If you have been a veteran at the numerous screenings of those mind-numbingly dumb hollywood disaster flicks, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you are presented with a 360 degree span view of a garangutan ocean liner, the inners of which are ornately decorated with elaborate doses of blindingly affluent profligation. How and when the hell is all this going to be turned into a confused and lethal mass of mangled wires, upturned furniture and strewen dead bodies?

As you are rubbing your hands in expectation, the director of Poseidon, sympathetic to your 8 bucks, glosses over any unnecassary character development and jumps straight to the action within 15 minutes of the start of the movie. Without any detail being supplied, the hapless audience is told that the Poseidon has been struck by a 150 ft. rogue wave and the ship has turned upside down (as if the passengers, now standing on the cealing are dumb enough to not figure this out). The film is not helped by its irritatingly banal dialogues. At the time when the grand central ball room is looking like the mangled remains of Hiroshima after the bombing, replete with disfigured corpses flying around every which way, one person asks the other, "How bad is it". "Really bad". As this line basically sums up the movie you can only tear apart those last remaining hair.

As the most foolish captain in the history of foolish sea-disaster movies cries to maintain status-quo as he thinks that help will arrive shortly, it is no surprise when a group of dare-doers led by the affectedly unnerved Lucas decide to reach the hull of the ship and get out. From this point you can basically guess whats going to happen in the movie. The group consists of Lucas (the daredevil hero), a former mayor with his daughter and her boyfriend, a mother with her child, a mexican waiter, a latino and a suicidal gay businessman. As far as final survivors are concerned, you make the following conclusions:

1. The mother and the child are not going to die as possession of a child imparts an immortalty to the mother and it is too sickening to kill a child, no matter howsoever irritating and troublesome he might be.

2. Josh Lucas is not going to die as he is ofcourse the "Hero".

3. Either of the girl or his boyfriend might die but if she has an expendable father, both might get saved.

4. Since the mexican waiter and the latino are played by relatively unknown characters, they will be the first to die.

and the movie lives up to all these observations. The only other things which should have been un-guessable are well, guessable. Like the lift falling down when the last guy just makes out of the vent. The sudden movement by an assumed deadbody accompanied by an orchestral bang. The water drowing the hero for just as long as he might survive.

The sole revelation of the movie was that the actors, instead of being homo-sapiens, belonged to some kind of a human-fish breed who could hold their breaths for unimaginably long intervals of time and traverse unimaginably long distances under water.

A final word. You can put your time to better use by counting the number of grass strands in your lawn.

Random Musings

The day has become so cruel now. Its no more the friend which used to conspire in our plans, cheer at those shots, revelle in our victories, lament at losses, confide silently, listen patiently, wait for me. Now, its so much more detached. Like a salesman, always in a hurry, phoney, like life, critical, demanding, too busy to pause for a chat, too short to allow a breath, too long to bear, too hot for a liesurly introspection, too cold to be a friend.

I remember the rising of the annoyed dust as the first rain drops came crashing down. I remember the smell of the partially wet earth. The unusually fresh green of the garden. Those puddles. That warm touch of the cold water. The dripping flocks. The shivering wind. The unusually grey sky. Distant, muffled lightning. Streaks on my window pane. Ripples in the river. Jumping in the puddles. Two worlds, one wild and turbulent, other snug and cozy, separated by a glass window. Now, rain is reduced to an inconvenience. A temporary, unwanted hiatus disturbing normalcy. The window has gone lifeless. Its there just to serve the purpose. The metaphor is gone. And the rain, desolate now, cries quietly on the other side.

I wonder, have the sacrifices been worth the gains? In this rush, innocence has paled and died. Time is fragmented with each fragment already claimed. There is a thick coat of dust on real pleasures. And I shrink and flinch as I try to remove it. Finally I give up and that bundle of joys, now blurred and hidden in the dust which binds my hands, hangs on the wall, sad, lonely, perhaps disillusioned and on its deathbed. And I look on, with nostalgic eyes, weigh reason against emotion, and turn away yet again.

Palomar valley

Our car came to a halt in one of the designated parking lots.

Peeping from inside the car, I managed to appreciate the foggy clarity of the valley outside. It was drenched with sunlight but I knew that sunlight was competing with the effects of high altitude and chilling winds. From the touch of the cold window pane, I could make out the elaborate comouflage of the nature outside. I stepped out onto the clean, black tarmac of the parking lot. Cold breeze, filtering through myriad trees, bushes and flowers on the surrounding mountains sent a shiver down my spine. The calliphany of the songs of the birds, floating in the air with the breeze, exploded through the deafening silence which permeated the atmosphere. In the front lay an amazing sight. Miles and miles of vast empty grassland sparsely dotted with occasional lonely trees punctuated on all sides by enormous mountains. It was quiet. Extremely quiet. So quiet so that even the flow of water far out somewhere in the grassland could be heard clearly. The silence of the vast empty land was broken only by the low chirping of blue mountain birds. The atmosphere was filled with some kind of extreme sloth. Even the strands of grass did not stand erect but chose to sway towards one side as if under somekind of a trance. Sun shone with all its fatherly warmth on the tips of those strands and made their surfaces glisten with a crystally shimmer. The lush green trees which marked the boundary of the immense wasteland stood silently, patiently, with bowed heads, trying to absorb what I was witnessing. Nature in its immense glory.

Believe me, if you could not see what I saw, could not feel what I felt, the flaw is in my limiited ability at being able to describe the undescribable.

Federer Mania

I guess this was expected sooner or later. Considering how big a fan I am of Roger Federer, it was only a matter of time when I wrote a small piece as an ode to his genius.

I heard of the man during the course of Wimbledon '04. Even at that relatively early period, pundits of the game had started hailing Federer as one of the best natural talents ever to grace a tennis court. Remembering the old saying that 'where there is smoke, there is fire', I decided to follow the slam and the man. Needless to say, there was something special in him but the one aspect which really impressed me was the clinical precision of his methods. Like an experienced practitioner, the man never ever gave any indication of his emotions. It seemed to me that he had everything figured out and there was nothing at all, atleast on the tennis court which could surprise him. He ended all his matches with a small smile, a courteous handshake, a ceremonial wristband throw, and a climactic clap of his raised hands. I liked that lazy, confident arrogance which seemed to say, 'I know the result. Its just a formality'.

After that wimbledon, I have followed his matches most diligently and am happy to say that even a die hard believer in his abilities like me has been surprised by the meteoric rise that the man himself has registered in the last 3 years. From a cold killer, he has now become a silent, calculating, winning machine. And with this, he has developed a repertoire of shots, which is unparalleled in history and some of which are really beyond the wildest imaginations of the craziest sport player and fan. His version of the game has now transcended the game itself. Its more like music. A Don Bradman setup such records in cricket which might never be surpassed but his technique could never be termed perfect. A Tiger woods might go on to become the greatest golfer ever, but he sometimes lacks the humility which should accompany success. A Michael Jordan will be remembered as the best basketball player ever but he was also nasty sometimes. Federer is all of these men and more. He combines perfection with humility, a combination extremely rare to find.

For those who are not yet a fan of this man, just a look at some of his records,

Federer won all his matches against the next 10 ranked players from October 2003 to January 2005

He has won 24 straight finals. The second best in history was 12

During 2004,05,06, he lost only 8 matches, winning 180 odd.

He has won all the grand slam finals he has reached which is a record.

He has won 52 straight matches on hard court. The second highest was 35.

He has won 37 straight matches on grass and is eyeing the record of 42 this wimbledons

He is already half way through the tally of 14 grand slams of Pistol Pete and he is only 24

All of the above is quite surprising, but I like him for his rendition of the art that he has made of Tennis. I adore him for the almost spiritual exhilaration which I feel while watching him play.


To a reader blessed with a reasonable amount of Intelligence Quotient, the facts that I have a lot of time in hand and that I am inconsiderate and profligate enough to squander this entity, which to many, represents the most valuable possession possible but which, if endowed in abundance over someone like me can only result in its criminal abuse, should manifest themselves quiet readily upon his glancing over this piece, which has to its credit, neither one of the chains of logical reasoning which made many an illustrious careers, in fields as diverse as mathematics, philosophy, physics, investigative detection and professions of these sorts, most notably that of the victorian sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, nor does it have the emotional punch which might bring that tear at the corner of your eyes, nor does it claim to be comic, but in essence, is written just to test the sole capability of the writer in conveying his ideas in as long a sentence as his ability allows and the limits upto which a reader might go before turning dizzy, insane and possibly extremely hostile, the latter effect which is affected by the simple fact that it is not at all easy, making sense of all the blabbering which went into the last few lines and to deal with the realization finally that it was all, indeed, never intended to make any worldly sense, is very understandable but I hope that the reader will be able to recover from this taruma and shall read my other blogs which surely mmake much more sense.

Plight of an English poet

I was watching this program called dirty jobs on discovery when I started wondering, what could be the most despicable and painful job in the world. It did not take me long to zero-in on the poets who squander their complete lives trying to rhyme those wretched emotions which have this uncanny habit of popping up in any and every line of any and every discussion with words which you will never ever use in a decent, sane discussion but which turn out to be the last straw in this unabashedly rhyme-starved world. These poets lose much of their hair and sanity in the search of this fool's gold. To top it all is the obligation that it all has to make some freaking sense. No, not to everyone for then it will be too easy and mundane. The poem should be screwed-up enough not to be too transparent and logical enough to make sense if a reader having a reasonable I.Q is ready to scratch the bottom of the barrel in search of meanings and interpretations.

The problem is much more acute for an english poet due to some very important factors. For eg. which is the one word that you think represents the most important and recurring emotion in the poetic hyperspace?............ Why, its 'love'. And which are the words which would rhyme with this all pervasive emotion. Now you have started scratching your head. This is the plight I am talking about. The best you can do is probably 'dove' or going to the extreme, 'skies above' and the buck stops there ('shove, glove etc. are termed too dry and it would take a real heartless foolish poet to use them in his poems). Its almost as if the makers of the english language had some personal hatred against the poets of the future. Compare it with the hindi language. The hindi equivalent of love is pyaar which can be conveniently rhymed with zillions of words like ikraar, intezaar, bekaraar, sarkaar etc. (And believe me, all those zillion combination have already been beaten to death in the hindi movies). If you atlast run out of all these combinations, Hindi has provided you with the freedom of making up your own non-sensical words so that even the most talentless poet can rhyme 'pyaar' with 'vyaar' and 'ishq' with 'vishq'. This fact has a very strong impact on the society in general. When a little johnny goes up to his father and says that he wants to be a poet, the father conveniently kills his innocent ambition by the words- "Why johnny. You know how tough a life these poets lead? Even of you are ready to face those hardships, will you ever be able to find rhyming words with love, heart, cry, eyes?" And little johnny reluctantly sees reason in this charade and drops all his plans of becoming a poet and starts concentrating on sports (presumably the easier field). On the other hand when a pappu asks his papa the same question, the papa can only look to pappu's bleak future in dismay as he knows that even pappu, with his limited IQ, can rhyme words in this hopelessly romantic Hindi language. And the Indian sports arena suffers another setback.

I believe that this very important factor has lead to the development of a class of poetry in English which does not have rhyming words as one of its prerequisites. You can basically write a prose on the economic repercussions in socialist russia, punctuate it with a large number of unnecessary commas, colons and semicolons, break it into different lines and submit the final product as a poetry in the International poetry competition and stand a good chance of winning the first prize in this hopelessly rhyme-impaired english world. You cannot do the same in India. Upon doing this, you stand a good chance of being reviled as uncreative, boring and many a times even blasphemous. Why else did you leave the comforts of the discovered territory and venture into the unknown and the wild?

Rang de Basanti

Well I finally saw it. After receiving such good reviews from people about the movie and getting comments like "I" would particularly like the subject and the treatment, I finally saw it tonight. It is 4:24 in the morning and I am writing this blog instead of going to sleep because the movie was based upon a subject which I value very dearly and contrary to expectations, I did find some flaws in the treatment of the movie.

The movie is based upon the transformation which is brought about in the lives of 5 young men after they come to learn about the sacrifices of indian freedom fighters upclose. This transformation then leads them to kill the defence minister as they hold him responsible for the Mig. crashes which have become routine lately.

The first and foremost irony which the movie depicts very successfully is the fact that we as youth of this generation are sadly unconcerned about the idea that India is. Looking at the growth that India has been registering lately (although it effects a small minority), it becomes difficult to decide whether this is not the country which was in the visions of those who died for her independence. On the other hand, the rampant corruption, the disgusting politics along with many other such factors make me believe that surely a Chandrashekhar Azad died for something better. The sad part is that all of this is conveniently ignored for daily chores by all of us today.

The depiction of the lives of Azad, Bhagat Singh, Ram in the movie is more history than innovation and improvisation although its effect on the protagonist is handled pretty efficiently by good direction. The director somehow forgets the fact that India is still a democracy wherein it is just not possible to order a lathi charge on peaceful demonstrators in the glaring presence of today's stifling media. The situation looks more like an autocratic society. Same is the case with the ending of the movie wherein the killing of the young men who had surrendered gives an indication that the director is trying to pull the strings too far in order to get his point through. If not from a moral conscience, the material, and political repercussions alone can dissuade a democratic government from taking such a step.

Finally the most important question. Was the killing of the defence minister justified? I have always believed that such corrupt politicians belong to the social strata which comes way below that of a despicable pig. I have always believed that such people have long lost their right to live and are now only a burden to the society which the societ would do well to throw off. But practicality does not rest on beliefs. Frankly, I don't find anything wrong in the idea of killing those who are guilty of such hienous practices but the justice should be dealt to all and not just one person. The problem with this theory is that even if you identify all those with tainted linens, their number is so huge that killing them may first of all be practically impossible and second may induce a kind of anarchy in the society. Recently I had a very nice discussion with one of my friends on this topic and I was almost led to believe that such a solution although swift and emotionally fulfilling may lead to instability in the society in the long run. I hate to admit the fact but I have come to support this argument in some measure. The solution maybe lies in democratically fighting the disease that is politics. Finally I would like to put forth the following points and conclude this topic:

1. We know that something is terribly screwed up in the Indian society.
2. We know that the most educated section of the society is the one which is most removed from any concerns about the situation.

In such a situation, how practical is the democratic solution? For me the light only comes from the solution potrayed in the movie. As they say: "It sometimes requires a bang to wake up the sleeping"

The only verdict is Vengeance

Remember remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot,
I know of no reason, why the gunpowder treason,
should ever be forgot

Thus starts the movie which belongs to that rare breed which makes you hate it, love it but most importantly brood upon it. Based upon Alan Moore's 1984 graphic novel titled "V for Vendetta", the movie would have been just another visit to the multiplex if it did not have elements, symbolisms and references pertinent to the present world situation.

The million dollar question here is that where do you draw the line between right and wrong. Between moral and immoral. Between nationalism, jingoism and terrorism. Does an end justify the means or do the means have to be moral? What difference would have been made if India, instead of achieving freedom through Mahatma Gandhi's means, achieved it through Subhash Chandra Bose's path. Should terrorism be seen in black and white?

The movie does not attempt to answer any of these questions. It just throws in some shades of grey in the vastly bichromatic vision of the masses. It really makes you wonder, what would you choose - autocracy or anarchy. The movie or rather the comic book is inspired by a real person named Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the British parliament on the 5th of November, 1605. Although his attempt failed, the event became famous by the name, the Gunpowder plot.

In addition to the intelligence that the movie displays, it is resplendent with great sets and some really memorable dialogues and action sequences. Hugo Weaving (agent Smith from Matrix) is brilliant and so is Natalie Portman. The only flaw I could find with the direction was the appaling lack of british accent in a movie which is set in the british society.

All in all. A movie not to miss...

The Lazy Confession

Well, the last nail has finally been dug in the coffin. The debatable question was "How lazy am I"? After 20 something years (I don't like to tell my exact age :-)) of self appeasing, elaborate excuses and fabrications, it was answered today...

You know how you tend to make impressions of people you meet. Like when you say that hey, you are a pretty good TT player when you are really wondering whether a dead wall would prove to be a better opponent. Or when you meet a person and think that now you have finally met a gem of a sucker. Some people leave a great impression, some pretty bad ones and some do not strech your imagination at all. And then all of a sudden, along comes a guy, meeting whom, you think, boy, the only reason he qualifies as a homo sapien and not a tortoise is because of the absence of a hard protective shell on his back. Such people define the term "LAZY" in its truest, extremist, oxfordist sense. And when such a person calls you the laziest human being he ever met, you can only look upto the heavens and wonder whether they changed the dictionary without informing you.

Having enough faith in your IQ, I assume that you must have figured out by now that I met with such a reply from such a person today. It has made me look at my life in a different perspective.

To begin with, the only game I am probably decent at is cricket. For starters, cricket is a game which is tailor made for people who flinch at the name of hardwork. Now when I look at it, you almost stand on the ground doing nothing for about 98.2% of the game. Between all the sweat, which doesn't necessarily result from running around but is a natural residue when sunlight falls on skin, you get sufficient number of drink breaks. Added to all this is the fact that my batting talent could only afford me an extended stay at the runner's wicket in most of my matches. And this is not it. I sometimes wonder what is the reason that 90% of the times I got run out. If only piece by piece, the puzzle is getting unravelled.

But you know what. Sometimes it just happens that winners acheive their goals not by working on their shortcoming but by rashly ignoring them. So when I came to U.S., I took up squash. It was never a first choice. I just wanted something to fill up the empty spot left over by the absence of cricket. And as has been proved so many times in history, compromises are often doomed to failure from the start. The one major problem I find with squash is the fact that the makers of the game forgot to put any coefficient of restitution in the ball and everyone following them made no objection at all. I am extremely convinced now that this act should figure in the top 20 heinous crimes against humanity ever. As far as guys like me are concerned, we only go to a squash court to make others feel good about their talents. Personally, when the other guy plays that drop shot against me, I almost feel like the way Poland must have felt against the advancing German armies. Subconsciously aware of my talent of laziness, I almost immediately know the futility of any attempt I might make at returning the shot, but my ego masked in the guise of this self fooling illusion always makes me spend that energy which I value so dearly.

Nevertheless, life goes on and so does squash. Sometimes, I feel guilty of the fact that maybe I enjoy this laziness. Maybe, I am too lazy to counter this view. So it stays very much part of my life. And so does my latest title "The laziest person whom the laziest person ever met".

The Canine Case

In the great debate of national culturedness, the verdict has been drawn. And the irrefutable evidences lie in the social etiquettes of the American poodle and the desi gali ka kutta.

Without making things any harder than they should be, I should go on to introduce the topic of my musings. That my U.S. visit has been nothing short of a cultural shock should come as no surprise to anyone. Considering the fact that I spent the better part of my life in the especially backward regions of a especially backward state of the country, the immaculate cleanliness and orderliness of the U.S. alone should have been enough to send me into coma. To top it all is the all pervasive, almost forced politeness of the average american population. Whereas in India, I would almost swoon over the character and politeness of a Mysore auto driver just because he did not overcharge me heavily for the ride from the station to my home, I have had to adjust my expectations in this country. Every place I go, I am met with a friendly "How is it going?" accompanied with a smile which would almost have indicated the news of a new born child to my Indian counterpart friend. Initially, not experienced in the U.S. ways of salutation and having being posed with such a question, I felt obligated to provide my inquirer with a detailed description of "How was it going with me". In such situations, as my dreary blabbering reached about a minute of callous indifference to mocking glances and amused smiles, the counter person generally used to end my foolish charade with a forced THANK YOU and NEXT IN LINE PLEASE. And after stumbling for uncountable number of times, it dawned upon me that it might all be just a formality. It might just be possible that politeness is just a compulsory overcoat which these Americans by law have to wear. It might just be possible that a question like "How is it going" does not deserve an answer.

All of this brings me to the all important and seminal observation of mine. It was a beautiful sunny day when I, bored with the monotony of daily existence, stumbled upon this brilliant observation which has now proven to be the last link to my theory of cultural culturedness in India and U.S. I never heard a dog bark in the U.S. Can you believe it. Absolutely never. And to compare it, even my own dog back in India although only a few inches in lateral dimension, packs enough barking ammunition to rival the noise of a supersonic jet at close quarters (approximately 120 decibles!!!). And he is supposed to be a pet! I just don't need to present street examples. In India, any dog, unless it is a close acquaintance of yours or is a friend of your dog, is apt to be seen as a potential donor of Rabies virus and a lot of pain. But here in the U.S. all the dogs are almost oblivious of my presence. While passing by, they just seem to acknowledge, with a slight nod of their head, the painful fact that they happen to live in a world which is infested with humans but that nothing can be done about it. There is absolutely no barking. If anything, maybe, there is that smile and probably that unsaid question "How is it going" which after innumerable and inconsiderate repetitions has become mundane enough not to deserve an answer at all...