Monday, January 30, 2006

Movie Review: Rang De Basanti

A line taken from a poem by the reknowned Indian Revolutionary Bhagat Singh makes a fitting fitting title to this movie that dares to stray from the mundane. I hate hindi movies mostly because it takes bollywood a whole year interspersed with drivel to come up with a movie that is both original and entertaining. Salaam Namaste fell in that category and So did Dil Chahta hai.
The first half is light hearted and entertaining , giving you the impression the movie is not really about anything. After all a british beauty making a documentary about An Indian revolutionary with a bunch of unemployed "youth"(I shudder to use that term when talking about Aamir Khan) is hardly the makings of rivetting cinema. But considering the last disaster I saw was Garam Masala, the first half seemed positivley heavenly.
The slick camera work and intertwining of narratives is striking. The second half is to say the least rivetting. And thats all that I am going to say wthout betraying the plotline.
I am glad that a superstar like Aamir Khan did not overshadow the young and talented supporting cast. Kudos to the director who centered the story where it should have been rather than yield to the temptation of having the hero Aamir Khan be the be all and end all of the movie.
Oh yeah, I could not believe the number of people at the movie. For a few hours new york resembled Mumbai.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Say a little prayer for ...

Once in a while as an Indian living and working abroad I allow myself the luxury of a little hand wringing at the goings on back home(without getting into the "If u have a problem come back and solve it OR shut up" argument).
As most would have concluded there is really not much of a difference to the common man no matter who is in power. But there is something about the current arrangement that runs the nation that stinks to high heaven. So lets briefly examine our players.
Dr. Manmaohan Singh
The Saint-Scholar who can truly claim to be one of Modern India's Champions. A follower of Mahatma Gandhi no doubt, Dr singh neither hears any evil nor sees it.
Our Prime Minister would have us believe he is powerless in the face of the vile abuse of power his cabinet colleagues (and other notable party colleagues)indulge in. Funny thing is I believe him.
Mrs Sonia Gandhi
Last Known educational qualification: A course not amounting to a degree in English.
Last job declined: The Prime Minister of India.
Current job: Giving orders to The Prime Minister of India.
Forseeable goals for the future : Perpetuating rule of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty for the next 50 years.
The Rest
The overenthusiastic Nehru-Gandhi family sycophants, who operate in what appears to be a total lack of responsibility to both cabinet and country. The only game in town seems to be to see
who can curry favor with the Nehru-Gandhi's. It reminds me of medivial times where local cheiftains would compete with one another to present expensive gifts at the Emperor's Court.
Nothing much has changed. The people of India can be won over by promising things that will never be delivered. But his congress regime is atleast nuanced enough to realise that they might be better served in giving Manmohan and his finance minister a free(er) hand in deciding policy so that the coffers are full. This money ofcourse will be used to buy votes one way or another.
So my friends who wud rather I shut up . Like someone i know says "What would you have me do?"

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Yogurt anyone?

I realize now that growing up each kid is subjected to the the 'miracle cure' for all ills that the parents fancy. Case in point , the windex in the movie "A Big Fat Greek Wedding" .
My mother was the same way about yogurt. It became the running joke of the household. I was at the forefront with my "Yogurt can cure cancer" barbs.
Well I just got off the phone with my mother and she very triumphantly pointed out , that yogurt might not be able to cure cancer (not yet anyway) but apparently it can do something about AIDS. Yes mom I'll eat my yogurt. And while I am at it I'll go outside for a run (Another favored recommendation).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Can't beat em so join them

I know I bitched about it cloud no. 9: Rage against the ipod. But I had to get it, so I went ahead and got myself an ipod video 30Gb and black. What I really hate about apple is their pricing strategy(I cud'nt contain myself). The 512Mb shuffle is $99 good for the gym, but wont allow u the luxury of playlists. The 1Gb shuffle is the same way at $150 and for an additional $50(thwts $200 for those who are counting) u can get an ipod nano . Now an ipod nano comes in 2 GB and 4Gb. At $300 the ipod video (all 3-0 Gb of it)seemed like the only way to go. Congrats Apple u won the mind game and I just did what u wanted me to.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

How many human lives make a holocaust

Talk about quixotic tendancies, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems to have them in plenty. His latest venture is a conference to 'investigate' the holocaust carried out by the Nazis in much of Europe under thier occupation during World War II.
Surely Iran and its people have bigger problems than arriving at the exact number of dead jews it takes to define a holocaust. I must admit as an outsider looking in , I never quite understood the US and west's unstinting support to Israel against the Arab's who possess oil.
I can understand why the United States clear tilt towards Israel clearly upsets a lot of the Muslim world. I guess they would appreciate a somewhat neutral approach.
But this frustration is manifesting itself in strange and unproductive ways. This joke that the Iranian's call a conference will not prove their case, nor make any progress towards resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. All it will achieve is that hawks in the west and Israel will point at such immature acts on the part of Iran and ask "U want to deal with this joker?".
After the occupation of Iraq , and the virtual vassal status that the other Arab states(and Pakistan) enjoy with the US, Iran is keen to grab the mantle ofcthe Muslim World's leadership.
A good start would be to speak with a voice of moderation and maturity. If that proves too tough, just try not to make an idiot of yourself.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Is the rather surprising name of the book I am reading. Economics as I understand it lies on the bedrock that men are rational beings and take rational decisions.
I was recently introduced by a magazine article to Behavioral Economics , a branch of economics that adjusts for human tendencies to make decisions on certain intangibles.
Behavioral economics seeks to quantify that effect.
Freakomics the hugely popular book seems to be an effort in a similar direction that asks seemingly innocuous questions and provides astounding answers. I am not all the way thru yet, but here are my two favorite tid-bits.
By the early 90's street crime by disaffected youth with easy access to guns was a very serious matter. This lead to dire predictions from experts about a future full of violence and chaos. Then suddenly crime rates began to drop. So much so that murders in NYC dropped from 2,245 in 1990 to 596 in 2003. The author attributes it quite stunningly to the Roe vs Wade verdict that legalized abortion in 1973. His argument that legalized abortion prevented the birth of many unwanted babies who would otherwise have been born into (for the lack of a better politically correct term) 'adverse family environment', making it quite likely that they would exposed to violence and deprivation early in life and consequently take to crime when they were old enough. Wow! Take that Republicans.
The second one is funnily enough about on-line dating. The author comes up with the none to interesting discovery that most people lie about themselves in online profiles. A sobering fact that 57% of men who put up profiles do not get a single response, may be explained by the fact that men are expected to take the lead in the dating ritual. Schemes differ but most websites charge u to contact someone while placing a profile is free. So there, my own little observation, women are just not willing to go to the point of paying a fee to get a date.
But the observation that really takes the cake is as follows.
50% of white women and 80% of white men on dating websites indicate no racial preference. Of those who indicated no racial preference 90% of the e-mail queries by men were to white women. The women went one better, 97% of their queries were to white men. Hmm. Interesting indeed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Called in Sick

I had to call in sick today, after battling a stubborn cold for nearly a week. It was just getting better before getting worse. Sounds like John Kerry. I voted for it before I voted against it and then voted for it. I know steaming should help, so I am thinking of going down to the NYSC steam room later on.

Taken in by the Tofu mob

As you would have noticed there the trend of vegeteranism has been gaining strength in the west. Walk into any organic store(which I admit I have done recently) and you are likely to be presented with a variety of meat subsitutes made from tofu. So u can have tofu turkey or if u please tofu bacon. Tofu on its own is a good idea, but if you buy this based on hope u will be eating meat thats good for u , u have another thing coming ur way. Recently I bought tofu steak. The directions indicated that u had to saute the tofu with ur favorite BBQ sauce. Sounded promising enough. What I got was tofu that tasted like tofu. You can't win em all I guess.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


In the elevator of my office building.
Woman 1: "Oh u look cute" (Woman 2 is a 30-40 lady dressing like a 21 year old).
Woman 2: "Thank You! I try"

Monday, January 02, 2006

Boxing class

I took my first boxing class at NYSC after my friend Maneesh testified to its positive impact on the abs. Ofcourse Maneesh was paying a gorgeous personal trainer some serious dough for the privilege(sorry Maneesh I cud'nt resist).
Mine was a group class. For the last year and a half of going to NYSC, the only other group exercise class I took was Pilates. For some reason, I always feel the need to add that I took it to enhance my flexibility, and yes I was the only guy in the class. Much harder than u think. I felt the boxing class was way to intense, to the extent of being manic. Today's experience enhanced that image. But it was worth it. I learnt the left jab and the big right. Most of the class was spent doing sit-ups,squats and push-ups.
The instructor would ask us to unleash a sequence of punches. If u screwed up more push ups. And I screwed up a lot. One of the more amusing/disturbing parts of the class was the sparring between the instructor and some of the students he selected. The instructor had pads while the students had gloves. And some of them got the instructor in pretty embarrassing positions. I'd hat to be in that position. One lucky punch and that guy would come after me like there's no tomorrow.

An otherwise enjoyable evening

My roomates friends(Volker and Daniella) from Germany have been staying at our place for the last couple of weeks. Volker had lived in NY for a few months around 4years back. Volker kept talking about a bar/club with live music and no cover on Sundays. The place in question was Cafe Wha. So we decided to go today (a sunday).
The evening did'nt get of to a great start. After finding out that there was a cover(since Monday was a holiday) and there was a 2 drink minimum, I asked the waitress wether food would count against the 2 drink minimum. She said no, since it was a "drink" minimum. I know Daniella and Volker found that to be silly, but I said it aloud. I have to admit that got under my skin. But the band more than made up for it. They played such a vast variety of cover songs. I really had a whale of a time. There were patrons dancing in the narrow aisles jostling with the waitstaff. The band was that good.
Later at the break, I asked for the cheque. Volker did'nt have enough cash on him, so we decided that he'd pay by card and I'd pay him cash. When the checque was brought out, it had the tip calculated. The tip was calculated on cover + food + beverage. Now I might be wrong but it struck me as distinctly unfair. Volker agreed and he filled out an amount that was a 15% tip on food + beverage.
The waitress already upset presumably by our earlier encounter, was dismayed and made it a point to tell me "Just so that u know a 15% tip is 8 bucks".
she did'nt stick around to hear my response , even more infuriating.
Moral of the story, let the other guy ask for the checque.