Thursday, September 1, 2005

The Embarassment List

Was thinking some time ago (after watching Nagesh Kukunoor's Iqbal) that I am real unfortunate to have missed out on the same guy's Hyderabad Blues (both parts), Rockford and Teen Deewarein.

Then it occurred to me that there are a zillion movies that would be classified as classics by any yardstick and should feature on EVERYONE's must-watch list that I haven't seen.

I'm not a CD/DVD rental kinda guy at all. So it is unlikely that I'll ever catch up on these masterpieces :(

It actually embarasses me to reveal this list. There have been instances when I've admitted amongst people that I've not seen one of these flicks and I have received some pretty unmentionable reactions (the worst ones have been of people offering me sympathy saying that I don't even know what I've missed).

So *deep breath* here goes...

1. Anand (nice start, wouldn't you say - but I just haven't seen this beauty)

2. The Matrix Trilogy (nopes, not even Part One)

3. The LOTR Trilogy (not read the book either)

4. Star Wars (yep, you read it right..I'm turning red as I type)

5. Deewar/Zanjeer (AB's angry-young-man ones)

6. Casablanca

7. Schindler's List

8. The Lion King (am a sucker for animation, but have missed the Big Daddy of 'em all)

9. Lagaan (don'tcompare it with the rest of this list, given its staure around the time it was released, the Oscar nomination and would think it should've been difficult to miss)

10. A Beautiful Mind

There. I've spilled all. Doesn't make me feel any less...well..guilty, if you may.

So next time you feel silly or self-conscious about not having seen a particular movie, think of the guy who hasn't seen Anand, fer cryin' out loud!!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Thank You, Mr Kukunoor

Just saw Iqbal today. And loved it. Just loved it.

I walked in slightly skeptical – simply because NO Bollywood movie based on a sport has come even close to being impressive. (The last Hollywood flick involving a sport I’d seen was The Longest Yard and I thought it was really good).

The emotions, the dreams of a simple village boy are captured very beautifully indeed. Each character (there are very few of them, thus ensuring that the story doesn’t stray one bit) is very consistent, the acting is just appropriate. The relationships of the protagonist with his family and coach are depicted each with a distinctiveness of its own. Once again this year after Black, we have a winner where the central character doesn’t speak a word in the entire movie (okay, granted that Rani M did have a background narrative going in Black).

And the visuals. Ah, what pleasure. The cricket seems real, Iqbal’s bowling action is a visual treat (move over Shane Bond!) and the Ranji selections and matches seem really…well…real. The final scene with our hero walking out in Indian colours is one helluva heart-warmer.

Naseeruddin Shah’s performance makes you wonder why is this actor not seen more on the screen. Or maybe he gets offered a lot of stuff but turns it down – yep, that seems to make more sense. While on Naseer, it was in one of his earlier movies that I really enjoyed watching some cricket action. Way back in the 80s, he and Satish Shah had everyone in splits in Malamaal (Sunil Gavaskar actually descended to the ground in a chopper – would you believe it??)

Now I’m feeling like a real big loser – I can’t believe I haven’t seen any of Nagesh Kukunoor’s earlier movies. (Not only Kukunoor, I am pretty much a loser in this department – more on that later)!!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I'm Back (so move over Arnie)!

Man, there's no feeling like the one you get when you take a prolonged (and much deserved?) break between jobs!! Although deep down I'm getting a feeling that perhaps this may be the only way to enjoy a decent holiday... (ouch!!)

Drove from Dehra Dun to Shimla. Amazing what a good monsoon can do to the landscape - I had no idea that the first half of the drive between Doon and Chandigarh was SO picturesque. Then, fulfilled a dream of riding the hill railway ALL the way down from Shimla to Kalka. Apart from the winding tracks and breathtaking views, what I found most appealing was how the stations on the way were miniature replicas of regular ones - bifurcating tracks, tiny platforms, signal posts... Hopefully will post pictures some time.

Last weekend movies: Madagascar and The Interpreter. Passable fare. I love animation and though I went to the latter looking forward to Nicole Kidman, it was Sean Penn who stole the show!

Finally was able to read some stuff as well. English August by Upmanyu Chatterjee was interesting, although the pace sometimes seemed a tad too slow (just like the town the book is based in); Vikas Swarup's 'Q & A' was absorbing - beautifully narrated in most parts. Inside The Kingdom by Carmen Bin Ladin somehow came across as an attempt to merely cash in on the hype generated by the author's surname, though the details of a woman's life in the Saudi Arabia of today were rather disturbing.

More on new job later.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Try THIS...

With your arms down the side of your body, stand next to a wall with your left shoulder, outside of the left arm and side of the left foot touching the wall.

Now, without breaking contact with the wall, try to lift your right foot.

Go on, try it!

(If you want, you can give it a shot from the other side around as well).

Even I didn't believe it at first, but this simple sounding act is a physical impossibility!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hasta La Vista, Baby!

It's over. I've finally decided to call it quits. No histrionics, no you-can't-fire-me-I-quit scene in office. Just a 3 minute phone call to the boss followed by an e-mail.

19 July, 2005

Dear Sir

I wish to resign from my post of Area Sales Manager, Delhi w.e.f. today.

I would like to be relieved at the earliest possible as stipulated by the terms of my appointment.

It has been a wonderful experience to have been associated with [The Company] for the last fourteen months. I am also grateful to all my colleagues for their support and guidance during this period that has contributed to my personal and professional development.

It has been a privilege to be a part of the North & East (and specifically Delhi) sales team under your leadership. I would like to wish you and all of [The Company] the very best for the times to come.

Thank you,

Yours sincerely,

Not Applicable

Employee Code #####

Must admit, am feeling really wierd.

Have I got it all wrong?

Father time will tell...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Certainly not High and Dry

Buying movie tickets yesterday night at PVR Saket was an exercise in simple-decision making. Reached with my roomie to watch Dus (I'm an AB Jr fan). But then it was felt that a LOT of bright people would've had the same idea s we should have a Plan B. Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya, Fantastic Four and Sahara (in no particular order) fell into this.

And then roomie reached box office. The only seats available were for Sahara, that too in the front row. That was an easy decision. (Well, at least leg space is not an issue - I'm quite the optimist)

And the movie turned out to be a surprising entertainer. I guess it helps when expectations are low (or non-existent).

Matthew M as the former Navy-guy-turned-private-artifact-hunting-sea-diver is cool and Penelope Cruz playing the WHO doctor in Africa is understatedly hot. But for me, the Oscar for comic timing goes to Steve Zahn. This guy justs let it rip with his one liners (more like two-worders) and characeristic "Hi, how are ya?"

Visuals are good, the Niger river looks breathtaking and the action-and-escape sequences have a Bollywood-ish touch to them. Was wondering as I walked out - I wouldn't have enjoyed the same stuff in a Hindi flick! Perhaps it has to do with the slickness of the cinematography and editing. Enjoyed Musafir for the same reason - trashy movie otherwise as far as content went.

Like always, saw quite a few trailers of in before the screening started. Love that bit of a movie theatre experience. More on that later

Monday, July 11, 2005

Little Johnny wants to play

Y'know, if it hadn't been for the weather, a LOT of people would have struggled for conversation. And bloggers for content.

But this is a case of discontent.

First Delhi heats up like a veritable tandoor. The sun beats down mercilessly. Tempers rise. Water runs dry. Power cuts only add to the collective misery. Everybody prays for rain. The weatherman goes into overdrive and (without fail every year) announces - "the monsoon will be normal."

Then it clouds up. Dark clouds. Thunder. Stray bolts of lightning. Gusty wind. And a whole lot of dust that envelops the city just REFUSING to settle.

And finally, Hallelujah. It actually rains. Motorcyclists get drenched, pedestrians get stranded at bus stops and under trees. The earth smells amazing.

Everyone happy? Well, not quite!!

The pot holes fill up with water. And (horror of horrors) new ones materialise overnight. Traffic clogs up everywhere. The air is stickier than superglue (creative idea for Fevicol's next!?). The sweat doesn't flow - it just forms an irritatingly thin surface all over your skin and you end up sticking to anything you touch :(

Hot roadside pakoras or dal vadas and chai are the saving grace.

Winter is the only season which hints that God could be a Delhi-ite!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

He's Good

Why can't people evaluate Abhishek Bachchan for the way he performs on screen? Why does Bachchan Sr have to creep into every comparison? The last few AB Jr movies I've caught have been real crackers - and Abhishek's perforance has been real good!

I refer to Dhoom, Bunty Aur Babli and Sarkar (missed out on Yuva and thankfully on Naach as well)

Incidentally, Abhishek Bachchan comes out tops in yet another role that sees him sporting a beard. Enjoyed him in Refugee way back in 2000.

Now waiting to catch Dus.

A bit on Sarkar. It was great that RGV dedicated this attempt to The Godfather at the very outset. He has this way of doing these things (remember that autorickshaw driver in Mast?). Abhishek is intense, there is minimal verbalising on his part. For that matter, the film dwells little on Big B's character that the title alludes to. There are other characters, incidents that bring out the power carried by Subhash Nagre. No songs, well done background score. Well worth the money (my first experience at Cinema Europa, Gurgaon. Yay!)

Wednesday, July 6, 2005


Just back from a company meeting at Chokhi Dhani, Jaipur. Sometimes these sales meetings make no sense whatsoever. What's the point of staying hunched up in conference rooms from morning till night (so late that you are running to the restaurant before they run out of dinner!) that you cannot take time off to see the city you have gone especially for the meeting. Bah!

But more importantly, here's what I want to write about. My last post apparently served as a trigger for this one. And through it I reached here. It's the most amazing story of someone who stood up against not only an individual, but against an entire mindset, a whole system and emerged victorious. A must read.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I Feel Privileged... have railway-ed these stretches:

Delhi-Dehra Dun: The wisps of fog in the bleak winter sun as the Shatabdi tears across the plains of Western UP are an unforgettable sight. But the best part is the home stretch into the Doon valley post Haridwar. The track actually cuts across dense jungle that is a part of the Rajaji National Park and there is an upper limit to the speed for the sake of the elephants that may wander onto them. Pitifully, many a beast has lost it's life on these very tracks.

Konkan Railway: One cannot affort to sleep on this ride. The best train perhaps is the Delhi-Trivandrum Rajdhani as it traverses the entire stretch in broad daylight. The western Ghats are mesmerising as the train snakes in and out of HUGE tunnels and crosses bridges that are amazing feats of structural engineering. The best of them all is the span across the Zuari in Goa. The most picturesque station is Ratnagiri (can't find words to describe it). And after Goa, the sea plays a tantalising game of hide and seek with you. Beautiful.

Ratlam-Baroda: Picturesque. The hills look as if a gigantic hand has etched lovely designs on them. The terrain forces the tracks to take big, loopy curves enabling one to get a full view of the entire train as it cuts across the landscape.

Mumbai-Pune: Need I say more. I've been lucky enough to have traversed this one in the monsoon. It's the expressway that hogs most media coverage but it's not a patch on the rail stretch. Not by a long distance.

Delhi-Kurukshetra: Pure nostalgia. I can still rattle off names of more than half the stations that the EMU halts at.

Churchgate-Andheri: Nothing great, one would think. But at 6:30 p.m. On a working day. In a Virar fast local. Believe me, it's worth writing home about. (Ok, on a blog at least!)

The Metros: Both Delhi and Calcutta. Spanking. Delhi scores hgher due to the amazing views of the cityscape on the elevated section.

Food not to be missed:
  • Chilled Rabdi at Abu Road.
  • Piping hot Bhajjiyas for breakfast at Godhra
  • Masala Chai anywhere in Maharashtra or Gujarat
  • Chholey Bhature at Mathura
  • Rajma Chawal at Jammu


Cant wait to pack my bags for:

  • Delhi-Udhampur (and a few years from now, Srinagar)
  • Any hill railway (I can't believe I've missed all of 'em - an ultra-short ride on the Nilgiri one notwithstanding)
  • Konkan (again!!)
  • Palace on Wheels (yeah, I wish!)

I wonder if anyone noticed two songs in recent releases (Dhadak Dhadak, Bunty Aur Babli and Kasto Mazza, Parineeta) didn't just feature trains extensively in the visuals, but the chugging and clatter on the tracks forms an integral part of the rhythm. Awesome.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Choo Choo

I just LOVE trains. Gimme good ol' Indian Railways over any airline any day. Can't stand the arriving-one-hour-before-flight funda, check-in procedure, security check, the agonising wait in the lounge and in the aircraft, cramped seats, rubbery food ugghhhhh :(

I'm smitten with the chaos at a railway station, the vendors with their penetrating 'chai, chai', AH Wheeler stalls, that typical ding-a-ding-dong that precedes any announcements, I could go on and on and on...

But positively the best part is standing at the door with the wind blowing through one's hair. I've shocked a few travel companions by refusing to sit in the comfortable climes of an air conditioned compartment and favouring the hot and dusty (and at times stinky, ugh!) space just outside the insulated area! There's something almost intoxicating about the diesel fumes that come wafting by soon after the engine goes chugga-chugga-chug as the driver ups the tempo.

I still go 'paani, paani' and point downward excitedly when a bridge comes along, still count the bogies of passing or stationary goods' trains as they pass by and exult each time the number surpasses the highest on that journey so far. Junk food at the railway stations, precariously collecting the cup of tea through the grille....ah, gimme good ol' Indian Railways over any airline any day!

Am not through with this topic. No way.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

But It Rained

Never heard Parikrama before.
Most arbitrarily ran into their website.
And downloaded this song.
It's hitting me at some level.
Still trying to figure it where, though.

Wrapped in a polythene tucked away safe in my mind
A little goodbye maybe or just a passing smile

The birds fly away to the southern sky searching a home
A bunch of paper flowers or a little boy left all alone
Can somebody hear me I'm screaming from so far away
Morning who will calm you now, the evening is eclipsed again

Well does life get any better
More yesterday than today
How I thought the sun would shine tomorrow
But it rained . . .

Listen to it here

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


It's quite unbelievable that I've been lucky enough to stay clear of people selling credit cards over the phone. Still trying to figure out how I managed it this long. Honeymoon ended this weekend. But by the second call, I realised I'm a pro!!

Smart Sales Guy: Sir, I'm calling from American Express. I've been referred to you by Mr Kartik Chandra for a special credit card offer.
Innocent Me: Okay, tell me...
SSG: There's this Gold Card that will give you features like...[launches into delivery outlining how perhaps the card just about stops short of enabling me to buy the moon!]
IM: Umm..okay...SSG (hyper as ever): And, there's no fuel surcharge, no hidden charges....blah blah...
IM: You know, I'm not so sure...
SSG: It's the best deal, sir. Plus you can also avail of facilities like....
IM (partly confused, and partly falling for the pitch): Listen, I need to think; can I get back to you on this?
SSG: Certainly sir, I'll call you in two days time. Have a good day.

Sheesh, this guy almost got me. Now I was determined to (over)compensate with the next call. Didn't have to wait too long. Come Sunday...

Smart Sales Gal: Hi, I'm calling from Citibank.
Well Prepared Me: Yeah!
SSG: We have received a reference for you for our Gold Card.
WPM: Er, reference from whom, may I ask?
SSG (sligltly shaken, possibly not used to such a retort): Sir, I cannot say that...
WPM (cutting in): Then that makes this call unsolicited. Are you aware of a recent Supreme Court order regarding such calls?
SSG (definitely rattled): Uh...let me tell you about this card sir. It's free for life with a credit limit of Rs 2.5 lakh.
WPM: Listen, I understand all that but I'm not interested. Thanks.

You know - all said and done, I sometimes feel sorry for these guys selling cards over phones.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Finally broke the PVR/DT mould and hit Noida for an evening out yesterday.
Wave is good.
Will now seek to break the psychological barrier and go there more often.
I'd say Gurgaon and Noida are equidistant from my place but Noida just seems farther off!

Mr and Mrs Smith.
All about Chemistry.
And Angelina Jolie.
And Brad Pitt's irrepresible one-liner deliveries. (Best one comes at the very end: "Ask the sex question again!")
And Angelina Jolie.
And about slick effects.
And Angelina Jolie.
About a climax sequence that's choreographed to (what sounded like) Latin American music.
And Angelina Jolie.
(I think I've conveyed my point!)

Dinner: Lavanya
(Once vaguely knew someone by that name. Will check out the meaning.)
Standard North Indian fare.
Service could've been quicker though.
Waiting for roti with food on plate is not very pleasant.

All for now...

Thursday, June 9, 2005

It ain't THAT bad!

This is in defence of Bunty Aur Babli. All those critics gunning for Shaad Ali Sahgal's head should take a hike.

The lead couple looks good. Abhishek Bacchhan's UPite accent comes across as natural and Rani Mukerji portrays a convincing sardarni. The cons are refreshing (even though predictable at times). The songs seem very out of place but once they start, each one comes across as hummable. The rap number in the end is downright hilarious. The background score with all the 'appropriate' numbers from the 70s gives a sorta funny-funny feeling even when words or antics of the protagonists aren't there.

Sheesh, it's a Bollywood film for cryin' out loud. Give it a break. Everything's relative - and you'll have to agree B'n'B has been better than a lot of flicks thus far in 2005.

The crappy coverage this one is generating is just beyond me.

Undoubtedly the funniest moment from the flick -
Rani M: "Agar maine ek martaban aam ka achaar aur daala, main mar jaoongi!"

Close second -
Rani M: "Oye Rakesh, just married!!"

Can't wait to see it a second time!

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

While on B-School...

The problem with [a] first job is that we come out of b-school thinking like CEOs but do the work of chaprasis

I got this gem of an SMS from a friend this morning. Yea man, agree that field sales (esp in Delhi's criminal heat) ain't the greatest. But, like I asked him in the afternoon, does the problem lie in the first job or in the way b-school formulates our thinking before letting us loose?

(Sorta funny that this one comes along just after I post something anti-bschool!)

Tuesday, June 7, 2005


My b-school e-group gets all abuzz with activity whenever a magazine featuring management institutes' ratings hits the stands. People question rating methods, even accuse other colleges of bribing their way into the top positions, the latest is talk of understanding how different publications rate institutes and try and score well on those paramaters. There'll be long threads of e-mail, bitching on internet fora, the works.

Question is: do these same guys then raise questions when a second magazine comes out putting our institute right at the top? No, we deserve it you see. Of course we're better than IIM, Ahmedabad!

We're all in agreement that our insti is right up there in all regards. Rankings should be incidental. Plus, with 5 different rating approaches giving diverse results, who should have any faith in the rankings anyways? Problem is that the aspiring MBAs use these as inputs for their college selection decision. So, confusion rules.

On a slightly different note, I think management college is called b-school as a shortened form of back-to-school. Seriously, school shared more similarities with MBA than with engineering (no wonder, they ain't called e-schools, jus' plain engineering colleges)!

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Of Priorities...

Late morning today, one of my friends was on his way to a weekend class for a course he's taking. Concern: backlog on assignments, pre-readings, this morning's opening two hours already missed. Then he sees this damsel in distress standing next to a (broken down) car on the roadside and pulls over.

He's no genius under the hood, but that's not an impediment. 30 minutes later, car heaved to safety, he's dropping the lady to her destination.

Mission accomplished, our hero looks at watch and promptly decides to skip his entire session (no point walking in late to the second half of a lecture, you see).

When we meet in the evening and I hear this story, I ask - "What if it had been a forty-something guy?"

Response - "Nothing. I had a class to attend!" *evil grin*

Cool friends I have. (Well, at least his hormones are working fine).

Update: Chatted with Superman today afternoon, looking back, he says, it was real philanthropic of me (aakhir main ek insaan ke kaam aaya). Wowza!