Thursday, December 29, 2005

10 things you didn't know

Random bits of information about myself:

1. I hate being right handed. Lefties are so much cooler!
2. Only two things can make me cry. India and Innocence.
3. Sometimes I wish I could chuck it all and pursue a career in the, cinema, photography, anything. Creativity stirs something in me. I also regret not being able to pursue a career as a cricket test match umpire...sigh!
4. If I could change something about my appearance, I'd remodel my nose.
5. Bengali, Urdu and Telugu are sweetest languages I have ever heard.
6. I can never choose between mountains and beaches. I love them both!
7. Words I use most frequently these days are,'whatrussaying?', 'what bloody?' (I'll explain this later) and 'right'.
8. I am too much of an idealist for my own good.
9. I beleive religion is divisive.
10. My favourite food in the world in 'parshe macher jhol'.(Quite unsure what its called in English. If any of you know, please let me know.)

Well this is 2005's last post. Hope you guys have a blast bringing in the new year. Please be careful and responsible in your revelries. Hope to see you all in 2006!


Saturday, December 24, 2005

The one about Christmas


Christmas is here. I don't know what it is about this time of the year that cheers me up without fail, baar baar lagataar. The truth of the matter is that the manifestation of this cheer is in the form of decorated streets, resplendent Xmas trees, huge shopping discounts and loads of drinking by all and sundry. SO what is it about this time of the year?

The universality of the message is so hard to miss. Its hard to explain...I always find myself cheerful and in high spirits (no pun intended) during this time of the year. 'Jaane de yaar, Its Christmas!' is what I find myself telling most people with any sort of cross to bear towards me or any one else. Most things are forgiven, faces are more cheerful and plans involving togetherness are charted out. Anyways, heres to another Merry Christmas and a New Year!

My fondest memories of Christmas are:

1. Mass at St.Xaviers' College. We were in the School then, but still made it a point to go to the College Church and attend mass. The tree was modest but truly beautiful! The serenity of the place is something I have not experienced anywhere else. There would be one mass before the school closed for the holidays and I made it a point to attend that one as well. The walk back home with a couple of friends, entailed giving dirty looks to our contemporaries in La Martiniere and getting the same treatment in return of course. (I remember asking one of them, 'Oh so you're from La Marts?' and he totally freaked out...most of them did. 'Its La Martiniere', they would correct you. It was good fun. Just some healthy school rivalry, nothing dangerous, I might add. I made some great friends from LMB later.)

2. Christmas lunch at Calcutta Club. I quite hate place for its snobbish attitude and its inability to be flexible. A relic of the Raj, the place is ,I tell you. I have heard old men shout out to bearers there, 'Boy! Ek whisky pawni lao!' Where are you, dadu? Sussex, 1943? Quite disgusting. But quintessential Calcutta. But the Christmas Lunch is something I was forced to go for year after year by my folks and after a while the event started to grow on me. The best turkey I've tasted, a menu that hasn't changed since 1923 and the company of good friends. A cold traditional institution turns into a cosy and fun place, albeit for an afternoon.

3. Santa Claus. I believed. For too long. Far too long. My parents used to humour me. I once wrote a letter to Santa and even left him a piece of chocolate! Poor chap, all that traveling and climbing in and out of people's chimneys... a snack would do him good I felt. I was 10 then (go ahead, chuckle). The excitement of waking up on Xmas morning and checking the Christmas stocking is something that my childhood will always cherish. When I would say the blasphemous words, 'I dont think Santa exists', my parents would take me to task and vehemently oppose my views and reinforce the faith. Thanks Maa and Dad, for letting a little kid continue to believe in all the good and virtue that Christmas stands for a little longer than most.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ten best film soundtracks of 2005

ItÂ’s that time of the year again! Awards night, if you will. End of another year. Musically, unfortunately, this year hasnÂ’t been very rich or exciting. There have, however, been some outstanding talents that have made their presence felt through some truly brilliant film scores that they have composed. Otherwise its been a barrage of studio mixed techy sounds and item numbers, each as difficult to distinguish from the other as it is Shahrukh Khan's performances. Anyhow, below mentioned are the musical highlights of the year gone by, according to yours truly.

10. Salaam Namaste (Music Dir - Vishal-Shekhar): This light, young soundtrack makes it into my top ten. Tracks like 'My dil goes mmm..' and 'Salaam namaste' are bouncy and tuneful. The other two songs aren't too bad either. It would be very easy for the film director to fill up this 'phorein' love story with mindless songs, but thankfully he doesn't and the final outcome is pleasing.

9. Paheli (Music Dir - MM Kreem): The movie's music is nowhere near his 'Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin' and 'Zakhm', but the soundtrack does have its moments. 'Dhire jalna' is the standout tune of the album and is perfect in the context of the film. 'Kangna re' and 'Phir raat kati' are also pleasing to the ear. Shreya Ghosal and Hariharan stamp their class all over this decent collection.

8. My Brother Nikhil (Music Dir - Various): This delightful soundtrack has some great contributions from various music directors like Vishal-Shekhar, MM Kreem and Vivek Philip. My favorite song from this collection is 'Le chale' from Philip. Great tune, softly and sensitively sung by KK and Sunidhi Chauhan. 'Mere sapne', 'Woh kaun hai' and 'Kabhi' are worthy inclusions. Not original compositions intended for this picture, but a great listen in totality.

7. Kisna (Music Dir - Ismail Darbar and AR Rahman): The movie bombed but the soundtrack did well. A spat between Darbar and Rahman ensued and it was in the news for all the wrong reasons, but some of the tracks here are beautiful compositions. The mujra song, 'Chilman' does justice to its seven minute-over length. Darbar's 'Woh Kisna hai' is a good composition by any standards and Sukhwinder Singh's rendition takes it to the next level. Rahman's 'Hum hai is pal yahan', is good but not at par with his best. The 'Kisna theme' isn't too bad either. Good album.

6. Lucky-No Time For Love (Music Dir - Adnan Sami): A decent transition for the singer into the role of music director. What lifts this album from mediocrity is the singing. Asha Bhosle, Adnan Sami and Udit Narayan put in honest and soulful performances. 'Sun zara' is the stand out effort. 'Chori chori' and 'Jaan meri ja rahi hai sanam' are also good compositions. 'Lucky lips' is passable.

5. Chocolate (Music Dir - Pritam): I chose this album from amongst the many soundtracks in this genre, like 'Dus', 'Kaal' and 'Bluffmaster'. This one emerges a winner simply because of the energy it exudes. Sunidhi Chauhan and Sonu Nigam are at their exuberant best. 'Mummy', 'Bheega bheega' are peppy and picturised well on the latest Bengali bombshell, Tanusree Dutta. 'Zahereeli raatein' is also not bad. My favorite track is, however, the enigmatic 'Khalish si hai'. You feel you've heard these songs before, but a young upbeat set of tunes.

4. Bunty Aur Babli (Music Dir - Shanker Ehsaan Loy): Perhaps the most popular soundtrack of the year, this album has some huge hits. Shankar Ehsaan and Loy succeed in adding an earthy dimension to their music. The anthemic 'Dhadak dhadak' is fast paced and racy. Then there is the absolute rage 'Kajra re'. I didn't believe that it was SEL's music when I first heard it! The lovely 'Chup chup ke' is a gem. The title track and 'Nach baliye' are acceptable.

3. Shabd (Music Dir - Vishal Shekhar): By far the best effort by VS this year, this perhaps is the most underrated soundtrack of the year. The film didn't do too well, and hence was relegated from public memory. 'Khoya khoya' and 'Bolo na' are pure magic. Kudos to the duo for these two beauties. Sonu Nigam puts in one of his finest efforts of the year on the first of these songs. 'Sholon si' and 'Chahaton ka silsila' are also very good contributions. Solid effort.

2. Yahaan (Music Dir - Shantanu Moitra): This album is pure magic. Moitra has serious talent and I'm sure we'll hear much more of him over the next few years. He puts together some brilliant compositions on this soundtrack and extracts a fine performance from Shreya Ghosal. 'Urzu durkut' is simply sublime and so is 'Naam ada likhna'. Add to that some ethereal lyrics by Gulzar and you have a classic in the making. 'Mele chaliyan' isn't too far off the mark as well, though it tends to get a little monotonous in pieces. 'Ajmer wale' is situational and an average devotional track and is the only filler here.

1. Parineeta (Music Dir - Shantanu Moitra): This one will be remembered for a long time to come. Each and every song here is great! Moitra at it again. Original, fresh and high on melody, these songs will have you humming in an instant. I would wager that most people would vote in this soundtrack as the soundtrack of the year. 'Piyu bole' and 'Soona man ka aangan' showcase Shreya Ghosal's considerable talents. The latter has a huge Tagore influence as well and should delight lovers of the great poet's musical talents (just a thought, apologies to puritans). Sonu Nigam gets his moment of glory with 'Kasto Maza'. My favorites are, however, the classy cabaret by Sunidhi Chauhan, 'Kaisi paheli hai ye zindagani' and Chitra's beautiful, 'Raat hamari toh'. This one is a keeper and will be reference point to many budding music directors in years to come.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tainted Love

An email from a gay friend of mine set off the thought process for this post, a while ago. Being busy hasn't helped my blog updates, so putting this down only now. Anyway, getting back to the issue...he mentioned that he had broken up with his boyfriend of three years and was now back in Calcutta for a bit to take care of some family formalities. We hadn't been in touch for quite a while and hence he wanted to know if I was in Calcutta then. I obviously wasn't and I rattled off a cursory email about how shit happens and that there were plenty more fish in the sea and the like. Having sent the email, I realised how insensitive I had been. And did it have anything to do with the fact that he was gay? Hmmm...maybe. Since he had 'come out' more than seven years ago, I had found it hard to take the guy's sexual preference seriously. Someone in our friend circle even suggested that he was doing this just to be 'cool'. At some level, I guess we even believed this theory. When he insisted, we said we were cool and agreed with him, but I guess we never thought too much about it to form a strong opinion. And it had reached a level where, when one my closest friends emails me with problems in his love life, I reply with a cliched bullshit one liner? Had any other friend of mine said the same thing, I'm not sure, but I'm inclined to believe that I would have mailed more than a one liner. 'How did it happen?', 'Why can't you write her?', 'C'mon give her another chance, one fight and you guys split!!?!' Might have said something like that to them. I always thought that I was absolutely cool with people being gay and that I treated all alike, regardless of division of colour, creed or sexual preference. But I sure didn't behave like I was! I was angry and full of self loathing. How was I, as an educated, forward thinking, progressive youth, different from the vociferous and 'closeted by religion' likes of millions in this country. Ashamed, I realised that one needed to think about how big this distance had grown. It wasn't on the surface, it was in the subconscious. I just hadn't taken my friend seriously...and if I had, I could have been more tuned in to his life and behaved in the same way as I might have with someone else. He wasn't asking me for favours, he just wanted me to be normal with him.

And this is what all homosexual people in this country are looking for. A chance to be as normal as the next guy. In a country, where we don't like discussing what we do behind closed doors, why should we discriminate against people with different bedfellows, behind those same closed doors? Lets just not discuss that as well because we don't like discussing it in anycase, right? In a country with a section 377, change is going to take time. Forget marriage, adoption of children for gay couples in India is a distant dream. I doubt if parenthood is driven by what your sexual orientation is. Changing diapers in the middle of night has got nothing to with your love life either. It has to do with something much more basic, the desire to care for and raise a child.

I for one, have had a wake up call from this personal experience. I feel sorry that I kept believing that I was 'with it' with regards to this sort of thing. I feel sorry that I let something like this, this issue of great social importance, slide into the recesses of my mind. But much more than that, I feel sorry that I got lulled into something much more elementary and important... Insensitivity towards a dear friend.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"Crashed on the floor when I moved in,this little bunk alone with some strange new friends"

So its done. Finally moved out of Graduate Hall and into this flat in Yishun, with three other batchmates. I've never lived in a house on my own or shared one with others before so I'm enjoying the ride so far (I'm not counting living in hostels and the like). Its a 3 bedroom, hall and kitchen setup and is spacious enough for 4 people. I have my own room because of different budget constraints of my flatmates. Its a nice place and the stay so far has been pleasant. The area is quiet, calm and mainly residential. There's the amazing Yishun park next door, which is a great place to enjoy nature, jog or play whichever sport you may fancy. The greenery of the place just amazes you! With foodcourts next door and at regular intervals, we have variety in food as well. But we have cooks with enviable resumes. Ashwin is trained in continental cooking (he's a hotel management grad), Brij and KK can both cook Indian stuff like rice, varieties of dal and subzies (should have used a 'j' there perhaps). I, on the other hand cannot cook to save my life! I think the best thing to have come out any cooking initiative on my part has been an oddly shaped omelet. Of course, in such a situation one feels like a free rider. Hence I have volunteered to wash all the dishes after the all the cooking is done. Fair, methinks, ya?
We have been cooking fairly regularly, except for occasions when the maestros get back late from work. Oh, I forgot to mention that there is a VCD rental store next door so that's a huge plus.
Looking forward to this new experience. The only bummer is that I miss my ceiling fan from hostel. What's this about Singapore and HDB flats. Very few of them seem to have ceiling fans! I wonder why? So stand and table fans have been procured. But its just not the same, you know. And another thing that constantly bothers us is our neighbor's 'chirpy contraption'. Every time one passes by his door, this funny birdy thing goes off and its chirping its head off! Once or twice is fine, but everytime!!?! Tempted to yank out the wires from that thing... But will wait till I've stayed a while longer...


Friday, December 02, 2005

Of Kishore Kumar and seven hidden gems

If I haven't mentioned it before, I am a huge KK fan. Always was and will be. He deserves a whole huge post to himself and that will come I'm sure (as soon as I can find some time!). The man could do practically everything...act, sing, produce, direct, compose and write lyrics! This led Lata Mangeshkar to call him the 'Danny Kaye' of Hindi cinema. I think Danny Kaye wasn't a patch on our man from Khandwa.
Anyway, in this one, I want to concentrate on some hidden gems in Kishoreda's repertoir. We have all heard the classics and the numerous hits. Give the following songs a listen. They didn't catch on and were not that big in terms of popularity, but were no less brilliant than the golden greats. Enjoy!

(in no particular order)

1. Aaj rona pada to samjhe (1960): From the film, 'Girlfriend', this classic showcases Kishore in a soulful and sad mood. Who says the man couldn't sing sad? Listen to him rendering the lines 'Apno ki mohabbat kya thi, Gair hona pada to samjhe...'. Hemant Kumar's music is brilliant.

2. Jaane bhi do yaar (1987): This track from the film 'Inaam Dus Hazaar' is quintessential Kishore. Back to his playful best, the man breezes through this mid tempo joyride. Though the movie was made during RD's forgettable years, 'Pancham' still gave music way beyond the capabilities of his then contemporaries. Add to that Kishore's voice and it's pure magic. Another beauty from this soundtrack is 'Chand koi hoga tumsa kahan'.

3. Bahut door hoke (1988): 'Namumkin' had a great soundtrack. And it had this gem of a solo from Kishore Kumar. The longing in the singer's voice is so palpable when he sings, 'Meri Dhadkano Mein Jane Kya Tarane, Dhime Suro Mein Gati Ho Tum, Jane Kis Jahan Se Leke Kya Sandesa, Sanson Mein Aati Jaati Ho Tum.' Hrishikesh Mukherjee could have made a better film, but the soundtrack was on par. A classic, but forgotten, love song.

4. Kabhi kabhi sapna lagta hai (1979): This duet with Asha Bhosle is sure to be catch your attention. The RD/Kishore-Asha/Gulzar team at it again. Beautiful song. Not in the 'Hazar rahein' league but pretty good just the same. The film, the Hema Malini-Girish Karnad starrer, 'Ratnadeep'.

5. Diya hai aapne bada hasin sahara (1966): This will suprise you. Very rarely has Kishore sung for OP Nayyar. You can almost tell that this song was written and composed for Rafi. A quintissential OPN number (no, it doesn't have a 'tanga tune'), but in Kishore's voice. The song is all the better for it! A bubbly Kishore does a fantastic job in this track from 'Akalmand'.

6. Waqt waqt ki baat hai (1978): This track from 'Bhola Bhala' is perhaps more accesible than most others. Kishore in a reflective mood. A great song none the less. A few 'hah hah's from KK ala 'Yeh lal rang' and 'Yeh kya hua'.

7. Main bangali chokra (1958): This delightful track from 'Raagini' has to be one Kishore and Asha Bhosle's duet high points. A love story revolving around a 'Bengali' guy and a 'Madrasi'
girl, this song captures the essence beautifully. A light, 'halka phulka' and witty song, it is sure to make you smile. Also look out for KK singing a few words in Bangla as well.


Friday, November 25, 2005

The problem with Sourav Ganguly

The man is back. Again. But Saurav Ganguly's star is slowly fading.
I have been a huge fan of the man and the spirit he's brought to the Indian team, but he pretty much dug his own grave by going to the press with his dirty linen (even though it was wrong on Chapell's part to ask him to step down before the first test in Zimbabwe). One could have expected restraint from the skipper. To top it all, the man proceeded to get injured and then was sidelined for the next couple of series. The team, since then, has done exceedingly well and the man who built this team, now finds himself alienated. 'Dada' has since then done a decent job in the domestic matches that he has played, but that might do little in getting him back into the side. The selectors have, under pressure, got him back into the test team, with the explanation that he is a batting allrounder! uumm...they could have as well said that he was their fitness coach or reserve wicket keeper or something...Ganguly has traditionally made good use of chances offered to him and one hopes for his sake that he uses this chance well. Its ironic, that he has to sit out of the one day game and make a comeback in tests, an area he has been weaker at. I would have felt that slowly bringing him back to the opening slot in one dayers would have been the way to go. Get those two boys, Sachin and Sourav back at the top and perhaps hope for some magic of the old. But the selectors cannot select on hope and must carve out a team for the 2007 World Cup soon.
The seeds of the problem might have been sown with the successes of the Indian team. Carried away with the accolaes and the wins, Sourav had perhaps let his own personal development as a cricketer slip. He developed the demenour of ownership of the team. Being the leader started meaning more, I guess. His missing test matches on account of injuries and bans didn't help his cause either. His work ethic to fitness was also deplorable. The man could field, at one point. I have seen him pull of some fantastic catches in his time. All that is now a thing of the past.
In his defence, I would also like to say that there are other team members (namely Tendulkar and Sehwag) that have not really lived up to their superstar billing over the last year or so and they have been excused time after time. Saurav's record over the last year or so in ODI's has been better than Sehwag's. If performance is the only benchmark then these players should also get the same treatment. Also, what Chapell thinks of Ganguly is now playing a huge part, which I think is unfair. His inclusion in the test side could be as politically intriguing as the 'Mahabharata'. Who do the younger payers side with? How will the coach handle his inclusion? What statements does Dravid, the new captain come out with?
All I hope is that all this is caste aside and Sourav and Team India perform to potential. Sourav should realize that he must play well as a batsman and contribute as a player first. Team India should focus on playing a good game and Dravid and Chapell should look at strategy and developing a good work ethic.
I have been a huge fan of the Bengal southpaw, and I would love to see that blazing cover drive, that lofted six off the spinner, those gentle medium pacers and that combative spirit...there's a lot left in the Prince of Kolkata yet, but this, perhaps, is his last chance to prove it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Songs of a lifetime - 4

Remember this one? The famous 'ek anek' song. I found the lyrics to this, surfing the web the other day and I just had to do a ctrl c - ctrl v. This song brought back so many memories. Of a simpler and more innocent time gone by. When wants were modest, and there was wonder and joy in most things we did. There was learning and discovery to action and most things made us smile. Just imagine, all the kids in my colony gathered around the TV to watch this one, whenever it came on. And ya, we used to sing along as well! "champaaa chameliiii!!"
Don't laugh...This was high entertainment television once.

Didi ye anek kya hota hai ?
Anek…. anek yani bahut saare….
Jaise…suraj ek…chanda ek…taare anek…
Achcha to taron ko anek bhi kehte hain ?
Nahi nahi!! dekho phir se batati hoo
Suraj ek…chanda ek…taare anek…
Ek gilhari, …ek aur gilhari...ek ek ek karke ho gayee ab anek gilhariyaa
Ek titali, anek titaliyaa…ek chidiya.. ek ek anek chidiyaa
Anek chidiyon ki kahani sunoge …?
Haan sunao…
Ek chidiya anek chidiya….dana chugne baith gayee thi …..(chorus :)
Didi humen bhi sunao...
Phir se suno…ek chidiya, anek chidiyan dana chugne baith gayee thi …..
Wahin ek byaadh ne jaal bichhaya tha…
Byaadh, byaadh kya hota hai didi?
Byaadh … chidiya pakadne walato phir kya hua, usne chidiyon ko pakad liya,unhe maar diya
Himmat se jo jute rahe to bada kaam bhi hove bhaiya..bada kaam bhi hove bhaiya …1..2..3.. (furrrrrrrrrrr)
Chatur chidiyaa sayaani chidiyaa, miljul kar, jaal le kar bhaagi
Chidiyaa door ek gaaon mein chidiyon ke dost chuhe rahte the
Unhone unka jaal kaat diya…dekha ekta mein kitni shakti hai
Didi agar hum ek ho jaayen to kya koi bhi kaam kar sakte hain? Haan haan kyon nahi
To kya is ped ke aam bhi tod sakte hain ?Haan magar jugat lagani hogi
Achchha ye jugat … wah bada mazaa aayega
Hind desh ke niwasi sabhi jana ek hain, rang-roop vesh-bhaasha chahe anek hain

Bela gulab juhi champa chameli…
Phool hain anek kintu mala phir ek hai …ek-anek-ek anek suraj ek, chanda ek, taare anek,
Ek gilhari , anek gilhariyaan, ek titli, anek titaliyaan, ek chidiyaa , anek chidiyaa
Are bela gulab juhi champa chameli..phool hain anek kintu mala phir ek hain…


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Movie Marathon!

The last few days have seen me do the following. Work a little bit on my new internship, apply to a multitude of companies and watch a gazillion movies! Since I find the first two too tedious to write about, I shall write about the movie marathon that I have indulged in over the last few days...
It all started with a waste of time called 'Chot', which had a promising start but was pretty much a disaster from minute number thirty one. The premise seems plausible, marginalisation of UP-ites in Mumbai (I've known this to happen) and their subsequent fightback. Ashutosh Rana and Sharad Kapoor do decent jobs, but the film, after a while, became an excuse for blood and gore. Then came the excrutiating 'Rain' (we got this from the library solely because there was nothing else and a few of us had to see something!). Less said about that, the better. Meghna Naidu's ample bosom was the true protagonist there. An empty house, a blind lady and a suspicious reporter all built up the premise well for this low budget titilator, but again execution is not something that our filmmakers are very good at. The day after we picked up a few DVDs from the school media library. I caught up with Mira Nair's seminal work, the bittersweet 'Salaam Bombay!', which was a pleasure to watch! The street children, the streets of Mumbai, Nana Patekar and Raghubir Yadav and L.Subramanium's music kind of restored my faith in cinema after the suffering of the last day! The DVD also had a special feature tracking the lives of the street children and how their lives had changed for the better thanks to the movie. A well spent couple of hours. After that it was on to Bollywood again, with Hriday Shetty's 'Pyar Mein Twist'. Watching Rishi Kapoor and Dimple again after 'Sagar' was a breeze. The actors were pretty lovable and by the looks of it, must have had a ball making the movie. However, I felt that the relationship between the aging couple could have been developed further rather than spending frame after frame on the lives and bickerings of the loud and insensitive children. The music of the film wasn't too bad either and had a cover of the naughty love long of yesteryear, 'Khullam khulla pyaar karenge'. The marathon neared its conclusion with Peter Weir's 1975 eerie classic, 'Picnic at Hanging Rock', a supposedly true tale about the mysterious disappearance of 3 college girls from a picnic site. The film is brilliantly made, with great footage of the Australian outback and fantastically atmospheric music. Though slow paced and ambiguous in its explanation of the disappearance, the film itself is an education in the art. Convincing performances from the cast also helped. The last film was Mira Nair's 'Vanity Fair'. The film had colour, good performances from its cast and lots of India in it. Becky Sharp has been explored, but not enough, I felt.

Anyways, enough of movie watching...have to send out a few more applications!


Sunday, November 13, 2005

House hunting horrors

Given that we need to move out of Graduate Hall soon (end of this month, to be precise), three of my similarly afflicted friends and me commenced house hunting last month. I was meaning to blog about this in one of my earlier posts but I came to the conclusion that this one deserved its own space. Since we started searching for that dream apartment, we've had some amazing, and some downright hilarious experiences, and since this is the first time I have been part of such an enterprise, I have enjoyed the ride thus far tremendously!

House#3: We walk in to be greeted by the house owner. Huge guy, 6 ft plus, built like a tree trunk. Clad in a 'lungi' and a sando 'ganjee'. Indian or Malay, we guess. The tattoo on his arm says 'KILLER'. The house is dark and has a funny smell. Scenes from 'Texas Chain Saw Massacre' and 'The house of 1000 corpse' play out vividly in my mind. Apparently Brij is thinking the same and is already looking around for creaky floorboards and bloodstains. Our agent tells us to take a look around. Mad axe murderer says nothing, just stares. We look around. The place was nice but we had already decided not to be tenants of 'KILLER'. Our agent tells us to talk about rent. We look at the owner and then look at each other...silence...the owner finally speaks. The voice is shrill and weak and almost like a girl's! 'Oye yaar, terah sau se kam nahin loongaa!'. Apparently he was a sardarji from Amritsar who moved here in the 80s. We ran out and burst out laughing! Final outcome: we didn't get the place because of budget constraints on our part.

House#5: We are in Holland Village. The agent from the owners' side is with us. Since we are 4 people, we had clearly mentioned that we would need atleast 2 functional bathrooms. The agent had assured us. We see the first toilet. There's a commode, but no shower. We see the second one, there's no commode, only shower. That was the end of that!
Final outcome: Left hurling abuses at both the agents.

House#9: Good place. Duplex. A mansionette, they called it. We are ready to finalize the deal, when the sound of a local train thundering by takes us by surprise. The place is right next to an MRT track! It was night time and hence it wasn't visible when we came in. We had mentioned in our specifications that we would ideally like a place close to a tube station. However, I guess we needed to be more specific! With 2 of us having lived in Mumbai and roughed it out in local trains (one of us actually lived close to a train track for bit!), this was too much. Loving home and all I can understand, being woken up at 12.30 pm by the sound of a rushing train, I cannot!
Final outcome: Begging agent to work harder!


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Songs of a lifetime - 3

I'm sure there are times when we think about the 'what ifs' in life. There are times when we wonder if things could have been different had we turned another corner. I guess only the hardcore optimists would think otherwise. I love this song by the Stereophonics which sums up this feeling perfectly. Chances missed, decisions taken, things said. Are there things you would have done differently? Even then, at some level, just thinking about this stuff makes you appreciate what you've done so far, take heart from it and move ahead a stronger person. I guess I've had a pretty comfortable time to date, but yeah, I would love to go back in time and change a few things. Wouldn't you?

It's your time
It's your day
It's never too late
To change lanes

How's your life?
How's your place?
Was it where you wanted
Your head to lay?

But wait, you can breathe
You can see what I can see
Don't waste your time
You can't make back

If you could rewind your time
Would you change your life?

Do you like you?
Do you love your wife?
Or did you pick what
You're told was right?
Dream and be
What you feel
Don't you compromise
What you wanna be
Cause change is okay
What's the point in staying the same
Regrets, forget what's dead and gone

If you could rewind your time
Would you change your life?

If Jesus rode in on a camel today
With your cross on his shoulder
Time to take you away
Have you done all you wanted?
Are you happy and warm?
Do you miss someone special
You don't see anymore?
Have you blood on your hands?
Do you dream of white sands?
Can you sleep well at night?
Have you done all you can?
The place I was born in
Stays crooked and straight
I see innocent blue eyes
Go blind everyday

Rewind your time
Would you change your life....Today....


Monday, November 07, 2005

Global Risk Analysis

My last course in the MBA was a subject called Global Risk Analysis. The course gave us an amazing insight into the volatile world of macroeconomics. All of us study the subject some time or the other, but this time it was very practical and we could actually relate it to everyday events. The fact that the course was taken by a visiting faculty from MIT, made it all the more special. He introduced a concept called 'teleology', where managers should be able to look forward a few steps from any event and hence make strategic decisions accordingly. He ighted the example of Nokia, the cell phone giant, and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Managers at Nokia, sensed an opportunity that with two nations coming together, there would be need for seamless communication. Nokia put all its eggs in the Cell Phone basket. And the rest as they say, is history. It was riveting stuff. Given below are his predictions for the year 2006 and the future in general:

Global Trade: It is in danger, thanks to an unstable dollar (undermined by Bush's twin deficits), and US's undermining of the WTO. Global trade, the main driver of global growth, might slow down.

Trade Blocks: The future shapes up not as a common world market, but a set of three trading markets, with single currencies - Asia (yuan), Americas (dollar) and Europe (euro). There will be therefore only three exchange rates. There may well be tough non-tariff barriers between the blocks. Any country not in the three blocks is doomed to stagnate.

Accounting: There should be one set of global accounting rules. Its happening already.

Global Teams: Teams will continue to get more and more global. Companies which use global teams will leverage each country's competitive advantage. Experts in America will define customer requirements, British will define product attributes, Australians will define technology architecture, Indians will do the software, Germans the manufacturing and the Taiwanese will take care of the packaging. Happening? Oh ya!

Nanotechnology: The next big thing. Will be used in laptops,tennis racquets, glass and suntan lotion.

Global optimism and values: An economic survey shows 34% of respondents think 2006 will be better than 2005. Optimists outnumber pessimists 2 to 1. Still 29% expect the dollar to tumble and 41% predict the house prices to tumble. Basic values remain strong. When asked 'what is most important to your personal happiness?' in 2006, 78% said health, 62% said family relations and only 13% said material well being. 'I'm a material girl', sang Madonna ' a material world'. Happily, only 2 in 15 people think the same.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Some conclusions...

This week has been slow. Very slow. Its been a holiday week here in Singapore. So things have been kind of on and off, if you get what I mean. I mean its like watching life in slow motion. You want to make it move fast, perhaps get in on the action happening all around, but somehow even a part you doesn't want to and you just want to see it all go by, even with the knowledge that it might pass you by if you don't get more proactive.

Don't know if I made sense there, but there have been some goings on this week and some conclusions. These are:

1. The man-woman relationship is the most complex relationship there is. Its full and final. No two ways around that. I was looking for a theme on which to base my script (yes, that's right, I can write!). And now I'm sure that this is going to be it. 'that's tha one!' as we say here in NBS.

2. Job hunting is no cake walk either. Trying to make contacts, following them up and sometimes plain groveling can be tough. Sending out resume after resume, cover letter after cover letter, making call after call and waiting for a response is gruelling and can be frustrating at times. But I'm sure there's light at the end of the tunnel.

3. 'Kasak' is by far the worst film I've seen in a long time. It makes Bengali jatras like, 'Shidir Tolay Bidir Dokaan' (The Bidi Shop Under The Stairs) and Italian giallo flicks like 'Strip Nude For Your Killer' seem like works of high intellectual accomplishment. Lucky Ali should stick to singing and Meera should well...perhaps return to Pakistan, because I'm sure she would get much better offers there. There's no point traveling all the way to India to act in pure drivel, is there? Special mention of the dialogue writer though, for classic lines like, 'Tum shocked ho? I hate shocked people!' and 'Tumne mujhse revenge liya?' MM Kreem too, who generally does a good job of making music, seemed to give up on this absolute piece of tripe. No point wasting time writing a review for this one.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Diwali!

Here's wishing you all a very Happy Diwali! If you intend to indulge in firecrackers, then please do so safely. Accidents are just waiting to happen.
We had a Diwali party organized by the new MBA batch or, the 'first years'. It was done very well and we all had a great time. It was well attended and the food was excellent. It was then topped up with some drinks and dancing at the Staff Club. A thoroughly enjoyable affair.
The general mood was hampered by the Delhi bomb blasts, 3 in all, claimed by a LeT backed outfit which killed more than 60 people. Shame! This kind of thing hadn't happened in a while and I was almost getting lulled into believing that the 'midnight's children' were getting their act together with the peace process. How wrong I was. Things were however livened up by one Mahendra Singh Dhoni's batting...He bludgeoned the Sri Lankan bowling to all parts of the ground, making 183 n.o in the process, the highest score by a wicketkeeper in ODIs. Well done, lad!


Friday, October 28, 2005

A new Bond

Daniel Craig has been selected by makers to be the new James Bond in the latest edition of the franchise, 'Casino Royale'. The producers wanted a replacement for the aging Pierce Brosnan. The first blonde Bond, Craig was selected over other candidates like Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Colin Farell, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Hugh Jackman. Craig is no doubt a competent actor, having starred in films like 'The Jacket', 'Road to Perdition' and 'Layer Cake'. I felt Craig should consider himself lucky as I feel he lacks a certain suavity that Brosnan had is oodles. My choice would have been Hugh Jackman or Robbie Williams (yes, you read right). Both actors have that attitude required to pull off a Bond role. Craig is only the second Englishman to play the superspy, after Roger Moore.

In other Bond news, guess who might be paying the villain in the new Bond flick? Our very own 'bad man', Gulshan Grover! He's made rapid strides in Hollywood and here's wishing him and the new Bond all the very best. Bring on the guns, gadgets, cars and babes!


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Matrubhumi - A nation without women

Undoubtedly one of the most disturbing films in recent times, Matrubhumi is stark, intense and brilliant. The movie is set in the future where prejudice and economic concerns have caused female infanticide to run so rampant that there are hardly any women left in the country. Families of men fight over women, parents dress up their young boys as girls to marry them off and claim dowry, men copulate with animals, and women are only used for procreation and to carry out domestic chores. The more disturbing truth is that all of these things happen in some parts of India today...
The film centres around a father (Sudhir Pandey) and his five unmarried sons. He happens to come across a girl in the neighboring village called Kalki (Tulip Joshi) and bribes her father to marry her off to all his sons (known to happen in Rajasthan). The film then delves into the pathetic condition that the girl finds herself in, used merely as sexual entertainment by the sons and the father. She takes a liking to the youngest son (Sushant Singh) and he in turn respects her as well. The other brothers, however, get jealous and end up killing him. This gets too much for Kalki to take and she decides to run away with the help of the scheduled caste servant. As luck would have it, they are caught and the servant is shot and Kalki is tied up in the shed with the cattle. Angry young men from the lower caste decide to avenge the servant's death and rape Kalki repeatedly. Night after night she is also ravaged by her husbands and father in law, who during the day hypocritically denounce her to be 'soiled by the seed of an untouchable'. She gets pregnant, which causes friction between the lower castes and the landlords. This ends in complete destruction of the village and a great deal of bloodshed. The final scene predictably shows Kalki delivering a girl child...
The film extracts good performances from the cast. Sudhir Pandey is good and so are Tulip Joshi and Sushant Singh. Tulip Joshi, expresses emotion well through her soulful eyes as she hardly has any lines to deliver. The rest of the cast is equally competent. There are some parts which are tedious, though. Kalki being ravaged night after night does evoke sympathy but it gets a bit much after a while. There are shocking scenes all through the length of the film so it is certainly not for the faint hearted. Manish Jha's direction is brilliant. He's one man to watch out for. Needless to say, the film has done very well in the film festival circuit. A must watch. It will disturb you and make you think about the lamentable position of women in some parts of the country.



Saturday, October 22, 2005


Well, the exams are done! 6 days more and I'm an MBA degree holder. Of course, the results are yet to be released, but I'm hoping the school will pass me because I'm absolutely sure they've had enough of me for last year and a half! Having me around for another trimester will be too much for them to take! Though I'll technically be a student till the end of February next year, I'm done with all the course requirements and am therefore free to call myself an MBA.
So how has the ride been? Much better than I had hoped actually. I didn't quite know what to expect when I got here. I knew that my batch had much more experience than me, most came from middle management etc. I also thought I was going to be one of the youngest people in the batch. There was a little trepidation. Would I cope?
I guess the journey has been fabulous. I've met some remarkable people, made some great friends, and learnt a great deal about business. The MBA, according to me, is like a toolkit that one can use to counter a variety of business issues. Management is a mix of science and art, they say. We're done with the science bit and now its up to us to use it well. The art bit will come with practice and experience.
There were also some other great takeaways. I personally felt that I've picked up some soft skills that I didn't possess earlier and I've learned to appreciate foreign cultures and customs.
Hostel life ofcourse came as an added bonus. Cheers to that.

Right. Exams came to an end on Friday. So promptly we headed off to a local club called 'Double O' (wonder why they call it that?) and partied the night away with the guys. Most were fellow students who also had their last exam and so everyone was in the mood to really let their hair down!! We had an awesome time. The alcohol flowed non stop. Some of the seniors who showed up, sponsored a few rounds of tequila for the whole gang! (thanks Ashok and JD!) We left when the place closed at 3 a.m.

The boys look pretty happy ya?

That was Friday. On Saturday, we had a little get together with one of the most knowledgeable and good natured professors at NBS, Prof. Amit Das. We had taken a statistics course with him and all of us had formed a great bond with the affable Bengali. So all of us met up at a neighborhood foodcourt for dinner and a round of beer. Prof. Das has the ability to reach out to students in a way that I haven't witnessed before. He has that rare ability to converse with you at your level. He kept us regaled with humorous tales from his IIT and IIM days. There were no shortages of laughs and beers either. The night ended at 1.30 a.m.

The desi gang with Prof. Das(green shirt behind the beer bottles). Foodcourt festivities!

What can I say? Its been a great weekend!


Monday, October 17, 2005

Exam Week

Exam week is here! Drat! I shall be hopelessly trying to cope with the syllabi of Financial Statement Analysis, Operations Research and E-Commerce and IT this week. Another subject to go after this and I'm an MBA! Don't quite know whether to celebrate or not. With graduation comes the arduous task of job hunting. Well, that's another battle altogether. One battle at a time though. Well, wish me luck... and I vow to be back with a vengeance next week!


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Monty Python Scripts - 1

Title: The Bookshop Sketch
From: Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl
Transcribed By: Bret Shefter

Customer: (entering the bookshop) Good morning.
Proprietor (John Cleese): Good morning, sir. Can I help you?
C: Er, yes. Do you have a copy of "Thirty Days in the Samarkind Desert with the Duchess of Kent" by A. E. J. Eliott, O.B.E.?
P: Ah, well, I don't know the book, sir....
C: Er, never mind, never mind. How about "A Hundred and One Ways to Start a Fight"?
P: ...By?
C: An Irish gentleman whose name eludes me for the moment.
P: Ah, no, well we haven't got it in stock, sir....
C: Oh, well, not to worry, not to worry. Can you help me with "David Coperfield"?
P: Ah, yes, Dickens.
C: No....
P: (pause) I beg your pardon?
C: No, Edmund Wells.
P: I... *think* you'll find Charles Dickens wrote "David Copperfield", sir....
C: No, no, Dickens wrote "David Copperfield" with *two* Ps. This is "David Coperfield" with *one* P by Edmund Wells.
P: "David Coperfield" with one P?
C: Yes, I should have said.
P: Yes, well in that case we don't have it.
C: (peering over counter) Funny, you've got a lot of books here....
P: (slightly perturbed) Yes, we do, but we don't have "David Coperfield" with one P by Edmund Wells.
C: Pity, it's more thorough than the Dickens.
C: Yes...I wonder if it might be worth a look through all your "David Copperfield"s...
P: No, sir, all our "David Copperfield"s have two P's.
C: Are you quite sure?
P: Quite.
C: Not worth just looking?
P: Definitely not.
C: 'bout "Grate Expectations"?
P: Yes, well we have that....
C: That's "G-R-A-T-E Expectations," also by Edmund Wells.
P: (pause) Yes, well in that case we don't have it. We don't have anything by Edmund Wells, actually, he's not very popular.
C: Not "Knickerless Knickleby"? That's K-N-I-C-K-E-R-L-E-S-S.
P: (taciturn) No.
C: "Khristmas Karol" with a K?
P: (really quite perturbed) No....
C: Er, how about "A Sale of Two Titties"?
C: (moving towards door) Sorry to trouble you....
P: Not at all....
C: Good morning.
P: Good morning.
C: (turning around) Oh!
P: (deep breath) Yesss?
C: I wonder if you might have a copy of "Rarnaby Budge"?
P: No, as I say, we're right out of Edmund Wells!
C: No, not Edmund Wells - Charles Dikkens.
P: (pause - eagerly) Charles Dickens??
C: Yes.
P: (excitedly) You mean "Barnaby Rudge"!
C: No, "Rarnaby Budge" by Charles Dikkens. That's Dikkens with two Ks, the well-known Dutch author.
P: (slight pause) No, well we don't have "Rarnaby Budge" by Charles Dikkens with two Ks, the well-known Dutch author, and perhaps to save time I should add that we don't have "Karnaby Fudge" by Darles Chickens, or "Farmer of Sludge" by Marles Pickens, or even "Stickwick Stapers" by Farles Wickens with four M's and a silent Q!!!!! Why don't you try W. H. Smith's?
C: Ah did, They sent me here.
P: DID they.
C: Oh, I wonder...
P: Oh, do go on, please.
C: Yes...I wonder if you might have "The Amazing Adventures of Captain Gladys Stoutpamphlet and her Intrepid Spaniel Stig Amongst the Giant Pygmies of Beckles"...volume eight.
P: (after a pause for recovery) No, we don't have that...funny, we've got a lot of books here...well, I musn't keep you standing here...thank you,...
C: Oh, well do, do you have...
P: No, we haven't. No, we haven't.
C: B-b-b-but--
P: Sorry, no, it's one o'clock now, we're closing for lunch
C: Ah, I--I saw it---(loud arguments)
P: I'm sorry--
C: I saw it over there! I saw it...
P: What? What? WHAT?!?
C: I saw it over there: "Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds".
P: (pause; trying to stay calm) "Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds"?
C: Yes...
P: O-L-S-E-N?
C: Yes....
P: B-I-R-D-S??
C: Yes.....
P: (beat) Yes, well, we do have that, as a matter of fact...
C: The expurgated version....
P: (pause; politely) I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that...?
C: The expurgated version.
P: (exploding) The EXPURGATED version of "Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds"?!?!?!?!?
C: (desperately) The one without the gannet!
P: The one without the gannet-!!! They've ALL got the gannet!! It's a Standard British Bird, the gannet, it's in all the books!!!
C: (insistent) Well, I don't like them...they wet their nests.
P: (furious) All right! I'll remove it!! (rrrip!) Any other birds you don't like?!
C: I don't like the robin...
P: (screaming) The robin! Right! The robin! (rrrip!) There you are, any others you don't like, any others?
C: The nuthatch?
P: Right! (flipping through the book) The nuthatch, the nuthatch, the nuthatch, 'ere we are! (rrriiip!) There you are! NO gannets, NO robins, NO nuthatches, THERE's your book!
C: (indignant) I can't buy that! It's torn!
P: (incoherent noise)
C: Ah, I wonder if you have--
P: God, ask me anything!! We got lots of books here, you know, it's a bookshop!!
C: Er, how 'bout "Biggles Combs his Hair"?
P: No, no, we don't have that one, funny!
C: "The Gospel According to Charley Drake"?
P: No, no, no, try me again!
C: Ah...oh, I know! "Ethel the Aardvark goes Quantity Surveying".
P: No, no, no, no, no,...What? WHAT??????
C: "Ethel the Aardvark goes Quantity Surveying".
P: "Ethel the Aa--" YES!!!YES!!! WE'VE GOT IT!! (throwing books wildly about) I-I've seen it somewhere!!! I know it!!! Hee hee hee hee hee!!! Ha ha hoo ho---WAIT!! WAIT!! Is it?? Is it??? (triumphant) YES!!!!!! Here we are, "Ethel the Aardvark goes Quantity Surveying"!!!!! There's your book!! (throwing it down) Now, BUY IT!!!
C: (quickly) I don't have enough money.
P: (desperate) I'll take a deposit!
C: I don't have ANY money!
P: I'll take a check!!
C: I don't have a checkbook!
P: I've got a blank one!!
C: I don't have a bank account!!
P: RIGHT!!!! I'll buy it FOR you! (ring) There we are, there's your change, there's some money for a taxi on the way home, there's your book, now, now...
C: Wait, wait, wait!
P: What? What?!? WHAT?!? WHAT???!!
C: I can't read!!!
P: (staggeringly long pause; very quietly) You can' (pause) RIGHT!!! Sit down!! Sit down!! Sit!! Sit!! Are you sitting comfortably??? Right!!! (opens book) "Ethel the Aardvark was hopping down the river valley one lovely morning, trottety-trottety-trottety, when she might a nice little quantity surveyor..." (fade out)


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Durga Pujo in Singapore

The Durgostav in Singapore was an enjoyable experience. The moment I got out of the Farrer Park MRT, I sighted three or four Bengali women dressed colorfully in 'pujo attire' (term used to cover up my lack of knowledge of saree varieties). We entered the chock- a- block full pandal auditorium were Mother Durga was housed in all her resplendent glory. The purohit was chanting the mantras of prayer, the many men and women dressed in traditional Bengali attire were animatedly chatting with each other. The festive spirit was very palpable. There were loads of Marwaris, Panjabis and Gujratis as well, all offering prayers to the Divine Mother. All together. Sometimes I marvel at the fact that India manifests herself as much outside her borders as she does within them.
It was all good. There was quite bit of jostling as well, because of the large number of people there. I also ended up losing my shoes for a while. Thank God I found them in the end! Met some Bengali friends, made some new ones, laughed, chatted and offered prayers.

Its like I had never left Kolkata...

Maa Durga in Singapore.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ya Devi Sarva Bhute

"Come ye, who shun the folly of the East,
Nor court pale midnight at her gorgeous feast;
Who run from tom- toms rattling at the gate,
And view no poojahs crowding by in state"

This is what Lt. GW Wallace said of the Durga Pujas in Calcutta in 1876. Its that time of the year again. Maa Durga has arrived yet again, to dazzle us with her radiance and to spread joy and cheer to millions of her devotees.
I have lived in Calcutta for 14 years, but have experienced the Pujas for what I believe it to be in only in the last 5 or 6 of those. This year, I shall miss it as well, deluged in classes, submissions, work and exams. However, I shall visit the pujas here in distant Singapore, soak in the atmosphere and once in a while close my eyes.
I hope to remember -

- Calcutta. Its many pandals, most based on a theme, a current event even, brightly and intricately decorated, all competing for the prizes that are given out at the end of it all for best pandal etc. The city will be alive for the duration of the pujas, the magic will be visible. There will lights, sounds, traffic jams, incessant crowds, all night Qs and chaos on gargantuan scale. But it won't matter. People will throng, smile, laugh, spread cheer and travel. All will be forgiven. Disgruntled neighbors will present each other sweets, distanced lovers will fall in love all over again and warring families will once more sit together at the dinner table. The pujas can do all of this... and more.

- The mornings. You wake up, still heavy headed and tired from the all night pandal hopping with friends and family. You stumble to your balcony. Its a bit cloudy but the sun peeps through. There's a certain smell in the air. Theres a that light smog cover as well, but now it doesn't bother you. The steady drum beats of a 'dhaaki' floats in from somewhere. Some loud speaker blares the latest Hindi and Bengali film songs. You close your eyes and take in a deep breath. You realise you're not tired any more. The headache has gone. The only thing you look forward to is being with the people you love and doing the same thing you did last night all over again.

- The elders. The various grey haired, false-toothed, elderly relatives who would miraculously descend all at the same time and narrate stories of how the pujas used to be in their time and how things have changed. I will miss listening to them in wide-eyed wonder. I shall also miss accepting Rs. 101 each from them for 'sweets'.

- The all night 'addas' or chat sessions. Not specific to the pujas, but this time of the year gave us the excuse to indulge in conversations of all kinds for however long. No topic would be left untouched. From the plight of the Idol makers to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden to the two hotties sighted in 'benarasis' at Maddox Square.

Here's an article by Vir Sanghvi on the Pujas, what it means to the Bengalis and his experiences with Calcutta.

"Tell outsiders about the importance of Puja in Calcutta and they'll scoff. Don't be silly, they'll say. Puja is a religious festival. And Bengal has voted for the CPM since 1977. How can godless Bengal be so hung up on a religions festival? I never know how to explain them that to a Bengali, religion consists of much more than shouting Jai Shri Ram or pulling down somebody's mosque. It has little to do with meaningless ritual or sinister political activity. The essence of Puja is that all the passions of Bengal converge: emotion, culture, the love of life, the warmth of being together, the joy of celebration, the pride in artistic expression and yes, the cult of the goddess. It may be about religion. But is not about much more than just worship. In which other part of India would small, not particularly well-off localities, vie with each other to produce the best pandals? Where else could puja pandals go beyond religion to draw inspiration from everything else? In the years I lived in Calcutta, the pandals featured Amitabh Bachchan, Princes Diana and even Saddam Hussain! Where else would children cry with the sheer emotional power of Dashimi, upset that the Goddess had left their homes? Where else would the whole city gooseflesh when the dhakis first begin to beat their drums? Which other Indian festival - in any part of the country - is so much about food, about going from one roadside stall to another, following your nose as it trails the smells of cooking?

To understand Puja, you must understand Calcutta. And to understand Calcutta, you must understand the Bengali. It's not easy. Certainly, you can't do it till you come and live here, till you let Calcutta suffuse your being, invade your bloodstream and steal your soul. But once you have, you'll love Calcutta forever. Wherever you go, a bit of Calcutta will go with you. I know, because it's happened to me. And every Puja, I am overcome by the magic of Bengal. It's a feeling that'll never go away."

Here are some links dealing with the Durga Puja.

1. The one stop shop for all the essentials you need to know about the Durga Puja.

2. A trip around all the Kolkata 'pujo pandals'.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Vardi ki laaj...

What makes an engrossing cop flick? Underdog against the system, fiery dialogues, heavy maar-dhaad or the battle between duty and 'zameer'? I have personally always enjoyed a good police drama. A police officer upholding the law against heavy odds always holds a viewer, if executed well. The cop film has changed over the years. The 70s ushered in the image of the 'angry young' officer who takes on the system single handed. It was characterized by the villains who usually dabbled in smuggling and drugs, and heroes who went all out to stop these guys (normally named KK, Narang, etc, which changed to Shaakal, Bhujang, Dang etc. in the 80s and 90s). The 80s hardly had any decent cop tales of note. The villains did get more incredulous though. The late 90s and 00s saw a rejuvination of sorts in the genre and some decent films were made. The underworld took centre stage and power politics and corruption were the new villains.
Here are some films that stand out in this genre.

1. Zanjeer (1973)
This catapulted Amitabh Bachchan to superstardom. It also introduced the 'angry young man' phenomenon. Salim-Javed's story and script was something that the Hindi screen hadn't witnessed before. Add to that the fiery Bachchan and Ajit's famous dialogue delivery and you have a classic. Pran leaves his mark as well.
Most memorable line: 'Yeh police station hai, tumhare baap ka ghar nahin. Jab tak baithne ko nahin kaha jaaye, chup chaap khade raho'.

2. Ardh Satya (1983)
One of the best. Govind Nihalani's stark film had amazing performances from Om Puri and Sadashiv Amprapurkar. Puri as the disillusioned cop, caught between the police violence and bribery on the one hand, and his desire to fulfill his duties to the letter on the other, turns in one of his best performances ever. The film showcases the nexus between politicians and antisocial elements and delves into the psyche of a cop trying to do his duty in difficult times. Vijay Tendulkar writes the script and Nihalani's cinematography and direction brings it to life beautifully.
Most memorable line: Would you believe it, I don't remember any!

3. Sarfarosh (1999)
Aamir Khan as a police officer was a revelation. The talented actor makes the role of ACP Rathod is own. John Mathan's (can someone tell me where he is these days) debut film was a very good film. The movie tried to go to the depth of some of the real reasons behind terrorism and insurgency in India. ‘Sarfarosh’ shows how guns and drugs are smuggled in, across the border at Rajasthan, and how they reach the interiors of India, spreading terror and destruction.
The film will also be remembered for Mukesh Rishi's brilliant turn as an honest police officer and Sonali Bendre's effervescence. The film also had that Jagit Singh classic, 'Hoshwalon ko khabar kya'.
Most memorable line: 'Don't mind'.

4. Shool (1999)
Manoj Bajpai's last memorable role. This intense movie didn't fare too well at the box office, but is still a gem of a cop flick. Co-scripted by Ram Gopal Varma and set in heartland Bihar, it exposes the blatant lawlessness that envelops the grassroots milieu. Bajpai plays a cop who will uphold the law under any circumstances, even disregarding the fact that the he is up against the system itself. The film is focused, has no frills and and has strong performances from an ensemble cast. Shiyaji Shinde plays the evil politician brilliantly. This is one character you will genuinely dislike!
Most memorable line: 'Hum aapke niche nahin, aapke saath kaam karte hain, aur hum dono kaanoon ke niche kaam karte hain.'

5. Khakhee (2003)
Though it borrows heavily from Hollywood, 'Khakhee' is engrossing fare. The film could have done without the songs, I felt. The film tells the tale of 5 officers faced with the task of moving a suspect from one location to another. The trip turns out to be one they never expected and ends up being a battle for survival. The officers realise that they are up against the political machinery which doesn't want the suspect to get to court. The film is fast paced, filled with action and has great direction from Raj Kumar Santoshi. Bachchan is brilliant, Akshay Kumar and Tusshar Kapoor are good, and Ajay Devgan as a negative character is competent.
Most memorable line: 'Hum yahan apna khoon bahakar farz nibha rahe hain, aur udhar apni hai sarkar hamari hi thokne par lagi hui hai. Tchaa!'

6. Gangajal (2003)
Based on the 'Bhagalpur blindings', Gangajal was a very good movie. Twenty years after Govind Nihalani made Ardh Satya, conscientious cops in Hindi cinema were still trying to overcome the same hurdles Om Puri stumbled against. The film questions self justice by the police and the public. This is therefore different from the usual, in the sense that it enforces that the law should be the same for all and also apply to victims who may have unwittingly taken justice into their hands. The end comes with Devgan assuming the role of social crusader, which is a little far fetched, but otherwise, its a very fulfilling cinematic experience.
Most memorable line: 'Sabko pavittar kar denge.'

There are loads of other good films. There is the Nana Patekar starrer, 'Ab tak Chappan' (a great encounter movie), Bachchan's 'Akhri Raasta' , and 'Dev', the masala 'Mein Khiladi Yu Anari', Nasseruddin Shah's 'Encounter-The Killing' and Arshad Warsi's 'Saher'.
Heard a lot about this Kamal Hassan starrer 'Kurudhi Poonnal', which a lot of people have claimed to be one of the best around. Must catch that one.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Too busy to blog...

Damn! Its been a week from hell!
I'm in the last week of my internship and hence there's tonnes of work to wrap up. Classes are coming to an end as well so all the trimester end presentations are due this week and next. Exams start from the 17th. Just too much to handle. While good Bengalis in Kolkata will walk street after street and visit pandal and pandal into wee hours of the morning this Pujas, I will be swimming in deadlines and deliverables...
Well, as someone said recently, 'that's life'.

A quick list of significant happenings over the last week:

1. We have been allowed to stay on campus a while longer. So house hunting can wait for the time being.

2. Batchmate KK interviewed with an IT company for a f/t position and returned not knowing what the name of the company was.

3. Made loads of calls to India, so expecting a fat phone bill (there goes my internship allowance!).

4. Haven't seen a film for the last 7 days, quite an unbelievable statistic as far as I am concerned.


Friday, September 30, 2005

The Nanyang MBA Series - 2 (Induction)

After the week of settling into the environs of the University, it was on to the Induction Program. Conducted over 3-4 days, this was aimed at familiarizing the new batch with the system, the resources and the method of study that would be applicable to us. Also, we were quizzed on what we were looking to takeaway from the program and briefed on what the school was intending to make of us. All of this was conducted by Professors Robert Boyd (an ex- Investment Banker and Citibank Europe head, a lovely old gentleman, the kind you would want to respect), John Beck (organizational behavior(errgh!) teacher and one of the funniest guys I've met) and Michael Connor (a fun loving and excitable Aussie, who conducted a session on making presentations). It was all business jargon and snazzy two-by-twos, so we, as budding MBAs were all suitably impressed.

Prof. Robert Boyd's session on the Case Study method

The class of 2005-06 (around 65 full timers) were divided up into 2 groups. One would head out for outbound team building activity and the other would sit indoors for mock corporate games. The next day the 2 groups would change places.

The ice breaker. We had to get everyone's signature next to a charateristic the individual identified with. Ekta won that by getting everyone's signatures first.

The outbound was loads of fun; the instructors put us in various individual and team activities
aimed at team building. It was a hot day so while we didn't enjoy the running around the huge campus in the treasure hunt game, the others were very challenging. Special mention to an activity where around 30 of us had to fill a bucket with water, without touching it, using only long pieces of string. You can safely assume the outcome of that one!

The string game. A classic team game, but we made a hash of it!

The game where the group had to arrange themselves on a thin plank, in order of their birthdays, without speaking. Lots of charades and falling over.

The next day we were up for the indoors. It comprised of 3 corporate mock games were we would be tested on speed, skill and strategy. This was a new experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed all of these. There were sessions on what was expected from us on the case study method and how to make effective presentations. I left this session pretty enlightened.

My group busy brainstorming at one of the business games, while Prof. John Beck oversees the proceedings...

The final day, however, was most fun. By this time we had got to know each other pretty well so we were all starting to get along pretty famously. One could feel the camaraderie building. The final day's brief was as follows. Divide yourself up into teams based on your country and enact or present something that showcases your culture. Since there was a predominance of Indian and Chinese students, there were 4 or 5 Indian and Chinese teams. We decided to present a few short skits on varied things Indian, starting with a a brief introduction to the country, moving to arranged marriage (topped up with loads of dancing to KHNH's 'Mahi ve') and rounded it off by poking fun at the length of Indian names. I might mention here that the onerous task of playing the bride in the marriage skit fell on me, which I pulled off with a constant laugh and a red chunni over my head. It was quite an embarrassing performance, even by my moderate acting standards. My day was saved when I got to know that the official photographer of the day had missed our entire skit...Thank God, no pictures!

The other skits and presentations were also very enjoyable. Special mention to a Singaporean presentation of how locals speak the English language or 'Singlish' ('Some say leh, some say lah') and the two 'Christian's from Germany, who sang a German drinking song in which the whole class joined in. The Canadian, Hungarian, Chinese and other presentations were also good, though a bit staid and academic, and lacked the boisterous strain that we were getting used to. The day and the Program ended with a dinner session with faculty and MBA office staff.

Bring on the beer!The Germans sing!

It was a thoroughly enjoyable few days and it prepared us in a sense, in gearing us up for the hectic 16 months that were to follow...


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ray - 50 years on...and 5 picks

The year 2005 marks the 50th anniversary of Ray's first film, the brilliant 'Pather Panchali'. On the occasion, UK-based I B Tauris released Satyajit Ray-A Vision of Cinema.
The book, which celebrates the legendary filmmaker, features priceless photographs and anecdotes from Ray's life, as well his drawings and scripts. The book features several rare pictures from the makings of his many masterpieces.

The man was a genius. He was involved with every aspect of his cinema from screenplay to music to script to poster art. Such commitment and passion for cinema has rarely been witnessed. A luminary of his time, it was ironic that none of his films ever came close to winning an Academy Award. He was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Academy, while on his deathbed. The Satyajit Ray Film Institute in Kolkata was opened in his memory and master's work continues to serve as inspiration for the insititute's many students. His films are timeless in their study of human emotion and socio political influence on personality.

Listed below are 5 of my favourite Ray films.

1. Aparajito (Unvanquished) 1956: I have never figured this out. I have always liked this film better than the other films in the 'Apu' trilogy. Though Pather Panchali was hailed universally and is considered the best of the three, I found the treatment of the mother-son relationship and process of growth from boy to man, to be especially fascinating. The film also gives the viewer some hope that there could be a way out of abject poverty and also spreads the message of the importance of good education.

2. Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) 1974: The best children's film he made. I prefer this to even 'Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne'. The movie brought to life the capers of detective 'Feluda', a literary creation of Ray himself. Replete with memorable lines, the beautiful locales of Rajasthan and the funniest sidekick ever 'Jatayu' (Santosh Dutta). The film follows Feluda's pursuit of two small time crooks who have kidnapped a child, rumored to have memories of his past life as the son of a jeweler.

3. Devi (The Goddess) 1961: The film is set in 1860 at Chandipur, in rural Bengal, India. Doyamoyee (Sharmila Tagore) and her husband Umaprasad (Soumitra Chatterjee) live with the wealthy patriarch, Kalikinkar Roy (Chhabi Biswas) who is an aging widower. The father has a revelation in a dream that his daughter-in-law is an incarnation of the goddess Kali. He insists she be worshiped. Then, a dying child is placed at her feet and he is miraculously cured. As the news spreads, the aged and the sick come in hundreds; seeking cure and comfort. Umaprasad attacks the tradition and tries to reason with his father and tells him that he has gone insane. The father is unmoved. Umaprasad tries to take her away, but to his surprise finds that she too has become convinced of her divine status. Doyamoyee's nephew, falls ill and is placed in her care. The child dies for lack of medical treatment in her arms. Her husband tries again to persuade her but it is too late. The child's death shatters her and she goes mad.

"Ray's feeling for the intoxicating beauty within the disintegrating way of life of the 19th century landowning class makes this one of the rare, honest films about decadence." - Pauline Kael.

4. Charulata (The Lonely Wife) 1964: Charulata (The Lonely Wife) was Ray's twelfth feature film. It was also the director's favorite. Ray described the film as the one which has the least defects. In an interview with 'Cineaste' magazine, when asked about his most satisfying film, Ray said, "Well, the one film that I would make the same way, if I had to do it again, is Charulata."
In Charulata, Ray explores the emergence of the modern woman in the upper-class of colonial India. Parallels have been drawn with Ibsen's A Doll's House. The film had brilliant performances from Madhabi Mukherjee and Soumitra Chatterjee.

5. Aguntuk (The Stranger) 1991: Based on a short story written by himself, this was Ray's last film. It was also the brilliant Utpal Dutt's last curtain call. A normal middle class family receives a letter that a long lost uncle is about to visit them. While the wife is sympathetic to the man, the husband is suspicious and believes that he is an imposter here to claim his share of the inheritance. He is repeatedly interviewed by the husband's friends in an effort to determine if he is truly a world traveler as he makes himself out to be. The film, in a classical way, questions urban and family values and materialism in today's world. A fascinating study into the human psyche.

There are so many more. 'Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne' (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha), 'Nayak' (The Hero), 'Ghare Baire'(The Home and the World), 'Jalsaghar'(The Music Room) and 'Satranj Ke Khiladi' (The Chess Players) are all gems of Indian cinema.

Here's some trivia about the great man and his films:

- His favourite actor was Soumitra Chatterjee, who worked with him in more than ten of this thirty odd films.
- His first few music directors were Ravi Shanker, Vilayat Khan and Ali Akbar Khan. After 'Devi', he composed the music for all of his films.
- He allegedly refused to make a third 'Feluda' movie because he couldn't imagine anyone other than Santosh Dutta playing the role of 'Jatayu'.
- Ray claims that the one foreign film that influenced him the most is Vittorio De Sica's 'Bicycle Thieves'.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Sadak chaap...

Right! Its final then. The email has come in. (Despite much pleading) We, the students of the outgoing MBA batch, have to vacate our beloved Graduate Hall in a month or be faced with the consequence of becoming designated 'squatters'. So its house hunting time for me along with the current preoccupation of job hunting. A few of the guys and myself plan to move into an apartment somewhere in the city. We should start soon as finding likeable accommodation here can take a while. I've never shared a house with anyone before, so it should be a pretty interesting experience.
That said, leaving GH will be difficult. We have had some truly memorable times here and most of the residents had almost become extended family. Another bummer is the fact that we will have to move out of the campus. Its back to living in the concrete jungle...sigh!

PS - Cogito, could you pass on the nos. of some agents that you might know?


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ramji Londonwaley

The trend of remakes of Tamil films in Hindi cinema continue. This time its Kamal Hassan's 'Nala Damayanti'. And the new avatar is 'Ramji Londonwaley'. Southern star, Madhavan, who essays the lead role, has gone on record saying that Ramji is a superior product and that he enjoyed the role more than he did in the Tamil original. However, the film hasn't done too well at the box office. Does that mean we write it off?
I wouldn't. I thought it was a pretty charming, feel good flick, along the lines of a 'Munnabhai MBBS'. Of course, Munnabhai was a superior product, but Ramji isn't a write off either.
The story revolves around a lower middle class Bihari cook, who leaves to work in London, to help raise money for his sister's greedy in laws. He lands up there, loses his passport and papers, but is saved from destitution when he is given a job as a cook by a kind Indian family. Though everyone dismisses him off as a village bumkin, he ends up endearing himself to everyone around with his mix of innocence, wit and earthy charm. The restaurant's owner is grateful to Ramji for having partially cured his spastic child. However, the owner's friend, a scheming lawyer, has plans to fleece his friend for every pound he's worth, under the guise of doing him legal favours. Ramji sees through his nefarious plans and puts him in his place, thereby restoring peace and harmony to the proceedings. In the middle of all this, he falls in love with the lawyer's fiance, who is slowly drawn to Ramji's simplicity and charm.
Madhavan is the obvious strength of the film. The fact that the actor was born and brought up in Jamshedpur clearly aids him in delivering a convincing performance. His accent and mannerisms are spot on. He also has the rare ability to pull off comedy with elan. Some scenes, like the one on the plane where Ramji commits a series of hilarious 'faux pas' highlight the actor's comic timing. Samita Bangargi, the love interest in the film, makes her debut and is passable. The supporting cast of Harsh Chayya, Akhilendra Mishra, Dayashankar Pandey and Raj Zutshi are very good. Satish Shah, as a sympathetic immigrations official is good as well. The music is average barring the title song which showcases Raghuveer Yadav's (surprise!) singing talents.
After a while though, especially in the second half, the film peters into mediocrity and the formulaic 'pahle inkaar phir ikraar' love story. Though tedious in bits, I found the film to be wholesome entertainment. Clean, fun and charming. To be seen with the whole family.
PS - Watch out for Amitabh Bachchan's special appearance in the final scene.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Taking over America - John Cleese

I recieved this forward a long time ago, so forgive the fact that its a bit dated. It is hilarious, though. This is from John Cleese, the veteran British Comic, known and loved for his roles in 'Fawlty Towers', 'Monty Python' and 'A Fish Called Wanda'. Here's John taking out the time to rail against America. Delightful.

To the citizens of the United States of America,
In the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy.Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium." Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour', skipping the letter 'U' is nothing more than laziness on skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter \'Z\' (pronounced \'zed\' not \'zee\') and the suffix 'ize' will be replaced by the suffix 'ise'.You will learn that the suffix \'burgh\ is pronounced \'burra\' e.g.Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as \'Pittsberg\' if you can't cope with correct pronunciation. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up vocabulary. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up "interspersed". There will be no more \'bleeps\' in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows.When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won't have to use bad language as often.

2. There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter \'u\' and the elimination of -ize.

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents - Scottish dramas such as Taggart will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we're talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is Devon. If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American states will become shires e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

4. You should stop playing American football. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American football is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays American football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies. We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the 'World Series' for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls' game called rounders which is baseball without fancy team uniforms, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

5. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don't believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called Indecisive Day.

7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren't even French, they are Belgian, though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

9. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. The substances formerly known as American Beer will hence forth be referred to as Near-Frozen Knat's Urine, with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as Weak Near-Frozen Knat's Urine.

10. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or Gasoline as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices(roughly $6/US gallon - get used to it).

11. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

12. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

13. Tax collectors from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to1776).

14. Last but not the least, and for heaven's's Nuclear as in "clear", NOT "Nucular".

Thank you for your co-operation and have a great day.
John Cleese.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Happy Birthdays

Here's wishing two of my dear friends A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Cogito's was on the 22nd of September and Brijesh's on the 23rd. Many happy returns of the day, guys. Please celebrate...and invite me if there's cake and alcohol.


Yeh sambhaal mera faulaadi mukka!

Which are the film lines that you think are keepers? There are just too many of them. From Arnie's 'haste la vista, baby' to Bachchan's 'Mein aaj bhi pheke hue paise nahin uthata'. A funny thing one notices is that almost all of the unforgettable lines in cinema have been uttered by men. Coincidence I'm sure, but intriguing. One can remember a Hema Malini rattling off a 'yun to bak bak karne ki aadat hai nahin' from Sholay and a Srivedi going 'Balmaaa' from Chaalbaaz or an Ingrid Bergman wistfully saying, 'Play it Sam, for old time's sake', but nothing else really stands out (my memory stinks, so the statement is open to argument) .

Anyway, this isn't about gender bias. Here are some of my favorite quotes, film or otherwise, in no particular order:

1. Super Commando Dhruv Comics: I used to enjoy these comics tremendously when I used to visit my grandparents in Kanpur. Every kid in the locality had a ton of 'Nagraj' and 'Super Commando Dhruv' comics. I was hooked after a little while. Whenever our hero got into the final showdown with the villain at the end of a story, he went "Yeh sambhaal, mera faulaadi mukka!". Freakin' hilarious!

2. Terminator 2: Arnie made this part all his own. Playing a mindless robotic killer has been the most convincing thing he's done to date. The line I like the most from the movie is "I'll be back". Menacing.

3. Sholay: This movie gave us tonnes of classics. But Gabbar was the true hero of the film and his line "Kitne aadmi the?" is my favorite. When batchmates in college and in university used to return, disheveled and hassled, from panel interviews, this was a sure shot way to get them to beat you up.

4. The Godfather: "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse". Haven't had one of those in a long time.

5. Jerry Maguire: "Show me the money!". Show me the money.

6. Wall Street/Ivan Boesky: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." The decade of the 80s on Wall Street was characterized by multi million dollar deals, corporate raiders, obscenely rich I-Bankers and insider trading. Ivan Boesky, the biggest arbitrager of them all, uttered these lines in guest lectures at the Harvards and the Whartons. He subsequently was fined millions of dollars and was sentenced to jail. Michael Douglas does an Oscar winning reprise of Boesky in Wall Street.

7. Anand: "Babu Moshai, zindagi aur maut upar wale ke haath mein hai. Hum sab rangmanch ki kathputliyan hai, jinki dor upar wale ki haath mein hai. Kaun kab kaise uthega, yeh koi nahin bata sakta." Only hindi film to have made me cry.

8. Mr. India: "Mogambo khush hua!" Best baddie dialogue after Gabbar's many verbal pearls.

9. Frankenstein: "It's alive! Its alive". Exactly what I said when the forecasting model I'm working on at my current internship started working.

10. Star Wars: "May the force be with you." Before a date, an exam or a drinking session. A phrase for many occasions.

There are many more unforgettable lines that linger in memory, but can't include them all here, much as I would like. Feel free to key in your favorites.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Nanyang MBA Series - 1 (The School)

The first in the Nanyang MBA series. This one might just be of academic interest to most people, but I feel I should introduce the school before I start getting into the wonderful memories that we've made here. Setting the scene, in a sense. So here goes.

Nanyang Business School's MBA program is a relatively new one, started as recently as 1991. That given, since then, not only has the school consistently ranked in the top 10 in Asia, but the school today is ranked amongst 100 best MBA programs in the world, according to The Economist. Quite a good show for a 'fledgling' program.

Reputed for offering a global perspective with an Asian focus, the Nanyang MBA draws participants from around the world. We had individuals from 16 countries in our batch, which added great diversity both in terms of perspective and learning. A wide and flexible choice of subject specializations and the Overseas Business Study Missions are other unique features of the program.

Enough propaganda. Now on to the Campus. The campus is huge, spread over more than 600 acres of lush green landscape. By far the most beautiful surroundings I have ever lived in. The combination of hi-tech infrastructure and natural greenery made this place ideal as a seat of education. Coming from a concrete Calcutta, this was a treat for the eyes.

The South Spine by night

An aerial view of The North Spine

The Business School is situated in the South Spine (S3.1) of the University. It is quite a distance from the Graduate Hall (accomodation for graduate students only), and one can avail of the shuttle bus service to get there. For a virtual trip of the campus, please click here.

This towering structure is Graduate Hall, home to post graduates. This is where it all goes down! Offers both single and double rooms. This has been home to me and most of my MBA batch mates.

I remember the first time we got here, the shuttle bus services was temporarily unavailable. Walking to School and back used to be such a big deal. I was better off for it as I needed the exercise! The first few days after arrival zipped by with all the registrations, paperwork formalities and student pass collections. I also used this time to settle into Graduate Hall, my home ever since, and to get to know some of the other students from the batch. Acclimatization
was swift enough, with no major hiccups. Getting used to the food took a little while, but now I'm absolutely at home with the sumptuous 'migoreng' or the spicy 'laksa'. The Indian food on campus wasn't great, but it wasn't too bad either.

A great aerial shot of the Sports and Recreation Centre where many a game of water polo, squash, tennis and badminton has been played.

A week of this and then it was on to the Induction Program...

One of the many lovely walkways at NTU. Looks brilliant in the night time with the lights lining the walkway .

PS: Would like to thank Naresh Kumar Agarwal (NTU alumni) for some of the photographs.