Monday, December 25, 2006

A Movie Year

As the year comes to an end, we often reflect back on what have been the specialties of the year gone. One of them, for me, has been the movies. Some excellent movies by Indian Film Industry and some Hollywood classics made this year truly memorable.
It started off with Rang De Basanti – which I would rate as the best Hindi movie I have ever seen. On similar lines was the very entertaining Lage raho Munna Bhai. If Munna Bhai MBBS made the word “bole to” and “jaadu ki jhappi” popular, it was “gandhigiri” this time around.
In the second half of the year, it was a series of literally different movies which I experienced. It started with Yun hota to kya hota which, unlike many, I enjoyed a lot. Then there was Pyar ke Side effects followed by the humourous Khosla ka Ghosla. This movie potrayed the real meaning of humour – based purely on situational comedy – it made me a real fan of Anupam Kher.
In addition to the Hindi movies, I also experienced a few English classics.
The first was Shawshank Redemption – an amazing movie – probably the best English movie I have seen. (2 of the bests of Hindi and English in one year!!) And more recently I have seen Schindler’s List, Million Dollar baby, Boys Don’t cry, Finding Neverland, Fight Club, Memento, Cinderella man.
Among this list I would say Schindler’s List was at the top. Simply amazing ‘true’ movie about a person who gave everything he had to save1100 lives during WW II. 1100 lives – think about it. The people who show bravery to save 1 life get a medal from president on 26th January and that person saved more than thousand. An amazing movie about an amazing person – I guess the best Steven Spielberg would have directed.
Fight Club – a Hindi movie of the same name was also made this year. After seeing that you want to kill the person who kept that name. The original one is a classic ranked 32 among the top 250 movies of all times. And I guess the Hindi fight club must rank 32 – from the bottom.
Memento is difficult to understand first time. It moves backward. Which means the last scene of the story is the first. And from there it moves backward. That is what you call really different movie.
With movies like Sin City, The Pianist, Hotel Rwanda, Reservoir Dogs, Confessions of a Dangerous mind lined up on my hard disk, I guess the year would end on a high as far as Movies are concerned.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Time Flies...

It was a weekend dedicated to cars. From Tokyo Drift to Gone in 60 Seconds(I hadn’t seen both of these) to NFS Most wanted. It was a strange feeling carrying my laptop to my cousin’s place. It was only a couple of years ago when I used to take my hard disk to their place to give them the latest songs, software, movies etc (of which my college hostel was one of the greatest source).
And this week end I again went to them, this time it was my turn to be the recipient and get some movies and games from them which incidentally are coming from the same hostel rooms, from which it used to come some years ago. It was an experience of coming far away in time. Something which we couldn’t have thought happening some years ago. Desktops and hanging hard disks replaced by sleek laptops and miniscule pen drives. There was a time when one of we five cousins would sit on my Pentium 1, playing PC-MAN, others shouting and cheering away. Yesterday, we connected our lappies with a LAN wire and slammed our cars against each other while racing for the top spot. It was a time to realize that times sure have changed. But one thing, which I guess has not. Having not played NFS for past 2 years, I thought I had gotten over it. But, when it is there on your comp, it is still very difficult to start your computer and resist the Need for Speed. So whereas on one hand I had the feeling of being carried away in time, NFS sort of balanced it out by taking back to the old times.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Celebrations @ Infy

It was 25 year celebration time at Infy, Chandigarh. The celebrations had started in a grand way at Mysore. And they have moved on across all DC’s. Chandigarh DC being a small DC, had been allocated a lesser budget.(May be even lesser than what we used to have in college annual functions). So where we had KK at Mysore, Shaan at Hyderabad, Sonu Nigam at Bangalore, it was lesser known Parikarma here. May be it was the main reason I and may be many others were not very excited about it. Still my friends and I were there on time to witness the celebrations. And it was a rare occasion where the Chief Guest, Mr. K. Dinesh, one of the founders of Infy, arrived before everybody else. It was real sad to see the event having been poorly organized. The stage was there only for the Parikarma. The other performers, who were instrumental in balancing the affect of poor organization, had to showcase themselves on the same ground level as audience. ‘Daris’ were put on at the last moment (in fact after the scheduled start time) and that too sporadically. I imagine, the performers, many of them who performed bare feet, must have had a real tough time in the freezing cold out there.
Another goof up happened, when the announcement was made about a Bhangra performance but the participants were no where to be seen. It was a goof up which can be a part of any big event such as these. But it brought forth a chink in the armor of the Anchors. The male anchor, seemingly poorly prepared was absolutely out of sorts and confused about what was happening all around. His female counterpart was, thankfully, a saving grace.
Things started improving once the performances started. The Bhangra which as the DC head also later pointed out is generally the last to be performed, rocked and made up for the awkward situation that had been created earlier. After the performances, it was time for some speeches by the DC Head and K. Dinesh. The small crowd was not interested in the stuff that was being said but Mr. Dinesh showed why he is there at the head of a colossal company. In few minutes he was able to catch the attention of the audience with his captivating stories which he and his colleagues had experienced on the journey to make Infy where it is now.
Parikarma followed after that to a rousing welcome but I guess they didn’t had the appeal to keep the audience in front of them. They belong to a particular genre of music that is rock and I guess that didn’t match with the taste of majority of the audience. We just had the appetite for 2 songs after which we went inside the food court to satisfy our other appetite. The food I must say was excellent, though we enjoyed it more because we were the first ones to start. The ones coming later had to stand in long queues which incidentally have become a standard in Infosys. The bad start was brightly and colorfully compensated at the end of the show. As all of us were heading were heading to our vehicles, the street lights suddenly went off and there was an extended display of fireworks lighting up the night sky – thus ending a rather average day with a feel good factor.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bandh: is it a solution?

West Bengal is in news for some days now. Everyday the major news on every news channel involves happenings in the state. First it was Singur for which Mamta Banerjee, who I according to me seems like always on the edge of losing sanity, is still on hunger strike. There was a huge fracas at the Bengal assembly. Furniture was broken all over and the whole assembly literally ransacked. Infact, the assembly was made open to the public for next two days to show how shamefully our appointed leaders behave. But I don’t think these half minds have even an iota of guilt on their conscience. But this incident was nothing to what took place today.
The whole of West Bengal and Kerela was closed in lieu of a bandh. The fact that the strike was initiated by the ruling party, resulted in a colossal effect. As a hindi saying goes, not even a leaf fluttered in the two states. Everything from shops, govt and private offices to trains and even airlines were left useless. OK. The strike made national headlines. It will be all over newspapers tomorrow.
But then what? Most of the unemployed and below poverty line people for whom the strike was meant for, may be didn’t even know what it was all about. They will be the first ones to forget the strike and get on with the struggles of their lives. But still it is good that leaders are concerned about the condition of the people which need attention. Strikes have always been an essential part of a protest and making a point. It was the major tool for getting independence. But the difference was that it had the whole hearted support of the whole nation. But now it is forced upon most of the people. To an average person like me, such bandhs give an impression of just gaining political mileage. How many times have we heard of such a strike being effective? Will some thing be done for the upliftment of poor people or unemployment? It is the same state govt which is not very enthusiastic about allowing IT companies and Outsourcing coming to them.
Then is not hypocrisy, what has happened today. The CPI leader was of the view that 1 such strike will not scare away the investors from the state. He may be correct. May be it will not deter the companies investing in the state but what about the people of the state – who were held ransom for a full day. No trains, no flights – the lives paralyzed. We don’t know how many families of the daily wagers had to sleep empty stomach. How many patients didn’t get timely medical attention? Business of crores of rupees was lost. And I am sure most of the people didn’t venture out – not in support of the strike but out of fear that they may be harmed. The way of protest loses its meaning when it has to be this way.
But how then should then the point be made to the government who is not listening?
Perhaps Raju Hirani can give the politicians some ideas of how to follow Gandhigiri in this case. May be, in today’s date, the CPI leaders giving roses to the Congress leaders outside the parliament will get an equal attention by the hungry media. This will save the country a lot of time and money and the people of the country will be spared a lot of inconvenience.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A visit to Mumbai

Sun Set at Chandigarh

It was a trip to the land of Sachin Tendulkar – Mumbai for me last week.
It was a rather tiring flight which delayed by 1.5 hours landed at 8.30 PM at the Chatrapati Shivaji international airport. As I came out, there was a sea of people, with names displayed in front of them, looking expectedly at a steady stream coming out of glass walls. Soon this stream will merge into this sea. It was tough experience, finding the person with my name on the paper. There were literally hundreds of them and it felt quite odd to go through each of them. And as my luck would have it, I found my name at the end of the row. The hotel I was putting up in had offered a free pickup and drop to the airport. But it seems the concept of outsourcing has penetrated deep into our society now. Many hotels had outsourced this pickup thing to an agency. So as I waited, 3 more customers were assembled, packed in a maruti van and we hit the roads of financial capital of India.
The driver seemed like a die hard fan of Michael Schumacher. But as I later realized over the next 3 – 4 days, he was not alone in Mumbai. The traffic sense is literally zero there. And yet surprisingly, I didn’t even see a vehicle touching another during my stay. I cannot help admire the driving capabilities of people. But seriously, mumbaikers need a lesson in driving sensibilities. I assume, whenever Sachin takes out his Ferrari, he would have to concentrate more than on a cricket field.
Some years ago when I had been on Mumbai (and Delhi on the way back), I had thought that Mumbai was where traffic flowed smoothly whereas in Delhi it was a chaos. But this view has reversed now (It may be the case that I had been to marine drive quite often during my last trip)
The morning I had to come back, there was a big breaking news on channels that there has been an intelligence report that there may be a terrorist threat on airports and security had been considerably beefed up specially at Delhi and Mumbai. Hence, I expected some hassles at airport. Just outside the security check, there was a board saying that items like toothpaste, deos, gels, creams etc should not be carried in the hand baggage. I contemplated removing the stuff from my bag. But then decided to keep them and see what the ‘beefed up’ security was like. Not surprisingly, I was cleared without any problem and I had almost all the things specified on the board. To add to it, I couldn’t find any indications of alertness to the threat. The policeman checking me was chatting away with his colleague while metal detecting me. Again, I can’t help compare the attitude of personal in similar positions at Delhi and even at a small airport like Chandigarh. They try to interact with you, get into some discussion and most of the times, try to get some info out of you. It must be part of the training as I don’t think so many policeman I have encountered are so outgoing type who like to get into conversations with strangers. One more thing at the airport, the Public Address system was rather poor. You couldn’t get at all what was being said. Though there were plenty of visual translations available but the PA system is a basic foundation of a railway station/airport. Even if some important announcement has to be done, it would be useless there.
Well, I guess mumbaikers would be vying for my blood after they read this piece which is all about negative aspects of the city. But it’s only a translation of my experiences this time. Had I been writing a blog some years ago, when I last came here, there would have been a post on why I loved Mumbai.

Monday, December 04, 2006

How does this happen?

I don’t know it is me only or it happens with many people.
When you ‘plan’ and tell a lie, that lie unbelievably comes true.
An incident a few days back triggered this post. And I have experienced it many times but I can’t recall them. Some of the incidents I remember are:

1. The most recent one: I had ordered a Dell laptop Online. But due to some misunderstanding between Dell and my bank, the order was delayed to be sent into production. The salesman said that it will be delivered around 10th Dec. I told him that I had to travel around 5th Dec so to please expedite the process and make the delivery at the earliest. It was a lie but to my utter disbelief, my manager said on Friday(1st Dec) that I had to travel to Mumbai on 5th (exactly same date!!!!) for a couple of days to implement something on client side. There was no travel for me on the radar and now out of the blue this happened.

2. Another one I can remember is when I had to come to Chandigarh for my convocation from Mysore. In the excitement of coming, I left Mysore for Bangalore quite early whereas I could have taken a later train and made it on time comfortably. My PL called on phone asking where I was. So I lied that my flight had been rescheduled and it was departing a bit early so had to come soon. What a poor excuse – always it is flights and trains getting delayed. Never heard of flight being early. But unbelievingly, I got a sms a few minutes later that the flight had been pre-poned – not much but by around 15 – 20 minutes. And I was requested to reach the airport accordingly.

3. Another one. Once in class 12th I was late for tuition. I thought I will tell the teacher that my scooter got punctured. And the next moment I see my scooter wobbling. It was like – No!!!! How is this possible… I didn’t make it to the tuition ultimately.

There are many more which I can’t remember but I have surely experienced. It is still something to ponder for me – that how is such a thing possible. Now please don’t say that it is God who is listening to what lie I said and He made the lie a truth. If that happens, then the thousands of false promises made by politicians should also come true. ;)

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Fi(e)ry End to the Month

As I came out of office, I saw a Fire Brigade rushing towards the Infy main gate.."Fire? In infosys". It was impossible. It is something like what people used to think some 94 years ago - "Titanic is unsinkable".. but titanic did sink.. and one Infy building did catch fire yesterday..and coincidentally it was the infy building which is shaped like a ship - u can call it titanic.

From Today's TOI: Fire at Infosys, Chandigarh

There was thick smoke coming out of the Hostel block - which houses the hostels, and a part of the food court. The fire seemed to be out, but within 15 minutes I saw 3 more fire brigades rushing, suggesting it was not a minor one.
As I reached home, witnessing some more sirens and revolving red lights on the way, I put on the TV in anticipation of some news about the incident. But a much bigger fire had caught the attention of all news channels. Dalits, angered by the insult to the statue of Ambedkar in Kanpur,were in rage all over Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka . They burnt a train, caused havoc, disrupted normal life.

Though it may not be the case, but there are high chances that the same statue had the fate of a normal statue in India - rotting away, used by birds for most part of the year and coming in use only on birthdays/death anniversary of the great soul. This incident caused death of 2 young people. I guess this is more insult to the departed soul than spoiling his statue.
Later on in the night there was another news on a car suddenly catching fire, in Delhi, killing the occupant. A burning building, train and now a car- it was too much of fire for me for the day...