If I win an Oscar…

I am terrible at posing for photographs. I think I lost it somewhere during my teen years, when your chubbiness and awkwardness can no longer be passed off as childish cuteness. It took me years to realize it, and I still struggle with it. Every time, a camera is pointed towards me, whatever little vestige of coolness  I have deserts me and I make a face as if I am teetering on the verge of a major stomach upset.

Like Chandler Bing.

So when a recent portrait I uploaded on facebook got more than 10 likes, I could not believe my own eyes. For a moment, I wondered if this is a parallel universe where everyone likes me. I did a quick Google search. This universe has Mila Kunis and Emma Watson and I still hate Twlight. So things are normal, parallel universe or not. Seriously, who cares about pictures of guys on FB? (Or that is what I would like to believe.) I don’t blame them though. I do the same too. I am choosy about how I distribute my likes and comments. I hold them close to my heart and value their worth in gold. For instance, when a guy’s picture comes up on my newsfeed, all I see is a wall of blur as I ruthlessly continue scrolling past. Doesn’t matter if this guy is a close friend and the picture is actually good.  And I come across a gal’s pic and this particular pic is average at best (This is a hypothesis.None of my FB female friends need be offended). I pause. There are already some 112 likes and 64 comments of “Hawwwwt”,”Sooo pretty”,”Cutieeeeeeee XOXOXO”,”Mashallah!”. My thought process slowly catches its train, “I have spoken to this gal only once in my entire life and I most probably will not recognize her if I see her in person now, but she already has so many likes and comments. I think this picture deserves my “special” like. I’ll just add one more. Maybe it will make her day to see I liked her pic.” And click. I think its a fair justification. And if it is a picture of a group of guys and gals, my retina is tuned so that only the gals move into focus while the guys merge into the background. Anyway, back to my picture. Slowly and steadily, it crossed 15 likes. This was overwhelming! I could barely contain my excitement. Lo and behold! The next day, 20 likes! I was beyond myself. Does anyone remember the scene in Spiderman 2 where Peter Parker walks with a swagger to the song “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head” playing in the background? Exact same feeling. I told a friend of mine that I feel like giving an acceptance speech thanking everyone, like they do at award ceremonies. She said,”Why don’t you blog about it? In any case, receiving so much love and affection is not good for your ego anyway. It will be good way to get it out of your system and come back to earth”. She was right. So yeah, until this point, this post was about how this post was conceptualized.

Here is the speech (There are chances of me getting a little carried away, but do stay with me):

“Wow, this … this is amazing. I never expected to receive so much love from all you guys in the form of left-clicks on mouses which are worth absolutely nothing in real world.  I feel so humbled. I have struggled hard to reach this stage, where I am standing right now. There were difficult and distressing times, times when I got only 2-3 likes or even worse. Tirelessly,I ran from pillar to post looking for a decent background for my portraits but every time I returned disheartened. I wallowed in self-pity when I saw my classmates and colleagues who are now moms of two kids and double my size in breadth getting many more likes than me. My parents have been a great support system for me in these arduous times. In fact, when the magic number was reached, I immediately called mom and gave her the wonderful news and she was so,so happy.(Wipes tears from corner of the eyes). She is here with us right now. (Points among the audience)”Mom,this one’s for you”. Now, if my prospective in-laws after seeing my pic, ask my parents, “How many likes does this picture have on facebook? Our girl will only marry a boy who has a minimum of 20 likes”, my parents will not have to hang their heads in shame. I would also like to thank Nikon where I got the $1000 camera, and Irfanview, the cheap/free editing software which I used to retouch the said picture. And finally, thanks to Facebook for providing me with the right platform to showcase myself. Thank you Facebook. Thank you Mark Zuckerburg.”

Speaking of parallel universes, I hope this one has mayonnaise. That would be a deal breaker for me.

A travelogue, sort of

​My friends keep telling me that the pictures from my previous trip are really good and all, but  they are not sure if ​the place is actually beautiful or its more to do with my photography skills. ​I will share a very important photography secret here: Never make your bad pictures public. I am usually disappointed with my good pics too, but that’s when Photoshop comes into picture. ​Anyway,​the point I am trying to make here is, for me, travel is not all about going to beautiful places. Its much more than that. For example, ​​I just love the sense of belonging you feel after staying in a place for a few days​, even though you have no idea of the place before this trip. You begin to identify the routes and the lanes, go around by yourself and even give directions to other tourists. You talk to the locals, you eat their food (though sometimes it doesn’t turn out to be a good experience), you visits their pubs, you basically blend in. ​You become​ a part of the​ world not your own for a short while​. And when you come back from a long ​trip,its just awesome​ to find your people, your home, your bed, ​all of which you​ would​ take for granted otherwise. ​Much later, on a dull day,​ ​your magnificent brain decides to cheer you up and says,” Ok let me show you something nice” and starts conjuring​ up images and sounds of those moment​s lost ​in time ​and your face unwittingly breaks into a wide smile. I can go on and on.

My last trip to Cambodia was one such trip. We had a LOT of time to get bored of all the temples and architecture around, so I had to find entertainment wherever I can. Some mildly interesting stuff happened which at that time seemed much more interesting. I thought I will write it anyway.

We got up at 4:15 AM, took our cab and drove for around 12 kms to reach the temple at 5:00 AM. It was pitch dark everywhere and I setup my tripod at the edge of the pond, all set for the sunrise. There was an Asian guy next to me. Asian as in ​<racist slang here>. For the rest of the world, there are two types of people in Asia – ​Asians and Indians. So this guy started taking some pics while my cam was complaining about the low light. I peeped and asked him what settings is his camera on. He loudly said something in a language totally incomprehensible to me, as if I am totally expected to understand what he was saying. I told him I don’t understand the language and showed him the error message on my cam. ​We started communicating through our LCD displays. “ISO” he said in his typical accent and showed me his aperture and shutter settings. After that, he kept informing me every time he changed his settings, or lowered his tripod to get a better view etc with both of our vocabulary basically limited to “aaa” “umm” “ooh” “yayaya” . Some time in between, I asked him if he was Japanese. With my hundreds of hours of experience in watching (Japanese) anime, I should have guessed he was not speaking Japanese, but it was 5:30 AM on a cold, cloudy,dark morning!​ ​ His wife who was standing next,​giggled and said “Nooooo, Chinese”. It was quite sweet. I thought Chinese people usually take offense at being mistaken for Japanese. After that, I got so busy clicking I didn’t notice them go.

Later that day, me and my friend were trying out noodles at a mobile stall on the roadside, after painstakingly​ explaining him not to add anything ​that has moved once before (any animal,that is).​Of course,I told him to ​be liberal with the chilli. ​It was all looking good. ​Now came the​ bummer – he handed me the noodles along with two chopsticks! ​Expecting me to finish a bowl of noodles using chopsticks is like expecting Salman Khan in the lead role of Paan Singh Tomar! ​But as the cliche goes, desperate situations call for desperate measures.​ There was food on my plate and​ I will be damned if I don’t finish it,​and do it while it ​was hot. An elderly Chinese couple came to the stall. The husband looked at me ​making the chopsticks dance​ and smiled. I ​gave an embarrassed ​laugh and said “I am not used to this”. The stall boy asked him something and he replied “Can, can”. I immediately turned and asked him “Are you from Singapore?” He was. ​A brother from our land in a foreign land! Sentiments started flowing freely. He told us that they have come by a tour package and how he roamed about wild ​and free ​during his younger days but now he needs a ​transport to take him around.He ​meandered into the topic of Singapore​ by-elections​ and so on.​It was amusing how I actually felt happy seeing someone from Singapore. ​And to my credit, I totally cleaned up my noodles plate using the chop sticks. It couldn’t be helped, the stuff was spicy and delicious.Looking back now, thank god it was noodles and not rice!

The same night, I left my friend having a good time at the club and started towards the hotel at midnight. A tuk tuk stopped (A tuk tuk is basically a moped fitted to a carriage. Very comfortable for 2 people) and I felt lazy and got in though the hotel was at a walk-able distance. He started the vehicle and without looking at me asked “Mister, want some lady?” I ​was caught off guard and ​replied “No no, just take me to the hotel”. He paused, turned back in slow motion and gave me a toothy, sheepish grin “HIHIHI” . Best grin of 2013 so far.

And there were stereotypes everywhere. The Chinese always arrive in bus loads. Once they descend in the vicinity, everything else goes silent. People move out of the way, the birds stop chirping, everything just freezes except the Chinese moving noisily around and their cameras pointing in all directions in all weird angles. Things get back to their normal peaceful self once the battalion has moved on to another target. I think, same would be true with Indians too, if only we had enough money to go to all these places. For now, I will give you an advice I read in a blog. Do not travel anywhere in the world, I repeat, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, on Chinese holidays. Moving on, the Indian stereotype – wearing tees/full sleeves, jeans and shoes – the entire wardrobe, in 35 degree C weather. Me and my friend were guilty of it too. I know at least one westerner who looked at me top to bottom and gave a sideways smile.​ Well, ​we laughed at them too. I don’t understand why westerners have to wear clothes like they are living in utter poverty​ when they are traveling​? Okay, agreed the clothes are more comfortable than ours, but some people ​who seem well off, ​wear clothes that resemble rags and ​are definitely not washed for a long time!

So that’s that. I don’t know how to end this, so I will just quote a brilliant line by one of my favorite bad guys in fiction.
“There probably isn’t any meaning to life. But perhaps you ​can find something interesting to do while you are alive.”

Reality vs Movies – An Engineer’s perspective

Calvin once wisely said “My life would be more interesting with a musical score and a laugh track“. Wouldn’t it be awesome if real life were like movies? Right from the vibrant colors on the screen to the air brushing of old people to make them young(you know who), the background music to the drama. As if hitting someone isn’t fun enough already, in the movies it is accompanied with “tubush,bishum” sound effects. I would randomly hit people for no reason if such awesomeness were possible in real life. Now lets take a sample demographic.
Here is a comparison of an average day of an average young male Software Engineer in real life and in movies. Since a male Software Engineer is the most stereotypical character you will ever find, I think he is the perfect sample for such an analysis.

Morning breakfast : Real life guy opens the fridge sleepily while scratching parts of his body and wondering if he can cook something nice and quick. Nope, nothing in the fridge which is not smelling like a (warning : subtle racism ahead) Chinese Food court. He settles down for milk and bland corn flakes again, cursing his life.
The movie guy does not do all this. If there is a breakfast sequence in the movie, it will be as follows:
If he is a South Indian, he presents himself primly dressed at the breakfast table with a “Good morning Amma” and his mother serves him idli along with chutney and hot sambar. Its always idli in South Indian movies. Dosa, vada etc are too tedious to prepare.
If he is a North Indian, then good ol’ aloo ke parathe or mooli ke parathe. No question of compromise there.

On the way to office: There is one coincidence in real life and movies. The bus is always crowded. Guess we just cannot escape this reality. But the coincidence ends here. Suddenly the bus screeches to a halt and the movie guy falls right on to a pretty young thing, who of course is the female lead of the movie (this will be revealed to you later when she breaks into a dream song with the hero half an hour later). For now,he gets chided by her for bruising her modesty. Now for our real guy. He will most definitely fall into the lap of a heavily mustachioed elderly man who will then enter into a abuse mode in chaste vernacular focusing on the younger generation being manner-less,insensitive nincompoops. He will not stop his tirade until he has got everyone’s attention in the bus, even if it means getting down at the next stop.

After getting down the bus: Say by some freakish sort of miracle, the real guy also chanced upon a girl in the bus. So what does he do after coming down the bus? He gushes about it all the way to office making up dream sequences in his mind, get shouted at my a motor cyclist while crossing the road for not paying attention and eventually reach office. And the movie guy? He is absolutely in no hurry. He gets down the bus in slow motion to the starting tune of a Rahman song, with slightly ruffled hair and grinning from ear-to-ear (I am leaning towards South Indian movies here, because its more fun), and immediately break into a impromptu dance sequence in the middle of the road. And do the people walking on the road look at him like he is retarded or the people in vehicles start yelling at him? No way! The pedestrians who are all dressed nattily for the occasion, join in the jig with the hero with amazing synchronization (except the lousy one in the last row.Lazy bugger) while cool,shiny cars park in the middle of the road waiting for the song and dance to end. Where is the traffic police, you ask? Of course he is among the background dancers, happily dancing away.

At work: Okay lets give our real guy something to cheer about. Our real guy reaches office and is at his desk checking mails,when the office hottie, who works in the same team, comes to his cube and starts chatting and giggling. Gotcha! We all know the office hottie being in the real guy’s team is an urban myth. IT NEVER HAPPENS.
On a serious note,his boss comes to him “Mr.Real guy, seems like there is a typo in the report you sent yesterday. Let me point it to you” and he points it out in the report on the computer screen. Real guy apologizes for the mistake and tells his boss that he will resend the updated report. Boss thanks him politely and leaves. That’s all(there are exceptions, of course). This is where the movie guy doesn’t have it easy. His boss barges into his cube, already livid with rage and carrying a printout of the entire report, a full 42 pages. He does not explain what the mistake is. Instead he just yells at the guy and throws all the papers on his face, which then proceed to fall down all around him in slow motion.Cue background sad violin music. Movie guy picks each one of the papers and reads through all of them as he has no goddamn idea where the mistake is.

Now for some reason, both the real guy and movie guy are frustrated and angry with their respective bosses(Movie guy has a valid reason now). Real guy calls up his buddy,and they go to the chai dabba below. If he is a smoker, he smokes up and both swear at their boss and if he is not, he orders a chai and both swear at their boss, they come up to their cubes and get back to work. But the movie guy has a masterplan. He sneaks to his boss’s cabin when he is not around, and looks into his boss’s PC monitor which displays a MS WORD document with the word “PASSWORD” in a huge red font and blinking letters. He furiously keys in lots of characters without using space bar even once (we don’t know what he types or does though. The camera is focused on the guy’s face, flushed with concentration and intensity), and finally, he is “logged” in. If you still don’t get it, EVERY computer engineer in a movie is also a hacker who can hack into anything which says “PASSWORD” in huge red blinking letters. Now he will proceed to upload some virus or open a presentation his boss is supposed to give and screw it up, a genius trick which his boss will totally fall for.

In the evening : After a stressful day at work, the real guy either goes to a mall with his buddies and have a good time ogling at girls or sits in a pizza place with his girlfriend listening to her evening Suprabhatam about her boss until the pizza gets cold. Meanwhile, the movie guy goes to a mall too and who does he meet there??? Bingo! The same girl who he ran into on the bus (Dammit, what are the odds?) But she is on the other end of the mall. Mission: Reach hot gal on the other end of the mall. One frame, he is running after her frantically to a dramatic background music. Next frame, she is walking in slow motion as leisurely as a girl who has ever visited a mall walks,oblivious of the world around her with a soft,soothing music playing in the background. Next frame – He is jumping and dodging and running. At this moment, something miraculous happens in the space-time continuum of the mall. All laws of physics have gone for a toss. The hero propels himself into the air as if there is no gravity, their relative velocities always remain the same no matter what their absolute velocities are and sometimes the electrons and protons in the air get disturbed enough by their chemistry that sparks start flying between them,literally. Einstein and Newton would be spinning in their graves, not just tossing. Our hero finally catches up with the heroine at the parking lot, panting while the girl is standing there, her make up and hair still spot on and intact. Right when he is about to open his mouth and say something, two events occur,again in slow motion. One,a huge,muscular hunk comes out of a car next to them staring at him with a I-will-crush-you expression on his face and two, the camera focuses on the engagement ring on the girl’s finger and instantly zooms to a shocked expression on the hero’s face.

CUT! CUT! CUT! Looks like I got a little carried away. After this point, the movie guy’s life becomes so dramatic and action-filled that it is unfair to even compare to our real guy’s life who is most probably cutting onions and tomatoes for dinner right now. If you really want to know if the hero and heroine get together at the end and live happily forever, get me an appointment with a bigshot movie producer. Picture abhi baaki hain mere dost!

Letters from Singapore – Part 1

Dear Mother,
Hope this letter finds you in good health and spirit. I duly apologize for not writing to you often enough and promise that I will write to you regularly from henceforth.

I am doing quite well. I like this country and the people. The sights and sounds are wondrous. But it would not be an exaggeration to say that the weather is unpredictable. It is terribly humid one moment and the next moment,it starts raining cats and dogs. And within minutes, its a clear sky again. Everyone here seems to be in a terrible rush to go someplace which makes me wonder where so many people are going on such a small island. The kids are really chubby and naughty but their mothers are quite grumpy, possibly driven up the wall by the kids. As is the case anywhere else,older people are only too eager to talk and the young ones try to look as smug and aloof as possible and often end up looking dazed and lost. I would like to narrate a minor incident here if you will indulge me for a bit. I met an elderly person, a local, on the train the other day who was asking for directions.We started conversing and suddenly he asked if I was married or if I have a girlfriend. He told me about his family and that he has two daughters both of who are in their early 20’s and are married and that he has 2 grand kids(without me asking anything). He went on to advise me to marry a girl from a rich family for obvious reasons, but finally added “Love is love, lah. If you love somebody, marry her no matter who she is”. Now that I have narrated the incident, I get a feeling that it might concern you as to what mischief I am unto. Do not fret, mother. I have no plans of finding a bride in this country.

Moving on, you will be pleased to hear that the kadai(cooking vessel) you gave me is in perfect shape. Your worries about its condition are completely misplaced.  The other day,I overcooked the brinjal a little which resulted in some blackening around the center but it was nothing a diligent washing couldn’t remove. Please do not pester father on this matter. While we are onto cooking, this thing has been bothering me. I have valiantly tried to recreate your “mudde palya”(north karnataka style dal) many a times, but the wretched dish just doesn’t turn out the way you make it. Its like when you make it, all the individual ingredients understand each other and blend perfectly which when boiled together, culminate into an ethereal,rich combination of heavenly taste(combined with ghee, of course) and when I try to do the same, the ingredients don’t get along well, fight with each other and are mixed together forcibly resulting in a bland tasting concoction with a hateful aura. It positively irks me that I not able to get what seems like a simple recipe correct. I request you to include a detailed recipe of the dish in your next letter without omitting even the tiniest of details.

Do you find time to watch you favorite TV shows now? I recall your lamenting that there multiple shows going on at the same time slot and you are having trouble catching up on all the shows. The last time I visited you, I remember watching episodes of a show where the male lead and the female lead started turning towards each other to meet each other’s gaze. What a tense situation that was! They started turning on Monday and by the time I left on Friday, they had successfully pivoted 30 degrees towards each other. Have their eyes met yet? And for how many episodes did they stare into each other’s eyes later? Do let me know. I was very much hooked to all the pivoting and it was unfortunate that I had to leave it midway.

One last thing before I end this letter. Mother, I see that you have recently made your grand entry into the world of social media. I am happy and proud of you. But please be prudent while using Facebook. If you see a page saying if you comment “Om Sai Ram” 108 times,something good will happen to you today, DO NOT believe and start commenting. Also google and Facebook are not same. If you want to search for some word, go to google.com. I realized this after I saw your latest FB status updates – “Mooli paratha recipe” and “tomorrow weather”. I would also appreciate if you don’t reply to each of my status updates with an appropriately timed “Have you had your breakfast/lunch/dinner?” after which none of my friends respond to it. I will give you a phone call and update you about my meals for the day.

That is all from my side. Please take care of your health. I will write to you again shortly. Convey my regards to father.

Yours loving son,

P.S: The chatni pudi(peanut powder) you packed me is finished up already. I think you should pack me 1 kg of it next time.

Of Haircuts,Discounts and Coconuts

This is how the going has been for me in Singapore. I should have posted this long back, but better late than never.
Curly troubles : I visited the hair saloon recently. “Ooo cully hai'(hair) aar? Very deefficul tu com’ lah (Though my hair is definitely not curly, its shamefully dull when compared to the straight, shiny hair of  the people here. I told the guy to cut it “medium” and not to make it too short. One thing I would like to mention here that I totally love haircuts. The lazy atmosphere in the saloon, the rhythmic sound of scissors and the slightly ticklish feel when they touch my hair transports me into a trance-like state where I drift away seamlessly between multiple worlds, with no boundaries between them. Or maybe I just get drowsy. Either way, like it has happened a lot many times, by the time he was finished, I observed with a shock that my crop is as short as freshly cut paddy! He happily told me, “See, looking neat ooreaddy(already). Very easy to com’ now laaaah”. What he actually meant was that he has saved the comb from the dastardly responsibility of working on my hair for a few days!   I expressed him my heartfelt gratitude, paid him “ten dollaa” and left muttering to myself. Seriously though,his position is understandable. They just have no clue how to go ahead when presented with the classic Indian hair, so one can”t really blame him. This is not the last time this happened. And this is the least of the problems I face here.
Thrifty wars: It sometimes gets on to my nerves how lot of conversations revolve around costs and expenses of something-something especially when Indians get together. Wherever you see a bunch of us hanging out, the most prominent topic of discussion would be who has got the said item(a tour package,an electronic gadget,onions – just about anything) the cheapest. Imagine an office scenario. This is how a sample conversation goes :
Person 1: Hey yesterday I bought a mixee.
Person 2 (automatically) : Kitte mein liya?
P1 (totally aware now that this is not going to end well for him) : $48
P2 (with a triumphant look) : I got it for $43. You should have gone to so-and-so place and bought it.
P1(to himself): OK fine. Thanks for the now utterly useless info. I’ll use it to bug somebody else.
Person 3 : (Let me introduce this person. No I cant, since I hadnt ever seen him or spoken to him until that moment when he suddenly popped up from the other cubicle looking as if he has waited for this moment all his life and this is the precise moment which will define his existence on the earth and render meaning to it. So he seizes the opportunity with both hands and jumps into the conversation): Did you say $43? What man? That’s too expensive. U just have to change two train lines, 3 buses and lo you are this so-and-so place where you have to bargain a little and you’ll get it for $37. If you had asked me before, I would’ve told you. Next time don’t do this mistake. Enquire with me first” Now that he is done talking, he looks around in slow motion, silently daring anyone to challenge his price. No one does. There is pindrop silence all around. P1 and P2 portray a variety of emotions simultaneously – awe, despair, disgust, anger and resignation to name a few.They take a silent vow to have their revenge on P3, when he buys something next. The battle is lost, but the war has just began. P3 grins and sits down , with a sense of joy and fulfillment gradually filling his heart. This will make a heartwarming dinner story for his wife,he reflects.
The coconut dilemma : Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I will be facing problems of such gargantuan proportions in my tryst with the world outside India. I am a big fan of fresh coconut chutney and almost cant do without dosa and chutney once in a few days. And I do not like the packaged grated coocnut they sell in stores. Such blasphemy! It is like choosing …hmmm…a Mithunda movie over an Aamir Khan movie. Or for the international audience, choosing a Twilight movie over a Harry Potter Album. Anyway, one fine day, I got a coconut home. Then it occurred to me. Where to break the coconut? The question popped out from my head and lingered on, just hovering in the air, taunting me. This was not going to be an easy choice. I called my roommate to conference. He said no question of experimentation in the house for risk of breaking the tiles or the kitchen stand. I wondered why I never cared about the tiles back in India. And we could not find a stone to break it on too. When I sufficiently pestered my roommate, he calmly pointed me his head ala Lord Vamana Murthi to Bali Chakravarti and indicating that that I can break it on his head. I dropped the thought after pondering over it for a moment. As I was devising and destroying scheme upon scheme in my mind, I looked in our balcony. Voila! There was a small drainage opening right in front of the door. I was reminded of a quote from the Alchemist – when u want something really bad, all the universe conspires to help you achieve. As the sun set over the horizon and darkness shrouded this half of the earth, I opened the door, looked around for any signs of humans around and approached the hole ever so stealthily. I hit the coconut to the ground with all my might combined with a mental victory roar and quickly ran back into the house after collecting all the pieces. And thus fresh coconut chutney was made available for everyone since then.
The la-la effect: Well this is an attribute typical of Singapore. “lah” in Singapore is totally like “da” in Bangalore and “ra” in Hyderabad. Only difference is the Indian versions sound masculine like they are supposed to, and the Singapore one sounds,well,gay (because of the la-la-la sound, I guess) . What gets me slightly irked is the fact that Indians who have been living here since a long time catch the local English. Try this:
Me: Shall we go for lunch now?
Long time NRI: Can,can.
Me: Does this restaurant have vegetarian food?
Long time NRI: Have,have.
I think its just a part of natural evolution. Anyway, if you want to listen to some hilarious Singlish (Singapore English), check this out: Singlish chat on phone
More Singapore stories coming up!

Bollywood in 2012

There are a lot of lists going around about Hollywood movies to watch out for in 2012(and I’m super excited, courtesy The Dark Knight Rises,The Hobbit,Prometheus,The Amazing Spiderman,Avengers,The Hunger Games etc.but I will not get into that list here). So I thought of compiling a list of Bollywood movies to look forward to. I’m making this list with just my filmi intuition and some data and even I know enough not to trust my intuition too much when it comes to judging how good or crappy a Bollywood movie will turn out eventually, the probability of the latter always being high. So don’t blame me if you go watch a movie I recommended here and it turned out to be the next Ra.One :D.

Here we go, in no particular order:

Agneepath: Now this one is HUGE from what we see in the trailer. It is as pure a masala entertainer as it can get.Hrithik is super-intense and Sanju baba seem to be in top form too. And going by the buzz, the movie is all set to shatter all-time opening records at the box office (Satellite rights have already been sold for a cool 41 Cr.). And it might as well set records for lifetime collections too.

Talaash: Aamir Khan. That is all. He is altogether at a different level now after Ghajini and 3 idiots (though I thought Ghajini was average, and 3 idiots was not earth-shattering as it is made out to be, still a very good movie). This movie is a suspense thriller, so I am not expecting it to be an all-time blockbuster. But you never know. AK is so astute while choosing scripts and marketing his movies, he wouldn’t have taken it up if it was just run-of-mill. And Excel Entertainment (Farhan Akhtar/Ritesh Sidhwani) can be trusted to deliver quality movies more often than not.

Gangs of Wasseypur: Anurag Kashyap doing an action/gangster movie. Expect an awesome cinematic experience. After what he has done with Dev D,this might as well become my most awaited film of the year once the trailer is out. I guess many people don’t know the movie yet. Just watch out for this one!

Yash Chopra’s next: Well, SRK is the weakest of the 3 Khans officially now. But then Shah Rukh Khan teaming up with Yash Chopra for a pure romantic movie coming on Diwali is humungous, provided SRK doesn’t look any more older than he looks now by the time the movie is released and the story is not still Veer-Zaara type. This is what Mr. Chopra had to say about the movie:
“Will I be able to live up to the blind faith that Shah Rukh has in me? Will I be able to present Katrina and Anushka in a way they have never been seen before? Will I be able to inspire Rahman and Gulzar Bhai enough to create their best work yet? My inner voice is asking me a lot of questions. Are you sure you want to direct again, you are nearly 80 years old and theaudience is getting younger day by day. Can I really speak from my heart and expect youth to listen to me?” . Fingers crossed.

Shanghai : Shanghai is going to be another small gem, if my intution is right. It is a political thriller and is directed by Dibakar Banerjee, who has a superb track record in Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky,Lucky oye and Love Sex aur Dhokha. And the star cast? Abhay Deol,Emraan Hashmi (very interesting choice of lead actors!) and Kalki Koelchin. I hope the movie is marketed well and it turns out brilliant.

Barfee: A period romantic comedy involving a guy with a speech and hearing impediment.Now this has all the movie elements which could make for really interesting content. And looking at how Ranbir Kapoor is improving with each movie, he might pull off this role too really well. Director Anurag Basu is inconsistent(Gangtser,Murder,Kites etc) but you can definitely say this is going to be a biggie.

Ek Tha Tiger: If by any chance, Agneepath rewrites box office collections on Republic Day,they are probably all going to be washed away on Eid 2012. I am no Salman Khan fan,but then you just cannot miss out on E.P.I.C. If you don’t get what I am saying, just wait and see how frenzied it gets when the movie releases. The first poster  sure looks cool but right now,with Salman Khan in the movie, NOTHING.ELSE.MATTERS. Incidentally, this is his first movie with YashRaj Films.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag: I guess all movie buffs have a thing for inspirational films. This is going to be one such movie. Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra sometimes tends to lose track of his narrative as seen in Delhi 6( I liked the movie though) and Aks, but you can’t deny that he is a really intelligent filmmaker who knows how to create and develop interesting characters in his movies and is someone with a passion for cinema. We will hope for another Rang De Basanti.Farhan Akhtar is playing the title role.

Matru ki bijlee ka Mandola: Awesome title for Dumb Charades, isn’t it? :D Its Vishal Bharadwaj’s next and stars Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma.The man has an uncanny knack of making offbeat movies look mainstream which both critics and audience love and has never gone wrong with his movies (except 7 Khoon Maaf). Though I am no where as excited as I was for Kaminey, we’ll wait for the first look. I’m pretty sure Mr.Bharadwaj will make it interesting.

Other interesting films are Bol Bachchan (starring Ajay Devgn,Abhishek Bachchan helmed by Rohit Shetty), Lootera (a period flick directed by Vikramaditya Motwane of Udaan fame), Dabanng 2 (though its going to be crappy, people will go in droves to watch it) , Student of the Year(stupid name, but with KJo back in his territory of sappy college romance,it might turn out half-decent)  and  Rowdy Rathore (Akki in a totally new look. Its a remake of a Telugu movie Vikramarkudu which was average, but there’s already a lot of buzz around the movie).

This is all I could think as of as now. Have I left out any good ones?
Anyway, have a happy and adventurous 2012 and a rocking time at the movies!

Crises of Our Times:Part 4 – The ‘Circle’ of Life

I have had this Tyre(small one if I may add) around my belly for as long as I can remember now. I remember feeling it in my 8th standard and resolving to burn the hell out of it and I am still at it after all these years.  This got me thinking. Its been more than 2 months here  in Singapore and I’ve realized its not easy pickings  for food here, at least not for vegetarians (“Vegetarian la? No can, no can. Go go.” ). So I should have put off that extra weight. Why haven’t things changed at all? Is this the “circle” of my life? (pun intended)

Its this simple inequality really, that has been my bane.
my (Laziness + food habits > workout)

I know  all of you smart people get the point already,  but I will illustrate it anyway because I feel like drawing it out :P.

( OK these drawings are all popular memes from the internet. The words are mine).

One fine day, a noble thought comes to my mind:

So I passionately get it to it. I sweat it out  real hard drawing inspiration from various sources ranging from Rocky Balboa to Bipasha Basu .

I carry on for a long, long time or what I feel like a long, long time.

I feel like I own the world. I feel like throwing around the f-word and the b-word.

Not that I do. I can’t carry them off that well. But its okay to use them on the internet. So here you go.

I am doing really good.

But the trouble starts now.




Temptation, slow and sure as ever takes over. It feels like a giant evil serpent has coiled me

tightly and is slowly drawing the soul out of my body and everything around me has turned

into darkness. Nah, just kidding. I just happened to pass by Pizza hut.

Next day comes and goes and before you know, you’ve had your fill of junk food.This goes on for days. It builds up to  crescendo from which it seems there is no return.

And it does not stop there. Its like an addiction, only here it builds up with each passing day. You just turn into a devouring machine, gobbling up everything in sight like a Godzilla eating up the hapless Japanese townsfolk (I really thought a lot for a better analogy, but this is the best I could come up with :P).










Until on one of these days of raging gluttony,

...A W A K E N I N G.

The factors that can cause this awekening are myriad. For example, seeing Deepika Padukone in John Abraham’s arms which leads to a lengthy thought process which always,always ends on a philosophical note “Why me,God, why me?” or more precisely in this case,”Why not me, God? Why not me?”





This is just another update timelining my life.

Disclaimer: Whatever I have written below is all in good humor and there is no intention to offend anyone.
I like Singapore much better than US. It is amazingly green everywhere ( I didn’t expect this!) and is much more lively with lots and lost of people. Somehow the concept of hoards of people around me running about their lives gets me kicked up (same reason I love Mumbai too), though me walking at my leisurely pace might appear like a paradox. And I love the city lights, the  kaleidoscope of colours that accompany technology and modernization. So basically I love the two things which people always “claim” they want to run away from – the city crowds and the overwhelming technology. Anyways coming back, the most amusing part here is the language – “I need to see passpooooa” “My what?” “Passpoooaaa,I see passpoooaaa”.
On a related note, my conversation with a taxi driver went thus –

“Where you coming from, Eeendia?”
“Yes,yes India.”
“You come here work permeeth?”
“Yes yes”
“Ooo,Coomphany from India send you here, or coomphany from Singapore hire you?”
“Hehe company from India send me here”
“Ooo. Where in India you coming from?”
“I coming from Bangalore”
“Ooo Bangalooo? u come from Bangalooo? Ok. Many people from Chennaai here”
“Yes yes, I know.Lot of tamilians here”
“I like chennai foood, dosai (excitedly makes a dosa in the air), vadai (makes vada shape with hand), prata.”
“Oh cool. Paratha is not chennai food. It is north India food. Chennai food is rice.”
“Oh New delhi you mean? ( Apparently quite knowledgeable)
“Yeah,yeah exactly!”
“So what you eat with rice? Chicken?”
“No no, I am a vegetarian. So I can’t eat chicken”
“Oh you no eat chicken? No beef? Fish? No fish also?Then what you eat?”
“I eat sambar and dal with rice. You know sambar?”
“Oo I see. Yeah you get protheins from that aa? Protheins aa” (Impressive!)
“Hehe ya ya, that’s why we are always deficient in proteins”

“No no, dal also good protheins”

We reached my stop.

“Nice thu meet you sir.No worry. Singapooo very safe city.”
“Ha ha,thank you. Nice to meet you too”.

Most taxi drivers are nice and friendly. I have been slightly wary of people on the roads though they are helpful in general. All the college going crowd seems to be in a different world altogether and I can’t get myself to approach them. Also, yesterday when I asked a middle-aged guy for directions, he waved me off and began walking faster :D.

Coming to my favorite topic, food. I guess after a week here, I can confidently say I am better off then US here. While I will have to forget any kinda of pizza, burgers, chinese or most
bakery products while I am here (no veggie options), there are quite a few Indian restaurants around, so that’s a relief. I will still complain about the change in taste, but I will mostly
keep the complaints to myself.

I have been living out of my American Tourister and Calvin Klein since last week. My luggage is still not fully unpacked, so the spices and my clothes have blended nicely among themselves. We Indians are anyway notorious among foreigners to give out this strange smell of “Indian spices” (that’s how they put it politely),so I guess I am doing a great job of upholding our honor. Not sure any amount of deodorant is helping.

That’s it. This is the beginning.

30 things that make me smile

Every blog has this post. So I thought I’ll do one too. And I don’t have to think too much.

There are lots of small things around you which bring a big smile on your face, every time you encounter them. They help make our mostly mundane lives a little more interesting, a little more cheerful. Here are MY 30:

  1. Waking up from a Sunday afternoon nap to mild thunderstorms and impending rain (Time for Onion pakodas!)
  2. Encountering all green lights on your way back home.
  3. A surprise visit from a close friend
  4. Finding a new anime buddy (the passion is just contagious :D)
  5. Someone close calling you up with the sole purpose of disturbing your sleep
  6. When the songs playing from your random playlist are all your favorites and you didn’t have to skip one song
  7. SRK and Juhi Chawla in “Ek din aap yun humko mil jayenge”
  8. Meeting an old friend in a far away country (heaps of nostalgia)
  9. Receiving a text message from a friend exactly when you were about to text them
  10. When you wake up from a deep and satisfying sleep and check the time to find that its still 3 AM ( Awesome!)
  11. When your six year old niece gives you a earful when you finally visit her after 5 months
  12. Message from the bank that your salary has been credited to your account.
  13. When you wake up from sleep, power up monitor and see that every download in the overnight download queue is completed.
  14. Any of these combinations when every ingredient is just right – rice+hot sambar+ghee/ masala dosa+chutney/gulab jamun
  15. Remembering an old real life joke
  16. A friend calling/texting to say that your fav song is playing and he/she was reminded of you :)
  17. All songs from Wake up Sid (except maybe the Title song. Highly underrated album IMO)
  18. When a song you suddenly hear transports you to that phase of your life when you listened to it most (happens to me, don’t know if its common)
  19. Street musicians ( I’ve said this before, makes you feel your life is a long vacation)
  20. Sharing an umbrella
  21. A warm bear hug
  22. A perfectly situational situational song on the radio
  23. Smell of petrol (I am not running out of things to list. Its really nice! :P)
  24. Getting a letter in the mail ( hasn’t happened in a long time :( )
  25. When a baby keeps staring at you and finally smiles as if in  recognition
  26. Third Floor Tarles :)
  27. Seeing elderly people write cute,innocent comments on FB
  28. Reddit
  29. When you are reminded of a friend seeing a fictional character in a book/movie/TV series
  30. The thought of relaxing at a beach under a beach umbrella with a good book in hand and music in your ears

Okay, now this seems like a nice post to tag people. Wot say,people? :D

Oh you want to be tagged??? Great! Here you go: Rashmi, Krishna, John, Sady.  Div, Vids, Ashu head to the group blog and write there. And don’t copy from here ;)

A New Beginning

Well, I have postponed this post for a long time. So it has ended up somewhat huge and winding. I had to cut out the entire prologue on my passport episode since it got too big (and no one would be interested to revisit that phase anyway :P) Bear with me, as you guys always have.

So things are going on great here. I am not pining for my weekly dose of Masala dosa and chutney as much as I thought I would. Oh god, why did I write that?Now I am not able to get it out of my head. I’ll go to Indian stores tomorrow and get some batter.The last time I went there I did this: $4*44.45=Rs.177.8,which would get me about 9 such boxes in India, but SHUT UP NOW! I’ll also find some coconut powder/cocnut paste/coconut extract whatever darn thing they substitute it here with. So I was saying,life’s going on good. Sure my birthday was “Meh”, but who needs a birthday when everyday of your life is a celebration? ;) :D

More on food,as predicted, vegetarians live miserably here.The other day, I wanted to have a chilli burger and the waitress said “OK,we can stuff the burger with veggies instead of the meat”.And she suddenly she remembers,”Oh we stuff the chillies with beef too”. Groan.But I had awesome Mexican and Thai food.Particularly that Mexican-Indian place in Downtown San Mateo “CurryUpNow“, they have burittos and rolls stuffed with Indian curries. I was not very hungry,and after dilly-dallying for a while whether to have a burritto or a roll(burrittos are huge), I finally decided on the former  (well, you guys know me,I can EAT). Then debated on which variety to order, finally zeroed in on “Punjabi by Nature” and told them to make it hot. Later, to quote myself exactly(as told to a friend),”Thanks a lot man for bringing me here. Its like a miracle just occurred. You saw how I was wondering what to order there and finally ended up with the perfect choice. Miracle indeed”. That’s how great it was(read spicy+++). I had a bad stomach the next day. Same with the Thai too. I believe it was called Soo kee mau. Something like that. Same routine followed. Yummy.  Very spicy.Bad stomach. Stupidly ironic thing to happen while you are in US.

Things are much more convenient at our hotel . (Seems like I’ll ramble on only about food in this post).We have a very useful barter system going here. Exchanging chapatis for tomatoes, puliyogre powder for garam masala etc etc.(I am not exchanging MY chatni pudi for anything though. Its priceless). Sometimes there are issues between roomies -“Yevveryday, I only prepare rice man. Today I prepared sambar, yesterday I prepared khara kolumbu, day before vetta kolumbu and that guy is always sleeping” or “Illa kano, avattu ello hogi 6:30 ge bandu nange adge maadu anta iddane avnu (No man,he came from somewhere at 6:30 PM only and and asking me only to prepare dinner). Premium entertainment.

Its all quiet here in Foster City(where I am exactly located,some 20 miles from San Francisco) . We have a nice,big lake nearby. I am yet to take pics there.  But  SFO down town is a charming place. It has this buzz of a tourist city. And there is always someone sitting in a corner and playing a musical instrument. Makes you feel as if you are on a long vacation. And China town is awesome! There is really cool stuff to buy there. And super cool knives, samurai swords,katanas, both really and fake.  The real ones are super expensive too. :(

Hey, howz it goinnn….

That’s how a stranger will greet you here. For the first week or so, I would be caught off guard and go “Aaa, ya ya fine..Aaa”. I’m doing better now. Nice people. If you ask them where the station is, they’ll stop and explain every turn until you have to say “Okay,you’ve explained me clearly enough. If you hold me any longer here, there will be no train to catch”. Another interesting thing.Everywhere you see there’s a sale going on.There are discounts in every store all the time.For flights,tour packages,everything. Even the TV ads focus on how much you’ll be saving if you buy their product.I asked a friend who has been living in US and he said “Oh Americans are very thrifty.They wont spend a dollar more than required”. Hmmm.

And coming to weather, its sunny and chilly. There’s always a cold breeze blowing as its the bay area. But I can’t complain. This is the best weather in the US. And guess what, I have acquired the California tan along with my regular Indian tan.  Apparently its a brand name and people pay through their nose to get it done.

That’s it for now. I will have to put the cynic within me tied up and locked for a while now. As they say,when life throws lemons at you, collect as many as you can, crush them and then make a big pitcher of sweet lemonade. And not follow what Calvin said – when life gives you a lemon, wing it right back and add some lemons of your own! For a while.

P.S: Our cafeteria serves Indian food along with chai tea every Thursday :D

P.P.S: I should visit happening places(if you know what I mean) to get interesting things to write about.