Sunday, April 26, 2009

Picnic Prepping: Ghat Road, Doda

One rare sunny day this past winter, the folks and I decided to take off and search for a good picnic spot for use and pleasure in the not-too-distant future, meaning the coming spring/summer season.We Hajis like our outdoor fun quite a bit. Growing up in Dubai I had a great childhood because my parents were always the outdoor, sporty, active kind (thank God!) who knew how to have and give us kids a good time. Abba had bought a brilliant book by Dariush Zandi (Irani architect, writer, photographer), Off-Road in the Emirates, which gave precise, accurate and very useful information on picnic spots in the Emirates, and many any of our weekends would be planned around the pages of this book. Since most of the 'Off-Road' spots involved long-drives through difficult desert and mountain terrain, Abba would grab a couple of lads and recce the route and area first. Based on their scientific findings, a picnic would soon follow. Whee, the memories!
Anyway, this is the historical background to the current story. Which is as follows.

One winter's morning in Doda we suddenly noticed the world was looking brighter than usual. The sun was, inexplicably, shining. Still in our PJs and with light hearts, we decided to exploit this freaky behaviour of Nature and go picnic-spot hunting. Just like that. Nothing like a little solar boost to remove winter's lethargy.

I grabbed my camera, Abba revved the 4X4, and off we went. The entire entourage consisted of:
1. Abba - Driving and telling fun stories.
2. Mama - Multitasking as navigator, passenger-seat driver, interrupter and full-time entertainer. (She kept on telling Abba, as she has been for the past thirty years or so, "Saleem! Aaaaahhhh. Be careful. Are we there yet? Where are we? Who is that? Aaaah! Did I turn off the lights when we left? Where's my mobile phone? Wait, let's go ba..!! Oh, never mind, here it is," and other such helpful comments that a driver loves hearing. It's more fun when you hear Ma in person, a fluent mix of Kashmiri, Urdu and English, but alas, you cannot...)
3. Self: Sitting quietly in the backseat, in very well-behaved fashion.
4. Shabir: A young lad from our village who studies here in Doda and lives with us. Also quiet and well-behaved.
5. Bagh Singh: Our very fantastic driver who didn't actually drive that day but came along for the ride. Ditto for 'quiet, well-behaved'.
(Here they be - Bagh Singh with a big head of hair and Shabir, without.)

Important points to be kept in mind for deciding picnic spot:
1. Grandpa: My father's dashing, handsome and very cool father, in his mid-90s mashaAllah, would be the life of the picnic, and so we had to find a spot where there wouldn't be too much walking involved away from the vehicle. He can walk just a teensy bit so we had to find a wheelchair friendly route if needed. (Check him out. *ceetees*)
2. Plain ground for setting up the picnic: checked cloth, baskets and all. More importantly, plain ground because Grandpa, Abba and a couple other gentlemen would start playing bridge the moment they arrived.

3. Water, water everywhere: What is a picnic if there is no fresh water body to sploosh into? Factor 3 on deciding of picnic spot was 'easy access to lots of water.'
4. Privacy: For we like our purdah, do we not? Also, availability of big rocks for changing of costumes. Wet clothes to dry etc.
With those rough guidelines, we started off toward an are known as Ghat (rhymes with 'hut'), just a little way away from Doda.
And boy did we find a nice place. Very close to the road, nice access route for wheelchair, green grass, a foaming rivulet leading right to the River Chenab, and as a bonus, lots of fresh, wild, green cannabis. Ha ha.
That's right. Charas. Grows all over the damn place here.

See all pics here.

Here it is. Just by the Chenab as promised.

Here's Abba checking out the water flow, air pressure, topographic conditions etc.

Plain ground specification, privacy, easy access: check, check, check.

Mama assessing situation and seeming pleased with it.

(She can't swim but she loves water and is always the first to jump in. Fortunately, no dramatic incidents to report thus far.)

Complete set of pics from this recce available here.

It now remains to be seen which lucky weekend we head out to this spot and make merry.

Summer has finally arrived, sneakily ousting Spring, and today, April 26th marks the first day I've switched the fan in my room since September 2008.
So.... Anytime now.

A Day in the Life of...

Me in Doda. Oh, the thrill.

0430 hrs: Wake up to the adhaan from at least five neighbouring mosques. Drag self to the loo, wash up, pray Fajr.

0500hrs: Go back to sleep... *grin*

1000hrs or so: Wake up at leisure, stretch, yawn, sleep again, wake up again etc.

1030hrs: Breakfast

1030-1300hrs: Bathe/soak up sun/read/daydream/catch the news/get online.

1300-1345hrs: Get dressed, pray Dhuhr, lunch and off to work with Ma.

1400-2000hrs: At my school, taking classes and generally doing stuff of great import and consequence to the world. Shaping the next generation, as it were.
Moooahaahahaaa. (Like today. I had a most interesting session on common slang. Useful scientific terms were bandied about like 'snot', 'barf', 'booger', 'fart' and 'upchuck'. Also, such useful expressions as 'disgusting', 'gross', 'sick' and 'ewww'. The kids were most happy.)
Have two prayers at school: Asr and Maghrib, which I squeeze in between classes, along with some of the kids.

2000-2100hrs: Unwinding at home pre-dinner, and final prayer of the day, Ishaa.

2100-2130hrs: Dinner

2200hrs-0200/0300 hrs next morning: TV time and then...silly online business till sleep overcomes.

Like, right about now.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

So commercial, yaaaa

Some Indian commercials over the years that I really liked:

1. The Limca Ad: Last year's O&M Limca offering: Sushma Reddy, Niketan Madhok and very, very lovely track. "Fuhaare, pohchaahre...".
Who is the singer, ma? This here blog, What An Advertise-Meant? has all the answers.

2. The Happy Dent ad: You know. THAT one. McKann Erickson gave us this treat. Rajasthan, dusk, palace grounds, vintage car, silly tennis in saree, Thakur in dining room and....lights! Hilarious, great concept. Esp. loved the disco lights bit. ;)
And again, superb music.
(Mera dil roshan, mera mann roshan...Toh jahaaaaaaaaaan roshannn....)

Wha-heyyyy, remember their earlier ad? Ismail Studios? Har har de har.

3. Hutch/Vodafone ads. Most of them are just plain nice. Actually decided on my first mobile connection based on the advertising. Meaning, Hutch beat Airtel like anything. I only found out later that wherever I went their network didn't really follow, but... Oh, guess what? These ones have great music as well. I'm seeing a trend.

4. Amul: Utterly, Butterly Fun Commercials.

5. Doodh, doodh, doodh, doodh, wonderful doodh! Love that.

6. Orbit chingum: With Dr Batavadekar was it? Mmmmppffff. How Orbit changed his life! And ours. ("White, white, Orbit white. It does not rhyme, but it's troooo.")

7. Cadbury's ads but without any trace of Amitabh Bachchan/Cyrus/other 'celebs'. I cannot stress this last part too much. The all-time favourite ad with the cricket match/girl trespassing onto field. Even the mehndi ad is nice.

8. Coca Cola and Aamir Khan: Fantastic series of ads some years ago. His 'paanch ka chhaap', the tapori ad and the Hyderabadi one. Nuts.

9. Eve-teasing ad on Aaj Tak: The old gentleman is kickass. The bleddy loafarrs are too.

10. Channel [V] 'Wear a Helmet' ad: Biker dude and "Born to be wiiiiiiiiiiiild!" track. Then, splat.
Also, their 'Brought to you Bai' series.

11. H-H-H-H-Heinz... Haahahahhaha. Have a watch:

Must be more. Can't remember now.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gulaal - Haven't watched it yet? But WHY????

Meaning go and watch immediately. One numbers standing ovation for Anurag Kashyap, and two numbers standing ovation for Piyush Mishra, the man in charge of music and lyrics. Kickasssssss.

Gulaal is a nice, hard sock in the solar plexus. Film noir and how. Everyone's the bad guy except poor Jesse Randhawa and Prithvi-Sa.
Here is a great review of the film on

My standouts from Gulaal:
1. Prithvi Sa - PIYUSH MISHRA himself! *ceetees*
2. Kay Kay Menon - Love this man. LOVE him. He can be so bad.
3. Abhimanyu Singh: Plays Rannanjay/Rann Sa. Searing-hot good till he's unceremoniuosly bumped off.
3. The man playing Jhadwaal. Badass only. Loved his filmy jokes and his stupid cronies laughing on cue. (What's with all these men in the hostel room in their undies only? I have a feeling it's realistic. Eeeks. Thank the Lord again that I am a girl-items.)
4. Lady playing Madhuri: Very fine. Kind of not completely there upstairs. 'Mein Tabu jaisi dikhti hoon?' and all sorts of Tabu songs playing in her room. Naaansense only!
5. Little sister Kiran: Eeeeeevil woman. Little firecracker only.
6. The music and lyrics - Oh me, oh my. Goose pimples only.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

MR INDIA – A masterpiece for all time

So, I was watching this fantastic piece of work the other day. AGAIN. Obviously this was one of my childhood favourites but I missed a million things back then. Every repeat viewing of Shekhar Kapur's 1987 cult classic Mr India always throws up brilliant new hilarities for me.
Here are a few points, characters, writing angles I loved (some of which I didn't really notice earlier):
1. Calendar, the cook- His character is decidedly and brilliantly gay! Satish Kaushik is so bleddy wonderful with his subtle nuances. Love the scene where he goes to Lala Roopchand's ration shop and makes eyes at him. Calendar's role is great: underplayed, loveable and no-nonsense in his domain. (To the embarrassing KJo-SRK-Saif school of ‘humour’ where homosexuality is just another tasteless joke: Take a lesson.)

2. Annu Kapoor as Mr Gaitonde, the frazzled editor of... wait for it!.... CRIMES OF INDIA. Hahahahahahaaa. Love it when we get to Sridevi's (Yayyy! My fave!) intro scene. Annu Kappoor asks his clerk/assistant/somesuch where she is... by making a really quick gesture indicating a plump woman. Oh, boy, that cracked me up. Gaitonde meeting Mr India is to-die-for.

3. The brilliant, brilliant Sridevi. Unabashedly and refreshingly "healthy-figured", as they say in Khosla Ka Ghosla, fantastic at comedy, and of course, a standard sultry segment in saree as per director's orders. Sri Scenes to die for: Barely able to stand Mr Gaitonde at work. Eating fresh fruit off her fruit-hat as Ms Hawa Hawaii just before the mad, mad song. As Charlie Chaplin in the unfriendly neighbourhood gambling adda. Totally infuriated with the kids at home. Heart-breaking when the poor rascals are hungry. And so on and so forth.

3. Absolutely love the ultimate badass of Hindi cinema, our favourite megalomaniac Mogambo, in his black breeches and gold trimmings. Not to mention the unfortunate strawberry-blonde hairdo with curl on forehead. "Mogambo khush huaaaa!" with big, big eyes. And, "Hail Mogambo!" screaming his lackeys. Too much. Amrish Puri was a superstar.

4. The names of Mogambo's henchmen and other assorted baddies. Here we are: Dr Foo Man Chu, Captain Zorro (but pronounced Zoh-roh), Daaga, Teja, Mr Wolcott. Tee heee, titter.

5. Arun Bhaiyya – Anil Kapoor’s sweet fiddler with the beige-brown ensemble and floppy hat. I think I’ve loved him ever since. (Yes, even in disasters like Roop Ki Rani, No Entry and Welcome.) Him and bhabhi Sri make a great couple, nein? That doesn’t sound right but it’s true.

6. All the kids. Esp. little Ahmed Khan. And Tina, the little babe who is lost to us. Nooooooo!!!! Tear-jerker only that scene is.

6. The top item on any kid’s wishlist – an invisibility formula! Or, as they keep on saying in this film: ‘faarmyoolaah’. Big red-blue-gold flashing blingy watch-like apparatus though it was, it worked! I tell you, it worked...

7. Snappy, fun dialogue throughout the film. Like matter of fact exchanges between Arun and Calendar where Arun explains to the chubby cook that there is a fine line between sleeping and dying. Gaitonde meeting Mr India, but of course.

8. Wonderful music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. (And background score too.) ‘Zindagi ki yehi reet hai,’ the fun parody song with the kids and Sridevi, and the most amazing song of all time….. ‘HAWA HAWAII’! Wait, this song deserves an independent mention.

9. HAWA HAWAII: The magnificent piece de resistance of Mr India. Bringing a smile, then a giggle and finally healthy guffaws to thousands of amused viewers over the years. Kavita Krishnamurti and Sridevi dazzle in this, the funniest Hindi song of all-time. Am putting the video and lyrics up. Enjoy. Took a fair bit of trouble transcribing.

The choreography is kidney-splitting good. Sri slaps, Sri expressions, the backup dancers’ reactions, the costumes, the words…. Mmmmpppfffff. *applause*

Hawa Hawaii

(Sri appears in extreme bling gold, crown and all)

Ah, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui. [Ample backside wiggle]
Ah, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui! [Nutty expressions!!]

Priceless INTRO: (Check out Sri’s face throughout!)
Aaahhhhh, Honoluluuuuuu, [batting lids]
Loo-loo-loo-loooooo, Honoluluuuuu….
Hing-pickeee, Hong Kong, King Kong… [extreme melodrama]
I see Lucy, you see Lucyyyyyy
Assi tussi Lassi pisiiiii [dance-walk and a quick-jerk flourish with mike]
Mombasaaaa…… Ping pong…..! [THAT face]

Ooi, ooi, ooi, ooi, ooi, ooi, ooi.

Laki chiki laki chiki, chiki laki choom
Rrrrup chiki laki chiki, chiki laki chiki choom
Laki chiki laki chiki, chiki laki choom
Rrrrup chiki laki chiki, chiki laki chiki choom

Main khwaabon ki shahzaadi,
Main hoon har dil pe chhaayi! (2)
Baadal hain meri zulfen,
Bijli meri angdaai

Fantastic CHORUS:
Bijli giraane main hoon aai!
Ho, bijli giraane main hoon aai!
Kehte hain mujhko: Hawa Hawaii (Hawa Hawaii!) [Feathers up nose]
Hawa Hawaii (Hawa Hawaii!)
Hawa Hawaii, Hawa Hawaiiiiii! (ooooh-oooh-oooh-oooh)
[Sri swings around, slaps backing dancers and apologises – FUNNNEEE!]
(Repeat CHORUS)

[Costume change: Greco-Roman-esque dress, but with bling intact. Backing dancers in fantastic fluorescent polystyrene tribal gear]

Zum zum zum zum

Samjhe kya ho naadaanon? (Zum zum zum zum)
Mujhko bholi na jaanon (Zum zum zum zum)
Main hu saanpon ki raani, [Weirdass snake move]
Kaanta maange na paani,
Saagar se moti chheenoon,
Deepak se jyoti chheenoon, [cigar steal]
Patthar se aag laga loon, [nutso face again]
Seene se raaz chura loon,
Haan! Chura loon, chura loon, [Messing with bad guy Wolcott]
Haan haan chura loon (rum pum pum pum)

Jeeno jo tumne baat chhupaai
Ho, jaanoon jo tumne baat chhupaai
Kehte hain mujhko: Hawa Hawaii (Hawa Hawaii!)
Hawa Hawaii (Hawa Hawaii!)
Hawa Hawaii, Hawa Hawaiiiiii! (ooooh-oooh-oooh-oooh)
Bijli giraane main hoon aai!
Kehte hain mujhko: Hawa Hawaii [Fanning self to indicate ‘Hawa’]

Chiki laki chiki, chiki laki choom
Rrrrup chiki laki chiki, chiki laki chiki choom
Puck chiki laki chiki, chiki laki choom
Rrrrup chiki laki chiki, chiki laki chiki choom

[SLO-MO DANCE Sequence!!! Followed by staccato Mediterranean dance bit.
Background dancers have now morphed into habshis with harem pants and sleeveless waistcoats. Sri in gaudy ‘80s splendour.]

[Bum shake again]
Zum zum zum zum

Laai rangeen afasaane (Zum zum zum zum)
Tu bhi sunle, deevaane (Zum zum zum zum)
Aa dil mein halchal kar doon
Aa tujhko paagal kar doon
Meri aankhon mein jaadu
Meri saanson mein kushboo [Heaving chest and all]
Jab mera ye tan lachke [falls back and misses bad guy]
Jaaye na koi bachke
Koi bachke, bachke, bachke, [Messing with bad guy]
Haan haan ji bachke (rum pum pum pum)

Soorat hi maine aisi paai [Cross-eyed funs]
Ho, soorat hi maine aisi paai, [wave dance!!!]
Kehte hain mujhko: Hawa Hawaii (Hawa Hawaii!)
Hawa Hawaii (Hawa Hawaii!)
Hawa Hawaii, Hawa Hawaiiiiii! (ooooh-oooh-oooh-oooh)
Bijli giraane main hoon aai! [nonsense pointing here and there]
Ho, bijli giraane main hoon aai!
Kehte hain mujhko: Hawa Hawaii (Hawa Hawaii!) [Fanning self]
Hawa Hawaii (Hawa Hawaii!)
Hawa Hawaii, Hawa Hawaiiiiii! (ooooh-oooh-oooh-oooh)

Oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui! [Head weaving]
Oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui!]
Oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui! [Egyptian move meets disaster]
Oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui! [Hands in a twist]

[Ridiculous dance moves till final slap by Bad Guy]

Hurrahs, and well done.