Monday, December 28, 2009

J'taime Amelie...

Saw Amelie ( , ) a while back on TV.

I know, I know - a bit late considering that the movie came out and made waves in 2001. But somehow, mysteriously, I always associated the movie with Run Lola, Run. Don't ask me why, but I don't have any desire to watch that movie. And by sheer association I never got down to watching this one.

Right, anyway. I loved Amelie! There is an inherent sweetness in the movie which is just right. It's not sappy and it's not sallow - just perfect. I can't put a finger to it nor can I remember any one scene that was really really good but somehow all the pieces came together and I got up after watching the movie with a nice smile on my face and a warm glow in my heart.

There isn't much more I can say about the movie but the simplicity of the main protagonist and the finely etched characters surrounding and affecting her life in subtle ways. The sweetness of the girl covers her childish naughtiness which covers her shyness - a beautiful character.

Ok, ok I'm just gushing now. Can't blame me though, it's been a while since I've seen a movie from start to finish on TV (I even stayed through some of the intervening advertising breaks to make sure I didn't miss the movie).

If you haven't yet, go watch it

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Limitations of Lazing...

Most people I know have been hyper about their Christmas and New Year eve plans for a while. I've seen people with dreary eyes, dark hollows beneath their eyes running their fingers with a nervous twitch through their already frazzled hair murmuring "where do I go, where do I drink" in low yet persistent undertones since the beginning of November.

Staying in Bangalore, Christmas has suddenly become a very important milestone in the year. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love the fat man in the red suit as much as the next guy but since my MSM days Christmas has never really been a great festival to be celebrated boisterously. But in the heart of IT country where all clients in the US and Europe go on vacation in this period, this festival is once again a joyous occasion for finishing off your non-carry-forward-able vacation time and put up your feet. But if you happen to be in town then there are a lot of cash-depriving stresses involved. Everyone you know seems to be willing to spend atrocious amounts of money just to be out somewhere partying, and then running helter skelter when they realise that the cops have spent the twelve months since last Christmas stocking up on those breathalysers that can discern the subtle whiff of that mild Vodka that you took 'for the road'.

Now I usually stay clear of these parties in hotels but have always managed to be at some or the other house party celebrating in the occasion. In fact I've also hosted some pretty interesting Christmas parties. Videos from such parties exist, but have safely been forgotten till a time comes when one of those who attended hits the big time and I can retire on the blackmail money alone. I am referring of course to the awesome Christmas party of 2007 that RB and I organized at Club 108 (our house number was 108). I could tell you more about it but it'll kinda defeat the chances of getting a good blackmail return when the time comes. All I will say is - I know where all of you are, and I'm following your careers with a LOT of interest :)

Anyway, this year a lot of my friends have been away and the long Christmas weekend has gone by way too lazily. Except for a nice Christmas special buffet at the Chancery Pavilion the remaining hours have been spent in the close vicinity of my house. In fact I can recall the number of times I've gone out of the house to 4.

And that's quite sad.

Though it has it's good points.

The weather has been very nice. Just that perfect bite in the air that needs a mild blanket to make you snuggle in for hours and hours. And that's what I've been doing - brilliant afternoon naps which transcend the universally accepted definition of 'nap' through sheer number of hours alone. Getting up, switching on the bedside table lamp, reading one of my two light books for the weekend, gently reaching that somnambulant state again when all you can manage is to turn off the light and slide away for another couple of hours. Ah Bliss.

But the human mind is such a strange object. Two days ago this seemed like a perfect state of affairs but today after my last afternoon nap i'm actually feeling a bit sad about this weekend. Completely bored by the lack of human interaction.

Yes, I will get up now, go out the door, meet people, see the world, enjoy myself...

Or, you know, if I can reach that switch again I could slip away for another couple of hours...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

32 going on 31...

It is with profound distress that I have to inform the concerned reader of this blog that your favourite blogger's sheer awesomeness is going to be reduced by a bit in a few days. It would still be startlingly bright, but the discerning observer will be able to see a little drop especially towards the right of my skull.

Well enough of these riddles, I shall hold in my plight no more. Harden your souls cause this is a scary story.

As most people knowing me would vouch for, I need all the wisdom that I can manage to get. I have bumbled through years without the benefit of a lot of intelligence and as a result when my wisdom tooth finally started breaking through I heaved a sigh of relief. Atleast now I shall finally figure out what goes to the credit side and what goes to the debit side of a balance sheet. Yes it was a bit painful but if I could finally go beyond a 'C' in my finance papers, the pain would be worth it.

Alas, I waited for financial knowledge to dawn with every eruption of wisdom tooth, but that never came. I resigned myself to my fate after I finally got my last wisdom tooth thereby completing my set of 32 teeth without any effect on my IQ.

Ah well, no harm done was what I thought.

How wrong was I!

apparently the last wisdom tooth decided to go for uniqueness rather than following the other 31.

"I have my own identity and though these 31 morons have grown up straight and stand glowing in pride in a straight line, I will break the norm. Yes, I will grow at an acute angle so that I push into the last tooth in line"

And that's what it's gone and done. My right most lower wisdom tooth grew at an angle pushing into the adjoining tooth and created a perfect atmosphere for a cavity to set in. And after two nights of excruciating pain (seriously i've never had a toothache before and IT SUCKS!)that went just beyond the tooth to the jaw, the ear, the temple even I finally got an X-Ray done and have been advised a root canal treatment on the adjoining tooth and an extraction for the rogue wisdom tooth.

I'm not sure when these things will be done but my pearly whites will be down by one in the near future. And I'll be glad if this can happen with minimal pain.

Wish me luck...gulp

Friday, November 13, 2009

Barney's Back, Baby!!


Thank God.

As people following this blog with rapt and uninterrupted attention, or, you know, those who know me outside the the online world, I'm a huge fan of the TV series 'How I met your Mother'. Also, assuming that the reader of this blog is by definition a suave, connected to the world, modern individual, there isn't any need to really tell you what this series is about.

To put it succintly it's pretty darn funny. And the philandering philosopher that Neil Patrick Harris plays (the Barney in the title of this post)is easily the funniest and most, in his own words, awesome character of the show. Over the last four seasons he's regaled us through his commitment-phobic, one night stand and womaniser extraordinaire actions and one liners.

On the other hand is Robin, the similar character played by Cobie Smulders (sigh...should've been smoulders..those eyes... but we're digressing). Also fiercely independant, this character is as commitment phobic as Barney.

Unfortunately, at the end of the last season of HIMYM they start dating each other.

Now comes the main reason for this post.

The episodes play on CBS on Tuesday nights, US time. And almost immediately I'd get on one of those torrent sites to download the episodes and watch them within hours of the episode being aired. I did this for the first three episodes of the current season. But then I found myself actually forgetting about the episode and hence the downloading. A little introspection, and the reason was clear. Barney was not acting like Barney. He was some lame ass boyfriend-wannabe which JUST did not suit him. Instead of the self assured woman related advice giver he was actually sitting in Ted's class learning Robin 101! Now I wouldn't mind attending Robin 101 myself, if you know what I mean, but Barney! No way! That was just a sad turn for the character as awesome as that.

But in the latest one, which I downloaded today, Barney and Robin decide to break up!! A very mature and amicable break up (they exist?) where both realise that they just weren't happy in their relationship.

And so ladies and gentlemen, nay only the ladies - Barney is back where he belongs - climbing out of your bedroom window in the early hours of the morning after leaving you a form letter with a cock-a-bull story about he being:

a. a space alien
b. a time traveller
c. shipping out to war in the morning

to explain his absence.

And my interest in the series is right back to it's earlier levels! Happy viewing - it's going to be legen... :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dystopian Theories...

Literature and movies portraying a future dystopian society always fascinate me, whether it is the 'Big Brother' fronted suffocating oligarchy of George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty Four' or the societal choice between a free-will powered chaos versus a conditioned factory-like safe yet stagnant society exquisitely described in 'The Clockwork Orange' by Anthony Burgess.

And not necessarily a hypothetical society of the future, 'Animal Farm' (again by George Orwell) is a brilliant look at how the Russian society (in the communist era) evolved where the revolutionaries (pigs, if I recall correctly) overthrew the oppressors (the humans in the farm) but then slowly reacted in the same way as the humans they evicted to transform into another avatar of the very same oppressors they removed with no change in the conditions of the other animals. (I really recommend this book. It's a thin little book but phenomenally powerful). Another book on similar lines is 'Lord of the Flies', which essentially focuses on how idealized human culture fails under stress and freedom. Individual versus society is a theme in this plot as well.

Anyway, why am I going on and on about these books?

Well, I had taken some movies from R a long time back and had not really watched them all. I was getting bored this morning and sat down to watch a movie called 'Brazil'. If you're thinking this was about scantily clad women at the Rio carnival (the way I had thought) then you are in for a huge surprise. This movie is set in a world of the future where every individual seems to be sinking in a revolting marsh of bureaucracy. A totalitarian society at a more micro-level than the one described in 1984, this society curbs all freedom of thought through the simple machinations of filling forms! The government bureaucracy shown here with no one willing to take a decision and people capable of going beyond the forms being looked upon with suspicion of terrorism. When a freelance air conditioning repairman seems like a Robin Hood character, you can imagine what the society breeds.

In the midst of this is our protagonist, the ever reliable, unambitious and unimportant spoke in the Ministry of Information's wheel. But even though he may be filling out his forms as diligently as the next person, he has a secret - a dream where he is a Knight in shining armour rescuing a damsel in distress.

Things gather pace as he bumps into a girl who looks exactly like the girl in his dreams. The plot thickens as he also takes the help of the renegade Air conditioning repairman who left the government service when the bureaucracy and the forms got to him.

I'm not going to put in the whole story here but the movie is quite good. Some sequences are quite chilling and thought provoking. Though people would have many interpretations (after all that is something all such movies are supposed to do), for me the primary question it poses is the same one. Who decides what is good for someone - the Individual or the Society?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Giant Wrap Up Post...

Yeah yeah, I know. It's been a while...

That's not to say that I've been having a boring time or anything but somehow I haven't had the will to put pen on paper, or, you know, fingers on keyboard. So anyway, what have I been upto since the last post? What stories have stayed put in my head instead of being poured out for your office-time-silent-guffaws?

Lots of stuff actually work (which we shall not talk about here as usual), travel (no, i mean beyond the daily home to office - though there's a story there as well), movies (and you will not even imagine the kind of movies i've been watching - a few under the influence [if you know what I mean]), restaurants (and to think I thought I'd covered most of the good places to eat in this bitter-sweet city), books (lots of them as usual. And some surprising ones. And some authors came up with surprising ones).

Whew, seriously, HOW have you people been staying awake at work when I haven't been writing!

But this seems like a marathon post if I do actually keep my eyes open for a while. So I shall only give you short selected write ups rather than all the incidents.

But before that a serious thing. This is a public blog and i'm not aware of all the facts so will not write the whole thing here. But I came to know about something heinous and disgusting that a person I know did recently. I cannot imagine anyone doing things like that in this day and age. The horrible way in which people you think you know shock you is just unbelievable. I know this didn't make much sense but please let this pass. (disclaimer: nothing has been done to me. Came to know of this recently and am still in a bit of shock)

Well, now with that out of the way:


I went home for Diwali this time. Even though the festival of lights was brilliant last time with the three day extended festivities with some huge-ass firecrackers, there is still something about Diwali that tugs your heart strings towards home and family.
So this time I gave my parents and granny a surprise and it was pretty awesome to see their elated reaction when I jumped in front of them! Diwali was very traditional and joyous as I met my sister and niece and celebrated the festival itself at home with that most traditional and sacred of customs at home - The legen...wait for it...dary Chole Bhature dinner that my mom always makes on Diwali. In fact i'd been chewing the brains off so many people around going on and on about how much I was looking forward to that dinner. I actually had four bhature. Then I took a step back - Swapnil, you didn't come all the way from Bangalore to eat just 4! That's just self-humiliating. Do you have any self-respect? Would Mom like it if you had just 4? All the effort she put in to make that tasty meal and you just hang your head and give up at 4?

I don't think so. So I went for a long walk all around the colony. Then took another saunter around just to make sure. Then I went in with grim determination written on my face. And I sat at that dinner table and had another 2 bhature. Vindicated!

A good trip though most of it was at home. And it's always great to see my niece. However the most lingering image I have from the trip is a vision I had just as I stepped out of the airport...

I'm sitting here watching Pulp Fiction. And this is an absolute aberration to all the trashy movies I've been watching over the past few..umm..months now. To add to the three weird movies I spoke about a couple of posts ago, I have followed them up with even weirder movies. Ok, people may not agree with me when I put "Wake up Sid" in the same category as 'FOX' and the rest but i'll stick with my decision to do so. I mean what a predictable movie. It's the kind of script that four people with a crate of beer would write. AFTER going through the beer...

When I go for a movie I look for some kind of interesting twists and turns in the tale not a movie in which you can predict half an hour in advance, including the freakin' dialogues.

Anyway, the other movies I've seen recently will chill your blood. And not in a good oh-I-forgot-my-fur-coat-on-this-Swiss-peak way. More of the Who-the-F-slammed-the-door-and-switched-on-this-walk-in-freezer way. Ok, that was probably a bit over the top but I'm sure you'll forgive me when I tell you that I have probably been the only person in the city, nay, the world, who's seen "All the Best" TWICE! And that's including the producer of the movie who couldn't really see the screen through the bloody tears brimming up in his eyes as he could literally see his money flowing away.

I also saw "Do Knot Disturb". Yes, ladies and gentlemen whoever had this image of me being a suave, sophisticated, rakishly handsome guy based on reading my blog, you're wrong on two counts. I'm just a rakishly handsome guy who watches second rate movies.

Ok, i'm tired of writing now so short snappy sentences from now on:

Places to eat: Been to quite a few new ones. Olive Beach is easily the best. Great food, great ambience...definite must eat at place. Though I probably won't be going there for a while. Such amazing dining experiences should be separated by sufficiently long periods of time to retain the awesomeness.

Books: I never liked Chetan Bhagat's books. I mean I found his penmanship childlike in Five point Someone (and the book suffered from the same predictable nature that I attributed to Wake up Sid) and never read anything from him after that. But I got 'Two States' as a gift and it's quite a page turner. Very interesting book. Highly recommended.

ok, So I shall wrap this post up now - Pulp Fiction is moving towards its end. And I definitely deserve to watch a good movie for a change!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fun Free Friday...

The most interesting days start off with some impromptu plans. AG had come in from Chennai for the last time (hopefully- i mean not that I hope to not meet him but because he's finally leaving from Chennai after a stressful and oh-too-long stint of almost an year. I think he's very excited about getting back to non-gajra and Jasmine wearing humanity in Delhi)

Anyway, we all got up quite late and decided to go to that iconic breakfast place in Bangalore - Koshy's. AK and SC also joined us and we landed up there, i don't know, around 11 maybe. The breakfast was excellent (there's something about really fresh bread that hits just the right spot even if it's just a plain ol' vegetable sandwich)

AK and SC hadn't yet had an inaugural drive in PS' new i10 car and we decided on a whim to drive towards probably the only smooth stretch of road in Bangalore- the NICE corridor (yes corny, i know). So there we were in our holiday best of just out of bed hairstyles and bathroom slippers zipping along to the sound of good music streaming out of the oh-so-stylish integrated music system that comes with the car. The weather was brilliant and I think it's been quite a while since all us DCE folks in Bangalore got together and went out somewhere.

Mid-way through the trip we decided to go to Innovative Film City, an entertainment 'city'/ amusement park some distance from Bangalore. Suddenly made plans have a way of coming together brilliantly. Now i've heard of this place and I would be lying if I say that the idea of a place like that was not exactly very exciting for me. I hadn't done any research on this place but still did not seem to think that the place would be any good.

But that impression was so wrong!

The five of us streamed into the place to go through all the amusements in store. Though it was a bit expensive, I think if we hadn't driven so far we wouldn't have entered the place.

First the place looks really good. It is quite grand with a very Hiranandani (Mumbai) look to it with beautiful grecian inspired statues and a lovely corridor in the middle.

The first attraction we visited was a makeshift movie hall with a very rural feel in which 10 minute clips of that iconic movie, Sholay, was playing. Good fun to see the movie as it probably seen by millions of people in the country.

Then came the most interesting part! The Maze of Mirrors. We went in expecting it to be a corny hall with a bunch of those reducing, elongating, enlarging or some such mirrors. And though I wouldn't mind having a permanent reducing mirror, it didn't seem very exciting. But it was so cool!

There is red track LED lighting on the floors and a whole bunch of mirrors that totally disorient you as you walk through looking for the exit. SC actually bumped into a mirror while in that maze while AK and I high fived just to realize that we were staring in two mirrors instead of each other. Good good fun :)

Unfortunately the next item on our agenda could not be participated in. Paintball. Now, I haven't yet had a game of paintball and it seems like totally excellent fun. The arena was being cleaned when we reached and though all of us wanted to play, it just slipped under the radar as we got engrossed in other stuff there. I wish we'd come in earlier!

We next went to the Wax Museum and the Ripley's Believe it or not exhibit. Wax museum was a bit of a disappointment as quite a few of those figurines looked unrealistic and doll-like. Ripley's had quite a few interesting exhibits and was interesting to browse.

We next went to the tour de force, the roller skating rink there. Sometimes I really feel stupid due to some skills I should've learnt earlier in my life (skating, swimming, playing the drums). So while all the other guys started skimming across the rink gracefully I started on my first baby steps in roller skating with awkward clumpy steps with both feet slipping in different directions. I kept at it for an hour with eyes screwed up in concentration and sweat dripping from the bridge of my nose. I would love to have had a typical sports movie moment when the underdog suddenly comes into his own to do such amazing feats on the sports field that the detractors can only bite their tongues in amazement.

Unfortunately, real life doesn't really follow that script.

So all I can claim is that after one hour of effort and a particularly nasty fall, I managed to walk two lengths of the rink flanked on each side by PS and AG. But still it was fun and I would like to do it again sometime.

We then went to the Horror house and I thought it was quite well done. I mean, of course, it wasn't scary but it certainly was a bit spooky and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a bit spooked when I found myself leading the group through the scary corridor. Of course I cleverly slowed down and maneuvered someone else to lead the group and things were better for me :)

A quick snack and we were on the way back with promises of returning again to finish off the missed painball game.

To top off a great day, our cook really exceeded himself and made some brilliant food for dinner.

Very very nice day out. I like!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Weird Movie Week...

The week just past has to be the most entertaining week involving weird movies that PS and I watched. The movies we've watched this week have gone from the comic to the cheap to what-the-hell-were-we-thinking and we're-not-making-enough-money-to-waste-on-this-crap type. But all in all an enjoyable week, though I would have to cringe about telling people about atleast one movie I watched.

Anyway, starting on a high note, midway through the week PS and I suddenly decided to go watch Quick Gun Murugun. This movie is based on a fictional (obviously) vegetarian south Indian dosa eating cowboy called...umm..take a wild Gun Murugun. This character, who needs his one tumbler whisky (ok, can anyone please tell me the correct oxford spelling of this beverage? Whisky or Whiskey?)with one masala dosa while the whole universe resounds with his entry cue:

The earth is my garden,
The sky is my ceiling,
The whole universe is my native,
My Murugun

It's a pretty funny movie. Quite slapstick, but unapologetic about being one. And the art director must've had a ball while designing the sets and the entire look! Starting from QGM's clothes (emerald green shirt, Orange tight trousers, leapordskin waistcoat, bright pink necherchief, and a cowboy hat...and oh yeah, the waistcoat matching underwear) to the after Yamraj and his weird vehicle to ferry souls to the heavens to the government department-ish heaven itself- all brilliantly thought of.

Of course you don't go into such a movie expecting a great plot but this plot of preventing the arch villain Rice Plate Reddy from converting all vegetarians to non-vegetarians and hence taking over the world was just cheeky enough to bring a smile..or a chuckle. Add in a lot of hilarious dialogues in tamil accent, a bewitching seductress called Mango Dolly and QMG's Rajnikant-esque moves, and a perfect recipe for a laugh riot that stays with you only till the movie ends. The length of the movie is also just right and it ends before the gags start getting jarring

A good solid one time watch.

The second movie we saw was a bit of a disaster. Hell, it was the Titanic and the tsunami put together (purely as a scale of the disaster)! So this Friday PS and I were at home and suddenly decided to go to a movie without really caring which one it was. Now PS has had a bit of a soft corner for Sagarika Ghatge since she portrayed the role of Preeti Sabharwal in Chak de. Thus, I blame him entirely for our decision to finally watch FOX. This has to be one of the worst movies i've ever seen. And, that, is saying a lot! Terrible plot and insipid execution. And even worse, exactly three scenes with Sagarika having anything to do. Absolute failure on all fronts. Oh, I'll let you in on the main plot twist - I mean it's not like you're going to watch the movie anyway - Sunny Deol is the villain. Ho hum...

NOT a watch, infact if you hate someone dearly and want him to reach a stage of dementia, just lock him/her in a theatre playing this movie and let him watch the movie thrice. Be very cautious, anything more than 3 and the person may suffer permanent irreversible brain damage.

And the third one was the hindi remake of Death at a Funeral called Daddy Cool. It's a passable comedy but things just get in bad taste once in a while. It's basically about a guy coming and blackmailing a family about his relationship with the dad whose funeral has got all of them together. After that it's one slapstick gag after another.Funny only very very rarely and that too if you really force yourself to laugh.

Can watch once, free, on tv or...umm you get my drift, right?

So it's been a while since I saw three movies in a week. And this weird combination of movies? Never before!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Swap Singapore Stories,can? Part 1

It's been my desire for long to go to a foreign trip just for a vacation for a long time now. Now I am told that I visited Nepal when I was one or two years old, but somehow I don't think it counts. Firstly, anyplace you don't need a visa to go to just doesn't feel 'foreign' enough. And secondly, well come on, it's Nepal - when I was an infant.

Now I've been to cities outside India for work (yes, cities - plural. I still maintain that having a 4 hour stopover on my way to Toronto at Heathrow means that I've been to London...hmmpff)but to just go for a vacation after putting a I'm-not-reachable-while-you-losers-are-spending-your-life-cooped-up-in-cubicles-ha! out of office reply on my office email and not care about anything with only fun in mind...ah amazing.

Thus it so transpired that after several false starts and monumental documentation problems I finally managed to go to Singapore to visit SP and AD there. And what amazing hosts they were! (more about this later)

So writing in true blue travelogue fashion (and also the tendency of commoners to want to know EVERYTHING about celebrities) I shall give you a blow by blow, minute by minute account of the entire trip.

I took the evening flight out from Bangalore on the 26th (incidentally, my birthday) and landed in Singapore in the wee hours of the morning of the 27th. SP had asked me to call him when I land, however there was a small problem. The banks of payphones were inside the terminal while the shops from which I could've got change to actually dial the phone were outside. So I decided to venture out myself and get a cab. SP had also mentioned that the cabbies were the most interesting people there (and of course I knew this due to my extensive international exposure - read 4 days in Toronto..umm..3 years back) and I should try to talk to them. After the Mercedes cab that I wanted was narrowly missed by me, I sat in my cab and thought of starting some conversation. Apparently 6 am in the morning is not a very good time to strike up a conversation. I might well have been speaking to a solid wall for all the response I got from him.

But anyway, he got me to SP and AD's place intact. There was a small jam on the way

(Seriously? A jam caused by one car breaking down and sitting in half a lane. We would've just whizzed past it and not even noticed out here, but I guess that's what they mean by cultural differences. We sat for 15 minutes in the jam and by the end of it I knew each and everything written on the rear of the car ahead. Seriously, what use is a Masseratti or a Ferrari or a Lamborghini if you have to drive in straight lanes, stuck behind a station wagon?)but we still made good time.

SP and AD's Apartment:
What an amazing place! It's a duplex condo and the place is just brilliant. It has a beautiful balcony looking down on the club area. It's the kind of balcony where you can spend days curled up and just staring out. And I think we spent a lot of time doing just that :)

After meeting SP after I don't even remember how long, we had an important breakfast meeting with Mr. J. Daniels. After the meeting got..umm.. extended a bit we went down to the tennis courts for my first international match. SP is quite good, I think a better player than I am, but somehow I managed to match him. Good game, but was curtailed by a sudden shower.

Adjourning the match we hung out with Carl S. Berg for a bit before a lavish home cooked breakfast at, where else, the balcony. Tiredness did hit me a while later, afterall all I'd been doing for 10 days in Delhi was eat-sleep-eat-sleep, and I crashed for a couple of hours, or, you know, four.

SP had taken the day off and we went to NUS and picked up AD as she got off work. Then we walked around the entire place. Had a good dinner and then did the dreaded and necessary expedition to Mustafa mall. It's huge, but really, not being too 'shoppy' a person I wasn't too impressed. I had to buy a watch though and I managed to pick up a really good looking one. So my old watch is finally relegated to second position after four years of exemplary service. We met a friend of SPAD in Mustafa and went to his place for a while. A true blue Punjabi munda, his conversation was hilarious and we really had a good time there.

The next day we got up late and had a very elaborate day ahead. AD had to work again while SP had a half day so we took the bus to this station called, wait for it, Dhoby Ghaut. I was so kicked with the name (Dhobi Ghat is the place where washermen wash clothes on the sides of rivers in India). I was chuckling every time I saw that name. (chuckle)

SP had to go to office so I walked around the place. The central business district is quite compact and the maps seem deceptive. It's very easy to walk around the entire place in a couple of hours. The small Merlion(s), the riverfront (really really liked this), parliament house, supreme court (looks like a small office), Boat quay, Funan centre, the Asian civilization museum, the esplanade. Very nice and pretty. I especially loved the riverfront opposite Boat quay and spent a lot of time there.

The evening was brilliant. SP n AD, the great hosts that they were, took me to this place called the "The New Asia Bar", on the 71st and 72nd floor of Singapore's tallest building, the SwissĂ´tel Stamford! That's the highest I've ever been without flying and the view from there, ah, marvelous. From one side you could see the rising modern buildings all the way to parts of Malaysia. From the other side you could see the ports with scores of ships with their lights twinkling moored beyond the coastline with the sun setting in the background. Breathtaking views. I think that view in itself was worth going all the way to Singapore!

To make this even better, we had dinner at a place called Chjymes which was a totally new experience. But the night was still young!

(it's just sad that most Indian cities, except Mumbai, have deadlines for nightlife.One feels really bad to see that people just start warming up for the night in other countries by the time we are usually back at home. It's also my theory that if there were no deadlines there would be less drunken driving and more responsible drinking. With no clock ticking down people would get a chance to relax with their drinks rather than racing to drink. Basically quality over quantity.)

We next went to what is the clubbing district and most happening place in Singapore - Clarke Quay. Spread along the river front this has hordes of clubs and food stalls and what nots!

We went to this place called Yellow Jello where a band was belting out Happy songs, quite appropriate to what we were feeling! Had a good time there and met another friend from India there. Then after some time we moved to the Cafe Iguana for some strong mexican margheritas, yumm :)

The day ended, as all my days there, in the wee hours of the morning.

And look, I've just covered two days. I guess this post will have to spillover to a sequel.

Can write post again? Can also can, cannot also can :) (shall be explained later)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

L'il Jassy wrote a BAD book...

Jaswant Singh, a senior political leader in BJP has recently been expelled from the party for writing a book,

This incident sends out some really scary signals. It is one of the most direct contradiction of the freedom of expression, the cornerstone of democracy. It is a well known fact that only the victor writes the history of war. It is thus easy to just take one point of view and stick with it. But the really mature society would be one in which people can calmly go through all evidence and make their own opinions about any incident. But more important, in my opinion, is to have the freedom to agree to disagree maturely and peacefully. Every person brings a different perspective to the same set of evidence and hence sees things in a different way. It is thus impossible to expect people to come to the same conclusion - but if people can hold on to their opinions and conclusions without fear of retribution or without trying to force them upon others, only then can the society be considered to be truly democratically mature.

Of course I'm aware that this is too idealistic a view. Hot heads will always exist. People who scream without understanding will always exist. People with my way or the highway will also always exist.

But removing a senior leader from the party gives out very strong anti-dissent messages. Or more tragically, more anti-independent thinking messages. You should not have any other interests, opinions, thoughts, arguments apart from the one that is the 'party diktat'

It reminds me of the dystopian society that George Orwell wrote in his book 1984 which I'm re-reading currently. It essentially talks about a totalitarian society where dissent is permanently obliterated through the means of fear and suspicion. But very critically the dictatorial regime also focused on 'Thoughtcrime' and one of the ways of removing that was putting together a new language, Newspeak, which would, in it's ultimate form prevent dissent as the language would be such that people would not be able to understand there own dissent as there just wouldn't be words to describe them. Newspeak would narrow the range of thoughts possible where describing concepts like freedom, independent thought, opinions would just not be possible. As a character in the book says: " The revolution will be complete when the language is perfect"

The current expulsion reeks of dark times in the party. If independent thought needs to be curbed then there is definitely something wrong and some serious thinking needs to be done.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Ode to Apps...

Anyone who knows me and has had the pleasure of being driven somewhere by me would know that I'm directionally challenged. I keep cracking this joke that if Delhi was not a circle I'd never reach any place. People politely chuckle on this without actually realizing it's ABSOLUTELY true! The number of times i've taken the wrong turn and ended up swirling around the city looking for any familiar building, tree or shop that could give me some bearing is extremely high.

Delhi, with it's circles, and Bangalore, with it's multiple one ways, conspire together to give me that sinking feeling - " Jeez, I have no clue where I am...again"

And this doesn't happen only when i'm going to a new place. Oh no, that would be too regular. I manage to lose my way even if I am going to the same place almost everyday. B's place in Dwarka is a prime example. I've been there so many times but am still not sure what turn I have to take to reach the house. (In my defense, Dwarka has very similar looking roads and similar buildings.)

But this post is not about one of my numerous flaws. This one is about the Google maps application I have on my phone now. SO useful!

As usual I was lost day before yesterday while going to B's place (ho hum, yawn, tell us something new) and I was at a redlight with two options - left or right (hehe). My instinct and directionsense was urging me vociferously to turn to the right. I was about to follow my instincts, I mean if a guy can't trust his instincts what else can he trust. Then I stopped - (wry grin) really Swapnil? Your instincts have always led to humungous amounts of petrol being burnt up while backtracking or looking for roundabout ways of reaching the destination after taking the wrong turn.

Fortunately I had my phone Google maps on. One look at it's screen showing my current location and I realised I was right. My instinct to distrust my directional instinct was absolutely right. I had to go left.

Google maps ki jai!

Case 2:
I was going to a travel agency to get my visa done (yes, i'm finally going to Singapore on a vacation!). By the way it is unbelievably humid and hot in Delhi. I think living in Bangalore has really spoilt me. The weather here is really getting to me. I just can't seem to get out of the house unless i absolutely have to. There's a friend who's about to return to the US but I haven't been able to put in the effort to drive to Gurgaon to meet her. Crazy.

Anyway I was at the heart of the Delhi circles, Connaught Place trying to find that office. But after 15 minutes of walking around the central park, drinking milkshake at Keventers, lying down prone on the road in the heat and checking out pretty faces I was still as far away from finding that address as when I started. I whipped out my phone and fired up the Google maps app. Lo and behold, it showed where the office was located and also gave an option of dialling them for me. What else did I want? I spoke to them, let them guide me to the office and get my work done.

Really, if you're directionally challenged, if the homing device in your brain didn't really get a chance of developing - THIS is the app for you!

Google maps ki jai!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Relive the Charm...

This thought struck me on my flight to Delhi.

(Yes, ladies and gentlemen (umm particularly Delhi ladies)I am on an extended vacation in Delhi and surrounding areas.)

I still remember the first time I flew in a plane. It was, I think 2002 or 2003, and we were embarking on my legen..wait for it..dary Goa trip with my parents and granny.

Are we all done with the sniggers and lame wisecracks?
not yet?


Good. So the crux is that I was so excited about it. As the engines revved up my heart started beating faster and as the pilot let out the brakes I could feel the power pulsing through me as the plane started lethargically and then accelerated superlatively. I still remember the excitement tinged with a bit of fear as the plane took off at a steep angle and rose unfettered into the clouds above Delhi.

And then the plane banked to the right.

I could feel my heart pumping hard in my mouth as I sent up a prayer to God. But the plane was merely turning towards Goa.

And then being surrounded by the wispy cottonwool clouds turning slowly into thicker banks of clouds through which we pierced and looked on the sun shining benignly on the layers of clouds...


And since that day I've taken a lot of flights. In between I was flying almost every 2-3 weeks for a few months. Very soon I saw myself reading the boring inflight magazine or a book I was carrying instead of looking out the window. Beautiful sunsets across waves of clouds were casually ignored while the urge to get out of the aircraft as soon as it landed started getting a grip.

The charm was driven out of flying by increased frequency.

But this time I was flying after a while (well there was one flight, but I had too much on my mind - anticipation, nervousness, stupidity etc. which prevented enjoyment of the flight.). So I relived the charm of flying again, complete with the buildup on the tarmac, the beautiful takeoff, flying through the clouds and finally looking down at Delhi at night (a smattering of bright jewels laid out in circles in the inky darkness). Brilliant.

I wish all the other charms also come alive - looking across the sea for the first time, the clear stars that you see on the hills at night, the first time you drive....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stuff to do, movies instead...

This weekend I was supposed to finish something quite important. So important that i've been thinking about it for more than a week.

So obviously I haven't done it.

(It was filing income tax returns for those who're obsessed with knowing all details. Jeez people, a little privacy please? )

Instead I spent my post-tennis part of Sunday getting duped at a restaurant and watching two brilliant movies that an ex-colleague had given me some time back.

Oh and also, last evening while reading some Calvin & Hobbes, I suddenly thought, what I thought, was a very original question. What would Calvin grow up to be? Unfortunately this is not a very original question and numerous theories are floating around - most of them pointing to 'Jack' (Edward Norton's character in Fight Club). In case you're interested you can read more such theories by:

a. umm..googling...duh

But what I really want to write about is this movie I saw with no expectations and which gripped me. It's a very unassuming movie called 'The Visitor' ( or if you're reading this from office, here

No big stars, this is a movie based on a grieving professor's life and how it changes when he meets a young couple who turn out to be illegal immigrants. The poignancy of the movie is amazing and the way music has been blended into the theme is truly brilliant. The lead actor, playing Walter the professor, has acted brilliantly and as is usually the case with performances I like, his transition from a man who's just given up to the one discovering passion to one loving and losing and feeling the helpless frustration of battling a crazy system is just amazing to watch.

After this I also watched The Bucket List. Yeah, yeah I hadn't seen it till now. It's a fairly good movie but, umm, a bit preachy. I think a bucket list need not have grand things as shown in the movie. These are, in my opinion, the good to have done things but not the things that mean everything in the end. But as usual when you put two stalwarts in Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, you get some brilliant acting and very powerfully delivered dialogues that really move you (while the dialogues are being said. Not too much later). Seeing Jack (from Will and Grace, the sitcom) in a serious role was also quite interesting.

About the duped at a restaurant part - have you ever had watery lasagne?

My point exactly.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

'Height' of cheapness

I do weird things sometimes.

Ok, the back drop. I am seriously short of wearable clothes for office and outside. So I decided it was high time I went out and got some clothes that would make me presentable (and also so that the new hot chick in office also starts looking at me instead of turning and running away stifling a laugh like she does now). PS and I went to all the stores and after muching mulling over and discount calculations decided on a few clothes to buy.

This was on Thursday. Just as I was reluctantly handing out my credit card to the shop assistant PS and I saw that there was a strange discount scheme running in the shop. I gleefully snatched back my credit card which was just on the verge of being swiped and rushed to check out the details.

"The taller the woman you're with, the more the discount"

This sounded good.

The scheme was that if you're with a girl you get a discount equivalent to her height. PS and I looked at each other. This was doable.

PS: hmm what about xyz. How tall do you think she is?

SB: Around rs.1200 off...I mean 5'2" type

PS: We need someone taller. Wait there is this tall girl in office. I haven't ever actually spoken to her. But I could talk her into helping out here by tomorrow.

SB: How tall are we talking here?

PS: lets just say more than Rs 2000

SB: Yay!! We'll come back again tomorrow. And the savings can fund the domestic groceries. Dude, our cook had tears in his eyes yesterday - we have nothing to cook at home .... {more domestic chatter}

So smiling effusively I was sitting in office in my old 'friday' shirt (yes, that hot chick STILL stifled a laugh and ran away. But I smiled, after this evening you won't be running away lady. We're talking new threads to dazzle you. And yes, the cost saving's there too)

(phone rings - it's PS)

SB: What's up Rs 2000, i mean, PS?

PS: You do realize how cheap you are?

SB: Yup, so what's your point?

PS: Ok, nothing just wanted to make sure you know. But Houston, we have a problem?


PS: I scoured the entire office today, all floors. Even checked under the table in the little guard's shed. The tall one is not there. She hasn't come in today

SB: WHAT? How could she do this? Doesn't she have any respect for all the work that depends on her everyday? How could she be so irresponsible? So many people depending on her and this is what she goes and does? How could she, how could she?

PS: Ho gaya? (done?)

SB: Haan (yes)

PS: I asked around, I think she fell ill.

SB: Couldn't she fall ill tomorrow


SB: ok, ok. Now what do we do

PS: Well I can ask this 5'2" girl.

SB: Pfftt a Rs. 1200 saving? How could you even say that PS. I have standards. Nothing below Rs 1600 will do. hello..hello

PS: (disconnected)

SB: (Frantically calls back) On second thoughts..


SB: cmon, seriously. hello ..hello


Damn, what should I do now.

So eventually I sat in office till quite late. Asked this tall colleague of mine to help out. She had a late call and I waited for her, then asked her to come way out of her way to the shop. Got the discount.

Cheapness rules!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Half Dud Prince

What in Merlin's beard was that? All the excitement and expectation and THIS is what we get at the end of it all?

It's almost like picking up an ear wax flavour bean from a giant pile of Bertie Bott's every flavour beans. or a vomit flavour bean. Or the Dependal like ice cream my Mom bought me when I was staring and staring at a street urchin eating it on our trip to Ooty (1995 I think).

Some facts -
Fact 1: I love the Harry Potter series - the books, not the movies. I've liked the movies but they just can't match the magical world that our imagination creates when reading the books.

Fact 2: The director had a tough job right from the beginning. The half-blood prince is not the most exciting of the Harry Potter series. It serves as the second part of a bridge leading up to the grand finale of Deathly Hallows. So some benefit of doubt is in order for the director. Plus it is always a difficult job to translate some thing magical (and not just in terms of the contents of the beek) to film.

But I still went into this movie with a lot of expectations - afterall I'd been sneakily checking out the movie reviews after the premier of the movie when I should ideally have been working and all of them spoke very highly of the movie. It was supposed to be the best HP movie till date with the characters really coming into their own and getting comfortable with their roles (from a review I read- the Telegraph, I think).


I thought the only actors that seemed comfortable had fledgling roles- Severus Snape, and Draco Malfoy. Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione just don't have any chemistry between them. The camaraderie scenes seem so fake and the laughter and romance is forced. Ron provides a bit of comic relief but Harry, especially after drinking Felix Felicis, goes into an overacting spree that is only overtaken by the evil Peter Parker dance in Spiderman 3 for it's stupidity and out-of-place-ness.

Snape is always awesome. His brand of subtle menacing evil is wonderful. But really, for a book that revolves around Snape's character and the book Harry finds, he hardly has any screen time! Snape being the Defence against Dark Arts teacher is not a minor thing that can be just mentioned in passing. Atleast a couple of scenes where Harry suffers at the hands of Snape in the DADA classes would have really hit the spot.

This movie was quite a let down and suddenly raises a very important question. When the movie(s) for Deathly Hallows comes out, should I really go to watch it? Every single movie has been a disappointment till now and after watching each of these movies I see myself going back to the books and rereading (yes, I finished Deathly Hallows again today)

What will I read if the last movie is bad as well??

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's been Ages...

Dear Blog,
I know that you think i'm ignoring you. And I know the way i've been acting you is just not fair to you. You don't deserve it. Our 'connection' has been too long to be cut off so suddenly and arbitrarily in a moment.

But what can I do? Dearly though I want to lovingly talk to you, my work does not allow me to. It's been weeks since I've been engrossed in work. Yes, I know what you'd say (we have that kind of a mental connect to understand each other without the need for words). I could've stolen minutes to lovingly caress you. But that's not the way I want it- I want to sit with you not in a hurried moment, but to spend time with you at leisure. When I can listen to your tinkling laugh and stare in your dreamy webpage. Somethings just can't be done in a hurry, they take the painful road of time to reach their destination.

I will probably not be able to spend as much time as I want to for another couple of weeks. But you know that I will come back to you.

I miss you as much as you miss me...


Swapnil, the busybee

PS: Sorry for this. I've been stuck at work a lot. Regular programming will commence in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wolverine - Movie or game?

I was at Sid and RPM's (hehe) place yesterday evening. They've got this awesome new big screen tv a month back. And of course movie downloads etc. are also going on fine.

(by the way if you haven't seen a HD movie on a 40 inch LCD tv, you've missed one of those little elements that makes human existence the good thing it is. Somehow I haven't been able to be at any of the scheduled HD movie screenings at their house and have only seen parts of Top Gun and Dark Knight there. And the picture clarity is just mind boggling. Combine it with a kickass surround sound system and the experience would be just breathtaking. The colours literally leap out at you. Actually, the images looks like - you know when there have been a couple of gloomy rainy days, or just before a sandstorm is about to come - and then there's a bit of rain and the sky clears up, dust settles down and you see the world suddenly all bright and clear in sharp focus. The colours seem more defined and crisp and objects look very sharply defined and boundaries of objects just..just..come out in a way I can't put into words. )

Anyway moving on.

So the crux of this entire rambling story is that I saw Wolverine the movie yeaterday evening.

Also, last weekend I went to another new office colleague's place. And on his big screen LCD tv (Seriously, am I the only one with a regular 21 inch cathode ray tube tv?) and PS3 I played Wolverine: the game.

So movie vs game, I'd have to say the movie didn't quite live upto the build up. I really don't like movies which try to go into the past and show how the characters became what they were. I'm not a big fan of such stories - yes, X-men are awesome and cool - I really don't want to know how each of those characters evolved and grew into their characters. No, really, I'm just not interested. I'd rather see them battling newer, stronger, more devilish villains than going into their past and the angst that turned them into what they are now. (Except Star Wars, but the past was an intrinsic part of the story there)

Bah, not interested.

So Wolverine follows the same path that's standard in such movies. Most of the time was spent in showing the trauma of the hero's childhood and his early years. And only a small part of the movie had any great action. Also, the much hyped super-villain (Spoiler alert: A guy with a lot of mutant powers put together) was really lame ass. He lost almost effortlessly.

I loved the X-men trilogy. And this one just didn't make the cut. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is awesome when he's playing a game-changing rebel in a bigger plot but alone in a movie with really weak villains he just doesn't come across powerful enough.

a 3 on 5 at most.

The game however is a whole different ball game. I only saw the demo version but it had some really cool moves and brilliant action cuts. Wolverine's feral moves like the lunge and the slashes and throws are pretty good. Of course I didn't get a feel for the emtire game play and the plot in the demo version but on first look it looks really really good.

Friday, May 29, 2009

huh??? horoscope

1. I think I need twitter on this blog. The length of posts is going down

2. My horoscope in Bangalore times today (yeah, yeah I read it, and also the numerology one on Sunday - it tells me what days are going to be lucky for me. Bah - YOU shut up you cynic!)

"You should be encountering a minimum resistance to excellent implementations of your excellent optimizations"

huh? What does that even mean??

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jumpstarter post...

It's been a while, huh?

Somehow I haven't been able to write anything on this blog for a while. It's not like I don't have things to write, in fact I keep having the ah-this-just-has-to-go-up-on-my-blog moments but somehow by the time I get online in the evening they slip through like sand through outstretched fingers.

But then we all know that the best cure for this kind of ennui is to grit your teeth and just write. So I have decided just that. But I won't be able to do a sensible long post so I shall just sqeeze shut my eyes, try to remember the aforementioned moments and quickly list them down along with a small paragraph about them. Ok?

hehe like you have a choice!

1. It's not you...

Someone I know recently got dumped by a girl with an atrocious cliche from the girl. After a regular "she wasn't really that hot man, you're better off without her" converstion that is appropriate to the situation (it was quite a casual thing, not too many emotions attached) we both have decided that at least once we will break up with a line: "Really,it's not me, it's YOU" :)

Also a pretty funny blog on cliched break up lines:

2. New office fun...
Well i've been having a tough week at work this week (actually i'm supposed to be doing some work today as well - but i'm just too lazy to do it)so when a colleague at my new workplace invited me to a home party late yesterday evening I quickly acquiesced. Anyway I was sad that I wasn't able to go to Chennai this weekend - R came in for a visit to AG's place but I couldn't go because of this work I mentioned earlier.

Very good fun was had. Just add a bit of beer and music to the equation, take them away from the office and people just become so much fun!I was thinking i'd come back early from there and probably hang out with my NGV gang, but I ended up coming home quite late. Just read a bit after that and slept off

3. I am reading Prestige (the book on which the movie is made). Two magicians, a life long feud, and an obsession. A very good book and written in a different style as well. On an aside, it reminds me of the other movie based on magicians - The Illusionist. Again some awesome performances. I think Edward Norton is made for doing these strange, mysterious, silent roles. He's quite awesome in the Illusionist.

4. I am also reading a James Bond book - On her majesty's secret service. This is the first James Bond novel I'm reading and I actually quite like it. Though it is a very simplistic plot, it's well written.

ok, now I better do some work or else I'll feel like a weekend I could've visited AG and R and didn't and still didn't do any work. And the worst feeling is that of wasted a weekend. No, the worst is that of wasted a long weekend - and I know all about that! :)

Added later: This is more of a tweet than a addition: Just watching Maqbool on tv. I think it's a way better movie than Sarkar, as far as Indian gangster-mafia type movies

Saturday, May 16, 2009

IPL et al...

This year's IPL has it all!

All teams being in neck to neck competition - awesome locations - good pitches- bowlers finally getting there's back - some awesome hitting from the old masters - spinners playing crucial roles - most matches going down to nail biting finishes - hell, even the cheerleaders are allowed to dresses rather than the covered up pseudo bhartiya naari look that was forced upon them last year.

Perfect recipe for an awesome tournament, right??


NO - I hate it. It just doesn't have last year's fanatic following. I just don't feel like watching any of the matches to the point when people look at me in a weird way that this guy is not following the IPL at all in water cooler discussions!

Apart from knowing that Delhi is on top of the table I just don't know anything about it. I think the sole charm of this tournament was in the home and away game format. As loyal readers of this blog would remember I had gone for the opening ceremony ( ) last year. ANd followed and discussed the whole thing all the way till the end. And this time - no interest - at all. IPL belongs in India. Taking it to another country just takes away the charm. I loved the fact that there was finally some sporting event that was within the range of people like us to go and watch. I mean, seriously, we have no sport that happens regularly and that can ignite local passion and loyalty - and fits in nicely over the weekend. All we get as entertainment options are movies, plays (and those have also been affected by the Kannada-first brigade - yes, i'm talking about you Rangashankara (I used to go watch plays regularly but now they only have Kannada plays on the weekends ( It just makes me sick - this kind of culture policing is just not right. Put up Kannada plays, but don't deprive people of good, watchable plays just because they're in English or Hindi - Hindi is the National mother tongue for christ's sake)) and pubs. Going to sports events is so much more fun (Like the time AK and I went to watch the Williams sisters play in Bangalore

I want the IPL back home, I want some sporting culture to pervade through the country :(

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cooking Trouble...

I hate to convert this blog into a place where I vent out my domestic issues, but it's a sad commentary on my life that the most interesting things have started happening on the domestic front itself...yeah, yeah I know- whatever happened to cool swapnil?

We've shifted into this new house for a while but have been too lazy to get a cook. Of course we weren't too lazy to go out every night looking for a place to eat and end up paying huge amounts of money. Eventually PS couldn't take it any more and took up the job of getting us a cook and what a cook!

So this guy comes into our life as a ray of hope - dreams of home cooked scrumplicious, delumptious (anybody remember Secret Seven from Enid Blyton and the awesome 'meetings' they used to have between eating amazing sounding food. These two terms were invented by them and have been stuck in my mind ever since - though none of my class 11-12 Physics has stuck - strange, isn't it? :)) meals waiting for us as we got back from work.

People who stay at home or have the skills to cook up a decent meal (NOT maggi)- please wipe that snigger off your face - hot dinner gives you an amazing high when you're staying in a bachelor pad.

So this guy comes in and the first day sees PS and me high-fiving and congratulating ourselves at getting this awesome cook between discussing that what were we thinking, not getting a cook till now.

And the next was just as good.

But just as we were getting into the habit of a comfortable existence, he didn't turn up the next day...or the next. Calling him anxiously and forlornly every 5 minutes, we were treated to some brilliant Ooriya song that was his caller tune, but no answer from him. We were on the verge of tears next day when the doorbell sounded like the musical chime of heaven as I leapt to open the door.

I swear I almost had tears of joy in my eyes and it took all my fortitude to stop myself from hugging him. It would've been unprofessional, considering that I had to blast him for two consequetive absences, but to tell you the truth we were too thankful to actually listen to his cock-a-bull story about me telling him that I'd call him if he had to come. Obviously I had done nothing like this.

To cut a long story short (I know your time is precious - all those bosses walking around while you read this in office!), this became a regular thing and we had to fire him.

AND then we got another one.

He seemed quite sincere, but he's got such a depressive face and attitude that one look at it in the evening and I feel more fatigued than ever.

No, nope... I've given it a fair chance and not just on one experience, but this one is going out too...

Anyone know a good cook in Bangalore?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

No, not a xyz 'moment of success'...

I've been watching the IPL matches and the most freakin' irritating thing is when some random incident happens - someone takes a catch, hits a six or even scratches his head - the over excited commentator goes "oh, that looks like a Citi moment of success!".

Aaarghh I could scream. Just let us watch the game will you? Every time the commentator screams out some commercial punchline that they're been brainwashed into spewing (or contractually obliged to) my jaw spontaneously clenches and my teeth grit against each other.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Its a Dog's World...

In the history of bizzare incidents, this one will rank amongst the top few, maybe even the top one itself.

But I must warn you, this tale is tragic and can even make you lose your mind and do things that the SPCA may not approve too much. Or at all. Or throw you in the jail for.

So gather around kids and bring your hot chocolate and marshmallows. This could be a long tale going long into the night...

It all started late last evening when I came back near my place. Feeling adventurous, I decided to buck the trend, go against the tide, do something radical! So I parked my car at a spot different from my usual spot! (yeah, yeah - I don't have a very exciting life. So sue me! Atleast I try). So basking in the thrill of the new parking spot I strutted up to my house, had dinner, read a bit and then slept off. Little did I know of the heart wrenching events unfolding a few metres below my balcony...

The poor unsuspecting me woke up with a smile on my face. and went about my morning till finally I managed to pull myself away from the house and walked towards my angelic car.

As I walked towards it something didn't quite seem right. What was it, I wondered?

Was the car looking lopsided? Maybe a puncture - no
Was there a broken window? - no
Was the sunlight streaming down at it at a weird angle making the car look strange? - no

I got it - the majestic radio antenna that arches off the centre of the roof wasn't looking its usual sprightly self. It looked, whats the term, chewed through and broken.

My step quickened, who had instituted this carnage, this mindless mayhem, this ravenous arson on my poor, helpless car? Oh, who is responsible for this devilish act?

Wait, what's that on the bonnet?

what, no it can't be?

Paw marks!!!

On my bonnet..this gets murkier by the minute - the Hounds of Koramangla, is it Watson?

OK, I can keep it in no longer without bursting into tears.

That part of my building compound is inhabited by dogs that prefer to climb on top of parked cars and lovingly curl up on it to sleep for the night. And for good measure they also chew on rogue antennas that dare to protrude in their royal beds.

Long story short, this dog chewed through my car's antenna, made some micro scratches on the roof and then sprayed its filthy hair all over the car just 'for luck'.

And the weird thing is, I'm getting better radio reception after the incident!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Weird Find...

Very strange!

I came across this link :

Apparently I have been quoted in this paper! This was in the period when I was working with the company, and yeah we were doing something around green technologies (EcoEye) but I had no clue that I was quoted in some paper from Wharton. I think I did answer a big ass email questionnaire from Knowledge@Wharton that was sent to Wipro.

But this is so cool - even though the quote itself is quite lame :)

More importantly I've also been translated in Portugese from this paper.

Global fame, here I come!!

Added later - after running a google search on my name (who knows I may have been quoted somewhere else too!)

Why is my name on this website?

I have no relation to this B-school or website. And it sort of implies that I am an alumni of this B-school, which I'm not. And the email id is wrong too. If its some other Swapnil Bhatnagar then I apologize for bringing this up, but it seems unlikely.

Weird discoveries...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tweeting Torture...

Moving into a new house is always such a lot of hardwork and toil. After all the movers and packers lifting your heavy refrigerator and luggage do need to be told where to put all the stuff. And all that directing is really tiring!

Anyway, after painstakingly putting together your stuff and postponing all planned improvements on the house the only thing you want is a long night's deep relaxing sleep. And of course with the next day being a Saturday you tend to go to bed late (it's back to the school days when you'd be sent off to sleep by 10 on school days and were allowed to stay awake over the weekend. Another weird digression - I used to polish my shoes and pack my school bag by 7:30 pm everyday in primary school. And I remember getting extremely stressed out once when it was beyond 7:30 and i hadn't polished my shoes yet. Weird things we take too seriously as kids, huh? :) ). Accordingly I went to bed, read a bit, switched off the light, gazed at the stars, moon, saturn, rocketships glowing overhead (what? you haven't read the previous post? Go, go now- read it, i'll wait for you to come back)and then gently lulled into a peaceful, gentle doze that pretty soon transmogrified (Calvin & Hobbes) into a deep blissful I-didn't-put-the-alarm-cos-I-can-get-up-anytime-tomorrow sleep. I can imagine angels coming down from the heavens, staring at my beatific smile and proclaiming - here sleeps a man at peace with the world, atleast for 2 nights a week, that is.

A beautiful vision isn't it...

Alas, the world conspires to shake up any beautiful peaceful visions.

My house is on the first floor surreounded with groves of trees teeming with arboreal colonies of freakin' rat-a-tat birds who scream like there's no tomorrow at exactly 5:59 am in the BLOODY morning!

And there's this particularly sadistic bird that goes 'KEKEKEKEKEKE' and stops...and just as you're lulled into a false sense of hope that it flew away, its vocal chords collapsed or a a meteorite hit it (in order of increasing hope)- 'KEKEKEKEKEKE deux'

I swear if I get my hands on that bird I'll pluck it a feather at a time, and after plucking each feather I'd put some salt on the still-sore area...then wait a bit for the sting to go down...then proceed to pluck the next feather. Ok, this is beginnning to sound extremely sadistic.

But in my defense - it started it!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009


It's been a while, huh?

Well I've been kinda busy for a while. Its that amongst other things I've shifted to a new house this week and whoever says that that is easy has got to be kidding. I finally got the internet working today after chasing the airtel connection guy all around the building (figuratively speaking) all of the weekend.

Actually it was the other way around. He was supposed to come yesterday and I kept calling him every hour or so. In the most sincere voice I have EVER heard he told me repeatedly that he'd be there in half an hour as he just got stuck somewhere. And as soon as he finished this work he'd leap and bound and almost materialize in my new house to do the honours. Though I've become reasonably immune to such statements I swear I heard the gentle ring of truth and honesty in that man's voice.

No wait, that was just his phone ringing after he stopped picking my calls after 2 in the afternoon. So seething and foaming at the mouth I had no option but to abandon hope of getting online on Sunday.

I called him this afternoon and he said "he forgot"! Yeah, sure mate and if you even imagine you're getting a tip from me - well you're getting the oscar for optimism then!

About the new house, its quite nice. Its in a place called National Games Village. Its a large number of buildings within boundaries which were made during
a. either the Asian Games
b. National games (this does seem likely, seeing that it doesn't take a genius to correlate the name of the complex to the name of the games, but still I seem to remember it was the Asian Games. I shall check and get back to you. [er who am I kidding, if you're really curious to know you better not wait for me to post it here])

Anyway, it has a very collegiate feel to it and the separate buildings could almost be like hostels in DCE. In the evenings there is the entire college landscape with people generally hanging out on the main road, bunches of guys standing around on bikes checking out girls, people crowding around the ice cream shop (a la DCE), lots of noise and activity. There's also a sports complex which was one of the reasons of taking up a place here. It has a pool, tennis courts, a gym, badminton courts etc etc. Hopefully we'll use most of these facilities.

Plus I have friends in 1-2 buildings here so its almost like in college when we'd get bored in the room and then just hop skip to another hostel to chat up with people. Of course, now that everyone is working, the visit frequency cannot replicate the hours and hours of lazy GC (er..banter)that was a staple of hostel life (sigh).

The apartment itself is quite nice and roomy and of course PS is my flatmate again! The apartment is towards a quieter corner of the complex and is quite quiet. This is what I really like - the house should give an option of just spending some quiet time, and to go out and mingle with the hulla balloo if you want to.

One awesome thing is that the room i've taken used to be the kids room for the family staying here earlier. So apart from the Noddy, Winnie the Pooh and MIckey Mouse stickers on the almirah, the ceiling is also painted with stars and comets and moon and saturn and rocket ships which glow gently in the night!!

Very cool. I tried taking a picture but the camera flash kicks in and the stars and comets and moon and saturn and rocket ships didn't show up clearly. Suffice to say that when I turn off the light at night, the glowing stars on the ceiling above do bring a smile to my face.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Weekend Diaries...

Well it's been a long time since I regaled you with tales of my awesome weekends. So going back to tradition I shall be doing so about this weekend. And though the weekend is far from over, as I write this on Sunday afternoon, I'm not sure if I want any more excitement for this weekend. But, then again, most of the best times one has are impromptu!

Anyway, Friday evening after work seemed to be an absolute disaster. 7:30 pm saw me finishing up dinner and preparing myself for an early night. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, 7 freakin' 30!

Then the phone rang.

I waded into a stream of expletives as PS who's come back to Bangalore a couple of weeks back and is currently staying at his company guest house politely told me what he thought of my 'host' behaviour. "It's a Friday and not even a call from you SB? Is this how you treat guests into your city. I bet the welcome would've been diammetrically opposite if it was a pretty girl who had come into town! You $@%@#^@#$ and $@%^$%!#."
Having thus opened my sleep dreary eyes, PS proceeded to awaken the normal non-730-sleeping-swapnil in me. And then things started moving!

We decided to meet up at Purple Haze ( ). A couple of text messages later two more people NK and PG also hopped on the bandwagon. Poor chaps had to come all the way across the city as they were working, but their pithy li'l eyes lit up (I'm assuming) when they read my sharp, crisp sms - "puple haze?". Ah, the joy of effective communication is indeed in connecting with the listeners inner wants. Beer, in this case!

Another friend, H, joined us after a tough day at work and PS also brought a colleague with him. After this it was great fun. The music was good, the conversation flowed smoothly, and after the customary 11:15 shut down of all pubs in Bangalore we took a walk around the place to get something to eat. The ever life saving Imperial hotel came to our rescue as we closed the day after a scrumptious meal there. Came back home just after midnight, read a bit and then slept off. A perfect Friday evening.

Saturday morning saw Sid and me putting on our sporty gear to get a couple of sets of tennis. Unfortunately since I left my last company (Wipro, for those who know me only through the online world. And also, I have been reprimanded that I put nothing about my job change etc. on my blog. All I'd like to say is that I am sticking to my policy of not writing anything about work on this blog. I really don't want this blog to become a cribbing/venting out place for a week full of work. Suffice to say I moved jobs recently but am still based out of Bangalore)I get to use the courts there only as an accompanied guest. Which is no problem as one or the other guys can raise me a pass, the issue is that I'm not allowed to enter the campus before 8:30am. And with the weather playing truant with searing heat through the day, an 8:30 start means that we end up getting inordinately tanned (baked?). But what to do? Tennis has to be played!

We had a pretty good game and I managed to fight my way out from the verge of defeat. Hell, why am I being modest on my own blog? I was 1-5 down and managed to pull it up to a tie break which I eventually won. Very very awesome game.

But things were only getting better and better. After one of those really awesome naps that happen once in a while only - the ones from which you wake up completely refreshed and have no clue how many calls you've missed- it was time for another party!

Now almost every weekend I hangout at one of two houses of my ex-colleagues and have a good time. This time we decided that if we're going to see the same familiar faces again and again, the least we can do is to change the surrounding! So the six of us met at La Casa, a quaint little continental restaurant, near Sarjapur. I've written about this restaurant earlier as well

The food was good and the conversation was hilarious but 11:30 saw us being turned out of the place again. Seriously, this 11 pm deadline is disgusting. I mean, things just start getting warmed up by 11 and the waiters surround your table entreating you to get the hell out!

So there we were, 6 people stuffing themselves in my car, singing along to blaring Dev D songs (yes, the CD is still there in my car's music system), and zeroing into yet another branch of the eternal life saver Imperial Hotel. We picked up some food from there and landed at, where else, one of the two regular haunts we have. But then some good music was played and we sat up till around two.

And Sunday has gone nice and relaxed as it should go till now. And as I'm about to curl up for yet another afternoon nap, I can only say that you never know - the evening may suddenly throw up some other possibility that warrants a whole post to itself!

C'est la vie!

Saturday, February 14, 2009



Dev D is freakin' awesome!

(bows down to Anurag Kashyap and Abhay Deol)

A lot of movies claim to be different, avant garde and what not but this is one movie which does absolute justice to all these terms. In all facets of the movie the team did something or the other which was never attempted before.

Take the music for instance. I bought the album a day after I watched the movie and was fascinated to realise that there were 18 songs in the movie. But the songs were so brilliantly integrated with the movie that they did not feel like an encumberance. They seemed to blend beautifully with the scene and without ostensibly being present they set the mood for the scene. Infact as I listen to the songs (as I write now, all the time when I'm driving :) ) I see myself recollecting what was happening when the song was playing in a movie. This is just phenomenal for any album and shows the success of the music for the movie.

The songs themselves are extremely psychedelic. Yes, and you never thought that 'psychedelic' could ever be used to describe music?

Just sit in a dark room and listen to the songs full blast with your eyes closed. You'll understand what I'm saying. The music transforms the space around into a particularly degenerate club with an awesome DJ mixing weird elements into basically simple songs, neon lights from the cluster and a lot of smoke- and not your basic tobacco smoke at that!

The sounds are amazing. One song starts with a sitar ( ) and then mixes electronica beautifully with it.

Ok, moving on from the music (Also because the first part of this post I wrote alomst 5 days back - since then work's been killing me)

What I also loved was the unapologetic way in which they show Dev's various addictions. There's no justification given about his drug abuse, or alcoholism or no emotion involved sex. This is what he is. He gives no explanations and doesn't give a rat's ass if society wants it. Like the bus-ticket scene with the old aunty. That was simple and silent but showed the contempt he felt for societal norms amazingly. Like the way he stalks and fools around with his former paramour's sister-in-law just to get back at her and to stalk her and see her suffer. But at the same time he also suffers agony whenever he sees her happy.

The movie is peppered with moments that have layered meanings when you go back and think about them but the funny thing is that when I came out of the hall I couldn't recall any particular scene but was absolutely in love with the movie.

And what do I say about Chanda, played by Kalki Koechlin ( ). I've become a fan. In fact while Abhay Deol reinforced his position on my i'm-a-fan list, Kalki made a great debut at number 1 on it. Playing the innocent school girl embroiled in a life altering event (by the way the show down scene between her parents and her - simply amazing. Especially the anger and frustration of a child suddenly realising her pillar of strength was not actually on her side) to the hardened adult who hides her sadness to the innocent girl re-discovering her hope for love - she played it all with elan.

All in all this is one movie you cannot afford to miss - and that too in a theatre.

Small warning though - you'll have to be careful about company as you need open minded people who don't get perturbed by some explicit dialogues and thoughts in the movie.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Culture? Really?

A friend of mine read my post on my solitary trip to Kodaikanal and buzzed me despondently.

Ive always wanted to go on a trip alone!

so why dont you do it?

Im quite chicken.

huh? why?

hmm, maybe I should learn some self defence or get a gun licence.Then id feel safe.

I thought it was a really sad commentary on the state of our nation when a woman feels unsafe to such an extent that she would want to get a gun to go for a vacation. And its not even a remotely exaggerated reaction. It is the fact of life right now considering the state of affairs.

Everyday you have one or the other group of people coming up with violent actions in all parts of the country. And who do they target? The easy targets.

A 17 year old girl and a fellow commuter were pulled down from a bus, pushed into an auto and taken to a lonely place where both were beaten up. The crime? The girl was speaking to the guy who happened to be muslim.

And this is becoming a visible case with a few of the psychos being arrested, because in their misplaced and basically crazy thirst for notoriety and compensating for their inferiority complexes they picked on a girl who was a sitting MLAs daughter. So there is a whole hoopla around it and there may even be some action. But think about it - for one girl attacked without reason or rhyme and turning out to be an MLAs daughter, there must be thousands across the country who could be abused and assaulted with no reprisals every single day.

If that were not enough it seems now that people have come up with the idea that to be acknowledged as a political power to reckon with the only thing that works is to target a community / action / gender / location and pour heaps of vitriol on them in speeches to paid mobs. And then to follow this up with mob actions to cement the words. And as is the wont of bullies, the person targetted would always be the lowest guy in the food chain. As if he did not have enough problems of his own, now hes on the easy-to-hit list of all these marginal parties that have no chance in hell of ever getting their 15 minutes of fame through decent, good activities.

So you take the Marathi Manoos era in Mumbai where taxi drivers from North India were beaten up. If you have any conviction (and balls) why dont you dare to target someone who has the clout to hit back.Why do you have to target those who have become used to drinking up abuse and staying quiet. Actions like these dont show conviction, it just shows that youre bullies. And without conviction noone can gain respect from anyone.

Similarly, these bullies have decided that to target women behind the pitiful excuse of protecting the Indian culture is the easy thing to do to get headlines for a week,and then spend the rest of their useless insecure lives by terrorizing their small area of influence basking in the clout they created. Whether it be the Mangalore incident where five-five pseudo-Indian hooligans chased down and hit women in pubs - and what Indian culture fetes five men ganging up on a woman and beating her? - or this new one that happened on Friday in Bangalore:,+pub+hoppers+attacked+in+Bangalore&artid=PFfa8x72|io=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&SEO=Kerala+CPM+MLA;+C+H+Kunhambu;+assault;+Revathy,wom&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==

And now the call to ban Valentines day. I mean its just exasperating how such people are even allowed to live in decent society. They have chosen, one after the other, easy targets and gone about doing their dirty acts. And now they want to attack teenagers and kids just having some harmless fun. Yes, it may be a western concept but really is it really something that would affect and obliterate the Indian culture which has stood the test of time for thousands of years and was one of the most open hearted to newer people and customs? Are two kids surreptiously holding hands (or kissing or making out- we do have one of the fastest growing populations in the world - are we really in a position to say that sex is not part of our culture?)with a blush of joy as they stroll around really going shake the roots of our culture? Does India really need weak bullies to protect herself?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Blast from the past...

This chat, facebook etc. is so embarrasing at times.

Has it ever happened to you that someone from a very long time ago - primary school-mate,old colony cricket buddy, unknown hot junior chick who had a massive crush on you, kid taking the school bus from the same bus stop or the part time spinner in galli cricket who always bowled you - have added you on facebook or orkut or something? (ok, maybe the hot junior chick is a bit of an exaggeration) and then buzz you some fine day with a remember me?

And if you dont, and you really really want to know who it is, you have to resort to innane questions. And its mutually embarrassing when both of you realise that while one person cherishes the memory of the other, the other has absolutely no clue and has not thought of / remembered the other in all possible reminiscences over all the intervening years. A few awkward lines and then one of the two ends the misery by logging out.

Its an understandable thing, but nevertheless very embarrasing...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Alone? Not quite...

Well, i have been back from the previously prattled about Kodaikanal trip for about a week now. Frankly speaking, I have mixed feelings about doing a solitary trip with the balance actually shifting in favour of it. Not that I dont enjoy trips with friends and family, but this kind of trip does sort of rejuvenate you a bit.

Except its bloody impossible to be alone anywhere in India!

Picture this, a decidedly handsome and, to put it mildly, drop dead gorgeous guy ( In case you didnt quite manage to be at the head of the line when God was passing out brains) gazing across the expanse of a picturesque lake nestled serenly in the mountains with boats floating along the rippling glassy surface reflecting the dying rays of the sun blissfully daydreaming and contemplating the meaning of life, love and what not, when suddenly this rakishly good looking guy hears a loud phrase erupting in Tamil in uncomfortable proximity to his left ear. Ruffled, our hero shakes himself from his philosophical reverie and looks around. Apparently a family (all the way to third cousins with their assorted kids in tow) on its annual vacation from Chennai has decided that because said hero is standing and looking dreamily out, this MUST be some kind of tourist spot with one of those innocuous views that any hill station finds itself teeming with (dolphin view, monkey point-all being imagined shapes of distant mountains when you look at them from some specific spot.You find them in all self-respecting hill stations here). So the entire family crowds around me and starts staring in the general direction I was gazing in. I am not kidding here - one moment I was lost in my thoughts and staring glassy eyed while my thoughts were soaring else where, and the next I am surrounded on all sides by different bloody shrieking members of that vast family trying to see what I was looking at. This lake is so huge that it takes an hour of brisk walking to go around it (My feet know only too well) and those 15 odd people crowded around the one spot I was in. So much for contemplating alone.

I moved a 100 metres to one side and saw to my consternation that as I moved the entire group broke up and started walking away from there. Peace, at last? Not quite. In fifteen minutes another group of old ladies did the exact same thing and I had to just walk away in disgust.

Travelling alone has another interesting problem. You dont find any particularly dainty restaurants in such places and as you settle in with a book after ordering your food you suddenly look up and see some other gentleman looking across the table. Apparently if you are sitting alone at a table for four, any other single person will be directed to sit at the same table even if the restaurant is half empty! And then of course, even though I have made peace with people using hands to eat rice (hell, even I like to eat rice with my hands occasionally), I have NOT and will NEVER make peace with people chasing sambhar and daal with their toungues trailing half-way down their forehands! And when such a gentleman is plonked infront of you and he starts eating in this fashion you begin to wonder why you are bothering to eat at all as youd be barfing it away at the sight of the lick-your-arms-clean eating show that you have the front row seat to!

I noticed that when I am alone i eat a lot less - only a meal in a day (and not due to the last paragraph). Also, all was not bad. The good stuff as usual doesnt make very interesting reading so the funny (hopefully) lines are thrown on the minor irritants.

Actually I really liked having no plans for the day or itinerary. Kodai doesnt have a lot of places to see but I loved the fact that I didnt have to do something just because someone else in the group wants to go home and tell everyone how he saw all the monkey, dolphin points that there are to see. I spent most of my time around the lake itself. Lounging around in the sun with a book in hand. And I went to one that sounded interesting right from the beginning - Coakers walk. Its a path cut right at the edge of the mountains and the cloud filled valleys that one can see from there are quite surreal. I spent hours there just staring out and feeling the breeze on my face.

A really good trip - and maybe I will try this solitary travel a bit more.

But for heaven sake, if i am staring into space I am NOT at some tourist spot, so please move on and huddle elsewhere. Let me have my peace and quiet!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I'm so sorry. I know its an absolutely atrocious pun. But as soon as I thought of it I knew that it was so bad that it had to be used in this post!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I am going on my long thought of solitary no schedule trip. I leave tonight for Kodaikanal ( )with a borrowed bag, 3 library books, one borrowed book, my sketch book and, yeah, my sunglasses (well atleast one thing is mine).

I've always had this desire to just go to some place without anyone I know but the fear of potential boredom has prevented me from taking the plunge. But now, before I find myself mired with daily work routine, I am going off to do it.As with all kids I have grown up making childish landscapes of a lake surrounded by mountains and this, I hear, is what I shall find in Kodaikanal.

There seem to be a number of places to go and things to do but ideally I would like to just cycle around the lake leisurely listening to my spice girls CD (kidding!) and then laze around the lake either reading or sketching.

Wish me luck!