Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alvin and the Chipmunks

How come I never heard of this movie before?

I heard about it and saw it at the same time - yesterday. AWESOME. Oh, yes it is for kids and all that - and the reason I sat around to watch it was because my son wanted a company (not that I am complaining! I enjoy animation movies as much or more than him, as I have mentioned in detail before). As always, when I watched this one, I was filled with admiration for the wonderful people who made the movie attain perfection - I couldn't spot any flaw anywhere. I even wondered for a fleeting moment, can these chipmunks be real... oh no, oh no, they aren't. But how beautifully real they seem. And how well they sing and dance!

Alvin, Simon and Theodore, I love you all !

Digression. My son says he wants to watch the movie of the "Mongoose" instead of the Chipmunks. :) I raise an eyebrow and he says, "Chipmunks".

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pretol or Petrol?

Language... is fascinating. Language is just a tool for communication, but we definitely do more than just communicate. We try to refine our vocabulary and convey our thoughts in an interesting and imaginative way that captures the listeners' interest (or readers' in some cases!). For a three year old, though, language is just what it is intended to be. My son says "Pretol" for petrol and "Blangore" for Bangalore. When he tries to correct it, following my persuasion, he succeeds "Pe.... trol". The pause is essential to make the word sound right. If the pause is lost, he falls back to Pretol. Last night he was a mechanic and had his tricycle upside down and was pumping "pretol" into it. (No, in his world the tricycle cannot stand straight when petrol is poured into it.) He gives running commentaries as the pretol is being poured. Every time he said the word, I corrected him, "Petrol". He tried a few times, and finally said, "Look, I am pouring this thing into my cycle." As long as it is flowing to the cycle, what does it matter whether it is pertol or petrol?

Bangalorisation of English, contd.

Ever since I began noticing the crude English phrases in use around me, I have been struck with a nagging thought... How do I know which is the correct usage and which is not? Not many worry about how they put a point across, with good grammar or not, as long as the point does go across. But now that I have decided to worry about it, it has become more than a worry, it has been a strong concern.

For example.
Someone said to me yesterday, "Moving forward, would you please take care of this?"
I felt considerably uncomfortable with this sentence, without knowing why (Of course, that didn't stop me from saying, "Sure".).
A week ago, a person who takes more care of his language said, "What would you like to do, going forward?"

Because I have noticed at several instances that the latter's language is more polished, I assumed that "going forward" is more correct than "moving forward".

But why fear when Google is near? I put an end to this misery and did a search. This is what I found.

Going Forward is apparently the correct(er) phrase. However, to my relief, it has been declared over-used.

Another interesting site lists out the most boring, over-used clichés.
Perhaps I should make a similar list of my own. The rusty language around me flows in a circle with no option to insert new words and thoughts into it. It is perhaps time I broke free!

Having said this, I am a person who believes that as long as one speaks and writes his/her Mother tongue well there is no cause for concern, and English is just English, a language for communication when the other party does not speak yours. And in a metro like Bangalore where the percentage of languages in use (Kannada, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali,... ) is almost uniform, English is the most commonly used language, even ahead of Hindi as most of the South Indians are not well-versed in the National Language.

The Big, Black Car

She was scrutinizing his car when he came out. She looked around as he approached.
"Nice car", she said.

He looked at her quizzically. The car had not been washed for a week, and being black, it showed clear signs of dirt. It had looked blacker and sleeker on other days when she did not choose to comment on it.

She continued. "It looks like a dignified, gigantic beast that has been tamed, one that has forgotten its roar and purrs instead. Don't you feel like you are sitting on an elephant, when you drive?"


Memory can be very uncanny at times.

I could hardly recall the events of yesterday and was racking my brain about what activities I did yesterday morning, when a plump, middle-aged lady carrying a cloth bag passed by just at the border of my vision and my mind started chattering, "I met this lady about four years back when I was looking out for a maid to help me with the chores but Rs2000 per month was way too expensive for a three-hour daily job, and so I asked her if she could come for less. She said she will see but never came back. And yes, it was mid-August of the year 2005."

A Movie about Memory that comes to mind is...
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pocket PC, Smartphone and the Feature phone

Do you know how easy it is to upgrade yourself and how impossibly tough it is to downgrade (for want of a better word) to an older version - of whatever you are using? Well, to be more specific, I am talking in terms of gadgets. For a little while, I had the good fortune to experiment with a Pocket PC and then today I tried a similar operation in a Smartphone.

A little gyan in case Pocket PC and Smartphone are new(er) terms in your vocabulary:

Pocket PC (PPC) and Smartphone(SP) are the handheld versions of your Personal Computer(PC), that run Windows Mobile operating system and generally do a lot of things that a normal PC does, with the added advantage that you can carry it around in your pocket, and insert a SIM card and use it as a phone. PPC is the one with a stylus (on which you sometimes make do with the tip of your nails if the stylus is not around). SP on the other hand is a smarter version than the ordinary feature phone, but still less smart than the PPC! SP does not respond to touch, you have to explicitly give directions using the keys. SP typically has more number of keys, in some cases the entire QWERTY keyboard. The PPC may have a couple or no keys on its surface, and if it is not switched on, you may not even be able to tell whether you are holding it upside down! There is a virtual keyboard that you can invoke on a gentle touch on the screen once it is switched on.

So as I was saying, PPC was a luxury. Touch the text on the screen and your job is done. Then suddenly I was given an SP. My fingers could not easily forget luxury and they returned to the screen. SP refused to respond. Then I realized my mistake and sheepishly led them to the keys.
When I came back to my own old Nokia feature phone which can do nothing more than call and text message, and I felt as if I am thrown in a desert with no habitation nearby.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quote for today

Collective foolishness is an antidote to individual wisdom.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Well, Slumdog Millionaire has made it!

8 Oscars, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Song,....

Am I overwhelmed.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quote for the day

No one can make you lose your self-esteem.
No one can make you feel worthless.

But they sure can put up a good case.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tea and Bajjis

"I saw you taking tea at the corner of the street", he said, sounding almost as if he was accusing me of a horrendous crime.

"Yes, of course", I replied indignantly. "I go there every day."

He looked at me for a long instant. He thinks it is below one's position to be taking tea at the wayside chaay-waali's place where the commoners frequent, I said to myself. He is too high for such cheap pleasures.

"I used to take tea there too", he said suddenly, to my surprise. "I used to enjoy their bajjis as well." There was a pause whilst I stared at him in disbelief. "That was before I upgraded to Café Coffee Day and McDonald's. I dunno how I could forget the taste of those delicious bajjis!"

I continued to be speechless.

He said, "Would you mind if I join you today evening?"

Thought for the day

You are born free, but everywhere your past lurks behind you and pops out from the most unlikely places at the least expected times.
You can't escape it.
You can only work on how to handle it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thought for the day

I am my Mother's past, and she is my future.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day Dreaming

What am I doing here?

This is a meeting room and a dozen people are seated. All are looking at a bespectacled man pointing out pie charts and bar diagrams from his well-researched presentation. They are nodding and asking questions.

I should be at home with my son. When I left home today, he ran and jumped to my arms as is his custom every day to say bye and plant a kiss. Then he says, "Mamma, take my nose to office with you, you can keep it while you work." And when I pretend to take it, he says, "No, no give my nose back to me". This is the routine every day. I take his nose and then give it back. Then I go to office.

I should be now curled up in bed with him, our bodies making a small c inside a larger C, my hand entwined around him, the way we both like, for an hour and a half, when he would suddenly sit up wide awake, saying "Mamma, It's time to get up!" and I would plead with him to let me sleep for another 5 minutes more, which he would royally refuse.

What use am I here, I am not even listening to what the man is rambling on about.

I could take him out for a walk, for cycling, come back and play tennis or basketball with him and then help him with his homework and yell at him for being naughty and squeal with laughter watching Tom and Jerry.

Now I will go back to my PC after this conference and then prepare documents and review some others and send mails upon mails to customers and then the day will be over and the sun would have set and my son would have had his sleep alone and would have played alone and would be at the window waiting for a glimpse of his Mother.

I should be at home now.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Colourless Days

Have you had days that are absolutely devoid of excitement, when there seems to be nothing to look forward to, and you suddenly wonder what it was that kept you going? Then as dusk falls, you trudge home thinking of a dry dinner, sleepless nights and deserted rooms ahead of you.

Then suddenly there is colour all around and spring has come way ahead of schedule.

And you wonder, why did I feel so desolate a little while ago?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day

The movie in HBO on Valentine's Day was Notting Hill. It took me back about five or six years. But the feeling was different, of course. So much has changed for me in the last few years. The best part of the movie (still unchanged) was Ronan Keating's song.

You say it best, when you say nothin' at all

I haven't heard a Ronan Keating song in the last ...several years. Perhaps none after When you say nothin' at all. Has he disappeared into obscurity? Or have I been listening to a different genre of songs?

It's time I dusted out my old mp3 CD collections and gave them an ear. Or two.

Young and Old

They who wish to be left alone in their youth dread being alone in their old age.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bye Bye Winter

"Winter is on the way out", said a colleague, eying my t-shirt that served as a sweater as well.

"Is it?" I said.

It certainly is a pity and it is true, winter is on the way out, it is mid-feb and spring is in the air all around us, and everyone thinks twice before reaching out for their woollen. But I certainly love clinging to the warm winter wear that was so much part of me for the past four months.

This year winter just crash landed on us with Diwali. I guess every year it happens thus and Diwali is the indicator for the season to change lanes. I was away for a couple of days during the holidays, visiting the warmer zones of the world like Chennai. When I returned home, it was already freezing cold - well, almost. I remembered then I had not pulled out my sweaters and blankets out of the deepest, darkest corners of the house and aired them for use.

Winter in Bangalore was not confined to three or four months a year, as is elsewhere. Till a few years ago, the only summer Bangalore knew was when the sun peeps out from the sky during the months of March to May, making the temperature mildly warm enough so that people did not wear thick woollens during the day. In short, the season was the coolest summer I had ever encountered.

Sadly enough, the situation is not the same now. What with the increasing traffic and global warming and what not, even the coldest winter has sunshine that makes you want to throw your woollens to the farthest confines of the universe before pulling them back in affectionately when the dusk falls. The climate reminds one of the desert. Hottest in the daytime and coldest at night. And wind that chills your bones.
And summer is dry and hottttt.

The last week of January this year was suddenly warm, it led me to deplore that winter is over early. However a week later, temperature dipped again to my comfort. When I lamented that winter seems to be over so early to my friend, she said, "Haven't you had enough of winter? Three months of winter isn't good enough for you?"
I had forgotten that she had breathing trouble whenever winter falls in Bangalore. That is one of the saddest part of life in Bangalore. Every other person seems to be suffering from wheezing. Another friend who has been struggling with asthma for several years says, "I love summers!"

A doctor once mentioned to me, "The climate in Bangalore is of an allergic nature. When you travel in train towards Bangalore you will know exactly when the border is crossed, because all around you everyone will start sneezing and coughing."

I love Bangalore, nevertheless. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in winter - or at any other time!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

V-day special in Bangalore

Cannot pass the day by without mentioning the debacle of Mr Muthalik and the Pink Chaddi campaign.

If it is time pass you are looking for, this is it!

Mr. Pramod Muthalik is quite 'famous' now. And thanks to him, so is Valentine's Day. Those who had never heard of V-day and its importance, have been educated on it in the last two weeks owing to the attention that the Sri Rama Sene has been giving to it.

As if the country didn't have anything to worry about. Is it attention you are seeking, Mr Muthalik??

Friday, February 13, 2009

In and Out

As long as I am part of the process, I would struggle and suffer and bear without a whine escaping my lips, the pressure I am thrown under, the mud that is flung at me and the absolute disinterest of the fellow beings that I am assigned to help. The moment I am out of it, I would be free to discredit and despise and belittle the process of which I was a part till a short while ago.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thought for the day

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.”

- John Burroughs

Monday, February 9, 2009


Relook - is there such a word?
I checked. There isn't.
But from popular usage if words are born, then such a word is now born in Bangalore. The meaning is to "look again" or "revisit" or "re-verify".

A vast majority of people use sentences like these:
"I will relook into it."
"Could you please relook and update me?"

When I googled "relook", all the sites that came up were Indian.

Does that provide a clue?

The wonder world of Animation

Animation movies have always been one of my weaknesses. Perhaps one of the first to capture my fascination was Walt disney's Jungle Book. Then came Walt Disney's Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Growing up years perhaps put animation movies to the back seat but suddenly they were brought back into the limelight by The Lion King. I must have watched it about three times in the theatre the year it was released. A friend whom I had invited to go for The Lion King said, "Isn't it a cartoon movie? Aren't such movies for kids?"

I was shocked, to say the least. I tried convincing her to see it once, to change her opinion, but she did not give in. Perhaps now, being older and having watched it with her two children, she might have been enlightened.

The latest favourites of mine include Cars, Finding Nemo, Madagascar, Ice Age and Ice Age2 - The Meltdown. I might have watched them close to a hundred times with my son and the dialogues are now by heart.

I do not think cartoon movies are just for kids. In fact about 80% of an animation movie is for adults. Only an adult can truly appreciate the talent and the effort and the technology that went behind the brilliant two-hour presentation. Only an adult can see the perfect lip movements that the characters make when they speak and wonder how it is done. Only an adult can understand the deep jokes and references that each of the characters present, and notice at each screening, a scene that was missed the last time. Only an adult can love Sid and the herd he made(Ice Age), Dory with her short term memory loss (Finding Nemo), Pumba and Timone and their motto of Hakuna Matata (The Lion King) or Mater who is the world's best backwards driver(Cars), to name a few. A child would only be able to laugh at the tumbling and the rolling, and be a little scared when the main protagonist gets into trouble.

Need to mention that I have not caught Madagascar2-Escape to Africa yet, and am eagerly waiting to.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Under scanner

The Net used to be a very safe and anonymous place where one can just wander around, explore and never worry about who knows where you go. You chuckle to yourself and visit a forbidden page and follow sites of your interest and then clean out the history, and rub your hands in pleasure, thinking, Ha-ha, I just wandered the darkest alleys and no one knew about it.

But no longer.

The moment you hit a website, you are marked in their analyzer. Aaaha! Here comes one from Bangalore. Oho, coming from and that is what is being read. Oh, so the Bangalorean is interested in books, huh? Stays ten minutes in that page, skips over the other pages and then goes to the link on the right frame, on more books. A week later, there the Bangalorean is, again. Come back for more.
Here is another from Mumbai, came from google, and the keyword being searched for was something-or-the-other. I see! So that's what they want.

The Internet is everywhere. And you can connect from everywhere - your laptop, PC, mobile phone,... Everyone who is someone is connected to the Net seeking, giving, sharing.

But someone is watching!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tension isn't bad!

Much of my life the concept has been drilled into me that Tension is a sign of weakness.

"Why are you tensed?"
"I am not tensed, of course!"

Everyone goes to any length to deny that they are in tension. If their child is sick, their exam results are expected, the wife is in labour room, ... oh no, there is no tension, of course.

A number of years ago, I too used to be deeply offended if anyone accused me of being 'tensed' over something, and would deny it in all ways possible. It took me a while to realise that tension is the mind's mechanism to get me up on my two firm feet and get me to do something effective, to handle the situation that caused tension, and is not a weakness of the mind.

Have you seen babies screaming in fury when they start crawling? When they try to do it but can't, they scream and push with all their might, their nose to the ground. It is a sign of perseverance - that I won't give up. There is an urge within them to crawl, put in all their might and do it, it is this urge that drives them.

One needs this urge, the drive, to achieve something in life.

When you are tensed, be aware that you are tensed. Take a deep breath and think how you can make yourself at ease.

To be tensed and do nothing is definitely a weakness. To be tensed and tide over a situation definitely is the greatest triumph.

So why be afraid to acknowledge tension?
If you are tensed, acknowledge it, and don't be tensed about it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

All time favourites - quotes

Lord of the Rings:
"I wish the ring had never come to me... I wish none of this had happened." (Frodo)
"So do I. And so do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." (Gandalf)

Rocky Balboa:
"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!"

"Might as well be frank, monsieur. It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles. "

"I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."

Tech savy!

You know you are tech-savy when you
- reach for your access card as you approach a door
- long for Ctrl+F when searching for an article in the newspaper or a name in a book
- look at the bottom right of the television set to know the time
- think of a long lost, half-forgotten old Lata Mangeshkar song and decide to google on it
- use terms like googling, copy-paste, upload/download, networking, offline, chat, Net, browse,... in everyday life
- leave the hands-free dangling from your ears at all times, except when taking a bath
- feel as if a limb is cut off, when your mobile phone is not around
- every now and then, peer at the mobile to see if any SMS is received
- absolutely cannot remember an event unless you set a reminder or alarm in your mobile
- wonder how you remembered phone numbers by heart ten years ago, now you need to extract them from your mobile phone
- feel that nothing worse could happen in life, if the data from your mobile is lost before a backup is taken

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Continued from Ayn Rand and her philosophy

Came across this interesting review when I was googling around the world about Ayn Rand's "Anthem".
Though it seems mind-boggling to reconcile between the extremities of thoughts, between Ayn Rand's advocated selfishness and the Buddhist selfless tranquility, there should be enough middle ground for soul-searching?

Anthem, as the author herself has admitted, was a rough sketch before the masterpiece of The Fountainhead, the distracting canvas when she was overwhelmed with the enormity of the theme she was developing. It is a small novella that hardly covers 30-40 pages but forcibly portrays the world that has repressed the "I" under the collective "We".

"None of us is as right as all of us". - Broadly the idea of Collectivism

I haven't read George Orwell's 1984 yet. But would certainly like to get hold of it. The name was tossed around several times across blogs during the US elections, by those who supported Obama. In the above mentioned review the comparison is drawn between Ayn Rand's philosophy and Orwell's book.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Of Slumdogs and Tigers

Much has been said and written and debated on Slumdog Millionaire. The phenomenon that brought Indian names to the global circuit and gave Hollywood a run for their money (or so they claim!). That left western minds apparently pondering on "Jai Ho" and "A R Rahman" and the slums of India. I haven't seen the movie myself but did hear a great deal of comments for and against it. A colleague said the story is quite interesting, and the movie well-made. But Mr Arindam Chaudhuri has a different opinion.

The Booker winner, The White Tiger (Arvind Adiga), is a similar topic in question. Not many who pounced on it as soon as the Award was announced, gave me a positive opinion on it. None did, in fact. It pays to note that all the readers who gave me their valuable opinion were all Indians. (The reviews I read on the Net were also not too favourable.) "That's not the real India!", they scream. "The books that sell in the Western World are those that portray India in the meanest light."

The same was said by many, for the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" too.

It is possible that the movie would not have been noticed abroad had it not been directed by Danny Boyle. It is possible that no one in India would have given any importance to the dirtiest slums and the vilest people shown in the movie, had it been directed by an Indian. So why the hype and the hoopla? If the movie does land an Oscar, as an Indian I would be certainly in the foggiest confusion as to whether to rejoice for Anil Kapoor and AR Rahman and the rest of my country-men-and-women who were involved in the making of the movie, or to deplore the state our country has been reduced to in the eyes of the World.

Hmm. Makes one wonder what the movie is all about and start looking around for the nearest theatre that plays it.