Friday, December 28, 2007

Oh. My. God.

Inna lillaahi wa inna ilaihi raaji'un.
"We are from Allah and to Him we are returning."

Benazir Bhutto (21 June, 1953 - 27 December, 2007)

I may not have repected her politics, but I did admire her as a woman and for being able to carry off the 'female leader in Pakistan' tag with such aplomb. In retrospect, I don't much care for all the bad she and her hubby might have done. What do I know?
I am deeply, deeply disturbed by Benazir's passing. She was a big part of my wonder years [mostly through the media and a little through our Paki friends]. And in Dubai, she was always big news along with Lady Di and Charles. This is just tragic.
Rest in peace, you charismatic minx.
What's going to be the fallout in troubled Pakistan now? Fingers are already pointed at Busharraf but come on, that would be too obvious, wouldn't it? No to Nawaz! He's a true creep. I want my Paki readers to let us in on the lowdown. What, or rather, who next? Mr Kinks?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Alonso goes Blue. So does Saab.

Yay! Yay! Yay! Fernando Alonso joins Renault again, and what with them announcing their new challenger -the R28, how cool!- in Jan 2008, I'm expecting a great season next year. Something that will have teams other than Ferrari and McLaren on podium places 1 and 2. [Just like I was fully expecting Pakistan to win the T20 and the following Indo-Pak series, and, unrelated to sports but a big realistic expectation: I was expecting the Amreekan public to send Bush out on his ass when he reran for Prez.] Anyway. Alonso is on with Renault for a two-year stint. I see clearly in my head a visual repetition of 2005 and 2006. (Fade to Trelawney's class and Divination...) And announcing Alonso's baby driver companion, Nelsinho Piquet. Whatte fun to see what kind of sparks fly between these two.

The dismal Indo-Pak test series also wound down to a close with a yawn-inspiring scoreline of 1-0 and two draws. Whatever happened to Indo-Pak fun. The one-day series was ho-hum as well. But that's because there is no real comparision between the headless team that Pakistan has right now and the professional setup India has got running. Where's the 'go-for-the-kill-yaar' aechichood? My love for Yo-Yo and Misbah has increased in geometric progression and inverse proportion [thank you Macro-Economic Theory] to my disillusionment with Team Pak as a whole. Hai rabba, where are the good old days when Was and Waqar used to steamroll in and destroy the furniture, when Moin and Wasim-bhai used to have hilarious stump-mic converstaions, when we had Saeed Anwars, Abdul Razzaqs, Saqlain, Ejaz, Azhar Mahmood and so much fun on the field?


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Okay, one more...

Before I sign off, here's a whatte-vundrefull-blog by kinkminos called Poetry in Notion.
It has poetry. Yes. Quite.

I am a fan of Kink-saheb. *blesh*

Laptop being on fritz....

...further posts suspended till such time as the damn thing starts working again. Simple problem with the Power On/Off function. But as you can well understand, it is a very essential part of using the laptop.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
But it is, it is!

Monday, November 26, 2007

In the meanwhile....

(Meaning the week and more that I was out of action - interesting news items of interest not in chronological order)
1. Pakistan won the penultimate and utterly useless final ODI, garnering a face-saving 3-2 scoreline. Hah. Big deal.
2. Imran Khan was released.
3. Nandigram became uglier and uglier and now it's par for the course so expect it'll move to Page 8 or 10 of the dailies soon.
4. Synchronised triple blast in UP, some b@$-turds taking innocent lives again for another incomprehensible motive.
5. India wins first test at Kotla easily. Kumble shines as captain, Tendulkar shines as always, Shoaib whines as always. Well, okay, he didn't whine. I'm a pissed fan. I can say anything. I'm waiting for hi to grow up into a captain. And I really think he should eat more. He looks near-death.
6. Saab in Bangalore researches life in Mumbai and readies self for the big Heave-Ho.
7. Pakistan still simmers under Busharraff's dictation.
8. Taslima Onscreen in another silly controversial attack-escape routine.
9. Kolkata sees fire.
10. Darjeeling sees the GNLF spring back into action after a while now.
11. Fedex and Sampras played three exhibition matches around Asia [Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Macau]. Fedex won the first two - they were pretty tight matches though they were both straight set wins [6-4, 6-3 and 7-6, 7-6]. And then Pistol Pete, balding ever so slowly, took home the third. Another tight match with the first set tie-breaker going to 10-8, and then 6-4. Experts and laymen are all agreed that in current form, Sampras could be in today's top 5 in the men's world rankings. Yayyyyy! Sampras quietly shooed away any hopes of coming back into competitive playing. [Full BBC story on the third match.]
8. Yet another Middle-East peace conference scheduled to be held in Annapolis. Yawn.
9. I had a farewell party thrown in my honour at darling Titla's place o Saturday. There was biryani, there was Cranium, there were friends and there were new friends. I got a super MP3 from a Ryanotaurus, earrings from an Annettie, Fab clothes from Doc Iqbal, jvellries from a Thirtha and a losing place in Cranium on account of some very shite luck. Whatte fun it was! Pics up soon.

What's the gory morning story?

Please read, ponder, feel shitty and spread awareness about the horrible Japanese whaling industry resurgence as posted on the Animals in the Media blog, and the related post by CatsJellicle on her blog.
(Here's a not-so-fun activity. Run a Google Images search for 'whaling'. Observe the results. Barf.)
I'm telling you, this place gets stinkier by the day.
More on Japanese whaling and Greenpeace and SeaShepherd's protest activities on this page. A short Whaling Video created by Josh Taylor for Greenpeace drives the fact home.
"Extinction is forever."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mumbai: Life in a Metro

"The future is called 'perhaps', which is the only possible thing to call the future. And the only important thing is not to allow that to scare you."
~Tennessee Williams, Orpheus Descending, 1957

My trip to Mumbai has been a little life-changing, to put it lightly. Apart from the regular touristy stuff I pulled off when over there, I managed to fit in an interview and landed a job offer. After a couple of days of deep mental unrest and heavy brainstorming, I have decided to move bag, baggage, life and books from Bangalore to Mumbai.Meaning, I am leaving comfortable, tiny, traffic-jammed Bangalore and shifting base to new, intimidating, noisy, fast, big-ass Mumbai.

And now, about the trip itself. Which started the previous Thursday evening, after a harrowing, adventure-filled delay on Bangalore roads [read as horrendous, hair-tearing, inexplicable traffic jam] causing me to miss my flight and force me to purchase a brand new tickety-boo at the airport. Gaaak. The trip hadn't even begun and I was already down a cool 4k.
Anyway. Landed late-nightish at the airport where hostess of the year Shobhanaaaahahaaahaaa was awaiting my arrival. (She had her i-Pod for company so Indian Airlines/Mumbai Airport Authorities were spared her wrath at the landing delay.) During my stay in Mumbai, Shobs acted as a very professional local Raju-guide. She also graciously invited me to move in with her and her roomies [who are both also lovely ladies, and originally from JNC, Bangalore] once I leave Bangalore. This is, not to put too fine a a point upon it, a huge relief. Shobs was full to overflowing with useful advice, funny hair/clothes/Bombay-bimbette stories, amusing work-related anecdotes and personal tales of great intrigue and human-interest. I had much, much fun.
Other than that, spent lovely day catching up with Bones at her digs and loafing around her part of town. We went for Om Shanti Om and laughed our eyeballs out. Loved her apartment. Bones ordered in momos and we had a delicious midnight dinner over gossip and reminiscings. Brad Pitt was discussed in great detail. It has also been decided that in case of any unforeseen emergency or me going financially bust, Bones will have to step up to the plate and mother me till I'm all better.

Shro joined me after her Goa trip on Sunday evening as per precision pre-planning at Mocha, Bangalore. I collected her and we headed towards her mad, mad, mad,mad cousin Mithai's home. Had a great, fun evening, heavenly homemade dinner [salaad, chingdi-maach, masoor dal, mung-sho and bhaat], chatted long into the night and fell asleep happily at the end of it all.
The next day we had planned to hit downtown Mumbai. Dropped off some stuff at Shro's friend's place in the 'burbs, met her gorgeous, cute as hell boxers, and messed around with them for a while. That's the lady D with Shro on the left, and on the right we see her brother K looming in the foreground while she hogs the chewy-ball.

Shobs, Titla and I decided to rendezvous in Bandra, take the local and hit 'town'. This was the first time Titla travelled by local train and she looked like a kid in a candy store. It has to be admitted that there was much to amuse us on our journey, such as this fantastic advert for PRTTY BEAUTY PARLOUR on the wall of our carriage. The most promising service they seem to provide is probably the 'Full Body Blech'. I have take down their number and will be their most ardent patron once I move. Must also try their 'menicur' and 'pedicur'. Sounds like they are dog-lovers. Good.

Anyway, we reached Colaba, had a stopover at Café Mondegar [or 'Mondy's', as they say in Mumbai] and I am totally smitten by the place. Very Bangalore feel from the music, ambience and food. I shall be gong here a lot, inshaAllah.The rest of the evening was spent on heavy shopping along Colaba Causeway for knicks and knacks. When we were almost ready to drop, we decided to 'drop' in at the darling Theo Broma, a Parsi patisserie on the same street, and got some life back into our tired legs. We decided to wind up for the day and cabbed it back to the 'burbs.
Interesting aside: On Colaba Causeway, every evening around sunset, a kind man comes along with a bag full of meats and he distributes this among the waiting street cats AND dogs. Who, by the way, are totally unfazed by each other, never fight and live quietly side-by-side on the roads. It was beautiful to see. Neither species batted an eyelid nor made a sudden, homicidal lunge towards the other. The cats were especially blasé about the whole coexistence thing.
We spent some time post-sunset on breezy Marine Drive watching the hep middle-aged aunties in their micro-shorts and toned legs walking their dogs. Middle-aged hep uncles were power-walking with earphones and a look of earnest intent. Whatte fun.

I'll summarise the next few days now. It's getting bleddy boring.

So, after we were done with town, Shro and I covered the Bandra shopping hotspots [Linking Road, Hill Road, Pali Naaka]. We ate at some nice places like Pop Tate's, Just Around the Corner, 5 Spice and shamelessly crashed a very fancy beach-front lounge bar/restaurant called Aurus for a friend of a friend's Happy Birthday party. I spotted many celebrities, wannabe-celebrities, wannabe-seens and has-beens in only 5 days on the streets. Obviously there's more excitement on the way.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave. And I am back in comfortable, pleasantly cold, tiny, homely Bangalore to pack up my underwear bag and other essentials.

As to what the future holds, who knows. Let's play it by the ear. I trust the Upstairs to look out for me.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

-Corrie Ten Boom

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Back from Mumbai

Apologies for not publishing/responding to various comments and absolutely no new posts up in the past week. Internet parlours are not found every 15 feet in Mumbai as is the case in apna Bangalore. So.
Incidentally, here's a beautiful bug I found on my balcony the other day. I know it's neither here nor there, but I wanted to put the photo up and so I will.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Good Grief.

India won the 4th match and clinched the ODI series with their victory over Pakistan yesterday. The scores are now 3-1 in favour of the Men in Blue and all indications are that it might even be 4-1 once India is through outplaying the visitors in the final match at Jaipur.
Thank God I was travelling and missed most of the painful scenes. I managed to catch Tendulkar's half-century at the airport and was very glad to see it. He's a babe, as I certainly have not hesitated in mentioning before and often and anon. On landing, I heard that the poor guy was out on 97. Oh nooooooo, not again!!!! What's going on with that?
Anyway, India fully deserved this win. From reliable sources watching the match, I heard it looked all to easy ["Child's play" was the direct quote] and if you can manage that, then the opponents aren't worthy of a win.
Yuvraj and Dhoni once again wrapped up proceedings. Their consistency as finishers is astounding.
So well done, India, and Shame, shame, puppy shame, Pakistan.
Nice writeup on cricinfo as usual. Here's a quote:
"Pakistan lost the series today, to Tendulkar's majesty, but for all intents and purposes, it was the uncertainty and instability around the team since Shoaib Malik's captaincy began, that lost it for them."
And, "That fizz, that unique Pakistani mirch (spice) has been absent, leaving a very bland taste in the mouth."
This is too true.
The Yo-Yo combination worked again for Pakistan [Yousuf-99*, Younis 68] but two men a match cannot win esp if you ask them to do it over and over and over again. This happens to be a team sport. Team = More than two players. Oh, forget it. I'm done.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Saawariya - A review

-A film by Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Went and watched Saawariya late last night. As expected, it did not meet my expectations. At the same time it is not a total write off like so many reviews are spouting. That’s because these are Sanjay-Leela-Bhansali-scale expectations. Expectations of magical, heart-wrenching stories or moments within those stories at least. So, obviously, an anti-climax was expected.

This time round our favourite paan-chewing director fails to recreate the deep emotional connect he managed with his earlier films. Yes, it’s a beautiful film. The aesthetics are stunning. The grand sets [very European/St Petersburg feel created with the cobblestones, the canals, the rain, then snow etc- the official site says the attempt was to recreate Shimla. Hmmm.], the gorgeous flowy costumes, the fantastic background score and mellow songs all please the senses immensely. I love the black-blue-green ambience of the movie. There are no day scenes. Rani Mukerjee dazzles in her substantial special appearance. “I likes.” Salman Khan doesn’t have much to do and he does it very well. But the backbone of any film is its screenplay. And that’s where our man SJB has really fallen short. Ranbir and Sonam just don’t have enough to work with, but within the limited scope of their characters, they’ve done well enough.

The film has a very weak screenplay, mediocre dialogue and absolutely minimal character development. Dostoevsky’s White Nights is translated well in totum I suppose, but the heart is missing. And that is not what one wants in a(n) SJB film.

Each of his films in the past have moved me considerably. I loved Khamoshi, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas [in spite of the King of Ham act] and Black. There are memorable magic scenes in each of his films. I have cried hard while watching them.

Saawariya just doesn’t move you. There is ample scope for showing the angst, pathos, poignancy and other like soul-searing emotions in the story. But it never happens. Also, a distinct lack of chemistry between Ranbir and Sonam, it has to be said. If one could be made to feel so strongly the interesting frisson between Ash and Ajay D [a most mismatched duo] in HDDKS, Saawariya and its cute leading pair should have been an easy couple-de-grace. But nein, nyet, nada, naaaahiiiiii…nnn. There were scenes aplenty where the magic could have happened, where I was willing it to happen, but ‘twas not to be. (On the other hand there were definitely some cringe-embarrassing-enough-already-scenes, but all SJB movies have that. Really. They do. It’s just that the other portions of the story so overshadow these little flaws that one always comes out with a thumbs up at the end of the movie, having forgotten about the over-the-top eccentricities.)

In Saawariya, the only portion that really grabbed me was the interesting Sonam-Salman side story. Now that had some feel. Genuine, like. And maybe one or two other moments.

Ranbir’s character should have been ranging the whole gamut of emotions from highs to lows but he didn’t seem too affected at any point in the film. Even casual in some places. Similarly, Sonam’s character was inexplicably vague and almost flaky at times. There are scenes where both of them are very good. Give them a solid character and good dialogues and they’ll probably both do very well. Let’s wait and watch.

Rani’s character thankfully was slightly interesting and well writ. She was her usual brilliant self, completely into her role and a treat to watch. I’m heavily biased towards this Bengali ever since Saathiya. No objectivity here.

Salman Khan didn’t annoy me in his cameo which means he must have been quite good. I love these quiet, understated roles for him. The lesser the dialogue, the better.

Now on to other things.

Music: Very, very nice. The melodies are wonderful. There are lovely variations and unpredictable turns in the songs I enjoyed a lot.
My favourite track of the film is Jab se tere naina. The song is very nice on the ears. Shaan is superlative. Yes, this is the famous Ranbir towel song. I didn’t much take to his pelvic dance, but I totally appreciate a lean, fit bod, hairless chest [thank God] and very sweet Neetu Singh smile. Just to clarify once and for all: Ranbir DOES drop the towel but the camera zooms in lightning fast and OUR modesty is preserved. You can make out a nicely toned curvature at the top of the posterior, butt that’s it. Okay? Enough already. Anyway, in the SJB dramatic scheme of things, it doesn’t seem weird. The song is meant to convey, “Look here, this is a fine, sweet, saucy looking boy in lurrrve” and it does just that.

All other songs are beautiful. I esp enjoyed Thode Badmaash, Daras Bina, and Rani’s fun number Chabeela. Oh, and the beginning of the Saawariya reprise. Very good.

The background score ties in smoothly and softly with the visuals. There are many of the SJB magnum opus staples: payal chhan-chhans, classical raagas, tabla movementss and elaborate string arrangements running in the background throughout the movie.

The look of the movie, like I mentioned before, is beauteous. SJB intends to create a rich, dark water colour painting and the sets, costumes and colours all combine to do this very well. Interestingly, SJB has himself designed some of the costumes. And a bit of the music.
But, but, but, he also wrote the screenplay and he can’t excuse himself there.

Hai, afsos.

I didn’t regret watching Saawariya. It was definitely worth a watch and an SJB film warrants the big screen. At the end of the day, I think it’s just a victim of those horrible old beasts: Great Expectations, and What Could Have Been.

Review ends.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Musically Kinklined

Blog-maestro Kinkmino's little brother stars in Dhamaal, a product of the Pakistani band Overload. He's the young guy with the trimmed beard, chocolate shirt, butter T-shirt and regular jeans-pent. NO THIS IS NOT HIS PIC. That would be so obvious.
Little brother is playing all those dandy hand percussion instruments and pursing his lips and shaking his head in earnest enjoyment. Very nice! *seeeteeees*
(Get on You Tube and rate the video there. GO!)
Which one, you're still asking. No, not the drummer, not the keyboardist, not either of the horses, not the very wonderful Pappu Saeen [see right] on dhol. How very wonderful he looks in this pic.
I'm telling you, it's Hassan on the hand percussions. On rooftop even.
Kinky bhai, it must be said, he's the cutest.


Speaking of jinxed minxes, Imran Khan is arrested in Lahore.
Hang on now. Keep your panties on. It's only house arrest. No chakki peesing and peesing within teen deewaarein.
Reuters has a video of the arrest, which took place at a student rally where Khan finally reemerged today after giving the authorities a slip at the beginning of the Emergency. Doesn't he look so bleddy good?

To Bob

Till such time as that happens [me come there], you come and visit Ind-yeah! Apparently it's shining. Or rising. Or poised. I'm not sure which. The media keeps on giving us different verbs every fortnight.

Travel, hoe!

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
~Lao Tzu

[Me on the left, Shro on the right, travel plans on the table... This is a file pic. Not the thumbs-down Mocha.]

Last evening was fun.
There was my dearest Shro at the other end of the line confirming our rendezvous at Mocha, Lavelle Road. We hadn't been there as yet and were eager to scope out the place, sample the products and rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. I had heard on good authority [girlfriends' gossip] that the crowd at Mocha was the expected cringe-inducing young, flaky, rich kids set who lived on and around Lavelle Road, who either carried wadfuls of thousand rupee notes or Daddy's Platinum Credit Card(s). Back when I was in school/college and planned to meet up with friends, we used to behave in a dignified manner and save and scrounge and have one-by-two coffees at the local darshini. Once a month. Maybe. Bah. The world is going to the dogs. French poodles to be precise.
Anyway, that is neither here nor there.
Shro asked what the crowd would be like and I used that very intelligent and informative and all-encompassing Bengali adjective: 'Naekaa'.
She gulped and said bravely, "Let's do it."
I reached first and immediately got the once-over from what collectively looked like the offspring of the top 2% of Bangalore's über -rich industrialists/biz tycoons/CEOs/steel/liquor magnates set. There were also other assorted fauna of the designer/artsy/fashion/Page 3 genre and the essential firang patron. My eyes couldn't take too much of this for very long and I thanked the Lord for giving me the good sense in having brought along a Wodehouse to occupy myself with. [It was Big Money, which is one of the last few of his works I hadn't yet read.]
After a while, I can't say how long, but my aching cheeks tell me I must have been grinning at the pages for at least 15 minutes, Shro arrived. She plonked herself down. We exchanged pleasantries. We did not make small talk. We immediately started discussing travel plans. Ours.
You see, some time last month, Shro and I had decided that we really had to go see Bangkok. It was essential to our existence and emotional well-being. It was imperative. It was the opportune moment etc. We had all but finalised our Thai dreams (conceptually) when a snag manifested itself in the form of our inability to actually procure the air tickets at a suitable date. Meaning, try as we might, tickets were acting fussy and not falling in with our demands and before we knew it, the Bangkok trip was slipping out of our fingers. [This is the backdrop.]
So you see, there was nothing much to discuss except the quiet death of a possibly very exciting exotic escapade which would now never see the light of the day.
Now some time ago, Shro and I had also discussed visiting Bombay for larks. This thought suddenly reemerged from the depths as we tucked into the substandard fare Mocha provided us. [More on this later.] I looked at Shro. Shro looked at me. There was a strange gleam in both our pairs of eyes, hers more noticeable because she has those big-ass Bengali gogglers. On the spur of the moment we decided that Bangkok could happen some other time, Bombay was totally on.
Me: Shro!
Shro: Saab!
Together: Why the hell not!
And so, in this surreal setting with naekaa spoilt-brats and bad food, it was decided that the two of us are indeed headed Mumbai-wards. We shrieked unbecomingly and giggled and when two young ladies do that, you know the deal is sealed.
I made a few strategic phone calls to friends positioned in various parts of Mumbai to inform them of said impulsive plan and to ascertain whether they would be in town or not. (I am happy to say they will be.) Shro informed her parentals. We were set.
Since coming home from the 'cafe', I have been scouring the internet and have confirmed my going-to ticket. Return is open-ended. Shro is off to Goa and she'll join me in Mumbai over the weekend. I want to bus/train some part of the journey because I haven't done that in a long time and I like road travel. Especially when I'm alone. With my notebook.
Beware fellow passengers.

I can't wait to meet my mad Shobs after whose departure from Bangalore, the humour content in my life has gone down by 53%. Here she is in one of her memorable moments:
We plan to do many silly things, not the least of which is laugh our guts out. Shobs doll has kindly offered her digs for me to crash in. Yay, what fun. Or, as Rosesh from Sarabhai vs Sarabhai says, "Yay, whoopeee!" [That, by the way, is the funniest show ever.]

There are many other insane creatures I will be meeting after a very long time. Bones and Sowmya. The mad Mits Dee. I am so kicked about this.

Postscript: Based on last evening, Mocha's ratings are 1.5 out of 10. Bad coffee for me [Mocha-Java blend], insipid cold coffee for Shro [can make better at home] and terrible cheese sauce with French fries in an affected dish called Poutaine [but pronounced Foo-Tayn]. The cheese sauce tasted like powdery maida in milk with added salt and a hint of cheesy something. Oh, wait, that's exactly what it was. Blech. The fries on their ownsome were good but even my baby niece can make good French fries. I give them a 1.5 for variety on the menu and okay pricing.
This is obviously a very bad first impression. I suppose I'll have to go again and give Mocha another try. It comes with the heavy baggage of a good rep and where do you get that unless you earn it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vote for Imran Khan! The Imandaar Khan!*

Who can blame me for falling in love with Pak cricket?

I don't get the Creed background music, but whatever.
If Imran becomes Pak prez, I think that will be the end of Indo-Pak hostilities. Who can NOT like the drooly Khan?

*Title edited on account of no one except the Great Kinky noticing my witty word-play. Pah. Kinkminos, tussi great ho. Val done, bwoiz.

The Myth of Muslim Condemnation of Terror

by Eteraz Ali

Monday, November 12, 2007

All the pretty horses

Erm. When I said in my previous post that 'cats win hands down', I of course meant that it was a very close thing.

What in the world...

Ugh. More bad news. Here's BBC's report on Volganeft, the Russian tanker that spilled its guts into the Black Sea along with 2,000 metric tonnes of fuel oil. Making it a Blacker Sea. The people who know say the mess "could take years to clean up."
Just what we needed - another environmental disaster.
Coincidentally, I was cussing under my breath just last night when watching a TV program [on Discovery or Animal Planet, I'm not sure] about the Galapagos Islands, with special focus on the unique indigenous marine iguanas found there. A few years ago, an oil spill in the San Cristobal area had reduced the population of marine iguanas on Santa Fe Island by a whopping 62%, because the oil affected the algae that the iguana fed on. Or that's what they said on the program.
The New Scientist website report said the algae was okay, it was the fermentation bacteria in the iguana's hindguts [Yes. Hindguts.] that were affected so they couldn't digest the algae etc.
Anyway. It's not nice to know.

Many years ago when I was in middle school in Dubai, I remember there was a 'big oil spill' which affected the Gulf, and it was all over the news which is the only reason it stuck in my childish memory. I was quite disturbed by the dead bodies of oil-blackened seagulls washing up ashore [not my favourite bird by any means, but...] and I read up a lot on the subject and felt even back then that human beings can be quite shit. (After which ruminations I would go back to my gripping games of Hopscotch, Poison-Medicine or Four-Square.) Our schools organised programs to go help clean up beaches, there were special presentations and seminars on the environment in general and the effect of such disasters on wildlife etc. That was probably the first time I thought about such things seriously. I think it was the visual of the dead birds that affected me most.
I hardly remember anything specific about the incident but searches on the internet and my brilliant deduction techniques [my approximate age at the time of said spill plus Google search], lead me to understand it was the Persian Gulf oil spill of 1991, only the biggest oil spill of all time. Phew. An environmental warfare technique used by Iraq where over 2 million barrels of oil were deliberately released to prevent US Marine forces from landing in Kuwait. Fantastic.

And in recent days, I read up on tigers worldwide actually going extinct in the near future. Seriously. Alarmingly. Not the usual "Yeah, yeah, they're going extinct. We've been hearing that for ages now," that we used to hear in the same vein as "Yeah, yeah, Metallica's coming to Bangalore this year for sure."

Some factoids:
"At the turn of the century, the world had approximately 100,000 tigers. Now it is estimated there are only 3,000 to 7,000 left in the wild. In the last 50 years, three subspecies have vanished, and a fourth, the South China tiger, is on the brink of extinction. More than half the
tigers that survive in the wild are in the Indian subcontinent, persisting in threatened habitats. If the trend continues, our magnificent tiger may disappear completely from the face of the Earth."
In India alone, the tiger population has decreased by 50% in only the last 5 years. There are just 1300-1500 tigers left in the wild in India.

This is devastating. Till last year I used to feel horses were the most beautiful creatures in the world. Then I discovered cats. My feline initiation leaves me no doubt that cats win hands down. And tigers especially. Rrrrrrr.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Whooopeeee deflated...

Gaaaaak. Pakistan lost today. Almost a miserable loss, by 46 runs no less.
Immediate caustic comments from "friends" overseas in the Gelf:
"awwwwwwwwwww what a sad...Pakistan lost again hehehe
WOOhooo..............Go India!."
[Skinny, that's you. Hmmmph.]

I hate this pendulum swinging of my moods based on match results. I was feeling really great after the equalizer on Thursday, and now it's back to grumpy and sullen again till the next match and its result. I must take tranquilizers in the interim. Or anything to deaden the senses. In fact, it might not be too bad an idea to down a lot of Valium even on the actual days of play. The emotional roller coaster is a bit much.
After the T20 debacle, our help Lakshmi would dust around me and lift me up in her left hand to sweep underneath me with her right because I would lie lifeless and inert with a glazed, befuddled, tragic look on my visage. It was nice of her to not laugh at me to my face.

So. About today's match.
There's no excusing Pakistan. India outplayed the Greenies in all departments, especially their batting. That applause-worthy partnership between hot-rods Dhoni and Yuvraj was something else. Great start by the old school prefects, Sachin and Gangs. Once they were out, it looked like Pakistan might claw their way back in but no, no. Captain and vice-cap waltzed in, gave the ball a good talking to all around the stadium and put India back in the driver's seat.
Paki bowlers cleaned up a few wickets in the end, but it was too late.
The average score at Kanpur has been 225, and India managed 294 for 6. Pak hoped sending Mental Afridi up in the front might help and for the first over it seemed okay. But then the paagal Pathan decided he wanted to go across the line again and completely missed the India Pathan's good in-line delivery. Bah! Good riddance.

Huge round of applause for the brilliant Salman Butt. He came in at the beginning and gave us some dredges of hope till the very end of the innings but wickets on the other side fell with a ridiculous casualness. A beautifully played 129, his highest ODI score yet. Who the hell will Pak find to open alongside him? Ye gods.

It's 2-1 now, and all eyes will be on Gwalior on the 15th when the4th ODI takes place. Match starts 1430 IST. It's a day-nighter.

Fingers crossed, hopes weighed down deliberately with king-sized anvil.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Whooopeeeee! [Not the cushion. Not the actress.]

Fantastic, thrilling match at Mohali this Thursday! It all came down to the last over again, and, as is Pakistan's wont, they kept us on tenterhooks till the last minute with a gripping, uncertain, will-they-won't-they display on the field. Egads. The adrenaline rush. The pillows torn apart. The continuous durood-shareefs sent upwards. The unladylike shrieks and inward cusses. [Okay, some outward.]
Had Pakistan lost this match after coming so close to winning again, there would be no more posts to read on this blog because I would have passed on to the next world with a shattered heart and a fixed grimace of unbearability etched on my mug.
Thank the Lord it wasn't so. We are now standing at one-all and here on, anything can happen.
It was a very T20-finals sort of situation and feel at Mohali. And when Misbah played 'that shot' again, on 49, to get bowled behind his bum, I thought, 'This does not portend well." All indications leaned Indian-victory-wards. Hurrah for Afridi and Sohail Tanvir. They provided real fireworks when required.
My hero of the day is of course Younis Khan. I love this man. I love his style of play. I love that he can infuriate the bowler and viewer alike with a refusal to get out as well as a refusal to up the run rate, and then just when all seems lost and the required run rate looks unattainable, he swings into action and is scoring at more than run-a-ball. Onward to a century, and taking your side to a comfy posish. *Mwuaaaaaaah*But I shan't discount Misbah. He played a dream as well and so what if he can't finish, he always plays the coolest, bravest, sauciest in a tense situation when all seems lost. He's done it time and again and one cannot forget that.
And then the dolls that are Mad Afridi and Sohail Tanvir stepped in and finished the match in style. When Afridi came in to bat, Pakistan needed 46 off 28 to win and every ball was a terror to watch. With this guy at the crease, you never know. All could have ended. But he struck gold yesterday, along with some fine fours and a smashing six which I caught from in between my fingers placed firmly over my eyes. When Yuvi dropped that second catch at mid-on, I believe I might have peed in my pants. [I didn't, shaddup!]. Sohail Tanvir, well done again.
One ball to spare, no nails left to chew on, frantic pleas to the Almighty to send some Divine Droplets Pakistan's way, and woooo hoooooo! Or, as the title song goes, Whooopeeeee! They did it!
Captain [hmmph] Shoaib Malik played well as he always does. There's no criticising him with the bat or on the field or when bowling. He's a brilliant all-rounder. He's a nice, young lad. He looked to be a good captain at the T20s because there isn't much you can do there. The pace of the match decides most things and in any case, nothing runs to plan in that short version of the game. In a full-length ODI, Shoaib always looks out of sorts as a captain. He does absolutely nothing that makes one nod and say a la Ajit Loin, "Smart bvaaii." (Like Dhoni, say.)
Malik is the extreme opposite of animated. He looks downright worried when his bowlers are getting pummelled. [I mean, look, this is Pakistan. Pummelling WILL happen.] I don't know, I am just not happy with him at the helm of things. Younis Khan is a brilliant, chirpy, active, fun vice captain. He's smart in that he refused captaincy, but he would have been really good there. I do not understand why Mohd Yousuf isn't made captain, or apna mental Afridi. Yousuf is unarguably one of the finest batsmen in the world today. And Afridi one of the top all-rounders. Both have tons of experience. Afridi of course looks more happy to lead and the only thing going against him is he doesn't think. Distinct lack of calm in the face of anything. And Mohd Yousuf is probably too calm. Oh, there you go. I suppose that DOES leave only Shoaib. Latest official announcement: Shoaib's tenure as captain of Pakistan has been extended by one more year by the PCB.
Anyway, back to the match. Salman Butt is a great opener and he's always played well against India. He scores at a healthy pace and plays really beautifully. Pak really needs to find someone else to open well with him. Kamran looked very sloppy with both sets of gloves- the wicket-keeping as well as batting ones. Also unimpressive was Rao Iftikhar. He got slapped around the field and his shoulders and mouth drooped pretty early on in the day. I mean, you can't give up the fight, wot? On the positive side, Shoaib came good, Umar Gul continued his fine form and... Who cares!!! Pakistan won.
Just a little disconcerting to watch Mohd Yousuf so out of sorts yesterday. It doesn't matter. He's a babe.
Now, on to India.
Poor, poor darling Sachin. Unbelievably tragic. Very good for Umar Gul but aaarrrgh! I feel for Sachin. He's such a brilliant, likable player. Thrice in three months! 22nd time in the nineties. If we feel so terrible for him, what must he be going through? *sends virtual commiserations and standing ovation for his excellent 99 off 91*. I really thought it was all over when him and Gambhir were pasting the ball around the stadium.
No one else did much for India except Bhajji with his nutso blitzkrieg at the end. If it weren't for him, it might have been a cakewalk for Pakistan. Ganguly did a good job with the ball.

Tomorrow is another day. Match 3 at Kanpur, starts at 9am local time. We are primed and ready. Pak supporters have gathered at our house. Here we go... May the best team win, but more importantly, let it be another tight match, whichever way it swings.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Who wrote this stuff?

Was randomly surfing Bangalore blogs today and came across this post about nursery rhymes on Romila's blog. Interesting background stories on a couple of puzzling, no-context nursery rhymes.
And of course it got me thinking. I've had long discussions on this topic before, and now I'll write it down.
Nursery rhymes have disturbed me ever since I was old enough to realise that the words might mean something after all, and that I should look beyond the mere magic of easy melody and basic rhyme scheme.
Of all the standard, popular nursery rhymes doing the rounds worldwide, I can only think of a few as being harmless and childlike and straight as an arrow. "Twinkle, twinkle, little star", "Pat A Cake, Baker-Man", "Ol' MacDonald", "Incy Wincy Spider/ Itsy Bitsy Spider", "One Two, Buckle My Shoe" and "Hey Diddle Diddle" are the few kosher rhymes.
Most every other nursery rhyme is violent, disturbing, perverse, puzzling, abstruse or downright tragic. I'm telling you, I can't think of a single other innocent rhyme for kids.

Let's have a gander at the bestseller nursery rhyme list:
1. Baa Baa Black Sheep - To begin at the beginning, we have a black sheep. Can alliteration be the only reason this particular tint was chosen? Has it not got something to do with Him Who Must Not Be Named? The black arts? Sauron? 666? Hmmm? Huh?
Why is the little boy crying down the lane? Some versions have him 'living' down there but we all know he was crying, so don't try and mollycoddle me now. And what's with this medieval era portrayal of the sheep having a master and a dame? I can understand the shepherd being subservient and a serf, but even the animals? Bah.
2. Jack and Jill - First off all, the math is all wrong. Both Jack and Jill had to go uphill to fetch A [one?] pail of water? Must have been a bloody big pail. If it was such a heavy-duty task, you shouldn't be sending kids up a hill to 'fetch' it in the first place. That's just nasty. And then, why introduce that sudden, violent accident with Jack doing a tumble, breaking his crown [!!!] AND Jill nonchalantly following him after. Mercy. In the extended version of the poem, after the traumatic first para, there is a coldly scientific second that follows:
"Up Jack got
And home did trot
As fast as he could caper.
Went to bed
To mend his head
With vinegar and brown paper."
Please note- No mention at all of Jill. She's been given up for good just like that. We can expect the announcement of her memorial service any moment.
3. Hush-a-bye-baby/ Rock-a-bye-baby: This has got to be the worst, most morbid and distasteful piece of work ever written. And it is one of the most popular rhymes because of its soothing, loving tune. It's like an evil conspiracy meant to beguile normally well-meaning innocents into crooning this travesty. You can't stop singing it once you've started because it's so darn sweet. Like Lays, no one can eat just one. "Ek baar gaaoge to gaate reh jaaoge." Until the words hit home.
Good Lord, why has the baby been placed on or around a treetop? And then there's the gradual, sinister, line-by-line build-up: wind blows, cradle rocks, bough breaks - to the worst nightmarish scenario imaginable: the cradle falls, down comes baby, cradle and all. [What else IS there?] Please note, all of this should be warbled lovingly and if possible, with a maternal smile on the mug.
4. Ding dong bell, pussy in the well: This is wrong on so many levels, I blush to think of it. From a purely innocent point of view [Ignoring the semantics, I mean: "Ding-dong", "pussy", and what's all this about Johnny Thin and Stout?], this treats the drowning of felines in a very off-hand, casual manner which kids shouldn't be exposed to.
5. It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring: And within a matter of seconds, we've established that he's landed himself a fatal knock to his blocker and he won't awake again in this world at least.
6. Pop! goes the weasel: A clueless child thankfully will never even begin to comprehend the dark, tragic, working class poverty allusions this one provides. Hell, it's obscure even for us grown-ups but we get the picture at least. The dull, despairing, unjust picture.
7. One, two, three, four, five; Once I caught a fish alive: Visuals of a live, agitated, fluttering fish on its death bed, followed up by the appetizing story of how it managed to bite the protagonist's little finger on the right. Again, a favourite because of the 'cute' actions that accompany the song.
8. Lucy Locket lost her pocket: Loss of money [very big deal for kids], resultant guilt, and that loose character Kitty Fisher opening a purse that didn't belong to her!!!!
9. Humpty Dumpty: Ahem. The name is suspect. Very unnecessary for an egg. That apart, it's another sad and sudden accident with no hope of recovery.
10. Sing a song of sixpence: Blackbirds baked into a pie? And then they come out alive? A penny-pinching, miserly king counting out his pennies, an idle, lazy queen eating for no apparent reason at obviously the wrong time of the day [avoid meals between meals!] and the unfortunate, hard-at-work, lower class maid who has her nose lacerated at the end.
11. Hot Cross Buns: Also of the "Pussy in the well" genre. *Grin* At two-a-penny even! With the sensible retailer's advice of "If you have no daughters, give them to your sons."
12. Simple Simon: No money, no food. Damn.
13. London Bridge: It's going down, baby. Forget about it.
14. Three Blind Mice: Good grief. Torturing blind animals with a chopping knife.
15. Little Bo Peep: Loses her 'lambkins' and then we learn of their tails being hung out to dry on trees. Eeeeyuk.
There are many, many more macabre, ridiculous and incredible rhymes that, in a sensible world, shouldn't be. Feel free to add to the list along with your interpretation/summary of their horrors.

But frankly, who cared about the words when we were kids? I only know that I derived great pleasure and took much pride in my 'singing' prowess back then; the intense distress of my parents, neighbours, extended family, casual visitors, random guests, tele-salesmen (over the phone), delivery boys etc, in short, anyone within hearing distance, was a regular feature of my growing up days. I have caused such frowns of displeasure, even from normally benign and patient acquaintances, as would make angels weep. Those were good times.
Nostalgic note: I had the most amazing Sing-Along-Pop-Up Book of Nursery Rhymes and I am not ashamed to admit that I used to excitedly Sing Along till well past the age of 8.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Happy Diwali

Special request: Make light, not sound.

Bangalore friends.....

Three insanely cute poochie babies up for adoption, as messaged in by a Shama. They're about a month old.
Please go to the Adopt-A-Stray blog for all details.
There are many more adorables you can read about over here. Keep dropping in on the site once in a while and spread the word among your Bangalore friends. And then, adopt ho! Much appreciated.

Sitchwayshun is grim

The neighbours are having trouble. I have no informed opinion because I have no real information. Meaning I know not so I'll stay quiet. What I glean from Paki friends on the ground [where else, Saab, where else?] is that Musharraf is a bum. But only some voices like Kinkminos here. More noise needed.
The BBC has, as usual, good coverage of this story.
And some nostalgic Gulf News fare on the subject.

Stupid cricket match and a lovely cafe called BrewHaHa

First ODI between India and Pakistan at Guwahati, Nov 5th, 2007.
Match summary: "It was a tired, dull effort on a sluggish surface."
-Siddhartha Vaidyanathan on

A yawn-inspiring match between the two teams that always promise excitement and drama when playing each other. Except it wasn't so at all yesterday.
India won deservedly as Pakistan handed the match over to the Indians in a super-slo-mo turn of events. The Paki bowling and fielding was so ho-hum I won't write about it. A couple of upsides: Salman Butt looks in good nick, as does Mohd Yousuf. Downsides: Too many to list in detail but the broad outlines may read as 'bowling' and 'fielding'. How many times will Mohd Yousuf try and save the day only to have the rest of the Greenie Meanies turn it into a shambles?
Am very disappointed in Shoaib Malik's captaincy or lack thereof. Maybe he was thinking about the Emergency situation back home? Probably not, but what the hell was he thinking of otherwise is my question.
More amusement was in store for all viewers as Afridi got out in yet another comical attempt at bludgeoning the ball. (You nutty Pathan, keep your panties on for a while, why don't you?) Afridi's full-stretch lunge from toe to extreme-tip-of-bat measured in at 57 feet, 8 inches. At least that was what it looked like. He missed the ball by a further 3'5" feet and the math becomes too depressing now to give a final cumulative of the asinine act. Oh, well, at least he didn't waste too many balls and livened things up a bit. 31 off 32 is a fun show.
On the Indian side, good bowling esp by the spinners. Sachin is a hero and a good man and both were on display yesterday. Couldn't contribute with the bat? No problem. He stepped in with his cute smile and a couple of important wickets. Stop dissing Sachin all the time, folks, really. And Sourav. There's a reason they're counted amongst the greats. And both showed it yesterday.
Dhoni is firmly entrenching himself in my heart of hearts as a really nice lad and a good cricketer. Consistency is not something to be sneered at. Yuvi did good again.
All in all, an infuriating day for me as I watched the ease with which India took the match away. Obviously batting in the middle orders wasn't too tough, Pakis, because India did just fine. Hmmmph.
Later on in the evening, as a salve on my wounds, I cleverly met up with a couple of my girlfriends who couldn't care less about the cricket. In this intelligent manner, I avoided being ridiculed for supporting Pakistan and also enjoyed thoroughly at a very nice cafe in Koramangala called Brew HaHa. (Right next to Jyoti Nivas College.)

Let me talk a bit about this joint. I give it 4.4 out of 5 thumbs up. I have been to Brew thrice already and have really enjoyed each time. The cafe was started by a couple of friends: one Mr Sreeram and one Mr Mansur. More about them here. The menu is great, the food is lovely, very budget place and an easy, fun ambience.
Brew-Ha-Ha is built around the concept of gaming and fun. (Which is to say indoor 'games', of the board kind and 'fun' of the clean, family atmosphere kind.) Games available include Scrabble, Coda, Cranium, Pictionary and over 60 other games most of which I hadn't heard of. The walls are also mounted with white board for added fun and creativity. Ask for the games menu and learn a few new things.
The cafe has ample seating: tables-and-chairs as well as floor-rug-seating in the corners with cushions/bolsters for your use and pleasure.
The place is boisterous and noisy during the day when college kids bunk and come away to enjoy a few innocent hours. On a weekday evening, it'll be quiet and pleasant.
The menu itself is very diverse, with a lot of choice available in terms of food as well as beverages. And very amusing names for many of the menu items, inspired by comic book or popular fiction.
Yesterday I had the Roast Chicken, Mayo and Apple Sandwich (with a special request to not add the apples in- yes, I can be like that) and the Willie Wonka Cappuccino [a dreamy mochachino - really excellent]. My friend had a Paneer Tikka Sandwich plus a Cappuccino and another friend the Oriental Stir Fried Noodles and a Lime Water. All of us concurred on these points: The food was excellent, the servings generous. Beverages were top-notch as well. Add to this the great pricing and we were a much-satisfied threesome.
Service was friendly and only a tiny bit slow, but this went unnoticed because we had a really good time in totum. The desserts look appealing as well. Their cheese cake is fantastic. Last time I was there I had a huge slab and packed another one to take home with me.
The next time I go to the cafe, I intend to try the Intergalactic Gargle Blaster. And maybe something from the pasta menu. I'm pretty confident I'll be happy with whatever I order. I have been reading random reviews of the place online and it's unanimous: everyone has enjoyed their food at Brew-Ha-Ha. Not a single unhappy critique.
My friends and I have decided we will patronise this joint like no one else. Here's to time and money well spent and the promise of a lot more of the same.

Highly recommend for a bit of old-school-memories fun. Go!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

F Briatore makes Alonso the offer

But only if the Sullen Spaniard is of a mind to stick it for the long-run. No half-hearted one year contract in the offing. Here's what the BBC has on that story.

Maybe, just maybe, Alonso will manage a third championship next year with Renault. Yay!
PS: Why was this year so lopsided? It was all Ferrari and McLaren. ALL...

Oh, and for the slow-pokes: He's through with McLaren.

Good read

A super article by Siddartha Mishra on the upcoming Indo-Pak cricket series in the Times of India [surprise, surprise] a few days ago.
Here's an excerpt:
"In 9 ODIs versus India in India, Yousuf averages no more than 26; and his 6 Tests here have fetched him 34.27 runs per innings. The corresponding averages for Younis oscillate between 16 (5 ODIs) and an eye-popping 101.60 (3 Tests). Clearly, Yo-Yo - a term coined to refer to Pakistan’s two best batsmen in conjunction - isn’t only about the smart use of alphabets."
Oh, but it is, Mr Mishra. You use your alphabets very smartly.
The entire article is gripping, intelligent and erm, nice.

A gorgeous pic of my two hot favorites, Yo-Yo as it were. [When Yousuf didn't have that beard, he was also a hottie. Still is, metaphysically speaking.]