Of Anna Hazare and Chai Latte

“He broke his fast!” screamed Viju as I pulled over on his apartment driveway.

“What?” I asked him through the window. I did not hear him over my Mazda’s ambient hum.

“He broke his fast today. They passed the bill! Death to babus!” he shouted as he sat in the passenger seat.

“Settle down Dorothy. They only accepted his three conditions. The bill is still a long way from being passed. But yes, it’s a start,” I said as I did not want ruin his moment. Viju was the naïve optimist in our trio. I was supposed to be the practical one.

“Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. Atleast now there will be a law to get those fuckers. I mean the poor guy was starving for twelve days. The government had to do something, right?”

“Fasting. He was fasting for twelve days. So where to?” I asked as we pulled out to join Duck Street.

“Starbucks. I need a Frappe. So check this out. I was talking to my cousin in UFL and he said that all the Indian students in Gainesville did a morcha kinda thing against corruption to support him. Why did we not think of something like that?”­

“Well might be because I was too busy with my research and you were away on your all American roadtrip. How was Florida by the way?”

“It was good. Anyway, this cousin told me that the campus police showed up ‘coz they thought they had a student riot on their hands. They even got tasers. Tasers! Man that is wild! Where are you going?” he asked as I turned on Main Street. “We have to pick up Todd.”

Todd was the third. His real name was Haripriya but his American name was Todd. Todd was a stupid name. I did not get it. I mean, if it was up to you to pick an English name why not pick a cool name like Irving, Arnold or even Lucifer. “Hi, I am Lucifer and I’ll be your TA for Visual Basic Programming.”

“Oh. He’s coming? I heard he was wasted last night.”

“Yeah, he called me up. Anyway, I was talking to this other cousin in D.C and he said that Best Buy has a firesale going on. I feel like I wanna buy something. I don’t know what. I have some balance left on my Chase card. Did you know that fifteen lakh people showed up on Ramlila Maidan for the celebration?” Viju’s attention span is less than that of a hummingbird.

“Don’t you think fifteen lakh is a bit too much?”

“I don’t know. My roommate told me that. But I think it’s true. There’s a revolution going on man. Don’t doubt it. Anyway, my cousin in San Jose told me that NVIDIA is hiring. Why am telling this to you? You are a Chemy. Todd will be interested. I’ll tell him to wait for us downstairs.” He called up Todd.

“Yeah he’ll be down in two. So this cousin in D.C said he got a sweet deal on an Android tablet.”

We pulled over in Todd’s driveway. He was waiting for us, clearly hung over. Eyes swollen and hair astray he climbed in and announced “I need a coffee. Like, right now.”

“He broke his fast man! And Best Buy is having a firesale!” screamed Viju.

“Settle down Dorothy. My head hurts. And enough of Lokpal already,” informed Todd.

“Why?” asked Viju.

 “It was a failure from the start. You can never do away with corruption in India. And which cousin told you about Best Buy?” said Todd. Todd was the all hating ever complaining cynic of the lot.

“’ssup Toddji.” I greeted him.

“Man nothing can happen with India. The corruption is just too deep in the system. There is no political will for change. Look at the US. Look at the way they are handling the health reforms right now. There is a system in place here. The politicians are accountable for stuff.”

“How can you say that? India is changing man. The sheer support we saw last week tells us that. And political will? They accepted the bill, didn’t they? I think great things are gonna happen in India in the next five years,” retorted Viju clearly upset.

We had reached Perkins. I parked the car and we started making our way to the coffee shop. Those two were at it and I found it best to keep quiet. To be honest I always kept quiet.

“Well, your opinion does not matter. No one’s opinion matters in India. This Lokpal is gonna introduce even more bureaucracy in the system. The common man will matter even less after it.”

“What bureaucracy? The bill is gonna hold the politicians accountable. Did you not watch the Karan Thapar video I shared on facebook?” asked Viju. He was big on sharing videos on facebook.

 “Do you guys know what the Lokpal draft actually demands?” I asked them. I had a feeling neither of them did.

“Shut up man!” both of them said. Clearly they were more interested in arguing about it.

“Yeah I saw the video. And it does not help your argument. But that’s not the point. Say a construction project is underway in a village. And a local politician is demanding money from the contractor. The contractor lodges a complaint under the lokpal bill. This case appears in a local court. The local court defers it to a higher one. This case could take years to reach a verdict.”

“But that’s a convenient example. There will be amendments,” argued Viju.

We were in the line for ordering and these two were almost at crescendo.

“Forget the amendments man,” Todd dismissed Viju.

“Now you are just being cynical. Oh yes, before I forget. My cousin in San Jose said that NVIDIA is hiring in California. Interested? ”

Suddenly Todd’s frowns seemed to wash away. He actually looked excited.

“Brilliant! What’s the position?”

“I think it’s Hardware Engineer. And more importantly they are ready to sponsor. I applied last night,” informed Viju.

“Alright. I’ll get my resume ready and…”

“What can I get you Sir?” asked the blonde at the counter.

“Hey. I’d like a Frappuccino, a Mocha latte and a Chai Latte,” Todd ordered pointing towards me.

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Arrested Development 1

I owe my self-pity to my inertia. I owe my inertia to my indecision. I owe my indecision to my complete lack of inspiration. Amen.

-Adbhut Bhave

And now for something completely different. I just started a sentence with a conjunction.  Apparently I can do that. The last time when I tried this, the result was abysmal. I just googled that last word. I tend to do that. To look clever you know. Not that I’m not. At least I think I am. Well let’s just say on most days I’m as clever as I am on the rest. There, I did it again.

I have a chilled beer next to me while I write this. And I’m enjoying it. I also have Explosions in The Sky bursting in my ears. The song playing right now is called The Moment We Were Alone. Incidentally I’m alone right now. And as usual I’m bored. I’m out of TV Shows and movies to watch. I finished watching Breaking Bad, Coupling and The Wire in the last few weeks. I watched Kick Ass last night right after watching Gus Van Sant’s enthralling film Finding Forrester. I’m a mile away from inspiration. The Wire was a nice find. It’s a brilliantly crafted HBO crime drama that ended a few years ago. Nothing more to say about it other than WATCH IT BEFORE YOU DIE!

On the brighter side I made a remarkable breakthrough in my research today. I am a graduate researcher by profession nowadays. I now know what I’m doing/ supposed to be doing/going to be doing in the coming months. It’s good to know what’s in store for you. The sudden dip in uncertainty is a welcome change. Oddly unsettling feeling though.

Coming back to the only constant in my life-beer. I’m a beer bottle collector now. I have a collection of thirty six different beers (empty beer bottles). The legality of this collection on campus is questionable. Admitting it on the internet is not. This collection has been a combined effort between yours truly and a fellow beer enthusiast-my roommate. We split the fortune spent on beer each month. And trust me when I say fortune. The one I’m drinking right now is called Boulevard Wheat. It is a cheap wheat beer with a very nice bottle. The most distinguished beer in my collection till date is called Rasputin. It is a dark lager with a mild bitter taste but a bitter-er hangover.

The song playing now is Yasmin the Light. If you have stuck around till now, go ahead and check it out. It won’t disappoint you.

Anna Hazare broke his fast today. God bless that man. I wonder what he ate first.

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Filed under Absurd, Film, Non Fiction, Opinion, stupid

Bed and Breakfast

He wakes up and sits up on his bed. It’s morning. He tries to shake off his dream. It’s the same one every night. He dreams of a different life. He dreams of a life with lesser questions and more answers. He dreams of going through an entire day without making decisions. Then he wonders, ‘Will today be that day?’

He smiles and dismisses the thought while he passionately scratches his ass. He smiles again. Happy Birthday he tells himself. Twenty five, huh? Funny how time passes. It seemed only yesterday that he was twenty four. He smiles again. ‘Too early in the morning for jokes’, he tells himself. Save it for later. He reminds himself that he needs to shave. The Professors expects him to be clean shaven. He goes through the things waiting for him. Nope. Nothing much to look forward to. A few assignments. A few errands. And laundry- he is almost out of clean underwear.

He gets up and makes his way to the bathroom. Stumbling. He grabs his tooth brush, puts the tooth paste on it and puts it in his mouth. He looks up in the mirror. He sees me. He wishes me happy birthday and regards my swollen eyes with genuine disinterest. ‘You look like I feel,’ he tells me. I nod. He continues brushing, still making a list of things to do. ‘Do you know what I’m doing here?’ he asks me. I tell him I don’t. He spits. Puts the brush back in and continues brushing. ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here. I know I’m supposed to know but I really have no clue.’ He spits again. He rinses his mouth and makes a face at me. He finally smiles again. ‘I think I’ll have the banana cereal for breakfast,’ he tells me. ‘Have a good day. I’ll see you tomorrow then?’ I nod. I always do.

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Raavan: A Review or ‘Raavan is a bad bad movie!!’

I cannot believe I fall for it everytime! Good promotion seems to be my weakness. 3 Idiots, Rajneeti and now this! But then again was Raavan well promoted?- that shall be left for another day.

Today I watched Mani Ratnam’s Raavan. This movie belongs to the yeah-they-can-make-that-crap-and-get-away-with-it genre. It is so disappointing that it inspired me to write something after almost three months. The fundamental flaw is that the producers thought that they could sell a movie by casting two actors in roles that would constitute a Freudian Nightmare. With that deceptive trump card in their pockets they went ahead indulged in sheer mediocrity. And so the plot never thickens; the water stays well below the bridge and the cookie never crumbles.

Abhishek Bachchan deserves a separate paragraph. This fellow is clearly not versatile in his craft. He did a good job in Yuva, Guru and Bluffmaster. But to portray an eternal Hindu badass I think you need to ACT better. He reduces Raavan to an idiotic stubborn juvenile delinquent who refuses to return the stolen mangoes. I think the director invented an innate quirkiness in Beera to distract us from his incompetence. So instead of having ten heads Beera makes an interesting noise ten times before/after or in the middle of every noteworthy scene. Some Most times it ends up being funny. But not everything is bad. Small B has an amazing screen presence that you cannot just throw out of the window. It is ruined everytime he opens his mouth(kinda like Dia Mirza). But like someone I know said: Write him a brooding role and he will win you an oscar; or at least a filmfare.

Ash- I don’t like her much so she didn’t really disappoint me. But thanks to Santosh Sivan’s mindblowing cinematography we can ignore her ultra sonic dialogue delivery.

Mani Ratnam- Why would you ruin that for us? It looked so promising. I think Mr. Ratnam and Mr. Jha met and flipped a coin to decide who would get which epic to ruin. Mr. Jha won Mahabharatasque Godfather and Mr. Mani ended up with Raavan.

The story- well there isn’t any. Pretty predictable if you had religious fanatics for grandparents: Raavan abducts Sita. Ram gets angry. He finds a Hanuman and gathers a hunting party and enters Lanka. Meanwhile Sita is busy issuing high frequency protests when she is not jumping off cliffs (too many people jump of cliffs!). We then see that thanks to a phenomenon called Stockholm Syndrome she seems to fall in love with Raavan (that’s sacrilege I tell you!) and there’s a reason other than her beauty why Raavan kidnapped her. After a few insignificant twists there is a pre-climactic out of this world (read bullshit) fight sequence on a shabbily made bridge (a literal metaphor of the Ram Setu which most people didn’t get because of the sheer obviousness). In which we see our actual hero Raavan giving a technically perfect tombstone to Ram and then proceeds to further kick Ram’s rear and then free Sita (Ram plays absolutely no role in her rescue). The tension never really builds up and yet Govinda manages to relieve it.

How could I sit through this ordeal?: Because  of one guy called Santosh Sivan. The cinematography is so wonderful that he makes it almost worth it. It’s a treat for the eyes. Using a variety styles he has captured the landscapes, portraits and what not, perfectly. I’ve been a fan of his work for ages. I think he started from where he left off in Asoka. The palette used also adds to the mood. All the colors used in the jungle belong to the jungle. Tremendous work by the art department. You see the problem here.? I have to try really hard to appreciate the movie.

But I know what will happen: The box office earnings will cross Australia’s GDP next weekend thanks to its release in 2 million screens.

On the bright side: While walking out of the theater, Salil heard the guy in front of him say after a moments thought,”I think it was better than Kites.” I found it hard to disagree with him.

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Filed under Film, Opinion

Children Of Boredom

[Reader discretion is advised. I don’t know why, but it just is.]

Not sure why I am writing this post. Another proxy for another month. Ok, that’s two sentences. Doing good, brother. And here comes another. And another.

For the lack of ideas I sure came up with many. Irony is a bitch,and I am her nephew. I tried to write film reviews on – LSD, A Serious Man, Garden State, District 9 etc etc etc. But inertia got the best of me. She (inertia) keeps beating me every time, everyday in everything I try to do nowadays. It’s a disorder I have after I get up every morning. Her son Boredom has been hanging out with me lately. And he lives up to his name. Our hanging out is mostly me spending time on our drawing room furniture. In the mornings I just sit and stare around. Then things get interesting. I move into the other rooms. I then spend some time on our balcony till the sun makes my skin too hot to be comfortable (summer’s here!). Our conversations are mostly filled with my half hourly sighs and punctuated with me flourishing expletives at the TV set for not entertaining me enough.

My other ideas included another lame ass impromptu poem; an installment in the Close Conversations series; a book review on The Shining etc etc etc.

Ok lets see, what else. Oh yes Facebook! It’s the worst. I don’t know how but I just keep going back to it. Its like everytime I open it, my subconscious half expects to find something ridiculously shocking like a video of Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan making out (I know eeew, but every single person would watch it, trust me). When I read all those seemingly useless updates I know that Boredom has other friends too! It brings peace to my heart. But it is short lived. Just like the updates.

I also planned to post another short fiction. But looking at the rather severe private thrashing I got for the last two, I couldn’t risk a public humiliation. I wouldn’t want to disappoint my ever so elusive first-time reader. Also watching an HBO show called Bored To Death. The protagonist is a writer who is bored and so accidentally takes up a job of a private eye. Its hilarious.

Moving on. Oh yes. I’m gonna love this. A battery of abuse for the movie called 3 Idiots. (I know its 4 months too late.) I have absolutely no idea how a movie so idiotic (and aptly named I might add) could become a ‘masterpiece’. It is just wrong. Amir Khan disappointed me yet again. The book is a million times better. All through the movie Amir looked like a 40 year old rabbit pretending to be an 18 year rabbit caught in the headlights of a speeding truck. For an engineering college there is no engineering in the movie- apart from the stupid helicopter. Same old motor starting jokes. Spoon feeding the masses with the same recycled crap of follow-your-dreams template. Rocket Singh was so much better. A gem of a movie lost in this idiotic mania (obvious pun intended).

Alright, wrapping it up. So, to summarize- I am bored. I can’t get a life, so save the effort of saying it.

[Special thanks to Alok. You rock my world.]

 

 

 

 

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Simple?

A man walks into an eatery with a bag. He takes a seat and orders something. A helpful waiter brings the food and the man eats it (?). After spending sometime the man walks out minus the bag. The waiter notices and lifts the bag (?). The bag is a bomb. It explodes and kills 11 people. Is it so simple?

May be I noticed the obvious ease in this act of terror because it was done in my hometown. But fuck man! Is it really so simple?

Result of the act: 11 dead; temporary panic; lesser known babus at press releases; opposition party strikes gold; so does a bollywood film.

Blame the politicians. Blame the police. Blame the media. Blame public ignorance?

Yes. It is simple.

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2009: Don’t look back in anger….

There was something weird about the last one. I knew it from day one (January 1 that is). I did not wake up with a ritualistic hangover to say the least. Instead, on that very day my wisdom tooth had decided to encroach on its neighbour’s property who so rightfully had cried foul. The neighbour was not an ideal tenant either. He had illegally developed a deep cavity (not the one guys can ogle at) that my wisdom tooth had claimed to be its own. Root canal!-was what Chinmay the Dentist declared smacking his nicotine crusted lips. 2009 started with a painfully long oral surgery in which I was subjected to absolute torture. I was asked to keep my mouth open for a change while a dozen bloodthirsty rookie dentists grabbed balcony seats for the ‘extraction process’. After the four hour labour the head of surgery gladly informed me that I had successfully delivered a bloody and withered wisdom tooth; it was almost an inch long- the biggest one in his relatively young career. He was smiling, I wasn’t. (To be honest I couldn’t.)

Fast forward three months- Finally used to the big hole at the end of my lower jaw and the fact that I was unemployed again (not necessarily in that order) I was beginning to enjoy doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. I had managed to get a deceptively good score in a mediocre exam and demanded some rest. But doing nothing can get frightfully complicated. There are just so many things in this world worth not doing. I did not exercise regularly (read not at all); I did not wander like a nomad in the Western Ghats- a romantic vow I had taken when I was employed; and I definitely did not stop drinking you-know-what -another romantic vow that I had taken in the New Year Resolution frenzy. However, I did start writing delightfully observant ‘articles’ and posted them on this very blog. With shameless self promotion ranging from incessant namedropping to pressing a face against the monitor, I managed to increase traffic here. It felt nice.

Fast forward another three months- Like most disillusioned engineers in this country I was convinced that doing post graduation in the same field that ruined four years of my life would be an awesome idea. And I decided that doing it abroad would be an even awesome one. I wasted utilized the next two months decorating smart looking application packets to foreign universities; I reckon this tenacity of overdoing cosmetics can be shared only with a two pony-tailed five year old girl on the day of her barbie’s wedding (don’t ask how I know this). I bid adieu to the little ones. Then boredom hit me like a stray bullet in Baghdad (it did). So I decided to start working again. For reasons unknown I chose marketing over designing cryogenic air separation plants. This was an interesting change.

Fast forward six months- All settled in the marketing job-check. Getting a good salary for a cool job-check. So, bank balance positive-check. Speaking with strangers in Western Europe over the phone and explaining to them before they hang up why they should do business with us-double check. Indulging in passive chain smoking-check. Improving knowledge of corporate jargon-check. Meeting really cool people- check. Realizing importance of people skills- check. Then realizing I don’t have any-check.

I learnt no new songs on the guitar. I forgot most of the earlier ones. I discovered Samit Basu. I found Lamb of God, No Quarter, Porcupine Tree, Amit Trivedi and vividly experienced side effects of tequila. I saw Iron Maiden live for the second time. I made friends with Mr. Barron and was happy that our relationship was short lived. I learnt that fluorobenzene and water do not mix. So do sarcasm and weddings. I did not visit Ladakh, Sikkim and Kolkata. I found time not to play badminton. I realized that on an average it takes me exactly eight seconds to invoke sarcasm. Alcohol doubles that.

Samit Basu deserves a second mention. So does tequila.

Retrospection is not one of my stronger points. But the culmination of the-year-that-wasn’t warranted its presence. So, I now know that making plans and elaborate wish lists in January is lame and stupid. I am above it all now. I can mathematically prove that longer the resolution list, lesser is the probability of finding it. And when you actually do find it, it is time to make a new one. So I am not  making one this time.

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Filed under Absurd, Choice, Lifestyle, Non Fiction, Opinion, stupid, Uncategorized