Friday, November 30, 2007

Oggie Oggie Oggie, Oi Oi Oi

Two words that take a substantial amount of cheer out of my life are "Transit" and "Airport". You might as well have said Arun Lal and Rameez Raja. What is it about airports that is so depressing? Douglas Adams usually had a few things to say about the inherent moribundness of airports the world over. Its difficult to put a finger on what exactly it is that is so off-putting.I personally think its the damn carpet. It tends to loom. And the Duty Free shops would be a close second. Which particular duty these shops are bereft of, I am not sure.

And if you put Air India into this mix, it becomes a deadly concoction. For all the bravado about Best West bound airline (so they say), new generation aircraft and lowest fares (THEY LIE), Air India still is a relic of an outmoded belief system alongwith peers like the Premier Padmini taxis in Mumbai, Vikrams in UP and Ambassador cars in the parliament. Will probably do a detailed post on them later. A lot of bile is waiting to be spewed. But today's not that day.

Spent the better part of a day last week in transit in airports and flights en route to Australia. It was a terribly hectic trip, but I must say Melbourne impressed me no end. It is exactly what Mumbai isnt. Sprawling sidewalks, acres and acres open spaces, a clean and picturesque river and lots of parking. They say that the best cities are those which are friendly to pedestrians. Melbourne scores very highly in this regard.

Had a fantastic time doing a guided tour of the MCG. A charming host, quite elderly, erudite and witty, was our guide and took us around the stadium, its various rooms (including the long room), museum. After the latest reconstruction in 2004, the ground presents a stunning picture.
I have been to a watch a few test matches at the Wankhede and compared to the MCG experience, its about as enjoyable as the war on Iraq. I think there is just one reason for that. Cricket Australia respects the spectator where as BCCI does not. For BCCI the word spectator equals Idiot. Also spent some time by myself on the W H Ponsford stand watching the game that was on between New South Wales and Victoria (Nathan Brancken and Stewart Clark on display). What would'nt I give to be back for the Boxing Day test.

Also walked around the Rod Laver Centre (Aussie Open Venue) and Albert Park (Grand Prix track). All in all a day well spent.

MCG as seen from Hotel


Grandstand View

Cinemascope View (Bracken Bowling)

Monday, November 12, 2007

The joys of Rediff Comments

One of my lesser known "guilty pleasures" happens to be browsing through the comments section of any old article published by that doyen of NRI oriented websites - Rediff. It generates, among other stuff, an amazing amount of bile, candid observations on the nature of race, religion, purity of blood (or lack thereof), caste and in one bizzare instance the size of the captain's balls (sic).

The comments are refreshingly candid, brutally critical and written in a manner calculated to make you smile and wince at the same time. Here is an example of an extremely astute piece of observation from an old timer no doubt.

RE:Kumble has guts unlike sachin
by Yogaguru on Nov 12, 2007
01:18 PM

In cricket the size of the balls of a captain is
important.Sachin adjusts the balls all the time while he is batting.He suddenly
ducks sometimes to adjust the balls although there was no bouncer at that
time.Do you remember folks?

Such felicity I have not seen since the days of Wodehouse and Waugh. And here is another classic example of astute observation and remarkable pithiness.

Take Half the Indian Populationby Reporter on Nov 12,
2007 02:13 PM

If USA takes half the Indian population, not just the students, India
will be free from over-population and excess competition for
limited food and natural resources. We don't care for brain drain. We have
excess supply of brain here: which itself is not optimally used

Joy unfolds exponentially.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Second Wind

I have not written a post for almost four months now and frankly the blog had started to make the transition from a mere lurker in the mind to loomer.

Thought I'd just write a post for the sake of it, add a self deprecatory little profile, muck about with the title and so on just to get the gears in motion again. Work, lately has consumed me for its own. Not necessarily in terms of having to put in long hours at the office or travel but due to a steep rise in the the sheer number of tasks which I would rather not do. Its this conflict between the mind and the matters at hand that prompted the blogger in me to sulk in a corner all this time.

Nevertheless, I am now officially back with this post. Not that it makes the slightest difference in the cosmic scale of things, but it feels good nevertheless.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The lure of the Super Star

There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rajnikanth lives in Chennai
~ old tamil proverb

A man who almost invariably plays a fool for most part in all his films, a hopeless romantic, rooted in the traditions of culture and family, with two left feet, a face that would probably be called attractive by a good natured liar, an average physique and not so flattering features. A man, who, save South India is treated with good natured contempt elsewhere and bracketed with lowbrow B-movie stars. His pedigree is at best humble and its been more than a decade since he crossed fifty. You wouldn't bet big on a man like that would you?

Why is it then that Rajnikanth is more bad-ass than all other stars of this country put together and then some? He is cooler than a pre-global warming arctic glacier, he is hipper than Jimmy Hendrix on marijuana and oozes a brand of style that makes James Bond look like Razzak Khan. My favorite part in all of Thalaivar's films is the credits at the beginning. Its like the DC or Marvel logo at the start of a superhero film. Accompanied by the rhythmic shouts of "Hey! hey! hey!" in the background you get "SUPER STAR RAJNI" in huge letters (see pic). What it tells you is that this is a Rajnikanth film. No one else in this film matters. Everyone else is just there to fill in the blanks that Thailavar leaves. If you are the female lead thou shalt be wooed and rescued, if you are the dialogue writer thou shalt give Rajni bad-ass "punch" dialogues to mouth, the story writer shall give Rajni insurmountable odds, the director should see to it that Rajni surmounts them in style. If thou art the baddie, then even God cannot save you.

As I stood outside the Fame Cinema Screen 6 at Inorbit mall this Sunday with tickets to the big Sivaji opening, I couldn't help but eavesdrop into some of the conversations of other people. There was a bunch of guys in the midst of a scholarly discussion on Rajni's "entry" scenes in movies, a genre unto itself. They say Khan is king and AB is emperor. But only Rajni Rules!

A few light years before Wachowskis made Matrix, Rajni had already perfected the art of flying stunts. Remember Guru Sisyan in which Rajni tells the baddies, "ungley yair le parandu parandu adikka poren (I am kick going to kick your ass and levitate simulataneously)" and promptly engages all ten in aerial combat, not once putting feet on the ground. Beat that Neo!

The man has grown old and it shows. They say they had to digitally alter his jawline to make him look younger. His reflexes are slower in the fight scenes and that shows too. He plays, of all things, a 'sofware systems architect' (sic) in this film. But he still wields absolute control over his dominion. To his kick-ass, others merely manage to prod-buttock. To all you non-believers go watch Sivaji- The Boss and tell me if you've seen better WTF scenes. And then try explaining to yourself that Sivaji is expected to top 140 crores in collections.

sixxucu appron seven da, Sivajiku appron yeven da ~ old vivek saying

Was watching Baasha on DVD the other day. The day this dialogue - "yen pare Manickam, yennuku innoru per irukku" fails to give me goose flesh will be the day I win a Nobel Prize in molecular gastronomy.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Rajni Introduction Number

A neat review of the music for Thalaivar's eagerly awaited release - Sivaji The Boss.

My favourite excerpt.
"At some point, though, the most avowed rule-buster has
to bow down to hoary tradition, this being a Rajinikanth film after all — and
Rahman does that with Balleilakka, where Na. Muthukumar writes what are surely
the most iconic lyrics ever for that sub-genre of the Tamil cinema song
situation known as the Rajinikanth Introduction Number. (Would that acronym to
RIN?) "

Man! I cant wait to watch the film now...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Maradona and Other Heroes

A neat post by Soumya Bhattacharya in Cricinfo on Heroes and Hero Worship. I love the part which reads

"The late Alan Ross, poet, editor and writer, has the last word on this: ‘I believe that heroes are necessary to children and that as we grow up it becomes more difficult to establish them in the increasingly unresponsive soil of our individual mythology. Occasionally, the adult imagination is caught and sometimes it is held: but the image rarely takes root.’ "

Diego Maradona was the resident deity of the temple in my soccer mad soul. In those elder days archive footage of matches past was a rarity akin finding health food in rural Punjab. In the build up to Italia 1990 there was a show on DD featuring great WC goals and as a stripling lad with a bit of talent in Soccer I watched Maradona score THE GOAL in the 1986 WC quarterfinal. My inner self underwent a catharsis. Such outrageous talent I had never seen. In those days I would often cite my middle name as Armando. I would dream of playing like Maradona. For what it was worth I too possessed a mean left foot and probably still do. Perhaps that was my cosmic link with the great man. And how I cried when a lacklustre Maradona and Argentina lost a shoddy final in Italy. But the legend of the man had left its imprint on me. It has still not faded.

These past few years, watching Tendulkar, another resident deity, has been a sad making experience. And the immense Bullshit perpetrated by that T-Rex formerly known as the Indian media does not help either. The cynic in my adult brain wants to hate Tendulkar for all those moments of immense heartburn. And just as I get into that frame of mind the Child projectionist in the brain wakes up and puts on reel one. The image of Tendulkar opening for the first time against NZ in Auckland and scoring 82 in 49. I realize that with the exception of PG Wodehouse, SRT has given me more hours of unalloyed bliss than anyone else. And for that I shall remain a fanboy till the end of days.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Jo Jeeta Memories

Yet another absolutely pointless "long" weekend went whizzing by and I managed to reduce my backlog of things to do by minus five. Three days of inane channel surfing, excessive sleep and a re-reading of Terry Pratchett's "Making Money". All in all one of the better weekends Ive had in a while.

The piece de resistance though was a rerun of that "classic" Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar on Set Max that I managed to catch. Brought back a deluge of memories it did, and a smile to the old dial. Bollywood has a sketchy history when it comes to making movies on sporting matters. Most efforts have been dodgy at best, and almost universally cheesy. Awwal Number and Hip Hip Hurray aren't exactly what one would call inspirational films that capture the soul of sport.

In this context Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar was, in many respects, a first of its kind in Indian cinema, with its central premise revolving around the annual cycle race for boys in a fictional school setting. For a generation of kids who were in school during the early nineties, the film has almost a cult following. Moreover you would hardly find anyone who does not like the film.

And there is a good set of reasons for this. The film never takes itself too seriously and all the characters are rooted in reality. There are no stars. In fact the audience has more empathy for the character of Ratan (played rather competently by Mamik) throughout the film than for Sanju (Amir Khan) who is a bit of loser tending towards asshole. The music is refreshing and the acting just about competent to hold things together. It had everything in it that your average schoolboy/girl could relate to - Anti Establishment behaviour, sporting rivalry, sibling rivalry, a sexy minx, the sweet girl next door who doubles up as best friend,the achiever, the jerk and the demanding parent.

And the best endorsement for the film is that even now in 2007 it does not feel trippy (yes and that inspite of Deepak Tijori and Pooja Bedi) and Pehla Nasha still sounds like music to the ears.

It has it faults but bugger!! who cares. Amir changing gears at the last moment and pipping Tijori to post still retains its capacity induce gooseflesh.

The movie left me shouting gently to myself..sabse acche ladke kaun...veer bahadur ladke kaun....

Friday, March 23, 2007

Che Humour

This happens to be the latest fad in my household with wife and self trying to come up with dedications to Che...

Why am I inflicting this on the blogsphere you might ask!
For want of anything better....

1. What if Che Guevara were an extremely obese person - Che Gubbara

2. If Che were a Fountain - Che Favvara

3. If Che were a road-side romeo - Che Chhichhora

4. Che will always be to his parents - Che Dulara

5. If Che were a hill station - Che Almora

6. If Che were a Bachelor - Che Kunwara

7. If Che was a Kashmiri - Che Shikara

8. If Che was a vehicle - Che Tavera

9. If Che was a Punjabi - Che Arora

10. Che in the morning - Che Savera

11. Che was a foodie - Che Chatora

12. Che at midnight - Che Baarah

13. Che Celebrity - Che Sitara

14. Che were a dish - Che Bukhara

15. Che were a crown - Che Tiara

16. Che were a cave painting - Che Ellora

17. When Che was pitied he was called - Che Bechara

18. If Che was white - Che Gora

19. Che was a knife - Che Choora

20. If Che was a Goan - Che Perreira

Enough for now...Contributions are welcome...

Friday, February 23, 2007


Rajni sir is God
Yen vali thani vali
wo podu thalai

Manidan Mannan
Ejaman Vanavarayan
Kodi Parukuthu

Of flying pigs and decent gigs - Roger Waters Concert Review

I wish I hadnt bought the ticket online. Them buggers were selling tickets at the scene of the concert and handing out free WorldSpace radios. Not quite fair trade.

Nevertheless as I moved along with the throng, in queue, to get into the enclosure, the old heart was agog with more than a spot of anticipation. The appreciation of rock bands is a serious business to be treated on par with that of football clubs or even art. Snubbed you will be, by the powers that be if you dont BELIEVE in the right kind of rock band. And I've had my unfair share of being treated with absolute contempt and the respect accorded, exactly like TTLB does, to an insignificant microbe.

I remember once in a party where I had been regaling the audience with my penchant for highbrowed wit and sparkling repartee, I happened to mention that Def Leppard were a cool band. Suddenly the music stopped playing, people in my group started shifting uneasily in their chairs. Some excused themselves to go to the washroom and conversation drifted to the topic of how lack of taste in good music was the bane of humankind and what could be just punishment for the offenders.

That rather lengthy digression aside, the point I am trying to make is that be very careful about the rock bands you choose to like, because some of them might turn back and hit you on the head. But there have always been some bands in the history of this glorious genre which can be termed "Safe Bands". Eveyone is supposed to like them. If you named one of them in a group, no one would bay for your blood. Led Zeppelin I've realized tops this list. Queen and Pink Floyd would make it unchallenged. And probably Metallica with an outside chance. Then there are bands which very few people have actually heard but have an amazing amount of respect for like Jimi Hendrix, and The Grateful Dead. Death Metal is strictly for college kids in their second and third year of graduation. Everyone secretly adores Mark Knopfler and his burnished fender tone but very few admit it. I refuse to speak of Modern Rock bands like Linkin Park or Evanescence because they lack a reasonable length of demand history to be forecasted properly on the time series of rock longevity.

So there we have it. Me at the Roger Waters concert all agog. The opening was fabulous especially the fireworks on the stage. It reminded me of Bret "the hit man" Hart's entry for a matchup on Monday Night Raw. Some of the favourites were played early on including Mother and Wish You were here (yes, that was a gooseflesh moment).

The diversity in the crowd was astonishing. There were MDs of Multinational companies, their wives, Foreign students, expat executives, college gangs, families of four (couple and two kids), anti social looking men of the age of about 29 with CNC machine cut french beards, people with pony tails, people who work with software companies, myself and believe it or not a Tamil Iyer Mami. All of them bonded by the Pink strands of Floyd. I had a lot of fun watching this group of college kids trying to head-bang during Wish You were here. Poor little buggers.

Then Roger introduced us to his new song called Leaving Beirut, which though terribly political and all that was quite fun. Nice touch to have the lyrics flashed onto the big screen so that the crowd could sing along. America and Bush bashing is again a very safe topic. Not many people are offended by this, so that went pretty well. The much touted pink pig arrived on the scene, provided a diverting moment with its political and social graffiti and flew off into the void.

After a break there was a complete rendition of The Dark side of the Moon with some improvised guitar solos (which in my opinion felt a bit jaded), and American Idol like crooning by one of the support singers. Pink Floyd's biggest attraction for me is the quality of their words which overshadows the quality of their music, which mind you is exceptional. And Waters after all these years still sounds freshly gruff and soothing. The overall sound was decent, but not specacular. I thought the Mark Knopfer concert was much better in terms of sound quallity. And the sound special effects in the form of Michael Jackson's Thriller laugh, psychedelic chants, helicopter sounds only served to distract. These could have been done without.

Finally before the end the audience got what it had been waiting for. A rendition of Another Brick in the Wall, thought most of it sounded lip synced and directly played from a CD. The end though was mind blowing, in the form of Comfortably Numb.

And thus it ended.

Ratings out of *****

1. Feel Good Factor - **** (the fact that one made to a Waters concert is good enough. Everything else is a bonus)

2. Waters' Performance - *** and a half.

3. Entourage - *** and a half

4. Sound Quality - ** and a half

5. Overall - ***** (who tf am i to be rating Roger Waters. Isnt he supposed to be God or something?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Roger Waters Concert - Seen

Ahoy squirts! it is indeed true that I have seen Roger Waters perform live.... I have now seen Mark Knopfler, Rolling Stones and Roger Waters all perform live. Aha-ha.

Suffice it to say it was a good gig....

Review to be posted soon...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Lara Goes - Confessions of an Irrational Tendulkar Fan

I too was, like Tendulkar, a bit of a child prodigy. Only my art was that of the armchair cricketer. I was an absolute master of sitting in front of the telly and drooling over the cricket, of imagining strokes that Tendulkar could have played if he had'nt gotten out, of defending him from his prejudiced critics, of making it clear to the supporters of Lara and Waugh(elder) that the best batsman debate started and ended with SRT.

Tendulkar captured my cricketing universe like no other player. He was the harbinger of gooseflesh, of the jaw-dropping moment, of extreme dejection (when he got out cheap), of unalloyed joy and vexing irritation, sometimes all of them at the same time.

And this is how it had always been, until such time that Brian Lara, in an inconsequetial one-day match in Baroda got out in the cruelest of manners at the non-strikers end. Initially there was joy, then the thought that Tendulkar's hundred could well win this match- a much needed riposte to the SRT bashers, relief, and then suddenly utter dejection as one of the commentators mentioned that this was probably the last time Lara batted on Indian soil.

And as I tried to fight the slightest indication of a lump in my throat, the realization dawned that Lara deserved better from me. The loss of course is entirely mine.

But deep within the muddy recesses of my cricketing soul where there still remain a few strands of unbiasedness, I still bat like Lara in front of the mirror. And that is my tribute to the genius. Hope he has a smashing world cup (Tendulkar too!)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Arun Lal School of Stating the Bleeding Obvious and Other minor Irritations

My cable operator removed the NEO feed after the first match and subsequent court ruling, and thrust DD National's 7 minute itch onto my television screen.

Now I will not stoop so low as to rant endlessly about the House of Horrors formerly known as DD, its pigheaded refusal to acknowledge that the world has moved on since Baigan Raja was the poster child for daytime television and its aesthetic sensibilities that are only slightly more ghastlier than a Mumbai local. I refuse to do that.

And all this is not say that NEO sports is India's answer to Channel 9. NEO's debut can at best be termed dodgy with an unimpressive and annoyingly large logo, a flying circus of commentators ( with the exception of Tony Cozier probably), appalling graphics and score cards (they expect us to keep track of the number of balls bowled every over as there is no mention of this on the score bar) and the fact that more than half of India can't access them.

Speaking of commentators, I have to put in a word here for the incurably politically correct and the incessently regurgitating Arun Lal. Why does'nt someone gag him please.

"Chanderpaul needs to stay till the end if West Indies harbour any ambitions of a win from here on"

He started off with this statement and repeated it after every ball of every over and probably still is, sitting in his hotel room dreaming of Chanderpaul hanging in there.

Paul Allott is the quintessential third party non-partisan Englishman who is generally expected to sing paeans to the "extraordinary" crowds, "marvellous" wristy batting, "superb" atmosphere, "mesmerising" spin bowling and generally stay clear of controversy by keeping his personal thoughts about all this to himself.

Tony Cozier is his usual articulate self and remains the true and concerned voice of West Indian cricket.Jeff Dujon and L Siva are the insignificant others.

The series has started off well for India but somehow it lacks a certain spark. Yuvraj, Pathan, Sehwag and Kumble are going to be back for the World Cup and rightly so. Wish they asked VVS to join in as well. He's got more pedigree than Jogi Sharma at least.