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Eternal sunshine of the rambling mind

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bringing back to life

My primary grievance against my favourite authors has always been that most of them chose to limit their creative output when it came to their most memorable fictional characters. Every Wodehousian fan will wish there were more Jeeves and Wooster stories to chuckle at and I was quite depressed when I finished the last of the Potter books. It was no different for me with everyone’s favourite detective Sherlock Holmes. Of course, you can keep going back and re-read the canon and watch Jeremy Brent in the BBC adaptation, but there can be no encore when it comes to bringing the character back to life, is there?

So, I have really relished the BBC television series “Sherlock” where Benedict Cumberbatch plays the detective and Martin Freeman plays the re-invented side-kick John Watson. And talking about re-invention, that is the best part of this series for me. It is easy to make a spoof and a commercially sound strategy to borrow a few references to colour your own stories, but it is an entirely different matter to re-invent the characters in a modern day setting and employ numerous canonical references that the fans would appreciate and enjoy. And here is a stellar job on that score.

Holmes continues to be a scientific practitioner of the art of detection; he now has smartphones (an Iphone by the way…hmmm…fodder for a good argumentative discussion) and more advanced forensic tools to aid him. Watson is a tad smarter and at times leaves you thinking that he is in love with Holmes – Mr Milk, take a bow ! But the best of all, I have found one of my favourite villains till date in Andrew Scott’s Moriarty. You got to watch the second season to really enjoy his portrayal.

And guess what, as all good things in life and fiction, there are just three episodes to each of the first two seasons. Best chance for even the non-Holmesians amongst my friends to catch up on some quality drama.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Bhag D K !

Irreverential, rib-tickling and total paisa vasool - that's Delhi's under Belly served on a platter with a generous serving of outrageous scenes and garnished with a mouthful of obscenities. The audience relished every bit of it, everyone sat through even the credits at the end.

Deo has done a good job with this situational comedy and the A-certificate was a marketing masterstroke. Lots of attention to detail. I liked Kunal Roy Kapur's acting as the friend with the diarrhoea. Not surprisingly, his best moments in the movie are shot in the loo. Good use of the cliche slapstick comedy devices - farts, noises and all; his expressions made them stand out. Newcomer Poorna Jagannathan is quite impressive. But Vijay Raaz must take a bow - he was the best of them all with his trademark swagger and dialogue delivery. Then there are the potshots at Mithunda.

My friend who saw the movie with me didn't even notice that the dialogues were all in English - almost all of them ! Funny!

This movie certainly reinforces Brand Amir Khan - King Midas.

Do watch it and take a crowd along. Just leave the kid and parents at home.

By the way, Ajay Devgan looks good in Surya's rule in the upcoming Singham remake. He is going to give Salman 'Dabang' Khan a run for his money!


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Inflation - the sorry tale

There is a lot of talk about inflation and the increase in food prices these days. But when I think of inflation there are other things that worry me more...

One of the biggest distorting factors in our economy is the state of taxation in our country. It is so inequitable - everybody except the salaried escapes the net - that it leaves a lot of unaccounted money floating. That cant be put to any easy productive use and finds its way into the real estate sector and perhaps the stock market (this I am not sure though). I haven’t seen reliable figures on the inflation in the real estate market myself and the consumer price inflation index doesn’t take into account this factor at all. Which is very surprising to me because housing is a universal basic expense for everyone - poor included. In fact for the poor and the middle-class, it probably forms as much as 20% of their monthly expense. And the inflation in the real estate market and the services sector, I think, is galloping ahead of the CPI. That is the bigger danger. So I think the 6-7% inflation is all bull. And unless we take urgent steps to achieve a more equitable growth and growth in all sectors of the economy, inequity in society will cause lots of social unrest manifesting in so many other forms. Thats India’s biggest challenge today and not achieving sustained 8% growth or matching China’s march.

And agriculture and infrastructure should be the biggest area of focus. Investing in infrastructure and improving agricultural productivity is most important and better in the long run than macro-economic interventions like tweaking the interest rate and reducing the liquidity. Instead of trying to manage inflation, we would do better to manage its effects. And subsidies are necessary but they should be better thought through. Offering farmers incentives to move away from pulses to cash crops doesn’t seem like a great idea to me, especially considering that probably no other country grows these lentils. All said and done, I think the biggest source of food price increases still remains manipulation by some cartels and hoarders, FCI included.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Travails of a linguistically challenged in Taiwan

Language is the dress of thought - so said Samuel Johnson and in this respect, I was naked today.

Well, when one applies normal yardsticks, I am certainly not linguistically challenged. I can speak 4 languages and understand a fifth - as is the case with many Indians. But when it comes to being in Taiwan, circumstances are no more normal and the trio of English, Hindi and Tamil that I relied on for the past 25 years of my life failed me during these last two weeks. When I left for Taiwan, lots of well-wishers warned me that the only problem, and not a small one, in Taiwan would be to find vegetarian food. But I think on that count, I needn't have feared at all. I might have been better equipped, if instead of the few ready-to-cook packets of veg fare, I had carried a English to Mandarin dictionary or guidebook. Very few people in this part of the world understand English, much less speak the language, but for a couple of service staff in the hotel where I am put up, a few sales-coordinators in the partner-company here and a three-member team from my company stationed here.

This is my second short trip in a period of six months. During my first visit, one day the drain in my bathroom got clogged and I dialed the concierge to seek the help of the housekeeping staff. When I tried to explain to her my predicament, she failed to understand. "Clogged" and "flush" wouldnt work, so I tried telling her that the "water in my bathroom doesnt go". She gave an exclamation of immediate understanding and I sighed - finally I got through. But to my dismay, she asked me a return question - Hot Water or Cold water? It took me a few seconds to realise that she thought there was no water coming through the tap/shower. I then vehemently and repeatedly said "No !", that was not it. I spent another couple of minutes and then I finally mouthed just two words "Housekeeping - send ". Ten minutes later, I had a helpful lady at my door and I showed her, without attempting to explain, my problem. She immediately went ahead and solved it !

In Taiwan, you simply cannot go out onto the streets and hope to get directions from a passerby. No one you meet on the streets would understand English. And if you thought you could just mouth the name of the place or shop you seek and be understood, you will be in for a surprise. In Chinese, the proper nouns also different - the name itself differs and hence the pronunciation too. For instance, my hotel name is Ambassador but in Chinese its "Kopeen". Similarly, the company I visit daily is also called differently in Chinese. So, the best thing to do here, I learnt later, is to take a card which has the name written in chinese characters and show it to the taxi driver, the bus-driver (if you are brave enough to try one) or the passerby on the street (you can atleast make out the direction towards which his hand points ! ).

In fact, one of the reason why I am here is because of this communication barrier. The task for which I am here could possibly have been directed remotely from my office in Bangalore. But apart from the slow pace of progress which it will entail, the bigger problem is information lost in translation. I am here in relation to some work with a sub-contract mfg company in Taiwan. When I work with them from Bangalore, I usually communicate through a local Cypress intermediary at their office in Taiwan in English. He then communicates it in simpler instructions and elementary English to an engineer from this firm (who understands a bit of English) and he in turn translates it into Chinese to the engineer who will actually work on the task. I find that often critical information is lost, mis-interpreted in this chain of translation resulting in lot of mistakes and re-work. This is not acceptable and hence the reason why I am here.

But the beauty is I find that quite a few employees at this Taiwanese firm are able to understand and write decent English in their emails. But when you speak the same sentence, they cant understand. Something akin to how many Tamilians used to learn Hindi through postal govt courses and certifications ("Rashtrabhasha" etc) in the past but couldnt speak well because of lack of exposure to the spoken form. So I always walk around with a paper and pen in the office here in Taiwan.

But since Taiwan does a lot of business with the US, English language skill is accorded a premium here and people pay big bucks to learn the Queen's language ...eh...the yankee's language perhaps.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Great beginning

I have had a great beginning to this year - one of the best beginnings till date, I guess. I started 2007 in a very good fashion - with a very good cup of coffee in the company of close friends. We attended a very boisterous (as much as it can be in dry Gujarat) New Year's eve party in Baroda and settled down at a friend's home with a cup of coffee each as midnight approached and talking on the phone to other unfortunate friends who couldn't be there. And my New year began with a much-needed relaxing ten day stint at my home, with parents.

On the professional front as well, recognition and monetary benefits have poured in. There is atleast one event which also holds a lot of promise for the future. Personal life has been eventful as well. But those are well-kept secrets. But the most important thing is my resolution that 2007 will be the year when I shall reclaim my life. So lets see what this year holds for me....

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hail the new Mr Bond !

When I first saw Daniel Craig's pic (I havent seen any of his earlier movies), I was surprised at the choice of the latest actor to portray Mr 007. I thought this surely will hasten the end of the Bond saga. Kahan dashing PB aur kahan ye jerk ! I also read that this is the movie where Bond becomes 007 and gets his "license to kill", so I expected to see a movie set in the real olden days and hence sans all the modern day stunts, gadgets and a toned down version of the regular Bond paraphernalia.

But well, this evening proved me wrong on both counts. Since I had a wonderful saturday evening to enjoy but nothing much to do in the cold, the movie at the nearby Mall seemed the best recourse. When I climbed the three floors and reached the ticket counter, I almost decided to go for another movie "Stranger than Fiction"- its storyline sounded intriguing, but decided to check out the latest Bond flick and be ready to dismiss the latest agent from her majesty's service as an also-ran.

Folks, this is definitely one of the best Bond movies I have seen and not just because of my low expectations to start with. Pierce B was totally dispassionate and devoid of emotion, all too suave, cool headed and clinical. I read somewhere that George Lazenby was perhaps the only Bond who wasnt devoid of emotions and the only one who marries a woman, albeit for very short time. But Craig comes across as both a macho guy carrying out all the stunts and possessing the charisma required of James Bond, but he is also refreshingly human and emotional. He is intense with a simmering anger within him and is raw and uncut.
Craig plays a Bond who actually falls in love with a woman and decides to trade in his license to kill for the license to marry and live a normal life. He even delivers mushy romantic dialogues with convincing emotions. Also, this is a Bond who thinks on his feet, sometimes ridiculously so in contrast to his rival in the scene. Kudos to Craig's acting, he has been able to shrug off the older actors' legacies and create his own persona of Bond.

Chronologically, I expected this movie's plot to be based before all the previous movies. But surprisingly there are terrorist organisations in the plot, fancy Sony Ericsson cellphones (Its a Sony production, remember?) and flip phones, advanced GPS systems etc and yet the amount of money at stake in the plot is quite small by today's standards - its about 100 million. I bet this movie cost much more to make. So I am confused.

The plot is refreshingly simplistic - Bond is not out to save the world. A terrorist banker, who by the way weeps blood (every Bond nemesis needs to have his own peculiarities), plays a dangerous game by using his client's money to short an airline's stock and then attempts to blow up the aeroplane company's latest prototype to reap rich profits. But ah well, he didnt account for Mr Bond, did he? Agent 007 displays his usual skills at hanging on to the treacherous sides of an oil tanker, rigged with a miniature explosive and homing in on the airplane - its target. He of course turns the tables on the terrorist and prevents the blast. So now Mr Chiffre (our wily speculator) is left short of about 100 odd million in cash and his clients on his back demanding their pound of flesh or the money back. But his clients are no mean Armani-wearing businessmen but African rebel militia (conveniently termed as "terrorists" considering today's no-tolerance towards terror approach) wielding machetes and ready to chop off hands and wring necks at the drop of a hat. So Mon. Chiffre tries to use his skills at poker to recover his dough. The stage is set for a high-profile, high stakes game of poker at a "Casino Royale", with Bond at the table too, bankrolled by the British govt and chaperoned by a witty and provocatively seductive MI6 accountant. Of course, Bond outwits our poker king and leaves him high and dry, but not before plenty of drama, action and emotion to entertain the viewer. So now I think since Chiffre will become a turncoat and seek sanctuary with MI6 to save his own skin, its time for the curtains to fall on this episode of the exploits of the Queen's agent but the director surprises me with still more meat in the plot. The film finally ends with a flourish, with the signature Bond introduction which I was thinking would never come.

The best portions of the movie were the repartees between Bond and Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), esp the ones when the meet for the first time in the train and in the car on th way to the casino. The cinematography is very good too in the movie with many breathtaking landscapes and locales. The house by the cliff and the ocean in the end of the movie is amazing. And perhaps for the first time, the heroine in a Bond movie has a role with some meat on it.

So folks, I think we are going to see more of the new James Bond, ruthless enough to slit throats without mercy and vulnerable and human enough to love - all with a depth of passion of his own. Oh boy, the ladies are going to love him !


Friday, October 27, 2006

Beauty and the baby

I found, in a friend's blog, the link to a youtube video which shows the transformation of a normal-looking slightly obese lady into an eye-catching beautiful face beckoning you out of a large poster on the road. Yes, you and I have a fair idea of the powers of make-up and photo-editing in today's digital make-believe age. But what I found more interesting was the comment by someone on the you-tube site, below this video, quoting a study which concluded that going by the statistics collected, even babies stare longer at beautiful faces than normal ones. So the quoted study concluded that perhaps traditional notions of physical beauty may not be just a result of environment and upbringing.

Now this is something that is very interesting. I have always thought that the only thing that held a baby's attention is a pair of spectacles on someone else's nose. I have seen umpteen babies, boys and girls, and in recent times, different races, but all of them are enchanted by that invention of which Ben Franklin should be most proud of. They dont rest until they have managed to grab the object of their attention and yanked it off the hapless person, gurgling with joy and twisting and turning their conquest, dangling and shaking it until the owner can take it no more and decides not to indulge the baby any further.

I have also strongly believed that most of our perceptions are developed and not innate. So, as with most other 'studies' I take this one too with a pinch of salt. Their methodology of isolating other possible causes of the end effects is rather suspect in most cases and the correlation that they establish is most daring.

But anyway folks, the next time you are walking down the road and pass a really sexy bombshell and hear a loud catcall & whistle, dont look around - it may just be the infant you are cuddling in your arm !

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

War and peace

I was just watching the latest news on the Israel-Lebanon conflict on BBC world. It was a coverage of the efforts of British and German forces to evacuate its nationals from Lebanon. Most of these nationals were Lebanese holding British passports. In many cases, one of the spouses, say the wife had a British citizenship and hence could take her children with her. In other cases the children were separated from one of the parents, often the mother, and wailing. It was really pitiable. There was this grandmother taking the grandchildren with her on the boat and the parents are left behind. The children wailing and the gmother and parents are beseeching to let them on the boat. Several people clamour to get onto the boat, all in vain. There is plenty of space but they are allowed a small window of time and opportunity to take away only their nationals.

What could be worse than being forced to beg to flee one's own land and being foced to live the life of a refugee? Perhaps losing one's loved ones on the altar of senseless hatred and having the seeds of the same all-consuming hatred sown in one's own souls, is the worst thing to happen. They are fighting a losing war, a war in which battles may be won but never the war. Both the parties may have their own justifications for nurturing this hatred and all this war-mongering and destruction. But they should know very well, they are only scarring an entire generation who will nurture this grudge against the faceless enemy for its lifetime.

So who is to blame? The Zionists for standing upto attacks on their citizens from groups outside the political and military establishment of hostile neighbours? Or the Arabs who demand justice and land for their own people but are unable to reign in extremists and terror-mongers ? Or perhaps the Americans and the Western powers that be, who control a lot of pieces on this chessboard and are content to meddle for their own benefit and to meet their own needs, who sell the arms to not only the Israelis but also to the Hezbollah whom they publicly chastize. I sure wont be able to sleep easy with the guilt weighing in on my mind. I wonder how the Americans manage it, perhaps the naivette and ignorance of the average guy on their street saves him from the agony that would come with the realisation of the collective guilt that they shoulder. And I wonder how the militant follower of Allah - the ever merciful - hopes to attain heaven and immortality after having blown innocent children and people to smithereens, purportedly on His behalf. Even at the end of the great war of the Mahabharata with all its justifications, the righteous Pandavas didnt get to enjoy the fruits which they fought the war for.

I am reminded of an incident from my childhood. Once my brother broke one of my game-boards or something. In anger and retaliation, I in turn exacted revenge by destroying one of his possessions. This mutual cycle of vengeance took its toll and left in its wake a bunch of broken items and bruised egos. My parents then took us aside, chastized us and I immediately protested that I was of course justified in my actions and it was only fair. The wise folks that they were, they then pointed out that yes, I broke 5 nos of his stuff and he likewise destroyed 4 of mine. So I did win and made my point. But of course, did I really win? All though my brother did lose more than me, that did nothing to diminish my own loss !! Even with my juvenile brain, this logic struck a chord.

But well, did this wisdom stop any such future foolishness on my part? Of course, not. You see, I am inclined to believe that mankind by nature is 'programmed' to fight within itself. So although individually there might be enlightened souls, collectively it all 'averages' out and some ppl fight will others profit from their fighting. But all are stakeholders, in this great "Bhoo-lok" of Maya. And the great dramatist must be really amused at the unfolding drama.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

From Venus and from mars

Ever wondered how men and women in general are constituted in a different way and think along diff lines.

A conversation from Seinfeld :

"I met this lawyer, we went out, I had the lobster bisque. We went back to my place, yadda yadda yadda, I never saw him again."
"You yadda yadda'd over the best part."
"No I didn't. I mentioned the bisque."


Monday, July 03, 2006

Soccer Videos

I found some really cool soccer videos on Google.

1.Ronaldinho's Superb Goal

Yet again

2. Ronaldinho and C.Ronaldo

Alas, why couldnt he reproduce some of this magic yesterday !

3. Some great goals and a save

These are some great moments, the video is rather too fast-paced though.

4. The Brasillians "doing timepass" at their airport (Nike Ad)

5. Another cool Nike Ad, this time with Figo, Cristiano and co.

6. Lest you think that this post is an ode to the Brasilians (no reason why it shouldnt be, though) here is the official sponsor's Ad which was a familiar sight on TV.

It reminds me of my childhood. We used to form teams the same way. But of course, we had mere mortals to choose. ;-)

It was the simplest way to pick as evenly balanced teams as possible. And everyone used to strive to move up the 'ladder of choice' over time.

7. Part two

Interesting to note that Nike has tied up most of the brasilian players except perhaps Kaka and Adidas has the rest of the world's stars in its coterie. Because of the respective spheres of influence? The Americas for Nike and Europe for Adidas?

Maybe we should have an Adidas vs Nike match up. Wonder which group of players will gel as a team.

8. The making - Last of the trilogy

9. Diego - the God.

10. Sheer
class, some of it

11. Ten great goals of the world cups
This is one of the best videos.

12. 50 goals, (23 minutes long)

13. The triumvirate

All credits to the the individuals who created this videos, the original copyright owners and Google of course. Enjoy whatever is left of the world cup !

Friday, June 23, 2006

Art and Mathematics - the two sisters

Yesterday I came across this interesting blog where there was a discussion on whether there is Art in Maths and vice-versa. Now this was a topic on which I have done some thinking in the past. So I decided to share my two cents.

The opinion in the post was that (quote) Art has a lot of Maths in it but there's no Art in Maths (unquote). Then there was this suggestion that (quote)there is a certain degree of talent as well as skill needed to be good at both Maths and Art.(unquote).

We had a good discussion on this topic.

Karthik :
Interestingly, with minimal knowledge of math, you can deduce and reach upto advanced math by pure logic and intelligence.So it is probably incorrect to say that math requires prior knowledge. Infact, any creation of new field of math is an art.There is tremendous creativity involved. Ramanujan came up with close to 4000 formulae in math purely through intuition without furnishing the proofs for many of them.

ME :
Art by definition is possibly the only thing that springs from an innate source. There is little or no skill involved except for expression of the gift and the honing (or adulteration) of it to conform to popular taste. Mathematics on the other hand is a skill , to develop it you have to walk down the path.

One might say that with minimal knowledge of math, you can deduce and reach upto advanced math by pure logic and intelligence.So it is probably incorrect to say that math requires prior knowledge. But from minimal knowledge when you deduce and reach advanced logic, you are actually treading this very path and developing your skill. Also, Ramanujan surely worked a lot on his math, he only was not schooled in the formal system of expressing it for which Hardy bailed him out.

But interestingly, Math is nothing but the modelling of what already exists in nature. Its modelling and simulating natural phenomenon and axioms so as to enable objective analysis and prediction of cause and effect. Its all for "automatic" processing. Art is the creative expression of nature "as is" but as perceived by the artist. It is this subjectivity that you pay a premium for. The very thing which you seek to eliminate as a mathematician. How ironic ! When all they seek to do is the same. Also paradoxically, the have-nots in Art, need to "cultivate" the taste to appreciate it, while the have-nots in maths can easily comprehend the results of maths through plain logic and elementary education.

One more thought...often enough great mathematicians are able to see through the veneer of objectivity and perceive the beauty of nature in their mathematical derivations and observations. That is when I think there is art in maths and you need a practitioner of the highest order, a true artist to appreciate this. Also, history shows that highly skilled mathematicians and scientific minds have been 'gifted' artists too, in music, painting or any of the other forms of creativity. Da Vinci, Bertrand Russell, CV Raman and others were all great artists or patrons of art.

Sujith :
To add to your points. Mathematicians wouldn't be happy if you say that math is just about modelling the real world. You might well be aware about Platonism, the school of metaphysicists who believe that 'mathematical objects' reside in a world of their own. Another way to say this is that Math would have been there even if this world hadn't.

Mathematicians wouldn't also be happy if you say that it's all about skills. Math has no more to do with skill than art has. Again invoking metaphysics, there's a strong school of thoughts of 'rationalists' who believe that there are a set of innate or a priori knowledge that we are endowed with. Knowledge about math is one such thing, according to them. Math is more about discovering that innate knowledge. The skill part of it just a practice with symbols so that they don't come in our way of understanding what we already seem to know!

ME :

Platonism is a refuge of the mathematicians who are more than a trifle uncomfortable with the pure objectivity in maths. ;-)

There is really a choice to be made in maths and art, also the aims are different. In one you seek to understand and PREDICT natural world, so you want hard theoretical models which are objective and most importantly replicable. The other is a choice where you dont seek to predict or really understand but just PERCEIVE and express. For eg. its most important in the derivations of maths that be used in applications without really needing to understand the real root of the derivation and how it was arrived at. Whereas in art, a person without the necessary understanding and perception wont be able to appreciate the work of art.

To wind up a lot of my babbling, I would say that I would respect a great mathematician and I would be in awe of a great artist. I hope I make sense.

Credits & Thanks To : All the bloggers mentioned in the post, Pritesh and her original post.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It was love at first hearing

Oh for the love of my own voice.....Its the most amazing thing that we spend a good chunk of our life talking and we ourselves dont get to hear our voice the way it sounds to others. It has surprised me in the past to hear recordings of my own voice. Today I happened to playback the message I had left on my friend's voicemail and was struck by how great my voice sounded. :-) I know its narcissistic, but well, I spent the better part of the next hour recording and listening to my voice in different languages....And I fell in love !

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Fanaa...Oh Kajol...

Two movies this Saturday, two different flavours from a similar pot.

Although the first part of Gangster was barely watchable, I stuck on and found the second half to be entertaining. It depicted how the mind of a woman is often an emotional playground. It can play wierd games and she might make the most surprising and irrational decisions at times. I felt pity for the gangster in the end, as the director intended, but I guess the director succumbed to temptation and ended up making Emran's character all black and that of the gangster all white, instead of both being shades of black and white as humans really are. Shiney Ahuja, I thought acted decently well as the brooding gangster. I wonder how this story is even faintly similar to the Abu Salem-Monika Bedi chapter. Did I forget to mention the song "Ya Ali"?

"sahi aur galat raste mein faisla karna aasan hota hai..magar, do sahi raston mein se behtar ya do galat raston mein se munasib rasta chunna bahut mushkil..aaj kiye huye hamare ye faisle hi hamare kal ka faisla karte hain.." Well, this was the theme of the Kajol starrer, Fanaa. About difficult decisions that you got to make in life. Entertaining sher-o-shayari and I bet no forty year old can flirt as well as Aamir does, he does deliver the couplets with great panache. I am a big-time fan of Kajol and boy, is she great in the movie ! She looks as sexy as ever and great acting. Although Rani in Black was good, but Kajol's performance as a blind girl is refreshing because it is more real and effortless, without any histrionics. I liked one particular scene for the attention to detail given there. Its night, Kajol and her friend are on their beds in the dormitories reading a book each. They finish chatting and her friend tucks herself in, switches off her light and asks Kajol also to do so as she (the friend) is going to sleep. I instinctively thought "How rude !". Then immediately I realised as Kajol switches off the light and continues to roll her fingers over the braille script that she is reading, that she really doesnt need a light to read !!

There was this other scene in which their kid hands aamir a glass of milk and tells him that there was no use trying to dispose off the milk by throwing it into the sink, out into the snow or some other means because his mom was too smart for all this. Then as he turns to go away, he pauses and remarks that in case Aamir ("deadman" ) happens to find out a foolproof way of doing it, he would be glad to know about it too ! Reminded me of how my own methods of doing away with the awful daily glass of milk without my mom coming to know about it evolved over time to perfection. Alas, the ingenuity of a child's brain...

To cut a long review short, Fanaa is definitely atleast a one-time movie just for Kajol.


Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most influential of them all

A small ripple in one place which gives rise to big shockwaves everywhere around the globe. No, I am not talking about the butterfly effect or chaos theory here. I am referring to how the words of one man can have big effects on economies around the world. And if you thought it is someone like the President of the only superpower who wields such influence, then you are mistaken. Much more influential are the words of the Greenspans and the Bernankes of this world. The Fed chairman sneezes and the bourses all over catch a cold. He insinuates and hints at changes in the interest rate and investors world over lose their shirts. There are umpteen highly-paid analysts who move billions across continents, forever trying to pre-empt and outguess this guy.

In comparison, the Prez makes a big speech on how great the war on terror is going and how the bad guys are on the run and its all I can do to keep myself from yawning and switching channel.

Sigh...the ways of the world.

As we wait in anticipation of yet another hike in rates, isnt it interesting to note that the Fed rate has risen from 1% to 5% over a period of about 3 yrs !

For more of these cartoons : check this out

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Requiem for a dream?

A land of myriad people,ours is a nation inhaling and exhaling diversity in its every breath. You have umpteen languages, religions, sects and even sub-sects which form a multi-dimensional grid in which every inhabitant can be slotted. And each flavour of this diversity brings along its own baggage of prejudices nurtured through centuries of mistrust. The very fact that we have survived over almost sixty years as a single democratic entity often boggles me. What is it that prevented us from fragmenting into smaller nations each seeking to find and plot their own destiny on their own terms ? Surely, it isnt not just the Sardar who we have to thank (although to him we as a nation are forever indebted). He knitted us into a single geography, but what is the thread that has sewn us and held us together, inspite of all the push and pull in the social fabric of our existence. Yes, we collectively share a past, a history of assimilations and amalgamations in this vast land. But I think I am deluding myself if I consider that there was ever really a collective consciousness or shared identity upto some fifty years prior to independence. The numerous empires that were repeatedly built and razed over this land were but poor substitutes. One concession that I will give the Mahatma and his coterie is that totally flawed though the non-violent movement for independence was, it unified the people all over the country and organised them, all for one common cause. There surely were other more effective means to drive out the British, but none of them could have infused a spirit of nationalism and shared angst across the length and breadth of the country. So yes, in some ways, the Mahatma is the father of the nation. After independence, despite the innumerable squabbles on grounds of historic grievances, we have managed to survive and plod on. So it seems to me that a nation isnt born but needs to be developed and nurtured.

So I am ever hopeful that in the long term, things shall evolve and we as a nation shall develop. A nation, where we can truly celebrate our diversity, where we can think rationally and manage our affairs better, a place where the rulers are accountable to the subjects. Where everyone is an equal. Thats my dream. But often I am forced to wonder if with all the corruption, the religious bigotry and a dysfunctional political leadership, we are doing alright? And worst of all, what can I do about it? Why, I am even unable to vote out an ineffective, corrupt and criminal politician. It has come to a point that the govt passes legislations which sacrifice rationale and ethics at the altar of expediency. They can do this with impunity because it requires the collective action on part of the society to reject them and these divisive tactics that they employ. But aware minority in the country have either been brainwashed on a diet of pseudo-secularism or other crap or else are unable to influence the outcomes or policy in the country. The majority is bogged down by their petty prejudices to see through this. The collective action that democracy demands leaves me feeling impotent and helpless. So whats the way out? There is only the hope that slowly but surely things might improve. Whether its a fool's fantasy, time alone will tell.

A nationalist's dream :

"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake"

There are occasions when I feel pessimistic and despondent and this post is a result of one such occasion. But I wonder....