krishnaa?" His eyebrows went up.

She giggled innocently, looking around her.

"It's spelt with an extra 'a'. And that differentiates the gender."

"Oh, that's new."

He sat down beside her and looked at the movie poster above her.

"Same movie?"

"Um hm."

"You're alone."

She gazed at his face, her eyes doing all the talking. She nodded.

"Would you mind a lot if I join you?"

"No, why should I?"

They made small talk for a few minutes before entering the dark hall.

And that's how it all began. A year back, almost.

**********
They were seated at the park, watching the ducks. He turned to her.

"Remember that movie where I first met you?"

Krishnaa pushed back a lock of hair from her face and nodded.

"I felt you'd snub me and leave."

"I'd felt the same. After all, I've not had guys just coming up to me and offering to watch a movie with me."

They laughed.

"But then I realized that you were different."

"Just like you."

"Yes."

"I'm glad I found you."

She smiled and gazed at his face like she usually did.

He looked at the ducks and spoke, almost to himself. "I'm glad I didn't survive that accident."

"And me, that fire."

They rose, held hands and walked on the pond, smiling, looking at the ducks around them. The ducks suddenly scattered. Perhaps they also knew their secret.

*********

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

guts & glory

We never think about certain things in life, do we? How's it that the newspaper never (well, almost) fails to fall in front of our doorsteps.The milk packets that make their way into our homes. Several things, fresh produce from the farms, petrol, medicines and other essentials. They are just there for our consumption, right, come rain, come shine? It rained heavily last night, sorry no milk. Rarely hear such things, huh? (Maybe Mumbai was an exception this time) Forget milk, the newspaper? Those guys brave all kinds of weather to be up and about much before the Sun is up. Just so you get to read your favorite comic strip on time. Says a lot about guts, grime and will power huh? Yeah, for them it's just another day at work. And you might say, someone has to do it. Yeah, why them? Why not us? Oh we're 'well read' 'well bred' and all that...When I sometimes grumble at my work place, I think - what if I were a paper delivery boy? Perhaps I should've. Then, no matter how much I read or which business school I attended, I'd be a more gutsier guy than any kick ass manager in the world. And then, perhaps that'd be my real education.I feel it's not the degree. It's the degree of hardship you face that teaches you some of the most valuable lessons of work, leadership and management.

Street smartness. Will get you through anything. Well, almost...and that's enough, ain't it?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

ouch!

If dog bites man, it's not news, but if man bites dog it is news. And if man bites man? Stop press!Some guys are prone to things naturally. Like my friend who's naturally prone to dog bites. I mean, dogs like to bite him naturally, I mean...dogs bite him frequently. I mean...forget it. This is the 2nd time in three months. "Saale, kutta tere ko kaata ke tu kutte ko kaatne gaya?"Might be, he says. You know, as kids we'd be scared shitless of dog bites not because of the bite itself, but because of the aftermath - BIG SYRINGES pierced in your stomach. Gosh!But now I heard it's less scary. The syringes have shrunk in size as well as numbers. Well, looks like the dogs know that too.

Let's not even talk about snake bites today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

'Aao twist karein'

Someone asked me the other day, 'hey, why are there only murders and deaths in your stories?' That got me thinking. Though my answer to that question was 'err...uhh...um..dunno', I asked that question to myself. Indeed, why do I write morbid stories? Certainly not for the attention. Stories, especially on my blog, which has a select audience, will be read anyway, good or bad. And honestly, I'm nothing like any of my characters in real life. Am the usual everyman kinda guy leading a normal life. So why? Well, maybe the 'twist' is what sets my mind thinking. When I look at people around me, hear them talk, watch them go about doing their bit, I always think, 'what if that happens now? What if..?" And it's this 'what if' of life is what gets my pulse racing and the next moment it's there on paper, errr...on my screen, in the form of a story. I guess now it's become my style to twist the stories in the end. And I prefer a morbid twist. Of course, a romantic story can have a twist as well; a sad story, a funny story...any story can have a twist. But maybe I've just not thought about it. Maybe I should. Maybe I will. I will write the lighter side of twists.

This time round, kill someone with a lighter... perhaps. Hehehehe (diabolical chuckle).

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sisters, mangled dolls and raksha bandhan...

When my sister was born, my dad was quite happy. Contented. A few years later, my mom wanted to have another baby. “But we’re doing just fine. Why do we need another one?” My father asked. Now, he wasn’t being rude or anything. Only puzzled. Not that he had anything against a second baby, but…that was his opinion. He was happy with a single child. Not my mom. She wanted another. “I want a boy. And something tells me this time round we’ll have him.”My dad’s a scientist. So you can well imagine his reaction to that ‘intuitive’ sentence. But well, they went ahead and had another one. Me.

My sister was one of the most over-protective big sisters in the locality. “Give him back, your one minute is over.” Yeah, THAT over protective. And as a small kid I’d tag along like a pooh doll wherever she went. And she didn’t mind one bit. She’d bully me, boss over me, give me a dressing down, but in the end, I was her li’l brother, her ‘puppy’ as she’d call me lovingly.
Some boys are destructive by nature. Well....most are. No prizes for guessing what I was. My sister had a doll with lovely hair. One day she returned from school to find Persis Khambatta of Star Trek instead of her beautiful doll. Awash in tears, she ran to mom. When they stood over me, my answer? ‘But it’ll grow right back, won’t it?’

When in her 6th standard, she went away to boarding school. She’s been an independent person all her life and the fact that she’d have to live hundreds of miles away from her parents and little brother did sadden her, but didn’t break her. She wanted to be a dancer. And she’d do anything for it. Kalakshetra, Chennai. She trained in Bharathanatyam (A classical dance) and completed her post graduation after ten long years at boarding school. Of course she visited us twice every year. I think only once dad went all the way to Chennai to bring her home. The next time on, she was on her own. ‘I’ll be fine, appa,” was all she said. My father agreed. He was confident about her. She was his ‘big’ girl.

I myself was in boarding school for 5 years. I’ve never thought about my 'akka' (big sister in our mother tongue) and me consciously. We were a pair of ordinary siblings. We’ve never been very expressive about each other’s love. But during our teens and adolescence she was always there to guide me when I needed a ‘girl’s’ point of view. There’s not been a single raksha bandhan when I’ve not worn her rakhi. Not one. The distance never mattered. Though she’s never lived with us throughout she’s always been there. We’ve had our fair share of childhood escapades. Thrashing from parents. But we’ve never really lived together for an extended period of time.
I guess distance makes the heart grow fonder. And in my case, this distance has always made me respect my sister that much extra. Love her that much extra. To me she’ll always be my loving ‘akka’. And I’ll remain her ‘puppy’. I'm always there for her, and she for me.

Happy Raksha Bandhan, big sis.. And yeah, I received your rakhi, as always. A day in advance.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Stop thief...

He heard footsteps in the hallway and froze. The next moment, they faded away. The kitchen light came on. At least that's what he assumed. There was the bathroom right next to it, but who'd want to take something from the bathroom? He watched the shadow in the light that crept in through the bedroom door. He looked around. A sharp object. Quick. Anything, blunt, long, thick. He unplugged the fancy bedside lamp and pulled it, clutching it hard. He just hoped the loud click when he did that didn't reach the other pair of ears. He moved to the door and stood right beside it, waiting. He didn't want any surprises. He waited a good one minute. No sound. No footsteps. What was this guy upto? He tiptoed through the hallway and peeped into the dark living room. There was a loud crack. Funny, when did that bright star appear on the ceiling? Then he slumped to the floor.

*******

"Hello police station?"

"Yes. I just caught a burglar in my house."

"What? No...I've tied him up. Yes, yes..please. Thank you."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

dishoom, dishoom!

Watched 'Amar Akbar Anthony' for the nth time yesterday. Know what, they don't make those kinda movies anymore. You know, the picture perfect family ending at the climax, but before that a mad 'pow wow' all out wrest fest between the goodies and the baddies. Ah, pure fun! The best part is the 'table turning' that happens so smoothly. Gun pointed at the baddy, the next minute, someone slips on a banana peel that the director's assistant carelessly threw on the floor and presto! The gun jumps to the baddy's hand. And then finally our 'hero' manages to tickle the badmaash and snatch the gun yet again. And then the rest of the heroes (don't even bother counting) take the cue and immediately start the fist-blist. Pow! Biff! Bang! Ouch! Even the oldies leaning on the villain's hands get an adrenalin rush and badger the goons who suddenly transform into circus bufoons. And then u have the court jersterish comedian who turns the entire exercise into a mime show, the buffoons all to eager to cooperate. The heroine, fresh after a bout of calisthenics and music dances happily on the villains' heads. Slap! Slap!The heavy duty 'gymmer' goon falls like hollow timber at the mere wave of her hand. Ah, what fun!

But wait, there's more. The cops who're waiting outside patiently finally barge in with the works - whistles and bullets. Good wins over evil at last. And finally - Say cheese!

Manu desai, where art thou?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Only you...and me, and everyone else.

If you've done some introspection lately, you'll realize that not much has changed about you. In terms of your inner self. Externally yes, a lot would've changed! Let's not even go there - appearance, responsibilities, financial status, marital status, parenthood and all that blah, blah...that is the circle of life and most of us (most...) have to go round it. But...have you ever felt this? I mean, your thoughts, your basic thoughts remain the same. Of course, as you grow older in this life, most of those thoughts become memories. "Ah, I used to think that way too" or, or smile at a youngster and think "teenage." But that aside, what you are, you're the same. And in that sense, you don't feel a day older than school. Yeah, every now and then, along comes an event or person to remind you to 'play' your real age, your exhibited self. But that's it. When you're alone driving, smoking, lying in bed or even sitting on the...you know what, every morning, you are back being the kid, the thoughts playing hide and seek with themselves. Your 'real' opinions about things, which are not much different from when you were a ...say, 10 year old peep from your mind. And it's remarkable how our body is actually shielding our real self, like an astronaut's gear. Insulating it and keeping it warm. And you carefully treasure that self day in day out. Looking at it every now and then, taking a peek at it when nobody's looking.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Jhankaaaar!!

Remember jhankar beats? Not the movie, the REAL jhankar beats, the tunes that were remixed with the same. Yeah, Kumar Shanu, Nadeem Shravan and of course, how can we forget Gulshan Kumar? (He's still presenting albums, so say the promos!) Where from, up there I guess? Well, anyway, the point of the matter is, yesterday I happened to listen to this old number in a tea-shop (jhankar beats and all) and my memory revved up on all cylinders! The first thing back in those days, whenever I heard these songs, that came to my mind was that of a music composer collectively holding all the accompanying instruments and beating them on a washing stone, much like the neighborhood 'dhobi'. It made that kind of a sound - 'Thup-jhunk, thup-jhunk, thup-jhunk', interspersed with those legimes that you hear in popular bhajans. Oh boy!

Remixes? Not for me. Ummm, well some of them are kind of catchy..but gimme an original any day.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Floating ovation

Mumbai Nightmare. Couldn't be worse. Could've been worse. Hundreds of lives lost. A city subjected to nature's wrath. A city subjected to an excuse for infrastructure. Unthinkable. Crazy...whatever, words escape the mind. But one thing is certain. Mumbaikars are made of a different earth. Blow 'em up, drown 'em, cut 'em up...but they'll bounce right back, like the punch doll. Hats off to you guys.

God bless.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Barking up the wrong trunk

Hey, remember before STD? Not that STD... I meant STD calls (Forget Cell phone, that was not even a distant dream then). That elaborate, almost ritualistic process of booking a trunk call, getting a waiting number, etc etc etc? Well, I was just reading Kahini's post and something there reminded me of this. Trunk call. And I'd always ask my dad, 'why trunk? Why not...umm, say, long distance.?' And he'd given me a pretty logical answer that made sense then. But I've forgotten what it was. But anyway, this trunk call thing was like in those days, a priced possession of a privileged few. We lived in a colony and my dad was officer grade. So that meant a decent accomodation and great phone privileges. But be that as it may, making a phone call and a trunk call at that, was an 'absolutely-during-emergencies' thing in our house, what with my dad being a stickler for principles, honesty, economy and all that jazz (Am gonna add a few more to the list when it comes to my li'l daughter, that aside). And then it was a given that if we passed by somebody's house and heard someone yelling at the top of the lungs, a trunk call had come a-visiting. One time we booked a trunk call to some place south...Mangalore methinks. We had to discuss some important travel plans with an uncle. Here's how the conversation went (and i'm not making this up). Now, keep in mind the face of a man who wants to talk about just the plans and disconnect. It costs money you see.

The call's come through:

My dad (half frowning): Hello?

My dad (louder now): Hello?

Person on the other side: Hello?

My dad: Gopala?

Person on the other side: Eh?

Dad: Gopala? Raghava from Jaduguda (Our colony)

Person: Ghoda?

Dad: Is this...? (The no.)

Person: eh?

Dad (having that 'hell-lemme-disconnect-but-hey-what-if-I-don't-get-the-connection-again' look): Is this Mangalore?

Person: Maang loon? Kya maang loon?

Dad: Look, this is a trunk call to Mangalore. Mangalore (louder).

Person: Bangalore?

Dad: No Mangalore. Karnataka.

Person: Karnatak? Trunk kiye hain kaa? Yeh Jharsogoda hai.

Dad disconnects. Later after he narrated the whole thing to my mom, my mom - "you should've disconnected the moment he spoke hindi. It's a wrong number obviously."

My dad scratched his head. My mom winked at us and concluded, adding insult to injury, 'it's not rocket science."

Incidentally, my dad's a nuclear scientist.

Monday, July 25, 2005

rerun

Watched 'The lion king' with Aayu yesterday. And whenever I watch it (yeah, a zillion times by now, thanks to Aayu), I get reminded of the first time a friend and I went to watch it the first time about 13 years ago, on a rainy night. There was no other movie worth watching in town and we thought, let's go see 'lion king'. Having made our decision, we checked the cinema hall again and learned that the night show would be ideal. Beer and food done with, it'd be a cool ride to the hall - just buy the tickets and enjoy the movie. Half way through to the pub though, it started pouring tom cats and huge great dane dogs. By the time we reached double road (yeah, that's the popular name, Bangaloreans will recognize), the bike was 'wheel deep' in water. We rode on. Rain? Hah, that wasn't gonna spoil our night, no way. But we decided to pull to a side just before our heads went underwater and we went 'blub blub blub'. The bike, quite contented after this much needed bath, decided to relax. I kicked the starter a 100 times and likewise my friend. No sir, I'm not moving, the bike seemed to say. So, off we went pushing it, hoping somewhere down the line it would dry up and maybe we could try starting it again. Well, you guessed it. We had to push it all the way to the hall and we had just about time to grab a quick burger and dash to the cinema hall. The movie was awesome and when we walked out after the show, it was like it'd not rained at all. All calm on the waterfront (back, left, right and up as well).

I'm sure a lot of other movies come with complimentary memories as this. Care to share 'em here, with me? Go on..

Thursday, July 21, 2005

play(back) it again...

Just something that struck me listening to an old number on the radio last evening. Not all singers have it in them, I guess. If you look at our movies, some singers have voices made for the actor. You know it don't you? Won't list them out here. But what amazes me is earlier playback singers used to modulate their voices to suit the actor's voice. Kishore Kumar had a different voice for all his heroes - Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan and even Sanjeev Kumar! Sanjeev Kumar is one actor who had a unique voice. Of course mimic artists could mimic him easily but singing in a voice like his? I remember especially, in 'Aandhi', the way kishore has sung for him, you'd believe Sanjeev Kumar himself was singing! Here, down south, SP has that knack. And like Sanjeev Kumar up north, Shankar Nag's was a difficult voice to bring out while singing. But SP would do it, effortlessly. These guys are amazing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

State of mind

When I was a kid my dad, a scientist, taught me a simple trick to overcome my fear of darkness. He said, "everything's as it is. Only there's no light". It made sense to me. You see, the moment there is darkness, our eyes tend to imagine shapes instead of simply seeing them. To me back then, it helped a great deal when my father implied that "you don't have to imagine anything because everything is as it is. Nothing changes."

I'm not afraid of darkness. For me, darkness is just another state of being. And I taught that to my daughter the other day when she cringed, entering a dark kitchen. I switched on the light and then off again. On and then off again. To her tiny li'l mind, what it meant was - Light or no light. It's no big deal. It's just a matter of playing with a button. She smiled and walked in when I switched off the light once again. She swung back sharply and I thought, 'here goes my lesson', expecting her to wail the next instant. But there, standing in the darkness, her eyes shining from the street light outside, she said confidently, gesturing "appa? ba. It's ok." (Appa, come in).

Friday, July 15, 2005

Lingua Franca

Have you ever noticed how we all construct sentences in more or less the same way? Yeah, I know this sounds funny. "I mean, give me a break here – constructing sentences the same way?" This has got to be the silliest thought ever, huh?

But just think. We humans speak countless languages across the globe, each originated and evolved over thousands of years in a thousand different places... at different times even. But how come most languages have the same way of expressing themselves? Not commonplace sentences like 'how are you, thank you, what is your name' etc, but even proverbs, colloquial phrases. I guess it has something to do with Adam and Eve, huh? Yeah. According to linguists, the origination of the human species has got a lot to do with this simple yet intriguing thought. Whether it be a simple greeting, or a complex abusive sentence containing a lot of ‘f’s and ‘b’s, our sentences are constructed the same, with the same adjectives and verbs. Hmmmm...Well, just a fleeting rant. Have a great weekend, y'all.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Dream come true?

Ok, let’s talk about dreams. Nah, not the ‘I wanna be a celebrity some day’ kinda dream, but the regular ones that we get while sleeping at night. It would be stupid to explain what a dream is. So let’s just get on with my thoughts about dreams, my thoughts IN my dreams and well, my dreams.

First. Just what the hell do dreams translate into? You know, right from my kidhood up until now, I’ve never, I repeat never had a satisfactory answer to this one. I’ve read books, spoken to friends, spoken to oldies, browsed the net some, but tish, nada, zilch. Uh huh. Nothing really makes sense. I guess all the guys who wrote about dreams were sleeping when they wrote them.

And then those weird interpretations by grannies.

‘I died in my dream last night.’“Oh really? You shouldn’t dream such things.” Yeah, come and tell that to me when I’m dreaming about it. But then the safe (read convenient) explanation that follows is, ‘anyway, you don’t have to worry. Dreaming about dying actually means you’ll have a long life.” Oh really?!

“Got bitten by a snake, or seen a snake? That’s auspicious. The snake God’s gonna smile down upon you.” Jeepers! I don't want no snake smiling, frowning or even looking at me.

And then the debate of color and black & white. Yeah, dreams are videos that you choose from the local video store. Take a pick. And you know what’s really funny? And I’m not making this up. I read some place, some book written by Freud’s failed student, that guys dream in black and white and girls dream in color. How the hell do you prove these things? And then that baloney about a different set of interpretations for same dreams by a girl or a guy. And these guys have spent sleepless nights researching this stuff, when they should've been sleeping instead! ha!

And my wife - She dreams episodes. We’re talking sitcoms here. She dreams a story, an entire movie if you may. And the amazing thing is, she recounts the whole thing to me the next morning. Like she’d seen an episode of the X-files or something in her sleep. And I scratch my head trying to figure out if MY dream made any sense (If I remember it, that is). My dreams are so disjointed, if you clipped them all together, they’d resemble the title sequence of ‘Ripley’s believe it or not’.

The only thing I like about my dreams is, when I’m chased by some lunatic, most times I just take off. Soar into the air like Superman. And oh man, is that cool or what. Just don’t remind me that the lunatic also might follow me a la Lex Luthor. But hey, he doesn’t know I’m dreaming, does he? *winks*.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Spaceman Stiff

Was reading Stephen King’s ‘The dead zone’ some time back. Stephen King made his millions scaring the living daylights out of weak hearts, but he made us believe (well almost) that there exist certain unknown zones, certain areas outside of normal human comprehension that operate in exactly the same fashion as the world we live in. So, ask this question. Is there a parallel world? A parallel dimension in which everything’s the same as here? Even you. Only you can’t see. But from time to time, you do feel your presence in it. In other words, déjà vu. I don’t know how many of you have felt it, but I have. When I’m sitting in a particular position and talking to someone, someone else walks by and as my mind cuts away from my conversation for a fleeting second to look at the third person, a thought, a tingle of a thought, cuts through my brain like a bullet. ‘This has happened before’, a faraway voice inside me insists. And I clearly remember the entire scene in a split micro second. I shake my head and return to the conversation. And the whole thing’s gone. Snap. Just like that. Maybe it’s happened before. In the *other* dimension.If you remember, I don’t know how many of you guys do, they used to show a series called ‘The sliders’ on the hallmark channel. This serial explored this idea. Was pretty good. As a kid (to be honest, even now sometimes) I would wonder at the entire expanse of the sky above us (or around us, whatever you please) and think,’ what the hell is this? How the hell is this spherical planet floating in air?’ I even enrolled in an astronomy class to find out answers, but this subject is as vast as the universe itself. I found myself sinking in it, but could never reach the bottom. Ah, well. Someday…

“Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition." – Isaac Asimov.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sweet nothings...

"If you decide to avoid sweets on that day, you will certainly end up eating them"

- Burfi's law

Friday, July 08, 2005

friend, philosopher, guide...

The mentor-disciple relationship has always held me in awe. It's a sensitive bond, according to me. And it has to be handled really well in order to make it fulfilling to both. In countless movies this has been portrayed as a sub-plot and it indeed makes for a great sub-plot. The various angles to this relationship makes it even more intriguing. There's a difference between the conventional 'teacher-student' relationship and this one. A mentor could be anybody, from any walk of life. It's from the very nature of such a relationship that great careers are built, or a great person emerges. And it all depends on how the mentor guides his protege. Down the line, an emotional bonding also happens, but a true mentor knows when to detach, when to let go. It's like teaching a kid how to peddle his bicycle for the first time. You're behind him, holding the bike and somewhere along the way, you've to let go in order for the kid to really appreciate and feel the sense of control over himself. My dad would do it, when I first started riding the bicycle, at 9 or 10. Even today, when I watch movies with this sub-plot, it gives me a weird high. You watch the rookie grow under the mentor's tutelage and then one day, it's time for the baton to be passed on. And that whole journey of learning and coming of age is what inspires. And the good thing about mentorship is, it needn't be specific to any profession, it could be about the ropes of life. Some great movies in my opinion:

*Scent of a woman
*Training Day
*Donnie Brasco
*Finding Forrestor
*Choti si baat
*Karate Kid
*Million Dollar Baby
*The Professional
*The Untouchables
*Colors
*The Man without a face

There are many more, I'm sure, but I remember only these...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Notes from the past

Was listening to 'Nights in White Satin' from one of my fav albums 'pure movies', driving back home from work. It calmed my stressed nerves and by the time I reached home, I was ready to face the world all over again. There are countless songs that have that soothing effect. And they also help connect to certain incidents, events in the past.

And then I remembered this post from blurty a long time back. Some of you might've read it back then.

*******

They say songs are therapeutic. You know, cows giving more milk, plants growing better and beautiful and blah blah blah. But with me, some songs are like time transporters. They are associated with a certain place, a certain time, a certain moment in your life. Could be anytime – a month ago, six, a year. Maybe 15 years back. But these songs are like connectors. The moment you hear them, a spark lights up a million cells in your brain and you are immediately reminded of a particular place back in time. A particular moment. Ah, but for these songs life would’ve been such a boring journey.

My association with the fine arts is on an almost ancestral level. My great great grandfather was a vocalist. So was my great grandfather. My grand father as well (mother’s father), my mother, me, my sister. Though after my grand father no one pursued it professionally. My sister is a classical dancer and my mother sings folk songs. I *used* to sing. Now it’s confined to, no, not the bathroom. Singing lullabies to my daughter. Even that will stop one day.

So, what’s the big point that I’m trying to make here? Nothing. Something I was listening to last evening, made me remember a certain time in my childhood so vividly, it was scary. I remembered every single minute of that moment, like I were actually living it again. And all ‘cuz this song was playing in the background back then too.

I think I’m gonna need a lot of tapes / CDs / LP discs if I plan to write my autobiography some day. Speaking of which, that is another thing that reminds me of the past. LP discs, or long playing discs. Those black plastic ‘CD’ like things big as pizzas, that need a special micro-needle to stick on ‘em to play. And boy, would I enjoy it when the needle got stuck. Was fun to listen to the same line playing over and over again like an autistic singing. (An example from an old Doris Day LP: When I was just a li’l girl, a li’l girl, a li’l girl, a li’l girl….)

My father used to travel a lot around the globe back then. And he’d make sure he got back with him heaps of LPs. He has a huge collection – from the 50s slow moving love songs, Doris Day, the classic western themes by James Goldsmith, classic bands like the ‘Puppets’, Indian classical music to just about every thing. I used to love listening to them. But more than that, the entire process of pulling out an LP lovingly from it’s paper case, wiping it carefully, looking at it longingly, placing it on the turntable and then slowly placing the needle on it, sitting back on the couch and closing the eyes as the music began; the soft ‘ruffle’ of sound bites due to small scratches. Ah! Lilting.

Was planning to digitize the entire collection some day. But on second thoughts…nah! They’re too precious to be tampered with. Que sera, sera.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

rats!

When li'l Jerry outdoes Tom, breaking every possible bone in his body, we laugh. We smile at all the impossible things the duo does on screen. Jerry is perhaps the most loved mouse, next to Mickey. These days I even feel he's beaten the latter to it. Mice have always been cute in the movies, be it Mouse hunt, Stuart Little or...donno, there are several movies on this little 'cute' creatures. Once you switch off the TV or come out of the cinema however, these four legged rodents are something quite different. My tryst with mice started in Mysore, many years ago. There was this mouse (my mom always calls them rat). So, this 'rat' came in on a rainy day to take shelter I guess. When and how it came, nobody knows. But it walked right in, like it were walking into a Hilton or a Sheraton and booked the kitchen suite for good. It all started when one night I walked in to drink a glass of water. And there she was. Standing on the kitchen plank, staring right into me. I rubbed my eyes. I'd been watching Tom & Jerry the same evening and wondered if she'd appeared right out of my dream. But no, the bold li'l thing stared at me while I drank as if to say, 'well, finish it and go. I've to eat." I raised a hand, to shoo her and she disappeared into thin air. Over the year or so she stayed with us, she fed on only potatoes and other raw veggies kept under the stove. We let it stay cause most of the other things in the kitchen were intact. Little did we know that an entire family was being raised in other places in our house. I still remember the count when we bid goodbye to the 'jerry' family. A total of eight mice!

When I moved to Bangalore, a cousin of our friend's came visiting once again. Only this time, she had an elephant's appetite. Mixie cable, the washing machine electrics, TV cable. She had an 'electric' presence.

You know, mice are damn intelligent for all of their tiny girth. They'll tease you, dare you, defy you and counter every little move of yours. Just when you thought you'd seen the last of them, they'll peep their pesky little heads from some hole and stick their tongues out at you. I thought they'd been awfully glorified in the movies. Boy, was I wrong!

We shifted home recently. And there seems to be a colony below our house and they picnic in our frontyard. One enthusiastic mouse even knocks on the kitchen drain every single night. I've sealed the drain cover and called pest control. I don't mind a stray guest or two, but a whole bunch of refugees? No, thank you. And I don't wanna try rat poison because that's more a vaccine. I'm not even going there.

I hope I'll be seeing the last of them soon, but I know they'll have the last laugh. Until then...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Pallo...?

Ok, who remembers Deepak Malhotra, the hot hunk? Raise your hands. All those pretty/not so pretty...well, mostly all girls who were teenagers a decade and a half ago, please jog your memory. Remember walking out of the theater, disgusted and aghast with disbelief when you heard that one word - 'Pallo'? Pallo in this case was our very own 'hawa hawaii' girl, Sridevi and the guy who whimpered the word was - YES! Deepak Malhotra. In Lamhe. Remember?Which brings me to voices. One of the first things after a person's appearance that makes an impression. More so if you've not seen the person before and have only heard the voice on phone, radio or any audio medium. Yeah, yeah, later on we realize that the person is not all that bad or vice versa. But the voice sketches a basic frame of impression. Amitabh Bachchan, who didn't make it in an AIR interview because of his baritone, later came to rule the roost with the very weapon, redesigned to suit his angry young man image. A voice that turns girls' knees to jelly even today.I remember speaking to a guy, a client, at my previous job over the phone for six straight months, addressing him as 'Ma'am!' But you should've seen the person's face. Veerappan would've ran away in fear. The opposite has happened as well. 'Ma'am' has had a 'Sir' voice too in another case. But I guess it's not in our hands to have a voice that we wish to have and what matters at the end of the day is what kinda person we are.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Up above the world so high....

I don't have vertigo. Of course, I've never tried my hand at bungee jumping. That would be the deciding factor. But be that as it may, I experienced my first tryst with real heights when we climbed the Qutub Minar. I was a kid back then. But I was overwhelmed with the scenery below me, spreading endlessly for as far as my eyes would go, like a gigantic carpet with magical weaves. That feeling stayed. And from then on, I was game for any place at a height. Mountain tops (Will go to the Grand Canyon some day, that's a special wish too), buildings atop mountain tops, the terrace of a multi-storeyed building, flights...even the terrace of our single storeyed house in Mysore. It's a little hard to explain, the elation. It stays for a very short time. But it inspires vivid thoughts, ideas and imagination. And I just love lying on the terrace on summer nights and watching the endless night sky, juuuusst star gazing. Another thing I like watching from atop a building are the vehicles moving at a distance, like ants, moving to their destination. And don't we all enjoy watching a fully lit city by the night? That feeling's something totally awesome. I remember the first time I saw Bangalore by night from my flight. Like somebody had spread out all the jewellery on the floor for display. I remember as a kid, a very special pastime was looking at the clouds and trying to imagine a shape, a form I recognized - anything, a horse face, a cup, a rabbit, or even a human face at times. And let me tell you, the height has to be just right to be able to spot and recognize things. Too much height also kills the landscape. And in that respect, I love driving up Chamundi Hills in Mysore and stopping at my favourite spot to gaze at the city. I have a pair of binoculars and it's real fun to go building spotting. That reminds me, I should go there this weekend when I visit my parents.

Be cool

Some guys are born cool. I mean they have this laid-back 'shit me not' aura about them that it's almost impossible to ruffle their feathers. I remember seeing John Travolta in 'Get Shorty' and think - now here's a guy I'd love to be like. Not his character of a gangster, but his personality. And that line from Rene Russo summed it all up - 'Not a worry in the world'. Having said that, I ask this of myself occasionally - Are you smart enough? Have you sometimes felt like kicking yourself for not doing the 'smart' thing? How many times have you thought of a smart retort - the next day? I guess, smartness means different things to different people. Smartness also IS different things to different people. Street smartness, sophisticated smartness, smart-ass smartness, smarting smartness...phew! When I was in college, I used to be in awe of some guys who pushed all the right buttons. They could talk about anything under the sun. They were suave, they had the right attire and they spoke in a way that made others flock to them. 'Can I become like them?' I'd constantly wonder and hope. Things aren't very different now. I still admire guys who can hold a conversation about anything. Anything at all. Politics? Oh yeah, they can write reams of email analysing, dissecting the system and even throwing in a couple of liners on how the country could be better run, for good measure. Sports? If only our sportsmen knew these guys existed, there'd be no dearth of right strategies and winning concepts. Movies? Moviemakers would stand in line to sign these guys up for a winning formula.

But it's all about the grass being greener on the other side, I guess. We feel that some guys have all the fun. They lead lives to die for, their workplace is always fun-filled. Their...well, you get the idea. But I've learned over the years that there might be others thinking the same about us. And that's comforting, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gratitude

Life's lessons are tough. And how. I still remember that morning like my coffee a few minutes ago. It was a Tuesday, about eight years ago. I made a beeline to a 'Darshini' near my PG accomodation. I had just moved in and was thankful the place was right around the corner from where I lived. The PG gig didn't have a kitchen and just so. I'm not a great cook either. Anyways, I got my stuff and got busy eating. As is my habit, I drifted into some thought eating. I was watching the cashier. There was something about him. His eyes, perhaps. They shone in a rare friendly light, little known in most cashiers I've seen. Most of them are just coupon dispensing machines and well, don't have the time for chitchat. Not this guy. He was treating customers like they'd come to his daughter's wedding. "Yen thogothira sir?" (And what would you like to have, sir?), "Poori try maadi ivathtu, special." (Try our poori saagu today, it's been cooked in a special way). I smiled and looked around, trying to figure if any of his warmth had rubbed off on the place. And it had. There was something different about this place. Everyone was relaxed. There were early office-goers too, who didn't seem very hard-pressed to
finish their breakfast and go. The cooks, kitchen help, everyone had a smile on their faces. And I was so pre-occupied, I never realized, my breakfast tasted good as well. It all added up.

Then from nowhere came in an old, frail tramp, clothes in tatters and stinking. He stood near the cashier and they got talking. His voice rose occasionally, while the cashier answered his queries patiently, with a quiet nod. I frowned. This was strange. It was good that the cashier was friendly but this was taking goodness a little too far. I heard the kitchen hands speak in whispers, like this was a daily affair. The tramp was demanding something now, but our man just shook his head quietly again. Then one of the guys (obviously a right hand man there) came out the kitchen, carrying some food on a plate and gently took led the tramp out by his hand. The tramp shouted in kannada. "I'll see you yet. You don't know who I am. You can't do this, you know". The cashier just smiled, a wee bit embarrassed and turned to the visitors, as if to say, "please continue eating, this is no big deal."

But I couldn't contain my curiosity. And this was a good time to make friends with him. After all I was going to be a regular here.

"Who was it, sir?"

"Ah, it's nothing." He counted my change and returned it to me. I didn't press further. Maybe now wasn't the right time to talk about the tramp.

Over the year, I saw the tramp frequently, not just in the Darshini, but also in the neighbourhood, generally shouting orders and talking to himself. Hmmm, so he was not just any tramp. He was also crazy. A few months later, as I and the cashier got to know each other better, on a weekend, he told me about the tramp.

"You wondered why I'm so patient with him, right?"

I nodded.

"You would too, with someone who offered you a job and gave you a shelter."

I was nonplussed. He chuckled and said softly. "He was my boss."

My "c'mon you must be kidding' look invited more chuckles from him. "It's true. He was my boss. And this darshini? It belonged to him once upon a time."

I was too shocked for words. He gave me some time for the truth to sink in, smiling all the while.
He asked one of his guys to take over and we held a cup of coffee each in our hands and stood outside, in the morning sun.

"I was an orphan when I moved to this city, several years ago. I had an uncle who was supposed to take care of me, but fled, leaving me and my little sister to fend for ourselves. Can you imagine how it is? Two children, without anybody, anything. I picked rag for a while. Begged even. I didn't know what to do. But my parents had taught me to live life honestly. To work hard. This tramp you saw? He used to run this place. He gave me the job of a dish-washer here. I washed dishes by the day and learned cooking the rest of the time. Well, soon I saved enough to send my sister to school. And some other guys helped me out, so I attended evening school for some time as well. They all raised me, so to say." He smiled again.

"But he was very arrogant. He ran this place like a jail. Everybody hated him. And even the customers. But, somehow he managed to keep it running for more than 10 years. I grew up dreaming of becoming someone big. I myself don't remember how all these years went by. I quit this place when I grew up. I worked at another place as a cook. Then I graduated to handling the supplies. And then managing. I would hear about my ex-boss every so often. That he'd gotten himself into serious debts, started gambling and the like. Then one day I came back. I told him I'd manage things for him. But it was too late. He had to close down shop as he couldn't handle the debts. He lost his mind. His family disowned him." he sighed.

"I did well for myself and some years ago, freed this place of all the debts and bought it. I even offered him a job here, but his arrogance hasn't left him, even if his whole family has. So I do what I can to repay the initial kindness he showed on me. After all, how can you turn away someone who fed you when you were hungry? Someone who, immaterial of how cruel a person he was, gave you shelter? So I feed him every now and then. I offered to get him a place to stay, but like I said...arrogance. He has no place to go, and no institution will take him either." His eyes moistened a bit now. I felt bad that I made him remember his painful past.

As I left that morning, I realized how important it is to remain a human at any cost. And this was gratitude unheard of. I was humbled.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Now you see it, now you don't...

Am sure most of you know, but for those who don't... every film unit has a continuity boy, who keeps tab on the costumes and props on the sets and maps the same with shooting schedules and the script. See, his job is to ensure over a one week schedule of shooting a single scene that possibly amounts to about 10 minutes onscreen, that the characters are wearing the same attire and the props have the same stuff kept at the same place for a week. Now, the continuity boy is only human and errors do happen. Some of these errors are glaring onscreen and somehow escape the editor's scissors (he's human too, you see). And thus the bloopers. You see the hero wearing blue shoes before he enters a house and when he comes out, hey presto! The shoes've become white! Or a forehead gash suddenly decides to switch places from right to left or in some cases make a hasty exit from the forehead. When I was a kid, I wouldn't notice these things a lot. Then one day, I did. I was watching this highly emotional scene of a dying hero in his mother's lap, his left hand bloody with a bullet wound. The next moment I see the same wound on his right hand. I blinked. Twice. But the wound remained in his right hand. It was interesting and funny. Then I made it a point to keep my eyes open for such bloopers and boy, movie watching was not the same anymore. On an average, every two movies out of the ten I watched were agog with such 'continuity' errors. You might see these documented in some film magazines as well. Filmfare had a column 'reader's don't digest' on similar lines.

Hmmm, this was just as rantish as it could get. *Sigh*

Friday, June 24, 2005

Monuments all...

'All Hot Chips', 'Durga Darshini', 'Ganesh chat center', 'Chamundi churmuri center'...These names ring a bell? Am sure every Bangalorean relates to these name-boards that can be seen in virtually any area in town. Come to think of it, every city has it's own list of regular eateries and goody shops that have over the years become icons of sorts. Especially when you arrive in town after a long time from a trip, early in the mornings or late at nights, and when your groggy eyes catch these familiar names, somewhere deep down you feel reassured. You sigh warmly and close your eyes again, smiling. Hmm? It's true that any place or society is made up of the people living there, but it's also true that such brands that are so unique to a city, also give it a definite shape, a dark, bold outline highlighting the specialty of that city. I've been around the last 20 years or so, and I know that even after I die, these brands will remain for many more years to come. That's the good thing about household names. They stay on and remind you of all the good times you had. In a way, they're no short of being legends. In their own rights.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

It took 3 to tango!

Some time back, SwB had posted something on love and companionship and mentioned that at some point, the baby made it's entry when the couple needed to add a new color, a new angle to the relationship. He wasn't far from the truth. Aayushi was born three years into our marriage and boy, what an entry she made into this world. I still remember the loud wail at precisely 10.55 AM. Holding the newborn carefully wrapped in a sterilized towel, I can never forget the pair of tiny eyes trying to open and see a world never seen before. The first few days were nothing short of nightmarish, both I and Anu wishing when all this would finally even out - the baby's hiccups (The 2nd night she literally choked on her own saliva in the middle of the night), screaming, the colic...phew! We wondered how parents the world over coped with this kind of a thing. Time flew, there were more sleepless nights in store. The baby won't sleep so well at night, having slept at a stretch during the day. We'd take turns waking up at night to put her to sleep. Then came the crawling phase. We'd fear where she'd meet a cockroach or a lizard face to face and do some serious opera style howling. That gave way to baby-steps (We didn't need to buy a walker for the brave one, she managed to walk on her own). We began enjoying parenthood as we heard her make funny little sounds and speak in sign language. Then came the usual 'gaga, googoo, mama etc..' Oh god, when would she begin to speak, we prayed. It's quite tough communicating with a child who cannot speak back. In a way, the initial months are quite a revelation for new parents and we begin appreciating the world of the deaf and dumb. When Aayushi began speaking, walking, running, thinking...we never realized. It all happened in a flurry. And now we ask her to keep quiet many a time. Parents are funny, I tell you. We want our babies to grow up and when they do, we wish they were the same old bundles of joy in the initial months of their lives. Huh!

It's been quite a journey so far. It will be so the rest of our lives, like I've blogged about it in the past. But today is an important day for us. For Aayushi. For all the efforts of the initial days and for more to come in the years ahead...I feel it's been worth it. Every single minute of it. And I hope my li'l baby turns out to be a fine person in the end, which she'll be.

HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY, MY LOVE!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

listless...

Some totally, absolutely meaningless thoughts. Ummm, questions, rather.

1. How, where and when did all my milk teeth come out? How come I never realized?
2. We memorize something with our minds, right? Then why do we say 'learn by heart'?
3. Why's something that makes your car look good, called a spoiler?
4. Why does the bloody bus start precisely at the point you are about to overtake it?

On another absolutely irrelevant note, this - again from my blurty archive:

‘The Driver of this car is a sex maniac’. These were the words staring me at the face from the hind windscreen of a car. Boy, some guts this guy has, I thought, admitting what normally many of us would just dream of doing / or not doing, as the case may be. I decided to go upto him and smile an acknowledgement. But when I neared the car, my face fell. The actual words were ‘The driver of this car who belongs to the male sex drives like a maniac’. Duh! So much for the pseudo libido. The other words were in fine print, with the ‘mirage’istic words in bold. But hey, that was creative. And speaking of stickers, I have seen quite a lot of them that are funny and good time pass during the monotonous and sometimes scary ride through the city. ‘Caution: Horn doesn't work. Finger broken’. ‘Both hand drive’. ‘Power break(?)’ and oh, the sterling quotes behind auto rickshaws? Let’s keep that for a longer discussion some day. Some of those are ‘hahahaliraous’. I think I’d even scribbled about them somewhere early on in this blog. But then these stickers reflect the natures of drivers, I feel. The strong words belong to the idealistic and often cynical types. The ‘sex maniac’ kind of stickers could either be the choice of a harmless funster or maybe a ‘kinky’ kinda person who wants the eligible girls / ladies/ women..err..uh..you get my point, to contact him? But all said and done, you just can’t deny the fun value of these stickers. Maybe I should stick one on my bike – ‘The rider of this bike is a sex maniac’. Without any fine print in between. Hehehe!

Maniac's...errr...author's note: I've graduated to a car ever since, but don't get any ideas.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A moment...

It's amazing how you get recurring thoughts and experience things over and over again. Would give 'Deja Vu' a run for it's money. This thought just in...from my older blog (I love it when I don't have to do anything but just paste a thought from here!)


"Have your eyes 'met' anyone's in that 'moment'? I'm not talking about love at first sight here. I'm talking about 'everything' at first sight. You know, you see someone, an absolute stranger in an absolutely strange place and your eyes lock in an absolutely strange way that is so absolutely strange that you don't know what's happening, but something absolutely strange would have happened inside of you. Only for an absolutely strange moment. NOt more, not less. But in that moment, absolutely everything would have happened. You can't figure out what, though.How absolutely strange. Huh? Interesting."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

f(axe) pas

The two kids sat glued to the computer screen, settling scores on tomb raider.

Mohit rose a few minutes later, his T-shirt sticking to his back like a wet ice-cream candy wrapper.

"Do you have something to Eat, Giri?"

"We just had dinner an hour ago, you glutton", Giri said, not taking his eyes off the screen and fingers off the keyboard.

"How long are these folks gonna take? And why do they have to go watch movies like 'Shaayad'? Sounds like the director wasn't sure he was gonna make any money out of it."

"Hmmm, but you see, it'll win some stupid award this time."

"Yeah, any movie that isn't any fun is sure to win an award."


********

"Hey, Giri, look at this."

Both the boys watched the window in the opposite apartment. Somebody was hacking someone. The fierce looking man was bringing down the axe with furious precision.

The kids stood transfixed as they saw the murderous mayhem unfold in front of their eyes. They heard a third voice talking in a lower tone. Probably the accomplice, wondering where to bury the body.

A few moments later, a dark figure walked out of the building, carrying a filled sack on his back. It was kind of dark below and the street light wasn't enough to show his face. Still, the boys couldn't believe their eyes. They had just witnessed a horrendous crime. They crouched down low and sat below the window sill. still.

Mohit switched off the lights in the room.

"You don't wanna be killed for having seen that, do you?"

Wise kid.

*********

The police officer laughed. "three murders on three continuous nights? Right in front of your apartment?"

Mohit's father shrugged. "That's what the boys say."

The cop looked at Mohit. "Listen son, this is serious. And we can't just barge into somebody's house just because..."

Giri interrupted. "No, uncle, we mean it." The look on his face, with the sweat on his forehead made the officer think. The kids did look genuinely scared. Well, he had to do what he had to do.

********

The 'axe-murderer' opened the door and looked quite puzzled to see a cop with children. "Yes, officer?"

The cop already felt this was all a big mistake and felt like walking away. The house looked quite normal as if nothing had happened. Just then they heard two men arguing inside. And one was threatening the other with his life.

"What's going on, may I ask?"

"Oh that," The killer laughed. "We're practising for our factory's anniversary celebrations. You see, sir, I used to dabble in theater earlier..."

Mohit and Giri sat, numb and dumb. Quite dumb. The hall filled with laughter as the cop and murderers shared tea and cookies. Mohit swore never to look into a neighboring window again. Giri was silent. Probably thinking the same.

"And the gunny sack? The boys positively saw someone..."

The gunny sack carrier laughed. "That was a coincidence, only that night. After the rehearsal, I had to carry home the bunch of newspapers I'd left here the day before."

More laughter filled the hall. Nobody noticed the boys sneaking out.

************