Friday, May 25, 2007

The cynic surfaces

Picture this. It’s another Thursday evening at one of Bengalooru’s popular hangouts. A local band is due to perform followed by one of the city’s best known DJs. The crowd at the place is a diverse mix of working professionals, senior citizens, dedicated NGO workers, friends and fans of the band and a healthy number of firangs. What is such a diverse group doing at the place like that? They have all gotten together for a good cause. It’s a charity event/ fundraiser for a local NGO. The proceeds from the bar fund two of the NGO’s projects. So everybody happily orders a drink or two, after all it’s for charity. The evening is a success with enough people turning up for the cause. In the midst of all this, there is a PowerPoint showing pictures of the villages and people whom the NGO’s efforts will benefit. And there couldn’t have been a sharper disconnect. Of course I would give it hands down to the person who organized the event successfully. And yes, I had a good time and all but still couldn’t but help feel the disconnect. Yeah sure, everybody who turned up did their own little bit to contribute but is that all we need to do? Show up at an event, donate or do whatever one is expected to do to contribute and go about life unaffected? Most of the people who did come there did not even know what they turned up for. Well at the end of the day, a good percentage of people ended up feeling happy (I hope) for whatever reasons. And I just hope the feeling is mutual with the villagers for whom the evening was intended.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Soapbox

Happened to watch parts of this movie called “Radio Flyer” today morning.Maybe the first half an hour or so while I was getting ready to leave for work. What caught my attention in the movie was the fact that it had Tom Hanks narrating the movie and a very young and so very cute Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazzello ( the kid from Jurassic Park) in it. Well I’m not going to give you a synopsis or review it now. One of the scenes has the two child stars (who are siblings) playing and Tom Hanks quoting some of the fascinations and abilities most of us have as kids. He lists seven of them and adds how sadly we lose most of them in the process of growing up.

These are the fascinations according to him:-

1. Animals can talk;

2. Your favorite blanket is woven from a fabric so mighty, that once pulled over your head, it becomes an impenetrable force field

3. Nothing is too heavy to lift with the aid of a cape;

4. Your hand, held forefinger out and thumb up, actually fires bullets;

5. Jumping from any height with an umbrella is completely safe;

6 Monsters exist and can be both seen and battled with;

7. The greatest and most special of all: the ability to fly.

Got me thinking about the fascinations I had a kid. So tonight I’m probably going to go home and go through my old pictures and photo albums. Just to remind myself I was a kid once. Do the same once in a while to rekindle the child in you. Its definitely worth the effort. Trust me on that.

Dusk

Walk on the M.G.Road Boulevard and one is sure to be accosted by beggars, children selling flowers and peddlers trying to palm of rubber snakes and chess sets. Over time one gets used to walking past them or rather walking through them. But ever so often, one is encountered with an out- of-towner asking “do you know Telugu/ Tamil/ Hindi?”. An affirmative reply makes them break into a story about how they have lost their belongings and they need just a couple of hundred rupees to get back home. They will even ask you to give your postal address so that they can send you the money. I have so far encountered at least five people who have given me, if not the same story, at least a similar version of the same. The latest being an old woman I encountered today afternoon when I was on my way back to work after lunch. The old lady almost broke down relating her story to me. I, of course, refused any monetary help because I wasn’t sure if she was genuine as is the case most of the times.

Every time I encounter someone like that, I am always forced to wonder if it’s a genuine case. I mean if I was ever in a situation like that and I told a similar story, it would definitely be taken with a pinch of salt. And many people, actually, no one would probably help me out. Ok.. The point I’m trying to make is how does one know if the person is genuinely in trouble? Do we just go on and dismiss anyone who approaches us because we have the same story too many times before? Are we becoming too skeptical? Is it just a case of these so called “con people” being so believable? Or is it just some of us being gullible? I’m still wondering…..

Reminds me of a short story by Saki called ‘Dusk’. For those who haven’t read it, look it up and you will know why.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Good German


Well for a change this weekend I decided to do just a couple of things and I actually managed to get all of them done. And the first and foremost thing on my list was not to cram too many things on my weekend itinerary which I must say I did accomplish. So the weekend dawdled by without giving me too much of stress of having to be in ten different places at the same time. I just ran a few errands and caught up on my weekend dose of the idiot box, read quite a bit and caught the “The Good German”.

A movie I had been looking forward to watch for sometime. A review warned me before I watched it that it was strictly for the “intellectuals and people who paid attention during history classes in school”. Another said it was strictly for Steven Soderbergh fans. But those “strictly” warnings notwithstanding, I went ahead with my plans of watching the movie. Of course I had to tell myself that it was a period film based on World War II and based in Berlin, etc etc. Nonetheless it turned out to be quite a good movie. The movie has been shot very much like a 50s classic in black and white. There's something about black and white which I think even the latest high definition technology cannot match .There were a lot of jerks like the ones we would encounter when we would watch an old black and white war documentary. That lasted just for the first half an hour of the movie. So I’m not sure if it was intentional. But the jerks definitely lent to the movie watching experience .

The movie like I said before is based in Post WWII Berlin around the time Stalin, Churchill and Truman assembled at Potsdam to sign the Peace Treaty. The story starts off with AP war correspondent Jacob Geismar (George Clooney) returning to Berlin to cover the peace conference. Tully (Tobey Maguire) is the driver assigned to him. Though he comes across as the sweet charming American boy, he is just a weasel who has no scruples pimping his own girlfriend Lena Brandt. Now Lena Brandt happened to be Geismar’s secretary.. oops sorry stringer, and the two had a torrid affair before Jacob left Berlin. Within a day of Geismar landing in Berlin, Tully is found dead. As Geismar tries to unravel the mystery, he is begins to discover that no one in Berlin is what he/ she appears to be. The phrase “there is always something worse” is a leitmotif in the film.

The movie might sound a tad too lengthy with a runtime of 105 minutes. Though a good 45 minutes could have been conveniently edited, at no point does the film feel like a drag. The background score is very reminiscent of the oldies. But its not overdone like in a spoof. The performances are just right. Cate Blanchett looks so very gorgeous. She has got her character right to the T from the way she looks to her accent. I, for one, never thought she was much of looker.A fantastic actress but not exactly a looker. You get what I mean right.. Anyways, but in this film, she looks so built to portray someone from that era. Call me weird but she in some scenes reminded me of Anne Frank (yeah which is why the disclaimer “weird”). Cate Blanchett who turns 34 today apparently modeled her character on Marlene Dietrich and Ingrid Bergman and she has done a great job! Kudos to her!

The suspense is not really out of world. Some of the twists are unexpected. Most of them expected. Even when the last piece of the puzzle fall in place, there is neither a sense of shock, nor is there a sense of disappointment. All in all, watch the movie if you want a break from the usual movie fare being dished out of late and if you are in the mood for an oldie without actually watching one. My rating 6.5 out of 10.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Not just another morning commute

When Ash decided to tie the knot with Abhishek, little did she know how many hearts she would break. I don’t know if Ash will ever get to know of it, but I sure got a taste on my way to work today. As usual, I get into an auto and lo behold!! I see a Taj Mahal in the auto.Yeah a stainless steel Taj Mahal on the back of the drivers seat!! Anyone who uses autos as a means of transport in Bengalooru knows the drivers have to attach their details on the back of their seats for the passengers to see and make note of should the need arise. Now our dude’s details were attached of course but they were inside the Taj Mahal. What a sentimental touch!! Ok now before you wonder where does Ash fit in the picture, the auto is full of pictures of Ash and she is on the other side of the Taj, literally behind the guy's back.This guy sure took the “ behind every (successful) man, there is a woman” adage seriously. And you were wondering if that’s all, there is more. The whole auto is decked with jasmine flowers! Yes lots of mallige hoovu/ mullappoo/ mallippoo maalais. The garlands almost reminded me of the stuff, the villainous Thakur's son in a Hindi film would wrap around his wrists whilst enjoying his mujra in a kotha! I sure was glad I did not get into the same auto at night. I'm sure I would have totally freaked out by the time I got out of the rick.

“The Good German” has a line which is almost a leitmotif in the movie “there is always something worse”. Likewise, in the case of our Auto Rajas, just when you thought something took the cake, there is always another contender. :)

Friday, May 11, 2007















One of my personal favourites of the very few pictures I have clicked. This is a pretty good picture considering it was clicked using a mobile phone. The Nokia E50 has a decent camera for the fact that its a business phone.

I think. Therefore I am?

Nice article by Steven Pinker a friend sent across to me. Very well written of course . Most importantly he has presented both the sides of the argument well. Makes for an interesting read.


http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580394-1,00.html

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bendakaalooru

Its been two odd years since I moved to Bangalore. The city I spent the first two years of my existence in. The city I came to during my summer vacations as a kid. The city which always held fond memories of my grandfather, waking up in the morning to him practicing the Nadaswaram. The city where I could be assured of good filter kaapi anywhere…..well almost anywhere. The city, which, with its many many cinema theaters, made me look forward to my visits because of the many movies I could catch up on.

The city which due to some personal reasons I had begun to loathe.

But the city has been patient with me. And it has made me fall in love with it all over again. And this time around it has been for its sheer beauty, its outlook and of course the fact that it has been good to me ;) . Sure it wont stop me from wanting to live in the Big Apple of India, Mumbai, badmouth and fight with the auto drivers, loathe the 1130 deadline, the list is quite long… ( lets save it for another post)

But the bottom line is, nothing like namma Bengalooru.. of course with a lot of swalpa adjust maadi..

Like a good friend says, Cauvery Neeru, Kingfisher Beeru macchaan!!