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Saturday, January 30, 2010

This Bangalore winter is definitely underrated. It's the end of January and there are no more blankets, the fan is on full, the walk to work has become a pain. Each winter I've been here over the past three years has decreased in pleasantry. What gives?

Friday, January 29, 2010

you're not a man till you sing Barbie Girl duet at karaoke ...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another entry in the Random Films I Liked section: Sam Mendes' Away We Go. I've liked Mendes' work, especially the brilliant and under-rated Road To Perdition, and watched this movie a couple days after seeing Mendis' claustrophobic and overly grim Revolutionary Road. It was like nothing Mendis has directed and was just the right movie for an afternoon's entertainment. Do not go into this movie expecting a Mendes masterpiece, because it is not. Nobody dies and nobody is out there to wow you with their acting chops. This is one Mendes film which is not going to attract votes at award ceremonies, and in a refreshing way that makes Away We Go easy to watch.

Simple premise: thirty-something American couple, a white male and mixed-race pregnant woman, set out to find their uniquely own place to raise their first child. Could be a recipe for disaster, but it's not because of Mendes' handling of the subject and the acting of the leads. Is it predictable? Yes. Is it heavy? No.

It's essentially a road movie with very good acting - The Office's John Krasinski keeps getting better while for Maya Rudolph, see of SNL fame, this was a breakthrough role - and exudes a warmth that not a lot of films do not these days. The script follows the road movie them by carrying the viewer from city to city, character to zany character, problem to problem, and is not pretentious, which it so easily could have been.

There's nothing gimmicky about the film, which you expect from Mendes. It seemed like a massive release for a man of his caliber, especially after Revolutionary Road and Jarhead, and it was a cohesive movie. The humor is intelligent and quirky, the acting very good. 

I did, however, feel that the characters who cropped up needed to be fished out more, for at times you got attracted to them through their flaws only to see them fade away into the background, leaving you wondering if they weren't just cardboard cut-outs. A few even seemed familiar, not on a personal level, but in that I couldn't but feel I'd seen such people in movies before. In way they are all exaggerated stereotypes of American families, but Krasinski, Rudolph, the awesome soundtrack, composed by Alexi Murdoch, the locales captured exceptionally by Ellen Kuras, and the tone of them film more than make up for that flaw.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Ordinarily", India would have had Bangladesh eight down at stumps. But "extraordinarily", its India in that position. Sehwag, cat got your tongue?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Three young boys, not more than 11 or 12, started walking with me as I approached MG Road on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

"Hallo man, you which country?"

"Heard of USA?"

"Ya, ya, USA!"

"Heard of England?"

"England, yes! London!"

"Yes, I am from in between these two countries. It's called Chinchpokli."

Puzzled faces. Furrowed brows. Exchanged looks. We keep walking.

"Chinchpokli? Where is Chinchpokli?"

"In the middle of USA and England."

It doesn't register.

"Where you going?"

"To office."

"Office. On Sunday?"

"Yes, my life is sad."

"You know Garuda Mall?"

"Yes. My office is near there."

"OK, we going Garuda Mall."

"OK."

"You know Brazil?"

"Yes."

"Brazil. Ronaldo. Ronaldinho."

"Yes, and Chucky Cheese."

"What?"

"Nothing."

"What language you speak?"

"English."

"You speak only English?"

"Little French."

Guffaws all around. "Say something in French man!"

"Quel âge ont-ils?"

Seriously loud guffawing.

"You know Tamil?"

"Illa."

Mad laughing. "Good, good! You speak Kannada?"

"No. Hindi."

More chuckling. "You know Rajnikant?"

"Yes, we went to school together."

Shocked expressions. Then more laughter.

"OK bye, friend. Nice to meeting you."

Handshakes all around and off they went.

Just another day in my life walking around Bangalore.

Friday, January 08, 2010

There is a reason I didn't want to take hummus and baked goods with me to Bangalore, and the main reason was security at the Bombay airport.

I pick up my backpack and reach for the bag of goodies, when the lady sitting there stops me. She asks me if this is mine, and I say yes. She signals to the fatso behind the screening machine. He doesn't even acknowledge me and tells her in Hindi to ask me to open the bag. I look down at the bag and see the bottom has fallen through. I tell the lady that she's welcome to look through the bag through both ends. She has no sense of humor. I take out the contents - hummus, banana bread, and two kinds of other breads for the hummus - and lay them out for all to see.

The woman draws a blank. Then she turns to fatso and says have a look. He raises his eyebrows at another standing cop and indicates to take over the situation. I bet this is a serious Code Orange. So this twit walks over and asks the woman what the problem is. She says the liquid content is the concern. I wonder what is liquid in the bag. She points disdainfully to the hummus. Fatso takes his gaze away from the scanner and says that has liquid in it. I say no it doesn't.

The other guy asks me what it is. I say hummus. I may as well have said LAKOUKARACHA five times in hurry. I say its a chutney. He turns to fatso and says its a chutney. What kind, I'm asked. I pause. I say its eaten with bread. He asks the ingredients. Now I draw a blank. Chick peas and yogurt and spices, I say.

Eat it, says fatso. Should I dip some bread in it too, I ask. He doesn't appreciate my humor. Sure, if you'd like to, he says. I dip the middle finger of my left hand into it and taste it. Pretty good, I tell fatso and his cronies.

Fatso starts mumbling something about people sticking unsafe objects in food and smuggling them on board. Save it, I tell him, and start stuffing the food back into the broken bag. Fatso is still mumbling as I cradle the damaged goods and set off to Cafe Coffee Day to see if they have a plastic bag.

Bah hummus!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

No place in this country like Bombay. Loving being back for this brief visit.

Random conversation at Prescious near where Warden Road meets Kemps Corner, where I've been getting my hair cut since I was a kid. Rang de Basanti on cable, proprietor and his friend are watching on a jobless afternoon. That said, I have never seen the boss do anything else apart from sit there, talk, and read film magazines.

Proprietor (P): "Is film mein lambe baal bahut chala."
Friend (F): "Sahi bola."
P: "Pan North mein aisa bal chalta hai na, mast."
F: "Barobar."
P: "Arre Aamir Khan jo bhi style dalenga, who fashion ho jaata hai, bhai."
F: "Haan re, sahi mein."
P: "Yeh bhi achcha actor hai ... Atul Kulkarni".
F: "Bahut achcha hai. Yeh bhi sahi hai .. kaun hai woh South ka hero?"
P: "Siddharth, Siddharth ..."
F: "Haan, Siddharth. Achcha role mila usko. Aur yeh bhi achcha hai, Joshi ..."
P: "Sharman Joshi. Haan, woh toh hamesha achcha kaam karta hai. 3 Idiots mein bhi he was good. Uska pehla film dekha? N Chandra ka Style. Udhar se comedy shuru kiya ..."
F: "Haan, lekin acting achcha hai uska."
P: "Haan, hai. Aur yeh ... Kunal Kapoor ... yeh bhi OK hai ..."
F: "Naa, yeh overacting karta hai ... achcha abhi dekh, abhi yeh log Kakori ka train lootenge ..."

And so the conversation continued. Bindaas. I love it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A very good http://www.cricinfo.com/decadereview2009/content/story/439734.html piece on the decade we are heading into, in terms of where cricket stands ...

Friday, January 01, 2010

And so another year has passed, and a new decade is upon us.  No resolutions.

First accomplishment of the year was getting the Ishqiya soundtrack, and it was a nice way to start of 2010. Good stuff on the whole, as expected from Vishal Bhardwaj, but I got you there with Dil Toh Bachcha Hai, sir. Direct lift from Memory.

Ibn Battuta could be the new Dhan Te Nan.