Archive for October, 2006

Wrote this for the institute publication. Unabridged reproduction here was inevitable!

I must have probably never understood the most fundamental divergence between an Indian novel and its international twin. Well, till the time I laid hands on Maximum CityBombay Lost & Found, by Suketu Mehta. The author is a fiction writer and journalist based in New York City, and is in love with Bombay, the city he had grown up in. It’s a suitably rationalized literary argument that he spent seven impossibly long years to produce an almost thoroughgoing account of notionally the maximally famed megapolis of the country!

Speaking of the basic difference, it is reflected obtrusively in the fashion a book is structured. In the sense that when Suketu writes about ‘Jogeshwari’ the slum and its inhabitants that range widely from criminals to prostitutes to decently well-off middle class, all with instantly recognizable Indian names, you seem to have an immediate connection with the thread of the text. You happen to possess a better memory of the cited local/national events and people then Dan Brown’s ‘Louvre’ or ‘Langdon’.

Anyway, avoiding further digression I’d rather comment on the book itself. If I had to make it really short, without much ado, then I’d qualify Mehta’s stuff to be a brilliant produce. That most of his readers might not be residents of Bombay is purely inconsequential once you begin registering. I thought the text was reasonably informative as well, in particular when he talks of Bollywood – the truth behind movie-production (by the way Mehta co-wrote Mission Kashmir with Vidhu Vinod Chopra) and the veritable issues with actors. Or Bala Saheb Thackrey and his doubtfully contentious role in Mumbai politics, specifically in the ‘93 riots. Most instructive of all is his insider’s view on the underworld and the dance bars in Bombay. Mehta chose narration by picking real characters from the who’s who and the sub-common flock infesting the city, adding a certified dash of definite realism to his matter. He talks of the astronomically phenomenal land-rates in the city, which can effortlessly dwarf property values in most of the country’s elite societies. Of the amazingly resourceful police force, that ranks second only to the Scotland Yard in terms of proven effectiveness. Of girls from dance bars who earn lacs in single nights, courtesy the scotched men (some filthy rich, some paupers from the street who have no more than five bucks to drape on the girl on stage who’s at her seductive best), who seem to find celestial consolation after a hard day at work in the dark alleys of the night life in Bombay.

Maximum City is a mythical eye-opener on some of the meriting obvious panorama of the daily life, but which is mostly overleaped in hideous concealment. On some level, the book need not reflect on the people and psychology of Bombay at all – it could very well be a warranted chronicle for each one of us, geographically hundreds of miles from the protagonist city. And on the other level, it’s a gripping story of a city that lives on its own, everyday amidst the bustle that would eclipse ten metropolis’ together!

I’d admit the sheer captivation Mehta’s impressive account weaved on me, despite the monstrous six hundred odd pages on fractional A4 that I just couldn’t keep it down! I’d additionally qualify this as an irrepressible must-read (obviously assuming myself to be holding a valued opinion!). You should not regret the little effort and time excused for this enamoring Pulitzer finalist!


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they don’t
the winters
the chill
the fur
the wrap
to make it
all the more
beautifully captivating!
we are in love
with them
the beauty
the voice
surreal, and unbelievably nice!
I mean it
they don’t have to
dress it up
for the winters
and hit our senses
ten times over (normalcy)
the skin gets whiter
or red
or pink
it shows less
just right
just enough
for the tickle
for the understanding
for the aspiring need
for the desire
to allow ourselves
to be serenaded
by the virtual paragons
the thrill
of sight
of a gorgeous form
a raw beauty
the falling strand
the hand
that tucks it back
behind the ear
that’s cotton-soft
in the process
sweeping over
some flawless skin
that smells great
feels cold
and warm
the smile
you’d kill for
the words
you’d die for
the touch
you could faint off
the lips
the eyes
saying something
all the time
you find it hard
to maintain attentiveness
you lose a moment
and you lose so much
a thought
an opinion
an approval
a disapproval
a statement
the dreamy gaze
that says more
than words
that are few
but strong
it’s complicated
demands experience
to decipher
her meaning!
yet perpetually
that’s the catch
the race
between Mars and Venus
for the eventual
coming together
the pain
the trouble
all justified
if the aim
is as, or more
as I wish
she’d be!

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So am back after probably the longest ever stay at home during semesters. And it was a good one, adequately enough to make it feel alien as I set foot in campus this afternoon. I’m reasonably exhausted for want of some sleep after the travel, but I’d still write with these half-closed eyes.

Home has always been one of those very few unruffled places where I feel and find myself, completely at ease. It gets better if you happen to be not doing well, medically, and your dad’s a doc himself. So while dad would clog my gullet with the multitude of his colorful medicines (which, by the way, is no fun at all), mom would take care in her own cherubic fashion. So I didn’t care much if I had fever and cold and nausea, and went ahead with the Diwali celebrations in full swing off my mortal capacity, knowing I had trustworthy back-ups!

The one good thing about our new place is the aggregation of a decent number of officers and their resident families, who end up in good numbers in club parties. Even better is the existence of a fair number of my dad’s contemporaries among the club, and hence their seed, who more-or-less are my contemporaries! Now I never mind conversing with males of just about my own age who can be decently talkative. The catch is with the females of the group. I have never quite understood my folks’ obsession at taking me along to these parties held quite frequently, often for no reasons. May be they like to march in with their good-looking, smartly sound grown-ups (all right don’t frown: I love myself :D): perhaps it makes them feel good as responsible parents. Mom will tell me, “beta you need to meet people: my friends keep asking about you”, etc. So this time over I gave in to mom’s biddings, and guess am somewhat glad I did!

It was some big boss who had thrown this Eid party, and I (not so) reluctantly walked to the place, as I’d heard of his daughter, and heard it good! And yeah, rumors can be true, partially notwithstanding, as I was about to discover. Naturally I had all my energies intending on ways to make an audience with the young lady, avoiding her daddy’s furtive watching! I had the least idea it would come this way – mom signalled me over to her place, and carried on with some introduction to the aunties. I had almost left when one of the aging women had an unexpected pimp-ish fit, and she made me sit next to her, the sole male presence among some thirty-forty women, and most of them caring to excuse me queer glances (:-w), and however much I was enjoying all the abrupt attention, man! it was getting slimly uncomfortable! Following on, the aunty soon quips that I’ve been made to occupy the place seating a pretty female till I crash-landed in the congregation! Boy! No second thoughts about guessing the identity of the pretty lass in question! And there she was, moments later, standing right up to me, locating me first in the overwhelming female presence, and then as an invader to her own personal space in the domain! However, in a non-meditated jibe, I stood up, and got her another chair, placing it just next to mine. And pretty soon I realized what phenomenal slip I had made! I had understandably announced my desires of not letting go of this opportunity to converse with the gorgeous attendant! And all that unintentionally! Anyway, the damage done and most ladies making a careful note of my (perhaps) undesired dare-devilry, I had no option to make the most of the situation I had landed myself in. I had somehow sensed an upsetting murmur among the ladies as I sat talking to her (which by the way was much merriment!). I would have committed the ultimate crime asking the girl to another table, and had to spend few terrible minutes, ripped apart between my want and the not-so-subtle communal disapproval!

I later realized everything that happened was no big deal! I mean c’mon, the girl was the host, and with hardly any of similar lively specimens around, it was only natural that she kept me company. But the aunties – they’ll get with everything at you, examining every hormonal-driven move of yours, and expressing individual dislike in their caustic, incisive manners!

And for those who remember me talking about the padosi ki beti – well, it’s official. She’s safely past puberty, and made all possible attempts at hitting on me whenever she got a chance. I must say she made quite a few of those chances actually! Her school being on vacation helped her advances. And boy! hats off to the boldness she exhibited in her maneuvers! There were times I cringed in fear of a vitriolic censure from her mother, who I’m sure observed her salivating daughter! Anyway, that certainly was more fun. Not every other time you have the luxury of consciously avoiding desperate Lolitas!

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Most Underestimated Source of Immediate Comfort – that’s MUSIC! You might enter into vehement disagreement at the ‘underestimated’ quantifier, but if I’m writing it on my blog, you are expected of unquestionable admittance! I never thought I was a music buff, I mean not coterminous with the free and great availability of any kind of palpable music on our network. I can’t really vaunt of a generous aggregation of euphony on my hard disk. It must be severely assorted stuff. Severely yeah! The worst part is, I normally don’t go back to my collection very often. Just occasional and heavily temperamental playing of a dozen-odd fortunate song mostly. That said, I can additionally be terribly fussy about what songs get to stay on my disk! Since most good Hindi songs are played on the TV, or on the radio, I pretty much have a good idea of respectable stuff in our language. Plus we are such amazingly sane people to have no more than Bollywood, Indipop, and probably Ghazal as the most basic framework of classification of our music. While these Yankees have screwed up the whole concept, introducing moronic categorization like Country, Rap, Rock, Trance, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Grunge, Metal etc. Naturally, the seasoned fraud emulators we are, we have our own versions of the American compartmentalization of music (Desi Rock uh?). In as much as, other than word-of-mouth publicity, I end up pounding Google with search queries like “best songs of 2005”, or “best romantic songs”, or “Billboard’s/MTV’s No.1 Hits” for any potential additions! And more often than not, I end up cranky, considering most of the search results disappoint me big time!

Anyway, enough horseshit! The point was I have lately discovered the power of radio, as the perfect source of musical entertainment, with minimal elbow-greasing. Lots of stations play consistently good music, often interlarded with informatively funny mouthing by the sexy-sounding RJ’s. And for a change, I’m using my phone and the amazingly effective ear-buds conjointly!

And now the pick of the day (am I obsessed with eventful days!) – watched the old Don this evening. Amidst the sensational promotion for the sequel, I happened to find the original daddy with some guy on his disk. Downloaded it promptly, and am glad I did. I sure didn’t remember much of the old classic as I soon realized. But the fact remains, loud and clear – it’s far too good for any sequel (even by virtuosos like Farhan Akhtar) to match its class, execution, dialogues and pertained delivery, acting, apt music, and ultimately, the Big B! Gawd, he’s one hell of an actor! This man is a legend not for no reason, all hero-worship justified. Simply brilliant, even with the relatively inexperienced bimbo Zeenat Aman (no skin-show in this one, what the hell was she thinking: it’s been a forgettable role for her), Amitabh pulls the character of Don with perfect aplomb. The point is, Don was a typical oldie with all the weird impossible fighting sequences, or the erstwhile cascade of irritating music as essential ingredients. However, the implementation has been technically superb, to the extent that you’ll find it funny at times, and casually laugh it off, the movie losing not a pint of its grandeur in the process though! For all this, and more, I have all time lowered expectations of the sequel, which gets faulty right at the basics – SRK as Don! For chrissake, Bachchan vs. Shahrukh Khan! No match! For all you SRK fans, I want to communicate a predictive obituary, cuz he’s simply gonna fuck the character up. He could cry, and do it the best probably, but Don won’t do it! With iconic acting in the original, SRK would find it hard to rival history! May be Abhishek Bachchan would have been a better pick for the role, with his father’s genes catapulting him to a slightly advantageous position! Don-2 ki sabse badi galti hai ki woh SRK hai! Somewhere down the line, I don’t want to believe Don-2 will work its magic. Big B is far too great to be equalled in this century!

PS: And this should perhaps be my last post before I’m off home for a desperately awaited,  extended break! Wishing a Happy Diwali to all my readers! C ya sometime next week!

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The Times Of India predicated this morning that I’m going to be somewhat absent-minded today, the whole day. Probably an averagely awful twenty four hours they must have meant. Sure did freak me out a bit yeah! I mean c’mon, someone tells you bang at dawn that you’ll fall in an open gutter today, or you’ll discover a live worm in your lunch, or you’ll make a laughing stock of yourself in an assemblage of gorgeous women, you’ll naturally end up in some concern. However, screw you fellas! I’d a goddamn amazing day! Or may be not, cuz in a sense, it went terrible as well! Mixed bag ok, and that’s the EOD!

The water woes continue to hassle my life, as a dreadful fit of stomach pain made me miss an exam this evening! I wonder now if that’s good, or sadly bad! Good because the pain prevented any potentially fruitful study that would have resulted in formidable examination performance, and hence it’s better I didn’t sit for it. Good again because c’mon man! No exam to give, a liberated evening, and a rocking life sans books waiting for ya! Where’s the pain! Bad because Murphy says the one exam you’ll miss will come back and haunt you with eye-popping complexity! After all, the professor will have his revenge, in lieu of extra effort entailed by my sickness! Anyway, that’s pretty much the darkness of the day.

The good times began with a STD incoming on my mostly dormant phone! I’d rendered an article on the water troubles on our campus to JAM magazine, and they called up to say they’ll be covering it in their next issue! Eureka (ok I’m no Archimedes, and I wasn’t naked either, but I could still say Eureka!). I mean, voila! Is this the break, the launch pad, I’ve been desirous of? Well, whatever, great news to say the least. Even if they don’t do as promised, I’ll always know I was read and acclaimed in their office!

I have made it a habit to tune in to Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM every Saturday. That’s when they play amazingly pulsating club music, with such beats & tunes that if you’d try matching it with your gyrations, you’ll end up in either a complicated Baba Ramdev position, or loosening up a few bones somewhere! Classy music coupled with the intense joy carried forward earlier from the day, set the stage for an awesome evening. It’s like this is so much different when you are happy from inside, when you feel it in your body, in your soul, in every word you say, in every move of yours! Just one of those exotic days when you feel real, genuine good about yourself, a dash of optimism about your otherwise seemingly worthless existence!

And then came in KD, online on Yahoo! Can’t really admit of his state during the time we talked, but boy! He was back being the same terrific guy he was in his days as a senior student and a wing mate at IIT, fascinatingly interesting, and a fantastic conversationalist as a natural aspect! And man we had fun in the few minutes we had to us, before he had to hit the sack, as the calling was of the pressing situation! Anyway, we talked of the time we had got drunk in company back in hostel, of the great fun we had of our endless talks on the floor, of movies, girls, booze as common interests, of life after IIT (not so promising as he said😦), and of meeting up sometime soon later this week, reliving our good old days! And somehow I got so worked up after the conversation ended shortly, that I ended up writing an orkut testimonial for him! Quite impulsive I know!

One major observation from the day’s events was the strange ways guys bond among themselves. I mean I was like always psyched out at the amazing degree of tranquility most females share with other females! I mean how can they be so amazingly comfortable in the company of a fellow distaff, and never shying away from a physical or verbal display of the shared affection! Guys just don’t hug each other, or hold hands, or kiss, or say “I love U”, as the ladies do! And it’s not about doing it often; it’s almost never that we do anything like that! However, I realized we are different. I mean we obviously are, but we have our own ways of saying “I love U dude”,” man you are so much fun”, “oh what would I be without U”, without indulging into any act of physical proximity! And we do it all the time, just that it goes without noticing for the most part. With guys it’s probably in the mind, often not translating to words or actions. And that makes it different. We do understand and appreciate other males, in a manner that has a subtle meaning to it. And we love our vanguard agency of expression!

So just like that, life’s good 🙂

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While reading a friend’s post on her blog, I ended up commenting poetically. She managed to convince me of it’s potential insight, and ultimately into posting it here. Blame her for adding to the randomness already domiciling in my blog lately!

happiness is fleeting
words can be misleading

in friends we find solace
they make this a better place

harmlessly gone ,yesterday is history
fear nothing, tomorrow is a safe mystery

youth is confused, the directionless life
think, you can be better, and will see no strife

destiny plays it foxy and strong
you’ll always ask – to where/whom I belong

we need time to love ourself
the being cries out for an occasional delve

negative rules the thought
and you can help it not, it’ll rot

life is short, take chances
move and act, fate won’t cease it’s dances!

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Teeeeeenage has come and passed
the good old days can never last
will end myself, when teenager ends

miss the cheer, the child gone past
twenty two years have gone so fast
will end myself, when teenager ends

here comes the exam again
so much pain in the ass
must say it’s at all no gain
am only unbecoming of what I was

as my memories dance
never forgetting what I lost
will end myself, when teenager ends

Teeeeeenage has come and passed
the good old days can never last
will end myself, when teenager ends

take out the cycles again
like we did when school began
will end myself, when teenager ends

here comes the exam again
so much pain in the ass
I must say it’s at all no gain
am only unbecoming of what I was

as my memories dance
never forgetting what I lost
will end myself, when teenager ends

Teeeeeenage has come and passed
the good old days can never last
will end myself, when teenager ends

miss the cheer, the child gone past
twenty two years have gone so fast
will end myself, when teenager ends
will end myself, when teenager ends
will end myself, when teenager ends!

Thanks to RF, on whose blog I hit on this concept of posting-by-editing song lyrics! The above is Wake Me Up When September Ends-Greenday.

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