Friday, December 19, 2008
Jugni Rehndi Sheeshe Paar
Jugni Moh Mohni Naaro Di Kothi Sector Chaar
( Jugni Hasdi Ve..Hasdi ) Te Dil Vich Basdi Ve..
Dibakar Banerjee must have spent the better part of his formative years as a fly on the inside wall of a Punjabi family in Rajouri Garden. What else can explain this phenomenon. The guy gets Punjabis the way Shakti Kapoor gets shady.
Khosla ka Ghosla was inventive, mad, funny and uplifting. OLLO is outrageous, dark, witty and depressing (all in a good way). Dibakar Banerjee has created a parallel Punjabi universe that is at once endearing and cringeworthy. And the music. Bat out of Punjab! Superchor has been playing on my mind in a loop ever since I heard the thing.
Badi "varaity" hai ji is ladke mein.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
That however is just a rebuttal of the blurb on the cover and not a criticism of the novel itself. For Netherland is a spectacularly written novel stitched together with sentences that at once evoke awe, nostalgia and admiration for their preciseness and lucidity. It is a complicated yarn which dabbles in philosophical musings on the nature of love, marriage, friendships and cricket and paints a vivid picture of the three cities that its protagonist inhabits - New York, The Hague and London.
Netherland is a first person narrative by the excessively brooding and given to digressions, Hans Van Der Broek, a Dutch investment analyst with an English Lawyer wife and a tragic love for the game of cricket.
"...I was once again confronted by the seemingly irresolvable conflict between, on the one hand , my sense of an innings as a chanceless progression of unorthodox shots - impossible under local conditions - and, on the other hand, the indigenous notion of batting as a gamble of hitting out. There are hornier dilemmas a man can face: but there was more to batting than the issue of scoring runs. There was the issue of self measurement. For what was an innings if not a singular opportunity to face down, by dint of effort and skill and self-mastery, the variable world?"
"...There was nothing, in principle, to stop me from changing my game, from taking up the cow shots and lofted bashes in which many of my team mates specialized... I could not, more accurately I would not change...I would stubbornly continue to bat as I always had, even if it meant the end of making runs"
Cricket in New York is at best an amusing diversion and the sole preserve of a motley bunch of Asians and Caribbeans. Hans is the only "white" cricketer in the entire group and yet finds himself completely at ease in this diverse group. A bunch of ordinary people attracted by the lure of the great game in a foreign land.
Chuck Ramkissoon, a character who looms over the novel's landscape is, to define him in cricketing terms, a genuine all rounder. He speaks with authority on topics eclectic and exotic. He is a charming rogue - go-getting, mysterious and impulsive. A calypso Huckleberry Finn who has managed to age gracefully. His dream is to bring to America, the unalloyed joys of playing and watching cricket. Hans' and Chuck's is a friendship that is rooted in the reality of mutual expectation. Chuck needs Hans' credible exterior and patient audience for his shady dealings and grandiose pronouncements while Hans looks forward to his meetings with Chuck as a means of getting away from the lonesome reality of his post 9/11 New York life and troubled marriage.
The most striking feature of the novel is the freshness of its prose and its aptness. That itself makes the novel a definite must read. It does help though, that the characters and the narrative are first rate too.
"Some people have no difficulty in identifying with their younger incarnations...I, however, seem given to self-estrangement. I find it hard it muster oneness with those former selves whose accidents and endeavours have shaped who I am now...
I still think, and I fear will always think, of myself as the young man who got a hundred runs in Amstelveen with a flurry of cuts, who took that diving catch at second slip in Rotterdam, who lucked into a hat trick at the Haagse Cricket Club. These and other moments of cricket are scorched in my mind like sexual memories, forever available to me and capable, during those long nights alone in the hotel when I sought refuge from the sorriest of feelings, of keeping me awake as I relived them in bed and powerlessly mourned the mysterious promise they held."
Monday, October 20, 2008
I spoke to a fellow sufferer recently (or as I prefer to say, ‘a person who is thoroughly annoyed with the fact they have dementia’) who talked in the tones of a university lecturer and in every respect was quite capable of taking part in an animated conversation.
Nevertheless, he could not see the teacup in front of him. His eyes knew that the cup was there; his brain was not passing along the information. This disease slips you away a little bit at a time and lets you watch it happen.
Nation, his latest book, which is incidentally a non-Discworld novel was released last month amidst much fanfare in relative obscurity (as most of his books are). I had to order it online and I receive my copy tomorrow. And it will be with a sense of anticipation and appreciation that I will commence my reading of it because there is a possibility that he might be no longer as prolific as he once was. But then again given the near certainty with which million-to-one chances come good in his books I am sure he will be just fine.
Nil illegitimo carborundum Terry.
PS: A minor rant against Crossword, the book store. I am not sure if it passes muster as a bookstore of any consequence. With the temporary closure of the Landmark store owing to the fire incident at Infiniti Mall, I had to go to crossword to see if I could lay my hands on PTerry's 'Nation' and Joseph O'Neil's 'Netherland'. Crossword did not have either. Buggrem.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Sprawl is doing your farm work by aeroplane, roughly,
Sprawl lengthens the legs; it trains greyhounds on liver and beer.
Sprawl is Hank Stamper in Never Give an Inch
Sprawl occurs in art. The fifteenth to twenty-first
Sprawl gets up the noses of many kinds of people
Sprawl is really classless, though. It is
No, sprawl is full gloss murals on a council-house wall.
Friday, September 12, 2008
And why do I bring this up? I am writing this post sitting in Melbourne's Tullamarine airport waiting for my flight to take me home, and if we were to rewind back to within two hours from t-now you'd have spotted me at Laxmi Vilas Vegetarian Restaurant in Dandenong happily immersing myself in what could well be the most 'dhansooo' Saambaaar in the Southern Hemisphere. With a couple of Vadas to boot. Me content. Me sated. Me back to being a cheerful South Indian man of about twenty nine.
Just the right amount of 'hunnse-hannu' juice, podi like mum makes it, thoda takkali thoda magic. For a few minutes there Melbourne almost equalled Madras.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Summit Chaurasiya (email@example.com), my esteemed former classmate, purveyor of poetic profanities and philosopher extraordinaire, had he accompanied me to the Games would have summed them up in his typically pithy fashion thus: "Raita Phaila diya chinkion ne." And Raita indeed was phailaoed in unmeasurable quantities in Beijing.
Minor disappointment upon arrival. Our flight docked itself at Terminal 2. Was really looking forward to checking out the new and 'gajab type' Terminal 3. Ah well, bugger that for a lark! It would take a lot more to put me down. We were picked up by one of the organizing committee reps, put into a fantastic car and shipped to our hotel. All very efficient and well done.
Bhokaal Alert no. 1
En route to the Hotel, I noticed that while our car was zipping along at a reasonable 90kmph on the empty leftmost lane, the other lanes, all three of them were packed with traffic crawling at Abey Kuruvilla like pace. Curiosity was aroused. I asked the driver "Dost, yeh kaisi chaal?"
Aparently one lane on every Beijing road, especially the main highways, had been earmarked for Olympic visitors travelling in specially accredited vehicles. And not one sod had the temerity to even touch this lane with his vehicle. Ah, the joys of unilateral decision making.
The hotel was plush, in the "bahutey mehenga" category with a well endowed Hospitality lounge for Olympics guests - round the clock food, drink, internet, television. I felt like Castro. There was an army of efficient volunteers who handed out our passes, tickets to venues and a list of must do's and absolute dont's. China is a largely unambigious place. There are things that you can do and things which will probably kill you. I had tickets for the Athletics that night. The last bus was leaving at 5pm. Ran into my room, dumped my bags, changed into new T-Shirt especially bought for Olympics, out came the camera and J was ready to go.
Overheard a colleague mention to another colleague, what I think is the understatement of the year. "Theek thaak kiya hai arrangement mere hisaab se."
The bus beat a path down the Olympic lane at a fair rate and within 15 minutes as it snaked up a flyover we spotted the 'Bird's Nest.' There are various theories going around about how the Nest was conceived. Some say that the architect did not have the foggiest as to what he was thinking, some call it a marvel of abstract visualization, some see it not as a nest but a cage symbolizing China's control freakishness. But the fact remains that its an arresting spectacle. The way the bars rise out of the ground in random directions and somehow manage to hold everything together is a fascinating sight. Engineer colleague from REC background immediately remarked, "Abey ismein load bearing column kaun sa hai." To which Engineer colleague from IIT background responded, "Khurmi-Gupta ke students ke bas ka nahin hai yeh sawaal."
W 1500m Semi, M Decathalon High Jump;
W Javelin Final; M 800m Semi;
W 4X100m relay 1st round; M Triple Jump Final
M 4X100m Relay 1st Round, M 400m final, M Decathlon 400m
The highlight was definitely the 4X100 relays which featured baton drops during the last transfer for both the US men and women's teams. Such hearbreak. Wonderful drama. Tyson looked everything but Gay. The triple jump again was fascinating and made even more so by the fact that we were sitting right in front of the pit (merely 11 rows away). Philip Idowu, he of the gangsta rapper looks, flattered to deceive and ended up winning silver.
Bhokaal Alert No 2
Celebrities spotted: Usain Bolt
All in all an excellent day, met all expectations and then some.
This was the day we were supposed to do the tourist thing by paying a visit to the Great Wall. We entered via the Badaling Section (I wonder if there is a double-meaning Hindi connection here) which is also the most popular one via an outrageously steep and noisy ropeway. First impressions on the wall from Tambram colleague - 'itna bada diwaar banane ka jaroorat nahin tha'. The Ching dynasty emperors must have turned in their graves.
Just the fact the wall covers more than 6000km is enough to boggle the mind. Never mind the fact that they took 2000 years to complete it. Which makes it about 3km per year. Better than BMC even then. Bought a few T-Shirts and a bag as part of mandatory tourist souvenir shopping. The shop owners were a pleasure to chat with:
J: How much for this T-Shirt
Chinese Shopkeeper: 120 RMB
J: How about 15 RMB?
CS: Sold. You want more? I can give discount.
There is something highly unsettling about this kind of a conversation.
The programme for the evening was the big ticket basketball semis featuring Lithuania, Spain, Argentina and the USA. The basketball stadium looks from the outside as if they could not complete it in time so they had to cover it with a large curtain. On closer inspection it emerged that the curtain like thingy was a design element. Overheard colleague from Kanpur say, "Do kaudi ka design hai."
Bhokaal Alert No. 3
Celebrities On View:
Ricky Rubio (the outrageously gifted Spanish point guard), LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Pau Gasol, Luis Scola
Major Major Celebrity Spotting: Diego Maradona (bachpan ka sapna poora category)
The games themselves were slightly underwhelming what with the Spain/Lithuania match marred by numerous fouls and the US/Argentina match not living up to expectations as a match-up of the two best sides in basketball. Nevertheless unhealthy amounts of fun was had.
Kobe going for three
We were all quite exhausted by the rapid Guy Ritchie style pace of our itinerary so far. Add to that a diet consisting exclusively of Bread, Butter, Biscuits and Salads for a fundamentalist vegetarian like me, things were not quite fulltoo. But we atent seen nothing yet. Day 3 was the baap of all days. Early morning start to the Olympic green where we were supposed to visit the company pavilion and generally hang around until lunch time. Now the Olympic Green can be best described an outrageously large area of land consisting entirely of concrete pavement and chinese volunteers. For every tourist the organizers had 3 volunteers. Even I thought the place was a bit crowded, and I live in Mumbai. But to be fair, the Green was so large that it could have probably accommodated at least two Mumbais (Navi included). I must have walked more than 10kms all day.
Post lunch was the Football finals featuring Argentina and Nigeria. We had the best seats in the stadium and a pair of binoculars each. "Mere paapon ka ghada was bharoing at the rate of knots". The game itself was quite sedate with a few random flashes of brilliance, one of them resulting in a goal for Argentina.
Bhokaal Alert No 4.
Celbrities on view: Leo Messi, Juan Carlos Riquelme
We mucked about after the game visiting sponspors' pavilions, collecting freebies, drinking coke, comparing India and China and pointing out how individual freedom is sometimes highly overrated. Overheard snatch of conversation amongst Indian tourist group at McDonalds, "Banaya to accha hai lekin jo bhi kaho India is India." And I always thought India was Korea.
Evening programme was another Athletics fest.
M Javelin Throw Final, W High Jump Final, M 800m final;
W 1500m final; M 5000m final, W 4X400m relay final;
M 4X400 relay final.
Fascinating round of events with a couple of Olympics records and a superb high jump contest. My camera by this time had started shedding tears. Tambram colleague was visibly overwhelmed by the High jump contest and remarked, "ladki log accha kood-ta hai"
Celebrity Spot: Sergei Bubka, Juan Antonio Samaranch, Raja Randhir Singh (WTF), Suresh Kalmadi (keh do yeh jhoot hai).
We returned to the hotel at 10:30 and a group of like minded hungry desis made a mad dash to a nearby Indian restaurant. The chap was just about to close when he was confronted and forced to reopen. Butter Chicken, Mutter Paneer, Dal et al were ordered in 'anaap shanaap' quantities. The general consensus at the end of it all was, "khana theek hai"
The last and final day featured only the closing ceremonies. A hundred thousand people were expected in the national stadium so we were advised to be in by 5pm for an 8pm start. Before that we made a trip to the famous Silk Street market. You might have thought that what with the Olympics and all in progress there might be a big crackdown on the Chinese farji goods market. But nothing of this sort was on. The farji Guccis, Pradas, Armanis were out in full strength. I had to buy a suitcase and had an interesting time buying it:
Chinese Salesperson: Where you from?
CS: Ohhh..Great Country
J: How much for suitcase
CS: 2000 RMB
J: Too much.
CS: How much you pay?
J: 200 RMB
CS: Ohhhh. You very tough. Final price. 1500 RMB
J: I give you Indian souvenir (10 Re Note). Final Price 300RMB
CS: Sold. You buy more. I give discount.
Had to buy some clothes for the missus and here is another conversation
CS: Where you from?
CS: Ohhhh..Great Country.....
Which brings us to the closing ceremony. Spectacular in every sense of the word. Kanpuria colleague remarked, "abey thoda sa crouching tiger type item hai" He was not too far off. It was choreographed by Zhang Yimou of Flying Daggers and Golden Flower fame. One Chandu Bhai that I knew from Hathras had had once sagely remarked, "China ke andauon mein udney ki kalaa ab abhi payi jaati hai". He was speaking the truth. It was all highly breathtaking.
Celebrities Spotted: David Beckham (well!)
On our way back we spotted several armoured vehicles on the streets. Tambram colleague warned us thusly, "Deere deere chalo warna wuda dega"
And thus ended my Beijing experience. Lots of people kept calling it a once in a lifetime thingy. But I dont want to do that yet. I'll see if I can make it to London. Because I seem to have become addicted to the Olympics.
Friday, August 01, 2008
It all feels a bit surreal really. I mean who goes to the Olympics, seriously. But there it is. Me am going. Looking forward to the Triple Jump finals. Had a fair bit of talent at the old hop, skip and jump as a lad I did and my personal best stands at just about 5 metres below the world mark set by Jonathan Edwards (18.29m I believe). Its a pity Edwards has retired though. Also hurray to the fact that soccer teams will feature the very best talent available. Here's praying for a Brazil-Argentina final. Also praying on the side for an Argentina-US matchup in basketball. Only grouse is not being able to catch the aquatics (water polo does not qualify for me). Catching Michael Phelps in action would have made the trip about adequate. Nevertheless one shall not crib.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
But the one class of men who consistently bring my blood to a high-pressure-boil and turn me towards dark thoughts involving pickaxes, shovels and free swings are Real Estate Brokers in suburban Mumbai. A clan of men unimaginably vile, with a penchant for being the type of shady that would put even Shakti Kapoor to shame. Why the rant you might ask? And tell you I will.
Landlord pulled the plug on my lease last month citing unavoidable circumstances. And thus began my tale of woe. Now in Mumbai, as a lot of you will no doubt know, the standard specs for a house undergo the equivalent of a Fourier transform and emerge from the other end completely unrecognizable. Missus and self had a fairly modest requirement - "Apartment, reasonably spacious (1000 sq ft or so), 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1 Kitchen, a smallish balcony and if we were to push it a separate washing area" Now I am sure even the meanest mind amongst you will not consider this as asking for the moon. But as it turns out the moon might have worked out cheaper.
I first logged on to those marvels of modern real estate technology - 99acres, Magic Bricks, Sulekha and even something called Kijiji.com. Sample a few ads:
Bandra West, Spacious 1RK (150 sqft), in decent locality, near station, close to Sea, a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace (OK that was my addition. concept borrowed from here). Only 29k. Negotiable" - contact Rajesh BrokerTranslation: Shanty in an overrated upmarket locality. It will feel like you're in Sex and the City (because you're screwed if you live here.. ha ha). Faces the sea in the same way that the planet Jupiter faces the sun, a stone's throw from B Palace only if the stone is an intercontinental ballistic missile and throwing is being done by a launch vehicle
Thane, Godbunder Road, Spacious (800sqft), 2 BHK, Modern Locality, Reserved parking , 24 hour power backup 18k Rent, Negotiable. Contact Rajesh Broker
Translation: Bugerall Pigeon Hole in the middle of nowhere, Reserved parking for pigeon, 24 hour power backup (for night lamp), Rent depends on whatever number I can think of, negotiable in a vague non committal sort of way. We'll make you pay sucker!!"
Rajesh Broker seems to own 75% market share in most of these websites. The rest are owned by Chandrahas Broker and probably Ali Broker. So there. Websites taken over by brokers. Might as well call one of them. The conversation went thus:
J: Looking for a 2 BHK, 18k tak budget hai.One Week and 15 Houses Later, J and Missus find another place paying through their collective noses and the broker is richer by a few Hero Puchs. Buggr'em.
Broker: Sir budget thoda badhana padega. 18k mein kya aata hai
J: Sony ka flat screen TV, Hero Puch, Handycam, Singapore ka return ticket, 1500 plates of pani puri...
Broker: Arre kya joke karte ho sir aap bhi.
J: 18k majaak nahin hota yaar.
B: Aap aa jao sir..main aapko mast makaan batata hoon.
J: Aur brokerage?
B: Wohi standard sir two months...aur renewal pe one month...
J: Matlab 2 sony ka TV, 2 hero Puch, 2 Handycam...
B: Arre kya sir aap joke karte ho.
J: 36k majaak nahin hota yaar!
B: sir aap ke liye consider kar lenge...paanch sau hajjaar kam kar lenge...
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Here is another one of Harry Knowles' rabid geek reviews
It’s official, Summer 2008 is here – and it is here to kick our ass with a beautiful iron boot.
By the way doesnt Jeff Bridges bear an uncanny resemblance to our very own Bob Christo in this film?
Monday, March 24, 2008
P G Wodehouse - Maha Bhokali
Tolkien - Guru Ghantaal
Tom Sharpe - Raita Phaila Diya
Douglas Adams - Baanke Bihari
James Joyce - Jeero Batey Sannata
Some form of Indian Television awards ceremony handed out to Amitabh Bachchan, the prize for "Ultimate Eminence".
Yes, you read that correctly. The category was indeed called the lifetime award for "Ultimate Eminence". This kind of a thing makes one wonder. Here is a list of awards I think are fit to be handed out right now:
Shakti Kapoor - Award for Persistent Malfeasance
Vivek Oberoi - Award for Premature Obsolescence
Rakhi Sawant - Award for Eternal Pestilence
Navjot Sidhu - Award for Misplaced Exuberance
Adnan Sami - Award for Erstwhile Corpulence
Anu Malik - Award for Inducing Flatulence
Additions to this list are welcome.
Lalaa ke abba bole
Lalaa ki amma boli
Lala ke tau bole
Lala ke chaccha bole
Lala ki chacchi boli
Ke dadda manna kari thi
phir bhi khelan aaye
o baaki khatiya tooti
o baaki lutiya doobi
Lala tum haar gayayyyy...
Monday, January 21, 2008
And made it count they have. Dravid has lost confidence but has reversed that with sheer bloody mindedness, Tendulkar's no longer a genetic algorithm but a linear program, Ganguly's batting has aged like Sean Connery's bond and VVS is still incapable of ugliness on a cricket pitch.
I am not sure when the planets will align themselves next to produce an Indian middle order touched by such genius, so lets savour their presence now and analyze later. A test match side without Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman will be hard to digest, so lets count our blessings now and criticize later.