People

Clarence Darrow

As a general rule, I am not much of a gusher. At times though, I am reduced to a quivering blubber of awe-struck mess.

Mr Darrow

There is little I can say about Kevin Spacey as Clarence Darrow which has not been said before – a performance for the ages, cementing Spacey’s reputation as being one of the finest of all time, a one-man tour de force and all. When the Mayan, P and I entered Old Vic last summer we did so with more than a hint of trepidation. There is an inherent problem with having great expectations of anything – like that poor Pip, you are more than likely to have them all dashed to pieces! However, when we exited the theatre a couple of hours later we were unanimous on a few points: (a) our expectations were not only met, but also given a sound bollocking for having had any doubts in the first place; (b) this was the most reasonably priced show in the world – we would have gladly paid four or five times of what we paid; and (c) (this is where a far-away, wistful gleam came into our eyes), deep into the unseen future, we could tell folks we were there, we saw Kevin Spacey give the performance of a lifetime.

Spacey returns as Darrow to Old Vic this spring (http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2015/clarence-darrow-2/). If you are in London and did not manage to catch the play last summer, I would recommend snapping up tickets as soon as they come on sale. And even if you are not, I would recommend you to consider traveling here and doing the above 🙂

P.S. Aah, you scoff and say you have seen Spacey as Francis Underwood and surely nothing can top that. To which I would say, Spacey as the renegade, weather-beaten Darrow could chew up the Machievallian Underwood and spit him out before breakfast!

“Dude, I Thought You Were a Friend of Mine!”

But before that, a couple of minor digressions:

Locked myself out of my apartment this morn. And The Hipster’s back in London! Good fun!

Currently clattering away at a cafe. Which probably has one of the cheesiest playlists I have heard. EVER. Sample this: Kelly Clarkson; Backstreet Boys, Leona Lewis. Well, to give credit where it is due, their hazelnut ice latte is pretty decent! And they did have a Don McLean thrown somewhere in that playlist mix!

Coming back, I was recently trawling through all the gunk I have saved away on my lappie. Given the rate at which the darned thing is crashing these days (and displaying a sense of foresight which I/you would have scarcely considered me capable of, woohoo!), thought it made sense to check if I had anything useful saved anywhere!

And I discovered what follows 🙂

Little background first. Mooting is huge in Noojie-land! Has always been; shall always be! Which is good, mooting is one of the cooler things you can do in law school. Well, apart from of course, not doing anything at all! The only thing I never really liked about mooting was preparing those blasted memorials. Just too much opportunity cost, man!

In any case, once I was asked to help out with a memo, for a moot, I wasn’t even part of. You can imagine how thrilled I must have been!! Well, it wasn’t much, just drafting a Statement of Facts and the Body refused to leave my room till I said yes. And in a temporary bout of insanity, I agreed!

It wasn’t fun! At all! So being the nice, good-natured chap I am, decided to spice things up a wee bit 🙂 You know, I thought to myself, poor Prats, slogging their guts out, why not bring a smile to their sorry, careworn faces! Exhibit 1 sets out the original facts, and Exhibit 2 is what I came up with.

Exhibit 1_Page 1

Exhibit 1_Page 2

Exhibit 2

Things of course got infinitely more interesting when these Prats submitted the bloody memorial with just a quick cut-paste job of my stuff! Imagine, not even looking at my handiwork, despite: (a) knowing me/the kind of stuff I was capable of; and (b) having bloody told them to check it because “I was sure they would find it enjoyable”.

Fortunately, the Skulker, privy as he was to these going-ons, discovered what these Prats had couriered across in the nick of time. And promptly fell off laughing whichever chair he was sitting on! I was away home that night but was given to understand that the Prats’ expressions at that moment were strongly suggestive of a collective coronary!

That, of course, was the moment when the Body gave me a call which began with these truly immortal lines: “Dude, I thought you were a friend of mine!” 🙂

P.S. The courier was intercepted in transit. (I think someone was deputed to do a sit-in at the courier office till the Prats got their courier back!). Otherwise, Noojies might have again created mooting history, albeit of a slightly iffier variety 🙂

Growing Up

Has had some serious growing up to do in the last week. First that, then this. You feel wretched, then you pray, and then you smile and you carry on.

Reminds me of this:

 

And this 🙂

P.S. First day in a brand new city by the way.

P.P.S. I should be damn kicked about this.

P.P.P.S. Actually watched Dubya-Man on the flight today (Fair Game; recco: great movie!) How unbelievably cool is that!!

NO

Friends are pretty nifty beings, you know. No matter what’s going on, you can be always sure he will be covering your blind side. You can be a prat of the first order, but you know that fellow will be always there for you. That’s the best bit about friends; you can always take them for so bloody granted. Good times or bad, just dial his friggin number, ping him online, and you can get back to all those memories tinted in sepia coloured happiness.    

Blogs are equally nifty. You can write the darndest things in them. At times though there are things so intensely personal, you just can’t think of them as being meant for public consumption. But write you have to, write you must! So, you decide to condense memories over a decade and a half into a miserable little blogpost. And you just have to end up asking, a few reams of printed space, is that what all these memories are worth? 

All the times you spent together, laughed together, cried together, and were upto your necks with your usual brand of nonsense! Remember that broken window-wala incident (heh, we really did have to scoot that day, didn’t we? Poor Srinivas, or rather poor Srinivas’ window!) Or those late-night cycling tourneys, and that time where you made me crash into a car (err, ok, it was my fault! But, I was talking to you!!). Or, being pretty sure we had broken the Nerd’s leg in that 7th floor deuce ball cricket session! (I still can’t get over the sheer number of varieties we used to come up with to play cricket!) Or those insanely long TT sessions. Or those nuggets of wisdom Kaku used to let loose with at the pool table. Or for that matter, just randomly gallivanting around Golf Green. I could just carry on and on with this!

Oh, by the way, I still take exception to all the grief you used to give me over my Durga Puja attire! Pajamas and tees are perfectly good stuff! And not everyone, has your sartorial sense!

All I can come up with is Pickles, yaar, NO!

Thanks for having been always there for me. Seeing me off at 4 in the bloody morn when I was about to leave for my job; and last time I was in Cal, coming to visit me straight from your dialysis at 11 in the friggin night, just because I had an early morning flight the next day. I was bloody pissed then. I still am pissed now. But thanks man. Thanks for every single thing you have done.

It has been a privilege and an honour to call you my friend.   

Pickles, bas ab aaraam se rahiyo.

Of Food and Festivals

When I was a child growing up in Doon, Diwali was THE festival. Dusshehra might have meant assorted pyrotechnics involving a 30-ft ten-headed effigy of Ravana (and his unfortunate cohorts) at the Brigade Ground; Holi probably took the cake for all-round revelry; while Christmas-time meant jingles, and carols, and cakes, and general chhutti from studies and whatnot! But, Diwali was, well, in a league of its own. The scene changed a fair bit when I moved to Cal though. There ‘twas the Durga Puja. Period.

I’ve always thought there is something about India which is instinctively festival-friendly. Think colour, think passion (hell, I sound like Javier Moro), think general vela-giri. Heaven knows we as a country have enough issues to drive us up the wall. And the Gods must have said to themselves, ah, well, lets cut these chaps some slack, shall we. And that’s the thing about festivals, you forget the drudgery of your daily lives, you smile for no discernible reason, and you just feel bloody festive 🙂

When I left India, I really didn’t expect to see stuff like that again. Alrite, there is Christmas here, but there is also probably some upper limit to your festivity-quotient when yer body is trying to choose between frostbite on one hand and a chilblain on the other. And the Brit version of Diwali is Guy Fawkes Day. ‘Nuff said.

What I certainly did not expect was to have my first Onam in the heart of London.

The Indian YMCA might have its faults. Its probably a tad on the costlier side, it has this smashing snooker table locked up inside a room, it has an 8:30 pm dinner curfew time which is bloody early, and we could probably also do with a lift which breaks down a little less frequently. That being said, there are more than a few things it does pretty well. The event alluded to above comes in the latter category for sure.

There was Rangoli, there were ornate candle-stands, there were banana-leaf plates and then, there was proper authentic Onam cuisine, the works basically. And from what I was told, there were more people inside the YMCA dining hall since, well, probably Onam last year 🙂 Most importantly, we did not have any utensils. Had kinda forgotten how good it felt to eat that way!

For your viewing pleasure, I attach the menu below:

Also, just to rub it in, the food was superlative. People who know me would tell you of the contempt in which I generally hold vegetarian food. I gobbled it all up. Some of it was even decidedly squishy. (There were no brinjals though, or so I think!) My personal favourite though was this ultra-tangy ginger concoction called inzupulli; followed closely by kuttukurry.

Credit for all the magnificent items cooked go to Rashid and the rest of the gang at Indian YMCA.

Special notes of mention also go to Jose, Tintin, the Jacobean, Sharry and RKC who did a stellar job in serving through out the evening. A further note of mention for RKC who served the servers themselves and one other git who landed just in time for the spread.

P.S. In case yer interested, Raga apparently does the same spread. Some designated day of the week. For about 32 quid.

Of Churches and Burritos

Haven’t blogged in like, ages.

Somehow, I don’t think I have a taste for burritos. Calamari though, is an entirely different matter.

Had gone down to Greenwich yesterday. Which, in my considered opinion, is one of the loveliest areas in/around London. I also kinda figured out why the Lightning-Man is so reluctant to leave that place 🙂

Got my tennis racket re-stringed. Had busted it while playing against the Architect. There happens to be this shop in the upper reaches of London called Gefen Sports. Just off Queen’s Park. Which deals almost exclusively in racket sports. And the chaps who man the store are exceedingly nice and watch IPL on TV. All of which is much good 🙂 Not too mention the fact that I think I got a pretty good deal with my strings as well.

Had recently gone for the evening service at All Souls, Langham Place with the Jacobean. ‘Twas beautiful. For a moment, I thought I was back in school (doosrawala).

Had out first NUJS London Reunion thingie about a week back. Some enterprising sorts even made it out down from Oxford to attend this gig. Some non-enterprising sorts didn’t even make it down from London 🙂 Which was kinda sad. For Maida has this amazing dish called Chicken Tai Pai. And, that, is just friggin’ awesome.

Had gone gallivanting in Camden when Yellow Bags had come down to London. Its essentially like a bigger, more psychedelic version of Portobello market. With lots of tattoo artists. And some dirt-cheap basement-rate bargains. Not bad at all.  

Go. See. I Am Love. Or lo sono l’amore. This is probably as European a movie as they come. Lush colours, ridiculously awesome cinematography, cult camera angles, the works essentially. But then, that is precisely what has been the bane of European Cinema for so long. These auteurs tend to get so carried away by the brilliance of their art and technique that they forget that there is somebody else who would be watching their product. Pithily put, form often trumps substance 🙂 And even here, while walking out of Cineworld, I heard at least a few people go on about how they couldn’t make head or tail of this flick. In this case however, I’d beg to differ. And Tilda Swinton is amazing.

I have a new favourite piece in classical music now. Concerto for Two Violins in A Minor by Vivaldi. Watched it being performed by the Belmont Ensemble at St Martin-in-the-Fields last night. Much, much good. Dunno if you will find this on Youtube, but probably worth a shot.

What I know, you should find on Youtube, is another track this piece reminded me of; Building a Family by Mark Isham. Come to think of it, I don’t think its that similar. Or perhaps, at all similar. But then, you really don’t have any control over the stuff yer reminded of, do you. And especially, when the ‘stuff’ in question is as unquestionably sublime as this!    

Go on, don’t be shy, google it. You can thank me afterwards 🙂

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” 🙂

Astounding Alliterations for the Absolutely Unabashedly Asinine

Before that, this:

It has come to my notice that this git has been making one too many unwarranted, not to mention completely unsubstantiated allegations with reference to yours truly. Now, I’ve been long aware of this git’s git-like ways, so that really ought not to have come as a surprise. Be that as it may, spreading canards amongst friends is one thing, bad-mouthing in front of teachers another, but to smear and and tarnish someone’s fair name in this hallowed realm of cyberspace, is something I most certainly shall not stand for. No, Sirree, No.

Ergo, I propose an entire sequence of posts on THE Git. You’ll hear anecdotes; you’ll hear tales told. You’ll know why THE Git was also known as The Body (aka btw, as The Shark). You’ll hear the truly heart-wrenching tale of how the man lost his mush. You’ll be informed as to when THE git was on the verge of submitting the single most awesome memorial EVER, but being THE git he was, how he developed cold feet at the last moment. Or why he was once found crawling around in a law firm library. Or for that matter caught kicking a poor hapless female, who was unfortunately sitting in front of him. And perhaps, the greatest revelation of them all, what does THE git have against hygiene? What primal need drives him into abhorring all kinds of daily ablutions?? For all this and more, just tarry a bit, patient adept, cause my patience is running thin, and the appropriate hour for a GIT-post would appear to be nigh.

Now, that:

In my second year at law school, classes used to be pretty much joyless affairs. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I don’t think I’ve been ever as bored out of my friggin’ skin, as I was that summer. And as you know, zing is what makes the world go around. If there ain’t any zing, there ain’t anything. So, for the few classes I used to be present for in that semester, and in face of teachers who either went motha-fatha-motha-fatha at the lectern, or had hand-movements and speech inflexions, which would have done a flight stewardess proud, I had to do something. Anything. The following 🙂 I give you, The Astounding Alliterations for the Absolutely Unabashedly Asinine:

  • Amnesia : The ambrosia of the asinine.
  • Poetry : A parody of pantomimed polemics.
  • Man : A modicum of meandering mendacities.
  • Passion : Platitudes of platonic perversions.
  • Siesta : Soothing somnolence, served usually in shade.
  • Quarrel : A quorum for the overtly querulous.
  • Essay : An inscription of infantile inanities.
  • Short Story : A smashing smorgasbord of senile semantics.
  • Denouncement : Damnation of decidedly didactic dimensions.
  • Fastidious : Feisty finickyness foisted on the firmament of fallacious fisticuffs and foibles
  • Tantrum: Trenchant trials of tedium typified tangentially by temper

(1. My initial POA was to have an entry for each letter of the alphabet. Unfortunately, I attended far too few classes for that.

2. Further, in relation to the two luminaries I’ve alluded to above, I missed a better grade by .05 in both their papers. Anybody from NUJS would know what that means. As highly evolved a Karmic comeuppance scheme as I’ve ever seen.)

Some 12 years back, it used to be 2/2 Bakralwala, Nashville Road. Today it is B 10/17 Green Towers, Golf Green.

I had no words back then. And even now, I don’t really know what to say.

mnesia : The ambrosia of the asinine.

Poetry : A parody of pantomimed polemics.

Man : A modicum of meandering mendacities.

Passion : Platitudes of platonic perversions.

Siesta : Soothing somnolence, served usually in shade.

Quarrel : A quorum for the overtly querulous.

Essay : An inscription of infantile inanities.

Short Story : A smashing smorgasbord of senile semantics.

Denouncement : Damnation of decidedly didactic dimensions.

Fastidious : Feisty finickyness foisted on the firmament of fallacious fisticuffs and foibles

Tantrum : Trenchant trials of tedium typified tangentially by temper

Beezee Busy (And South City Psychedelia)

Life’s been a bit busy these last couple of days. Might get a lot busier in the days to come.

Met Ambrosius yesterday. For the first time in around six years. Chap hasn’t changed a whit. The man’s sporting a mush now, and is up to weird and wonderful things in the auditing world, but that apart, he’s still pretty much the same.

Met quite a few NUJS-wallahs yesterday. The usual gang, up to their usual antics, at the usual place. Also saw Larry’s stealth techniques in action. Which was kinda redundant considering the fact that the person he was trying to hide from, had already seen him!

Had gone to South City a couple of days back, and there was this guy there who was trying to flog me some free trip abroad. To lay my hands on which, in his words, “Sir, you just have to answer a very simple question”. My natural query was obviously, “Which is what??”. To which the man replied, “Sir are you above 24??”. That, presumably was the question. Bleedy weird demographically-inclined freebie scheme.

Reminded me of another time when I was browsing at Starmark. Again at South City. Then this chap comes up to me, thousand-watt grin on his face, and muttering something which sounded vaguely like same, same, same….I thought I probably had earwax or something, and started ‘eh’ing and ‘umm’ing around. Same difference; more of the same, same, same…. And this time followed by exaggerated hand gestures. Then, I got it. Both of us wearing the same type of jacket. Which probably was cause for celebration. So we shook hands, and thumped each other on our jacketed (blue-striped rectangular on black) backs. I think I even remember my exact words, “Aah! You mean our jackets. Ok, lets shake on that then”.

And lastly, in terms of South City psychedelia, an honourable note of mention goes to the South City Phantoms. There’s this Wodehouse yarn about a chap called Blister, who proceeds to pop up at the most inopportune of times and places, and scare the living heebie-jeebies out of a chap called Plimsoll. The South City Phantoms are a bit like that. Almost everytime I go there, I’m invariably bound to find them waving at me. As a matter of fact, I am surprised only when I don’t see them now 🙂 The only obvious difference from Blister being that they are two in number. And, that the antics of the Phantoms are rendered even all the more remarkable by the fact that Mr. Phantom is off studying in Singapore.

Two current ohrwurms: Waqt by E.P., and Ud Chalta by Nitish Pires. Hadn’t heard those two in ages, and suddenly they are in infinite replay mode.

Zurich is No More

Zurich is no more. Long live Zurich.

Many might there be Picadillies, and French Loaves and Cream and Fudge Factories, but there shall be (was) only one Zurich.

Got into a fight today. With an auto-wallah of all people. In re two bucks of all things. But as always, a fight though triggered by specifics, is never about them. Nor can it be broken down into disparate components. A fight is always about generalities, of principles, of sahis and galats, and similar platitudinal excesses 🙂

Today, the entire sequence consisted of the auto-wallah pocketing ten bucks instead of his usual eight; of being almost run-over in rush-hour traffic; a 100 metre dash behind the offending party; a proper shove-session in front of the traffic policeman in front of South City, who true to form, washed his hands off the affair, with the exception of proffering a suggestion to register a complaint at Jadavpur P.S.

Then, trundling back to Lord’s; being accosted by the Auto-wallah there who had somehow tracked me back, and being threatened with dire consequences if I registered a complaint (and at which point, I truly lost it). A psychedelic 2-3 minute hand-to-hand combat session, which almost culminated in my shoving that git’s face into a vat of boiling oil where jalebis were being fried. And finally, getting back two rupees.

A honourable mention goes to the Skulker, who was comrade-in-arms, for the entire bit till we trundled across to Lord’s and whose cell probably still has stored, the offending auto’s license plate number.

Also, on a slightly more personal note, the most psychedelic moment of the entire episode probably occurred when in midst of grappling with that jackass, I picked out a complete stranger and asked him to hold on to my specs, so that I could let loose. For in sooth, though I mind not specs, they do hamper you, come fights. That, and also in terms of utter psychedelia, abusing him in English 🙂

Saw me a movie recently. Thought ’twas alright.

I still remember the first copy of Sherlock Homes I ever picked up. I must have been in Grade V then. Rajpur Road used to have this really old bookshop called Jugal Kishore. I’d got it from there. I think I even remember the first story I read; The Adventure of the Speckled Band. And I was HOOKED. Next year I came to Cal for the first time. The first bookstore I visited was Oxford’s. The first books I picked up were The Adventures, The Case-Book, The Memoirs, and The Return of Sherlock Holmes (I read His Last Bow only a couple of years later).

Guy Ritchie’s Holmes though, is not one (only) of cobblestone streets or meershcaum pipes. His is one of kinetic excesses and excess coolth. And one, who is, a tad vertically challenged. The greatness of true literature is that often it not only leads itself to translations, or transliterations, but also to transmutations. Take Mahabharata; you have Mrityunjaya by Sivaji Sawant, Randamoozham by Vasudeva Nair, and Yajnaseni by Pratibha Ray (a strand later  taken up by Chitra Divakaruni), all of which use entirely different narratives in respect of the same overarching structure. And more pertinently, succeed in doing so.

Whether Downey Jr.’s Holmes also falls into the same category is for you to decide. I though, for one, shall stick out my neck, and say, verbal fencing and witty repartee apart, there was little to distinguish it from say, a cerebral version of Van Helsing.