Monday, December 13, 2010

Where do you keep your heart?

Do you remember this audacious song - with Madhuri in a backless choli?? Recollect the controversy it generated? Seems so tame and ludicrous compared to the stuff we see today...



However the song I really liked was this one:



A real pity the great showman Subash Ghai resorted to an insipid "Black and White". Should have stuck to the genre and style that he is best at.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sticks and Stones and Alligators

When we were little kids we would play "Pat-A-Cake" to this song:

Miss Lucy had a baby
She named him Tiny Tim
She put him in the bathtub
To see if he could swim.
He drank up all the water
He ate up all the soap
He tried to eat the bathtub
But it wouldn't fit
Down his throat.
Miss Lucy called the doctor
The Doctor call the nurse
The Nurse called the lady
With the alligator purse.
In walked the doctor.
In walked the nurse
In walked the lady
With the alligator purse.
"Measles," said the doctor.
"Mumps," said the nurse.
"Nothing," said the lady
With the alligator purse.

Now - I always visualized this lady with a real alligator that she used as a purse! In my imagination the alligator had a pouch to keep the lady's stuff - but it's mouth was kept tightly belted up. (I know --- I know I should have been certified long ago). I always imagined how the lady had to be careful not to get the alligator near the baby...

For some strange reason we never sang the last part of the song - I just found it today when I googled for the song...

Miss Lucy kicked the doctor.
Miss Lucy kicked the nurse.
Miss Lucy paid the lady
With the alligator purse!

Another game we played was "Five Stones". You had five small smooth pebbles. They were scattered on the ground, then you picked up one pebble. That pebble was thrown in the air and you simultaneously picked up another pebble from the ground and then caught the pebble you had thrown in the air. You repeated this. There were a lot of additional complications as the game progressed. I was very bad at this game and always admired J as she deftly threw and caught the pebbles. Years later J tells me that she used to envy watching my "long, artistic fingers"!!

The boys on the other hand used to play "gilli-danda" - it's a wonder that no-one sustained any injuries - especially getting hit in the eye - with these lethal, sharpened sticks.

Another favourite - was "Seven Seas". A tennis ball was thrown against the wall and you caught it when it bounced back. You had to do this seven times. Six times- but allow the ball to bounce on the ground first, five bounces on the ground, four times with a clap, three times with a clap both in front and behind you, twice with touching the ground and once where you turned a full circle before catching the ball. I always fumbled with "5".

Now a days I see kids with all the professional equipment (basket ball hoops to name one) - or hunched over their I-pods or in front of the X-Box/Nintendo - and wonder... sure they are having fun ... but somehow not with quite the same magic...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Theme Music...

Some of my favourite pieces in no particular order...



This one continues to be a classic - hard to beat Henry Mancini ...



Kind of hard to associate - this essentially romantic piece with the Mafia - right?



Yes - I am a big fan of Henry Mancini - here's another iconic tune...Lara's theme from Doctor Zhivago...



And I really liked what they did with "Superman"



Last but not the least in keeping with the "Deathly Hallows"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ladies with Lamps



Was going through a book of Ravi Varma's paintings. He was an incredibly talented painter - no doubt about that.

Sometime later I was doing some research on Florence Nightingale and look what I found.

(Images are obviously courtesy Google.)

Sometimes coincidences are not as simple - they can be quite freaky.

One of my best friend's name is Sandy. My cousin called to find out if his little son and wife (also Sandy) who was pregnant at that time had reached our place. She was visiting us en route to India. My cousin couldn't get hold of me at home and had tried the office where he got hold of Sandy (I must have been at a meeting or something). He was naturally worried since he hadn't heard from us and was not sure whether my friend could be trusted to take the message. But Sandy reassured him by telling him her name was also Sandy and that her then spouse's name happened to be the same as that of his son and that Sandy and I were very good friends. All was well. Years later my friend Sandy finally had a little son too - she named him Dhruv. I hardly need tell you that my cousin had named their second son Dhruv too!






Thursday, October 7, 2010

Overheard: Snippets of one-sided cellphone conversations

..and no I was not intentionally eavesdropping.

Man in Smart Navy Suit: "...and I met this guy - Martin Hammon at a conference in Halifax. He was telling me something really incredible..."

Guy in geeky glasses on subway: "...and the front of the card said where do you want to go. And when you open it voila - were the tickets to..."

Girl with streaked hair: "Um! Uh Huh! Okay. Gotcha. Okay. Okay. That sounds fine. Oh! Any time is good for me. Oh! My God! You actually invited Janice and Steven, you know what they did the last time..."

Asian Man with owlish glasses,' Kagaa songa longa na...." [at least that's what it sounded like].

What did you hear today?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Those who come in late...

Haven't blogged in a long while - what with work - and baseball practice and tryouts - okay okay I can go on with a list of excuses!

Just finished reading the "Millennium" series - of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame.

***Some minor spoilers ahead.***

Considering all the hype it generated I was expecting a nice and intelligent murder mystery. Instead it turned out to be a re-hash of psycho novels. I remember reading (I think it was an Arthur Hailey) book that had a similar series of murders where the victims were murdered based on some Biblical associations. I also didn't like that the entire detecting was based on a set of photographs - it was cool to start with but when you keep re-hashing the same thing - well it does get annoying. The hacker's skills were bordering on unbelievable.

Also I find Larsson (the author) tries to come up with some really weird relationships - I have heard the Swedish are quite open-minded but ... And his gay relationships have a sense of unease about them - not presented naturally at all - as my colleague S remarked "Dostana" does it better!

Everything does get tied up in the end in a really neat bundle - I have no gripes about that - coz most of the time I really hate movies or books that don't have a satisfying denouement!

I also read Sister of My Heart a novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. What was that crazy search for the rubies all about??? Jeez after that why bother trying to force realism into the story!! If you've read it - do let me know what you think.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Na-irish Wedding

When pretty Irish lass Moll met handsome Mallu Debonair - the sparks flew and successfully blazed into a wedding proposal. Moll was totally thrilled - having devoured all those enchanting colorful Bollywood wedding scenes she eagerly agreed to a wedding in Debo's (well actually God's) own Kerala.

Apparently Moll ought to have read Neoindian's advice and KA's notes in this blog post - but no-one was around to point her in the right direction. You see Debo's parents put on an act in front of all the relatives that they were deeply upset with Debo's choice but deep down were extremely thrilled that Debo had snagged a Gori wife. So Debo was busy mock defending his choice that he had no time to really explain to Moll what the wedding ceremony was really going to be like.

The date rolled around and a jet lagged Moll and family landed in Kerala. Moll was horrified to discover she had to wear a plain white saree with a thin gold edge. (What ever happened to the gorgeous worked lehengas and stunning red bridal veil?). She was cajoled into wearing some ancient pieces of jewellery (hand-me-downs from Grandma and Great-Grandma). The only consolation was someone came around and applied mehndi (henna decorations) on her hands and legs the previous day.

The wedding ceremony itself was in her words "over in the blink of an eye". No dashing Bharaat procession on a horse, no wailing shehnai (musical instrument generally played at weddings). One discerning cousin made up a little bit. For the reception she got Moll a gorgeous lehenga and organized an impromptu song and dance session of the latest Bollywood hits.

Moll eventually made up for all this. She got her parents to organize a most elegant and sophisticated Church wedding back on home turf (New York) complete with bridesmaids and a horse-drawn carriage. The reception was at her Grandparent's home in the country - the barn was decorated very prettily done up, as were the dinner tables with matching candles and napkins and what-not!

[Nairs are a caste that hail from the state of Kerala in India. Apparently a traditional Nair wedding is a very simple and short ceremony - with the Groom tying a "thali" (wedding chain) around the bride. It is not as long nor does it involve a host of complicated rituals as in some other community weddings from different regions around India.]

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Your Degree of "Coconutness"


Or you know you are an NRI when...

You are watching some random Hindi program on ATN and suddenly someone is shouting:

"UNTH-OH-KNEE! UNTH-OH-KNEE" . Your brain starts scanning your limited repertoire of Hindi vocabulary and nothing matches.

A few scenes later you realize the guy was actually yelling out to Antony (ANT-O-NEE).

And no - it was not from this classic...



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Recollections of a Sunday Afternoon - a Long Time Ago

One Sunday afternoon - we gathered around the TV to watch "Sindhu Bhairavi". It's about a carnatic musician. (As usual I refer you to the indomitable Uttara for a deeper insight into carnatic music).

One of my uncles - the King of Kuchbinahi - ha therein lies a story so let me explain that before I continue. When I was in Kindergarten that uncle of mine solemnly told me that he was actually a King in disguise and I was never ever to reveal that secret. Naive little me swallowed hook-line-and-sinker and was told that the said Uncle's Kingdom was Kuch-Bhi-Nahin - that for my non-Hindi speaking readers means nothing, nada, zilch!!

Anyway my dear uncle began grumbling about how Carnatic music was meant for a certain mood and time and could not be enjoyed like pop-music when co-incidentally the very same thing began happening in the movie...


(Notes for V, R and S (and others who may not have understood) - A famous carnatic singer sings a pure classical song when the lady (actress by name of Suhasini) - dares to ask him something on the lines of why he cannot introduce popular songs interspersed with classical songs too - and also why not explain the classical songs. This argument ends up in the singer asking Suhasini to demo by singing - which she does - and therein validates all points in her argument that "regular" songs also have a raaga, thalam etc.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Twist in the Tale

Haven't seen it - but I've heard that "Sixth Sense" has a perfect, elegant and most important - a satisfying twist in the tale.

Now coming to "Memento" - the movie was presented in a unique style - that was also quite fine - but leaves you feeling a wee bit disconnected - you are not sure that the conclusion is right and I don't like that.

And Nolan's recent "Inception" - there was no need for that kind of ending. I don't want to add spoilers here - but you will know what I mean if you have seen the movie.

Last but not the least, while I can easily forgive Memento and Inception - simply because of the brilliant concepts they present I cannot say the same of "Duplicity" . In the end the one who is duped is the viewer. It seemed to be a case of the director trying to be too clever - and Julia Roberts (for all her so-called charm) irritated me to the core as did Clive Owen who seemed to think his role in there was to just look smug. A pity that for he was quite good in "Inside Man".

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Raise your hands all of ye who...

Hate drinking refrigerated water

I absolutely hate drinking icy cold water even on the hottest summer day. I like the water to be at room temperature. Especially when you are thirsty and like to go, "Glug, Glug, Glug!".

Hate Static Shocks

I can bear the freezing cold, the slippery sidewalks and the mounds of snow that need to be shovelled in winter. What I cannot abide are the static shocks. Does anyone know of a remedy for this?

Hate people bragging about when they got a "first rank" in College/School etc.

I know a lady who is close to sixty. Now I am not being discriminatory here - one day I too will reach that age and I only hope that I will be as spry and smart as her. But what put me off was her bragging about how when she was in school she did soooooo well at math that she was one of the five in a hundred that got selected to pursue Computer programming. Do you even remember your grades in School/College?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It's all in the presentation...

Which movie did you find more sickening "Silence of the Lambs" or "Mystic River"?

On the surface - "Silence" is about a totally deranged psycopath who is also a cannibal and there is another equally depraved psycho thrown into the mix.

"Mystic" on the other hand (Oscar winner) is an ordinary story of people whose lives go awry owing to a number of circumstances.

Mind you I haven't seen "Silence" - except in random snatches when channel browising - but I have seen enough to piece the story together.

In my opinion "Mystic" is the movie that makes you feel sick and makes you want to rush to the shower - I was never able to like Sean Penn after that movie.

It's like when you see violence in a James Bond movie - it doesn't really register - but in some other instances - the violence is presented in such a gory way - that you'll think about it long after.

What's your take on this?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ninnu Kori

After "Agninakshatram", "Mohanam" raaga gained immense popularity on account of "Ninnu Kori". I will not get into the details the how, what and where of raaga - simply because Uttara has done such a fabulous job - and any of my explanations would pale in comparison.

Listen to Ninnu Kori from U Srinivas of the Mandolin fame. This one is my personal favourite when it comes to rendition of Mohanam. (You must have either Real Player or Windows Media Player to listen to this - it will pop up in a new window.)

Here's the song from the movie.


... and last but not least Raag Bhupali the equivalent of Mohanam.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Quaint Words

Huzoor
Ever since I left India I haven't heard this word. Actually I doubt it's used in everyday conversation coz as far as I know its an über polite way of saying "Mister" and a Urdu speaking acquaintance told me that it means "My Lord". However, I do fondly remember the "Arey Huzoor - Wah Taj boliyae!"




absquatulate
I guess this word would appear only in Spelling Bees. It means to abscond or depart suddenly. However, this long winded convoluted word just doesn't give that impression does it?

quotidian
Would you say to someone - "Now describe your quotidian routine?" -Ah! I thought not. This one apparently means "Of or occurring every day; daily."

Now prepare to read this sentence and gag... (don't say you weren't warned!)

"Arey Huzoor - why do you absquatulate at 3 on a quotidian basis?"

Now for the last one:

maragatham
This one means emerald in Tamil. For the longest time ever we just referred to a friend of my mom's as "aunty". Then we found out her name was Maragatham and compared to the Saroja, Puspha, Gayatri and even Thangam (meaning gold) - the Maragatham stood out as something unusual.

What quaint words did you come across today?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

These are a few of my favourite...


Movies.




Witness (1985)


The first thing that hits you is the music – haunting and evocative and just so right. Even if the visuals were not before you – you can just about imagine the breeze rippling though the fields and watch the quaint beauty of the Lancaster countryside slowly unfold. The violent deaths in the movie are presented in such a matter-of-fact manner – that it just feels natural - not gory and shocking. What a poignant love story – even though Ford and McGillis never get together – there is surprisingly a “happily ever after” feel to it.



DDLJ
Maybe SRK can’t act – but he emanates such warmth and charm that more than makes up for his hamming. Then, there’s over the top Amrish Puri – he never could let go of the Mugambo look – but I really liked his feeding the pigeons both in gloomy London and in the golden fields of Punjab. The songs - most are on my all time favs too – and I loved the choreography. I simply couldn’t understand how the man who made such an endearing movie could come up with an audacious “Rab Ne Bana De Jodi” - so mediocre – not to mention the lame Clark Kent-Superman plot!



Salangai Oli
That man can bend his body – Kamal’s dancing is awesome. I liked the way Sarath Babu wears a traditional dhoti throughout the movie and is so comfortable in it. I doubt anyone will ever forget the “Pancha Bhootam” scene. Other memorable scenes include his mother’s death and his protecting Jayapradha’s “bindi” from rain. I did like the cheesy “The End” – “There is no End to Art” too! What a movie!



Kate and Leopold

And this is on the list …because of my fascination with time travel. Otherwise come to think of it – it’s very ordinary. But Hugh Jackman can act a period role to perfection – I would love to see him as Darcy.

Pride and Prejudice
Talking of Darcy, I first watched the BBC production with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle – it was well-made and then along came Keira Knightley. Her portrayal of Lizzie is stunning – she makes Jennifer Ehle look old and boring. The scene where Darcy proposes in the rain was a nice bit of screenplay. The new Pemberly was much better than the BBC one – the BBC one looked like a deserted museum than a stately house. I preferred BBC’s Catherine De Brough to Judi Dench though. Talking of Judi Dench – Jane from the BBC production has acted as Lady Harriet in “Wives and Daughters” where she spots a most unbecoming Jude Dench like hairstyle.

Mounaraagam

Here too, I really can not understand how a man who made a film that elicited such superb understated performances from Mohan and Revathi could go and make a movie like “Guru” and "Ravan"! The house in Delhi was utterly charming with elegant interiors. One had gotten so used to seeing Mohan in his soppy singer roles – it was totally refreshing to see him in a non-stereotype role. You can see extensions of this movie’s theme in “Roja” and “Alai Payuthae”.

The Secret of My Success

Our offspring will probably never get the concept of a mail-room and printed memos. I loved the, ”You don’t consort with the suits.”

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rajanikanth Revisited

OK - it's hard to grow up in Tamil Nadu and not be exposed to the phenomena that is Rajani! BTW - my uncles used to know him in his Shivaji (Rao Gaekwad) days - just before he became a bus conductor...

Somehow its hard to associate Rajani with this sentimental song... love SPB's rendition. (Yep I am an unabashed SPB fan...)



...what did you think of his "top knot" in this magnificent song from Thalapathi?



...and I will never forget this song - my first ever intro to a classic Rajani film...



...and a long time ago in a land far away we were taken to see this movie as a exeat during a long weekend..

Monday, June 28, 2010

Of Guests and Challenges...

Its’ nothing to do with the unwelcome folks who come visiting or the horrors of what to cook for fussy Aunt Petunia who is part diabetic, part hypertensive and part susceptible to major allergic reactions (all in her hypochondriac mind). Nothing to do with a friend’s terrifying monster (“just hyper active darling – he’ll outgrow that stage”) who will leave your house looking like a horde of monkeys have ransacked it. What it is about is for want of a better phrase is “imposter perfumes” – read on…

I went into one of those “Discount” perfume stores that sell designer brands for less. Firstly the store itself was so depressing – filthy lino floors, dull lighting and rows of cheap shelves and glass cabinets packed to the brim with cheap perfumes. The interior of the store was crammed with tables sporting dusty white tablecloths on the tops of which were heaped monstrous handbags with colors and designs that were probably made with Medusa in mind. On top of that was the blaring, discordant music that even I (kinda deaf) found loud!

What caught my eye was the prominently placed “Challenge No. 5” and “Guest”. Fan of Calving Kleen? You could go for “Escapades” or “Enter City”. Is “Empire Armani” more your style or would you rather go with “Blue for Men” – a blatant copy of “Jean Paul Gaultier”? Jump through the “Hoop” for “Joop” and notice it’s “J. Adore” not “J’dore”.

Would I recommend your buying any of this? Most certainly A) if you want to expose yourself to dubious chemicals and B) you want to chase out uninvited guests with some strange and terrible scents!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Overheard in a "Steel Kadai" in Bangalore

This one was one of those quaint little shops whose shelves were
crammed with stainless steel pots and pans, plates and glasses, idli
stands, pressure cookers and the ubiquitous Corelle tea-sets. Steel
buckets and some large drums were crammed at the entrance and rows of
shinning ladles of assorted shapes and sizes were bunched together on
the sides of the shelves with coir ropes. Also crammed into the shop
were the Proprietor and his two assistants as well as a young boy of
about 11 or 12 who served as a general dogs body.

The proprietor had shiny obviously dyed hair slicked down with copious
amounts of coconut oil. He was dressed in a white shirt and a equally
pristine white dhoti. He had just finished sticking agarbathi sticks
into a bunch of bananas on a little ledge that held a idol of Ganesha
and a garlanded photograph of his deceased father when I walked in to
buy an idli stand.

As I stood waiting for one of the assistants to unearth the elusive
stand in the size I was looking for, I saw a middle-aged lady walk in
with a tall girl.

Proprietor to Lady: Vanakkam …Soukiyama? {Welcome and How do you Do?}

Lady: Vanakkam Saar … (pushing the girl forward) – idho ival namma
pona wala mara magazh ( Let me introduce you to my future
daughter-in-law)

Proprietor: Romba Santosham…neenga yaar uda “would-be” – US le irraka
paiyyana? {That’s great …are you the US guy’s intended?}

Lady: Illae…illae … avan chinnava … ippotha padikirthiku poi
irrakaan. Ival naama Ravi --- adho UK le irukanae ---avanwuda Mrs.
{No, no the US guy is too young he has just started studying there.
This girl is for our Ravi who is in the UK}

Proprietor: Adhu seri? Kalayan yeppo vechirkeengo? {Oh I see.
When’s the wedding?}

Lady: Aduthu maasam… appotha Ravi ki leave kadikirithu. 17th vara
pora – kalayano – 23rd – choultry kadikilae athanala Gateway hotel le
arrange pannirko. { Next month coz that’s when Ravi will get leave.
He’s arriving on 17th and the wedding will be on 23rd. We couldn’t
get a Banquet Hall at such short notice and therefore the wedding will
be at the Gateway hotel}

Proprietor: Very good. Romba Santosham (to girl) Unga pear yenna ma?
Bangalore karan ah? { That’s great …what’ s your name? Are you from
Bangalore as well?}

Girl: Naan Vaishali ... namba yella Chennai karan…nethuktha ingae
vande. { I’m Vaishali, we are from Madras – I just came in last
night}

Proprietor: (Before he can stop himself) – Aiyo --- kalyanathaku
munnadiyae mamiyaar veetlae thangirkeengla. {What the… you are
already living with your in-laws even before you are married?}
(suddenly realizing he sounds so crude) – Excellent, excellent – athu
seri neenga yenna padchitirkeengu? {Excellent, excellent – what have
you studied?}

Girl: Naan engineer.

Proprietor (with a knowing grin) – ah Software ah?

Girl: Illae – Civil.

Proprietor: (grin replaced with a puzzled look) – Appo Raviyoo Civil
thane? {Is Ravi a Civil engineer too?)

Girl: Illae – avar MBA pannikara – ippo periya Financial companylae
valae paathitirkaaru. (No, he’s completed his MBA and is currently
working with a reputed Financial firm)

At that point my own idli stand was finally found and I was forced to
tear myself away and focus on business at hand. I did manage to hear
some stuff in between that told me the girl had come to buy some
tumblers (glasses) and they spent a long time in making their
selection. By then my transaction was complete and I walked away with
this little episode etched in my memory.

Out here if I wanted to buy some crockery I would head to some
soulless chain store, pick out what ever is placed on the shelf with
no friendly salesman to discuss the merits of “it may have a nice
design but the steel is low-grade” or “that set is excellent and our
overseas customers have no problems putting it in the dishwasher”. If
I am not happy with my purchase I can always return it to the grumpy
looking customer service rep with an attitude to match. She couldn’t
care less whose marmagazh I was unless of course I happened to be
Jennifer Aniston!

Notes:

1) The "steel kadai" is a mom and pop store that stocks and sells stainless steel utensils, cutlery and crockery

2) Tradition dictates that a bride-to-be may not enter or step into her in-law's house until the wedding ceremony is over. In fact there is a special ceremony to welcome the newly wed into her new house. A few generations ago - the date and time of the bride entering the house used to be picked out some 15 to 20 days after the wedding ceremony!!

3) Hopefully my "Tamil" rendering makes sense - methinks it may be slightly better than Aishwarya mouthing dialogues in "Raavannan" - lets wait and see.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Malfoy, Weasley and the Diamond


It’s the calls of “good eye”, “good swing buddy” interspersed with
shouts of “Tag him; TAG HIM”. It’s scents of newly mown grass that
suddenly steal up your nose as you set your canvas chair down. It’s
the sight of the little players carefully hanging their bags up like
seasoned professionals. It’s when you have to do laundry every night
as the uniform is needed every other day. Welcome to little league
baseball season.

Even before you say “But Quidditch wasn’t even remotely inspired by
baseball,” let me hasten to explain.

For the last three summers we have been regularly taking the little
tyke to baseball practice and the house league games. Therein we came
across “Malfoy” a name I assign to a arrogant parent. Cold and aloof
he seems barely acknowledges any of the other parents and yes he seems
to be sufficiently rich too! And he does have whitish blond hair and
the kid is a kind of a bully. Now you know where the Weasely comes
from – a nice set of warm and friendly parents except they don’t have
red hair.

When we first came to this country we were absolutely clueless about
baseball. We thought we would be able get the game since we come from
a cricket crazy country – but that didn’t quite pan out! In fact when
I took the tyke to a game at the stadium – he was most excitedly
watching what I term “non-action” below – while I happily had a good
snooze - that I was suddenly snapped out of when someone hit a
home-run and the stadium erupted into wild cheers. I suspect I must
have given some die-hard baseball fans quite a complex that afternoon!

The tyke of course can reel off all the rules in his sleep. He went to
a game last weekend in a picturesque little town surrounded by
beautiful farmland. We had delicious home-made ice-cream from one of
the shops on the quaint street and the next day while waiting for the
game to start, spent the morning keeping warm and cozy in a little
coffee shop as the inclement weather outside was, brrrrrishly cold
and inhospitable. Tyke’s team won the tournament in a set of
well-played matches as all teams were equally good.

Tonight will be a flood-lit match and Tyke’s casting anxious glances
at the grey sky praying there’ll be no lightening! (For the
uninitiated coz of the metal bats and the metal protective fences
around the baseball pitch – no-one plays baseball in a thunderstorm
except of course the infamous Vampires from Twilight!)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

...and they lived happily ever after


When my mom was married it was a lavish affair and the wedding was the talk of the town for months to come. My Grandpa was quite a prominent person in his locality and though a wealthy man was prudent with his spending - except for the wedding - and he did that because that was the norm and that was what was expected.

A generation down the line my own wedding was a quiet little affair - a simple ceremony in the local temple followed by a reception at a modest hotel. The menu was traditional and the guests got a rosebud or two and the "tamboolam".

Of late the weddings I have attended seem to only get glitzier and more swanky. Professional decorators dazzle the eye. The wedding buffet includes everything from Chinese to Italian to the chef frying up hot dosas of a griddle not to mention an array of desserts and sweets. Guests are assured of a professionally done up goody bag with perfumes for the ladies and perhaps digital diaries or silk ties for the men and age-appropriate toys for the kiddos.

Recently a colleague of mine told me all about the tantrums her daughter has been throwing to ensure she gets the perfect wedding. The money she has spent on her wedding dress would happily keep 2 families fed for a month!

Don't get me wrong - if you have the money and the energy - by all means it is your wedding so go ahead and celebrate how you deem fit. But what I see is that there is so much of emphasis on the clothes, make-up, catering and arrangements the real ceremony seems to be of the least importance when ironically that is what the wedding is supposed to be about!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hackneyed --- but so what?

"Monsoon Wedding" was a delightful movie - despite its expected plot and theme. I wonder why Vasundara Das gave up acting - she really had potential. Loved the way the songs were used. Enjoy these two... which songs did you like? What's your take on the movie?

The Original:


In the movie:



And one of those delightful old numbers:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Amway and the Ghost to Ghost Hookup

Behold ye FOB lurking in the aisles of the desi grocery store – there approaches your friendly neighbourhood Amway Salesperson. Before long you are befriended and brainwashed into attending a meeting where you are shown the path to becoming richer than Bill Gates/Croseus and invariably dropped like a hot-brick when you don’t sign up.

Amway and the other zillions of these Network Marketing schemes brings to mind the “Ghost-to-Ghost Hookup” devised by The Three Investigators. The Three Investigators is a series of books featuring amateur sleuths Jupiter Jones, Peter Crenshaw and Bob Andrews. The series was first published (in the 60s) as “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators” (where the detective team is supposedly introduced by Alfred in a bid by author Rober Arthur to gain attention/publicity). The boys live in Southern California and have won the use of a gold-plated Rolls Royce for 30 days (later a grateful client provides for the team to use the Rolls when ever they require).
The use of the “Ghost to Ghost Hookup" originates when they realize the persons most observant about the happenings around them are kids. The concept is simple: each person is asked to call up five of his/her friends to either pass on some information or request some similar information and each of those friends in turn call up five of their friends and so on. Do the math – 5 times 5 is 25, 25 times 5 is 125, 125 times 5 is…No wonder all the phone lines in the State seem to have gotten busy.
For those who haven’t read the books they bear intriguing titles like “Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot”; “Mystery of the Talking Skull”: “Laughing Shadow”; “Screaming Clock” and so on.
Jupiter Jones is a little like Fatty from Enid Blyton’s “Five Find Outers” series – a little on the plump side but extremely intelligent with his brains appearing to literally whirr when ever he puts his thinking cap on.

In "Mystery of the Whispering Mummy" - was most amused to see refernces to a Lord Carter - AFAIK - it was Lord Carnarvon who funded the discovery of King Tut's tomb and Howard Carter the archeologist who discovered. Was Carter knighted subsequently?

Recently re-read “Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot” and found a bunch of extremely lucky but totally unbelievable co-incidences that move the story along. Never noticed these as a kid.

Sigh! Age does that to you!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Puppets vs Puppets


Searching for something on youtube I came across an old pop song - Falguni Pathak's "Maine Payal Hai Chankaye" - I found the choregraphy cute. I wish they had used some cuter puppets though......remember the puppets from "The Sound of Music"?

Aaarrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhh...

"Chit Chor" was such a pleasant movie and its songs continue to be evergreen favorites. Zarina Wahab, Amol Palekar and Vijayendra Ghatge threw in such delightful performances - Zarina Wahab was reminiscent of Jaya Bahdhuri (does anyone know if she deliberately copied her style?) Ofcourse Yesudas's singing had a tinge of the non-Hindi accent - but the melody more than made up for that.

Now for the "aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrghhh" part - I was given a movie "My Pyaar Ka Deewani Hoon" - starring Hrithik, Kareena and Abishek. Yes, people a parody of "Chit Chor" -it would be too demeaning to call it a "remake". As such I don't much care for dear Kareena - but even given this bias - I could find nothing to applaud. Then I thought atleast Hrithik would be the saving grace - but with the talking parrot that "reels" off names of movies and the quasi-animated dog...and not to mention the mother's demo on how to smile and simper...I just about managed to keep from barfing.

Couldn't watch it through till the end... What's your take on this one (if you managed to watch it?)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

...to all ye impatient drivers wanting to turn right...


I maybe deaf - but I aint blind. I can see cars approaching from the opposite side. I prefer to wait till they pass because I haven't yet quite learnt the 007 methods of maneuvering the car at high speeds. What's your hurry anyway that you can't wait at the most 2-3 minutes?

Also to drivers tailing my car doing a 65 in a 50 zone. Too bad I am not changing my lane. I do sound like a pious goody two shoes sticking to speed limits don't I? Like I said - too bad - I aint experimenting!

Aside: Yep people I am partially deaf --- and for anyone who is hard of hearing - I urge you to get tested and if it works for you get fitted with hearing aids - they are worth it.

(My mom was nagging the husb to get me a pair of solitaires - husb winked and said he'd gotten me something more expensive! LOL)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Down Memory Lane with The 3 Idiots

"3 Idiots" was totally entertaining...BUT... why did they have to use all those old gags from Readers Digest and the internet. I'm sure the scriptwriters are more talented than that...

Anyways this movie got us talking about our own college days and all the things we did that in retrospect seem so silly and immature ...but I guess that's what's growing up is all about.

Incidentally talking about pranks I thoroughly enjoyed the ones in "Surely You Are Joking Mr. Feynman" - yep it's the book by the Nobel prize winning physicist...

We had this Math Professor in Univ. He was referred to as “Rigor Mortis” (RM) on account of the absolutely stiff manner in which he placed his arms beside his torso, the robot-like gait and the mechanical movements he made when picking up the chalk to write on the board.

Now I don’t remember what exactly he taught us but I do remember each of the math problems invariably started with the statement “Let P be the any point…” with strong emphasis on the ungrammatical “the” – like he was mad it was an arbitrary point and ought to have been pinned to a specific place.

He was not in the least bit partial to our set – did I mention that we were not exactly in the category of, to use an RMism - “studious students” . Besides we converted all his complex differential equations to simple algebraic expressions and had them solved, while the rest of the class was figuring out exactly where to place “P”.

One fine day we walked into the classroom and found some gorgeous diagrams of some rare fungi or bacteria or some such biological being. The drawings were painstakingly done in different colored chalks and illustrated with a military precision. Apparently the botany students had just finished a class there. In a trice V picked up a chalk and wrote on the board in a mature hand “PLEASE DO NOT ERASE – DIAGRAMS NEEDED FOR NEXT CLASS”. Then we snuck out of the window and sauntered in deliberately late. Dear RM was devastated by not having any space to write his beloved equations and had to let us off from class that period.

RM quickly learnt the Botany Prof. was a descendant of Da Vinci and could draw diagrams in his sleep and would never request the blackboard not be cleaned. RM said nothing to us but came up with a really nasty surprise test that would have even Einstein sweating. The irrepressible V was furiously scribbling away while the rest of us looked blank and the class nerd was reduced to tears. We would have loved to see RM’s face when he read V’s answers:

Q: What is Pi times {some complex equation}
Answer: V had written about 4 to 5 pages of the value of PI (a made up value of course) before attempting to write an equally nonsensical “solution” for the equation
Q: Some complex integral calculus question to figure out the volume of water that could be stored in a water tank.
Answer: Zero litres given the water shortage in the city

Sometime later we learnt dear RM was to be married – you can imagine the comments and innuendos passed about RM stiffly putting the garland around his bride to suggested scenarios on the nuptial bed. We did give him a wedding gift – only we wrapped it over and over in bundles of newspaper first.

Years later when our class re-visited college the only names RM remembered from the whole batch was that of our gang!

More Fun with the Microsoft Tool

Here's more stuff...click on the images for a larger view...I know some of them are lame...so come on guys ...create your own...that will be real fun:-)








Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Katy Didn't that Little Women Did

I wonder why the "Little Women" series far outstripped "What Katy Did" in popularity. Perhaps it's because although the high-spirited Katy plans to become someone famous and do something meaningful she ends up being a demure damsel who is the "heart of the house". Or maybe her spinal injury theme was too similar to "Pollyanna"? "Little Women" on the other hand has the various characters overcome their many weaknesses who also in the process strengthen their character.

I saw "What Katy Did" it was simply abominable. One thing about it though it was set in Saskatchewan, Canada and the scenery is amazing. I saw the Winona Ryder version of "Little Women" too. Nothing pleasing about it.

Personally I prefer the Katy series - "What Katy Did at School" and "What Katy Did Next" - are really well written. Then there is "Clover" and "In the High Valley" - set in Colorado. They are not bad either.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Groundhog Day


I don't much like Bill Murray - in fact he gave me the creeps in "Lost in Translation" - but I found him quite tolerable in "Groundhog Day".

For those who came in late - "Groundhog Day" is about weatherman Phil who is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (say that 3 times fast - yep that's easier than Eyjafjallajökull) to cover Groundhog day. [Okay for folks on the other side of midnight - Groundhog Day is on Feb. 2nd. Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter. Folks gather into Punxsutawney and have lots of celebrations etc.] Anyway Phil in the words of his cameraman is a "prima donna" and can't wait to get out of the small town. Unfortunately a blizzard that was supposed to bypass them forces road closures and Phil with new producer Rita (Andie McDowell) are forced to stay the night in Punxsutawney - only when Bill wakes up the next day at 6:00 am its February 2nd all over again - only Bill is aware of this time loop. It's the same story night after night - each fresh morning is Feb. 2nd an endless time loop. At first Bill is confused and resentful but gradually accepts the situation and starts taking advantage of it. He initially goes the bad guy route but gradually redeems himself and one can see a lot of positive changes in his character.

For those who haven't seen the movie I wont give away the ending.

What I found lacking - chemistry between the lead pair. Nada. Zilch.

Another thing how come they never thought of showing Phil staying awake all night to see what happens at 6:00 am - why does everything go back 24 hours at that point? I mean that's something so obvious the film makers could have shown something like no matter what Phil drops off to sleep or is rendered unconscious or something like that...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mrs. Malaprop does her bit...

Overheard at a fancy Harley Street Obstetrician's.

Redneck (let's ignore political correctness this once) to Doctor:

"Didn't you not say something like to use absinthe was the total foolproof way to stop them bairns? But look at me gal she's gonna get one more brat squalling all over the place…"

Thomas Crown

Watched the 1968 version of "The Thomas Crown Affair" with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. It was good - you have to bear in mind this was made in the 1960s.

I have seen the 1999 version with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. That was nice in its own way too.

Invariably one is drawn toward comparisons. Pierce Brosnan fits into the image of a bored millionaire much better than Steve McQueen. Faye Dunaway got on my nerves - maybe it is the acting style of the 60s - but I prefer Russo.

Didn't much care for the ending of the '99 version - and the very last dialogue - for want of a better word - was totally cheap. Look at the perfect, elegant ending of the '68 version:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Audiobooks



…are not my cup of tea. My first gripe against the books is the different accents and tones the reader employs for various characters. It’s most annoying when you have a female reader who pitches her voice husky, deep and low trying to make it as manly as possible for a male character and vice-versa. What makes it worse is when it is a particularly lame book you are listening to – Harlan Coben’s “Darkest Fear” for instance.

When I am reading and certain scenes don’t particularly interest me – I just skim through the paragraphs taking in a word or phrase here and there, I occasionally skip pages and still get the gist of it – and you can’t do that with an audio book. If you forward tracks together – you may miss out some crucial element or lose the thread of continuity.

And that bit about being able to access your audio book anytime – when doing chores, in your car, in even in the loo doesn’t impress me.

The only audio books I don’t mind are those management and self-help books (Wayne Dyer and the likes). I think that’s because they are read in a matter-of-fact tone with the right modulations and yes that is something you can listen to when driving your car.

The only fiction audio book to date from the 3 or 4 that I forced myself to finish that I found tolerable was “The Undomestic Goddess” – by Sophie Kinsella of the Shopaholic Series fame. I didn't quite mind "Confessions of a Shopaholic" - but the rest of the books were totally silly.

What about you - do you like audiobooks?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wimbledon

Strawberries, Cherries and Angels Kissing Spring…

…as this popular oldie goes.

And strawberries are synonymous with Wimbledon. But this post is not about strawberries – it’s about Wimbledon – the movie.

Now I think this movie was pre-Spiderman because Kirsten Dunst is in good form as she was in another intriguing movie The Mona Lisa Smile. (Methinks Dunst was awful in Spidey and deteriorated rapidly from there). Wimbledon is about failing British tennis pro Peter Colt (Paul Bettany)now ranked 119th in the world – but used to be ranked 11th – who gains a wildcard entry into Wimbledon. He is totally down and out and decides to quit professional tennis and take up a boring job at a Club infested with middle-aged ladies more than eager to get “served” by Colt. Enter Lizzie Bradbury (Ugggh! What a combo of names - played by Kirsten) – a young and upcoming American player with sights on the cup. She is kept under tight control by her father (Sam Neill) who will do anything to make sure she is not distracted especially by young men. (I was thinking, “Where have I seen this guy (the father) before?” – it kept bothering me throughout the movie – and I finally Wikied it – to find he had starred as the Scientist in Jurassic Park!).

Owing to some strange mix-up Peter is given the key to the penthouse suite that Lizzie is occupying. The relationship begins from there and takes the standard twists and turns of a generic romcom. The movie is not over-the-top mushy and there’s good chemistry between the lead pair. You’ll find Peter reminds you of Boris Becker. I really loved the bit about the comet.

I didn’t like the way they portrayed Jake Hammond – Peter’s opponent in the finals – it was too immature. I totally disliked the Colt parents – they were out of place – and didn’t quite blend in but stood out as the caricatures they were not really made to be.

A number of real-life tennis pros make their appearance including Chris Evertt and John McEnroe.

The ending – I liked it – I’m so glad they didn’t try to take a “realistic ending” route – a perfect grand slam.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Heidi


Browsing through Gutenberg's excellent site for free e-books I came across two versions of this childhood classic. One is the original I remember reading and another is a translation by a CHARLES WHARTON STORK who is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. There is a note at the beginning that says:


Since "Heidi" has been so often translated into English it may well be
asked why there is any need for a new version. The answer lies partly
in the conventional character of the previous translations. Now, if
there is any quality in "Heidi" that gives it a particular charm, that
quality is freshness, absolute spontaneity. To be sure, the story is
so attractive that it could never be wholly spoiled; but has not the
reader the right to enjoy it in English at least very nearly as much
as he could in German? The two languages are so different in nature
that anything like a literal rendering of one into the other is sure
to result in awkwardness and indirectness. Such a book must be not
translated, but re-lived and re-created.


Maybe so Professor but I didn't like your translation in the least bit - not that you haven't done a good job - but something was lacking. I think it's like being so comfortable with an old shoe that you don't want to even try break the new one in!

Also, I think when I first read this book I remember towards the end - either Heidi or Peter almost fall off the edge of a ravine and Clara is forced to walk and saves their lives. Now what I read is nothing that dramatic - Clara wants to see the flowers that Heidi so passionately talks about and this leads to Peter and Heidi helping her to that spot and Clara with Heidi's encouragement finds she can walk with their support. Does anyone remember this or have I mixed it up with something else?

I saw a movie version of Heidi - not the Shirley Temple one but another made in 2005 starring Max von Syndow as the Grandfather and Emma Bolger as Heidi. It was quite faithful to the story - but Heidi's longing for the mountains when she is at Frankfurt is hardly shown - in fact is seems that Heidi is quite content to be there. Also the ghost/sleepwalking episode was condensed to a disappointing scene. Sebastian (Del Synott)has done a marvelous job. Rottenmeir on the other hard was presented as a total caricature sometimes bordering on Cruella! Another thing totally out of sync was the Grandfather refusing to welcome Heidi when she returns and forcing her to sleep in the goat shed!

Hoping to see the 1993 version - its supposed to be the best.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random Musings on Tamil Songs/Movies - 3


A convicted killer on death-row is allowed to get out of jail and get married before his execution --- the mind boggles--- wait there’s more --- only it turns out that his bride wants to kill him personally (she couldn’t wait for the Electric Chair) on their wedding night!. Why? Apparently to avenge her brother’s death. Has a collection of some nice songs though…

Another of those soulful singer Mohan’s movies – this one is where he never gets to see Amla’s face – (love is blind aint it?). What the… This song shot in the heydays of Ooty …I think someone should go back to Ooty and make a film there – it would look nice and fresh after the overkill of all those foreign locales.

There is this scene in Vetham Puthithu – when Satyaraj glimpses Amla hiding in the temple and to “protect” her falls at the feet of the villagers begging them to forgive his son for trespassing – try as I might I couldn’t succeed in explaining to a “coconut” brained character the cultural and aesthetic sensitivities of the scene…similarly with “Mudhal Mariyadai”…though Ms. Coconut fell for the traditional folksy thingy song…but wouldn’t admit it in a million years.

Another favorite Satyaraj moment is from “Kadalora Kavitahigal” when he goes through the motions of rinsing his mouth/ washing face with a pot of water – only the pot is empty and his mother looks aghast… I don't really like song - but was considered the best song
from the movie.

My best song from Nayakan – in Nee Oru Kaadhal Sangeetham especially where the pigeons come into the house seeking shelter from the rain outside… and what a voice SPB at his best.

Another must listen of SPB is from Nizhalgal - Ithu Oru Pon Malai.. Even Nizhalgal Ravi's dodgy acting doesn't detract from the melody - better than anything Rahman has composed except perhaps Roja's - Chinna Chinna Asai and Puthu Vezhai Malai.

...and before Shankar Mahadevan's Breathless there was SPB with Mannil intha kaathal from Kelladi Kanmani and here's SPB singing that song live.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Before Facebook...

I lost touch with my closest childhood friend. We grew up in a rather lonely place and only had each other for company.

I moved and for a while we wrote sporadically to each other and managed to meet once in India just before she left for France. Then I moved out of India and that was that.

Years later one boring afternoon just for fun I googled her name - and came across a website that featured a newsletter from the town she was living in. She is an artist and there was write-up on her exhibition.

I emailed the editor with the long story about how we knew each other and the man was kind enough to send me her address (the postal kind). I promptly wrote to her (I confess I used the PC to type out the letter) and a week letter found her email in my Inbox. We caught up on the missing years, exchanged news on friends and family, and have promised to meet up some time.

I am now trying to track 2 other classmates - no luck as yet - they are not on Facebook either!

Have you visited this site - pioneered by the red paper clip guy. I had the good fortune of meeting Kyle and he was kind enough to go out after his talk to the nearest bookstore - buy copies of his books - autograph and hand them over to the people who had requested for them!

You don't get many people like that!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oil, Boil, Toil and Trouble


This post was inspired by Shyam's post on baths!
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel – let down thy locks.”
When Mom appeared bearing a steel katori clenched with tongs – Rapunzel knew she was in for the weekly torture installment. She cursed her Mom for being so old-fashioned that she wouldn’t permit Rapunzel to chop off her locks. She double-cursed her dance teacher for being in cahoots with her Mom, “We are doing Nala-Damayanthi this year you know, keep her hair long.” (That the Damayanthi role never materialized and Rapunzel was relegated to being an obscure courtier, ironically her locks tied up and hidden inside a cardboard crown is a different story altogether.)
Anyway Rapunzel was duly escorted to the backyard and made to sit on the lowest of the four steps that led to the sunny area paved in huge cobblestones. There was a metallic plonk as the katori full of hot castor oil was placed down. Then Grandma and Aunt R coolly dispatched Mom and set themselves on the top-most step.
Grandma pulled at the left braid and Aunt R the right and mercilessly unbraided the plaits like they were some rugged sailors unfastening ropes tied to the sails in stormy weather. Without any warning the hot oil would suddenly be applied to Rapunzel’s scalp. Castor oil is evil smelling and must be the world’s thickest substance. Applying it to one’s hair feels like one is applying a gooey mass of honey and not just that it tugs at the roots, when your hair is whisked in the opposite direction it feels like a bunch of nasty imps are trying out moonwalking on your scalp!
Centuries later the last of the oil is drained out of the cup and Rapunzel’s tresses are tied up in a style that would make Medusa seethe with envy. Rapunzel is strictly instructed to stay put on the steps and bask in the sun. She morosely watches the maid washing clothes, secretly wishing the clothes the maid was hitting against the washing–stone were Grandma and Aunt R, as the oil drips down her nose and chin.
Meanwhile Mom puts in an appearance again as she scurries too and fro carrying coconut husks and bits of firewood to heat up the water in a copper cauldron. For mysterious reasons the electric geyser is never used to heat up water for washing off castor-oil infested persons. Aunt R is busy too, mixing shikakai powder in a brass bowl. Shikakai is a fine brown powder that burns and stings your eyes and is apparently the only stuff on earth that will get the castor-oil off you. It is mixed into a paste like consistency that resembles a bowl of mud.
The next step of the ordeal is being made to sit on a low stool as Grandma pours mugs of hot water on your back and into your hair. Observe Mom has done the disappearing act again! Aunt R will then proceed to rub in the Shikakai paste into your hair. She acts like Rapunzel has about a 100 years worth of grease that must be scrubbed off at any cost and I am not exaggerating when I say if any of my North American neighbors had heard the sounds emanating from the bathroom they would have called 911.
No matter how tightly Razpunzel squeezes her eyes the insidious shikakai particles manage to sneak in – Grandma finally grudgingly hands her a mug of water to rinse out her eyes. The last mug of water is poured and Mom is here again – with two towels. She and Aunt R squeeze all the excess water out of Rapunzels’s locks and Mom then proceeds to wind the thinner of the towels around the tresses with a skill that would have earned her a fortune if mummy embalming were still in vogue.
Rapunzel semi-dried with gritty pieces of shikakai that even 4 buckets of water could not dislodge is led to the same steps on the backyard. You get the routine now, Mom vanishes Grandma and Aunt proceed to unravel the bound up hair. Rapunzel is made to stand and bend her head – her hair is brought up from behind her head and made to fall in front of her face. The towel is used to smack the hair hard and just when Rapunzel is convinced her neck is going to be stuck in this awkward position forever she is set upright and given a vigorous towel rub.
She is then left to wallow in her red-eyes and sore scalp for the sun to dry what ever was left of the moisture. The small mercy is that she is allowed to read – now that there is no oil to spoil the pages.
And did you think this was over? Once your hair is dry the ordeal continues with Aunt R combing out all the snarls and knots – did we mention her gentle tugs and soft touches – obviously not because they just didn’t exist. Once all the arduous work was done Mom arrives (fanfare) and proceeds to put back Razpunzel’s tresses in its usual 2 braids and as a sort of consolation prize affixes a strand of malli (jasmine)to the freshly laundered locks.
(Years later – Rapunzel (sporting a shoulder length bob) – knows she would be willing to pay a King’s ransom if only she could have her hair massaged and washed by Aunt R and Grandma.)

Acacia Concinna is a small shrub-like tree which grows in the warm, dry plains of central India. For centuries the people who have had access to this tree have used its pod-like fruit to clean their hair. They collect, dry and grind this pod into a powder which is considered a superior cleanser for "lustrous long hair" and has been reported as "promoting hair growth and preventing dandruff". Because of these benefits, this powder was named "shikakai" which literally translates as "fruit for the hair" .
Typically, shikakai is mixed with water to make a paste which is worked through the hair. It lathers moderately and cleans hair beautifully. It has a natural low pH, is extremely mild, and doesn't strip hair of natural oils. Usually no rinse or conditioner is used since shikakai also acts as a detangler. This ancient product is probably the world's original pH balanced shampoo.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Balloon Boy and the 12 Monkeys


Was watching a re-run of "12 Monkeys". I am really fascinated by the concept of time travel. I found this site that attempts to scientifically explain time-travel and also points out all the bloopers in time travel movies. A lot of it went over my head and I will have to re-visit to understand properly!

Anyway - in "12 Monkeys" the whole world watches agog at rescue attempts of a boy supposedly trapped in a well - only it turns out the boy was hiding in a barn and it was a prank all along...sound familiar?

Although the entire movie is a fantasy after all the part I found very hard to suspend reality was where they showed animals could survive in the city streets for years!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ek Ladaki from 1942 - A Love Story


Remember Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 (the first few lines?):


"SHALL I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade..."


I always felt the lyrics of "Ek Ladaki" were inspired by that sonnet. For the edification of my non-Hindi speaking friends here are the lyrics with a sort of tranliteration...

ek ladaki ko dekha to aisa laga...
When I saw this girl, she seemed to me like... (Shall I compare thee?)

jaise khilata gulaab:
like a blooming rose

jaise shaayar ka khvaab
like a poet's dream;

jaise ujalii kiran
like a glowing ray of light;

jaise ban mein hiran
like a deer in the forest;

jaise chaandani raat
like a moonlit night;

jaise naramii baat
like a soft word;

jaise mandir mein ho ek jalta diya
like a lamp burning in the temple.


ek ladaki ko dekha to aisa lagaa...
When I saw this girl, she seemed to me like...


jaise subah kaa ruup
like the beauty of the morning;

jaise saradii kii dhuup
like winter sunshine;

jaise viinaa kii taan
like a note from the Veena (a stringed musical instrument like the Sitar)


jaise rangon kii jaan
like the essence of all color;

jaise balakhaayen bel
like a twisting vine;

jaise laharon ka khel
like the play of waves;

jaise khushbuu liye aaye thandii havaa
like a cool scented wind.


ek ladaki ko dekha to aisa laga... When I saw this girl, she seemed to me like...

jaise naachataa mor
like a dancing peacock;

jaise resham kii Dor
like a silken thread;

jaise pariyon ka raag
like a melody sung by fairies (heavenly creatures not the earthly types);

jaise sandal kii aag
like the fire of sandalwood;

jaise solah singaar
like the sixteen (traditional) ornaments of beauty;

jaise ras kii phuhaar
like a refreshing mist jaise :

aahistaa aahistaa badta nasha
intoxication is slowly building up...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Black....Hole?


This post is dedicated to my co-worker and dear friend D! Now I am probably going to make her blush - but for the record let me say that it is a pleasure working with her - she's realiable and efficient and a wonderful person with a great sense of humor!!

I had lent D and her family "Taarae Zameen Par" (by the way they are not Desi and have spent a good part of their lives in North America). They really enjoyed it and fell for little Darsheel.

I then lent them "Black". D's siter was most nonplussed to see good ol' Rani Mukherjee walking like Charlie Chaplin and that comment had us in total splits. Not only that they just couldn't get over the over-the-top melodrama. So much for Bhansali's "sensitive potrayal"...

I am now planning to inflict "My Name is Khan" on them - and can't wait to hear what they have to say - provided they are able to get through the movie ofcourse...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Working Gal


Just after I completed my last post - I happened to watch "Working Girl". It's a movie from 1988. Like "Prada" - this one is about an ambitious secretary who wants a better job.

It seemed to me that Melanie Griffith just sleep-walked through her part. expressionless with an idiotic excessive clearing of the throat that made me want to hurl the remote at the TV. Harrison Ford was really really trying his best - but Griffith offered no support at all.

Sigourney Weaver was good - but not really her fault the scriptwriters messed up - towards the end when asked how she came up with an idea - she should have come out with a brilliant answer - she's not supposed to be stuck for words!

Overall not a bad movie and Carly Simon's "Let the River Run" - rocks!

Off to watch the Oscars - I predict "Hurt Locker" will win...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Devil in the Details



Which one was better - the book or the movie??

I preferred the movie. In the book Andrea comes across as a whining self-absorbed loser. In the movie she is smart and resourceful and (so-what's-wrong-with-that) wants to get ahead in life. She does not sell her soul for a pair of Jimmy Choos as implied!

And if you thought Miranda's demands were unreasonable - well I once knew a very rich man who had his staff doing the craziest things for him...

*Key in all my telephone contacts into my car phone
*Scan all my family photo albums and put them on DVDs
*Make sure I get Cranberry juice and my vitamins every morning

...you get the picture...

One thing though I found Nigel's (Stanley Tucci)clothes to be totally wrong - I mean the man is in the fashion industry and he dresses like a 1950s solicitor???

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Afternoon Gnap or How to Steal 40 Winks at the Workplace


The "Gnap" part is from "God of Small Things" - an no, I am not a fan and I did not like that book.

Well – not all of us folks is lucky to have a cabana a la George in Seinfeld where we can happily retire to our little nap boxes...when we want to grab the good old shut-eye.

Hmmm…then again here are some creative ways to sneak in some naps.

Method Uno

Rub some chilli powder/ pepper powder into one and only one eye. (ouch – no pain no gain remember). Ensure that your bloodshot-eye is visible to boss and snitches (hence the one-eye – 2 such eyes have a high probability of being misconstrued as the effect of an over-indulgence of C2H5OH).


So when you are ready for the 40 – display an eye-drop bottle prominently – as in the first object visible in your cube – and then take the classic eye-drops to be administered pose…and do your zzzz thing.


Method Alternato

Pull out as many wires you can from behind your PC. Drop down under your desk to fix your sleep.


Method Trios

Record sounds of furious keyboard clacketting, record screen of zillions of lines of code being typed, replay the lot, while your slumbering self is draped artistically in corner of chair with baseball cap donned to obscure closed eyezz…


Caveats:

Thou shouldst NOT snore.

Sweet dreams…

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Random Musings on Tamil Songs/Movies - 2


I loved the way they thought up the "KAMAL and KAMAL" credits in "Apoorva Sahothargal" ("Appu Raja" in Hindi). Trawling through the web I came across this really cute Amul ad...

Incidentally, I had the opportunity to meet with Sangeetham Srinivasa Rao. I used to know his daughter a long time ago. He was very down-to-earth and very easy to talk to.

The choreography for this song below was amazing --- and there are 2 versions ---one sung by the incomparable SPB and other by Kamal himself---the latter in this Youtube...

Poeme and Eluard

Lancome's perfume "Poeme" had a beautiful TV commercial when it was first released - sometime in 1995 - I think.

The vivacious Juliette Binoche (of "Chocolate" fame) certainly lived up to the words of Eluard's poem. While the actual phrases --- {that go something like "J'taime - you are like the sea; your eyes are like stars; you are the burning sun that rushes into my head" } from the original commercial elude me... I disctinctly remember the part about the "burning sun" and recently I came across the poem below...

That's not all thanks to Youtube I found the commercial - though it's in French - isn't it beautiful?






"I love you for all the women I have not known
I love you for all the times in which I have not lived
For the scent of wide open spaces and the smell of hot bread
For the melting snow and for the first flowers
For the innocent animals which have not been frightened by man
I love you to love
I love you for all the women I do not love
Who reflects me if not you yourself - I see myself so little
Without you I see nothing but an empty expanse
Between those other times and today
There have been all those deaths that I have crossed on straw
I have not been able to break through the wall of my mirror
I have had to learn life word by word
How one forgets
I love you for your wisdom, which is not mine
For health
I love you against everything which is only illusion
For that immortal heart over which I have no power
You think that you are doubt but you are just reason
You are the powerful sun that rushes to my head
When I am sure of myself."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Will Ye Lassie Go



This is a Scottish song... and although it talks about the wild mountain thyme and the blooming heather - for some reason - I am reminded of scotch brooms - delicate yellow bell shaped flowers...





Oh the Summer time is coming
And the trees are sweetly blooming
And the wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will ye go lassie go........
And we'll al lgo together
To pull wild mountain thyme
From around the blooming heather
Will ye go lassie go
.
I will build my love a bower
Near yon pure crystal fountain
And on it I will pile
All the flowers of the mountain
Will ye go lassie go............
And we'll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
From around the blooming heather
Will ye go lassie go
.
If my true love she were gone
I will surely find no other
Where wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will ye go lassie go...........
And we'll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
From around the blooming heather
Will ye go lassie go