Monday, December 31, 2007

Infinitesimally small

Please click this youtube link. Check that small documentary. Think for a second. Does this make you feel too small? Very very small? Infinitesimally small?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Of Ticket Checkers, Make up and Bears

The Make up lady:

Why does it bother me?

There's this women who takes the 8:30 metra (Suburban rail) that i take. Now just to clarify right away, i don't keep observing women on my train. But this woman is different. The moment she takes the seat she starts doing her make up. She has a huge make up kit (proportionate to her huge self being). Also she is clearly over the hill and must be in her late 40s if not early 50s.

Apparently her vanity box is "full of it". Like her.

It takes me around 35 minutes to reach downtown. For that entire period, i repeat, entire period, she is busy "making her self" up. To be fair to her, she minds her own business, like everyone else. She is not a chatter box or something. Yet her demeanor bothers me. Her constant and relentless "making up" bothers me. I just want to tell her "STOP IT" !!!! Please STOP IT.

While on the train I usually open my laptop and either write some crap (like this) or just check my emails. But once in a while when i look around, more often than not, i catch this women painting her face away to glory. Now there are others ladies too who "make up" (no pun intended) in the train. But this women is different. She is passionate about her make up. She just "rubs it in" (pun totally intended) continuously.

And i know i should not be bothered by this and mind my own freaking business. But it still does bother me.

The Ticket Checkers:

All Ticket checkers have different styles. Metra has two tiers ( double decker train); the bottom level has more seats. The upper level is mostly a single line of seats. Some ticket checkers check the bottom level first and make a come back to check the upper level. While some TC's simply check both levels at same time as they move between the aisles.

Now if you are reading a newspaper or are sitting on your laptop it's hard to judge when your ticket will be checked. So you keep waiting depending on the TC. Not that it affects anything as you are already royally seated. Yet you got to be alert as you don't want poor chap to come near you and ask for ticket. Most people just plug their passes in the slot of the seat and get on with reading or whatever they are doing and the TC just swoops past them observing the passes. Some people though, stop his normal flow by taking a ticket on the train itself. Thats a serious NO-NO for TC and i have seen them upset. But it's their job.

People :

During weekdays it's 99% office going crowd. All professionals. Well dressed and uptight. There's generally no verbal communication. Everyone is either reading newspaper or doing office work. Some are doing their "make up" as mentioned earlier. But it's very quiet. During weekends its totally different. There are large families and groups with children who raise quite a cacophony. Weekends on train you want to stay away from families with too many kids. They would usually be throwing things around or just plain screaming.
I have been traveling on this line (the NorthWest line as it's called) for last 2 years. Many faces have become familiar now. Also TC's. Their faces are known. But i have not made many friends on this train line. It's very typical here. People acknowledge each other but keep a distance. We don't become train buddies. Of course if it's some one from your work place who happens to sit next to you then it's a different scene.

Cell Phones:

Call it a Murphy's law- but anytime you on the phone during the travel, invariably there are tons of announcements. Either about safety or about asking patrons to take ticket from the station instead of taking it inside or some sundry message. It ensures difficulty to talk and listen. These messages are broad casted by the Ticket Checkers themselves. Of course there the automated ones as well adding more to the irritation. Some TCs are over enthusiastic or plain simple sadists. They probably do not like people talking on cell in train and make sure their lives become difficult for some time at least by constant announcements / messages.

Beers and Bears:

You can take food and beer on the train. We occasionally see boisterous Bears or Cubs fans on the train. This season Bears has done miserably in NFL. They won't be making to the playoffs. Last season they were the runners up and NFC champions. So this time trains won't be full with people coming over from the Soldier fields.
In Chicago people actually enjoy drinking beer during the winters. That's a strange combination. Winters and Beer. But so be it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Madhuri's Day out

I haven't still given up on Bollywood movies. I still go out to see the odd Dhooms and Swadeses. Although i see Bollywood movies few and far (in the theater i mean), last weekend was special. Both me and my wife are Madhuri Dixit fans. We belong to a generation that has seen Madam Dixit in her prime; when she had a spell over the masses and to some extent the classes. (Although the snooty classes won't agree to liking the Ghati, Dadar babe)

Point is she was the reigning queen of bollywood who royally displaced Sridevi from the pedestal and held her own against so called competition for quite a while. This was long before Manish-Malhotra-Ritu-Beri tailor-made cosmetic and plastic model-actresses, became a bollywood norm. Madhuri ruled Bollywood when Bollywood was still an un-professional messy self (Some will argue it still is).

It is ironical that even though i claim to be a Madhuri fan i actually disliked two of her greatest hits - "Hum aapke..." and "Dil to pagal hai". In fact i could not sit through both these movies. "Hum aapke.." i saw only 10 years too late.

So i am not sure what Madhuri movie really struck the chord for me. I will leave it for later and not bother figuring out now. I am not a great fan of dancer-actresses either. And that Mrs Nene has dance all over her resume and yet she appeals me is strange. She was the worst dressed women in the industry during that time as far as i remember reading. And with a little ghati accent some might say she wasn't the most polished of 'em all.

So let's regroup - We are talking of the worst dressed women, non-polished,non-north indian (meaning non-Kapoor,Oberoi,Khanna etc), supposedly good dancer, whose biggest hits i considered embarrassment to my common sense? Am I for real? How could I even like her, leave aside being a fan !!!

What appealed to me probably and to most others i guess was, what i would call the "Dil Se" factor. Dixit had that. Dixit did everything "Dil Se", because of the honesty she had to her self. You can easily make out a fake from a real. And that "Dil Se" thingy i have never seen in lets say an Aishwarya Rai or a Sushmita Sen. If left to herself she could lighten the entire stadium. Her expressions came from inside. She did not hold her self back. She just "DID IT".
And that probably what appealed to most people. Her total commitment to her moment. Whatever moment she chose. Whether to make titillatingly silly expressions while dancing or just appealing to the saas bahu audience of "Hum Aap ke..." She did everything "Dil Se".

And last weekend i went to see Aaja Nachle to find if she still "had it" in her. I did not go to see and analyze if this could be her comeback. Frankly I don't believe "come back" is even a valid notion. Barring Dimple Kapadia i am not sure if we have seen come backs as such. And who is she going to compete with? Aishwarya Rai? Zinta and Ranis of this world? I thought she was one or two generations ahead.Doesn't make sense. I don't think she was even looking to do that.

Meaningful cinema was never Bollywood’s forte. One can argue that since Dixit has already achieved a lot and is way beyond competition and rat race she should have selected a role of “substance”. That's a fair comment. And it’s not that she has not done such efforts earlier. But where is the motivation to do such stuff at least in India? She (from what it seems) was going to come to India, shoot some frames and go back to her cozy life in the Americas.

Point is, she would have to wait for another decade to have that meaty role come her way. That’s how sad Bollywood’s scene is. You got to face the reality.
And “Nachle” wasn’t all that unreal, looking at the abysmal standards of “reality” set by Bollywood, it was as believable as say a Bunty-Babli.

Dixit had fun.And that’s what she came for. And that’s what came out on the screen too. Dance, sing and have fun and take a sabbatical from her homemaker routine. It almost feels like the Chopra camp and Dixit got together and came up with this fun/picnic idea. If along the way they could ask her loyal fans to join her, all the better.
Madhuri surely loves dancing and singing and going over-the-top on the stage performance. And Aditya Chopra provided her with that perfect platform in Nachle.I guess we can grant her that after all the years. She has a right to her own fun without caring for box-office outcome. I am of the view that since her aim was not to make a comeback and make a “Mother India” it’s only fair that she does the way she enjoys.
And I think we all enjoyed. All - as in all those who were sitting in that deserted theater. No one left the movie half way or even before the end. Till the last credits were shown people were still waiting. Considering the kind of movies fished out these days that was quite an achievement. For Madhuri fans that was good enough.

In the end it was Madhuri’s day out. And I’ll tell you what – at least one fan wasn’t complaining.

P.S : Another review from Outlook