Books

Jab Main Chhotta Baccha Tha

We used to have this pretty zapped out version of a bicycle race! The basic idea was to pedal from Point A to Point B, as slowly as possible, and without letting your feet ever touch the ground. Absolutely bonkers stuff!

And I used to suck at this! Royally! The only way I had a shot at winning one of these things was to swerve, err accidentally of course :), into someone else’s path, and force him/her/it to dismount. That apart, I did not stand a chance.

When I walk home from office everyday, I usually have to pass through this covered, turnstile like thingie. Couple of days back, there were three women in front of me, who were doing their own little, slightly evolved version of the aforementioned bicycle race. From what I could make out, it probably entailed walking from Point A to Point B as slowly, and and moving their feet with as minimal a distance between them, as possible.

In other words, (and this is puting it kindly), wherever these three were headed to, it might have been faster for them to stand in one place, and let the continental drift/tectonic plates do the rest!   

Exchanged a decent number of high fives last night 🙂 And, Yuvi and Raina, seriously well, well done! Bloody brilliant partnership. If any of these two had gone, no friggin way we were winning this match. Now of course, there is the big kahuna on Wed 🙂  

I like weekends. Even though, they might be conked out and begin on weekends 🙂 The agenda for this week is pretty simple though: bum around and then finish This is Not That Dawn. Can’t believe the darned thing has taken me so long to finish. I think I might have actually even crossed the record set by Foucault’s Oscillating Little Thingie 🙂

(Memo to self: Bit of an Adele overload at the moment!)

On Movies

Caught the trailer of Conviction recently. The background score for that (tres cult as that is) has been lifted from here. And here. Which is just a wee bit sad!

Maximus Decimus Meridius might have put on a fair bit of fat. And, a double chin. And, have been reduced to browsing Youtube tutorials. But for all that, the man still packs a mean enough punch

The 39 Steps. Criterion. Farce. Genius.

P.S. Something I was reading recently suggests the best way of combatting a vampire is to steal one of their socks. Point being that vampires are insanely anally-retentive, and would therefore be unable to function if they can’t locate that sock thingie. Well, I have lost two socks, heck, two friggin’ differently-coloured socks, in the last month or so. And it is BLOODY pissing off. Wonder if people would notice me tramping around in mismatched socks!

P.P.S. Is currently involved in a full-on battle of attrition with his cellphone. I currently enjoy a slim lead but Motorola’s catching up fast!

P.P.P.S. Istanbul’s good. But I still prefer Snow.

The Brothers Traverse

One day Frank woke from a dream of running, running without effort or pain at a speed not even horses got up to, not pursued or in pursuit, just running for the hell of it, the heaven of how it felt, he guessed.

As nights went on and nothing happened and the phenomenon slowly faded to the accustomed deeper violets again, most had difficulty remembering the earlier rise of heart, the sense of overture and possibility, and went back once again to seeking only orgasm, hallucination, stupor, sleep, to fetch them through the night and prepare them against the day.”

Quotidian Quibbles

I am currently about halfway through, what is in my opinion The Greatest novel I have ever read. It might not be the best of the lot, nor might it be the most engrossing read around, but ‘Great’, yep, that most certainly it is.  It’s also a novel I have been making pretty heavy weather of over the last few weeks/months. I don’t think I have ever taken as long as this to finish a book. Well, probably working in the City ain’t exactly that conducive to reading habits. That being said, two former lawyers from my firm have just had their first novels published! 

At times, I just wanna run. All day long. Preferably in sneakers. And not in hiking boots which weigh half a ton. (That almost rhymes, probably if spoken in a faux Scot accent).

Have a long weekend staring me in the face. With a slightly constipated expression and rather complicated upper-eyebrow movements. None of which is especially endearing. Neither is the fact that I would have to be up again early tomorrow morn. But then, faithful and fed-up reader, such is life. 

On the point of which, I think I should go to/try to go to sleep.

 P.S. The Chap might have written The Greatest novel, but The Chap also seems to like the term ‘quotidian’ a lot. Not that I mind. It just sounds a bit like what one might name their pet duck-billed platypus.

A worm, eaten as a delicacy

After much deliberation and heartburn, I have finally decided to activate the WordPress app for Facebook [Yeah, I know, ultra-cheap publicity gimmick] Turns out there are a surprising number of people, who want to stay in touch with a git like me and kinda remain in the loop as to the various antics I might be upto. Which might be a bit redundant actually, considering that my life, as I had cause to remark recently, “is nothing but work and laundry”. 

Ergo, or perhaps, yet, FB app it is.

Go, see The Blind Side if you haven’t caugh it yet. Highly, highly recommended. Great performances, brilliant background score and an OST which I plan on getting my hands on soon. And of course, Sandra Bullock in an Oscar-winning role. Also, I don’t know why, but Big Mike reminded me so much of Forest Whitaker. Mind you though, the Travolta-starring Phenomenon-wala Whitaker, and not that McAvoy-starring psychotic despot-wala version.

Can’t say so much about Shutter Island though. The one thing which I can say, is that this must be one of those ultra-rare instances, where a cinematic adaptation turns out to be so much better than the original product. Decidedly so; Lehane’s novel was err, umm, slightly iffy to put it mildly. And just by the way, either there was something wrong with the Cineworld I had gone to, or the editing was so bloody chopped off , that a sous-sushi-chef might very well have been at the helm of affairs.

Sous-sushi-chef, aah, always wanted to use that in a sentence somewhere. Well, always, as in, since the moment I thought it up, which was roughly 30 secs back. Much, much good 🙂   

Had been playing tennis with The Architect yesterday. Which was good. I busted my tennis strings though, which wasn’t all that good. Re-stringing probably costs a bomb here. Either that, or it might be time to go Lillywhites ahoy!

Had gone to Foyles recently. As should you. As should any one else. As should the whole world. For a bookshop with a wikipedia entry like this can be no ordinary bookshop. Also went generally rummaging around in the vicinity of Tottenham Court Road, and discovered quite a few places which ain’t too bad themselves either. Next stop, perhaps next week, is this cult bookshop opposite Old Vic off Waterloo.

I thought I always knew what would be the first book I’d get out of India. I didn’t get that book.  

Had possibly, what might pass for our first NUJS batch outing here in London a few days back. The Power Couple were hosting it. Snag and Ms. Steinbeck were fashionably late. The One with ‘Em Stevie Wonder jokes, spent something like two-and-a half hours trying to figure out the way to the Power Couple’s pad. She did arrive eventually though. I though, would have been dot on time. Well, would have been, if the Tea-Boy hadn’t kept me waiting for something like half an hour at the Bank DLR. I would have probably pummelled him in other circumstances, but thankfully (for him) had a Peter Carey for company, and was feeling generally charitable towards the world around me.

But, as usual, I digress. Coming back to the batch thingie. Good, good fun. Scintillating conversation, topics ranging from Govinda flicks to abstract art, from theorizing on why people get divorced in UK, to attempting to decode that cipher called Lady Gaga; some cheap digs, some more; thoda sa PC (woh doosra wala, and that too only towards the beginning, mind you); some decidedly foot-in-the-mouth moments; a phone call to you-know-who in re you-know-what (heh), and ofcourse, glasses upon glasses of absolutely stud mango lassi. And lest I forget, a honourable note of mention goes to Mr PC who makes these friggin awesome gobi ke parathe. I believe Ms. PC doesn’t cook 🙂

You should check this link out. Was sent across to me by the Mayan. The man, for all his faults, does do something useful once in a while.

A coberra is apparently, a worm, eaten as a delicacy. So saith the novel, I am currently reading. Reminds me of the time, when I had gone along with the Robot and the Skulker to the Chinese Breakfast place at Poddar Court, and where the Skulker, in a spirit of reassurance and calm, had told a nice, middled-aged lady harbouring suspicions about our abilities to imbibe certain non-tradtional meatforms, “Hum Sab Kucch Khata Hai” 🙂

FIP, Whither Art Thou??

Kinda miss the chap’s blog. The answer to that question though, is writing a book. Or rather, that statement should be in the past tense; the book’s already been written. The Gamechangers, if yer so interested. And which, in keeping with the abiding tradition of publication sleight of hand, has its release perfectly timed to cash in on all the IPL hoopla. And which should also mean a hefty bonus or two for the editors in question. Don’t think I’d want to read the book though. 

Ancient Hindu tradition has it that there are four phases to human life; Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and SanyasaI though, am of the sincere opinion that the sages and the powers-that-used-to-be missed out on enunciating a fifth, and possibly, the most important phase of ’em all; Laundry. There is a school of thought which posits that other religions like Jainism and Buddhism evolved primarily as a reaction to such lax identificatory paradigms as prevalent in Hinduism. The true trailblazers in this respect were/are ofcourse, the Digambar Jains.

Crawford’s sells this small pack of custard creams for 59p. Absolutely love ’em. For one particular reasons. Back at law school, we used to have this entire array of shacks outside our side gate. And they basically used to sell only two, no, make it three, things of note; Dim-wala Maggi (mentioned in passing here), Kismis Bars (which are bloody brilliant, and which I’ll probably blog about, along with Pudina Chips and Phantom Cigs sometime later), and finally Parle-G creams priced at some 5 bucks a packet.

These creams, if memory serves me correctly, used to come in flavours like orange, pineapple and elaichi. And used to be bloody awesome. Many must there have been days when I used to wake up a min or so before the classes begun and had to rush pell-mell into the acad block, or for that matter, those days when there used to be something shady for breakfast (which to be fair, happened only on those glorious occasions we used to be served uttapam. And a brief digression here: Imagine. Imagine, waking up, for the first time in weeks nay, months, in time for breakfast. And then Imagine, being served, but with what, Uttapam @#&%). ‘Twas then, that these Parle-G creams used to come into their own. And by God, they were a lifesaver. I might not get Parle-G in London. But, Crawford’s ain’t too bad either.

Was watching Two and a Half Men yesterday. To be honest, its a bit like Two and a Three-Quarters now. Ultra-weird.

And now a word about food. And related follies. Had fried squid yesterday. At this place called Tai Won Mein in Greenwich. Snag’s b’day celebrations. The Soccer-Man and Ms. Steinbeck were there as well. Bloody, bloody awesome. The rest of their fare was strictly middling though. That being said, for the monies paid, the portions were humongous. Which was much, much good 🙂 There is this pub off Shaftesbury Avenue called Freud, which the Soccer-Man considers possibly the last word on pubs with “Character”. It is this dark, dingy, sub-terranean hangout, you know, and to be fair to the man, the place probably has as much character as it is possible for anything embedded in the bowels of earth to have 🙂

The Pursuit of Happyness

Mark Twain aka Samuel Longhorne Clemens aka Josh aka, (and this is my personal favourite) Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, was in all possible respects, a Dude. You just need to read one of his novels, or travelogues, or short stories, or letters to find out why 🙂 What’s infinitely interesting though is to go through the man’s bibliography, and look at the manner in which his writing actually evolved through the years, and all the different layers it kept on acquiring.

I don’t think there have been too many other authors with a body of work, as distinct and truly varied as Mark Twain’s. I don’t think there have been too many writers, who started out penning flippant, outrageous prose and ended as a chronicler of their times; sombre, cynical, and faintly disillusioned. And defined happiness as, and I quote, “Happiness ain’t a thing in itself – it’s only a contrast with something that ain’t pleasant“. (Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven)

So, essentially, the greatest humourist of his generation would have us believe that happiness isn’t truly a tangible entity. Moreover, its so inconsequential that it can be defined only by taking recourse to an allied, and an entirely contradictory, concept. And so, the only way you can be happy, is if you ain’t sad. Bit sad, na. Its a little like defining light as the opposite of darkness, you know.

But then again, light isn’t merely the opposite of darkness. Light can also be the absence of darkness. For there to be light, darkness isn’t necessarily the logical precursor.

And neither do you need to be sad, to be in turn, happy. Happyness is a sturdy enough little thing, to be able to stand on its own feet 🙂

Happyness is when you read the likes of Pratchett and Wodehouse. And have a stupid grin plastered across the middle of your face.

Happyness is, and here’s another law school digression, spending some 40 odd straight hours on research paper submissions, and then going to a deserted library, reading Porterhouse Blue, and howling your head off.

Happyness is going to sites like this. And reading posts like this.

And at times, Happyness is about watching a certain guy score a double hundred in an ODI.

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 🙂

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.” 🙂

On Biographies

Have long considered biographies to be something in the nature of fence-sitters, genre-shifters, you know. Never knowing, whether to stand satisfied amongst the ranks of historical texts, or meander their way to passable fiction.

The problem with most biographies (and by extension, biographers) is that they often get so caught up in the cult of their subject matter, they degenerate into little better than hagiographies at best (and utter rot at worst). Its as if the slightest irreverence would irrevocably sully their subject’s greatness. What is forgotten is, literary license is not simply an option. Its a right. Its a bloody prerogative. If I want to know more about some hallowed notable from the ages past, I’ll read Wikipedia 🙂 Not read some blasted tome with pretensions to historical perspicacity and literary greatness.

In short, biographies equals tripe.

At times though, you tend to surprise yourself. At times, you tend to watch movies like Public Enemies and read books like Wolf Hall.

(Debatable Non Sequitur/ Memo to Self: Rider Haggard penned ‘She’. If there ever was a novel worthy of the title of ‘He’, Wolf Hall’s it)

(Non-Debatable Non Sequitur: There’s a CCD some 200 mtrs from where I stay. Discovered it yesterday. Weird)