30 January 2009

Maharathi - a movie which would be one of 2008's best made movie ... had they not screwed up the ending! Yeah ... this is another of those movies which you think deserves a Filmfare until you are left disappointed and hungry towards the end. A 90-minute thriller of converting a suicide into a murder is what Maharathi is all about.

Its got some stalwarts - Naseeruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Boman Irani and Om Puri. Also stars Neha Dhupia and Tara Sharma. Maharathi is said to be based on one of the popular plays of Paresh Rawal. I won't really bother you with what the story is about ... its got a very interesting storyline though ... but not really a tale that's not been told before. 'Behind every big fortune lies a crime' or so they say ... and that's the core of the story.

The movie, though never ever bores you for a second, is not one without mistakes. Throughout the movie, Paresh Rawal keeps you puzzled ... is he the 'good guy' or is he not? You tend to doubt Tara Sharma too ... especially because of her innocent nerdy looks. Boman Irani is not spared too ... because Bolywood has taught us ... suspect the guy who's least involved in the crime ... problem is, there's really no crime here at all. You have seen movies where murders are converted into suicides ... here you see desperate attempts to convert a suicide into a murder ... and the director successfully shows you how tough it is ... and how its exactly like walking on the edge of a sword.

But the movie concludes pretty rapidly ... with lots of things happening in the last few minutes. Creativity was thoroughly lacking there. You have been taken through the tale which keeps you guessing ... but it doesn't finish off quite the dramatic way you'd like it to. Unnecessary events and rapidly changing circumstances ruin the end. And somehow, i'm not too happy that the winner won in the end ... somehow he did not look that deserved ... he has a dark shade to his character too ... but then, who doesn't ... and who doesn't like lots of money ... perhaps thats what the director wants us to understand. But, the movie is certainly a little bit screwed up unfortunately.

Go watch the movie ... it slipped away from the theaters silently ... but its got around by word of mouth. Its certainly worth a watch.

My rating: * * *

28 January 2009

Times of India is at it again! Looks like its not only just a newspaper, they also must have a franchise with all pubs and night clubs in Bangalore! Or they just need more photos of drunkards on Page 3 of their Bangalore Times.

A little background needed right? So there's this city called Mangaluru. Some stupid organization sent their people to go thrash all the girls and guys who had decided to skip college and go gulp some beer and dance away releasing their 'tension'. Taking law into their own hands ... these people from this conservative organization goes on a rampage slapping and verbally assaulting every girl they find inside the club or whatever! And fingers are being pointed against this organization, the police, the government and the judicial system.

Point taken! You don't go thrash a girl like that ... c'mon ... you got to respect a girl ... nobody gets the right to treat anyone like that. And if these conservative organizations think they can prevent 'westernization' of Indian culture by thrashing women and rampaging shops that sell Valentine's Day greeting cards ... that's the stupidest thing i have ever heard! There's a right way to do everything ... and violence is never a solution. Its never a permanent solution, let me put it this way.

So feminists who have been jobless until now jump into the foray with their placards (the same placards which they use every year - we demand our rights!) ... BJP attacks Congress ... Congress attacks BJP ... and the Dal attack everyone else ... and when no one's looking ... go and wreck every developmental work that's going on in the state. The police behave just like how they are shown in the movies ... and every important person gets bail even before he applies for one (what do i hear about Sanjay Dutt and elections ... isn't he supposed to be in jail with Salman Khan?).

And papers like Times of India search their archive sections to borrow sentences like - 'In New York, you can go pubbing at 2-30am ... in Bangalore, you have to wind up by 11-30pm' ... and reprint them again and again and again until they find another controversy ... or a statistic which proves that Times of India is the most read paper in the southern part of north-eastern Bangalore.

Ok ... and I represent the very typical Bangalore citizen ... who has devoted 5 paragraphs just to complain! So what really is the root of the problem here? I, for myself, still am not able to understand how one can find relaxation in a dark place with bizarre lighting ... combined with smoke, drinks, half-dressed girls, all happening at an unearthly hour ... when all the body needs is some good and sound sleep. I wouldn't go with the notion that all of these are'nt a part of our culture so we must protest! What's culture in the first place ... its your way of living your life. And if you think all the above is your way of life ... so be it ... as long as you don't drink and drive ... or get involved in a rape incident ... or be robbed. Not everything about the 'western' culture is bad ... we are just adopting the wrong principles ... that's all. Being polite is a part of western culture ... so why don't we take that? Being more honest is too ... but why do we choose discotheques instead?

And saying that we are gonna go pubbing till 2am ... if something unlawful happens ... its the police who's gotta take care of it ... is the most arrogant and uncivilized statement i have heard ... and Times of India has the audacity to print all of these. Its like a girl saying "I'm gonna walk alone in the middle of the ring road at 2am ... and if anything happens to me ... the police are to blame" ... is that how it works? Our world hasn't become that safe as yet ... so until then, I strongly believe prevention is far more better than waiting for problems to happen.

Personally ... i don't see anything wrong with restrictions on closure timings of clubs and discotheques. The influences of an alien culture can never be held by force. The more force you apply, the more barriers it breaks to express itself. Perhaps, if those girls in Mangalore had been thrashed by their parents instead ... it would have been more appropriate. But again, its each person's way of thinking ... culture is customized to each person's thinking ... they and their parents are the best judge of what lifestlyle they need to lead ... no other person can ever have a right to decide my lifestyle. So, there is no iota of doubt that those people involved in this incident should be thrown behind the bars and the keys thrown into the sea. And as far as Times of India is concerned ... even though it remains my favorite paper ... it must be a paper that spreads rightful thoughts ... not act like an immature teenager who believes wearing torn jeans and wild nights are 'in' ... i have no clue what the other papers are reporting ... pretty much the same I guess in their desperate attempts to ape Times of India ... what do you think?

22 January 2009

The world just ceased to be safe. We have come to such an era that the number of mad people surpasses the number of normal ones ... now what is normal and what is not is questionable! Obviously, if the order of the day is being psychopathic ... does that not become normal?

The subject in discussion is this GRE friend of mine ... he who's name shall not be taken for security reasons ... as usual, my first impression of him was utterly falsified when i began unraveling his true nature. He seemed like one of those successful guys ... who had everything in them ... intelligence ... good looks ... perfect height ... good hairstyle (perhaps i'm discussing my anti-matter). He was the brightest boy in GRE's verbal section ... and he has the record of finishing the Quant problems the fastest. A perfect showcase piece. Yet, God was so unfair to this boy ... he gave him everything ... except a sound brain.

All of a sudden ... he decided to become a blogger! For no apparent reason. No themes ... no styles of writing ... no patterns ... he comes up with this horrible poem ... so horrible that his friends refuse to talk to him anymore ... he writes terrible articles (he even beats me in this fierce competition) ... his jokes are depressing ... the entire layout of his web page looks like the website of a touring circus ... he thinks he was an Albino assassin in his last life ... looks like he's just continued that way even now.

Now out of the blue ... he began targetting me ... and targetting Pittsburgh ... and the Steelers too. What did this poor city do to him? And what did the Steelers do? I bet you he can't even point to Pittsburgh on a world map. I knew engineering students were depressing people ... but he's lost it completely.

I urge all the citizens of the world to strongly protest against this arrogant behavior. Any Steeler fan reading this ... i can give you his phone number and contact details. The only way to avenge this insult is by reporting his wesbite to the appropriate authorities ... and then to keep visiting my blog so that i can generate revenue out of it which i can use to pay my sanitary bills. And girls ... beware ... don't fall for his looks ... he seems to have bipolar disorder ... final stage! If you want to know what i mean ... visit his blog at
http://missedcallfromiim.blogspot.com/ ... and dude, don't think this is marketing for you ... you can put another timer on your blog counting your final days :-)

19 January 2009

Pittsburgh Steelers win the AFC championship. Do i sound Greek? I understand very little about this game too ... but since this is something i need to be proud about ... and you need to be proud about since you are associated with me ... and hence with Pittsburgh ... here goes the story.

This Superbowl is like our cricket world cup ... but the sport involved is American football. Remember American football ... the game played only with hands and no feet involved ... something like the European rugby. So our team ... called the Pittsburgh Steelers (probably owing to Pittsburgh's steel industrial history) won the semi-final match. They beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-14 and continue as favorites. Steeler fans are known to be the craziest fans in the world ... if cricket is a religion in India ... NFL is a religion in Pittsburgh ... and the Steelers are one of the best teams with the strongest defense. There you are ... a little something to remember for the day!

A common question everyone asks me when i call someone back in India is ... apart from the usual stuff like how far the college is from home (most people naturally assume our college has a campus) ... or how I did in my exams (failing to realize that i have exams throughout the semester) ... or the number of places i have visited in America (financing my transportation is something they fail to mention) ... about my cooking! They do understand that to have survived for over 5 months ... I must have visited the kitchen atleast once in a while ... and hence are inquisitive to know details.

Simply put ... I have come to the stage of teaching mom a couple of new recipes. How does that sound? Too overconfident ... boastful ... arrogant? Maybe ... but you guys sound jealous. Kitchen is a chemical laboratory ... or so they say ... and my experiments began early August itself. American pizzas and burgers contain some ingredients that my intestines are unable to digest ... and hence ... me ... a true Brahmin boy ... like all other Brahmins who are born 'cooks' by instinct ... began the rituals and apparently succeeded at it. My room-mate's alive ... do you need any more proof?

Gojjavalakki ... Kesaribaath ... Bread Upma ... Sambar ... Chapathis ... Rasam ... Okra sabji ... carrot halwa ... coffee ... bread sandwich ... Avalakki ... Tomato Baath ... Jeera Rice ... Puliyogare ... you name it ... i got it! And mind you ... not all are ready-to-eat stuff. Sambar, Rasam, the side dishes, the rice items ... these are things i start from scratch. Ok ... i won't go to say that i'm this great cook and all ... but i can keep myself alive and healthy the next 5 years ... how does that sound?

Of course ... there were a few failed experiments ... the carrot halwa turned out into a mini-swimmig pool ... the chapathis once had turned so black that it looked darker than charcoal ... Bread upma looked more like Bannerghatta road the day it rains ... and the okra sabji was so hot that smoke and fire came out of all the 9 exit holes in my body. But the successes have overtaken the failures. Every great student has great teachers ... i have got 3 ... mom of course, who is the queen of cooking ... my sister in Dallas ... and my friend in Atlanta ... who kind of constantly give me new ideas ... and that's how i am able to fuel myself and survive this non-vegetarian country :-)

17 January 2009

I'm pretty sure i won't be time-traveling ... atleast in this life of mine ... and i don't even believe that i would be reborn again ... so in essence, i won't be time-traveling. Yet, the science of time travel is so fantastic ... so convincing ... and yet so bewildering ... that it blows you off totally! I was probably introduced to time travel by H G Well's novella 'The Time Machine'. It was one of those times ... i was young (i'm young now too ... only thing was, i was much much younger then) ... i was very impressionable ... and be it the Terminator series, or Back to the Future trilogy ... time travel was what i dwelt on.

My interests moved onto more saner topics like double murder mysteries ... genetic modifications leading to end of the world ... artificial intelligence taking over humans, and so on. Thankfully, or woefully, my cousin brother introduced me to 'Donnie Darko' ... and his journeys across time ... and lo and behold ... i was traveling again!

The argument i continuously have with my friends is something over the existence of fate ... destiny ... or whatever you name it ... i don't think it exists. I base my future on what i do today ... in essence, i control my future by altering the present. But what if you say, i was destined to make whatever choice i made? If i changed my choice, you can still say i was destined to make a change in my choice! Its simply an irrefutable argument. Donnie Darko deals with fate ... its said that every human being follows set patterns ... whatever he does during his existence is according to that pattern ... any changes he makes is still a part of that grand plan. But does it feel good to know that you hardly have any control over your life?

And then there's the paradox of time travel. The endless loop you put yourself in if you attempt to travel in time. If you go back in time and kill your mother before you are conceived, you think you have brought about a change in the pattern. But if you would not be born, you would also not travel back in time, and hence not kill your mother ... which means you will be born and will travel back into the past to kill your mother ... ad infinitum!

Donnie Darko is really a complicated movie ... the little you understand is not by watching the movie but by reading about it. The movie bombed at the box office but the amount of discussions it has given birth to is astounding.

There are many things that can be explained using the time-travel concept. Take, for example, the aspect of rebirths. Rebirths remember their past life ... it is said ... only because they existed in another universe ... a parallel universe if you may call it ... because they somehow managed to travel across the time barrier ... and when the time was reset and they took birth again ... they remembered certain events ... certain events that happened in the parallel universe. Sounds ludicrous? Anything beyond comprehension sounds stupid ... its man's way of seeing it ... that under our limitations ... we define what is Science and what is stupid. Something like believing that the sky should end somewhere ... its very unconvincing that the sky stretches across endlessly above ... there has to be an end somewhere ... that's our limitation ... what if there never was an end? Why do aliens always have to have eyes, limbs and a structure? What if they were just a spreading mass of gas? Why do we think aliens have to exist in the first place ... what if only the earth harbors life? Despite our limitations ... man's imagination stretches beyond infinitely ... that's where time-travel took birth ... !

Its time i wrote my will ... except that i have no property to distribute to anyone. I probably should spend the remaining of my days with my family ... except that i don't have 'my own' family ... my dad made sure that i never had 'my own' family ... i either belonged to his family or to my brother's family. Blogging is not the right thing to do when death stares into my eyes ... but i guess this is the only way people are gonna remember me long after i'm gone ... as the guy who drove everyone to their deaths until death itself drove him out of this world.

The above temperature that you see ... -18 degree Celsius for normal people and -1 degree Fahrenheit for Americans ... is probably the minimum that we had today. Morning ... at 10am ... when the sun was brightly shining outside ... it was -21 degree Celsius but feels like -31 degrees. The demon of death touched everyone with her icy fingers and it felt like even the Gods have given up on our planet.

Ok ... maybe this is too gibberish. But can you imagine what can be going through a guy from a city which has the best climate in the world? What can be going through his room mate who is from Chennai and never seen temperatures below 21 degrees? Frankly speaking ... nothing is going through us. We have lost it. Completely. Too much cold gets you ... or that's what they say. We had a mini snow fight even today ... even at a time when the Americans were suffering from runny noses and shivered as though they had just seen an SRK movie :-)

I don't really know what else to expect ... i have been thrown into a city which is not fit for civilization ... yet people live in harmony ... its said that there is unity in adversity ... its only at times of distress that people bond better ... this scenario is something like that ... nobody ever complains about the cold ... everyone knows its cold ... when a normal person takes fifteen minutes just to pee ... you don't have to specifically mention that its cold ... and behind the mist ... we can still see smiling faces ... faces which help us make it through the hard American winter!

13 January 2009

The fall season is really lovely in America! I'm not talking about the October fall season ... i'm talking about the Jan-Feb fall season. No ... don't break your head ... seasons aren't going topsy turvy here like the brains of these fellow Americans ... i just call Jan-Feb the fall season because that's when people slip and fall down on cold ice!

'S' decided to fall down the steps. And to add icing on the cake ... he fell on his face. Perfect landing. Ouch! Another 'S' decided to fall on her back and injure her neck. Almost got serious. So the season started. People falling in the bus stop ... near college ... on sidewalks ... on bridges ... even bathrooms are not being spared. Some guy in a bathroom at the library slipped and crashed right on the 'Caution: Wet floor' sign.

But i have to be different. Like everyone else. I decided to fall inside the bus. Perhaps one of the most safest of places where it is difficult to fall even if you want to. It was not just a fall ... i skated ... on my bottoms of course ... up till the driver. And i told him a 'thank you' sitting on the floor. But Americans are too nice to burst out laughing. The entire 20-odd people went with chorus "Awwwww" sounds. At the rate at which i am falling in love with every second American girl i meet ... and assuming that the bus had atleast 12 girls amongst the 20 ... i just lost 12 possible commitments forever. Makes no big deal in India but Pittsburgh population is shrinking ... so it IS a big deal.

Thus begins the fall season ... the most exciting American season. And the fall colors ... they are even more lovely. My cheeks were cherry red ... you had to see it!

11 January 2009

Probably even the Rajiv Gandhi family had not faced such number of assassination attempts. With the publication of every post of mine ... the closer i come to death! The number of hate-mails i have got ... the number of threats ... the number of people asking me to take them off my mailing list is increasing exponentially. Somehow ... people can't seem to digest the extent of exaggeration i prefer to do with my writing ... no wonder most of my sent mails bounce off because of their spam filters. So i have devised a cunning plan in this shrewd brain of mine ... if you want yourself off my blog mailing list ... if you want to stop receiving any such mails in the future ... just send me a mail with the word 'unsubscribe' either in the subject line or in the mail itself ... and magically ... it will work for you ... because i ... the blogger ... will rid you of my tortures. I have statistically determined that 98% of people who read my blog are jobless and lazy (that's why they are reading this anyway) ... so its just the 2% whom i'm gonna lose. And moreover, i'd call those 2% people frightfully jealous ... because they cannot digest the fact that i am slowly turning out into a fantastic writer comparable to the likes of Shakespeare and Wordsworth ... and the 'blogger of the century' award will surely be mine. Anyway ... since i am always a profound believer in humanity and peace ... i will grant you one wish this new year ... you'll receive lesser number of blog update mails from my side ... the articles will keep coming in ... you will just get to know about it once in a while. And finally i end with the suggestion of the day - Do not believe in all that 'one house one child' crap ... its just America's attempt to control ousourcing by tactically shrinking India's population ... have more kids so that they too can read my blog. Thank You and have a great New Year 2009!

Here's a scenario: what do you get when you combine America + sunshine + a shimmering lake right in front of your house + amazingly delicious food + 2 extremely entertaining kids for company + a cute li'lle birdie to play with when you get tired of the kids + family atmosphere + waking up at 12pm in the afternoon + watching 2-3 movies everyday?

I think i just gave you the definition of heaven. And if you are searching for hell ... go nowhere apart from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ... coz its the capital of Hell State. Ok ... it does not really mean i don't like Pittsburgh ... its undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and photogenic cities in the world ... its just that its a 'little' colder than the north pole ... and every attempt to reach college in the morning is a 'little' worse than climbing Mount Everest in a blizzard.

But come christmas ... and i had different plans. I was set out to make a journey to a place where sun shines even during winter ... Dallas, TX! The sun shines ... 'what big deal is that' you ask right? We tend to call Pittsburgh an infertile city ... coz its got no son (sun, actually) ... its a joke ... get it? A joke ... ha ha ha ! Awww ... forget it !

So my 14 days including Christmas and New Year's were to be spent at my sister's and cousin's place in Dallas ... spent in watching movies ... outings ... restaurants ... eating ... more eating ... and playing with the kids of course. Let me introduce the characters ... Shreya of course ... i don't know whether she runs on batteries ... or her source of energy is something different from ours ... or she's always connected to an AC outlet ... but she's hyper ... her day starts from jumping on the bed ... and her jumping continues throughout the morning ... noon ... evening ... dusk ... night ... and when midnight hits ... she shrinks into a tiny little sparrow and drowns into a deep slumber ... and morning ... the routine starts again. The elder sister Sneha is more somber ... currently a 'Twilight' fan ... she's read more Stephenie Meyer novels than what Stephenie has read herself!

My sister ... she's the Hermione of the house ... creates magic with her wand (or spoon or whatever) and prepares amazingly tasty food! And my cousin ... he opens up a Dallas tourism page every morning and starts marking off all the places he wants to take me to ... making my stay there memorable!

This post begins from where the previous post ends ... where i was shedding my previous confused, lost, lonely attributes as the circle of time rolled over. The happiness that one gets when standing atop Empire State Building looking at the New York skyline is very little when compared to events like 5 people sitting on a single couch ... munching good food and watching an animated movie ... happiness comes from the simplest of sources ... thats one of the most important things i genuinely began to believe when i came here.

More than 24 jamoons must have bounced into my tummy ... atleast 20 Badam burfis have made their way into my digestive system ... and combine these with poori-saagu ... chapatis ... muffins ... pancakes ... raagi balls ... brownies ... chaats ... idlis ... dosas ... sambhar ... samosas ... chips ... bean soup ... and the list goes on! There was even a diarrhea-medicine ready in case my digestive machines over-heated because of the excess pressure.

And then there were the restaurants ... Rainforest Cafe ... Denny's ... Burger King ... Taj Chaats ... Five Guys ... Marble Slab ... and the places ... Galleria Mall ... Grapevine Mall ... AMC 30 ... Ripley's Believe it or Not ... Louis Tussaud's Wax Museum ... J F Kennedy's Museum ... Mirror Maze ... Grapevine Lake ... Ice sculpture exhibition ... Texas downtown ... ice skating at Galleria ... University of Texas at Dallas ... temples ... and finally the New Year's party.

But the part i most enjoyed was with the kids ... Shreya's laughter and Sneha's books ... that's where i read Twilight and watched it too ... its hard to imagine that i have to be satisfied by just hearing their voices on phone for maybe a long long time. The 14 days flew past so quickly ... and returning back home to Pittsburgh was much like leaving Bangalore ... it took atleast 4 days for me to get out of homesickness. Anyway ... it was a memorable vacation ... and if you want to get to know of it better ... visit this link for pictures:

There are nearly 500 photos ... including some new pictures and videos that i have uploaded. Look at 'em only when you have time ... when you are lazy and jobless ... like when you are at office! Don't forget to read the captions.