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 Things, Where You’re Left With Nothing

There are so many kinds of things in this world; Things which make you flash your pearlies. Things which bring about that spring in your step. Things which make you jump, trampoline-style. Things which piss you off. Things about which you rant. Things about which you rave.

At times though, there are certain things which leave you buzzing inside. Like some deranged cicada. Your mind’s a whorl, a friggin maelstrom. You have so much to say, but you never get started. Not even with the first syllable. You don’t start, for you don’t bloody know whether you have it in you, to be able to stop. And being the wuss you are, you take the easy way out. You blank ’em out. For these are things, where you’re left with nothing.

Back in my NUJS-days, I had once seen a documentary called The Final Solution. Today, I caught another documentary, Terror in Mumbai. (Cross-linked from here) And that thing happened all over again.

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)

When you go WOW

Every once in a while, something comes along which makes one go WOW. If you’re listening to a song, it might be a sudden chord progression or perhaps, some nifty lyrical arrangement. Or, as is often the case with me, a simple matter of Uilleann pipes. If yer reading a book, some kind of word play, perhaps some literary technique; perhaps a dénouement, perhaps Chekhov’s celebrated rifles.

Such a moment might be something as banal as discovering some random trivia. Or it might have the brooding majesty of mountains wreathed in early morning mist. The point is, there are always things in life to amaze you, to bowl you over. Totally instinctive types. And leave you chuckling silently like some kind of a deranged Cheshire Cat afterwards. Which is much, much good 🙂

Saw me a movie today. By the name of Mongol. There was this one particular scene; the final battle sequence between Temüjin and Jamukha. No, not even the final battle sequence, the prelude to it actually. The apéritif, as they say. A detachment of horsemen, decked completely in black, masked, cloaked, scimitars in both hands, dagger grip, and looking something like this:

See, that's how you oughta use 'em swords

Now, multiply that image by forty, and have them arranged in parallel formation. Pretty good naa, but not yet cult. So, why am I raving about it? Is it because I am a prat? Is it because I am over-caffeinated? No, no, I won’t spoil it for ya. You’ve got to see the three minute odd long sequence for that. You’ve got to see the way it bloody ends. And then you can decide, whether or not to go WOW.


I usually avoid going to multiplexes. I usually avoid watching Hindi movies. At times though, I tend to forget the exact reasons why. Then, after I’ve wasted some three hours on some random, nameless tripe (not to mention, being lighter by around half a thou in the process), I’m good for another year or so.

Well, tripe this time round was Abhimaan meets Amadeus in the Land of Union Jack. A land where a groupie-cum-background dancer is a bona fide member of a full-fledged rock band. A land where the rock band itself was formed by way of an impromptu jamming session at Trafalgar Square (They were just roaming around with all their heavy-duty muzeek artillery, you know). Bloody hell, a land where Salman Khan, his dudeness himself, is the best friggin part of the movie. ‘Nuff said.

Was just going through the longlists for the Man Asian Prize. Methinks they should call it the Man Indian Prize. The rest are outnumbered by a ratio of somewhere around ten to one. The only surprising bit is no Indian has won it yet. Well, there’s always next year. Always something called mathematical probability, na. Or as Godzilla would say, Size does Matter.

There’s this song you know; major, major staple at farewell dos. And its called ‘Good Riddance’. Damn, even if the song itself had been utter crap, this alone should have sufficed for cult-dom. Caught the video on VH1 today. And realized, I’d never seen the blasted thing before. Much good.

The Art of Cool

Sergio Leone meets tacky WW II iconography. Throw a couple of marquee names into the mix. Have an impossibly implausible plotline. Don’t even dare to think about cutting back on the gore. Always remember that humour, like good coffee, is best served black. And most importantly, mangle up the bloody title like its nobody else’s business. Yet, or perhaps ergo, Inglourious Basterds is possibly Tarantino’s best work yet.

For when Tarantino, that purveyor of coolth extraordinaire, makes a movie, he makes cool movies, which cool peeps go and watch in theatres, and for which cool reviewers trying to illustrate how cool they are, write cool reviews extolling the director and the movie’s uber-coolness. It’s all about being cool, you know. And given how much of a philistine I am in all matters pertaining to high cool, I have usually found myself singularly incapable of truly appreciating Tarantino’s greatness.

I liked this one though. The movie has its moments for sure; a pretty strong cast, decent performances (Brad Pitt’s constipated looks notwithstanding), a riveting background score, but then again background scores were always Tarantino’s patch (case in point, Kill Bill Vol. I, The Bride vs. O-Ren Ishii, Santa Esmeralda tripping away in the background, très CULT), and a certain someone called Colonel Hans Landa.

For me, if there was any one factor which elevated this movie from being strictly middling to anything vaguely approaching the sublime, it has to be this part essayed by Christoph Waltz. Funnily enough, If Variety is to be believed, then this part was not even meant for Waltz in the first place. It was supposed to go to DiCaprio instead. Well, thank heavens it didn’t. I, for one, cannot for a moment believe, that even DiCaprio for all his cinematic virtuosity and thespian nous, could have carried off Landa. There was just one moment though which I found slightly jarring in the character portrayal of Landa. For someone that suave and smooth, the act of brutally throttling a woman did seem a tad out of place. Or perhaps, the director just wanted to show that beneath that outward veneer of sophistication and charm, there still lurked a Nazi pig.

For all that, this one’s a decent enough watch, and speaking for myself, total paisa wasool for the fifty odd bucks I spent on it.

Food tip: Panfried Momos at Tibetian Delight. Well, the place is pretty much unplottable, but if you do manage to make your way there, make sure you try out these killer momos doused liberally in ultra-spicy red sauce. It IS absolutely brilliant. They had a dish called Shyphalley as well, which (or to be a wee more precise, the description of which) sounded equally enticing, but the resto-wallahs had run out of it by the time we placed our orders! Shall try that out next time I head there 🙂

Movies, Cinema, Muck (And a Couple of Non Sequiturs)

Exhibit A: Chintuji. Had heard so many poltroons going gaga about how nice, how sweet, how cutesy it was. Well, the darned thing IS sweet. The only problem is that it is so bloody sweet it almost reaches saccharin overdose levels. Methinks the director was probably aiming for a good old fashioned Hrishikesh Mukherjee-Basu Chatterjee feel. And given the times we live in, he was probably obligated to throw in a song-and-dance routine as well. But the poor chap overshot it. By a helluva long way. Muck

Exhibit B: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. How does someone, who made such a bloody decent movie the first time round, so totally screw up the sequel?? Transformers has got to be the worst sequel I have seen. Ever. I know Bay ain’t exactly the cat’s pajamas when it comes to cinematic derring-do, but this has to be pretty special, even by his not-so-exacting standards. Or maybe, it was just Megan Fox which distracted the poor man. Utter muck.

Non Sequitur 1: Caught snatches from a trailer of a Chetan Bhagat interview on CNBC a few days back. The man was mouthing lines like “Chetan Bhagat knows what he wants”, “Bollywood shall work for Chetan Bhagat, not the other way around”. Not only does he churn out you-know-what, but he also speaks in third-person. Cult

Non Sequitur 2: MNS activists have declared war on Wake up Sid. Apparently, the movie refers to Mumbai as Bombay. Cult-er.

Non Sequitur 3: Roman Polanski raped a 13 year old. But that’s alright. ‘Coz he directed The Pianist and Chinatown, you know. (%$@#@, some more dosh here)

Non Sequitur 4: Phul Singh v. State of Haryana, AIR 1980 SC 248. Per, Krishna Iyer, J.

“A philanderer of 22, appellant Phul Singh, overpowered by sex stress in excess, hoisted himself into his cousin’s house next door, and in broad day-light, overpowered the temptingly lonely prosecutrix of twenty four, Pushpa, raped her in hurried heat and made an urgent exit having fulfilled his erotic sortie.”

(Some more extracts from the same order here.) Cult-est.

‘Tis Puja Time (And Other Things)

‘Tis Puja time in Cal. Everyone seems happy and chirpy all of a sudden; Pandals have been erected overnight, every square inch of acreage’s been milked for all they’re worth; the dhakis are all set to do what they do best; the street food wallah’s are ready to make a killing again. Nothing’s changed. Nothing ever will.

Had gone back to NUJS a couple of days back. Didn’t go back to Room No. 217. The last time I’d been there, I’d found somebody else cooped up inside. Bit of a shock to the system, that. With the vacs on, there were hardly any peepul around. Met up with the Tea-boys, the LAN-man, Miskhan and the Poet Jr. They were probably the only few fellas still left. Also, ran into Rookie who is up to strange and wonderful things at the SC. And of course, had Dim-wala Maggi with onions and chillies 🙂 Friggin’ brilliant. Brought back lots of memories. Most of them though, from those unfortunate mornings we used to have uttapam for breakfast.

Speaking of food, Benjarong’s the new Mainland China. Most certainly so. And their Chicken Satays are bloody awesome. Sigree’s finally spruced up on its main course act. And that was the best Dum Biryani I’ve had in a long, long time. Who knows, people might actually start going there for a reason apart from them kebabs.

Henin’s apparently making a comeback. All’s well in the world again. There ought to be some sort of a law expressly forbidding anyone with a backhand like hers from being ever allowed to retire. Mein Gott, I could keep on watching replays of that single-handed backhand for hours on end!

The Post Office on Southern Avenue has got to be the cleanest, most well-ventilated, supra-spacious government facilitated message disbursal mechanism I’ve ever been to. ‘Tis speshul. The fellas behind the counters though are having none of this speshul-ness. There was this one lady in particular, simply refused to tell me which counter to go to. Thankfully, I’m of a calm, equable disposition. In fact, at times I’m positively Zen. Otherwise, (mutters darkly……)

Speaking of Zen, I present another Zen master.  ‘Tis truly a measure of the times we live in, that I get to see stuff I might not have even heard of otherwise. I hereby present, Zidane – A 21st Century Portrait. Real Madrid vs. Villareal. April 2005. From the first whistle to the last. 17 Synchronized cameras. All focussed on ONE man, his slightest actions, his every movement, his sudden sprints, his subtlest feints. On Zidane. (Cross-linked from here)

The Departed

See Departed for Nicholson’s Joker meets Godfather routine. See Departed for DiCaprio’s portrayal of what angst and vulnerability really ought to be like. See Departed for the superb Matt Damon, for the brilliant Alec Baldwin and the equally good Martin Sheen. But most of all, see Departed for Mark Wahlberg’s Dignam. For a guy who gives the term, ‘shooting from the lip’ almost a complex and in the process ends up elevating profanities to an artform. For a guy who barely occupies a third of the screentime, yet walks away with the best lines and every damn scene he’s in. See this damn flick for all these things. And as Dignam would have said, your satisfaction is guaran-fuckin-teed