Sunday, 27 April 2014

Blog B'day D Day (Ah well, 13 hours too late)

People who know me well (which you, since you are reading this, probably do) are aware of my hatred of my own birthdays.
I have always reasonably enjoyed others' however. Turns out even my own blog's (which has to be sad on one level, but let's ignore that for the moment).

The day began (fashionably late) with me shelling out 300 bucks to quell my academic curiosity, at PVR Saket, that citadel of pretentiousness (with its Walk of Fame) and over-pricing.
However, 300 rupees are only enough to get you cattle-class seats-hard, uncomfortable and affording no privacy to the couples (and to us from them) flanking us from all sides. And because fleecing customers is not criminal enough, the theatre decided it was acceptable to make its patrons sit for an extra twenty minutes while a palanquin perched Katrina Kaif traversed through badlands looking for the man(go) of her dreams, and little girls made puppy eyes at their fathers to make them quit smoking.

Even the writers of these montrosities however, put more thought into their material than the writers of the actual feature film. It's one thing to take an interesting concept and make a bad film; it is another thing to take an interesting concept and make a boring film. So boring that the opening sequence with three mustachioed gundas establishing that Kangana Ranaut's Alka was a b****h, k*****ya and what not, had me dozing off (like a middle-aged uncle, but let's ignore that also for the moment).

Not ones to let any money go to waste, my friends woke me up and the three of us decided to sacrifice our well being for the greater good-entertaining our co-audience with live commentary on the happenings on screen.A very unappreciative audience as it turns out. Some people left our side to go sit in front. Another school-masterish guy, disapproving of all the fun we were having, applied to a higher authority-the usher-to silence us (that could be the plot a really fun slasher flick). The usher in turn issued us an ultimatum, the end result of which was that we left the theatre in the middle of the film. Voluntarily, mind you.

The rest of the very hot Delhi evening was spent having cold coffee, momos dimsums and chicken fingers. And bitching loudly about our respective lives.

A very enjoyable evening indeed.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Countdown to Blog B'day-Day 2

Since it's my blog's second birthday this week (26 April 2014), I have decided to blog every day up to it. However short. However frivolous (which of course goes without saying).

Read about Day 3Day 4Day 5 and Day 6 here.

I have been to the beach before, with my parents. My mom always ensured that if I ever ventured into the sea, it was not beyond a point when the water was more than ankle-high. She would clutch my hands if I tried to go deeper. The instinct to protect.

I have always wanted to escape that protection. Not in the way teenagers rebel (I completely skipped that phase). But just out of the wish to experience everything. Out of the desire to feel everything there is to be felt. And purely for selfish reasons.  If I hoped to be a writer some day, I could imagine events. I couldn't imagine people's emotional reactions to those events, could I? How could I write about someone falling in love, if I had never been in love myself? Or about loss, if I had never felt the hurt.

But this has led to the oddest thing. The realisation that anything that happens to me is useful (in the sense of adding to my life experience, and hence the material for a book I may or may not write in the future), the hurt I feel is always dimmed to that extent. I am able to step back and analyse my feelings-like an outsider. Like a critic reviewing a film.

Is this related to age, maturity? Is it because I don't have other people to talk to (on a daily basis), that I have these intense discussions in my head? Or is it really because of the writer-ly ambitions? (Which will probably just remain ambitions if I keep using words like 'writer-ly').

It can't be maturity. If anything, over the past nine months, since leaving campus, I have become more vulnerable. Earlier, the only thing that could get me upset were feelings of aimlessness, insecurities about my career and if bad things happened to my family or friends. I could get over anything anybody said or did to me by (mentally, always mentally) abusing them. Because those people were never important. And the important people cared too much. It's not like that anymore. But then, wasn't that the point of escaping all that protection?

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Countdown to Blog B'day-Day 3

Since it's my blog's second birthday this week (26 April 2014), I have decided to blog every day up to it. However short. However frivolous (which of course goes without saying).

Read about Day 4Day 5 and Day 6 here.

This is probably cheating.
But don't tell me you would rather read a hastily written post than feast your eyes on these:

Because every trip begins at the airport

View from Paro, the city with the airport, Bhutan

Is it possible for a country to be unhappy if this is what it looks like?

Gate to the cafetaria, Tiger's Nest

Even the tramps have THE life here
Budhha Statue: Look at the trees for some perspective
The view of the Tiger's Nest monastery from the Cafetaria

This could be an Airtel ad

Have some more beauty

Photo Credit: Mehul Gupta

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Countdown to Blog Birthday-Day 4

Since it's my blog's second birthday this week (26 April 2014), I have decided to blog every day up to it. However short. However frivolous (which of course goes without saying).

Read about Day 5 and Day 6 here.

I am going to recount a childhood incident again. Not because I have nothing else to talk about (I have lots actually), but because there is nothing else I can coherently post about, in very limited time.

I think I was in 5th standard when we first performed a play in my colony.

It was Christmas. And my first attempt at writing something that did not involve rhyming 'cat' with 'mat'. I did a terrible job-the 'play' was essentially a bunch of kids mouthing facts about Christmas traditions in English.

But since parents insisted on encouraging mediocrity (and English) we were much appreciated.

So the next year, before Diwali, we decided to stage a 'Modern Ramayana'.

I don't remember who wrote it-it was essentially a bunch of bad jokes strung together-Ram looking for his Ray-bans before Vanvas, Hanuman being mistaken for the Monkey-man, and so on. But we were at an age when Kaho Na Pyar Hai counted as a piece of art.

The casting was very controversial for that play. There were three major male roles- Ram, Lakshman and Ravana and we had three male actors. Those roles went to them unquestioningly (though Ram and Lakshman had major ego hassles between them).

There were a bunch of girls and one coveted female role-Sita. (I can't for the life of me remember whether we had a Surpnakha). 
I decided not to audition for Sita, but claim the role of Hanuman instead. That's because I knew the only other role was for Jatayu (who dies midway) and the Vanar Sena. Which is what all the people rejected as Sita were relegated to.

The play itself was a little bit of a disaster.

You would think scientists wouldn't be very God-fearing. But someone from the cast blabbed about what we were doing to their Scientist (or spouse of scientist) parent. And they objected to the mockery of religion.
Half an hour before the performance, we decided we would change the names of the characters to Ashwarya (Sita), ShahRukh (Ram) and Salman (Lakshman).

Most of us forgot that 3 minutes in.

And the audience couldn't figure out why Shah Rukh asking for Raybans before a Vanvas was funny. Or why he was going for a Vanvas in the first place.

Some of the audience also heckled a dying Jatayu. So Jatayu got up from the dead and went off-stage.
Ram and Lakshman (sorry, Shah Rukh and Salman) forgot their ego hassles and ganged up against Jatayu to berate her.

Jatayu promised never to play with us again.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Countdown to Blog Birthday-Day 5

Since it's my blog's second birthday this week (26 April 2014), I have decided to blog every day up to it. However short. However frivolous (which of course goes without saying).

Read Countdown to Blog Birthday-Day 6, here.

Hindi films always make a song and dance (quite literally) about jawani (youth).

The best part of my jawani (till now) have been my three years of college.

The best part about college was that it was so uneventful.

My childhood on the other hand was legendary.

One year my (then) best friend and I pooled in our books (which weren't many) to open a library. Our patrons were our playmates in the colony. Often, they also donated to our book collection.
We returned the favour by charging them for a monthly membership (Rs. 2/-).
Worse, we made them sit in the library (a common room in the colony, otherwise used for dance/music/art classes, rehearsals for Durga Puja and kitty parties) for half an hour every week to read.
Once this kid (who was a year older to me) came to my house and asked to be let off 'library class'.
I refused. The rules didn't allow for it, and he had promised to abide by them (by signing a form, whose master copy had been typed on a type-writer. We were too cool for computers.) His mother approved.

The power apparently went to my head though. Allegedly in one year, my friend and I appropriated Janmashtami funds to build our book collection.

We haven't been forgiven for that yet.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Countdown to Blog Birthday-Day 6

Since it's my blog's second birthday this week (26 April 2014), I have decided to blog every day up to it. However short. However frivolous (which of course goes without saying).

I saw 2 States last weekend.

The trailers during the interval were more interesting than the movie.
Alia Bhatt was wonderful though.
Now only if someone advised her to not do bland romantic comedies. (And physically restrained Randeep Hooda from doing trash like Jism 2).

The two trailers I saw were of Revolver Rani and Samrat and Co.

Revolver Rani looks horrible. But I am still going to watch it out of academic curiosity. And to express solidarity with the feminist cause. Though I doubt that's what the film-makers were going for. It looks more like they first saw Neha Dhupia in Phas Gaye Re Obama, then watched Loin and his moll in Yaadon ki Baarat , and decided how fun it would be if the tables were turned. Not that that's a bad thing.

The hero of Samrat and Co. is a detective. He sports curly hair, goes around in a coat with an upturned collar, and talks very fast. In one sequence he runs out of a building (presumably in pursuit), stops in front of the gate, shuts his eyes and seems to concentrates hard. Maps appear on the screen, indicating directions (presumably of the possible routes his quarry may have taken).

And ooh, he has a 'seventh' sense. Since the sixth one is so passé.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Bhutan Diaries

·         The moment I truly understood Gross National Happiness was about 30 minutes after I landed in India, when a DTC conductor snapped at me for enquiring whether the bus would go to the domestic terminal. That was before a middle-aged aunty disapproved of my luggage, then proceeded to invade my personal space in return.

(This was all aboard a ‘shuttle’ between the two terminals of the Delhi airport. But really, the domestic terminal is one of the bus-stops on the way of the bus to “Kashmere Gate Kashmere Gate”, in the words of the afore-mentioned conductor.)

·         When asked about the meaning of GNH by an Indian, a young bank employee in Bhutan replied that it meant not having to drive in traffic for an hour and a half to reach office.

·         Who wants to drive when the best part of the day is a 30 minute leisurely paced walk back from office to the hotel.

·         Happy country or not, I can crib anywhere. Even seated on a rock at the riverside with the river making the most pleasant gurgling sounds and a view over-looking the mountains.

·         A rock on the riverside with a view over-looking the mountains is fertile territory for philosophising.

·         My thoughts while making the hardest trek of my life: the journey is more important than the goal, the journey is more…huff…aah this is killing me.

My thoughts after reaching the destination of the trek: The goal’s more beautiful when the journey is tough.

(Now to just apply this deep philosophical insight to real life).

·         Snow-capped mountains, from the vantage point of a giant Buddha statue can be a heart-breakingly beautiful sight.

·         I never thought I would use the phrase ‘heartbreakingly beautiful’ in all seriousness.

·         All the scenic beauty and peace can go take a hike if there is no internet. Or tv.

·         I saw an episode of Savdhaan India in Bhutan. I had never seen the show before.

·         Imtiaz Ali should set his next film in Bhutan. It should be a love-story between an Indian girl and Bhutanese boy. The girl will be an employee of an evil donor agency looking to economically cripple the country (though the girl doesn’t know that) and a Bhutanese government servant who is set to expose its agenda. Lots of possibilities of conflict and love. (Call me Imtiaz, the script is all ready in my head).

·         Bande hai hum from Dhoom 3 is my new anthem.

·         Bollywood’s more popular than I thought, and the adulation is not just limited to the Salman Khans and the Katrina Kaifs. While I filled in my immigration form, my Bhutanese co-passenger on board the flight to Paro peeked in, then exclaimed in recognition. Was I related to Mithun, she asked.
I wasn’t related to her current favourites either.  Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif.

·         I am more experimental with my food than I imagined. My third favourite vegetarian dish (after rajma-chawal and jhinge aloo posto) is now a dish comprising of green chillies cooked in cheese. Ema datsi, the national dish of Bhutan.

·         I am far less experimental with my drink. I asked for ice tea at my hotel. The waitress tried to fob off a packaged version. I refused to drink that. She relented and made the ice-tea for me, the traditional way. It was the closest thing to the JP Ice tea I have ever had, only 11 times as expensive.

·         The samosa and pyaji available in Bhutan can give tough competition to the best in C R Park’s Market 2.

·         Veg momos can be great too. Who would have imagined?

·         A scone is a less sweet, less nice version of goja.

·         Bhutan has the fanciest taxi of the sub-continent.

·         Bhutan also has the most talkative taxi-driver of the sub-continent.

·         Dogs like Kurkure.

·         Thimphu has a very cool book-store called Junction. It’s what Oxford used to be before they started playing loud music and hosting ridiculous events. Junction has its own dogs who will leave you alone as long as you don’t step on them. Guess what I bought from there?

Dumb Witness. Poirot.