Ain't no Baloney, Mistah!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Gita

I have taken to reading the Bhagavad Gita and also a book dedicated to the 3rd Chapter - Karma Yoga: The Path Of Action (Thanks Arjun!). While I probably need to finish reading the books in their entirety to write about that the thoughts that it invoked and the effect that it has had on me, I would nevertheless like to dogear certain verses here from time to time:

"The Yogi who is established in his Self and who is even minded all the time and at all the places develops the equal vision where by he sees the Self in all beings and all beings in the Self".(Chapter 6: Verse 29)

"Restless senses can forcibly carry away the mind of even a wise person striving for perfection. One's intellect becomes steady when one's senses are under complete control. One develops attachment to sense objects by thinking about sense objects. Desire for sense objects comes from attachment to sense objects, and anger comes from unfulfilled desires. Delusion or wild idea arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when mind is bewildered. One falls down from the right path when reasoning is destroyed." (Chapter 2: Verses 60-63)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Apparently the not-quite-the-right-fit works!

The media is abuzz about Bobby Jindal's being elected the governor of Louisiana. Now, I can't proclaim to make a confident political commentary nor am I inclined to make any sort of personal comments, but thought I would quickly jot down some of the facts that you can ponder about!

1. Louisiana is one of the states with lowest immigration stock.
2. It is also the nation's poorest state, measured by per capita and one of its unhealthiest; the worst in infant mortality; and the least educated. It is last in attracting new college-educated workers (Source : The NY times)
3. Bobby Jindal, in his owns words, is 100% against abortion. He originally belongs to the country with the second highest population in the world.
4. Jindal is an enthusiastic supporter of the war in Iraq. In 2005, Jindal led other freshman Republican House members in dipping their fingers in purple dye to celebrate the 2005 Iraqi national elections (Source : Wikipedia)
5. His comments on the Hurricane Katrina "The storms didn’t cause all of our problems —they revealed a lot of our problems. It’s an incredible opportunity to change the state.”

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Brief Sojourn at The Coffee Kingdom

You would think writing about a blissful holiday should be something that one would normally jump at...But then again, you are also probably one of those kinds who does not know how to get an assprint permanently embossed on your chair. So trust me, you would not understand!

Late last August, we decided to take a break from the oft-repeated off-beaten tracks of Goa and venture into something that we have not tried too much together. I could only muster up a couple of days off and so the war between coffee kingdoms was won by Chikmagulur. Honestly, I have been very keen on doing Coorg, but we thought it would be better if we could try that when we have more time on my hands and more dough in our pockets (I don't know whether that will EVER happen!).

Chikmagulur, for the slightly intiated, is Cafe Coffee Day County. For the totally uninitiated, is nestled between the big and beautiful mountain ranges of Baba Budan Giri, about 260 kms off Bangalore. Known for its rich coffee estates on its outer fringes, it is actually a quaint little town with little country clubs where the rich coffee lords and their plump wives get together and drink anything but coffee!

We took an overnight KSRTC Volvo bus from Bangalore (started at about 11.30 p.m) and the journey to Chikmagulur took around 6 hours. So in the wee hours of the morning, we found ourselves in the middle of a quiet bus stand. Luckily, I had earlier managed to get some contact details of hotels on karnataka tourism website and had done a phone booking at what seemed (online!) to be a decent place called Planter's Court. It turned out to be fairly decent hotel, with a nice Udipi restaurant bordering it. That place served the best coffee that I have had in a very loooong time(Not counting Mum's..) - strong, dark, not-so-sweet and more importantly, non-stringent!!

Armed with a very scanty knowledge about the town , we set out to check out 'Ratnagiri Park', which was part of the town itself. This park had its own little toy train, tree house, a pond and the likes. Pretty much the standard stuff, but the main attraction was the breathtaking view of the surrounding hills.

It was about mid-afternoon, when we made our way to the bus-stand again to enquire about how to get to either Mullainagiri or Baba Budan Giri. From whatever little information we could gather from the locals, the former was the highest peak in Karnataka and the latter was the main point of attraction. Given the time we had on our hands, we decided to rent a jeep to head to Mullainagiri. The ride was quite torturous thanks to the generous monsoon-induced potholes on the road. Couple that with the absence of any sort of barricades on the mountain paths, beyond which there also seemed to be abyss all fogged out, the ride was quite a memorable one!

We reached the point from where we had to trek up a flight of stairs to get to a little temple. This was supposed to signify the highest point in Karnataka. The trek turned out to be a bit more arduous than we expected, simply because it was VERY chilly AND it was raining!! We didn't have windcheaters and since we didn't want to get out sweatshirts wet, we had to endure the climb wearing only our t-shirts. Needless to say, we were soon soaked to the bones due to the rain! Not to mention, we were virtually unprotected against the cold wind. We eventually managed to get to the peak and as it turns out, the temple itself was closed! We would have ideally lingered on there for longer, but for the rain and cold wind...So we got our asses back to firm ground soon!

Dinner was at the Club house in the hotel itself...Being a Sunday night, there seemed to be a lot of the usual family dinner outings in progress..Most of the tables there seemed to house people belonging to either one of these categories:

a) the newly-wed kinds crouching towards in barely-visible corners.
b) the quintessential nuclear family types ( You know..with the husband staring jealously at the men who get to smoke, the wife stealing glances at the fake jewellery of the woman in the next table, the children looking ever so bored even while staring at the TV screens)
c) the oh-so-long table - with all the uncles on one side and all the aunties on one side and the conversation same-sex based!
d) And One table for the resident "tourists"! Us! Our camera, our extra layers of clothing in otherwise warm room, the hoots of excitement at finding a peg of premium whiksky for less than 50 bucks et al - think all these gave us away ;)

We began Day 2 with what else but filter coffee!! After a nice Udipi breakfast, we headed again to busstand from where we were to take a bus to Baba Budan Giri. After a wait of nearly an hour in the bus, which was spent in reading aloud a play and gathering some "why-don't-you-just-shut-up" glances, we began our nearly two hour journey to the hills..

The picturesque ride was quite worth all the effort! The road winds and unwinds through the green ranges..
We passed a few estates and were told that the monsoon is not the best time to visit these estates because of the impending danger of leeches! The mid-day mist seem to a large icing on the big green cake that the ranges were! We reached the point beyond which we had to take a jeep to reach the waterfall, which was about 3 kms up...We could have trekked this journey, but for the lack of time - we had to be back by 4-4.30 in order to catch the return bus back to Chikmagulur...

More than waterfall itself, the instant thing to greet you were the amount of clothes strewn around near the waterfall!
We suspected it to be chaddis which people flung after taking a shower in the waterfall! There were also these stones which were being worshipped as a deity...In true southie style, people broke coconuts before this deity..Of course these seem to be offerings more for the monkeys in and around the place than for the God!!

The view of the valley from this point was so breathtaking and it was made even more enjoyable by the hot chai and pakodas! We then headed to this cave shrine which was popularly known as the "hindu-muslim" temple! It actually turned to a beautiful dargah tucked away beneath the ground in a cave, where natural rock formations were being worshipped..Although Photography was prohibited, I couldn't help sneak in a couple of shots of the place!

We began the journey back down and were back in Chikmagulur by the dusk...Dinner was back at the Clubhouse..But it was a lot quieter that day! And this time, we ensured we didn't look the part of tourists so much! After sleeping for a few hours, we were up before dawn to catch the bus back to Bangalore...It was a trip unlike anything we have ever had and we are sure to remember the beautiful town and its heavenly surroundings for a looong while!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I remember....

The smile that this evergreen opening credits inspired..

Off you go..down the memory lane!

P.S: Sidd/Nitin - This is for you guys!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Last Kiss

Much as I am a sucker for movies with good soundtracks, the real reason I wanted to pick up the DVD for this movie, 'Last Kiss' was the whole plot surrounding the big ‘3-0(h)’ crisis. True, it’s probably NOT the most original of concepts (It’s also adapted from an Italian movie called ‘L’Ultimo Bacio’) – The protagonist is fast approaching his 30th birthday, has a job that he is good at, has a girlfriend who just seems perfect in more ways than one and is going to have a baby with her. It’s sort of like the ideal situation that he has always wanted to be in when he hits the 30 mark. But of course, not all is fine. The fact that life seems too programmed and planned out is a little too scary for him. There doesn’t seem to be any lofty surprises in store in the future too. So he chokes, acts on the first temptation that comes his way and then everything comes crashing down hard.

So what’s interesting about a ‘rosy-life-suddenly-turns-sour’ story, you ask? Well, for one – the movie is a mere instrument to tell the story, as it is. It’s completely brazen in its honesty. While the story unfolds with the choices that the protagonist makes and the repercussions that it has on his relationship with his girlfriend, it does not falter into taking sides and getting into an unnecessary imbroglio of pity-induced patronage of the victim and unabated bashing of the wrongdoer. There’s no good vs. evil spin here and most of the characters are in some sort of fix when it comes to their relationships. All due credit needs to be given to the right casting choices as well. Zach Braff is just right for the role of the guy who is thrown into the throngs of confusion by how well life has worked out and how not very happy he is with that situation. Even though he visibly screws up by sleeping with a college girl, he does not immediately end up becoming hate-worthy in the eyes of the audience.

The movie just brought back the thoughts that I have always had about relationships. After being in one for close to four years now, I have come around to accepting one thing - ultimately you cannot escape that one truth about relationships– More often than not, it does not come easy. Sometimes, you just can’t expect it to assume its natural course. It does not all fall into place and you have to work very hard at it. Especially if you are one who has always lived life on your own terms, there will be times when your priorities, desires, ambitions and even inhibitions INDIVIDUALLY would threaten to gain more importance over the pathway that both of you have laid out for each other as a couple. When it comes down to a collision path such as that, I guess compromise works. But then again, I do believe the answer is finally lies in – well, the choices you make. Sometimes they are hard, sometimes they are plain friggin’ obvious. But heck, one way or the other, you have ‘em!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

'ALJ' Residency!

Heck...It's been an awfully long hiatus from blogging that any excuse, how much ever valid I can make it to be, would probably not work!

Anyway, I just had to write about this! An excerpt of a typical conversation that I find myself in the middle of, over and over again! As you will soon see, I really don't need to be wearing that " I am with Stupid" Tee !!

Act I/Scene 1- It's a Tuesday Evening at about 7.30 p.m. I was, not surprisingly, still stuck at work when my pal Sidd buzzes me.

Sidd : Give me a good word beginning with 'J'
Me : Jazzy! But hey, wait a minute, what the fuck do you need it for?
Sidd : Just tell me please!
Me : What is it for?! You are in the one in need!
Sidd : Bitch! Stop analyzing things so much!
Me : So why do you need it?!
Sidd : Argh! We are trying to come up with what ALJ could stand for... (ALJ Residency is the name of the apartment that Sidd stays at and we have no friggin' clue what ALJ stands for! You are probably wondering at this juncture as to why Sidd wants to expand the abbreviated form..That's probably because you don't know him and you also don't know that he takes special pride in saying outrageous things like "I have made out with (insert fabricated number) women! So what if I haven't gotten laid in the last two years!!" )
Me: Ahhh well...Lets see... It could be 'Association of....'
Sidd: No, no..we are looking at something like 'All about..'
Me: There aren't two A's in ALJ! It should be 'Association of Losers and....'
Sidd: Shuddddup!!!
Me: Jokers! There you go! How more appropriate can it get!
'Association of Losers and Jokers' Residency!! You are born so that you can live in this house!!
Sidd : What nonsense! Don't forget the other occupants! Especially Mr. Sandy 'Don Juan' G! We are talking about the studs of Bandra here!
Me : All the more reason for it to be called 'Association of
Losers and Jokers' residency! It's like the house for the socially handicapped!! I think I am gonna start publicizing this name now!
Sidd: You don't know who you are messing around with! After all,
you are talkinga bout the neighbours of Katty Kaif!! (Incidentally Ms.Kaif is 'supposedly' staying at an apartment off Waterfield Road, which is a good three lanes away from where these guys stay!
Me : Neighbour, my left ass! Oh hey...You guys can have another
roomie too! Kelly Dorji!
(About two months back, Mr. Dorji was alleged to have been shopping for veggies at the Pali Market, which is next to ALJ. A swank Lexus was also seen to be standing near with Lara Dutta sitting inside and sipping a frappe! Once Kelly Dorji was done shopping, he climbed back into the driver's seat...)
Sidd : Kelly Dorji is also a stud! He will fit right in!
Me : Right-o! A stud who shops and drives for his girlfriend! Now that he has been dumped and is staying at Versova, you guys should ask him to move in! After all, it's the house where the socially handicapped stay!
Sidd: Get lost! Women throng to our house! You are also one
of 'em! It's because it's the most happening spot in Bandra!!
Me : We visit so that you socially handicapped folks won't feel
left out! We show you some sympathy!
Sidd : You wretch! We will come up with a cool name...You just wait
and watch! Bye!
Me : Cya loser!

Act I/Scene 2 - It's about 10 p.m the same evening.I am lazing on my beanbag at home when I get a lameass SMS from Sidd. It reads 'Hi! Congratulations! You have been chosen as one of the esteemed friends of the occupants of the 'Absolute Love and Josh' Residency!' (LMAO! It should have probably read friends of 'esteemed' occupants...but then you have to excuse my friends...They are after all Losers/Jokers!) Then my phone rings again..

Sidd : So, did you get our SMS?
Me : Yeah! And I am still in splits..You guys are such losers!
Sidd : Shuddup! Thank your lucky stars that you are on our list and
you got this SMS!
Me : Lemme talk a not-so-wild guess! There were two people on that list...Me and Mishti (Sandy's girlfriend)..If Mishti's around at your place, then probably the list had only my name!
Sidd : What nonsense! We have such a long list!
Me : So who else is on the list?!
Sidd : That's classified information!
Me : Haha! You guys truly belong in the 'Association of Losers
and Jokers' Residency!
Sidd : You wretch! It's 'Absolute Love and Josh' Residency! Good night!

(Yes, yes...the rest of our conversations are also as pointless as this!)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Sophisticated Beggar

"He may be cantankerous and opinionated but through all this he remains a highly intelligent poet and a hopeless romantic blessed with a remarkable voice. Mostly, his entire recorded output is hugely underrated."

Lots have been said about Roy Harper - his prowess with the verses, his vehement self-indulgence, his lack of commercial success at a time when new arts and music movements were taking shape in a rampant manner, his stubbornness and uncomprising attitude when it comes toning down his opinions and according to me, mostly his opinions itself...But few and far between have stood the test of time as singer/songwriters who carved their own place in history by virtue of their poetical words alone. And Roy Harper tops my personal list of such people.

It's ironical that much of his popularity came thanks to the tribute paid by Led Zeppelin in their track, "Hats Off to (Roy) Harper". According to the band's axe man, Jimmy Page, who had collaborated with Harper on a few occasions, he was known best for his unflinching revert in the face of heavy pressure for being a sell out and a sucker for commercial success. A man who refused to tone down his views came to known more this act of his, rather than the views itself. In fact this part of his persona seemed to befit the message behind Pink Floyd's hit, "Have a Cigar", a song for which he lent his vocals.

While his biggest hit till date remains to be "When a Cricketer Leaves the Crease",a song where a cricketer retiring from the game is used a metaphor for life itself, the song which defines him and his music to me has been the track " I hate the white man", from his album "Flat Berserk and Baroque". This album was his first with his long lasting record label, Harvest Records, which led to him to Peter Jenner, the guy behind Pink Floyd's records, who would eventually start producing Harper's music too.

The track starts off with a monologue about the difference between the rich people and poor people with the background of their distinction being seemingly brought out by music.Harper maintains a very serene tone throughout the message while the undercurrent of the speech, the message itself, is anything but subtle. Here is the song which follows the speech. The man, when he opines, makes sure he leaves us gulping and how! Like any song with a strong message, this one is long. But the part that I always tend to concentrate its sheer poetic brilliance and the melody it has been constructed on. Boy! If I had a nickel for everytime I can come up with something like...."where the barefoot dream of life Can laugh and cry its fill ", "teargas happiness", "plastic excuse", "And sits to warm his toes around A fire made up of useless thoughts"!!