Saturday, October 02, 2004

Amerikanski speak

An American politician has said that if Musharaf is removed as the president of Pakistan, it would consider strikes against Pakistani nuclear assets, according to Times of India. This conforms to the long standing tradition of American policies. If you do not have a favourable ruler, you can expect them to force-feed 'democracy' to you. Good thing India is a huge country and is not in the Americas. Otherwise, CIA agents would have assassinated the PM for his pinko-commie backing. Don't worry if massive human rights violations are going on, like in Chile, just ensure that not even a slightly left government is elected and attack anyone who condemns such things.

Guest Lectures

This is old news, really. Guest lectures at my insti are always a bore, except for some. What they do is just eat up into the precious free time available which would have been spent on clearing the backlog of sleep. However, some really are worth attending. Like, the one by Mr. Robert Blake, the US Chargé d'Affaires for India on 23rd August. He spent some time answering the questions posed by the students, most of them questioning the Iraq war, the new Visa system, and the finger printing system of USA. He was truly the diplomat he was and answered every question satisfactorily. However, this is not about him. This is about the Defense Attaché, Col. Steven Sboto who accompanied him. He did not mingle much with the students and stayed away from us.

I had a small chat with him. He was a true republican. He hated Michael Moore and his movies because they were false. What must have distracted him was the fact that I was wearing a pink shirt. Apparently, only females and male homosexuals wear pink in the USA. Though he must have realised by now that pink is the 'blue of India'. Another guy cut in and started talking about the army and such crap.

That aside, my friend had a question to ask - Why only the football captains in American movies are heroes and not geeks. The Colonel said that was not true, the superheroes, spider man and superman were are geeks. I thought, but only when they were not geeks, they went to save the world and got the girls, but did not ask.

When my friend asked the same question to Mr. Blake, he started saying that, he too was a geek and envied the jocks (as he called them). Later, when he became a diplomat, the tables were turned and he was the hero everywhere he went and his jock friends were envious.

Later, it started raining and I am not quite used to rains. Chennai is hot for most of the year and it rains a week every year. We talked for some time about the climate, then I had tea and puffs and came back to my room, and lived happily ever after :)

A Silly Battle

I had joined a group with two other guys for a class called Society, Business and Management. This class is meant to impart the importance of social responsibility, ethics, and other things that are considered 'utter crap' in the corporate world. We have a small assignment, where the group has to make a small quarter hour presentation on one of the chapters in the prescribed text book. The book is ironically named "Business Ethics".

The issue is the guy wanted me to submit 'my part' of the presentation last night itself. Being a busy guy, with two other assignments, a huge backlog and a very important assignment on the same day as this assignment, I had to prioritise my work. This was the first thing we were taught here - priorities are important. I guess this is why ethics had to be 'taught' in a management institute. Profits are given more priority and hence job security, that social responsibility and other 'crap' come last.

This guy wanted me to finish my part of the presentation so that he could add his part over it and proclaim 'he did it'. This had happened last term also. Last term, in another assignment, he was constantly pressurising me to finish my part of a report while claiming he has finished his. When I checked, he had started nothing! He was waiting for me to finish so that he could just add a word here or there. Finally, this was what had happened. This time, too, I have completed 'my part' so that he could do 'his part'. Just the last night, he had come to my room and wanted to hear me say that I will give it tonight. I did not say such things and used the universal word, ASAP. Now, this ASAP is a very beautiful word. It gives a sense of urgency while being non-commital. You can say, I will do it ASAP and still not do anything.

One very interesting thing that MBA teaches is reading between the lines and making mountains out of mole hills which he seems to have mastered. I must mention this guy has a history of fighting (not physically, verbally) with every one in my class. He takes offense where none is meant, and always walks around with a chip on his shoulder. However, he never realises that he irritates the shit out of everybody but maintains that everyone is out there to get him.

Anyways, the transcript is too long by a blog's standards, so I have put that in a special page:
An I being unethical by posting this conversation?

Life is beautiful

Life sucks. As Norm Peterson said how life treated him, it beats me, and it kicks me, and leaves me for dead. Still, there is that one thing that happens which reminds you, in spite of this, life is beautiful.

A big assignment for a cruel professor, a small assignment for a kind but strict professor, backlogs in many subjects, still there is one subject which I not only willingly attend, but is the best class ever here.

Such a worry head that I am, thinking about the assignments, as I went to have my cup of tea, I saw a beautiful sight, a rainbow that formed after the rain today. Small things like these make me enormously happy, like the light shining through clouds, a stray puppy following you, your favourite song on the radio, your mom making hot snacks when you come home. Life sucks, but you will love it.

Child Labour

I was eating in my insti mess one day when I saw a kid about 11 years old, wearing a dirty, over-sized hand-me-down shirt standing behind a counter and emptying plates half-filled with food into the dust-bin. I felt, wow, a school that teaches social responsibility and business ethics gave the mess contract to a company that employs children to work. Not just the mess, but even the housekeeping services employs children below 16. I could have complained and prevented children from being employed.

I realised, if these kids are not working here they won't be sent to a school to study or play with the other kids, they will be sent to work somewhere else like a workshop or some roadside restaurant. There, they will have a very hard time - I have seen and heard of kids being hit with spanners, constantly bullied by the older kids, their hard earned money being stolen away. They too will become like this after spending time there. How exactly are petty criminals created? At least, here they are safer and they have a warm place to sleep, three square meals a day and a non-leaking roof over their head.

It is hard, but sometimes you have to look the other way.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Raindrops keep falling on my head

It has been raining crazy in Indore. By that I don't mean heavily, just plain crazily. It rained a week and 2 days ago heavily for a few hours. For the next three days, the sun was blazing on my back. Then the rain started again. Raindrops the size of small stones fell. For the next three days, again, the sun was cruel to the creatures in Indore. Today, the rain started again. This time, it was accompanied by furious winds. I could see it raining a few kilometers to the west of our hill. The wind was so strong, spray carried to our hill from the place of rain! In the next five minutes, it was raining cats and dogs. It was like rain was coming from the top, the side and up from the ground. A classroom was almost flooded, well rain water just started seeping in from under the door, but one-thirds of the lecturer's floor had water. Will it ever rain like this in Chennai?

Yesterday and Today

What is the difference between yesterday and today? As my classmate GJ said,
Yesterday: april may-ila pasumaye illa kaanju poachuda...
Today : pattam boochigal parakuthu parakuthu, kannamoochigal nadathuthu nadathuthu

Yes, the first years have returned from their vacations.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

"Saint of the gutters", my Arse

• Mother Teresa as we know her now was the myth created in 1969 by Malcolm Muggeridge
• Decimated the good image Calcutta had and changed its moniker from "City of Joy" to "City of Slums", an image the city is still trying to shed
• Was opposed to birth control
• Said she wanted to open a 'special jail' for doctors who performed abortions (what would happen in these 'special jails', only she would know)
• Endorsed Sanjay Gandhi's pogrom of forced sterilisation of the poor (slumdwellers, including those who never married)
• ignored numerous other human rights abuses, sudden disappearances, perpetrated by Sanjay Gandhi and his goons
• Tried to stop the abortions by women victimised by Pakistani soldiers in Bangladesh
• Advised a 14-year old rape victim to keep the baby
• "I say, forgive" - as uttered to the Bhopal gas tragedy survivors
• founded the Missionaries of Charity
• her organisation did only token work during disasters
• while ignoring major catastrophes like Latur earthquake, Uttarkashi earthquake
• 'Special prayers' on her birthday for the people dead in Ferozpur rail crash
• Accepted the Legion d'Honneur from Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the worst dictator of Haiti
• Went to Albania to pay respects to Enver Hoxha, cunning, ruthless and fanatical, and one of the most repressive rulers of the 20th century
• Accepted more than a million US dollars from Charles Keating who caused more than 21 000 old investors to lose their life savings worth US$ 285 million; a conservative catholic, it figures
• Accepted money worth hundreds of millions of pounds from Robert Maxwell who embezzled it from his employees' pension funds; an orthodox jew
• Refused to return these money when requested back by the authorities
• Money worth hundreds of millions of US Dollars parked in banks worldwide, collected in the name of charity but not used for it
• Still appealing for charities when the money collected is not being used
• Created "Houses of the Dying", not hospitals or clinics as widely believed, where poor people and lepers could go to die (was that her way of saying, ‘go to hell’?)
• But wanted only the best medical care for her
• Was exorcised while hospitalised in a wealthy hospital in Calcutta
• Quoted as wishing to finish her life in a "House of the Dying" like the poor people attended to by her organisation
• Actually died in her luxurious bedroom surrounded by modern cardiac machinery
• The 'exemplary, un-paralleled charity work' by her MoC; a myth, propagated by herself; seemed to have ended with her death

Why I hate Indianisation

When I go to an American restaurant or watch an American channel, I just don’t want to do these things, I want to experience them. If I go to Pizza Hut, I want pizza with anchovies, pepperoni or sausage, not peppy paneer or chicken tikka or chicken tandoori or even chicken chettinad. That's why I prefer the local eatery to McDonald's in Mumbai. Subway and Marrybrown must be the only truly international restaurants in India. Marrybrown has the same menu as in Malaysia or Singapore.

When I watch Cartoon Network, I want to hear Popeye say 'I am Popeye the sailor man', or tweety bird say 'oh that puddy cat' in English, not in Hindi. I want the original. Just to gain some .02% increase in the ratings, these dim-witted marketing idiots do such brainless things. Who watches Discovery Channel anyway? Only the so-called 'convent educated, westernised' upper-middle class and upper class. Do they really need it in Hindi? Or for that matter in Tamil. Your ratings might have increased but the television equivalent of passion score actually might have decreased. That means the advertisements are not being watched. For the retards in advertising, this means your ads are ineffective, you are paying more for less. You can't advertise premium products in channels which the rich don't watch.

The same goes for other channels. The same goes for MTV. At least give me MTV Asia. I am not interested in watching the hero and heroine dreaming dance sequences in Switzerland or New Zealand or bellies gyrating to kanta laga remix. I want dawg and his homies watching booties shakin', hell, I will even watch the talentless hacks, the boy and/or girl bands. In fact, they are more watchable than these film songs which are copies of English songs anyway.

May the best sleeper win

Removed on request

Monday, September 27, 2004

How do you say "mind-numbing bunk" in Hindi?

With due apologies to Elysa Gardner of USA Today who used this for Bombay Dreams, this is exactly what I felt when I saw Mithun Chakraborthy's film. For the last 4 days, our insti movie club has been screening 2 movies a day, from 10pm to 2am. This has been a pretty easy term and the guys are chilling out, Perhaps too much. Today was Mithun da's movie ‘Chandaal’. I did not get to see the whole movie but I saw the movie for about 20 minutes and got a feel of what was coming. His movies have an absurd story line, with a ridiculous plot, raunchy songs, melodrama (I would prefer over-acting like my mom says), and unbelievable fight scenes. They also have such quotable dialogues like, "Kaanoon sun rahaa hai" (The law is listening).

One guy in my class says "He has redefined cinema, his movies can’t be called C grade, they are M-grade as one site says!"

Armed only with my limited knowledge of Hindi and passion to see the legend on screen, I went to see the movie. The screening room was with about 15 people. A few minutes into the movie, the crowd swelled to 20 odd enthusiasts. As the movie progressed, the residents stabilised to 10 and an equal floating population. Some came only for the songs, and some for the award winning acting of Mithun. Yeah, this guy has won 4 national awards.

Within 20 minutes, I saw two songs, a court scene, a police-station scene, a jail scene, few sentimental scenes, one flashback, one voice-over flashback, two murders, one revenge scene, one 'I love you' scene, one symbolic love scene, not necessarily in that order and some scenes overlap.

The movie started at the bottom and trying to go downhill could only burrow towards the centre of the earth. After a chai (tea in Hindi), and a small chat, I went back to see the movie. This time it was a comedy scene which makes Jerry Lewis look funny. The comedian sits in a grave-yard, chats unknowingly with two spooks, then realises they are ghosts, shrieks and faints. You know, the way we used to play as kids. All the jokes are typical Indian cinema-type.

Next is another fight. This time the hero fights eight henchmen single-handedly. We see four hulks coming to beat up our Mithun-da and threaten him. Mithun-da doesn’t even flinch; he goes into overdrive and takes care of them – one by one then two to four at a time. Some moves are etched into the mind. The adorable Mithun, with a single flow of his steel arm, hits the bad guys in a row. Next, with a quick strike, the four are knocked down like flimsy dominoes. After this, one baddie materialises out of nowhere behind him. Our darling Mithun is not the one to be dazed. Without even looking at what the guy behind him is doing, he blocks every shot and punch. Still without having to turn around, the bad, bad villain is pounded and ends up in a heap on the floor.

Basically, the above are in a loop, with just different places, costumes, dialogues and settings. This was all I could handle. I have used up all the adjectives for our venerable Mithun-da so I must stop here without sounding redundant and sounding like a transcript.

For your pleasure, I present some of the high quality scenes and dialogues.

Scene: the hero is taken from the court to the jail. Our heroine is run of the mill (cinematic) reporter in deep in love with the hero and considers him her husband for all generations to come.

Heroine: hello sir
Hero: who are you?
Heroine: I am a reporter; I want to write all about you
Hero: go away, leave me alone
Heroine: (silent)

Hero is being taken away in an armoured van

Heroine: (shouts) I love you

Cut to scene, heroine is talking with her friend, mostly I could not understand, but something related to the love of our lovely heroine to the hunky hero. To prove her undying love for him, she goes to a (sindoor) holder, takes it in her right ring finger and applies it to the parting of her hair, the symbol of a married woman. That is to say, she is symbolically and spiritually married to our hero.

Context: heroine wants to prove hero is innocent, so she goes to the police station to see the inspector

Heroine: I want to see the files of hero
Inspector: why?
Heroine says something about right to information or such thing, I could not understand inspector goes and takes the smallest file from a tiny stack of files and gives it to her.

Cue music - horrible rendition of 'Saare Jahan Se Accha'. Scene changes, heroine stands in front of the national flag, facing the governor. In line with Indian movie etiquette, only the back of his head is shown, as speaking to the heroine. She tells something and he nods, heroine namastes him and goes away. No dialogues in this scene, the scene floats in the music.

Scene cut to jail. Hero comes wearing your traditional jail garb and talks to the jailor.

Jailor: you have been decided innocent by the governor. You are free to go now. Here are the clothes you wore coming here, and here is some money. You earned it working inside the jail.
Hero spouts some historically recordable dialogue, takes away his dress and money and leaves.

These movies cannot be expressed in writing or second hand. You have to experience it first hand and submerge in it. Please leave your logic outside. While leaving, you will feel light-hearted and all your worries would have vanished, forever. Once you go for Mithun, you will never go back.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

To boldly go where no spam has gone before

Got my first spam on gmail today. dont know whether to be happy or sad. Happy - receiving a long last friend ;) Sad - this happened on gmail, the one with superior spam filtering technology.

The Forgotten Slavery

This thought entered my mind when I was chatting with a friend of mine in the USA. He is a speech pathologist working with disadvantaged American children in New York, USA. He asked me a few questions and it set things rolling inside my head.

We all have read about African slavery and how hundreds of thousands of people from Africa were enslaved, shipped away under inhuman conditions to far off Americas. But we never hear anything about the millions of another group of blackies or niggers, whatever you may call them, forcefully transplanted to these locations. I am talking about the Indians taken away to labour in the newly founded sugar plantations of west Indies, Fiji, Mauritius, Australia and numerous other British colonies. They were shipped out of India after African slavery was banned in these places. This happened just more than 150 years ago. After the civil war in America ended and while the blacks were granted freedom from slavery, blacks of another breed were sold into slavery. The same blacks who were alien to these lands fought these new set of blacks.

We don't read anything about these, not even in history books in India. Even the rabid nationalist and right wing BJP, which rewrote history books to rant about the cruelty to the RSS ‘freedom fighters’ and Veer Savarkar by the British rulers did not seem it was important to talk about this. The old books had a fleeting mention of this, but they merely said that some Indians were ‘forced to go to’ new sugar plantations.

All these are being presented in the historical film 'Guiana 1838'. So many world historians have come to document their sufferings but 160 years of Indian history has been almost wiped out.

I did get to see the Trailer of this movie courtesy of the friend who experiences the discrimination first-hand. The police always seem to think he is an Arab/Muslim/Islamic fundamentalist and constantly stop him for identification.