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


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
*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


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


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.