Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Road Runner Awards…

In this season of BAFTAs and Oscars and Razzies and Filmfare and Screen and Mayapuri awards I have taken it upon myself to institute a brand new set of awards that seek to be the crème de la crème of all awards ever presented. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, these awards will be meaningful and not inane to the extent of “Best Star Parivar on TV” type awards that some brilliant production houses have come up with.

The criteria to make it to the awards is tough, very tough (No I am not reducing the criteria for anything, no amount of money can induce me to reduce the quality of awards…er…how much money are we talking about here?). These awards will be given to those individuals who have reached the pinnacle in the field of road-crossing on Hosur road. ( : This is a very tame description of this landmark in all those peoples lives who have to travel over it to reach their workplaces everyday. This is easily the most dangerous, overcrowded, ill-managed and crazy road I’ve ever seen, across all the cities I’ve stayed in, heck, even visited. Everyday that you negotiate this road without getting a scratch on your car is a miracle)

Apart from the myriad variety of traffic in this very-narrow-in-some stretches road - all kinds of vehicles ranging from trucks and buses to Motorcycles and mopeds to bicycles and tangas ( ) (yes, saw one day before yesterday neatly going along in the middle lane!) has; the biggest problem and threat comes from pedestrians who treat this road as a village square and walk across in insanely casual fashion.

Anyway, on to the awards. I shall be awarding awards to all categories of participants in the Hosur road menagerie.

Knight Bus Road Runner Award.

This easily goes to the office buses that despite their humungous size swing from one lane to the other at over 60 kmph. Truly the vehicle may have the size of a whale, but this doesn’t deter the monkey at its heart from swinging sharply from branch to branch.

I kid you not, many times when coolly driving straight in your lane, music wafting through your car with thoughts of the upcoming boisterous evening plans your reverie is broken by a loud honk and a roar. A second later a monstrous bus screams into the lane ahead of you and promptly applies brakes. This sort of takes your mind off the evening plans, because believe it or not, being alive constitutes a big part of whatever evening plans you may have.

(I wish such buses had the things-jump-out-of-their-way-and-then-jumps-back-in-place-without-any-harm property that the actual Knight Bus in Harry Potter series had ( )

Brave (Stupid?) Fingers Road Runner Award

Have you ever seen a man driving a car and typing out a text message at the same time? And have you tut-tutted and muttered about irresponsibility, carelessness etc. Well that is baby stuff for the winner of this award. This man was driving a moped in the middle lane of the road with just one hand on the throttle while the other, which should’ve been on the brake, was busy typing out a message on his cellphone. Oh, and of course he wasn’t wearing a helmet – only wimps wear helmets OR my head is all stone anyway – can’t you see what I’m doing?

However an honorable mention will have to be given to the runner up for this award. This had his cell phone tucked between his shoulder and ear while going at around 50 kmph. If you think he was wearing a helmet you obviously haven’t read the earlier paragraph. Go back, read it again.

Catwalk under Fire Road Runner Award

This goes to those three people, a man and two women who were traipsing across the road slowly and coolly this morning in a perfect delta formation. One truck and my car had to screech almost to a halt in order to avoid these people. To give them their due credit none of them even batted an eyelid while we were skidding. The women did not even deign to look towards us and continued their conversation. The man though did turn his head towards me and gave a disdainful stare when he saw me making rude gestures and screaming my lungs out in Hindi at them. The stare was cold and oh-so-disgusted like what kind of idiots drive on this!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Hundred Tales Swapped, So Many Remain...

Yes ladies and gentlemen after an immense amount of procrastination I have finally decided to put up my 100th post. It was a case of nervous nineties, or rather nervous ninety nines for me as I spent so much time posting it.

It has to be something really awesome - But how will you beat your normal awesomeness? Will they like it - what they read you regularly, do you really think they have any taste? What should I write about -now thats a tricky one?

These were some questions and thoughts that kept me tossing and turning, completely sleepless at nights (Well, not completely sleepless - but whats 7-8 hours between friends, or even 11?)

And so I decided to acquiesce to the wishes of a number of people who wanted me to share the output of my most popular post till date (this , yes this was even more popular than the TB6 Mockba one [ ] or the Katrina Kaif letter [ ]). Yes, I've decided that for this special occasion which marks 100 posts on this fledgling blog, and is near enough to the 1st birthday of this blog, I shall showcase a few of my paintings. They may be juvenile but I've decided to share it with the people who visit my blog regularly. They deserve a

But before I begin, there are a few, actually one, ground rule that you have to follow:

1. I do not believe in constructive criticism. Nope, nada. If you feel you have some criticism that would change my life and catapult me to the league of Renoir or Picasso, hang on to it. I may ask you for it sometime later. But NOT now. It has taken me years to restart my painting and I do not want to be disheartened.

SO keeping the 'Rule' in mind I welcome you to the Galleria de Swapnil. As your guide and host I shall be giving you a running commentary about of art you are going to see. The wine, cheese and canapes are on the small tables to the side of the paintings. Please help yourself.

Madames et Monsieurs, behind the curtain is the first painting I painted when I had the urge to paint that fine fine morning. It hasn't come out very well but still deserves a place of pride in the gallery because it reintroduced me to the joys of brandishing a paint brush.

The discerning eye will see the painstakingly done tree trunk as well as the slightly rosy sky.

This next was also done a couple of days after the first one. I wanted to try my hand at a dark painting.

The discerning eye will again see the gradients in the sky from a dark black at the top to the dirty grey near the ground, the way night does actually fall. Also, the snow at the bottom also has gradients to try and give the distance effect.

Note: The camera picture does not do justice to this painting. This is actually my favourite, inspite of all the paintings being my babies.

The next one is a very simple composition where I was trying to learn how to paint clouds. Its not very easy, and I'm really satisfied with the effect that has come. This is also my cellphone wallpaper right now :)

Note: I painted this at 4 am in the morning. Just got up at 4 and couldn't sleep. Yes, we artistic types are a little eccentric.

This last one was the most diffcult for me till now. By this time I had decided that I'd be putting up my paintings for my hundredth post. And please do not laugh but I actually felt pressure before painting this because I knew that people would be looking at it. In fact this was the cause of not posting for so long. But last night I finally painted it.

And this one was for learning to paint trees and to get depth (a foreground and a background in a painting - Yes, I know its not evident to the naked eye but this has been achieved here. If you look hard enough, you'll see that a branch of the tree in the foreground is overhanging the cottage at the back thus [supposedly] giving the desired effect).

So as the famous bunny would say thats all folks!

And thank you for reading on for so long. I am still wonderstruck that this blog has a 100 posts now. I've enjoyed every moment of writing here. I hope I can continue to indulge in writing here. (Darn, this is sounding too much like a farewell speech. What I actually want to say is WOO HOO 100 posts!! And hundreds more to come. Read on! :) )

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Italian Job...

Well this post has its genesis in the movie downloading spree i've been on (Did I mention I bought a 160GB external hard drive? or that I bought a 2 GB pendrive to aid in torrenting? Oh I haven't? Well, consider yourself told and gloated infront of now :) )

I've been watching the Godfather trilogy. And man its amazing. I'll have to confess that I hadn't watched any of the Godfather movies till now. And now am completely blown away by them. Al Pacino as the quiet chap with steely resolve and determination - just absolutely awesome. The silent yet inevitable spiral through which he changes from the man who sees his association with the 'family' to be a handicap, if not an outright curse, to the man who runs the whole mafia, not with a strong hand but a razor sharp brain. The tragic figure that he portrays in the movie really overpowers all other brilliant performances. His silences are just mind blowing and the his theme - Halls of Fear is such a perfect background score for the expectant menace that he portrays.

(In fact was contemplating calling this post ' The offer you can't refuse'. Then decided that it may have overtones that all my readers may not appreciate. So the Italian Job it is :) )

Anyway, I don't really want this post to be a review or critique of the classic movie. I mean, the movie's been placed in the numero uno position by IMDB. Whatever there is to be said about it has probably been said, discussed and analyzed threadbare by now. Also I'd probably be 36 year late in reviewing Godfather!

So i'll focus on another aspect of this movie I love. Now everyone knows I drive an italian car (I drive a Fiat Palio. The sexiest, sportiest car ever. er...atleast in India)and after this movie I love the italian accent in the movie. Especially the one Brando uses or Robert de Niro (both playing Don Vito Corleone).

The slow drawl that all words are spoken in. And the slightly sing song way of putting words together to make sentences. The hand movements to provide emphasis. And the silences to create menace. I love it all.

Roberto is Rhobyerrto (T is like the hindi TO, rather than the sharp english to)

What is this fixation with accent and language and grammer and voice I have. I mean seriously, the voice and articulation plays a very important part in the way I perceive people. An articulate person with a great voice can do no wrong in my book :). Crazy, but there it is.

Anyway, you really should see some of these italian movies. Or movies that have Italian-American actors. If only to hear them talk in that awesome accent.

PS: This is my 99th published post. Who would've thought that this small personal blog started on 8th February last year would have a 100 posts and a set of regular readers in just over an year.

I'm planning something really special for the 100th post. Keep your eyes peeled...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Boycott Roadies...

How could you do this to me Mtv?

The most awesome roadie, the one with the coolest attitude, the heir-apparent to the earlier rockstar Bani, not to mention her sigh-oh-so-cute looks, Ankita has been voted out in the very first episode of Roadies.

For those who don't know Roadies:

To see Ankita: - She's in black.

Of all the miserable things that could've happened to spoil the day, this is the worst. I was so looking forward to seeing her journey on with the Roadies. Now don't get me wrong, the fact that she's really pretty is not the only reason i'm distraught at the thought of not seeing her on TV more often. She had that awesome cool defiant call-a-spade-a-spade attitude that I really love. She would've blossomed out as the show would've progressed, the lone beacon of in your face defiance in the face of petty politics and groupism and backstabbing. She sounded intelligent, articulate and cool - that awesome combination.

And to cap it all she had that 'voice'.There's an undertone in her voice that makes it so alluring that you can just sit and listen to her talk for hours and hours (Which I was planning to do by watching all the re-runs of Roadies everytime they came. Alas, no more).

But they ganged up against her, the @#%%!#$%^s. Ganged up against a poor innocent defenceless girl. 10 votes to push her out of the show. 10 votes. Out of 12.

They got scared of her, they knew she'd have beaten them all.

Don't worry Ankita, you're winner in my eyes (I bet it counts for something, not much, but something atleast)

AND I will not be watching Roadies this year. Its just not going to be worth it without Ankita. (Well,er..let me think this through - Shambhavi is quite cute too...)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fiction so pulp is ! awesome…

Ok people, I just saw Pulp Fiction the other day and have been completely blown away by the concept of non-sequential cinema ( you may have noticed from the title of this post [that’s ‘Pulp Fiction is so Awesome!’ for the slow people amongst you, though I’m sure most of you would’ve got it {yeah, right!}])!

OK, moving on..or back..or sideways, I’ve written about my experiments with downloading movies. Of course, even though the first attempt wasn’t all that successful (I downloaded a movie in Japanese with Swedish subtitles – ok, ok now shut up. I’ve had just about enough of people laughing their heads off on this. Yes, yes, you know I’m talking to YOU – you’ve had just about all the entertainment you could’ve derived from this episode, and that’s a hell of a lot – now just SHUT UP already…), I have persevered and have finally managed to get some great movies (in the right language) on my laptop.

So I started with Notorious by Alfred Hitchcock – Pretty nice movie – an interesting mix of adventure and romance. (As an aside, women with high cheekbones look sooo alluring in black and white – Ingrid Bergman in this movie, Madhubala etc.)

Then came the movie made out of the best book ever – To Kill a Mockingbird. Gregory Peck’s performance as that amazing hero Atticus Finch is just amazing. Just the right amount of reserve, steely grit and the sensitive side of a man who deals singlehandedly with two young curious, innocent kids; protecting them as much as he can from the gathering wave of hidden dark prejudices coming to the surface, while at the same time doing his duty to his conscience. Wow. I’ve said this before (too many times many would say J ) and I’ll say it again – if you haven’t read it, go read the book – NOW. Even the movie is a pretty true adaptation of the book (unlike most movies made out of books) and should suffice for those allergic to reading, though of course reading it is just amazing)

AND now we come to the movie that inspired this blog – Pulp Fiction (Next one to watch, I.e. downloaded already is ‘Thank you for Smoking’- its come recommended)

I just love the non-sequential story telling used by Quentin Tarantino in this movie. For the record I hadn’t watched any of his movies because going by the trailers of Kill Bill I thought that the movies would be dripping in gore and violence with shocking scenes created just for that – shock value. What a mistake!

AN amazingly stylized movie with amazing lines

Bruce Willis’,
”Zed’s dead baby, Zed’s dead”
“So..we’re cool?” (To Marcellus)
“You really want to pick that gun don’t you?”

“…this Mr. ‘spending the rest of his short life in agonising pain' here..."

And of course all the arguments between John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson - brilliant.

Its such a fast paced movie where you gotta sit on the edge of your seat to stay on top of the ball. And then when in the end all the inexplicable things that came across at different places in the movie click together and you get a glimpse of the sequence of events - it gives a series of 'Aha' moments.

Like Travolta and Jackson wearing beach volleyball attire when they go to return the briefcase to Marsellus. Travolta getting shot by Bruce.

And the briefcase itself! Its a mystery thats still going on. All you see is a golden glow emanating from it, no idea about its content. (This kind of object which is just and just a plot device with no value of its own is called a MacGuffin [ ])

And and I forgot to mention Winston Wolf - such an amazing character. A professional 'cleaner' for the mafia. When there's trouble that needs to be managed - the mafia turns to Wolf to get it all clear. He was in a tuxedo, driving a Porshe Acquira and talking about respect (Somehow I find it awesome that all mafia movies/books talk a lot about honour and respect)- He was the epitomy of cool...

All in all, there's so much to be said about this movie - it has its own fanclubs etc. - but i gotta rush to download the next movie - so i'll leave you here :)

Update: Saw half of 'Thank you for Smoking' - absolutely hilarious!

Update 2: Another interesting movie concept I heard of recently. A colleagues friend was involved in the making of this ( )film. Its a film thats shot entirely in reverse (Story: Three men including a blind man crack a safe, and then mutual deceits start to get the money for themselves). Even the dialogues are in reverse. And still it somehow makes sense. So many experiments with the traditional art of story telling. Its all good, all good. Evolution and experimentation is definitely the path to growth.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Technology cheers...

Technology is really amazing.

Yesterday evening it helped me in doing something really cool. PS (or S as he is generally known as) is an old friend from DCE and was also my partner in crime and flatmate in Bangalore for almost one year when I first came here. He moved to Delhi in the early part of last year and is currently undertaking a training with a client in Switzerland. Zurich, more specifically.

He’s been there for a couple of weeks now and we see each other online wherein we chat and I ask him extremely intelligent and high level existential questions - How are the chicks there? Is booze cheap there? What’s the nightlife like? Any exotic clubs there? etc etc.. You know, very very critical questions.

But yesterday gtalk helped us in taking the discussion to a whole new level. We started a voice chat for the first time since he’s gone there. So PS sitting in Zurich and me sitting in my room in Bangalore had a long and lengthy conversation. was just like the good ol’ days! Same discussion topics, same swear words, same making fun of the other and then seething when your own fun is made (Is that even correct English? I could go back and reconstruct the whole sentence again…but I’m not doing it. As long as you get what I’m saying, I’m fine. do get what I’m saying, right?).

Now as is wont to happen in such lengthy conversations, the throat, gets parched. Now as the first thing S did on reaching foreign lands was to find out the nearest place to get liquid nourishment (hehe, he’s in the German speaking part of Switzerland - I can imagine the efforts he must’ve put in to get this precious information. For the record he has also found an Indian store where he gets MTR ready to eat mixes, rice, Indian masalas etc. So, the point is that he does indeed seek other forms of nourishment too. But yes, the liquid ones come first.).

So he walks to the fridge and pulls out a Heineken (Yeah, yeah, he’s been showing off these phoren brands since he’s gone there. Is about to open it when I hear the distinct sign of a can landing on the table –

Swap: “What the hell. Where are your manners you $@%#@^%”
PS: “Wha…? Whaddaya mean @%#%^&”
S: “You’re gonna start in the middle of the afternoon there, and that too all alone?”
PS: “True..Maybe I should put this back….hmm, nah, you have anything?”
S: “ Nope, but give me 10 minutes”
PS: “ Ok, that’s the advantage of this Swiss weather. This will still be chilled in 10 minutes (chattering teeth)”
10 minutes
S:” Cool, am back! And you #%#$$#!^, you’re not the only one with a phoren brand!”
PS: “ Whattcha get?”
S: “ Bud waasssaaapppp “(Hope you’ve seen the ad, or this would make absolutely no sense to you. Here it is anyway, to refresh your memory [ see what a considerate blog I run :) ] )

* Pop…*pour…*clink…*cheers

So we did cheers across 7381 kilometres! Technology really really cheers !!