Thursday, August 27, 2009


There's a simple Marathi term called - Yog. I don't have a good English equivalent of this word; but I find it neat. It is basically used to define 'opportune time' or 'right time'. As in the time is ripe for such and such thing.

I like it because it encompasses a lot in those 3 letters.

Things happen when the time is right. Or it's time for it to happen. So no point forcing or trying to create or manufacture a situation to 'get it'.

Let me add some context to this bull shit I am doing here.

Me and my wife have been planning a Europe trip for sometime. But every now and then something comes up and we are unable to execute the plan. (I should note that my wife is more keen than me to go to Europe)

I have tried to rationalize this using the term Yog. I have been telling her that when we have the Yog of going to Europe we will. But for now lets enjoy where we are.

And she's been cool about it. We have enjoyed all our vacations in US. From the Hawaiis to the Key Wests and the Montanas, they have been great personal explorations and discoveries. And have been worth our dime.

One of the places I am very keen to go in the US is Alaska. Let's see when the Yog comes.

I stumbled upon a book called '1000 must visit places on Earth' (or something of that order). And let me be honest. I am not infinitely enamored by all the hype that surrounds these tourist places. For me the important thing is, I should feel refreshed after a vacation. Then it doesn't matter if it's Mt. Macha Pichu or our good old Lake Geneva 60 miles north.

Vacation = Mind set. If I can get in good mood, enjoy a couple of beers, engage into something refreshing and/or just simply relax, I am good.

So coming back to Europe, may be we are keeping the best for the last. Our Yog of going to Europe will come in a way when the time is best to enjoy it most, I guess.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wither BJP

Whats happening with BJP is slightly disappointing for me but not entirely surprising. After all nothing fails like failure.

BJP is in a tail spin after the Jaswant Singh episode. And Arun Shourie's latest interview, to NDTV is most depressing to say the least. I have had highest regards for Mr.Shourie and his work. But his outburst and that too to a channel like NDTV (which has a glee all over) is shocking.

Nevertheless, with BJP down and possibly out, Sonia madams monarchy has no serious challengers and is all set for a long haul. Monarchy is strong and kicking. Not that it had any serious challenge anyways, with national media firmly behind it all along.

It's sad for democracy in general that an alternative pole is diminished into irrelevance. And one party rule, with monopolistic mind-set at that, can only spell trouble.

Anyways, Indians are getting what they voted for. So no point ranting.. (this last note is for me).

Disappointing nevertheless.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


My wife recently went to a classical music gathering. She was invited by her friend who was part of the musical group. It was a small gathering and some "Guru" from Pune was on a tour to the US. She sat through about 3 hours of that program, listening to songs but mostly observing how deeply involved all the 'jaankar' public there was.

I have seen and known these people (there are some in my extended family). They are extremely committed folks. It's like it's their faith. Their mission. They are purists. For people who 'understand' music and sur and taal etc (and hence are jaankar of that subject), Classical is *the* real deal. Rest all is, well.. crap.

Since I don't pretend to understand Music and Art to any intellectual level, I give these invites a pass in general. Being a lesser mortal I fall back on good old Hindi movie songs, that I have got accustomed over many years.

If Music as an art is hard to get, there should be some agent who can create Music that is easier to get along for the non-purists (or masses if you will).

That brings me to Pancham a.k.a R.D Burman.

The state of West Bengal has given us an awesome battery of stalwarts over the years in the field of Arts/Music/Cinema. But Pancham happens to be my favorite Bengali. He was the King. He connected to every layer, to every stratum, to masses and classes alike, with equal ease.

Right from Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahi to 1942, A Love Story (which I thought was below par compared to his own work), no other music director and his music has caught nation's imagination to such an extent.

70s and 80s was his golden era of course.It was when he created his magic. My personal RD favorites are the ones he created with Gulzar. RD and Gulzar individually were super brilliant, but together they were compelling.

An Intoxication called Gulzar

Pancham not only transcended age, he transcended generations. No wonder all these copy cat remixes we get to hear these days have their roots in RD's songs. (Speaks volumes of his 'scalable' music)

He was a 'kalakar' to the core, so to speak. The man had such a massive talent ingrained in his DNA, he probably never bothered to game the system. Which is why, he was sort of a Fakir. And this Fakir created probably India's best music till date.

I mean, the song from Khoobsoorat - "Piya Bawari.." is an intoxicating fusion of classical and contemporary. He easily re-packaged a classical theme into a more digestible and easy to go along, simple presentation. Or the great use of folk-instruments in "Raha pe rehete hai.." from Namkeen which was nothing short of brilliant.

Music is an art form. And R.D Burman was it's proponent. And in many ways, he helped, lump of masses, help appreciate the beauty of this art form. And there in lies his genius.

There's a song in the movie Parinda - "Pyar ke mode pe..". Observe how the sound of flute and Asha Bhonsale's voice camouflages, so much so that it's hard to figure where the flute begins and where Bhonsale ends. Asha Bhonsale should be credited for bringing a mesmerizing effect to it, but there's no denying Pancham's genius in setting it up. Singularly brilliant..

Of all the pop culture icons of India of any generation, for me Rahul Dev Burman stands out as the greatest. I know the Gen-X and A.R Rahmans of the world have won Oscars and what not. And no one's taking away anything from their greatness. But for me, a kid from 80s, Pancham Da was real deal.

He was... the Badshah.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

End of NRIism

Swapan Das Gupta is brilliant or what? I mean there's a reason this guy is head and shoulders above the NDTV / IBN live TV columnists.

Himself an NRI at some stage of his life, (studied and lived in London for few years), he captures the current state of NRIs with compelling ease.
Until the early 1990s, India was home to a middle-class that lived in a state of permanent deprivation. However much we loved our country and waved the flag on the few occasions India won a Test match, our Third World status confronted us incessantly. Although life was never as unbearable as in the Communist bloc, we lacked those little luxuries that make drudgery bearable.
'we lacked those little luxuries that make drudgery bearable.'.. How very true!
To the NRI confronted with a precarious descent into obscurity, there is only a small solace: interventions on the net.
One word. FANTASTIC.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weekend Tweets

@ This article in New York Times says - "Its cool to have a pot belly". That's an emerging trend it seems. And moi is got thinking..'there's hope for halals like me'. Good bye Gym; Good evening Beer/Wings.

@ We are looking to move from our current location. And the debate continues. Suburbia or not? My Desi Khoon wants best of all worlds.

@ On SRK's airport fiasco in Newark, Salman Khan says "good that the country has such a tight set-up. And that ``there has been no attack after 9/11 because of this.’’ Link

@ Planning to watch Kaminey on Tuesday at the theatre next door. I can be accused of some Desi-giri, as Tuesday's have 5$ shows :)

@ I need a hair cut and the new Italian guy I found in the downtown where I have been going for last few times is acting pricey. He suddenly jacked up his charges by a whopping 50% in one go.. Looks like the tiger has tasted blood; the dude who recommended me to him, also recommended a bunch of folks from my office..

@ Obama it seems, got emotional and all during a Town Hall operation. That's a little unbecoming of a Pres. Hope he gets a grip soon..

@ Was searching for some old funny movie clips on Youtube and came across this one. 'Bhairon becomes Bairan and Bairan becomes Bhairon, because their minds are very narrow'. Amazing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Galli Cricket

Gili ki Suki, was gross. But that was one of the expected norms for toss up.Apart from the toss, Galli Cricket redefined many a cricketing terms. Some of them not even part of regular First Class Cricket.

For example one tip, one hand. Or "only off-side" rules. Or "current" out.

A game of Galli cricket usually evolved over a period of many cricketing sessions. It crystallized it's rules and contours based on what neighbor was a pain-in-the-butt (and hence hitting the ball directly in their compound was out), what side of the road had higher probability of traffic nuisance (as if traffic was a nuisance and not the actual game being played on public property), what side of the arena had more bushes/trees..

But once the rules got defined and refined, the show was on. It use to go into dark hours of twilight, in diminishing lights, until the symphony was broken by a shouting Mom of one of the 'studious' players. (That player would not be from S.F.S)

One of the other reasons for an unceremonious end of the game would be a broken window of a not-so-sporting neighbor. A khadoos and in all likely hood, a bald oldie, would stop the game by his ruckus over a broken window. So much so that by the time he came out of his house, shouting, the only concrete evidence of someone playing cricket was the small tower of red bricks which masqueraded as a wicket. Coz all the players would have vanished from the scene of trouble faster than my 401k's gains ..and those bricks would be standing tall and only helping in making the guy's face go red like them.

As kids grew into college going 'young adults', Galli Cricket also became an excuse for some bizarre activities. Like making an impression on neighborhood 'flames'. Some over enthusiastic fielder in the sleeps (yeah, we use to have sleep position too..go figure) would make a seemingly simple looking catch into a Jonty Rodesque diving acrobatic stunt just to impress 'her'. She wouldn't even notice, but no one was blaming this 'impresario' for trying too hard. His many fake dives for a simple catch would not even invite a nod or a hello after several weeks. In most cases, the flame wouldn't even know the guyz existence. These stories would begin and die on the cricketing field itself.

Although there was lowest common denominator ground rules for all Galli Cricket, some of them got tweaked from neighborhood to neighborhood or even cities.

For example when I use to play in Mumbai with my cousins on vacations, they played Galli Cricket with a different set of rules. (Being Bombay, they called it 'Box Cricket'). The kids there were extremely conscious of space limitations, and that notion had got hard-wired into them. So much so that when we played cricket on Versova Beach near my aunt's house, we would even make a boundary line and play box cricket although there was no compelling reason to 'box' it.

When I visited India last year, I found Galli Cricket was conspicuous by it's absence. Probably Cable TV/ Pool Tables / Competitive exams.. or a combination of these factors all have conspired to replace my dear Galli Cricket off the slate.

Long before T20 became the cool poster child of cricket, 80s school kids, had already identified a fast paced, intense, easy to consume , fast-food cricket. It was Galli Cricket. And boy did we enjoy it! Right from the toss, to the controversial run-outs and nics, to touching of bats when the non-striker and striker swap positions, to contributing 25 paise for one MRF ball, to deciding the batting line up based on who bowled first, to arranging "matches" with 'next Galli' folks and signing off on a notebook, declaring a win or a loss.... every game ensured an intense drama of cricketainment.

P.S : Not to blow my own trumpet, but I did have a lethal doosra in under-arm spin :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

'Split India'

Right. That's what this Chinese 'strategist' says.

While I am not surprised by the idea of a Chinese wanting India's demolition, I am definitely surprised by the tone and language of this article. It is blatant, upfront and smacks of arrogance all over.For example..
"China in its own interest and the progress of Asia, should join forces with different nationalities like the Assamese, Tamils, and Kashmiris and support the latter in establishing independent nation-States of their own, out of India. "
.."It has pointed out that China can give political support to Bangladesh enabling the latter to encourage ethnic Bengalis in India to get rid of Indian control and unite with Bangladesh as one Bengali nation; if the same is not possible, creation of at least another free Bengali nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh, would be desirable"
Chinese designs are already well known in certain quarters. Their encircling India strategy has worked wonders so far, for them. If only the fools in New Delhi, at helm of country's affairs knew better.

But who am I kidding? Preaching to the choir never works, does it?

The Delhiwala babus are still soaked in the Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai fantasy fairy tale.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday pop tarts

@ Have a sore finger from playing volleyball at company picnic. But can type; Which is a pre-requisite for any job in 21st century I guess.

@ Looking to watch some old mindless Govinda Movies. They are available on Netflix. They can be a good break from monotony of heavy/intense movies.

@ Not sure what's the criteria for "Cash For Clunkers". My wife's Accord gives a mileage of less than 19 gallons. So it *is* a gas guzzler after all.Could have been a good candidate.

@ I am so NOT following all this health care fuss. I am completely checked-out from National news here. Don't have the stomach. My only source of current affairs is the NPR radio, I listen to while driving to and from Metra Station. That is all of 20 mins.

@ 'S' sent 2 pictures from the Alumni get-together in India. Boy!, people have grown pouch. We are now officially into the "Uncle" zone.(Moi included)

@ Chicago is expected to hit mid-90s tomorrow. It became a 'talking point' on Lunch@Work. Simply coz Chicagoans can't handle HEAT.

@ Just remembered, Summer is called "Dhoop-Kala" in Nagpur. And so far I have enjoyed my "Dhoop Kala" in Chicago. (What an awesome term!)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Disconnect

Since a new Desi Theatre has come next door, I thought it was our moral obligation to watch a bollywood flick. And we did. Last weekend we chose in our wisdom, to watch a movie called Love Aaj Kal.. (Until yesterday I was calling it Love Aaj Tak, before my wife corrected me...)

The more movies I watch the more I feel disconnected with India. OK. Let me paraphrase this. The more new movies I watch the more I feel disconnected with new Generation India.

A simple explanation would be, "I am getting old and this is natural". But I think if I peel the layers, this is beyond me getting old (which is a fact of life anyways).

I have no beef against "romantic" movies in general. I think they are just fine; although given a choice between Comedy/Action and Romance, I won't sweat too much. It's a no-brainer. No it's not the lovey-dovey chic flicks I am against. I am against this whole, new thing of "trying to be cool" stuff.

Actually "trying too hard to be cool" stuff. Being cool should come natural. You should not have to make an effort to be cool, if that's your ultimate aim in life anyways. And that's where this excuse to a movie-making, Love Aaj Tak falters for me. It tries too hard to be super cool.

Only it doesn't. It's all over the place. Trying to cling on to "traditions" by having an over doze of Punjabiyat in the movie.. (Imtiaz Ali is one movie short of beating the Chopra camp now). And at the same time showing two NRIs of the Internet Generation trying to have a long distance relationship.

It's an interesting subject actually.. and very contemporary. Can connect to young demography. But....

Anywho... so looks like it will be a while before I revisit the Desi Theatre next door. Even the samosas over there suck! Bad Desi Movie and bad Samosa. That's a loose-loose.

P.S : Sigh!..I am already missing those samosas in Alankar Cinema, Ambazari Road

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


- Hitting the sweet spot on your Golf swing and breaching 200 mark

- Making a smooth turn on a curve on a freeway ramp

- Using curse words chatting with your old friend

- Getting right that perfect 5ver on a Foosball

- Surprise at your bag being the first to roll off a Baggage Claim Carousel !!

- Wise crack gone wild ...

- Closing a deal

- Finding the right gift

- Finding the right words

- Shouting yourself hoarse after your team's win

- Rooting for someone

- Cracking a real bad joke and feeling good about it..

- Surprising "her" out of the the blue..

- Making Dal Tadka and getting it RIGHT

- An email from your high school friend you haven't spoken in zillion years

- Breaking traffic rules in Nagpur and "going with the flow"

- Reflecting and realizing... "It wasn't that bad after all :)"


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Harassed Husbands Club!!

This is hilariously WTF...
On Independence Day, a group of men will meet in Shimla and make a plan for "freedom" from "harassment" by their wives.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fair Call!

Atanu De makes a fair point.

"In 2008, Indian taxpayers paid around Rs 700 crores (US$140 million) for Muslims to travel to Saudi Arabia"
Yep. And we call ourselves "Secular" !


Mmm... trying to think what can be done with 700 Crores? Let's see.. Health Care, Education, Infrastructure...?

On the other hand.. don't even bother. Economically bleeding India and winning elections again and again is a time tested mantra for the current dispensation. And that has seldom failed.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reference points

Every generation has bucket of reference points. They may be in form of Movies or T.V series or Sports events or any other world events. Like for example, the Beijing Olypics was such a mammoth event for the Chinese of this generation, the kids there would always refer to it in some form even as they grow old. This Olympics would be their Reference Point forever.

Indians of my generation have a few. Like Asiad'82, 1983 WC, Bhopal Gas Leak... DD and it's sitcoms and of course those Ads.

Doordarshan or DD itself has become a Reference Point for many now. There are forums and Youtube videos talking of those DD series and Ads.

I have many ads that I still remember from the DD days. One of my favorite was.. 'Dhoodh Dhoodh Dhoodh..Dhoodh hai wonderful, pee Sakte hai roz glassful"

It was brilliant on multiple levels. So was Lalitaji of Surf but for very different reasons.

The Dhoodh ad probably made many kids in Indian middle class household.. go for it. It was a massive win for that ad. It glamorised the otherwise insipid, plain white Dhoodh. Like the Lalitaji ad did for middle class upwardly mobile baby boomers of 80s India, the Dhoodh ad hit the sweet spot with the kids demography of that generation.

If advertisements can be such a powerful medium for communicating positive messages I wonder if its power is being under utilized currently.

May be, may be not.

Here's a list of my favourite ads from the yore...(this is not ranking)

1. Dhoodh....
2. Amul
3. Garden Vareli
4. Rashtriya Saksharta Mission.....
5. Air India - (The one with Jagjit Singh song)
6. Tata Steel - ("We *also* make steel")
7. Vimal ....
8. Dunlop Tyres
9. Cadbury's Dairy Milk
10. Asian Paints

P.S : I know I have missed the 'Hamara Baja' ad in the list. It's intentional. I never liked it. It was overtly sentimental to the point of being pretentious. But as always, that's my view.