Month: December 2009

First Day, First Show

The first time I saw Her was on the cover of a Reader’s Digest. I think I must have been in Class VIII. Classes then (as perhaps, always) used to be bloody boring; and as natural, it was incumbent upon any level-headed chap to resort to whatever means necessary to keep himself occupied (At a later point in life I had been reduced to devising alliterations while somebody stood at a lectern and went muda-fada and fada-muda-fada, but I’ll probably blog about that later).

In any case, that day, as mentioned before, variegated mean no. 223 was that month’s issue of RD (And whatever the faults RD might have (and precious few they are), timeliness of delivery date is most, most certainly not one amongst them). So there I was, reading RD, minding my own sweet business,wondering when the next hols were, letting the cool breeze waft over me, the works basically, when suddenly, I was caught in the act by Mr. D. Now, I’ve never really understood how any reasonably sane person can pass a blanket edict proscribing all kinds of non-curriculum material at a school. I mean, if I’d been a teacher, DON’T LAUGH, and if I were to catch any of my students reading something nifty, say Tolkien or even Calvin, that in my book would call for a couple of high-fives (Paulo Coelho would have been fit grounds for expulsion though).

Mr. D’s reaction though, that day, was highly surprising 🙂 I’d never seen him that thrilled. Ever. It was all due to Her. I did have to listen to a monologue on her luminescence, and brilliance, and greatness, and thespian smarts. But that was alright. I might mind monologues, but not as much as confiscations and being made to stand outside classrooms. See, that’s what you get when you read stuff with Meryl Streep on its cover.

Saw me a movie recently. Starring Streep. Loved it. She’s pulled off an almost impossible impersonation of Julia Child. And the accent is simply out of this world. Leave you with three clips; this is the official trailer, this is an actual clip of Julia Child, and this is THE Dan Akroyd clip. Bon appetit 🙂

Jan A.P. Kaczmarek composed the background score for this movie. More importantly, he composed the Piano Variation in Blue. A track which I am listening to as I type this out, and which, in my considered opinion, is one of the most delightful pieces I have ever come across. Kaczmarek, btw, also did the score for this movie. You live. You Learn. And You Marvel.

Somehow, prior to yesterday. I’d never caught a First Day, First Show. As a matter of fact prior to yesterday, I’d only caught two movies on the very day they released; Omkara and The Dark Knight. Simply put, there are very few movies which enthuse me enough to land up in a movie-hall on the very first day, so that I can make a statement to my own immortal self. And frankly, I thought 3 Idiots would be a decent enough yarn, but nothing exceptional. Don’t get me wrong, I like Aamir, but Ghajini was utter Tripe, and the capital T ain’t a typo; and even if you were to forget everything else, there was the you-know-who, and his novel (sic.), which had spawned the flick.

Well, a bit of background first, Christmas Eve was a crowded and liquid affair at Park Street. I, as usual, wanted to hog somewhere, but my esteemed batch-mates, again as usual, had their priorities all wrong. Don’t blame ’em; people perhaps do derive a perverse sense of pleasure from getting plastered. And I gotta admit, watching the Existentialist Mallu stand outside St. Paul’s and shout, “Where’s my Santa, Where’s my Santa”, was much fun 🙂 In any case, post-revelries I crashed at The Boy in Red, Doctor Saab, and the Poltergeist’s pad. The Poltergeist was leaving on an afternoon train the next day, so basically, the only show we could catch together was the morning show. So First Day, First Show it was.

Won’t say much about the movie. Won’t say anything about why its definitely the best movie I’ve seen all year. Or possibly amongst the best movies of this decade. I won’t say a word about how this movie excels as a package, and how even some of the corniest moments, somehow fit in. Not a word about Rancho. Or about Chatur Ramalingam, in a debut act by Omi Vaidya which deserves to go down in the ages.

I’ll just say this much; through out the movie, there must have been at least five moments when the capacity audience at Mani Square burst into spontaneous applause. And a standing ovation at the end of it. And when, I, and the four other gits I’d gone to see the blasted movie with, walked out of the theatre, we were all flashing our pearlies to each other. The School of De Sica might have its admirers, but I wouldn’t watch The Bicycle Thief a second time. 3 Idiots though, I could watch again and again.

P.S. Just a word of advice though. If you do go to watch the movie, watch it with a blank slate. Do not draw parallels with what happened in the Munnabhai series, or RDB, or Taare Zameen Par, and analyze how derivative and inferential a work this truly is. Give your mind a rest, watch it with your heart, and trust me, All Shall Be Well 🙂

Fourteen, Nineteen

It takes fourteen minutes to walk down from Green Towers, Golf Green to South City Mall.

It takes nineteen minutes to walk down from Green Towers, Golf Green to Jadavpur P.S.

I recently re-discovered Muscat Halwa. Tucked away somewhere in a nondescript sweet shop, in the narrow bylanes of Central Cal. Most sweets leave me cold. The saccharine overdose is often too much for me. Certain things though are just plain awesome. Say, Soan Papdi, a couple of Malai Chops, properly made Kulfi, or even freshly baked Chhena Poda. Muscat Halwa falls into the same general category of awesomeness.

Sunny’s to Sharma’s: Not so long back, Tamarind was probably the only decent South Indian restaurant worth its name in Cal. Then, suddenly, it just bloody disappeared. Now, I am not exactly the greatest aficionado of grub originating from South-of-the-Vindhyas (To wit, I love Vadas, I hate Uttapams, and I am pretty much ambivalent to everything else in between as long as I am not served anything squishy), but I did kinda miss the blasted place. Then, recently, I caught sight of it again. Its barely a few hundred metres away from where it used to be originally. On the same bloody road. Its probably on the first floor now though.

I don’t like justifying myself. Now, you can either take that as an admission of a deeply personal nature, or a mere expression of typographical intent.

And a Dash of Nariyal Pani

Currently have two movies on my must-watch list. The first’s ‘Up in the Air’, the other one’s ‘Paranormal Activity’. I have a feeling the first one’s gonna be cult. Hell, its about a chap, “who spends his hours flying from city to city telling loyal employees of this or that company that their service is no longer needed”. A bit like ‘The Messenger’, but without any of its baggage.

PA, on the other hand is already cult. It’s even knocked ‘The Blair Witch Project’ off the record-books. And the moment that happens; when something, anything breaches that supreme bellwether of all things awesome, IT is rendered pure cult. QED. This movie apparently had a budget of some $15,000. 15,000 FRIGGIN’ DOLLARS. Just to put that figure into proper perspective, that’s probably how much each second of Avatar cost!

The Gujjus might have their faults. But good food is certainly not one amongst them. Just had Hare Nariyal Pani ke Swad Sahit Badam. Cult. Talking of which, am suddenly reminded of Swad. Damn! You know, those absolutely awesome khatta-meetha toffees, which used to come in chequered wrappers. A bit like Hajmola’s Khatti Imli, but only soooo much better. There was a time, when I used to gobble ’em by the dozen. Now, I can’t even remember the last time I had one.  

What Makes the World Go Around

Some prat once said that ’tis love which makes the world go around. For me though, it’s probably expectorants.

My fav-est term in the Bong lexicon is probably ‘Dhurr’ followed closely by ‘Chhagoler Dim’. The first roughly corresponds to ‘Gah’ in English. The second one is untranslatable. Gotta wonder though, who first called someone a ‘Chhagoler Dim’. Takes a really special sort of a snowflake to come up with something like ‘goat’s eggs’, you know. Sukumar Ray would’ve been right proud of him! Cult.

Looks like India’s gonna have a new state pretty soon. Some chap went on a fast for 10 days, and ergo, Telengana it is. Just to put it  in perspective, Irom Sharmila‘s been fasting for 10 years now. There is actually a school of thought that KCR’s fast has less to do with the Telengana cause and more to do with the manner in which his party got served in the 2009 elections. Don’t blame the chap though, anybody would’ve been pissed.

One would think though that some 50 years after Independence we would have better issues to go apeshit about. And heaven knows, if there is any country with a dearth of issues, it sure as hell isn’t us. But nope, old habits sure die hard.

Reminds me a lot of Dehradun though. When I was studying there, for a few years in between, the Uttaranchal agitation was in full swing. Which was awesome! We used to have at least one strike every fortnight, with an almost metronomic regularity. And given how considerate most of these strike-wallahs are wont to be, it used to be invariably scheduled on a Friday or a Monday. So, every couple of weeks, when the clarion call was given, you know, when the bugle was sounded, it was essentially a signal for us to pack our stuff and hotfoot it across to Delhi for a small li’l break. Which was, I repeat again, awesome!

And when finally the State go-ahead was given, I don’t think anybody was as pissed as us schoolkids. Or even our teachers for that matter 🙂 Its kinda hard you know, reconciling yourself to the same old weekly routine, after months and months of four and three-day weeks, mini breaks, picnics, general vela-ness et al! For about a month or so after the announcement was made, all our faces were sullen enough to make the very milk curdle!! We. Were. Pissed.

And now look at Doon. Its hot, its crowded, its noisy, you’ve cars honking the smidgens off each other on Rajpur Road, and most of the trees are gone. Basically its like a miniature version of Delhi now. Yeah. See. That’s what Statehood does.

Weird Going-Ons

I hate bookshops. I really, really do. There is nothing worse than walking into one, knowing fully well that there’s no bloody way your current straitened finances would be able to withstand another dose of those incredibly overpriced titles and yet you go; you stare; you file away some titles for future reference; you wonder when you’d be able to actually afford some of those blasted books; and you come back.

No, no, wait a sec, there actually is something worse. You know those times, those heady days, blissful hours, when yer scraping the bottom of the bloody barrel. When the dosh in your bank account is somewhere in the upper double digits or the lower triple digits. And DESPITE that, you splurge on those aforementioned incredibly overpriced titles.

I know I am a git. I just keep on proving it again and again!

On the subject of books, Borges is trippy, trippy stuff. Seriously. I used to think Rushdie was good. Well, I still do. But the chap’s nowhere near the Borgesian brand of manic trippiness. Surreal shit. Really want to read Bolaño now though.

Oh and btw, Pratchett’s on the same rack as Stephanie Myers. Douglas Adams is in the same section. I think there’s a show on one of those kiddie channels called Ninja Pandav. Wouldn’t be surprised to see its script novelizations  somewhere around a Roth or Faulkner next. Or perhaps Hagemaru might turn out to be the next Rabbit.

South City now has a KFC. And a Pizza Hut. Why couldn’t those bozos have opened it, say, a year earlier. Duffers have no friggin sense of timing.

Lost a pair of khakis recently. Which was kinda weird. I don’t lose too many clothes. Or to be a bit more precise, I don’t have too many clothes to lose from. And the darned thing just disappeared from my cupboard. I think I can now count the sum-total of ‘non-casual wear’ in my ‘wardrobe’ using my fingers. On one hand.

I’ve been often accused of having no sense of propriety insofar as my general attire is concerned. Turning up at marriages in sneakers and t-shirts, or at slightly less formal-dos in pajamas is apparently infra dig. Well, here’s what I have to say; ‘Tis not that I am under-dressed. Its just that everybody else is so friggin’ over-dressed. That, and casuals rock. Period.

Semi-formals ain’t that bad either; The entire point about ’em would appear to be that you want to look moderately respectable, but not go overboard with it. Which is alright. At least you are saved the whole suit-and-tie shabang. The world would have been so much a better place though, with a uniform tees and jeans policy (sigh).

You can get a plate of Papri Chaat outside my building for twenty-five bucks. Not so long back, it used to be ten bucks (sigh sigh).

Go and watch ‘Up’ if you haven’t seen it yet. Probably the most delightful flick I have caught all year. Gotta hand it over to these Pixar-wallahs; Ratatouille in 2007, Wall-E last year, and now this. Another Academy Award would appear to be a cinch. In terms of potential competition, I can only think of Coraline. But then, Coraline didn’t have a Dug. Or lines which went, “My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you.” 🙂