Sunday, December 26, 2010

Not Quite the Lab You Thought...

One of the cutest animated series is Dexter's Laboratory. I'm sure all of you remember the show - it was before all the anime and other animated stuff on TV that I don't understand. In fact, only this evening I was sitting in Cafe Terra (ex-Belgian Cafe) in Koramangla giggling away at the Dexter's Lab comics as I had my weekly garden omelet there.

Now the Dexter this post is about is, well, similar in some senses. He is a loner who likes to focus on his work, has an interfering sister who he loves in his own strange way and yes, he has his own sterile lab.

Except a couple of things.

He's a serial killer.

...and he doesn't wear spectacles.

I've been obsessed with Dexter for the last few days. I had seen the first season earlier, but even though I liked it then I didn't get into an obsession about it. But an ex-colleague from work reintroduced me to the series. More importantly he also gave me a couple of seasons of Dexter.

Since then I've watched three seasons (after begging a friend with a 4 mbps internet connection to download the latest season in a jiffy) in a row. And these are 50 minute episodes. So yes, Friday night was spent staring at my TV as I ran through nine episodes!


I recommend the show if you are ok with turning a blind eye to a few things in the show - the childish ease with which Dexter is able to commit his 'justice' and dispose of the bodies without any investigation by the police force. Yes, he is a genius and is extremely meticulous in cleaning up after himself but still it gets my goat that there is absolutely no task force or team that neither the Miami Metro Police nor even the missing persons department have on his case.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Problem hi Problem...

Once a decade, an event occurs that changes the outlook of a whole generation. An event so profound that everything else that happens in the decade pales in comparison.

I am talking about the release of a decade-defining movie.

Some movies come immediately to mind, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (DDLJ) in the nineties, Dil Chahta hai in the 00's. These are movies that have made someone as lazy as me get off my butt and go watch the movie in a theatre in the first few days of its release. So DDLJ was seen in the first week while DCH ranked a second show on the day of its release (ah, that legendary movie-bound bunk of Prof. Alok Kumar's class)

But yesterday I saw the first movie of my life in the first day-first show.

Yes, the holy grail has been achieved. The movie that will define the next 10 years has hit the theatres! 2010-2019 has had that slot already filled up. No, no I do not think there is going to be any movie that can even show a light to the movie I'm about to describe in this post.

Sigh, but I just don't seem to be able to begin. Much like iconic movies of the non-chronological genre like Pulp Fiction (the greatest ever) and Memento (well, it was mostly in reverse, but had some interesting cut scenes) the Movie'10, as I shall refer to it from now on, also follows a non-chronological order. The great thing about Movie'10 is that you can come into the theatre at any time, start watching the flick from any point, and you would not miss a thing about the plot. It would raise the same emotions in you whether you watch it from the very beginning, or manage to catch just 10 minutes of the climax scene! Brilliant, ain't it?

Movie'10 also seeks to display the histrionic abilities of many stars. What better could we, the humble audience, ask for? Much like the intense multi-starrer, Reservoir Dogs, Movie'10 also brings together a motley crew of stars that you haven't seen in the theatre for a long time. This great multi-starrer has it all - a former Miss Universe, a former Munna bhai, a former '24' star, a former 'action' hero, a former villain and a former I-had-hair-once-upon-a-time guy. What else could you hope for?

Coming back to the plot, as with most really deep and intellectual movies the plot is difficult to decipher and comprehend. In fact Movie'10 is so deep and intellectual that try as much as I could, I could not find any plot at all! Can you beat that? How brilliant is that, right? A complex cornucopia of sub-plots and set pieces. Gags randomly scattered in a collage of forced 'jokes'. The director was obviously mocking at the crass and low-class humour that seems to be gaining popularity amongst the cinema goers of today. What a brilliant ruse - pretending to have made a crappy, crass, loud and clueless movie while actually he wants to show the error in our ways. Hats off Anees Bazmi! Truly, you are a philosopher of the highest order.

The movie I am talking about, and one that should be on your must-watch list immediately, is No Problem. What are you waiting for? Go, run. Get the tickets and come out of the theatre thanking me!

PS: I have to put a note here for the small part of my reader base that isn't quite playing with a full deck of cards or I couldn't live with myself.
This is a sarcastic piece.DON'T WATCH THIS CRAPPY MOVIE!

PS 2: Always, always read till the end!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Plight of the Poor Tomato...


To start, a quick riddle:

I am round.
I am red.
I have seeds.
I am a fruit.

Ok maybe not the best riddle I have ever crafted. Especially in conjunction with the title of the post. Bit of a give away, eh?

But I blame my disturbed state of mind for this lack of creativity. Would you be making flummoxing riddles if you were dealing with existential dilemmas? Would you spend your time carefully honing the edge on the punchline of a mere riddle when you were wondering why you were ever born (or grown)?

I grew up on a farm surrounded with others of my tribe. We little green spheres grew on creepers with stars in our eyes. Us little green ones watched in awe as older tomatoes turned a bright shade of red. Turning this way and that they managed to get the light glinting off their lustrous coats as they awaited the greatest adventure any vegetable could look forward to.

To be caressed by human fingers, turned this way and that, and finally being chosen to be plucked! We heard rumours and epic stories about the adventures these picked tomatoes underwent. Laying down their lives for achieving what they were born to be. A ketchup here, a curry there or even to serve in the humble green salad.

What a thrill it was when I first sensed the faint murmur of adulthood. I could see the other green tomatoes stealing glances at me as I was the first one to grow a faint aura of orange. I was so proud! I was growing well, the orange hue was fast turning into the deep deep red of the best tomatoes, our heroes who hold our banner high in the vegetable / fruit world. I could sense it.I was destined for greatness.

And indeed the journey started with great promise. The moment the farmer came in to examine our plant he reached out, almost hungrily, towards me. It was my proudest moment. The farmer took less than a second to examine me. I was such a perfect specimen that to be picked was but a given. I looked back at my still-green brethren. And I will not lie, I could see that they were jealous and I felt elated.

Maybe this was the folly for which I find myself punished now. Who knows, karma works in such mysterious ways.

I braced myself for my adventure. I had heard that the ripest tomatoes were taken to the back of the kitchen and converted into fresh ketchup. While this was an honourable adventure I wanted to retain my essence a bit longer. I knew I was a good specimen of my tribe and would've loved to be in front of the final customer. Afterall to reach the table more or less intact I would be able to see the glow and awe on the faces of the diners as they reverentially partook me.

"This is a bright red one. Let's keep it as an accompaniment"

I could've died when I heard this. I thanked God and mother-creeper for the great genes they had bestowed on me. I was going to be showcased. No better career could a tomato have. I was going to be a hero amongst tomatoes.

I knew things couldn't be without pain. Lofty goals are seldom achieved without sacrifice. And so it was that I took the searing pain of getting cut into two in my stride. I was nearing my destiny and this was no time to be overwhelmed.

But my preparation was still not complete. The chef took me and gently fried me a shallow dish of oil. Ah, more pain. But I could see by the smile he had on his face as the flavour wafted up that I was still performing beautifully. I smiled as I knew I was nearing the fulfillment of my ultimate destiny.

I was part of an English breakfast ordered by a discerning customer. As I was gently lowered onto an exquisite plate I could see a mound of scrambled eggs, some baked beans, a fried egg, some mushrooms, some bacon and a couple of sausages. Oh what joy, I was the only one leading the charge for vegetables. A leading part on debut! I was delirious with joy (I hardly considered the mushrooms as worthy characters in this production of 'The Breakfast').

However, little was I to know what awaited me. Sigh, how naive I was.

The knife and fork rose and I expected any moment to reach my zenith. To finally reach the fate I was preparing myself for since my childhood. To be devoured and savored and to satiate the human for whom I lay down my essence.

The eggs disappeared. Then the beans. Again and again my hopes were raised as the fork reached in my direction. Again and again my hopes were dashed as it picked out the other characters. Even the lowly mushrooms seemed to be preferred over me. Me, with my shiny coat and bright red colour. Oh, how my tribe would laugh at me if they saw me. Thank God that wasn't going to happen.

But alas, this was a day for complete annihilation. The human picked up a bottle. The ketchup that poured through seemed to be accusing, "Atleast we fulfilled our role. What did you do?" The torture continued till the entire plate was wiped out except one morsel. Moi. The bright hero who no one wanted.

And so I speak to you from the bottom of the garbage can. And I am not alone. Most of the bin seems to be filled with fried tomatoes. Proud, bright red tomatoes that seem to be bewildered at their fall from grace. Some of them have already lost their minds with grief while others are bawling with sorrow. I, however, have managed to hold on to my controlfor one final project. A plea to all chefs and humans - make ketchup of us, make us into soup, shred us or puree us but for heavens sake don't fry us as a side dish.

PS: The idea germinated when ST (legendary chronicler of itchy feet) and I met up for breakfast this Sunday after almost an year. While matters of international importance were discussed, we were unanimous in our support of the cause of the plight of the poor fried tomato. We believe it is never eaten, and we will not stand by while this torture is inflicted on the brave tomato.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Red Light, a Crook and some Impropriety...

It was one of those days. As I stepped out of office the weather looked lovely. There was a light breeze blowing and the clouds didn't look like rain. I got this urge to just stretch my legs a little. Since I've joined my new job I've been spending 10-12 hours glued to my seat.

And that's not doing any good to my already moderately rotund frame.

I started with thinking that I'll walk for a while and then take an auto for the remaining distance. But I just kept going and going and walked all the way back home. (takes bow). Well, except for a small stopover at McDonalds (hehe...ow, my legs).

It was a long walk, some 5-6 kilometers (from Infantry Road to Indiranagar) but I should do it more often. Or at least some distance (as I mentioned earlier, ow, my legs). But not just for the exercise. A stroll through this city gives so many things to blog about!

A Red Light

I started getting into my stride and started feeling good about the walk some where near Brigade Road. Staying with the momentum I swung on MG Road towards Ulsoor with the same momentum. As I walked I felt I was being observed. I cast a quick glance and saw this highly made up woman. She wasn't what you (or anyone) would call pretty. Alright, alright she was butt ugly. And she was looking at me with a rather leery, longing look.

""Score! Swapnil, you still got it man! You haven't got that look for the last couple of years (ok, ok let's be honest five years). Damn if she was fifteen years younger and a little (or a lot) prettier you may have given her one of your trademark 'how you doin's'.

So I moved ahead with a little smirk. And less than fifteen meters later there it was again. An uglier (if that were possible), more heavily made up (if that were possible) was looking at me with a leerier (if that were possible) look.

Score! Swapnil you devil, you...

Wait. Two leery looks in less than fifteen meters and two minutes after a five year drought? Somethings fishy. 

Oh, yeah, the new after shave! Now it all makes sense. Didn't the ad say it drives the ladies crazy. And of course these fast moving consumer goods marketers do not lie in there ads. That would be just...wrong, wouldn't it?

So I swaggered ahead, and yes, you guessed it. A third specimen. Same make up, same leery lusty look. And out of the haze that my brain usually is a memory flashed through. PS and I were driving by that place quite late at night some months ago and I got curious about a line of women apparently standing there waiting for an auto.

"But there are so many autos standing right there PS, why don't they take one?"

PS: (Bemused look)"You're seriously asking me this question?"

SB: (Bemused look at his bemused look) "Yeah, why?"

PS: "How old are you?"

SB: "A number older than 20 yet laughably close to it"

PS: " Jackass, they are prostitutes. This row becomes a pick up point at night. The clients come, haggle with the women, haggle with the autos and take them to their places or cheap hotels, got it"

SB: (Clarity starting to dawn) "Ah"


SB: " do you know so much?"...snigger

PS: (pause)

PS: "Because my IQ is twice yours"

SB: (muttering) "Played the high IQ card again. Dog"

'Ah' was what I said then, and 'Oh' was what I said now as realization struck. Yes, ladies and gentlemen I was walking through the low end Red Light area in Bangalore. Thankfully it wasn't too late in the night so the place was still not really bustling with the clientele!

A Crook
And the walk was not over.

Just as I left the red zone (unharmed and with my honour intact, thanks for asking) I was accosted by another guy sitting on a bike. And he starts with the most fake American accent I've heard since that chap I knew who went to the US for two weeks and came back with the Texan drawl instead of his voice. (Yes, you. You know who you are!)

FAG (Fake Accent Guy (What? What did you think?)): "Excuse me, do you know a petrol pump nearby? I seem to have run out of gas (yes, not petrol)."

SSSB (Super Samaritan Swapnil Bhatnagar): "Yes, there is one around half a kilometer ahead."

FAG: "Oh, but you see I'm new to Bangalore. I came for an interview ten - fifteen days back. This bike is a friend's who's gone to his home in Chhatisgarh"

SSSB: (Confused) "Umm, ok"

FAG: "Actually I'm running low on cash and I don't have any credit card."

(Expectant pause)

SSSB: "Umm, well hard luck mate" Maybe I'd have believed you if you hadn't tried the fake accent to make you seem respectable stunt. You really think I'd be stupid enough to believe that you took a bike out and did not take money and have no plastic money at all? And you're here for a fifteen day long interview? Ok, how did you get to know about my IQ problem?

FAG: "Do you think if I give the petrol guy my cell phone..."

(Expectant pause 2)

SB: "Yeah, I think that would work. Good luck (with this stupid scam working)"

And some Impropriety
Now I don't know about you, I don't think a business establishment in which a man comes perilously close to another while measuring the in seam should be called

"Men's Touch Tailors" 

(Yes, it exists. On Ulsoor road)


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Can we rewrite yesterday please?...

Ok, I know a lot of people hate me but do you HAVE to get together on one day to get all your curses firing?

Whew, what a day yesterday. I started this post last night but I could barely hold back my tears and decided to curl up in bed with a good book instead(Have you read Samit Basu's Gameworld trilogy? In terms of SFF books with a bite, its right up there. I didn't even read an unknown book. I needed so much comfort)

Even today, well read and well rested I look back to yesterday with a little shudder and a grimace on my face.  My eyes turn up with an accusing look and I still whimper the words that became a part of yesterday's regular vocabulary. 

Are you up to hearing this sordid tale? Its not going to be pretty and I do not guarantee that you will not cry.

The day began as any other.

Pleasant dreams shattered by the door bell as the maid came in at the crack of dawn. And then I resettled into another set of pleasant dreams (dream set number 2 for the statistically minded). Everything was perfect. The gentle swish of  the ceiling fan. The warm embrace of my well used and slightly worn blanket. Diffused sunlight filtering through the curtains as if afraid to jar me from my slumber. Ah, bliss...

And then something clicked at the back of my subconscious and my eyes snapped open, wildly staring into the not-so-diffused light streaming in.

"Damn. Late again. Have to do something about daily dream set number 2"

Racing through the morning routine (no breakfast) I raced to my car. Then stopped in my tracks. Turned around, raced up to my house. Picked up the car keys. Turned around. Raced down to the car. I was still in control and driving out of the gate I thought I would still manage to reach with only a small delay from my usual entry time in office.

I swear I heard a little rumble in the skies. The Gods, in hindsight, were sniggering.

Now the regular route that I take to office is fairly straightforward and hardly any red lights. I reach office in around 20-25 minutes. However, today was going to be different. As I sailed through my regular route I saw this army truck bearing down on me as I was turning into a perpendicular road. It didn't seem to have any intention of slowing down so I did. That's my 'Golden Rule of Driving'. You might want to take notes here.

Do not get in the way of a truck.

Ah what an adage. Brilliant in its simplicity, yet so useful.

So, moving on, I let the 4 tonne hunk of momentum gaining metal take the turn first. As I eased behind it I had a couple of thoughts. The truck, it seemed, was just transporting one guy sitting at the back.

"What a waste of resources!" I thought.

The second was that it had a small learners 'L' apologetically painted at the back.

"Ah, so its a practice run for the driver. Show him the kind of challenges he could face in the battlefield. Nothing better than to let him loose on Bangalore roads for a real test of his skills in a just-about-slightly-less life threatening situation  than he was being trained to face. Good" I thought

Then, with a wry grin I accelerated on the left towards the turn I usually take for my workplace. But, and here's when things started going down, the turn was closed for some construction work As I slowed and moved past the turn I was cursing. It just had to happen on the day I was getting late.

And then it happened.

I have no clue how that truck appeared at my right rear side. Didn't I actually let it pass earlier? I heard the solid iron bumper of the truck dragging along the side of my beautiful beautiful car. The rear passenger window glass shattered and shards from it flew in. Another bump and the truck disengaged from the car and was on its way with no intention of even stopping to see the damage it had inflicted. I was a bit confused for a minute and in that time it raced away before I could gather my wits all I could see of the truck was a deep military green blur.
(I am a bit appalled.I just don't expect our armed forces to just run away. I guess the learning driver panicked but I am very disappointed I can't report his cowardly act of running away)

Fortunately, I wasn't injured. (Yes, you can keep the champagne back in the fridge. Yes you, I know who you are and I WILL hunt you down)

As if that wasn't enough when I gave my car at the workshop in the evening I left my house keys in it (Its not the first time its happening. As I enter the car I just stick the house key in the cigarette holder {I don't smoke and it seems such a waste to  not use that nook}and then promptly forget its existence till I reach home)

So 11:30 at night saw me hammering away at the surprisingly strong lock of my house. Finally after four five neighbors clustered around we finally managed to break the lock and I heaved a sigh as the day finally came to an end. 

I am not moving out of my house today. No sir, I've had a month's fill of incidents in a day.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Squash-ed and Snook-ed

As you, my fawning fans, know I am a man of myriad interests and tastes. A true connoisseur of the good things in life and  an open experimenter to boot.A man not afraid to try new things at the risk of mortal peril or societal reproof. Truly an amazing person (*bows, acknowledges the applause. Oh stop please, I want to continue this post too)

So anyhow, I have written on many occasions about the tennis I try to play every weekend. It started in October of 2007. A bright sunny day my then boss and I reached my then office's tennis court with Rs old tennis racquet. Three years and many racquets, tennis balls and restringings later I still like the game but have lost some josh that I had for the game in the early days. Sleeping at 2 and getting up at 4 in the morning to reach the court early enough (I have actually reached the court before the sun came up once. As Barney would say, true story) is becoming a thing of the past and I find myself not even setting an alarm for the morning and hoping that Sid would get up and give me a call to wake me up for the game. And heaven forbid if I've had a late night! The phone can ring till kingdom come and I wouldn't pick it.

But today I felt some of that josh of yore returning with baby steps in a new game. I went to AS' apartment to try this new beast called Squash. And what fun it was! 

Its intense, its fast, its mindboggling (on occasion, when you lose sight of the ball and flounder and wheel around frantically to prevent it bouncing its dreaded second bounce!), and it is so so tiring! (As an aside its so good to be an army brat. Sid has played all these games before. And though I managed to win two out of three games (hehe), it must've been such a sporty childhood where you get to try your hand at so many sports with all facilities available). Anyway, I had a whale of a time.

And talking of wheezing whales, squash also has a murky side to it. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, its not all fun and frolic at Swapnil's. We follow responsible journalistic tendencies and highlight the ugly with the good to ensure that you, the reader, the public, walks (or, you know, clicks) away from here with a complete and insightful view of the whole issue.  

We were playing 15 point games and when I found myself leaning against a side wall, half bent over heaving and huffing to catch some breath with just 10 points having been fought over, the message was emblazoned across the wall (or, you know, the floor where I was staring in today's situation).

And it said -

And I quickly put together an appropriate response of supreme urgency.


So all in all a great sport that I'm looking forward to playing a lot often.

Actually a very good Saturday in totality. Played with AS' cute pugs after the game and rounded out the day with a couple of games of snooker as well. I am in my cue games phase and I must be getting old because I prefer snooker to pool now. Its so much tougher and serious.

One debate has started raging in my mind. Its a bit unrealistic considering I just moved in this house a few months ago but I am actually considering moving to an apartment with such sports facilities. I mean it would be expensive but it would be so cool to come back from a long, mentally exhausting day at work and then have a quick game of squash (can be played alone as well so no dependencies) or just soothe your mind with a gentle game of snooker before going to bed. Lets see, it doesn't make any economic sense but it would be so nice to have these things available...


Sunday, September 12, 2010

And no, I don't want to cook. Thank you...

Hey there. How've you been?

I've been away a while. I've changed jobs and including the few days break between jobs I mustered, I've been trying to stay away from the laptop as much as possible. But alas, the beautiful days starting with bright sunlight streaming inside your window (What? So I get up late on vacations, sue me) and no itinerary or calendar entries to mar your bliss are over now.

Which brings us to this.

Now as regular readers may know, I don't watch too much TV. Even now that I'm staying alone I still don't spend too much time in front of the telly. And when I do there are only a few channels I watch (No, not Star Plus thank you).

But recently whenever I drop into by beanbag-chair, squirm a little till I get into that perfectly comfortable position for atleast an hour long repose, have a beverage and some light snacks at hand and finally raise the remote to switch on the TV, the only thing that seems to come on the channels I watch are these Cooking challenges.

Top Chef, Top Chef reruns, Top Chef Masters, Top Chef Masters reruns, Top Chef Australia...come on you can guess the next one. Yes, Top Chef Australia reruns! 100 points to you, my friend!

Now, don't get me wrong. I love food. All types of it, the more exotic the better. In fact my extremely extremely gradually expanding girth is a clear indication of this continued love affair that I have with everything fried, baked, grilled or skewered. And though I may not be a superb cook, I do appreciate the fine art of cooking. In fact I have been occasionally found staring in rapt attention as the TV cook does some fancy knife-and-oven-work and creates a masterpiece out of refrigerator refuse.
But the sheer deluge of of these cook-challenges is extremely irritating. Every channel you switch to, it's some poor creature being grilled by the judges.What? I meant the chefs.

"Ze textuere of ze dish is verryy important, see? You have mezzed it up. You don't belong infront of ze oven. Get out of my sight!"

"Even though the presentation was excellent, the flavour itself is horrible. And I don't like your face either. Get out!"

"I just don't like your face. Get out"

Seriously, what is wrong with these channels. Lets have some regular programming please. Sitcoms, comic acts, and funny talk shows please, NOW!

Ok, so now with that out of the way.

I've been reading a lot of Indian sub-continent authors recently. And they have blown my mind away. Such awesome, sensitive and varied writing.

We weren't lovers like that - Navtej Sarna
     Extremely sensitive. Blows you away. A tale of losing love through inaction and the resulting life long regret. Brilliant
Moth Smoke - Mohsin Hamid
     A great study of how life is the same across the Pakistan border as well.You read it, and you think we are all the same people, same reactions (reaction to our nuclear tests followed by Pakistani nuclear tests), same thoughts. Sigh, what a waste this enmity is. 
Bunker 13 - Aniruddha Bahal
    Super fast paced thriller set in recognizable locales. It got a bit confusing towards the end though. But maybe that was just my slowness.

I'm now reading another one, Back Seat by Aditya Kriplani. The jacket cover sounds very good, as does the first chapter. Looking forward to getting entranced by it! Maybe I should review books I read on this blog on a more regular basis. What do you say?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MSM Memories: Lalaji ke Chholey Bhature!...

The internet is a wonderful place. It has the ability to transport you to a whole different time and place and make you lean back with a wistful smile and happy memories.

I was trawling Facebook while watching some tennis on TV when I came across a group for Mount St. Mary's. I studied there from prep to class 8 before moving to Delhi Public School, Vasant Kunj. Now the strange thing is that even though my most cherished memories are from DCE, my college; I just spent four years there while I had spent nearly nine years - the most formative years in MSM. Yet, surprisingly I hardly ever go back to memories from MSM. I am also sorry to say that I'm not in touch with anyone from school beyond the mandatory Facebook additions of long lost friends. But these contacts, as everyone knows, are very cursory and hardly ever go beyond a couple of chat sessions or a few 'likes' and comments.

But today when I saw that group a flood of memories descended on me. Especially when I came across another group - Lalaji ke Chholey Bhature! Now Lalaji used / still runs the canteen at MSM. You know the one, right opposite the Syndicate bank counter where I first learnt how to pay the school fees - my first brush with responsibility. And though a lot of my schoolmates frequented the canteen a lot, I was not amongst them. For me, the occasional (bordering on rare) samosa or chholey bhature was a treat beyond compare. As I saw that group, I actually leant back and almost savoured the taste.

I don't want to sound too wistful or sad, but so many lifelong friendships that could've been did not happen as I moved out at the time I did, just when true friendships are forged. Of course, even I didn't try to stay in touch nor responded to feelers from some kids I knew. Its really good to see photographs of people on Facebook that you knew as kids with their quirky quirks, their intrinsic innocence and the way they laughed and fought and screamed and cried. Its such an opportunity lost isn't it? Being friends right from innocent childhood to vulnerable adolescence to ambitious youth. It certainly would've been great.

But now I shall list down the memories that've flooded back. This list is just for me. So I can look back sometime later and lean back with a wistful smile again...

- Playing the memory card game in class 3. And the cake that Mrs. P Choudhary Ma'am baked for the class
- First crush on a teacher as an innocent kid in class 5! Mrs. Mehta Ma'am
- The joy on getting to use my sisters old ink pen when we were finally allowed to use pens in class 6 or was it 5
- Kapil Dev! His visit to the school for some Pepsi thing. Still have a lot of pictures in my head from that visit.
- Also Vinod Kambli
- Christmas celebrated with huge gusto in the HUGE auditorium. Santa (Mr. Brown, I think) distributing sweets and candies
- Getting caught and nearly getting a skinning by Mr. Brown again. Was with a kid called V. Raja.
- Coming second in class with the teacher being surprised!
- The marathon that I completed. Albeit very very late
- Dallas Bastion's enthusiasm for football. He used to carry sports shoes in his bag everyday in case he got a chance to play! No idea where he is now.
- Sleeping off / boarding the wrong bus when I was really small. (ok, probably a memory implanted through story telling)
- The time the school got flooded and it was declared a holiday!
- Visiting the Principal's bungalow- with the fish tank
- The time I had the best salad (with roses made of radish) in, surprisingly, crafts class
- The story our craft teacher (her name eludes me) told about the ticking watch
- The time I fudged my mum's signature on my report card. And then almost shat my pants before the PTM (Parent Teacher meeting)
- Annual day parade
- Not being able to sell the raffle tickets and trying to fill up my quota with my piggy bank money. (I was a very shy child)
- The 'love letter' written in blood that I edited for a classmate (I'm not kidding. One of the disadvantages of being the English teachers pet is that you get to these things too! He was writing to a girl in, surprise surprise, Loreto Convent across the road)
- Running two rounds in the morning for wearing unpolished shoes
- The tennis ball squash we used to play
- Being class monitor for the first time
- Addressing the morning assembly
- Getting a prize in front of the school
- The art classes, especially in primary school. The painting of children dancing in the rain that our teacher was working on. I can still see it as if it were just yesterday. Such brilliant use of purple and black.
- The morning Tae Kwon Do classes
- The Fido Dido wristband that I was soooo obsessed with. The one you got by collecting Pepsi bottle caps and some money. I stalked paanwalas in my neighborhood but somehow never managed to collect enough bottle caps

Whew, there are just too many memories. I'll keep adding as I think of them.

And now I'm hungry. If only someone could get me Lalaji's chholey bhature!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Jiminy!! What a disaster...

Ok, you be the judge - is it humanly possible to resist this invitation? If you get a brilliant email like the following would you not accept the invite with a smile on your face and a cheer in your demeanor?



is not an ordinary day.

An year ago on this very date a small change happened to Bangalore’s landscape.

A change that at first glance seemed similar to numerous ones happening, maybe even innocuous

But as time went on, the small change started having an impact on our lives.

And then it started directing the way our lives were scheduled

And then it took over our lives and our minds

Yes, Jimi’s opened an year back.

And they’re celebrating. 50% off all day today

Let us celebrate this significant change,

this evening

Jimi’s has been my favourite pub for a while now. It plays awesome music and has some of the widest collection of music once the ‘by request’ period starts. They even had Danger Zone with the Top Gun movie clip!

And I’m so shocked. None of my friends could make it even after this brilliant email I wrote to everyone. People enthusiastically said yes, but as the day progressed the Yays started turning into Nays because of work delays. Eventually we had a total turnout of ZERO!!

I need to get more friends who are irresponsible and not driven at work. L

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Who did you say? The Doctor?

Knock knock
Who's there?
Doctor who?

So as the rather lame knock knock joke tells you I've recently been fascinated by Doctor Who.

I remember as a kid I was introduced to the Doctor Who series of books by SR who used to live right behind my house. In fact I'd have to give credit to my two great childhood friends SR and MP. Both of them always had a lot of books-their relatives used to bring books as gifts just as mine bring shirts. And also my sister. She was brilliant academically and had a huge number of books she won as various prizes. I learned to devour books because of these two factors. Sadly, I'm not in touch with SR now and only intermittently so with MP. Ah, well, such is life.

Anyway, as you probably know Doctor Who books are about a Time Lord called the Doctor who travels across time and space in his beloved time machine cum spaceship TARDIS to have awesome alien adventures. He usually has a companion with him, mostly a wide eyed girl who eventually saves the day. Hang on, she doesn't save the day, but provides some insight which helps the Doctor save the day. No one can say the series is not about the Doctor!

Now another offshoot - I recently got myself a HD media player. This handy device has a 500GB storage and can directly connect to my TV so that I can watch all movies and TV series that I used to watch on my laptop on my TV. Very convenient and very easy. Its a recommended buy.

So how did this acquisition lead to my revisited fascination with Doctor Who? Well a colleague, well ex-colleague, had the first three seasons of the BBC produced series of the inimitable time traveler! I got the CDs, transfered them to my super cool media player and I'm set for a week of sheer laziness, curled up infront of the TV and cursing my decision to keep the fridge in the other corner of the room instead of within reaching distance from my vantage point. I've traveled with the Doctor from nearby solar system planets to faraway galaxies, from the ancient times to the very edge of the universe when all stars have died out. I've seen the Earth being devoured by the expanding sun and an ancient mechanism that trapped the Devil in orbit around a black hole. I've seen humanities greatest perils to humanities greatest victories. All. in.the.TV.series.

And now season 4 is being downloaded, and I'm stocking the fridge and trying to maneuver it closer to where I sit (aaarghh my back!). Come join me on more adventures. Drop by my apartment, but remember its BYOB*

*Bring your own beanbag


Friday, July 9, 2010

The Greens of Life...

Tee up

Have you read Heart of a Goof by PG Wodehouse?

It's a set of nine stories all based on the life and times and the travails of golfers. In true Wodehouse fashion he weaves parallels between life and golf with golf winning over in terms of importance. It's been a while since I last read it but I remember closing the book with the widest smile possible and the intense desire to go and play immediately to get immersed in the parallel universe of putts, drives, greens, bunkers and roughs.

Unfortunately it was around 3 in the morning so I couldn’t really action this desire.

Also, not having ever properly played before was also a rather minor hindrance.

I recently read another novel set around golf. It’s called ‘The Amateurs’ by John Niven. The tone of the book can be ascertained by the quote that the novel starts with:

He rallied, my tears being in unsurpassably bad taste,
and said, 'Look here, it's only a game.'
Trying to speak softly so the children wouldn't hear,
I said, 'Fuck you!'

It’s story of a man’s struggles in life to improve his handicap. Oh, and there’s also the small matter of his cheating wife and her lover conspiring to murder the lover’s wife by hiring the man’s brother!

Another amazing alternate universe created around the golf course. Such books are so good. In fact they remind me of my initial obsession with tennis. I would sleep at some 2 in the morning and then get up at 5 to go early and get the court. I'd spend hours looking at coaching videos on the internet in faint hopes of improving my game. Videos like this: How to serve

That obsession has toned down to the extent of being gone now, but I guess it never does go for golfers. And that makes it very interesting - the nature of the sport is one that just as you're losing hope and planning to break all your clubs, you connect one drive just the way the golfing Gods willed it to be connected. As the ball soars high and long, your heart is pulled in two directions - exhilaration and "Damn, now I'll have to come play again"

Ask me, I know. We used to go to the driving range almost every weekend when RB was in Bangalore. I guess we were able to get off golf because we never managed to go beyond the driving range to the main golf course.

Ok, this post is getting rambling so I shall tell you the two main points that I started writing with:

1. Golf - Good
2. Golf related stories - GOOD

Personal note:

Yesterday, I saw the actress I had been really impressed with in the play Dancing on Glass (here), Meghana Mundkur at the Corner House nearby. Furthermore I was with a friend who actually knew her and went and chatted with her. But I was too shy to go and compliment her.

Note to self:
You should be ashamed of your reticence


Sunday, July 4, 2010

This Cup is getting pretty darn expensive...

I'll just come out and say it. I need an extra 'World Cup bonus'on the lines of the 'mehngai bhatta' that people in the 80's used to get. I've never followed a football (wanted to write soccer here to get a few purists tearing out their hair. Then desisted - these soccer fans can be quite crazy. Dangerously crazy.)World Cup with so much dedication and perseverance. Not to mention the economic hit. My monthly budget lies whimpering in a corner in tatters.

I've been going out almost every second day to this place screening a match or that place with the best football fans or this friend with a 42 inch LCD TV. And all this going out doesn't come cheap. You're always with some people following the football tradition of watching matches with your favourite healthy beverage and fresh foods (yeah, right). And try as I do to sit in a corner without troubling the waiter too much, these guys are trained to spot attempting freeloaders like me and to impale us with tremendously guilt inducing stares.

And then they hover around glancing at you and the empty table in front of you. The glances get progressively threatening and accusatory with every free kick awarded in the match. Eventually just as they confer with their manager and award a free kick of their own, you succumb and order something. And do NOT think that the prices have not been padded up with the World Cup in mind. Yesterday, at the biggest game of this World Cup (Argentina - Germany) I happened to be at my local watering hole. This place is popular but it has its ups and downs and I've seen it overflowing and empty in a span of two -three days. What I mean to say is that it is my regular place where I know the people and the way they charge. Yesterday, they stopped me at the gate - "Cover charge?". Of course I didn't pay it, being a regular and all (and, you know, being from Delhi. Rules are for losers). But even this place was getting into the World Cup money making way of things.

Hence I propose the following:

1. FIFA should allocate a certain (substantial) part of their funds for free distribution to people bordering on destitution due to their World Cup spendings

2. The government should reduce all taxes on eateries and pubs and all other places showing the match. And the benefit has to be given to the people who visit the place.

3. Employers should change work timings to accommodate late night matches. Efficiency metrics should be relaxed for the duration of the Cup.And for another two months to allow for people to normalize

4. More movies to be released, parties to be thrown, events to be organised starting at the end of the Cup. I am already dreading the withdrawal symptoms once the Cup ends. (C'mon, tell me the truth. Didn't you feel all disoriented when there was no football for two days between the Round of 16 and the quarter finals?)

5. Special camps with trained (preferably pretty) psychiatrists to deal with the post-Cup trauma.

These are my simple requests. But we need to make a national, nay international movement to get these perfectly reasonable requests, nay demands met. Send all your support in the shape of cheques to me and I shall take the lead in starting this movement.

Power to the fans!!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

'Shifty' Affairs and Henpecked Husbands...

So yeah, I've been away a while. Not to say that I forgot about this piece of online property that belongs to me. In fact I've gone weeks thinking about the title of this post with a silent chuckle at the wordplay (you'll see in a bit)

As you know my roomie, umm ex-roomie PS went and got married and though I did suggest that I'd move in with them and stay in a small corner without disturbing at all (he laughed rather derisively, for the record).

Left with no option and after getting over denial I did go forth and hunted for a house. And the moving is what I was quite busy with for a while.

It's not an easy job. You just don't realize how much stuff you accrue over time even in a fairly frugal existence. But more important is that actual getting up and doing part of beginning to pack things. I spent over two weeks procrastinating, staring at the vast fields of stuff that had to be, somehow, boundarized into boxes. I would come home from work after excusing myself from any evening plans with a terse 'gotta pack today', and sit forlornly in a corner with a beverage for company as I tried to muster up the nerve to get on with the job and actually put that first rag of cloth in the box.

In fact if it wasn't for PS turning up one day and starting the packing for me, I would still be staying there giving twice the rent I could afford.

Anyway, it's all done now and though there were numerous exasperating incidents involving getting the Airtel TV and internet in the new house - took me three weeks and atleast a 100 manhours on the phone to get the TV installation finally done (It got so bad that the customer support guy would recognize my voice as soon as I'd call up - not that that helped too much. I had sourced Sunil Bharti Mittal's email id and was about to drop a scathing email to him but the TV started functioning just prior to that. Also, writing to CEOs works if you're totally exasperated. We actually got a signal booster from Hutch installed in our house with this tactic!)

About the new house, it's a nice, cute (not my words) 1 bedroom apartment. It's location is awesome as it's surrounded with watering holes and restaurants and bookshops and little cafes.It also means that I can get up half an hour later than my usual time with the reduced driving time. With the new petrol price hike this reduction could have a significant impact on my monthly budget, which I'll immediately cover by indulging in one of the places I mentioned earlier.

And now to the henpecked husbands part!

Yesterday, a couple of friends H and R were getting engaged (umm to each other)and we were all going to the ceremony. I had to rush from office and, I know it's terrible, I just went the way I was - in my jeans and a fortunately decent looking shirt. So I went to Sid and R's place where A and P were to join and then we'd all go together. For clarification to the new reader Sid and R, and A and P are married couples. As I walked into the house and saw all four of them my spider sense started tingling. There was something, not really odd but significant, that it was picking up. There was some characteristic of the scene that I just couldn't lay my finger on.

I stared and stared for another five minutes before it hit me! A's shirt was the same colour as P's sari and Sid's shirt matched the border of R's sari. They were dressed up as matching pairs! I almost choked laughing and had to sit down. It just seemed so funny because I hang out with these people all the time and this is the sappiest thing I've seen them do!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Foul Play...

Be impulsive...they said

Be 'more cultured'...they said

Stop watching WWE...they said

Be more aware of your 'sensitive' side...they said

And fool that I am, I believed them and followed the instructions. Little was I to know the horrors I'd have to face on this arduous path.

Stop thee, of weak hearts, this tale is not for thee.

I had gone out on Friday and it became quite a late night (or, umm, early morning). Obviously I got up late and was spending a totally relaxed Saturday mostly watching season 2 of Dexter.

As an aside I'm not sure whether I really like the series. The serial killer in the show is not callous / intelligent enough methinks.Also, the plot is a bit weak, especially the Harry angle

A perfect day wouldn't you say? But was I going to let it remain so? Was I going to stop myself from interfering with the diktats of the higher power who wanted me to actually relax?

I would've, except the first few lines of this post flashed infront of my eyes. There is a theatre festival of English language comic plays running in Rangashankara. I've been planning to go for the last couple of days to two very interesting sounding plays. However, I just haven't been able to (had to meet someone after a long time, got late at work and tickets ran out). There was another play called "All about women". Truth be told, this sounded like the least interesting play of the entire festival but at 6 in the evening, just as the dark clouds burst forth, I had this impulse to go for this play.

Now I don't really look for company while going for plays. I mean, it's not like you can nudge the person next to you and crack silly jokes on which both of you guffaw.
Everyone knows that kind of behavior is only acceptable in movie halls and strategy meetings.

So I pulled on my jeans and rushed down the stairs to my car. And then I came back up to pick up my car keys. Rushing down again I negotiated the puddles with elan and eventually managed to step into just one before getting the car started. Stealing a quick glance at my super cool watch I took a little sigh of relief. I had an hour and a half to reach the theater. It was tight what with the traffic, but could be done. Afterall I had done this earlier with an even lesser margin when I'd gone to see a Anton Chekov play (which by the way, was quite bad).

Ha, the games fate plays with us mere mortals

Almost as soon as I got out of my colony I ran into a massive traffic jam amidst shin deep water. Car engine being run to prevent any untoward stalling, I wormed through the jam. As I escaped the reaching-for-me clutches of the jam I had a victorious smile on my face as I saw a clear stretch of road ahead of me and the hands on the face of my watch still looking on favourably. Strange, no one seemed to be taking that long empty stretch, choosing instead to turn right into another water infested jam. Now why would that be?

And suddenly I had a vision! Yes, a real live vision.

And the content of the vision was PS. A couple of days back he had told me that due to some underpass construction they had blocked off the road which had the straightest route to Rangashankara!

I was already beginning to rue my impulsive decision to become more sensitive and cultural. Already I was seeing the merits of watching two (or more) heavily muscled wrestlers beating down on each other in the safe confines of my living room. But I had started, and by God I was going to become cultured today!

I took the most circuitous route possible. On occasions my car took on amphibian qualities to wade through the water pools. The clock was ticking and I could feel the beads of sweat beginning to form on my forehead. Would I be able to reach? Would I be able to immerse myself in the luxurious presence of the play? Would the old aunty in the Premier Padmini car move out of the way...ever?

To cut a long story short I zoomed near the theater with 15 minutes to spare. And as if God was rewarding me for my tenacity and dedication I saw what I have never seen near the theater recently - a free parking spot. Parking the car and tearing down towards the box office was a matter of seconds. Stopping suddenly, returning, and locking the car was a matter of another few seconds.But I knew from the parking spot incident that the Gods were smiling. And really, how difficult would it be to get just one ticket.

Apparently, very. As I approached the box office with an expectant smile on my face, I was faced by yet another smile. The lady there was smiling and shooing away the stragglers trying to get a ticket. All sold out. Yes, it's true.

I'm going to watch another play tomorrow. This one with PS and Z. And we have tickets already. But by God, I'm going in PS' car. If I had to drive there again so soon, I swear I'd cry.

The wounds are still too fresh


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ramble along...

Women, are nuts.

And now, as this is more or less an axiomatic statement, I shall not go into the specifics and proceed to giving you a quick update on whats been happening in my life.

Umm...actually nothing too melodramatic.I just haven't written for a while so I thought i'd regale you with some stories, or, you know, just write about my weekend and other regular stuff.

I saw Ironman 2 after weeks of asking, begging, cajoling and threatening people to come watch it. I'm really surprised that it took so much effort actually. Couple of people had already seen it but the others' lack of interest in the movie was quite surprising. I mean, Ironman 1 was pretty awesome!

Anyway, to cut a long and painful story short, I finally managed to convince DU to come along.

As an aside, watching a movie alone is something I've done on a couple of occasions but somehow just didn't want to for this movie as I felt a bit strange. However, going to a play alone is perfectly normal for me. Weird.


It was a awesome movie! Robert Downey Junior brings just that right roguishness to the role of the flawed genius. The dry wit and the brilliant one liners. Excellent watch and though I always say that a superhero should not have his full face covered in his costume, I'd still give this a thumbs up.

Also, on a personal front I'm going to be moving houses in a few days. I'm kinda scared of the work moving is going to entail.

Ok, thats it people, I'm just not getting any writing rhythm going today. Sorry for the rambling post.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Of Haircuts and Autographs...

Being a known face must be quite weird in a nice way.

On Friday I was driving back from dropping a friend home. The night was cool, bathed with the soft glow of the moonlight interspersed with flashes of harsh headlights as people drove with their headlights on high beam. I was at peace. The roads were clear and I was driving along at a fair clip when suddenly, the right sight vision completely vanished under a cloud of darkness. Fighting panic as icy fingers ran down my spine I got the car in control and came to a halt next to the curb. As my heart slowed down from it's adrenaline charged leaps I had only one thought in mind - When your hair grows so long that it interferes with your driving, it's time to get rid of the inertia and go get a haircut.

Subsequently, I went for a haircut to my regular super, ultra hip salon conveniently located next to the grocery shop and the medical store near my apartment block.

Well, it was all normal, I went there, there were people waiting and I took up a chair and started browsing through the newspapers lying there. Ah, such relaxation.A perfectly normal haircutting experience.

Suddenly I felt, more than heard, something not quite normal, something that sent a jarring note in the otherwise commonplace experience. Looking up carefully I observed both the scissor-wielders looking at me with silly grins plastered on their faces. I was confused, what did I do to deserve this? Was I the lucky one millionth customer? Was I chosen for the annual sacrifice to the hair cutting Gods? Was my hair sticking up at such weird angles that they thought it was beyond any sort of repair?

And then it cleared up. The younger guy opened an almirah and took out a newspaper. It was the DNA paper where my third picture had appeared! They'd actually recognized me in the small photo and had kept the paper. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I wasn't grinning ear to ear. It's such a weird yet fun feeling, eventhough I know that the picture was for absolutely nothing worthwhile! It must be strange for actual known people to have people walk up to them and genuinely recognizing them. Maybe I should try to do something in which this becomes a regular thing.

For a moment I had grandiose dreams of signing my first autograph and more importantly getting a free haircut. But eventually, commerce won and I had to pay up the 40 Rs. he charges.

I did, however, take the newspaper for my records.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Page 3 et al...

First of all, I'd like to thank my parents for giving me the good looks genes that I have. Then my Kindergarten teacher for my poise and rakish posing technique.

Finally, I have achieved all that any human can possibly achieve in my short-ish life till now. Yesterday, my picture appeared on the page 3 (party page) of Deccan Chronicle.

And now that I am a legitimate celebrity, here are a few things I want you, the plain ol' commoner, to do:

*1 Bow low whenever you see me, think you see me, actually think of me, or... well, you know, why don't you just stay bowed all day long anyway

*2 You shall henceforth refer to me as "your Exalted Highness". That is, if you actually dare to refer to me at all. Which should ideally be when you're fetching me a glass of water or something

*3 Give me substantial sweat equity in your multimillion dollar enterprises. Just for being as awesome as I am

*4 I will also accept cash contributions to the "I *heart* Swapnil: My favourite celebrity fund"

*5 Oh, and while you're at it, why don't you construct a temple in my honour too?

Was actually at a place where a beatboxing band from UK was playing. Pretty good stuff, have a listen-


I've finally arrived. Photo also in Midday, a feat which is more difficult to achieve than getting into Economic Times or even the New York Times. (Page 16)


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lurrve Incidents!...

Sometimes you hear such unexpected stories from unexpected sources in unexpected situations that it's quite cool.

Now I'm a very sympathetic listener (if I like or am indifferent to the speaker. If I don't like him/her I'm extremely judgmental, irritable and short. Just a friendly warning) and a good secret keeper and thus end up having a lot of friends sharing their deepest, darkest secrets to me. Also, I surreptitiously enjoy playing shrink and thus I kinda like this state of affairs.

But this post is not about that. And being a secret-keeper-extraordinaire you certainly can't expect me to put stories of people I know up on this blog (D-uh). This is about two weird situations I heard of in strange circumstances. I heard one of them just yesterday and was immediately reminded of the first one.

Circa 2005
2 am

Full masala story

(Can you please imagine the above coordinates appearing letter by letter on the bottom left corner of your screen with a typing sound in the background? Thanks)

I was returning from AG's place in Pune and had just got off the bus at Dadar. I took an auto from there to my hotel in Santa Cruz.

And I have to describe the auto. It was a jazzy thing with blue light streaming inside and outside it. Lots of plastic decorations around the multiple Shahrukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan pictures pasted all over. The biggest decoration for the auto though, was it's driver. A young guy in a open collar uniform shirt which was thrown back, a couple of buttons open showing off multiple black thread lockets. The kind of guy who comes to Mumbai to become a film star. The kind of guy who would have a Rajnikanth hairstyle were he in South India. Out there he had to make to with a rather faded Shahrukh Khan one.

We (he) started talking and within five minutes the conversation turned towards the GIRL in his life. Most people may be subtle while talking about their girlfriend to a stranger. But this guy, no way! He lived his life on full volume and spoke about her in the same way.

"Bhaiyya, woh bahut acchi hai, sundar hai, XYZ school mein teacher hai."

[She's very nice, pretty. She's a teacher at XYZ school]

And the coup de grace:

"Bhaiyya, main uske liye jaan bhi de sakta hun!"

[Brother, I can sacrifice my life for her!]

And because I gave him the sympathetic ear (at 2 am!) I heard his entire story. How he met her, how he used to reach her school so he could ferry her to her house. How they fell for each other.

And then the parents came into the picture. And there was conflict as both sets of parents didn't approve. But they stood by each other and fought all four parents and have convinced them now. And that he was collecting money so that he could buy his auto and then get married.

Full masala story. And yes, I gave him some extra money to go in his nest egg for the future. After all, I've been raised on these filmi love story romantic movies and want my hero and heroine to live happily ever after. Doesn't the romantic in everyone wants to see such stories succeed?

And you know the best part I like about this story - there were no complications between the girl and the guy at all. They knew right from the beginning that they wanted to be with each other. That's such a cool thing to have and something I don't think i've ever experienced on account of being too logical :(

CIRCA 2010

A rather cute problem

As you know I have some personal strife going on right now. I have been forced by circumstances and an over eager flatmate to hunt for either a new flatmate or to get a new house. (about that. What kind of readers are you? Except one friend who put my heartfelt request a couple of blog posts ago on Twitter, none of you gave any leads at all! Horrible).

So anyway, I am currently meeting these real estate brokers who take you around to properties which are to be let out for rent. I met one such broker a couple of days back and then again yesterday.

He's actually a college student studying for his engineering degree. He also helps out his brother in this business.

And he has a problem.

Guy: "Bhaiyya, aapke paas bhi Sony Ericsson phone hai na?"
[You have a Sony Ericsson phone as well, right?]

Swapnil: "Yes"

Guy (with a pleading look in his eyes]: "Aapko pata hai ki mera phone lock kaise karte hain?"
[Do you know how to lock my phone?]

Swapnil (knowing wry smile): "Kyun? Girlfriend ke messages chhupaane hain?"
[Why? You want to hide your girlfriend's messages?]

Guy (glad to find some understanding): "Haan Bhaiyya, mere gharwaale mere phone ko chhedte rehte hain!"

[Yes, my family keeps fiddling with my phone!"

Apparently, his brother fiddles with his cell phone and ends up reading his, umm, private messages! (And yes, this is a common problem. When will they finally learn that reading someone's messages is akin to opening someones letters in their generation. You just should NOT do that!)

So we left the house hunting for some time while I went through the settings in the phone trying to find the lock which would prevent his brother's prying eyes and derisive humour. But the phone does not have such a lock!

Come to think of it, even my cell phone doesn't have a phone lock feature. Do Sony-Ericsson phones not have this feature? Help, somebody! We should all rally around to help him!


Monday, April 12, 2010


Is it just me or do you also get distracted by the sub-titles that most movies shown on Star Movies, HBO etc. seem to have nowadays?

I mean, I was just flicking through one of the most intense scenes of The Dark Knight, a scene which had really moved me when I saw the movie in a theatre, and all I was trying to do was to somehow, just somehow, focus on the acting and expressions rather than just flicking to the sub-titles before they were delivered.

This practice means that I end up reading the dialogues sans any intonation, pause or intensity. Jokes lose their punchlines, sinister mobsters' threats become comical and heady romantic lines look corny and teenager-ish. And it's nearly impossible to prevent the eyes from just moving to the subtitles. They move with every frame and the eyes are just drawn to them.

I have mixed views about the sub-titles. I don't like them, at the same time I do because whatever one says, there is always some character with a strange voice and accent in every movie whose dialogues you just cannot understand. (By the way, I'm sure there is some sentence construction fault in the previous sentence. Please feel free to let me know how that sentence should've been constructed). And that's where such sub-titles help.

Anyway, I guess I'll just have to learn to live with it.

Saw 'Wanted' the Hindi movie last night. Must say I really enjoyed it. Especially some dialogues which had so much double meaning and sexual innuendo possibilities that I was rolling on the floor.

Also saw 'Stanley and Iris'. Very, very nice, gentle movie. A simple story told extremely well. Robert De Niro and Jane Fonda are just fantastic in the movie. And such poignant scenes. So little said, yet so much said with simple gestures and subtle expressions. Highly recommended.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Payback Time...

I've always kept you laughing, right?

Ok, maybe some of the posts may not have been traditionally funny, but I've made the effort.

Even the serious posts were thought provoking and interesting, right?

Well it's payback time!

I'm looking for a flatmate as PS is getting married and moving out. And here's where you, the loyal readers, come into the picture.

So if you're a guy looking for a place to stay (nothing against girls but they'd expect me to keep the house too clean) do let me know.

Or, if you can put up the following ad at your workplace for people to reach out to me, please do so:


Looking for a male flatmate in National Games Village, Koramangla for a 2BHK.


**Spacious 1st floor flat, large bedrooms and two balconies
**Peaceful, secure locality
**Only two people will be sharing the flat
**All basic systems in place - Internet, TV, functional kitchen, maid, cook, car cleaner, ironing
**Good, non-interfering landlord not staying close by
**2 bathrooms with geysers

Rent: 8150 per head ( 7350 + 800 (maintenance))
Advance: 70K

If interested, please write to
Mobile: 9986006266

All help will be highly appreciated and acknowledged in golden words on this blog apart from undying affection and respect for the help-er


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Financial Epiphany...

I know I generally don't write anything about work / workplace in this blog but I just had another WTF or what-the-hell-is-happening-to-me moment which I really have to write about. For another realization moment go here

What was the epiphany?

I laughed at a joke. Yes, innocuous as it sounds, that was it. Read on for my tale of horror.


Regular coffee break conversation where you crib about everything to do with whatever company you work for - pay not enough, work too much blah blah blah.

Colleague 1: Dude, we get paid such peanuts, I think the biggest chunk of my salary is actually the Sodexho food vouchers I get!

Colleague 2: You're right. All of us should pool in our Sodexho vouchers and do a leveraged buy out of the company!


Yes ladies and gentlemen, in another shocking turn of events, your favourite blogger has started understanding and laughing at Finance humour. This is the first step on the downward spiral that ends with finally understanding what goes on the credit side and the debit side in a balance sheet.

Oh, woe is me :(


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spin the web...

Just saw a movie on TV and just had to write about it. It's that brilliant.

The movie's name is 'Wag the Dog' . And acting in it are two absolute stalwarts - Robert De Niro and the awesome Dustin Hoffman.

The plot is a bit over the top in it's conception but these two make it as believable as ..umm..2+2=4

De Niro plays a spin doctor who works for the President of the United States. This President gets embroiled in a sex scandal with a teenage girl just 11 days prior to his re-election. Obviously the opposition candidate pounces on this scandal and goes to the media with it.

Enter, De Niro. He knows that there is only one way they can hold the President afloat for the next 11 days. Create a story bigger and more interest grabbing than the scandal.

Enter, Hoffman. He plays a super successful film producer who can create a story from "spit and polish", give it life, a body and run it till the world believes it. He has countered so many problems with innovative solutions that any problem setting up the counter-plot is treated with a disdainful "This is nothing..." anecdote.

A brilliant slightly over-the-top performance (perfect for a film producer) by Hoffman sees the plot being created. The plot, incidentally, is to create a scenario of a war with Albania because they are harbouring terrorists who plan to smuggle a nuclear device into the US from Canada.

The way they plan the story and execute is spell binding and very very funny. It's also a bit poignant because it is so easily possible that many news stories we believe blindly in could be fixed this way. The movie is a great look at the beginning of viral marketing in the pre-internet era as well.

A great watch with a very O'Henry-ish twist in the tail (tale) kind of ending.

Go watch it.

And have a good week ahead


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trouble in Paradise...

I was thinking of writing about my current favourite TV series 'The Big Bang Theory' but something much closer to my heart and frankly a bit disturbing has come to my notice.

I have to warn you that this is a rather topical serious post and not funny at all. So you may want to get your laughs elsewhere this time...

As many of you would know, I studied for my undergraduate engineering degree at Delhi College of Engineering (DCE). It is one of the top engineering colleges in the country and I am genuinely proud to be an alumnus of the college. And this is not just a jingoistic 'my college' syndrome. I have seen people's eyes widen and a drop in the volume at which they speak to you when they realize you have a strong undergrad degree from DCE. I know for a fact that the college and it's reputation have opened opportunities that would certainly not have opened up otherwise.

More importantly I have had life lessons there which have moulded the person I am and the way I think and react. I have made some of my best friends there and it is something to say that these friends are still going strong 7 years after we graduated. I have seniors who I still go to for any advice pertaining to professional or personal life.

But there is trouble brewing in paradise.

A year after I graduated a new principal joined DCE. He had been the principal earlier but was coming back from retirement. Since he came some amazing things happened for us alumni. We were seeing excellent news coming out of the college. Students were doing dedicated research, writing papers, media was covering students' participation in conferences, building cars, experimental submarines, bio-fuel etc etc. I was extremely happy to see this because if there was something missing in my four years it was this quest for creating something new.

Visiting DCE during this phase was a bit disturbing though. Hostels had sign in- sign out times, the campus buildings were off limits in the late evenings, students were not expected to move around too much, the baba with maggi outside the hostels was closing down at 10-11 as opposed to 2-3 am like he used to, students were roaming around with books even when there were no exams in the offing, and there was even an unsaid rule against girls and boys hanging out on the legendary road outside the girl's hostel.

But maybe these were acceptable changes. Discipline was certainly required to guide the students towards engineering excellence, except the girl-boy rule - that's just stupid, and the results were showing.

But now things are changing in a way which I feel could be detrimental to the institution. There was a rushed bill passed, allegedly without a lot of discussion with either the faculty or the students, for the conversion of DCE to a state university called Delhi Technical University. There are wide scale protests against this by students and faculty members, the details are at :

This may have some hysteria and name calling but this one is pretty clear about the concerns which to me seem very genuine:

My opinion on this entire issue is that DCE needs to remain DCE. It has an established reputation in the industry for a reason. You cannot make getting into DCE a piece of cake by increasing the number of seats (I heard numbers like 10,000 seats - that'd just be crazy). This cannot be made a place to just churn out engineers - it has to be a place where there are adequate resources for path breaking stuff for the smart people who are passionate about engineering and not just looking for a job in a bank!

I also think that if being a part of Delhi University is holding it back then the only logical path for an institution of it's calibre is to make it an IIT. I don't know how easy or difficult it is to do that but really a move downwards would be extremely disappointing.


Friday, March 5, 2010 why did Karthik call exactly?...

Just came back from an impromptu movie evening. PS and I went to see Karthik Calling Karthik.

This is a movie from the iconic director cum actor Farhan Akhtar who made his mark and gave indelible memories with his first movie Dil Chahta Hai (First day second show after all of us bunked class - remember?). Prior expectations from the movie were therefore quite high. Of course the official and word of mouth reviews of the movie were very harsh. There was actually a lady on one of the numerous news channels who panned the movie so badly it seemed Farhan may have been her estranged ex-boyfriend or something.

With the slew of such reviews we were a bit apprehensive about going for the movie but in the end decided to bite the bullet and see for ourselves.

And what a brilliant decision this was! The movie is a super exciting thriller with edge of the seat suspense and nibble-your-nails-to-the-bone mystery. Unfortunately, the only mystery we could perceive was whether Farhan Akhtar had actually chosen this script and made this movie! And if yes, WHY??

Easily one of the longest drawn out, cliched, rambling, unintelligent, factually incorrect movies I've seen in a while - and that's saying a lot ( ).

Karthik is a bumbling loser (if anyone misspells 'looser', i'll kill him / her) in life who despite a good education works as a sort of pseudo clerk/sales person in a construction company (?). (Obviously people born with a silver spoon in their mouths should not try to create realistic workplace scenarios). Anyway, you have all the regular stuff about people dumping work on him, boss screaming at him, pretty-young-thing-who-he-loves-not-being-aware-of-his-existence, office peon making snide remarks at him. And then some more shit happens and he is publicly humiliated and fired - the good thing being that the pretty young thing finally gets aware of his existence before promptly forgetting again while canoodling with her in-office-in-your-face-goateed-boyfriend.

K goes home devastated and tries to commit suicide. But just as we were all going to be spared more KcK torture, the phone rings and it is Karthik calling Karthik to save him from himself (see? so smart)

Anyway, the guy on the phone advises him and after a series of unlikely incidents K is installed in a corner office, makes a lot of money and gets the pretty young thing (PYT) (Incidentally the boyfriend is shown to be a married guy. Now how unlikely is this? K was in awe of this girl for 2-3 years and isn't it far more likely that she actually got a perfectly normal boyfriend in the meantime? But Nooo, the hero HAS to get the girl. I think in such makeover movies the guy should get another nice girl rather than the same one - far more likely).

Of course things cannot run smoothly as K still gets hour long calls from K. He tells PYT and his psychiatrist. Lots of unlikely doodah happens till the mystery is finally revealed. Now i'm not giving any spoilers here but trust me, you're not missing much...

One good thing I liked about the movie was when some scenes faded into black & white with some colour element accentuating the change. Like the window with the red light flashing across it in the Cochin scene. I thought aesthetically that was very interesting.

Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Rock on....Karthik calling Karthik - really? What's happening Farhan?


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Southerly Winds...

We've all joined facebook groups saying "you know you're from delhi if..." followed by certain defining characteristics of the city and it's people. Interesting and nostalgic.

I've lived in Bangalore for nearly four years now (wow, has it been that much time?) but have never really considered myself a Bangalorean. And this is not just me, a lot of people feel like immigrants here. It's got nothing to do with the city or it's people (mostly - but a few bad apples are present everywhere) but for this inner tug that most people feel for their hometown. Now I've been a Delhite 85% of my life -I've been born there, did my schooling there, college, post-graduation, first job. My family is there as well. I always have that back of the mind thing that all things being fine I will eventually go back to the lovingly abusive city of Delhi. This feeling, ingrained deeply, prevents me from thinking of any other city as home - however good it may have been to me.

But yesterday something happened that made me think about the impact the city is having on me. I was chatting with a friend from IIFT, VJ, and I was asking him whether he's seen the latest movie to hit the screens, Karthik Calling Karthik.

Perfectly innocuous, right?


As I was typing the name of the movie my mind suddenly got stuck in a quandary - is Karthik spelt with an 'h' or without??

Now if I was in Delhi this question wouldn't even register. I mean I had friends with that name and invariably were spelt without an 'h'. But in Bangalore everything, I mean everything, is spelt with extra h's. Whether it is the iconic Marut'h'i car or the inconsequential name Amit'h' - there's always an extra 'h'. It's like a conspiracy by ink makers and printers to increase their revenues (What? it could happen. After all, United Airlines did save USD 400,000 by removing one olive from the salad they used to serve)

So the fact that I stopped to think about it is an indication of the southern winds influencing me. It also made me think of the other subtle changes that may be happening without me realizing it:

1. I like dosas for breakfast. I've also gone to Krishna cafe specifically to have the giant dosa they have.

2. I don't get exasperated by the traffic snarls anymore.

3. I hardly use the air conditioning in my car.

4. At the slight hint of sunlight (sunlight I would've scoffed at in comparison to the Delhi summer sun) I squint my eyes and wear sunglasses

5. I still don't understand Kannada but I am able to fade it out rather then get irritated by it's cacophony (I'm sorry but it is a loud language)

Gulp, Do you think the transformation is complete? I think all I need to do is date a Bangalorean girl to complete the transformation.

What do you think? Is it time for me to go back before it's too late?


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Morphed Memories...

Just time for a quick post. I've been away from the computer / internet for a week (yes, it's possible) and had a couple of thoughts swirling all week which I want to quickly post before reading "And Another Thing" prior to drifting off to sleep...

I went to Lucknow for a couple of cousins' weddings and then to a sleepy town in UP which is my mom's hometown - a single road town called Bharthana. I used to go there almost every second summer vacation till I was in class 9 - 14 years ago (yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm not as youthful as my writing may have made you where'd I keep my arthritis pills??)

I had gone anticipating a bit of boredom but I actually enjoyed a lot. Apart from the weddings themselves, it was also great to see the spots of the summer vacation adventures when the days were clear and the thoughts were mostly happy. I had a great time reliving memories of the inside-house cricket, the Nagraj and Super Commando Dhruv comics, the carrom tournaments, the rambling through the huge attic searching for nothing in particular, the two vultures that came and roosted in the nearby Dharamshala which almost made the place out of bounds for us scrawny kids, the evening kite flying (didn't do a lot myself), the neighbour's parrot, the chaats etc etc.

(as an aside, I seem to have a great appetite for rushing back memories)

But there was one very interesting thing about these memories - when these memories were made I was quite small myself. Thus, I had increased the size of most things in the memories as I grew. Seeing the real things was a bit of a reality check. Now, my uncle's clinic is quite big but it is nowhere near the cavernous waiting hall with the doctor's chair inside it that I recalled. Also the hall in which we used to play cricket is pretty big but nowhere near as big as I remembered.

Interesting, the way time morphs the reality in memories.

It's also funny that a lot of people actually remember you even after 14 years. Phenomenal really. And embarrassing because in your rush you've forgotten everyone who still recalls your childish antics. Nostalgic times.

Also, unrelated: I'm so thankful for having friends who whack me on my head when I'm doing something innately stupid. And I'm so thankful that I have friends who I can tell the most reprehensible things without being judged. They save me, they really do...


Thursday, February 11, 2010

But I don't want to hear about the Morgans!

Just got back from S and R's place. I'd gone there ostensibly to help out H with making a pitch for some funding he's trying to raise for his venture.

So after exactly 6 minutes discussion where we created one slide on what should go into the pitch, we started watching this movie called "Did you hear about the Morgans" on their big screen TV (pause for jealous rants about the TV)
What a fake movie!

It's one of the most predictable attempt-at-a-romantic-comedy I've seen in a while. And that is also forgivable if the movie is well made! I mean, was this the same Hugh Grant who gave us that iconic Notting Hill? He looks old and jaded. Which is ok, years and the high living he does will get to a man, but he looks like he's doing the movie because he needs the money! He's been through similar roles for most of his career and this last one has him looking bored and uninterested. The dead pan lines in the Brit accent are there but are so predictable that you groan rather than laugh at most of them (a couple are good though)

Sarah Jessica Parker is the female lead of the movie. Now I'll have to admit that I do enjoy watching Sex and the City. I mean I don't follow it religiously but don't mind watching it. Sarah is quite good in the show but here she looks like she's made of plastic. She's just playing a whole bunch of stereotypes which she associates with being a city woman. And to top it all she's looking haggard in most of the movie.

Mix together a million rom-com cliches, add some more stereotypes about 'evil' city people and 'good yet simple' country people, a few cowboys, some shallow emotions - blend together.

No, no - don't bother blending too well. Any which way is fine.

And the result is a weak movie relying more on hope is produced.

Very weak movie.

Joke of the day: You have to read this! :


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Good First Half...

God knows I really needed a good weekend. And for a change, He obliged.

I know, I know, the weekend isn't quite over yet but I'm so glad the first part of the weekend has gone well that I'll share it with you (no, no. No need to thank me. It's my job to entertain you readers). So in a slightly forgotten tradition where I recount to you the adventures of my weekend and you ooh and ah and write comments like:

"What an adventurous and exciting life you live Swapnil!"

"Oh, I wish I did half the interesting things you do on one typical a YEAR!!"

"Oh Swapnil, I wish I was as good looking as you"

Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a tad on the last one.

Anyway, moving on (sic), I finally succumbed to my low spirits and left office a bit early on Friday evening. Plans were already afoot to meet DU but they were affected by the little case of she losing her cell phone and hence going incommunicado.

(As an aside, how dependent have we become on the cell phone even to meet up with people? I was actually struggling to remember how humans used to decide on a time and place to meet AND then stick to it instead of constantly changing it based on the current location of the people, traffic, weather and what not, which you constantly check by calling and re-calling the cellphone)

So we (eventually) managed to reach the same point in space and time and after checking out a few cell phone stores decided to ditch necessity in favour of pleasure - umm, decided to get something to eat rather than continue our quest for the elusive phone. Priority was clearly on unwinding after the rather rough week both of us had had.

Finally, the evening got interesting! I have been moping around the house a bit and haven't really tried many new eating places in the last 3-4 weeks.

We went to this place called 64 near my house but had to come out because, I don't know, the menu just didn't seem any different from any continental place you go to.

So next we decided to go to Pizzeria Romano which is actually a multi-cuisine restaurant and not just a Italian place as the name suggests. Now this place is really amazing to look at. Great decor (they have sloping mirrors on the ceiling!). The pictures of the food were sublime and we walked in with extremely high expectations. Actually, we should've gone with lower expectations - though I don't know how low we'd have to go to reach the levels we encountered (especially in context to the exorbitant prices).

Each course and cuisine was a disaster. Over-toasted bruschettas laden with thick cheese (Cheese? On Bruschettas? Really? It kinda kills it's fresh tomatoes appeal)without even a faint smattering of olive oil. We thought we could try some arabian cuisine - again based on the spectacular pictures on the advertising board outside. So falafel was ordered hoping for redemption. Never came. The redemption I mean. Very very ordinary. Nothing to write home or on this blog about.

So we put our head together and by sheer combined brilliance decided that considering the place is called "Pizzeria Romano", we should order a pizza.

And though the pizza was good, the service really killed it for us. The steward actually dropped a slice (toppings side down) and then instead of replacing the placemat, just wiped it!And then, I missed noticing it, but they actually charged for the whole pizza! That's just really really bad management - it kills any chance of a repeat visit.

So the food was definitely not helping in improving the bad taste (pun intended) of the week gone by, but it was just so good to finally get out of the house and not fester there that I didn't mind too much.

Wrapped up the evening by getting a couple of pints at a new pub nearby called Olio. Recently opened, the place is nice. And the best part was that they didn't rush us out as the dreaded deadline approached. They let us nurse our pints at our own pace and I really liked that about the place.

A good evening, and SO good to go out for a bit.

Saturday dawned nice and early because we had to meet again as DU was to compete in a corporate challenge. She's an amazing singer (mentioned earlier: ) and was representing her company in the contest and I thought I'd go see how such things work (I mean let's be serious, there is no way that I'm ever going to see such events from a participants viewpoint!). After the normal no-cellphone confusion of the morning we managed to meet again and went to the contest in far off Whitefield. It started late but was a good contest with some good singers. DU sang really well, as usual. She sang: You're so Vain.

The contest was really going on and on, and the more we stayed there the more we bought stuff that was depleting the wallet, so we got out and had lunch at this hotel called Zuri. Very nice hotel with good buffet food. Was a good place.

But the best was yet to come!

They have a pool on a terrace midway up the hotel. A brilliant breeze was blowing across it and the sun was just the right temperature. The inviting deckchairs just could not be ignored and we just lazed around for an hour (or two). I'm not sure but I think I dozed off for a while as well...

Ah, to enjoy the beach in the heart of the city!

Really nice Saturday after quite a while.

And tomorrow D is coming down from Mumbai for some work! It's always fun to catch up with her, and it's been a while as well. Should be great!

This type of weekend just couldn't have come at a better time! Yay!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Two Good Boys at Home...

As the loyal readers of this blog know I stay in a nice little house in NGV with a old college friend of mine, PS.

Now, bachelor pads across the world share certain characteristics:

For instance such homes are the picture of cleanliness with spotless floors, clean fans, well made beds with fresh sheets, all shoes arranged in expensive and elegant shoe racks, laundry all done, well dusted windows covered with exquisite curtains, no glass containers containing potent liquids, wardrobes immaculately maintained with clothes arranged by colour, type of garment, occasion to wear that garment in etc etc...

Yeah, right.

So the ACTUAL description of our house, and it is probably one of the better maintained abodes, is..umm..a bit different. Hard as we try, the house does fall into a bit of disarray as the week progresses. (I don't know how girls keep their houses so spic and span. It's an art, I say - a mystery to the male species).

Now normally, we ignore such insignificantly small issues. We live by the principle of live and let live. We don't harm the piles of clothes and bunches of shoes in most rooms and they don't, in turn, harm us.

Thus things were going smoothly as usual when suddenly PS ran into the drawing room.

"Dude, we have a situation."
"what? The geyser's not working again? I'm going to have some really harsh words when that bloodsucking landlord comes for the rent! And..."

"Ho gaya? Main bol lun ab" (done with your blabbering? Can I speak now?) [Implicit meaning - you speak WAY too much mate. Put a lid on it)


"Dad has a meeting in Bangalore. He'll come for a couple of days. Probably stay over for a night or two"

"Food, he's going to bring home food!! Yay!"


(high five)

"But Swap, have you seen the condition of the house?"

"Yeah, it's fine, right?"

"Umm look at it from a parent's eye"

(5 second pause)

"Doomed! We're doomed! When is he coming? How the hell are we going to clean up?? Damn, damn, damn!"

"Ok, relax, we have 3 days"

"Dude, just look at it! We need a week atleast"

"We'll take it on a war footing. Just remember the Hitchhiker's Guide..."

(In unison)


So, needless to say, we spent the next 2 days procrastinating and then spent one early evening AND late evening AND early night AND late night cleaning and hiding stuff.

Update: The visit went well. Uncle was pleased with our living arrangements

Further update: Yes, we got sweets from home. And no, they're not for you. We deserve every single piece of mithai!