Friday, December 28, 2007
Alright alright, so its not all that great. But comeon, waking up one fine day at 7:30 and thinking ok, let me just do something with the bare minimum knowledge I have with Adobe Illustrator, and to come up with this in like 2 hours time, not that bad. And yes all you Illustrator Connoisseurs so to say, there is just predominantly two tools, Blend and Twirl. But comeon, accept that I have used both of them rather creatively.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Merry Christmas to all of you. It was during such a merry time a couple of years back that the worst of tsunamis struck our coastal regions. Christmas came again the next year, and this year, but the tsunami did not; thankfully. Tsunami thus became a rather common word in our vocabulary, more used now for jokes than anything else. But do we remember the events? Worst, did we forget it all. People who has been affected by this still lives through, although a little more scared than us. Heres something I found in my Dad's laptop which I thought I would publish here.
All photos are taken by my Dad (Dr. G. Mohan). Original write-up is also by him with small edits from myself.
The third anniversary of the 2004 Tsunami is nearing. I had the personal experience of working in one of the worst affected areas in Tamilnadu –near Colachel in the Kanyakumari District where the death toll was around 600. The whole area was devastated by the waves. I almost spend five months in this area of which I was doing relief and rehabilitation work for three months in one of the fishing hamlets near Colachel, a place called Kottilpadu where 213 people died which included 94 children. I was then working as the Chief Medical Officer of Indian Rare Earths Ltd. Manavalkurichy. In September this year I visited the place once again to assess the recovery of these people whose morale was at its lowest when I left on 31st, May 2005.
28th, December 2004. Two days after the Tsunami struck the coastal areas of the Kanyakumari District. The site: one of the relief camps near Colachel. Time around noon. Two men arrive frantically on a motorcycle and just announces two words in Tamil- “Alai Varuthu”(Waves coming). Pandemonium broke out in the camp. There were cries all around. People were running here and there, taking whatever they could, women clutching small babies to their chest and holding the elder ones, trying to escape from the place. Two buses stop in front of the camp. People jump into the buses without knowing where the buses are proceeding to, pleading with the drivers to take them away from this place. In few minutes the camp was virtually empty except the medical relief team which I was heading and few local people and the priest of the church where the camp was set up. It is one of the highest points around Colachel, almost 2 kilometers away from the sea where no waves can ever reach! The same scenes repeated a couple of times in the next three months.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
We all have had our fantasies during adolescence. All of them included girls and dreamy eyed views of sex. Our biology text was too linear in their portrayal of sexual organs; as in they used only lines and shades to depict different organs. Encyclopedia again was so Class 7. If I remember correctly, my first sexual excitement was mainly due to certain pages of Oxford Dictionary. Internet was not as prolific as it is today, so our peep hole into female anatomy was predominantly limited to cut outs of an old magazine called Fantasy.
We were thirsty, we wanted to know the hows and whats and then-whats of sex. We needed it not in a documentary format, but in graphic detail. We looked around, pornographic cassettes (we watched it in my school's nursery section on a holiday; beat that) were there. Soon we started losing the adrenaline rush of it all. It was all becoming passe. What we wanted now was a way that we could show the world, that, WE ARE HERE!
How? Simple; go watch a porno (soft porno) movie in a theater; where there were sets of eyes noticing every movement that we make to make an ID and then report it to any of our parents. Waiting outside Deepa theater (which is quite notorious for screening only soft porno movies) itself gave us the adrenaline rush we wanted. But no, we are here to fulfill a dream of sorts; so lets get ahead with it. The movie was, ah I still remember the title correctly, Neela Thadakathile Nizhal Pakshikal (Blue Lake's Shadow Birds). The story was about a particularly fat girl, who was a State Champion swimmer or something (now we knew why we dont have a national swimming champion from Kerala). Then there was a lesbian angle, where a room mate or something of this fat swimming champion from Kerala was trying to seduce her. Our brave and fat swimming champ after giving a there-raising show of female to female seduction, brushes off her attempts. This lesbian lady gets herself killed somehow, and it becomes a whodunit afterwards, and we were not exactly satisfied. I mean come on, this is not worth all this trouble; to see two fat chics wriggling around in a bed making noises that am sure has been mixed into the movie during post production. For all of this we had to suffer through the fat girl ticking out the bad guys one by one. The plot was too confusing and I think it was majorly inspired from an art house flick.
Well that was that, maybe it was our choice of movie that was bad. I mean, Kerala is a very reserved place, maybe the soft porno in Kerala can be (and was) seen in mainstream movies of other languages. We all drowned ourselves in this particular Blue Lake. Out in the sun, I think it finally made sense why they named the movie so. We went to watch some steamy action, and we got a watery shadow of the whole proceeding. But thank you life, for teaching me that, there can be Blue Lakes and Shadowy Birds, and fat swimming champions. I mean, really fat swimming champions. We drown before you!
More to come; Eaten Alive!!! The sexy babes of amazon like you have never seen them before, minced meat!!!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I have almost (I stress on almost) given up smoking, except for the parties where if you dont smoke you have to drink. As drinking in clubs is more expensive than smoking, smoking is the 'wise' choice while clubbing.
Well coming back to the topic, I was just arranging my clothes into the cupboard in my room when my gaze fell on a duty free bag. This bag has been around for quite some time now, but today I decided to take a look inside. One bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label and 20/200 packs of Philip Morris and Dunhill.
Well see it all you suckers; I cannot get these babies all waiting to go up in smokes and... well... err... as a kick in your heads, out of my room. Neither can I sneak a peg or a smoke out of this as my Dad would know. If I tell him I have to take it for my friends, he will know its a rather big baggage for just friends.
There is no end to my ongoing dilemma and desperation. If you people have any kind of advice, please please please do tell it to me.
Addendum: I deliberately avoided mentioning the bigger-than-name statutory warning on the Philip Morris. Period.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
If there is one thing that I learnt which can be called as extremely valuable piece of information is this:
"Learning doesn't necessarily have to be from pundits. You can learn from everyone. You just have to brush your little ego aside and observe and be patient to people; and you see this beautiful little angles developing. You learn new things, you realize new things, you observe new things from sources you considered so below yourself."
I thought it was below me to learn from people, but there have been certain events and certain people who has helped me learn this knack. I have realized that the people that I am most comfortable with and give most respect to are those who are very down to earth in their demeanor. You tend to give in to their humbleness and they (I guess) learn something from you.
Almost always I have seen people reacting in a positive way to certain things that you do. These are very simple stuff and in no way constitutes an exhaustive list. Let me try and get this out of my jottings for how to keep yourself up and running throughout the day:
- Wakeup and do whatever gets your spirits high. For me its music and I make sure that every morning I listen to my current favorite house or rock that gets me pumped up.
- Talk to someone who’s ready to hear you out right from day break. I know this is a little too much, but doing this will really set your safety net, knowing that you have this person to fall back into in case anything goes wrong.
- Smile and smile and smile. Well don’t smile like the Joker in Batman; that just gives a bad pain in the jaw. Smile more of a Mona Lisa smile, corners of your lip kind of a smile.
- Look into your eyes in the mirror and talk to yourself. Criticize and comment; I know its very creepy at first, like Gollum, then again it works, you know where you are wrong and where you have to stand up for yourself.
- Talk to people. Talk talk talk! No one will eat you if you talk to them. I know sometimes it can be embarrassing, but don't let it. Be Above the reactions. But you make sure you act.
- When talking to people that you know, make sure you call them by name. If your office is not set in feudal times, you can get away without having to call people 'Sir' and 'Madam'. It brings in a real boost to the comfort factor when you call people by name.
- Compliment people. Compliments work wonders only if they are done straight. It shouldn't sound very cheesy. Be casual and comment very matter-of-factly; just like you have made an observation.
- Walk around. If not all the time, at least hourly; it helps you keep your energy levels up, especially if you are a sedentary worker.
- Make notes. It helps to make notes, professionally and for your own self discovery. You look at it again after a few days and it helps you see yourself from a third person's view (Visions and Perceptions, see) and be constructively critical about yourself.
- Never shrug at anyone. Shrugging turns people off, duh. You shrug too much at people and they go into this cocoon in front of you, and you don’t want that; double duh!
Well, I guess this is as much as I can think about right now. I am sure every one of us have their own ways of getting through the day at the right pace and I will be more than pleased to hear any of them. Like I said, this is in no way an exhaustive list and additions are always welcome.
Till then, lets spread the merriment; in true festive spirit, HO HO HO!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Sad is the state of Indian movies which saw Himesh Reshammiya's Aap Ka Surroorrr - The Moviieeeiie becoming one of the major hits of the year. I knew it from the onset that the near death experience will not be over soon and we will have to face more attempted murders thanks to producers who wants to cash in on the value-for-money proposition that is Himesh.
But I never saw this one coming! More than a near death experience, Himesh will be handing us a pre-death, through-death AND post-death experience with his next movie Karzzz. The movie is apparently the remake of the much less zzz-ed original, Karz. I would say its a good thing that its a movie based on reincarnation. The audience can choose between two endings; a first in the world of movies. Those who cannot tolerate more of Himesh can decide to themselves that Karzzz is just a very neo-realistic movie which says good doesn't win over evil all the bloody effing time when Himesh dies; or, people who still want to hoot, cat call or nasally twang the hero under the cap can sit, stand or dance through the whole thing.
Also to its credit is its apparently remizzzed title. Karz becomes Karzzz; just like 'Surroor' became 'Surrroooooorrrrrr......rrrr.....rr..' and 'movie' became 'Moviieeee' (I am still confused about how this one is actually spelled). I feel the 'zzz' factor in the title might show a lot about the movie than the initial promos. I can foresee the reviewers having a field day with its title alone. "Karzzz was like the title indicated; a zzz affair" or "Kar-zzz: The most sleep I had in a movie hall in a long long time".
Well I dont want to take anything away from this guy either; thanks to some hmmable (the typo is deliberate) tunes, this guy, with his lucky cap always intact, has gone ahead to become a super hit music director, pop musician and the ultimate of Indian fantasies, a superstar on screen. But I for one hope that someone out there lay a spike strip on his road to stardom and bring it to an abrupt but much awaited stop.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The name Bollywood, through years, have come to showcase that we are more than a B-Grade ripoff of
Exhibit A – Bobby Deol
The rains in his debut movie Barsaat might have washed away Twinkle Khanna’s makeup, but it failed to make Bobby Deol twitch. This Deol is equivalent to the everlasting plywood; heat, water, sea wave, microwave, brainwave – nothing can deter this Deol from his everlasting pursuit for being wooden beyond Treebeard. Coming to think of it, Peter Jackson could have saved a lot of money if he had used Bobby Deol instead of the half animated, half whatever monster creation for his Lord of the Rings. I dread myself as I type this, but Bobby Deol could actually have brought ‘life’ into Treebeard. Ah the humanity!
Bobby Deol is one actor who almost always have gotten it wrong. If he had played a soldier in any movie other than the one titled Soldier (Abbas Mastan dread alert), his part would have been passé at least. But this particular soldier had to crack jokes and flirt and dance and romance, and; oh, this one is huge, he had to act drunk. Now acting drunk is not that big a deal; any Hindi movie Hero worth the generations before him can do a drunk scene in their sober sleep. But Bobby Deol was notches above being drunk. He acted so drunk that the effect transcended on me and I started feeling a little dizzy. Leaving all that, I seriously believe that Bobby Deol nailed his acting skills (on its head) in his portrayal of Bhagat Singh. In one very emotional scene, I believe I could see his fake moustache shake a little. Now before you start accusing me of blasphemy, this is just my opinion, you can go through the torture of checking it yourself if you don’t believe me; talk about a catch-22 situation.
Exhibit B - Upen Patel
This guy is not really bad when hes being interviewed, and that was when I first saw him talking and moving and ‘emoting’. Guess this guy needs some really chilled down atmosphere to bring out his histrionics skill. There are a few things that Bollywood heroes need to survive. First is a good physique. Second, will be good dancing skills. Third is something we are ready to give time for improvement if found lacking; that’s acting skills. Upen Patel has a good body (ok ladies, stop ooh aah-ing). Before I even get into his acting skill, I want to stop by his dancing skills. Now this guy would be beaten in a dance competition by a two legged drunk hippopotamus in knee-deep water. Maybe Upen Patel has too much wood, oops muscles, in his body (girls, once more, please stop that). The guy worked out a lot and hence lost the capability to completely bring down his hands to his body; which is oh-so-essential when it comes to dance in Bollywood.
This Patel boy has a dimple, no no its not the cute John Abraham-ish dimple. This one is a chin dimple. If you have the bad luck to catch Upen Patel in a DVD or something to that extent, make sure you zoom in on his face during a scene which requires acting skills. Below is a little guide to deciphering the acting skills of Upen Patel:
Scenario 1 – Chin Dimple is the size of a mini-disc
Emotions portayed – Extreme anger, sadness, astonishment, happiness, loneliness.
Scenario 2 – Chin dimple is the size of a 2Rs (Indian) coin
Emotions portrayed – Loneliness, sadness, astonishment, extreme anger, happiness.
Scenario 3 – Chin dimple is the size of a cellphone numeric key
Emotions portrayed – Happiness, loneliness, astonishment, sadness, extreme anger
Scenario 4 – Chin dimple is the size of; where the hell is the chin dimple
Emotions portrayed – Sadness, extreme anger, astonishment, loneliness, happiness
Now now, I can go on and on about the furnitures exhibited in Bollywood; but it requires a lot more time and space. But in pure Bollywood style I declare, the forthcoming attractions hold a lot of promise with:
- The lead protagonist of a movie shot entirely in slow motion (yes, it was a Really Grave Vision)
- An actor who could make us laugh when we were supposed to be scared and made us flee theaters with his emotions.
- The offspring of a jumping jack who rarely jumped himself.
- And a mixed bag of other artistes who almost made the list, but then again redeemed themselves.
All this and more, in days to come.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Dad (‘Acha’ for me) is your wikipedia before internet existed; before encyclopedia existed; hell, before you even started to read. Well, we all came to know as we grew up, that maybe he didn’t have answers to all your questions. He is not exactly what you would call a Super Hero either; but when your curious mind falters at all levels trying to find an answer that will put an end to the alarm of curiosity ringing continuously inside your little head, he comes to the rescue giving answers, even if made up ones.
It is sad to know that, we slowly stop admiring him, after a while we start teasing him for not catching up with the world (“Geez, why do you type so slow?”) and ofcourse, give it some more time and you will start hating him for coming into your personal matters. You will resent his fatherly advice when he tells you about your weaknesses. Be it your maths classes or your romantic relationship, Dad’s words of wisdom becomes a not so keenly awaited one.
Even through all this torture, he shows amazing work ethics (if fatherhood can be considered the least rewarding of jobs) by being there for you, when you come back home fighting with the neighborhood kids, or when you flunk your midterms and expect a major whipping from Mom. It is amazing that he completely understands how to react in situations where we are completely helpless to change things. You broke something means you broke something, scolding for lengths and punishing will not really change the laws of time and bring it back; though a little of it will remind you to be extra careful the next time round.
Its amazing how Bill Watterson got it perfectly right when depicting the Dad in Calvin and Hobbes. The way situations act out in Calvin and Hobbes seems almost autobiographical to me. He (Dad) gives explanations to all your questions, without saying he doesn’t know. He never really stamp out the creative lantern that is burning bright inside your head. When you grow up, you realize world and forget fantasy. It’s a great thing that Calvin never grew up. Sometimes I wish even I was stuck in an eternal cycle of being a 6 year old. But then again, it’s the losses that we face in life that makes us realize that, well we have lost something. If there is no chance to think and realize what we have lost, we never come to appreciating it in its truest essence. And if life didn’t make this cycle of first being a kid to your Dad and then a Dad to your kid, you wont ever probably realize that, even if your Dad wasn’t a super hero, he was one hell of a super human being.
Dedicated to the most ubercool Dad in this whole wide world: My Dad
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Disclaimer: The author of this is a certified Mallu® (pet name for residents of Kerala, God’s Own Country). Any retortions made against this article will be retorted back with coconuts.
Origami is a Chinese hobby of folding a square piece of paper in various steps to create different forms like animals or certain abstract art when you go wrong somewhere. Basically its one of the most tedious and least rewarding hobby you can find. You take a square piece of paper, fold it again and again, and you will get a shape and you will in all probability have to label it as a crane or a duck. Trust me, the crane can also be labeled as an Eagle or the very latest of American fighter crafts and we still would say ‘Oh yes… it does resemble a crane (or eagle or jet)’. After all how many of us would want to actually put up paper art in our shelf or mantles.
Origami though has found a remarkable patronage down south of India. The same principles of origami is used in Kerala (and other parts of South India), for one of the most versatile piece of clothing called Lungi.
The differences between Lungi and Origami are manifold. One of the immediate difference you can see is in the material; when Origami uses paper of predominantly a single color, lungi is made of clothes like silk and cotton which has colors that the regular graphics adapter in our Computers wouldn’t be able to display. (refer picture)
Another interesting fact about the lungi is its basic simplicity. It is a rectangular piece of cloth with no buttons, zips or stitches. Thus lungi brings out the artist in the wearer and the look that you get with a lungi is primarily the craftsmanship of the wearer and not an expensive tailor. Folklore has it that Gucci and Versace tried desperately to ape the lungi, but the Mallu® clan never gave away the secrets of the perfect lungi drape.
The lungi, unlike other clothes can be manipulated (or folded) to different forms to suit a marriage function or a street fight. Yes, the same lungi when folded in different ways brings out respect as well as fear. It can be substituted for a well stitched formal trouser as well as a very relaxed boxer shorts for you to laze around.
Kerala is an amazingly hot and humid place. Necessity always being the desperate mother of invention, thus forced the Mallu®s to find style and solace in a lungi. The basic ventilated system that a lungi provides is ideal for the climatic conditions found in Kerala. Though people from cold climates be warned, wearing a lungi in cold places will be like skiing downhill in your boxers. Nike’s AIR range of footwears uses a rather shoddy copy of the lungis ventilation. That alone should be proof for the superiority the lungi enjoys in comparison with other lesser garments.
The lungi is wrapped around your waist, with a little more taste than when you do the same with your bath towel, in its most basic form. Lift one of the bottom edges of the lungi up to your knees and the lungi magically becomes relaxed formals. This brand of lungi wearing can mostly be found in marriage functions when the lungi wearer adapts to the crowd that surrounds you for better maneuverability.
Lift the lungi from behind just pulling the cloth bit above your knees and the lungi becomes the perfect dress when you have to ride your bike. The way the ends of the lungi flap when you ride away to glory is bound to enthrall the senses of all the fairer sex who maybe watching you in admiration. The different folds of the lungi also ensure in this case that the lungi sticks to you without revealing too much. Ace circus artistes of Cirque du Soleil tried the bike riding stunt by wearing lungi and failed miserably.
The most relaxed and commonly found form of lungi is the boxer shorts lungi. In this form, you wear the lungi in its basic form, and then lift its bottom edge upwards and tie a knot with the two corners somewhere around your waist. This will basically halve the length of the lungi, and the lungi itself will take a rather puffed form around your thighs. This is best when you are lazing around in the comfort of your home. (refer picture, also note the Martian colors of the lungi)
The manifold (many ‘folds’) uses of lungi cannot be summarized in a small article. In fact there exists a Kuttan Ikka Encylopedia (available only in lungiback editions) dedicated to the history of lungi, art forms evolved from lungi and a discussion which actually states that origami is an inferior adaptation of lungi draping because the Chinese of that time haven’t discovered silk yet.
Lungi is thus an oft ignored and criticized art form which doesn’t have many takers outside of Mallu® land. Lungi bonds with the wearer more than regular dresses where the dress becomes more important than the person. All lungis might look the same, but then again, the artistry of the wearer makes it the classy or relaxed wear it becomes.
After No Smoking (which unfortunately went up in smokes) the next movie I watched First Day was Khoya Khoya Chand. The movie requires an extensive knowledge of the Hindi Movies of yore to be completely understood and appreciated, hence a review is totally off my limits.
But there are few things that struck me, outside of the movie, but still inside the movie hall, which seems to show us this SAD state of affairs. SAD here means Short Attention-span Disorder, and this seems to be what is plaguing the new age Indian moviegoer. I am not saying that I am an intellectual guy and the rest of them in there were morons, but at some point they did seem to act like a baby who didnt get farex on time.
The audience is always the best judge of a movie, because it is for us that the movies are made. But the audiences these days seem to need this very McDonald-ish fast food kind of treatment from the movies. We seem to enjoy only one brand of movies, and that is the mindless comedies floating around. We need every scene to be a laugh riot. If we dont laugh through a movie we dont enjoy the movie. If we dont enjoy the movie we are not gonna pay for the movie. Its plain and simple principles.
When was the last time a movie which doesnt exactly leave you smiling did well in the box office? Beats me. To analyse the reasons why our sensibilities have changed is quite beyond me. If we look at the pattern from the movies which has done well, we can see that comedies, mindless or otherwise works. Star power holds atleast the opening. Eklavya was thrashed by most of the critics and was a movie I thought did not do so well in the box office either, but even that movie shows a 10 Crore plus revenue. Movies like Dhol and Dhamaal also earns well past their production cost and is labelled Hit. I watched Dhamaal and tried my best to like it, but the movie succeeded over my earnest of efforts by providing shit after shit after… well shit; what else where you expecting from a movie which has Javed Jaffery in suspenders throughout.
Movies for us have become like Archies Comics; short and funny. Dont give us too much headaches and help us laugh a little, even if it means the lead actors have to catch pizza slices falling from ceiling for like say 10 mins, we are ready to take it. If there are stupid faces, slapstick buffoonery or anything which has the ‘noble’ intention of being funny, we will pay for it. I dont really mean to say that comedies are bad. There are good ones with the heart at the right place; like Partner. It was a funny movie and a good funny movie at that. Coming from David Dhawan we know this will be mindless one and we get a mindless comedy which makes us feel good inside. Unlike Heyy Babyy in which lead actors make stupid faces and cracks the worst of sexual innuendos which passes off for comedy.
I really wonder if there were any potential classics made in this period and was completely lost thanks to the sensibilities or the lack there of, of the new age Indian moviegoers. I wonder if a Mughal-e-Azam or even a Sholay was to be released in this period would find any takers. This year was one where there was a lot of experimentation from new age movie makers; a few of which succeeded (Bheja Fry, Johnny Gaddar, Black Friday) and others which failed in the Box Office (Manorama Six feet Under, No Smoking - funny Anurag Kashyap features in both the sides). Even the comeback of Madhuri Dixit with Aaja Nachle couldnt quite dance to the tunes of the Box Office. We as movie goers have become distant from enjoying emotions through movies other than those that tickle the funny bones. With Khoya Khoya Chand, it seems yet another movie with good sensibilities and artistic values is being pimped out to the Indian movie viewers only to bow in front of the cat calls and jeers. In pure Hindi film tradition, I feel like protecting these wonderful movies before they face humiliation in front of the audience by shouting:
“Basanti, in kutton ke samne mat naachna.”
Monday, December 03, 2007
PS: I always thought wedding decorators and guys who are too involved in womens fashion (like hair dressers, designers and sometimes photographers) to have a homosexual mannerism. This just puts it up for the world to see, loud and clear.