Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mandatory marriage message

Well folks, next week same time, the goose is cooked. Carefree days of fun and frolic will change to fretful days of responsibility and worry. The 'baccha chele' will become 'bhodrolok' or 'korta'. Phew! The pressures, I tell you...
But some good things do come about from unions like these. For instance, the contrarian natures of both parties can sometimes conspire to serve them immensely well, leading to a happy and engaging time spent together. For instance, the fiance is a cleanliness freak and counts it amongst her favourite pass times. I, however, like to leave a trail of filth and general disorder in my wake, something like a statement of my presence. So I dirty and she cleans. And we're both happy. Fantastic.
However, similar traits in both parties can be quite negative in a relationship. The fact that neither of us can cook is quite a downer. How we shall survive to help ourselves and our future flock grow and prosper, is quite beyond me. So to all my local friends...please be prepared for unwanted guests...especially at meal times. We promise to bring gifts.

Well, I'll be off now and shall not be updating this space for atleast a couple of weeks. Fret not, as pictures shall be up soon.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Good Year

From the ferocious duo of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe comes a benign, sappy romantic comedy which fails to impress on many counts. Set in London and France, the story traces the journey of a irreverent investment analyst Skinner (Crowe) who inherits his favourite uncle's vineyard and estate in France. Eager to sell it off immediately for good money, he heads there after he has been suspended for dodgy deals on the bond market. Things get a little complicated when an illegitimate child of his late uncle shows up, looking for her father. Skinner, however, promptly falls in love with a charming local waitress and after a while finds the sleepy and beautiful town to be quite agreeable. How he takes the decision to give up the bustle of his city life and the material attachments of money, fame and position, to settle into this dreamy place in France for a more sedate lifestyle forms the crux of the story.
In a lot of ways the story seeks to explore the meaning of modern city life, what its truly worth and our inability to find true happiness and inner peace and tranquility, even when it it right under our noses. In part it is also a treatise on the journey of boy to man, and lessons that life has to offer, shown beautifully in flash backs through the many conversations between young Skinner and his uncle Henry (Albert Finney). These are by far the best parts of the film, rich in language and cinematic effect. The performances are good, especially form the supporting cast. Crowe is of course much more convincing as the 'tough as nails' bond trader. As a romantic lead he tries hard, but is just about adequate. He should leave that to the Hugh Grants and the Mel Gibsons of the world and focus more on bashing people to death with 'Gladius Hispaniensis', and other Roman weaponry. Which Ridley Scott, too, may consider for his next venture.
'A Good Year' is just about watchable fare and ends up being light, mishy-mashy, some what feel good and in the end nothing unique. Save yourself the $10, rent the DVD or download off the net, if legal in your neck of the woods.



Sunday, November 12, 2006

"Suddenly they are not sure who they are. Carl Jung called this state mid-life crisis. You are in the trap of mid-life crisis, Jung said, when you are discontent with life, bored with people, feel dangerously adventurous, question the meaning of life, about who you are, or where your life is going. When this happens, you try to create a self to meet the expectations of others. But that puts life on a bumpy ride and the 'who am I' question turns more complex. They all want to be 'myself', but they are just not sure what that is..."

Blighmy! I've been in a mid life crisis practically all my life...


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Book reviews

After a hiatus from the literary world, I have hit back with a vengeance...devouring paperbacks and hardbacks alike, with all the zest of a possessed bibliophile. I have read quite a bit over the last month and briefly review here, three of the most readable titles I've leafed through:

1. Calcutta - A city remembered by Jug Suraiya

Quite possibly one of the few cities to have so many books dedicated to it. A hopelessly biased selection, I chose this book because it was made out to be a collection of essays about the sights and sounds of Calcutta, and not a prolonged and detailed history of the city. And i wasn't disappointed. The book is a poignant look at the images one naturally associates with the city...Rajiv Gandhi's 'dying city', Mother Teresa's home, the Howrah Bridge, the rickshaw puller, the football, the cultural melting pot, the 'Bengali' and the famous 'adda' sessions. The city evokes such strong and diverse feelings, both emotionally and culturally, that everyone has their own Calcutta and the author has his, and my, isn't it just fantastic. Vivid, funny and insightful, the book is a series of essays on the stereotypes associated with the city. He takes a look into the city's glorious past, its British heritage, its famous gentleman's club culture and its lost opulence and heads onwards in time into the turbulent 60s and 70s and ends with a note on its eventual decline and current resurgence. And at 130 pages, it leaves you thoroughly satisfied and yearning for more.

Extract - "In many ways, Calcutta - or at least, the Calcutta I knew - found an apt metaphor in a derelict, tuneless piano in my aunt's attic: once grand and imposing, but now consigned to cobwebs and memories; difficult to accommodate in any practical scheme of things, yet defiantly enduring; pathetic to some, poignant to others, sufficient to itself. "

2. From Balham to Bollywood by Chris England

A book that marries 2 of my keenest interests, cricket and Bollywood. Also a fun light read, this book is part travelogue, part cricket tour and part Bollywood movie. Chris England was chosen to play the role of Yardley, the fearsome Larwood-esque fast bowler from the British army team who lose to bunch of rag tag village cricketers in Champaran in a Bollywood movie. Yes, Lagaan. The book takes us on his journey into India, experiences with both Indian film making, the star system and the cricket. This laugh a page marathon will keep you guffawing right till the end. A great companion on a flight or a train journey.

Extract - " Within about fifteen minutes of Mela, however, 1 was utterly at sea. Aamir and his mate were involved in a fantastic fight scene, and then we cut away to a musical number. In a Hollywood musical the songs by and large seem to grow out of the story. Characters burst into song, which is not a particularly realistic thing to have happen, but the song takes place in the same location as the surrounding story, and pushes the plot along, or illuminates a character's emotional state in some way. In this, though, we were wrenched from a countryside scene on to a huge theatrical stage, where the characters were suddenly all clad in black leather, and surrounded by neon lights and a bewildering number of dancers. It was as though the Young Generation, the Younger Generation, the Second Generation, the Nigel Lythgoe dancers, the Jeff Thacker dancers, Pan's People, Legs 'n' Co, Hot Gossip, the lads from Michael Jackson's Thriller video and the Kids from Fame had got together to form some kind of almighty synchronised pelvisthrusting supergroup. They did their funky thing, and then it was back to the plot, and a bit of comic relief."

3. A bowl of steaming rice or a mere ghost story - Sunil Gangopadhyay

One of the finest collection of short stories I have read in a while from any Indian author. While this collection is a translation of the author's Bengali works, it does to a degree manage to hold its own in the English language. 15 stories, set both in the villages and in the city, present the reader with the opportunity to look into the the lives of ordinary people, living ordinary lives and facing ordinary problems. The author seems more comfortable with rural life and the stories set in the villages are the better ones, dealing with issues like decadence, hunger, superstition and fear(The goings on at Keshtopur). The title story, is by far the best and the most intricate. However, the stories dealing with city life are not far behind, and tend to delve into subjects like alienation, competition, morality(For acertain woman, The meaning of Bijon's life) and personal loss. Each story highlights some facet of daily life we have certainly encountered and or some emotional upheaval we have definitely been through. A book written from the heart, this is my first brush with Sunil Gangopadhyay and it has made sure that it will not be my last.

No extract available.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Goodbye Shoaib?

Oh well, controversy's favorite child is in the dock again. A sad ending for one of the great cricketing entertainers of our time. A 2 year ban for the 31 year old tearaway fast bowler could effectively end his career. He could be guilty as sin, or it could just be a case of a monumental cock-up by the PCB...but that is now irrelevant. The bans have been handed out and though Shoaib can appeal, he appears pretty much out of it. Which is a pity because he was one of the genuine south Asian superstars of the game. His thundering runup, whippy action, hyperextended or not, and flying celebrations after a wicket, will all be imitated by bowlers to follow and will be stuff of legends. While his controversial career had branded him a bad boy, his exploits in the cricket field were consistently good. It had seemed as though the phoenix had finally risen...oh well...
As Kamraan Abbasi says in his article about the issue, 'what an almighty waste!'
I would dearly hope the fastest bowler in the world can bounce back for one final curtain call...
Thank you Shoaib, for being a cricket lover's delight.