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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Trains used to be decent fun. What happened? Can't sleep. Can't eat (what is with the two veg patties and a slice of bread for breakfast?).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ik Omkara ... OYE!

What if Vishal Bhardwaj had made Omkara with Sunny Deol instead of Ajay Devgan? Let’s have a look at how different some of those unforgettable dialogues would have been … steady on …

Omkara in the jail (yelling with an outstretched hand, with that trademark sideways glance): “Jo agvai ka kaam kare soh hijra, Bhaisaab. Agar inki beti mujhe jhoota bole toh maa kasam, saara PIND ko aag lagake ek-ek karke in KUTTON ka khoon pee jaaonga! Jo bole so nihaal!”

Omkara to Vakil Sahib: ”Hamari jaat to khoob pehchani aapne Vakil Sahib, par apni beti ke dil ki baat nahi pechaan sake! Dolly sirf meri hai, sirf meri, aur koi bhi mai ka laal uski taraf aankh utha kar bhi dekhe na … toh haddi-paslee thod ke rakh doonga!”

Omkara to Surinder Kaptan: “Badi lakdi mat ttha, Kaptan! Maa ka doodh piya hai toh asli mard se panja lada!”

Omkara to Kichloo, who has been held up against a wall: (With an outstretched arm, pointed index finger wagging, eyes burning, nostrils flared, lungs being cleared with the force of a geyser) “Oye, haramkhor, sarat godon pe lagate hain, sheron pe nahin! Yaad rakh nahin toh boti-boti pees ke rakh doonga! Balwant Rai ke kutto! OYE!!!

Omkara to Kesu as he anoints him the new bahu bali: “No if, no but, sirf JATT!”

Instead of humming the lullaby Jag Jaa to Dolly, Omkara will stomp his feet and dance: ”Yaara o yaara, ab toh jag jaa!”

Omkara to Rajjo on the evening of Gollu’s birthday: “OYE! Saam dale kinga jaayegu tu, machchar?”

Omkara, instead of asking Langda where Kesu is, will bellow: “Oye, ROMEO kidhar hai?”

Omkara to Langda Tyagi and a bloody, inebriated, shamed Kesu Firangi: Kasoor daaru ka nahin, PAKISTAN ka hai! OYE! Hand pump kidhar hai?”

Omkara, when demanding to know where the jeweled cummerbund: ”Utaar ke fenk do ye wardi aur pahen lo Balwant Rai ka patta apne gale mein!”

Omkara to Langda in the rain after the shootout on the train: “Haan ke naa? Oye kaminey, haan ke naa? Yeh dhai kilo ka kaath jab kisipe padtha hai na … toh aadmi uttha nahi, ud jaata hai! Haan ke naa?”

Omkara’s ultimatum to Langda ahead of his wedding day: ”Taarikh pe taarikh! Saddi se pehle saboot ni laya na … toh halak pe haat daal ke kaleje kheech lunga haram khor! Kasam khata hun kal ka suraj ka, ussi waqt zinda doonga! OYE!!”

Omkara to any number of baddies, reaching for the nearest hand pump: “Khaal udhed ke pinjar dhoop mein sukha doongaa, Balwant Rai ke kutto!”

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Run fat boy run

I’ve started running off and on – the off ration outweighs the on significantly – in the mornings after my gym membership expired in August. I can’t do this gym thing; I much prefer the outdoors.

It’s been good because there actually is a place to run near my apartment in Bangalore and there are lots of joggers and walkers so I’m not the only person exercising at that hour. As expected when a white guy puts on a t-shirt and shorts and straps an iPod Nano to his arm in these parts, there are a lot of curious onlookers.

By now a few of them - the regulars like the bicycle tire repair dude, the newspaper stand owner, the barber who opens his shop at 7 as I’m returning, and the army guards at the gates of the officers’ mess – don’t even bat an eyelid as I bustle past.

A few people have struck up conversations whenever I stop to walk a little ways to cross the road or where the dirt path around the lake is dug up. There was the sardarji who crossed me in his Hyundai Accent – he’s also a regular walker – and asked me if I wanted a lift to the lake; the elderly American lady walks with her trio of friends; the college kid walking his dog who asked me why obesity was so bad in the US. A few others have just stood gaping. There are invariably young kids – most regularly the street urchins and the boy scouts – who giggle. There was even the trio on a motorbike who catcalled as they sped past (I know, three dudes squashed together on a Hero Honda and I look strange?).

Today was funny though. So there I was this, busting a gut to The Doves’ ’Kingdom of Rust’, when an auto rickshaw slowly pulls up and put-puts alongside. Says the driver: “Hello, boss, you want auto?”

Saturday, November 21, 2009


It seems nobody is safe from those hooligan Shiv Sainiks. Not journalists, not Sachin Tendulkar, not even Kareena Kapoor's bare back.

The latest episode is something the entire country needs to be ashamed of.  The attack on the IBN office was despicable and cowardly and terrifying. Is this what the Shiv Sena wanted Tendulkar to be proud of?

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Torn jeans are in fashion but there's a rip in my favourite pair of 501s that was getting a big too ugly so went looking for a tailor to patch it up. Yes, I'm trying to get the patch back in fashion.

Found one just down the road. Small little dingy place. I ask the guy sitting there, in Hindi, if he'll do the needful. He gives me the odd look I'm so accustomed to now, and says he can. He examines the damaged goods while I ask him whether he'll patch or sew it up.

"Do you speak English?" he asks, looking very disgruntled.

I tell him I do, and Hindi as well.

"No, no Hindi. English is fine," he says.

So we decided that he will sew up the rip. He says come back tomorrow at 5.

Then: "Where you from?"

I hesitate as usual before opening the dreaded can of worms. "America."

"Where in America?"

I go for Ohio.

"Not New York? You know New York?"

"Yes, I've been there."

"You heard of Blondie?"


"Blondie, Blondie? Singer! Big Singer!"

I say that I have, and that Blondie is a bit before my time. It doesn't register with Tailor.

"My cousin, he knows Blondie. Used to work with Blondie. He's big singer, ya?"

I say yes, a while ago.

"Yes, long time ago," he says enthusiastically. "Maybe thirty years back, huh?"

I nod.

"My cousin, he used to send me albums and photos of Blondie," he continues. "You speak Hindi huh?"

I nod again.

Then he laughs and displays a toothless grin. "I been in India all my life and I never learn Hindi, you believe? OK man, you come back at 5 tomorrow."

And with that he goes back to his sowing machine.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Ten rupees extra, sir?"

So I've decided to start a Bangalore Auto Driver Hall of Fame section. I've had so many incidents with this breed - some hilarious, some quirky, some irritating and some horrible. It's the quirky I'd like to remember.

Just to refresh the memory in case you missed previous posts. There was Syed Azam, who shared his views on how "ladies log" coming to Indian metros from smaller towns "bahut sexy-sexy dikhne pe dhyan deti hai" and wanted to know if I found Rani Mukherjee of John Abraham hotter; there was the guy who was hellbent on getting me to learn Kannada and offered to stop and show me the best Kannada-to-English tutorial books; there was the guy who knew of more of "my type"; there was the guy who spoke in crisp English whose son was in Texas; there was the former insurance agency clerk who had lost his job due to injury and who was rehabilitated and aiming to get a job with Bharti AXA; there was the chap with whom I discussed George Bush's nuclear policy, Barack Obama's relationship with South Asia, and the high divorce rate in the US; there was Mohammad Rafiq, who played Himesh Reshammiya tunes and gave me his mobile number to call anytime I needed a ride; and then there was the guy who played a cassette of English pop and dance numbers to make me feel more "at home". Legends all.

Well, the first official entrant into the Hall of Fame is Mahadeva, in whose auto was written, in large capital letters: "Closed the door to your past, live in present & enjoy every moments. Now smile plese, I am member of Alcoholics Anonymous group."

True story.

Monday, November 16, 2009

aatlu modhu kem the giyo bhai?

Bal Thackeray criticizing Sachin Tendulkar for his "Mumbai for all" remark. Lalit Modi shaking hands with the Indian team before the start of a Test.  India's two biggest fascists, under whose watch two of the country's most horrific acts of genocide were carried out, both whose credibility is on the wane, getting involved in the sport that is a religion here. India really is secular, isn't it?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

'Kevin, I'm going to feed you to my tarantula'

Remember Buzz from Home Alone? McCaulay Kulkin's older brother; freckles; spiky haircut; total jackass; "I wouldn't let you sleep in my room if you were growing on my ASS!"?

Of course you do. I'd not seen him in a movie since but squinted my eyes while watching a crapfest called Surrogates today. It was Buzz, about 200 pounds heavier and looking like the offspring of say ... if Michael Moore and Roseanna Barr had a kid. He looks way different now but still is recognizable. I think it was an expression he made in one of his initial scenes, which for a flash resembled a look he'd give his younger brother Kevin in the classic movie he's most famous for.

Anyways, it just reminded me of a time long gone by. It happens now and then. I'll see a movie from the past and immediately I'll associate it with a precise time and place. Mohra on Sony in 2009 = a rainy Saturday afternoon in Mussoorie circa 1994, after which Vinod and I did our best Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty impersonations, round-house kicks and perfectly synchronized 'dshhht' and 'duussht' - yes, there is a difference - sound effects and all. Dead Poets Society on DVD = buying a bucket of popcorn in Harrisburg, PA as an eight-year old. An episode of Full House = massive crush on Jodie Sweeten back in fifth grade and an even more massive heartache when she kissed some douche on a New Year's Eve special in 1991, watched by yours truly in Harrisonburg, VA. Memories. What can you do?

OK so there's not a lot to these posts. It takes some time to get back in the groove of things.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Another attempt ...

It's been well over a year and a half since my last post. Well, nearly 22 months in fact. Not good at this at all.

The few of you who followed loyally and kept dropping comments and feedback, thank you. I hope to see you back here again. Simran, thats means you.

Well, as you know there are just two things I can really talk about at length: cricket and movies. So let me begin with the former, for now. 

It's Tendulkar's 20th year at the top, and I remember January 19, 1989 pretty well. I was a week shy of my eighth birthday and my father took me along to interview what he said was the next big thing in cricket, a guy who was going to shake up the sport. I wasn't in to cricket at the time, but was made to believe this was a going to be something big. I tagged along.

It was at the Hindu Gymkhana ground on Marine Drive. It wasn't a very hot day, I recall. We got there, my dad and I, and there was a small camera crew. Just two people, I think. There was chit-chat between people, we stood around and watched players knocking it about at the nets. My dad wandered off with the camera person to speak to a man in dark shades. I would learn later that this was Dilip Vengsarkar. He wasn't too animated. Years later I saw the interview on Doordarshan and what struck me most were the Raybans.

Then up comes this little kid, with a big mop of curly hair. He looked shy, and apprehensive. Not that I was majorly perceptive back there, but this kid looked a bit uncomfortable. He wasn't much taller than me. The interview began and he spoke in this squeaky voice. This is the next big thing, I remember thinking?

It didn't last long. I didn't pay much attention. I stood near my father most of the time. I remember trying to stand under the shade of a small hedge. The interview over, they requested the kid to give a parting shot where he's supposed to grab his kit bag and hop over a ledge onto the sidewalk. He did it one take.

I forgot about that day. Later i got started watching more cricket, started reading. I got to fully understand what Tendulkar was.

Cut to 1993-94. I remember him pulling up to the driveway of our middle school building in Bombay, which was owned by his to-be in laws. He drove a swanky black sports car. Now he wore dark shades. The hair wasn't as much of a fro. People crowded about. But he was a kid still, waiting for his girlfriend to come down from upstairs. He still seemed a bit awkward, apprehensive. He waited for her to come down, he signed autographs in the meantime; then they drove off.

The next time we met was in Delhi, I think it was the same year. Tendulkar, Gavaskar, my father and I had tea at a hotel. He didn't speak much. The interview came up. He remembered it well. He was a superstar, and still awkward and apprehensive. The reasons to him were probably the same as when he was a kid in 1989.

Now that kid is a day shy of completing 20 years of international cricket. Time flies.