Monday, February 28, 2005

Instant (in a) Camera

MG Road, Bangalore
Saturday the 26th, 10:30 pm

When walking back from the Brigade road junction to the Mayo hall bus stop on the side of the road where the auto stand is, one walks through a very dim-lit part of the pavement frequented in the day by hawkers, urchins and company shuttles waiting to pack the techies by a dozen before leaving them beyond redemption for a day. In the nights, apart from some stray tea vendors, the platform is crowded by people unknown to most. They are probably the same men every night - one can never be sure due to the lack of light - drunk, loud and usually getting ready for fist fights. Once you pass them and get adjusted to the light, you are surprised to see a dozen or so women in pairs - and in each pair, is one sumptuous woman, with a stern and masculine look on her face which when observed carefully reveals, that she just missed womanhood by a few inches and is stranded on platform nine branded as an eunuch. Next to her is a slim, dark, dangerously dressed close to 17 year old young girl, with a huge, unmistakable overdose of makeup looking around for men, occasionally walking up to some, closing into his comfort zone, smiling coyly and then walking away with him or walking back to her mentor. They let the 'kids' pass - don't bother them. But, around them hover men who probably are lorry drivers or forlorn men who lost their place in bed on a dirty brawl. They keep coming to her, smiling, touching her oddly till they are shooed away by the 'mentor'.

I had long known not to stand and stare in such environs and was walking through them while I saw an extremely cheerful girl talking to one of these men, looking as if she was thoroughly enjoying what she was doing. As I walked past, I realized her choice of words were in such utter contrast to her demeanour. It must have been a minute later when the whole pavement heard one tight slap. That cheerful girl had her palm on her cheeks and she was bursting into quick sobs. Her partner was quiet, expressionless with the same stern look on her face. I stopped and stared at them for sometime, for some strange reason transfixed, rather offended by the whole episode. The mentor then shifted her stern look at me and we saw eachother straight in the eyes.

My bus had arrived. I had to go - I turned and broke into a sprint to catch the bus. I found myself a seat far away from the maddening crowd, letting my thoughts drown in the rumble of the bus, into the array of headlights of cars, two wheelers and glitzy shopping complexes - the standing proof of the sophistication I belong to.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Freaky chakra continues to roll!

What is it about me that attracts freaks! On second thoughts, I don't think I want you to answer that question (No really!). The other day I was one among those few who use the public transport system in namma bangaluru (not few enough however that I could get a seat). I was standing right at the end of the bus lost in thought as usual, wondering if I had missed out on sending some mail or how many crows would actually be shitting on a bald man's head this very second and other epoch-making trivialities like these. Behind me, I could hear a soft murmur of an old man. Given that I have the habit of talking to myself when I am alone, I didn't quite bother to turn around and continued indulging myself in more philosophical pursuits.

After sometime, I realized the person behind me was quite agitated - he was like, "How can I be in two places at the sametime. I am a marketing guy and I do marketing (that's news!). Why do you treat me like this?". I still didn't want to turn and realized he must be on a mobile talking to somebody. The argument started growing louder with time and after sometime, people seated in front of us staring looking back at him and then at me. I gave them an expression of "I have no idea what he's talking about" and smiled incredulously.

4 minutes later - I realized he was actually rocking in his place because every 3rd second I could feel him breathe down my neck and the stench of tobacco made me want to puke! By now, everybody in the bus had looked back once or twice and had actually decided we were together. Some old man tried telling me something in kannada and I gave him a smile of a loser who was sitting on a pile of shit and realized it late, tried explaining to him that we aren't related which by then sounded extremely lame coz' as a conscientious young man, I was supposed to take care of him. So, I finally turned around to look at THE one who was by now the "apple" of everyone's eyes.

He looked exactly like Jamie Foxx in Ray (and hence by transitivity, like Ray) - those dark glasses, the same wrinkled expression, the same color and the same build, just that he was a little older. But that was the least relevant piece of information! He caught me in the eye, thrusted his entire weight upon my shoulder and started telling me man-to-man that "Friendship is a gift. it's selfless. Anyone who's selfish is not your friend. they are out to get you! (and I am russel crowe, you are ed harris! Let's see if the KGB is following this bus). Take care son! take care!". I nodded my head vigorously, trying to look for some help. But by now, everyone in the bus knew he was "taken care of" and so lost interest. I am not exactly sure what happened after that - I remember having nodded my head a lot, having clutched the seat tightly hoping I don't faint out of the stink, having asked him a lot of times where he wanted to go? was he in the right bus? if there's anything I can do? (He gave me this - "Are you nuts! they are after you and you are wondering what you can do to me!" look and completely convinced me that grave danger I am in). Finally, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the yellow board that read "Mother theresa circle". I found that guy a seat and practically jumped out of the bus before they catch me and ask me to drop him right till majestic.

Incidentally, our nice-shirt-guy called twice but unfortunately, I have not been able to attend to his call. To call him back and get into trouble is too adventurous to my taste. I am waiting :)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Tennis amidst the clouds!

Those two little men you see there Agassi and Federer playing on the tallest tennis court situated 211 metres high and which covers a surface area of 415 square metres.


Met a guy in one of our family get-togethers who happened to be greater movie freak than I am. So, he started giving me all the little tit-bits that he knew - his advantage being he has a lot of insider info (one of those guys who's got singers and actors for second cousin's distant family friend). We were talking of lyricists (rather he was talking and I was listening) when he told me what a brilliant guy lyricist Sameer is!

Seems Sameer doesn't write even one of his songs. Yeah, there was a time when he used to write them. But now he's got these whole army of budding poets who want to get into movies. So, he asks one of them to write the song and give it to him. He then gives it to the director calling it his "creation". Now the good thing here is
  • The director is happy coz he gets a work of art from a guy who still has the fire in him to succeed rather than from someone who's successful and hence complacent. Hence the song is definitely going to be better.
  • Lyricist Sameer is happy because he gets a lot of money for doing nothing! (ok for doing as much as
  • The budding poets are happy because they get first hand experience in writing for films, get paid for their songs (which is definitely better than nothing) and if Sameer dada wills, can even become a lyricist themselves (oh you wish!!)
It was my moment of epiphany - I have never believed more in the power in Outsourcing! I guess, the only victims here are fellow lyricists who are fighting for their share of the cake and are losing it because - they can't give songs with the same passion, fire in the belly (and under it!) and with such speed because, after all, they have to write THEMSELVES!

PS: The gossip corners of kodambakkam (the mecca of tamil cinema) usually whisper as I walk past them in the dark that Comedy-superstar Vivek is doing something very similar - forming a group of college guys who come up with jokes for him (and get paid for it of course!) which he then uses and delivers in his own style.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

*ing Rathish as Juliet!

My acting class is getting reallly interesting right now - After having spent a week or two in games, understanding ourselves, opening our senses (!), we have finally started doing some real acting. Every class, we are given a situation (sometimes we pick our own), are given 10 minutes to decide what we are going to do and end up doing a 5 minute "impromptu" act for which we are graded. And for every role, we have to bring in new mannerisms, accents etc. The emphasis is more on comedy than on any form of serious story telling.

My roles are getting interesting by the day - the first day, I played a man who visits a psychiatrist coz every time he tries to have sex with his wife, he thinks of his grandma. The psychiatrist incidentally is interested in old women and is more interested in his fantasies of his grand mom than his patient. That came out quite well.

Yesterday, I played Juliet :) We are practising pantomime now and each pair is given a situation that he's to enact using signs. We, my partner and I, were given "Romeo and Juliet". We decided it would look funnier if she plays Romeo and I play Juliet. The thing is, people have to guess exactly what the situation is - thankfully for us people remembered (and more importantly recognized) the last scene of the "tragedy" (while our act was anything but that!). To quote the words of the audience - "it looked like two really bad actors playing Romeo and Juliet" :)

In an effort to find more characters to ape, I am taking a special interest in everyone I meet to see if there's any mannerisms of theirs that I can use. The auto drivers, shop vendors are already giving me curious looks! Usually my victims end up being my own colleagues - yesterday, I was so close to miming a colleague back at his face, as he was talking to me. Dangerous!

Ok - now work!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Talk of entrepreneurial efforts!

A couple of friends of mine from the 99 batch have started an enterprise called we-brainstorm. Given the change in BITSian admissions this time, and that none of the training organizations were prepared for such a program, who else is more appropriate to coach students for the entrance test than those very people who have been there and done that - US! :)

So, these guys have sat together and developed e-tests that are based on the content/timing specified by the BITS admissions office. Students can pay money and get the tests which they can take up.

So, if you know someone who desperately wants to get to BITS - play the incubation cell for fellow bitsians and give this link - :-)

Monday, February 21, 2005


Saw Aviator on saturday - Was probably expecting too much from the movie, that when I came out I was a little trifle disappointed. A few things that I think went wrong with the movie
  1. Howard hughes, the protagonist is too huge to fit into the screen. Everything about him is so enigmatic and interwined that trying to depict a chunk of it onscreen becomes extremely difficult. Hence, the feeling of awe that you feel when you read about him doesn't translate itself when you see it on screen.
  2. Movies typically have a rhythm. they start slowly, gather pace and climax in the end. Sometimes they start with a bang and mellow down only to gather pace in the end or sometimes, like in pulp fiction, even the chaos seems to have an underlying rhythm. that rhythm's missing in the movie - specks of brilliance are carelessly interspersed everywhere and even scenes where there's a lot of scope for an "emotional high" seemed to be handled too lackadisically.
  3. The background score is a disappointment (which is rare in a hollywood movie). There are times (like when he test driving his planes) when it sounds as if we are in an opera that it actually throws you out of the experience.
  4. The movie is somehow not cohesive. Each event logically followed the other - but in the end, they are individual islands and don't gel as one single movie. Sure, the time span chosen is appropriate because that's the most eventful part of his life. But the rise and the fall and the rise again and the fall again makes it too bumpy than eventful.
  5. The story finally is about one man, which is true in many oscar nominated movies. But it's one thing not having them at all, and another when you have them half-baked. Alec baldwin (as the panAM chief), the senator, howard's engineer, his manager, Eva gardner appear far too often in the movie that it would have helped to give them a much more deeper character than leave them as mere caricatures they were finally.
In many ways, what I felt this time was the same thing I felt when I saw Gangs of new york. Scorcese set the stage for a wonderful tale with some really wonderful sets and strong characters and a lot of scope for story telling, but in the end I couldn't relate to any of them and always felt those situations could be exploited more. I probably would have loved Aviator if the movies I saw before this one (black, swades) weren't as spectacular as they were (first time, a hindi movie's doing it to a hollywood movie!).

Now for the pluses,
  1. Scorcese has done a brilliant job in expressing Hughes' insecurities on screen - be it his fear of the media, his fear of germs or his schizophrenia.
  2. One of the strongest points for the movie is Leonardo DiCaprio - which is surprising because, I was counting on that being the weakest points of the movie. He's literally lived the role (which is not way off the mark - click here. More on this later) and has expressed the fear, the mania, the energy beautifully.
  3. You wouldn't find Cate blanchett spectacular if you have never seen her in any other movie before. which says a lot because people seeing her for the first time might feel, that's the way she is naturally.
Saw in the news today that Leonardo has aggravated his OCD problem (which Howard hughes also suffered) in his efforts to realize the character. Now, this definitely sounds believable given how he's done the role. But, the cynical me thinks the timing is too suspicious and that such a news coming at the time oscar awards is too good to be coincidental. Anyways, this has been Jamie Foxx's year all along - let's see if Leo's OCD does the magic for him!

Free Mojtaba and Arash Day

Found this news clip on the BBC site - All bloggers have been requested to dedicate 22nd february (tomorrow) as the "Free Mojtaba and Arash Day". You can find the details here.

Now I am not sure how people dedicate blogs for days. you just put up a blog saying so probably! If you have any better ideas - let me know :)

The mysterious stranger

The other day, I was shopping for CDs in landmark when this guy comes, stands next to me and says, "Nice shirt you have got there". Now, people who know me will know that given how much I care for how I actually look like, I don't get such comments too often. I shifted my weight, smiled uneasily, thanked him and got back to my CDs. He wasn't planning to leave me so soon - "So where did you buy this shirt?". "SF store in chennai", I added adsent-mindedly. "Do you go there often?" at that precise moment he freaked me out! How does it have anything to do with him! Just as I was about to leave, he caught my hand and gave me this look of a hurt puppy and told me that he's from rajapalayam, and that he's new to this place,is working for hughes, has very few friends and all that. I really couldn't help him much - I asked him a few innocous questions, wished him luck with his work and waved to an imaginary friend in the exit. Before I left, he gave me his card and for the sake of courtesy, I gave him mine.

Today, I get a call from the guy asking me whether I am free tomorrow - seems a lot of software engineers are meeting up in a school and asked me if I can join. I immediately imagine a secret society of software engineers who are planning to unleash a deadly virus all over the country. I tell him that I am not free tomorrow night - he wasn't going to budge. He asked me whether he can come to my house so that we can sit and talk. House? This was getting all creepy to my taste. I told him I am not interested in getting into anything right now. But I had to give him a chance in all fairness he said. So, I suggested a restaurant close to my place and asked him to come there - His exact words were, "No. restaurants are too public.", he lowered his voice exactly how they do it in the movies and said, "You see, my friends and I are running a business apart from our work and we don't want anybody to know about it". All this while, I was kidding myself imagining them to be smugglers and all that. Now he was actually freaking me out. He continued, "Why don't we meet in your house. your room mates can also be interested". When he realized I wasn't ready to let him in there, "I have to ask my friend if he has the time tonight. you are sure, you can't attend tomorrow? Ok .. we will meet you around 10:30 tonight in that restaurant you told me. You are sure it will be empty?"

So, if I am actually found murdered - you know what you should do! send this story to the police and give them a description of a dark, tall guy with a bigger than usual frontal teeth ;)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Interesting quotes

" I never thought I’d live this long. Clean living and dirty thoughts probably did it."
- Willie Nelson, 70

If only I had a little humility, I’d be perfect!
—Ted Turner, 61

If you wake up in the morning and you have a choice between doing the laundry and taking a walk in the park, go for the walk. You’d hate to die and realize you had spent your last day doing the laundry!
—Christine Lee, 67

The headline grabbers in blog world.

The headline grabbers in blog world.

-"Why so many blogs have "random" in their blog headers"
-"The bloggers who end up writing about all and sundry" (right from daily ablution to mayonaise in their sandwich)
-"The ego boosting exercise, pink-frills-in-my-magenta-canvas blogs have become"

Some are amused, some are funny and the rest (I am not sure why!) are acrid. I don't have much to add on all this - but reminds me of a conversation I once had, "You know, initially I used to do it and it was all fun. But thanks to all this population explosion, judging every single soul, related and unrelated, is becoming such a huge responsibility that I am forced to lose sleep doing it!".

Door delivery - not any more

Recently read this article about how in bombay, sleazy videos and posters are being banned (and how TV channel owners and film producers are actually co-operating, thanks to the carrot or the stick I am not sure) and I think it's a pretty good move. At least the intention seems to be good - As much as I have found the latest music videos crass, obscene and distasteful I have never indulged in the moral argument about the duties film/video makers have towards the society. Let's face it - With millions of rupees in hand, films cease to be a social art form but is just a sprawling industry. I have also believed that if someone wants to pay money and get "entertained", it's no one's business to stop him (also because, if he's made up his mind, you really can't do much about it!). What I was against, is the push strategy where it was delivered "hot and spicy" right at the door steps without anyone asking for it. Our 13 year old bunty, who's doing his science homework will get his first glimpses in bum pinching without him having to move a finger.

No, I don't have any pretensions that this is going to help emancipate youth and cleanse our society. But I am sure, this is logically the only thing we could do to make sure there's a certain cost in indulging in such pleasures and such things are not stuffed into the dinner time family entertainment.

I think the real fun will start when they face borderline issues as to what's vulgar. I am waiting for Mahesh bhatt and Shiv sena to have an intellectual debate on "To show and what to show"

What's up!

Too many things have been happening in my end the whole week - never realized when it zoomed past. I am barely able to keep my eyes open and I feel so kicked about it :) Some of the things that I really want to talk about

1. I have joined acting classes - they are BRILLIANT! I have not uttered a single dialogue or practised improvisations yet. But, the group involved is so varied and so different from people I meet everyday. Every alternate day the classes go on from 7 to 10 and we land up in Koshy's and keep talking about anything under the sun till 1 in the night (I have a lot more about to write about it - shall make it another blog!).

2. The word of mouth for black is getting really good (and I am personally too kicked about it!). Wherever I go, people are raving about it. The heights of it is this where a guy's given a full page ad asking people to go see the film. Let me do my wee bit here - if you haven't seen it, please do go see it. It's one of the most wonderfully made films I have ever seen.

3. I am catching up with all the wonderful books I have missed out on till now. "Wonderful" - totally going by word of mouth and impressions. So far, it's been the whole of Harry potter and Godfather. I am planning to continue that with 1984 and Catch-22 (all by the end of this month).

Friday, February 11, 2005

Before I say goodnight

Anyone who's ever had an extra-marital affair will understand how I feel about my new blogspot right now ;) I have been furiously writing there and I still have more :)

Lazy me in a lovely vacation

I am having a lovely vacation - sitting in my couch more than 13 hours of the day doing things I love to do. A quick summary of the last few days in chennai will look like
  • Finally finished Harry Potter - Order of the Phoenix. I know I am like light years late in doing so. However, I joined the bandwagon recently and am doing overtime to catch up with the rest :)
  • Blogged - A LOT! I know - doesn't reflect here does it. The answer is in the end. I'll give you a sneak peak. Click here.
  • Have been following Bihar elections quite seriously. Here's what NDTV had to comment "Laloo prasad today openly challenged Mulayam singh Yadav in the bihar elections. Excerpt from his interview - "What does Mulayam singh think of himself. What will he do in Bihar. Let these elections end. I will puncture his cycle!" - Man, that sounded fatal!
  • Of course, my cousin's engagement is on monday. So, had to make a few courtesy calls to the boy's side and tell them I am a software engineer working in bangalore and I am definitely not keen on marrying immediately.
Most importantly - I finally managed to sit before my computer at home, back to the cozy environs and a trustworthy computer. I think blogging is an addiction - something, once you start is very difficult to stop. It's like a voice - as if it's another person - giving a running commentary from inside my head, enunciating every emotion I go through. Doesn't matter even if you don't have a pen or paper - through out my trip to kerala, I have been furiously blogging inside my head making the insides of my skull (if someone manages to see it) like a graffiti board or like John Nash's office. I have covered about half the journey till now - shall be updating it tonight again. Posted it all in a new blog site - hoping optimistically that I shall continue doing this (blogging) for all my subsequent trips. Letzee.
Okie dokey .. time up in the iway. Shall go home now. Please do visit my travel diary till Monday when I shall be back in Namma bangaluru :)
[One suggestion - start from the bottom of the page to read it in chronological order :-)]

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Black - An emotional odyssey

As I am sitting here trying to pen the whole gamut of emotions I am going through, I close my eyes and try feeling the letters and symbols embossed in every key of the keyboard; I try imagining how the letters appear and align themselves on the screen; I try to unlearn everything that I have seen, heard and hence understood and see if I could just feel it with touch. I wonder how I would feel if I couldn’t speak to anyone about whatever I am going through, holding them all inside - in a dark room called my heart, where all I could see till my vision ends is nothingness. I would never know how it feels, but I was there today, watching it through an open window - a narrow crack - and I now understand how overwhelming it feels. To call Sanjay leela bhansali’s black a movie would be an understatement. Black is a surreal experience.

There have times in the past when bhansali made movies that were grand, beautiful and unashamedly poetic. But beyond all that grandeur and poetry was an emotional hollow, a shallowness that was eerily out of place because the settings were so perfect - like a frame made to adorn a master piece placed over a jaded black and white photograph. The viewer could never relate to what Vanraj in hum dil de chuke sanam or Devdas or paro in his recent movie were going through - they could vaguely guess, out of human intuition that they were going through a lot of pain. But there was clearly a difference between THEM on screen and US viewers. With black, he’s finally given life to a painting and let it talk to us. He's practically opened the door to a heart of someone whose every vent to express herself is shut beyond redemption.

The settings - To call black minimalist would be terribly false. Black is rich, vivid and lush - not just emotionally but aesthetically too. Each frame shows a man who’s dreamt every single pixel of the screen that you see. The story of black is beyond the confines of time. But the props and the settings - including the car, the palatial house of aristocratic Christians, and the streets around Michelle’s college (so reminiscent of the Hollywood classics of the 30s) - have shifted the movie half a century behind. The winter of Shimla, the bleakness of an asylum, the emptiness that usually surrounds Michelle, the majesty of her house have all been captured so beautifully and most importantly, aided by some brilliant background score by Monty, talk to you as if they were characters themselves.

The performances - 10 year-old Ayesha kapur and Rani mukerjee have nothing much in common. Neither the beautiful curls that adorn the little girl’s face, nor the chubby look or completely differently chiseled features. But one thing that they do have in common is sheer brilliance with which they have essayed this role. The little girl is SPLENDID! Right from showing her transition from a near animal to a fine young lady, to the desperation she feels in not being able to express her anguish, anger and pain, she does it all with élan. To say this is Rani’s best performance doesn’t say enough - Relying completely on her eyes and signs to convey what she feels, she’s done a fantastic job. Her happiness is completely unadulterated, her despair total and her exuberance fills the entire screen. Shernaz patel has played the role of the loving mother with great dignity. She fits the role of the Christian wife and mother to the T. Dhritiman Chatterjee and Nandana sen as father and daughter are adequate. As always, one man stands tall (quite literally) amidst such stellar performances. Amitabh Bachchan’s eyes speak volumes in every scene. There’s just a fleeting mention about how he lost a sibling to a mental asylum. That the pain is burning like an ember inside him, runs like undercurrent in every scene he is present and justifies his maniacal attitude towards Michelle’s future - As he says in the movie, she was his last chance.

Scenes to watch out for

  • When Michelle's mom realizes that Michelle can't neither speak nor see
  • When Michelle 'says' her first word
  • When Michelle expresses how she will never know how it's to be loved by a man! (This scene literally blew me! Literally!)
  • The final monologue

A few very minor could-ve-been betters

  • Amitabh's makeup in the beginning (and in the end) seemed a bit overdone
  • His dialogue delivery in the beginning is too fast to be comprehended. It takes one time to get used to it.
  • "Mrs. McNealy" after sometime turned out as much "too much of a good thing" as "Mr.Anderson" in Matrix trilogy.
  • Though I really appreciate how he's stayed focussed in saying his story, I felt the interaction between Rani and Amitabh when the former is trying to help the latter could have been shown more in detail.

I wouldn’t know when a movie makes its way from amidst the good and the also-ran to the citadel of classics. I am not sure whether Black would run for even a month in the theaters or would be nominated for the Oscars. But I do know the feeling of having seen a fantastic movie - having seen a work of art that’s a beautiful painting, a symphony that takes you through an emotionally intense odyssey of smiles and tears leaving your heart numb for a while, when you travel back to the depths of your heart, to in the middle of a heavy silence, a nothingness - a serene emotion that’s painted black.

I felt it today.

From a dingy browsing center in guruvayur

This - I declare - is the shadiest (if there's a word like that) internet browsing center I have been in. Firstly, I get a feel of all those false screen tricks while trying to access yahoo (so that they can get my passwords). Downloads of the other kind seem to fill the hard disk and lots of poor white women are more than willing to do me favors. Apart from that is this graffiti filled 3 by 5 cabin where someone's given his phone number and has asked me to, well, do it to him ;)

Anyways, not planning to sit here for a long time - Have LOTS to blog about. Shall write an account of the whole trip chronologically once I get to chennai (tomorrow). Till then, here's a blog I wrote on saturday before leaving - after I finished watching Black.

Chalo .. let me make it another post! (coz it's already quite long!)

Friday, February 04, 2005

LCCS - Do you have it in you?

I have been tinkering with this hypothesis off late that the reason corruption and disorder is so rampant in our society is primarily because
  • There's no fear factor. Anyone who's sinning knows the system is too busy to punish him, and the keepers of justice too preoccupied in clearing roads for our ministers to travel that they don't have the time to actually push the system
  • There's a clear distinction between THEM - those who maintain justice and US - those who complain about it. Apart from our personal zones of influence where we can abstain from doing anything wrong, there're no immediate ways in which we can make a difference
  • The options we have usually are EITHER-OR. As in, if I wanted to do something to curb corruption I have options that involve forsaking my present way of life (politics, public service commission) or get involved with a dreary, choking justice system.
So, I came up with this idea of LCCS - Layman corruption control squad. Now, anyone in any profession or walk of life can enrol himself in this squad and he will be given a general introduction about our jurisdiction, what constitutes a crime and some sleuth tricks (for collecting relevant evidence - on paper, audio and video) and they are back into our society. Whenever, in their daily life, they are encountered with situations where they are asked for bribe or something, they can collect enough evidence and submit it to anticorruption courts (which run very similar to customer courts) which can then take immediate action. A few enthusiastic fellows can go out of their way, scheme and implicate those who are involved in serious corruption.The advantages that I see in this approach are the following
  • There's always a fear factor (something, the south indian director, shankar, plays with in every alternate movie of his - someone-is-out-there factor!). You never know who's in the LCCS and hence there's always an impending risk of getting caught.
  • People can now involve themselves in such activities without getting out of their usual routines.
  • Once something like this is up, you would know very clearly the line of difference between those who complain and do nothing and those who actually want to do something about the present situation.
Of course, one can do this without LCCS you may say. but the advantages are firstly, the concept of anti-corruption courts which make sure our judicial system is not burdened more and secondly, there are so many who want to do something but don't know where to start. This will give them a place to start.

Of course, this will not solve all problems. There are so many issues in the top level (right till the top most chair). Our LCCS cannot solve those problems. While I was at INSEAD, I had the chance to listen to AK Singh who was then the chairman of Planning commission. He elucidated it beautifully, "A guy who comes to your house can ask you for some bribe before setting up your phone line. Why because he has the discretion to give you or not give you the phone line coz he is the only one who can give it to you. Bring in 5 more providers and he loses this discretion. The only way to reduce corruption is to downsize the government, introduce privatization and encourage free market." - Totally agree with him. Even if that means, throwing off those CPI fellows out of the coalition and start the disinvestment ministry functioning again.

Just as I am writing this, my room mate and I have started discussing a lot of related issues. More on that later! It's 1:30 in the night and I have to sleep now.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Bas ek sawal :)

At the risk of making my blog look like one of those irritating e-questionnaires, I ask you a question.

If you have a blogspot, can you tell me why you blog. I know it's one of those vague questions that have a million answers. But I would love to know what you think. This is for an article and I shall quote your opinion with your names in it :) Even if you don't blog, you can tell me why you think other people blog :)

You can either send a mail to rathish_balakrishnan at yahoo dot com or leave a comment here.

thanks so much (even for taking time and reading this) :)

Counting the number of blogs in a click

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. - Ezekiel 25:17."

Just as the blog world is crippled by the inefficiences of blogger, one man stands tall amidst ruins to hold the brewing-coffee for the rest of them to bask in bliss. One man - hitting theaters soon!

Please find below a code snippet that will help you find how many blogs you have written so far.

What you have to do.

1. Go to the edit posts page in blogger and copy the whole list of blogs that is listed there.
2. Save it in a simple text file.
3. Find a Java IDE or any machine that has java installed.
4. copy the code below into the java file titled and set the file's location correctly in the code.
5. run it and you will be told how many blogs you have written so far.

* Created on Feb 3, 2005
* Author: Rathish Balakrishnan


public class BlogCounter {

public static void main(String[] args) {

String path = "C:/blogs.txt";
String magicSuffix = "View Delete";
try {
FileReader reader = new FileReader(new File(path));
BufferedReader bw = new BufferedReader(reader);
String line = null;
int noOfBlogs = 0;
while ((line = bw.readLine()) != null) {
if (line.endsWith(magicSuffix))
System.out.println("The number of blogs you have written so far : " + noOfBlogs);
} catch (Exception caught) {
System.out.println("Please make sure you have specified the correct file location");
} // end of method
} // end of class

Hope this helps.

PS: Just realized that the editor kills all tabs making my code look like my first CP1 program. More seriously, the tab between "View" and "Delete" in my "magicSuffix" variable is lost. Fear not, all you have to do is to copy it from the text file yourself and replace it in the variable.

Crazily Genuinely Sensitively!

my mushy streak continues ..... a trifle too long. Read along :)

It all seemed so simple when deepak explained it to me - "Be crazy, sensitive and Genuine; She's yours, no doubt". But what in this world qualifies to be crazy, sensitive and genuine. Jumping from the first floor (stupid!), crying in a movie (wimpy!), reading a poem (too 18th centuryish), writing one (impossible!), singing a song (no comments, next idea!), filling a whole room with roses (too costly), just a card (too cheap!), announcing in the radio (outrageous), writing it all in a letter (too meek) - Oh give me a break. I wouldn't know what he thinks - but travelling 32 hours in an unreserved compartment all the way from delhi to chennai is damned crazy, and as genuine as it can get!

Standing there in the platform 4 hours before the train started, I had no idea how I was ever going to tell her how much I love her. I had 32 hours then and I was sure I could think of something. As a contingency plan, I also carried a book of poems that I planned to cram if I couldn't come up with something original. 32 hours! But the little girl who periodically had to check whether my hair was real by pulling it every second minute, the old man who wanted me to hold a small copper vessel every 15 minutes so that he could spit his betel leaves into it (and all over my hands) and the fat, ugly woman who had noone but me to talk to about her husband who deserted her (understandably!) made sure I had every minute of those 32 hours just for myself. And here I am now sitting in a rickety auto behind a man who tells me he knows every corner of chennai and will take me there in the speed of light.

32 futile pages flipped in 12 minutes - Nothing. not a word that any sane man could tell a girl with a straight face. I can't imagine telling her that my love is "as strong as the wish to drink, she as sweet as the honey, and our lives as content as the satisfaction"! The truth is, there are a hundred reasons why she should outrightly reject me. For starters - We have known each other for just about 6 months. I still have no idea what she likes - the books she reads, the music she listens to, the food she loves and the issues that matter to her. All I know is she doesn't like a LOT of things I do. She doesn't speak my language, doesn't eat fish, finds fast bikes dangerous, and for some strange reason, finds poetry invigorating (Poetry for godsake! I am giving the honey thing a serious thought now!). I closed my eyes and thought of my starting lines - "What would you say, if I tell you I love you a lot?". I didn't realize I said that loudly.

"Enna sir, love-a?", chipped in the auto driver trying to strike a conversation. I wanted him to shut up but didn't know how to say it courteously in tamil, so managed to smile and catch my thought trains again. "I also love marriage sir!". That was interesting. He probably had some ideas that I could use. I wish I knew tamil so that I could strike a personal chord. Given there was no better choice, I stuck to speaking his english. "You too love marriage. Very good. Tell me, how you tell her. Writing letter, good-a".(now adding that "a" to the last word of a sentence, I guessed, was characteristically tamil). "No sir! letter too .. what you say ... bayandhagolithanam (cowardly) ... ok, boring sir. Straight action sir .. like superstar. always success". There he goes! Every T.D.Harry had a set of rules for what works in love life. Anyways, the action part sounded interesting. "What action-a? What you do?" (somehow the "a" didn't fit this time). "I take her to my new house. give her keys and ask to take care. she say yes". "You gave the keys and that's it? she agreed to marry you". He beamed! She said yes to that? God! I have never understood women. but this one is outrageous! Throw away this stupid book. Get me a lock and key. I somehow felt much more confident now. Realizing he was not of much help, I finally made up my mind - that one moment thing is not going to work. I take her to a movie, walk in the beach, crack a lot of self-deprecating jokes (one thing I am good at) and when the sound of wind fills the silence after her longest bouts of laughter, hold her hand and tell her I wanna see her smile like this for the rest of our lives - that sounded good. That was actually damn neat. Shakespeare and shah rukh khan rolled into one! I rock! But the auto driver wasn't about let me off so soon. "My wife, great sir! thanga radham sir ava (she's a golden chariot)". "what?". "Thanga radham ... how I say ...", he looked around desperately seeking inspiration, "Ah!! Golden auto sir! She my golden auto!". With those words, he left me outside a ladies hostel. Just as I got down to pay the bill, she walked out of the gates, gorgeous as ever, those long frills of hair framing her face fluttering in the wind and taking my breath with them. But suddenly, I realized something and froze. Suitcases! She was packing her bags and was leaving somewhere. Her immediate future flashed before my eyes - her father found her an american software engineer who writes short stories, she liked him instantly, agreed to marry him and here she is, leaving for her marriage and I shall for the rest of my life, drink and scream "I object!" like 21st century's devdas.

She looked at me and seemed pleasantly surprised (or shocked?). She dropped her bags there, smiled from one ear to another and walked towards the auto. I asked the driver to wait, gathered all my courage and smiled back.

"What a pleasant surprise? You here? what's up?"

"Actually, I came to meet you. Are you leaving somewhere", I wished it didn't sound as desperate as I actually felt.

"Yup. I am going to a medical camp in a place called kannur in kerala. 15 days - would you be here for long?"

The words "medical camp" have never sounded sweeter! But 15 days was long time. I had to say it and say it here and now.

"No. But I have something to tell you"

She looked at her watch and then at the luggage, looked at me apologetically and asked whether it could wait. It can't - I knew it. A sense of urgency gripped me and I let my guts take stake of my life. I looked at her, smiled nervously and started.

"I would have loved it to be a different place, a different time. But, no matter where and when, Here's what I have to say. I have been missing you like crazy ever since you left. I wouldn't lie to you that I know you too well or that I have thought of this a lot. But what I do know is I love you and I believe it will work. I am not a lot of things - but I definitely am genuine, crazy and sensitive... and you mean a lot to me. You are ...", I snapped my fingers and waited for that appropriate superlative to dawn. A second passed and then two. Something, anything! "You are my golden auto Anjali. And I would like to drive you ... I mean live with you for the rest of our life".

She was flabbergasted for a split instant. I closed my eyes and waited for the slap.

"I am your what?" She started laughing.

This was definitely much better than the tight slap. "My golden auto", I beamed like an idiot.

She broke into peals of laughter, holding her stomach while I stood there, blushing and for some strange reason, happy with myself. After sometime, she stopped laughing, tilted her head to one side, gave me that mischievous smile which split my soul into a million wistful pieces.

"So ... "

She continued smiling, stood on her toes, reached for my cheek and gave me a gentle kiss. "Do you want to come with me to kannur?"

For a second, my vision blurred. I thought I would faint but managed to hold myself. I wanted to answer her but my voice betrayed me. "Yeah sure" I said hoarsely. It just doesn't matter that you are practically sacked if you bunk office for 15 days, that you have just a single piece of spare clothing and that you have no idea what you will do in kannur - when a beautiful girl kisses you in the middle of the road when you least expect it. It was only a couple of seconds later did I realize that she didn't answer my question. Why do girls have to do this all the time. Can't they answer a question directly! I looked at her and then at at the auto driver who was telling her something in tamil.

"Vendamma. nama ooru payan mariyum therila. bayandhagoliya vera irukan .... " (No my girl. He doesn't seem to be from our place. Looks like a coward too ...).

I looked at him quizzically. He gave me that beaming smile again - "I tell her you love her too much sir!". I smiled at him stupidly, as she took my hand and walked towards the auto.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

An ode to she-s

Before I start my blog, here are some personal preferences
  1. If ever there's a question of life and death in my life, I would rather go to a guy than a girl.
  2. If we are planning for a trip and if the group's strength is greater than 2, I would love it if it's just guys so that everything becomes much more simpler and ad hoc.
  3. I spent one and a quarter of an year in france in the company of only guys (almost). Life has never been more uncomplicated and laidback than that. I am only 23 but I don't think I would ever be able to spend such a time again.
Having stated that, let's come to my blog. After having been around for sometime and having spent time with a variety of people, I have realized that it's futile to try compare men and women. I have a hundred and one complaints against women - But I do understand that they probably have the same number of complaints against men and as every human, I underestimate my deficiences. We are two very different species, apart from certain physical similarities and it's wise to handle a specimen at a time without making sweeping generalizations and contrasts.

I, personally, am very happy to be a guy. I feel that the sense of adventure, the laidback attitude, the emotional simplicity and the lack of choices suit me quite well (I do realize that the cause and effect equation is the other way round). At the sametime, I am really glad that there are women in this world. Not only because of what they do to the world but also, as most evolutionary research and practical experience suggest, for what they make out of mere men.

Here are some oft-quoted yet very heart-felt reasons why I love the presence of girls in my life
  • How they made a civilized man out of an animal that I once was. Right from my mom to Praveena (my friend since the age of 4), I know how each one of them have taken pains to refine me and everytime habit of mine - right from the way I eat to how I dress - and add the wee bit of sophistication that's now part of me.
  • How - however pessimistic they are about their own future - they still believe in my utopian dreams about a perfect tomorrow and listen to me, with such faith in their eyes, as I go on and on about how I will make it happen and how I would change the world.
  • How they taught me to empathize with pain and suffering, see someone else's misfortune as my own and instill whatever faith I carry in believing that good begets good.
  • How they can play mothers to the hilt - prescribing medicines for every illness under the sun, chiding me for missing lunch or dinner, worry while I go do all antics like bungee jumping, scuba diving and complain when I get drenched in the rain and end up with a headache - and do it all so sweetly.
  • How they add that special something to an evening - the smile, the feeling of total and complete satisfaction in their eyes - that when I walk back singing the lovliest of songs at the skies in the most horrible ways possible, I feel like the king of the world. I can NEVER ever experience that feeling of high in the company of a fellow-man!
  • How they say - enunciate how they feel about you, in words, gifts and sometimes in colors down to the the very fibre and subatomic quark of every emotion and its variations - a whole layered verbal canvas I so deeply admire but seldom understand and yet feel special about.
  • How they manage to do those trivial gestures - holding my hand while crossing a busy road, resting their head on my shoulder after those long days, or just calling out my name instinctively when caught in a crisis - and make me feel like a comic strip superhero with a swollen chest of pride and responsibility.
  • How they turn a wayward teenager into a responsible guy, just by being themselves, listening to every crap I dish out and trusting me on any issue under the sun.
This should do for another 2000 years! It's quite an effort writing the whole thing without, for once, being sarcastic because it's quite out of character to speak such mushy stuff without turning cynical. What the heck - this is the last week I am blogging before Valentine's day (next week, i am off to kerala) - So, let's paint in red mademoiselle!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

It just stuck me ...

  1. In the last two weeks, I have been called the following (not in a light-hearted or funny way! far from it actually)- cut throat professional, heartless, artificial, not funny, stoic, Xtremely flirtatious, a grandfather (!!) and others I don't remember now :) - all this by people who have endured me for more than 4 years and, surprisingly, form a group of people who love me for who I am (despite all that! can you believe that!). Not that I feel really bad about it. I am just curious whether there's anything common among all these traits that forms something like a crux of my personality.
  2. Totally unrelated to point 1, 70% of the people I have any form of personal interaction with - acquaintances I meet, friends I am in touch with, people whose blogs I read - are nursing a broken heart out of lost love and about the other 30%, i don't know enough. I think something's really wrong in the air.