Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Suspiciously Similar

Now I am no one to pass judgment on James L. Brooks' new movie, but How Do You Know has almost identical protagonists to his spectacular 1987 film Broadcast News. Same dogs, new tricks?? I will find out this evening, I have a free pass!!

Heck, Nicholson is wearing the exact same coat, can you believe it??

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Most Fitting Anology

Here I was sitting in my office pondering over this and that, you know world stuff, and then it hit me. It was a most startling thought but the more i thought it over the more befitting it seemed.


And if that weren't enough check this out


Don't you see the physical resemblance? The similarity of thought?

Think about it, All encompasing, tolerant, inclusive and kind - Gandhi
Cynical, someone who once fought the good fight but now has turned to darker school of thought,- Jinnah

Should I inform some government agency? Are there any forms that I need to fill out to have this acknowledged by the National Archives of India? Do I need to let Bryan Singer know? There has to be some forms, rt?

Guess that Makes India the X-men and Pakistan the Brotherhood of the Mutants.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

10 movies that rocked my world ' 2010

I am a hunter. Every weekend I step out of the house in a hunt for good movies. Movies to add to this very list. A recollection of the years best and most memorable.This year, I saw a total of 132 movies (Yes, I kept track) 65 at home and 67 in the theater of which 7 were free. Most were mediocre and unmemorable, some memorable for the wrong reasons and some will go into my all time fav list. Without much delay , I present to you 2010:

1) Guzaarish

I would call the movie near perfect. there were a couple of minute details that popped now and then and felt incongruous, but nothing that could distract me so much as to take anything away from the experience. Hrithik better win some awards for this one. Loved his acting and dialogues. His character was genuinely funny, with some really good one liners. I have actually never seen a complete SLB movie before, but this one I loved. Aishwarya dancing to Udi was a sheer cinematic enthralling experience. Similarily Tera Zikr hai was a pleasure to watch

2) Toy Story 3

My second fav movie of the year. Like all Pixar films its a heartfelt story with an adventure thrown in for good measure and a plethora of beloved characters. Oh man that scene with the incinerator. I really thought this was it. I nearly teared up. Nearly. There were people crying all over the theater. Not me .. :).

3) I Saw the Devil

This movie shows you in detail what happens when one Badass Motorfinger meets an equally Badass Motorfinger. If I had not seen any other movie this year, but just this one, I would have still have been happy. It blew me away. Best film of the year. Man, the Koreans are so so good. How is India ever gonna catchup??

4) The Ghost Writer

People wont work with Mel Gibson cause of his anti-semitic rants, but no one says anything about Polanski. Still, if you can separate the man from the art, then watch this movie. One of the best thrillers of the year with a spectacular cast and an amazing atmosphere.

5)The Next Three days

No love for this movie from anywhere in the media. I thought it was a spectacular combination of drama and edge of your seat thrills. The entire second half had me holding on by the seat of my pants. Russell Crowe is amazing as always and nice to see Elizabeth Banks in a serious role.

6) Watchmen

Rorschach's journal : 20 Jan 2011. Is the movie too long, you will ask and I whisper "No". What an exhibition of sheer talent by Zack Snyder. Even though its a long movie I was taut with attention throughout. Rorschach is a complete badass. The opening scenes set to "The times they are a changing" was genius . His monologue at the beginning is so well crafted. I think Mr.Snyder is a great choice for the Superman reboot. Can't wait for it.

"None of you seem to understand. I am not locked in here with you, You are locked in here with me"

7)Election/About Schmidt

Alexander Payne is a genius. With biting humor , his near dark comedies are a ton of fun, filled with flawed yet lovable characters, you can't help be pulled in. I saw this double whammy from the director and had so much fun. Nicholson was amazing as Schmidt and the scene where he tries to seduce a married woman, his return to the house where he was born - stellar. Election maybe Broderick's only other good movie after Ferris Bueller's Day Off. And thank you for introducing me to the music of Donovan.

8) Broadcast News/Lost in America

Both star Albert Brooks. My actor discovery of the year. I am trying to watch all his films now. Broadcast News - I love the fact that John Hurt's character knows that he is maybe not that smart and even though he is the unscrupulous of the lot he works hard at getting his career ahead. Lost in America is hilarious. A couple who drop out of society to travel across america but lose their savings in a night of manic gambling. Just the scene where Mr.Brooks explains his grand advertising campaign to the casino manager is worth it.

9) Girlfight

A girl spars with her boyfriend in the ring at the climax. That's right, the hero and heroine, sparring, and the girl wins. There I gave away the movie. But it made for one of the must engrossing fights I have ever seen on the screen. Michelle Rodriguez always plays the tough chick and you can see where it all started.

10) Superman Returns

Bryan Singer's best movie perhaps. Brandon Routh fits the part to a T. Superman's return and subsequent scenes are filled with a beautiful poignancy. Lex Luthor remains more comedic than villainous , like in the comic books, Kevin Spacey is a delight to watch still. I would have loved to see the organic contimuation of this story, but I guess that's not happening. And the way Brandon Routh's career is going, it looks like he has been struck by the Superman curse too.

11) The Fighter

A very human tale of a boxing family. The Fighters, it should have been called. What is Bale doing to his body? Well, I am sure he will nab the Supporting Actor Oscar. But maybe Geoffrey Rush might steal it from him, for being in a typically Oscar bait movie- The King's Speech. I am guessing Matt Damon and Jeremy Renner may get nominated too.

12) A-team

You have to go with it. That's the only way you are going to love this movie. They have a freaking tank escape a free fall by shooting its cannon towards the ground and use the recoil to lessen their fall. They know they are going overboard and they embrace the fact and that makes for a very fun action movie. I stood up and clapped at the end. I was smiling. You know why? Because I love it when a plan comes together!!

13) True Grit

Hailee Stienfield is definitely a star of tomorrow. She holds up so well against giants like Jeff bridges and Matt Damon. Jeff Bridges is spectacular as always. Its hard to say that this is the second collaboration of Mr. Bridges with the Coen brothers, after the iconic "The Big Lebowski". And Matt Damon biting his tongue and speaking funny after that was a nice touch. A thrilling climax and loved Barry Pepper and Josh Brolin in their roles.

Also Ran: The American, , Scott Pilgrim Vs the World, Get him to the Greek, The Other Guys, Unthinkable, Youth in Revolt, Striker, Wall Street pt1,How to train your dragon, The year my voice broke, Kick Ass, Exorcist III, Black Swan, The Town, Hereafter.

Abhorred: I hate luv Storys, the first five minutes of Housefull before I walked out to the adjacent screen to watch Badmaash Company, Alice in Wonderland, Little Fockers, Kites, TeesMaarKhan (save the Akshay Khanna scenes)

Movie with the worst extras in the world: Rajneeti

Leading ladies I fell in love with: Rebecca Hall - The Town, Kate Bosworth - Superman Returns, Natalie Portman - Black Swan

Still haven't seen: Winter's bone, The King's Speech, Blue Valentine, Green Zone, Let me in and MacGruber

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Delhi, New Delhi

You should see the revamped Delhi Airport. Looks just like any other international destination. But they need to do some work on the parking lot and the surrounding area. Its all debris and dust. I woke up at 5 in the morning to go for a walk, when the dawn was a good half hour away. By far, the morning is the best time to see the city. Early morning. When the light is not too harsh and the people aren't all up and about. You feel like its just you and the city. Like you own the whole of it.

Lodi Gardens is a 15th century park in New Delhi. There 5 or 6 tomb like structures called Gumbads around the park. It never ceases to amaze me all the wonderful pieces of history we have smack dab in the middle of the city. You see a lot of people out on a morning walk even some socialites and politicians with their bodyguards in tow. And there are dogs. Stray dogs which have clear marked territories around the city. Dogs which will stare at old people doing yoga or LOLing with as much curiosity as you might. Dogs which sometime start running along side some folks as if they were their owners. Some of them look khandani. Bastard children of rich dogs. And others just like the street they grew up on.
You have to walk by the swanky Khan Market to get here. My friend Samir has a house here, but he is away in Australia right now. Khan market is the 21st most expensive retail outlet in the world. There are markets in the ground floor and houses on the first. All the expatriates and the rich come here to hang out and shop. We used to go to Goel's to have Golguppay but they moved away. I remember Arun, Sam and I all got sick together after having Kathi rolls from the famous Khan Chacha's though Samir still maintains its not the rolls but something else.

My brother asked me to go to Purani dilli with him to have breakfast at Karim's. The place is run by descendants of ShahJahan's court chefs. I have been there before and was underwhelmed. My brother was raving about the Nihari and Khameeri Roti. While it was definitely good, I found it to be more of a lunch thing than a breakfast. I am not too privy to eating meat in the morning but my scrawny brother went on to devour roti after roti and was grinning ear to ear.
"How can you eat so much meat in the morning"I asked my brother.
"Thats what I am telling you, The Mughals were friggin awesome" he said.

My brother drives like a crazy person. So does everyone else in Delhi. Why did I not see this all these years.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

If I had a Twitter account

I am one of those who believe that Twitter accounts should only be operated by celebrities. People who actually have an audience that would be willing to know when they are in the shower and if they are clipping their nails right now. You and me, we should just stick to our Facebook and Gmail status updates. But if I were to have an account, it would be a nifty of getting some observations across which don't necessarily warrant a blog post. Here goes

1) The biggest tragedy of my life is that I can't sing.

2) Just got my clock radio working. No longer waiting in my car waiting for the NPR story to finish.

3) @ Pakteam : Shame shame puppy shame.

4) Got stuck in the elevator, right after a screening of Devil. Creeeepy!!

5) @ Kipling: thats pretty much the definition of a Pompous self-righteous Asshole

6) @U2_360Tour : Can't stop listening to "And the ground beneath her feet"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's in a name?

I have a very strange sounding and a very rare last name. I know that. I have seen a fair amount of people twist their face and repeat my name with a bookended question mark.You would think, being Indian you would pronounce the D as in Indu but you do it as you do in ghoda. To be frank I am myself quite new to the name. While I always knew that Adimari was my family name and my last name on the birth certificate, all through school I was Arjun Raju. Thats right,two first names. If I was in Hyderabad, where Raju is a common surname, I would have fit right in. But I was not, so as it happened, my name got mistaken and mashed up with another similar sounding name, my dear friend and the next name on the rollcall, Arun Raj. So there would be people calling us Arjun Raj and Arun Raju.

The two things I am most proud of about myself, I can honestly take no credit for. One is that I am tall, and the other is my name. Arjun is probably the coolest name you can find in all of Bharat. Mallus are known for having horrible names, so in a sea of shijin, vijin, lijin, tijo, rijo, sijo, mijo, qijo my name does stand out. You know it. I am not being pompous, its just plain facts. If you are a Rakesh or Ankit or Anoop, you know that when you hear my name you automatically assume me to be better than you (I am not). The name carries expectations with it, responsibilities. People assume you to be a leader (I am not), they expect you to jump into a raging fire to save a baby or throw yourself in front of a bullet to save Nirupa Roy or climb a tree to get a kitty down (I hate cats). The bar's been set very high, I know and even though I am not living up to it, I would like to take a moment to salute those brave parents who choose mediocrity (whats my blog called?) just to keep it alive. Those who put on a brave face and decide to name there kid Prateek or Chunnilal or Sushmakumari just to keep these names alive. Really brave stuff.

Now, till Facebook came along I did not know that my very uncool sounding last name is in fact a name from historic Italy. I was friended by a whole family of Adimaris from Argentina and Italy who were very keen to know what their kin was doing in India. Of course there is no remote relation between the Adimari famili indiana and the italian ones but still its nice to know. The most famous Adimari of all time is one Ralph Adimari who was apparently a pop culture enthusiast , very much like me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


L-R : James Franco, Joseph Gordan-Levitt, Heath Ledger, Charlie Hunnam

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What About Miami?

What about it? Why haven't I written about my sojourns in the land of southern delights? Where USA comes for its spring breaks and summer timeshares? Of course, there's time or not finding any. I am also finding myself increasingly searching for the ideal situations for me to get writing. Things just dont seem to be falling in line. Anyway, so is Miami really the party capital of USA with its azure beaches and laid back life? Well yes and no. All the "partying" takes place in a place called South Beach, an island just off the coast of Miami which the Gods decreed to be most Partyistic. Since I am not a Party-er, I have viewed the place only through a tourist's eyes and while people might be drawn to the clubs and all, what I found appealing was the subculture of almost commune-like life that exists here with neo-hippies roaming around in kurtas and harem pants, on their $ 200 a month rented scooters and early morning free yoga classes in the parks. The City part of Miami is like any other with its sky kissing buildings being neatly maneuvered by a meandering , 2 storey high Metrorail, but with some breathtaking views along the coastline. Another beatiful part of the city is the historic Coral Gables which is a residential area with really old, tree lined spanish style houses and all smack dab in the middle of Miami. There's also places named Little Haiti and Little Havana named after the dominant immigration population, but its the cuban immigrants that have really dominated the flavor of the city. You have cuban cafe's everywhere with really enticing empanadas and cafe con leche. Spanish is the first language and English not necessary to get by. You have advertisments in both Spanish and English and in some parts of the city just Spanish. I get by with una and dos and Je Quero which means I want.

Even though this is all that the city offers, my life revolves around the Airport. I live and work at opposite sides of the airport and can see planes take from both my bedroom window and my office balcony. My apartment is so close that the roar from the engines stops conversations and pauses movies till the flight is on its way.

1059 miles. That is the distance from Miami Beach to Washington DC. I have been asked this 12 times since I moved to Miami by my Mallu friends.They are of course quoting an old 80's flick in which the hero pretending to be an NRI and is quizzed by his girlfriend's father to gauge his authenticity.

"How many miles from Miami beach to Washington DC"
"Miles and miles and miles" the hero replies in his accented English.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reworking Shyamalan Titles

I spent the last weekend volunteering at the Florida Supercon and I noticed that a lot of the other volunteers were really excited for The Last Airbender. I am too and I hope its a big hit and he gets to make the thriller with Bruce Willis and Gwyneth Paltrow that he is currently shopping around the studios. Anyway it struck me that all of his titles could actually be titles for very different and very generic films. Let me elaborate:

1) The Sixth Sense: A sex comedy much in the vein of "The Ugly Truth" about how men and women want different things.

2) Unbreakable: The story of the "unbreakable" spirit of one young man with congenital "Insert Handicap"as he struggles to achieve his childhood dream of becoming a "Insert Sport/ Musical talent".

3) Signs: A romantic "its meant to be" kind of comedy about a boy and a girl and how fate puts them together no matter how much they try to get away from each other. In the end they realize "its meant to be" and boy stops girl just as she is trying to baord a ship to go off to do research in Antartica.

4) The Village: The story of a group of friends through the ages as they hang around New York's Greenwich Village

5) Lady in the Water: A small town in shocked by the discovery of a dead girl in the town river. Suspicions start flying and skeletons come out of the closet as everyone discovers its not so innocent a town as it would seem.

6) The Happening: A teen comedy about a loser who becomes the talk of his high school when he accidentally gets photographed with a Miley Cyrus/Selena Gomez type teen sensation. In the end his fame dies away and he learns the importance of being himself. Of course he gets the girl-who-was-his-friend-all-along-and-secretly-loved-him-but-never-told-him-and-he-was-too-blind-to-see-her-for-what-she-was. The film would be called The Happenin'.

7) The Last Airbender: a film about the airbending culture, a slang term in Kite-boarding for the really slick move where you use your board and kite to appear to float over water. We see the young kid who moves into a surfer town and gets involved with the surfer crowd and discovers himself through kite-Boarding. A coming of age/finding yourself/letting go type of movie.

Side note on Signs: The guy arrives at the port too late and sees the ship leave, as he turns around its the girl with her luggage. She never got on in the first place. Aaaawww!! so cute! Makes me wanna go strangle a puppy or two!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

NY Pilgrimage

Why such a long hiatus you ask? well, its not that I reached a point where I had nothing to say anymore. Nor is it the fact that life in Miami is so engrossing that it leaves no time for anything else. Its just that I couldn't get my damn phone to transfer some photos to my comp. See, I had to say goodbye to NY/NJ properly before I started writing about Miami. You know they say you could live in Paris all your life and still never see the Tour Eiffel. Same thing happened to me in NJ. I had never been to the Statue of Liberty and a couple of other places. So before leaving I did a blitzkrieg visit of the all the famous sites. Then I visited some other places which were special for entirely different reasons. I humbly present the following:

1) Tom's Restaurant - Seinfeld

Throughout my teens I watched Friends while skipping the weird show that preceded it on Star World. How could I be so oblivious, so short sighted? Seinfeld is one of the greatest TV shows ever. EVER! Now, I find Friends lowly, even pedestrian. Seinfeld is avant garde. Seinfeld will still be hilarious 50 years from now. We need to beam Seinfeld into space so that Aliens realize that humans too are an intelligent species capable of much genius. Every Seinfeld episode is quotable. Seinfeld should be part of school curriculum. So I had to pay my respects at the below holy shrine before I left. The exterior shot of Monk's Cafe that is shown in almost every episode. In reality its Tom's Restaurant and they didn't actually shoot anything here, just the exterior shot. There were other people taking photos too.

2) Central Park - Marathon Man

Method actor Dustin Hoffman, actually ran a mile or two before each scene so he really appeared out of breath in the film. The following scene takes place just before the Nazi guy's brother crashes his car. Marathon man is such a fine film, it makes me wanna go out and run, even though its not exactly about running marathons.
"Is it safe?", "Is it safe?", "Is it safe?"

3) Washington Park - When Harry Met Sally

The following pic is Where Sally dropped off Harry after they share a long drive home from college. WHMS probably is the quintessential "can a guy and gal just be friends" film. Its not a chick flick, its not a romcom. Its a drama set around a relationship. I took the pic from the wrong side though. If you lean into the screen and spot a yellow car in the pic to the right, thats Sally's car right there. Go on .. lean in.

4) Manhattan Bridge - Once upon a Time in America

This is one heck of a film. Part male bonding/ friends through the ages, part Crime drama and part mindf*k. Sergio Leone may be known for his "Stranger with no name" flicks but this right here is undoubtedly his masterpiece. The following pic is not only the poster but also one fine and poignant scene from the film. This was the hardest place to get to and even though I though I was in the actual point, I should have maybe moved a couple of hundred yards closer.

5) The Soup Kitchen - Seinfeld

The place featured in this epic episode is now closed down. So indeed, No soup for me. There's a board that says that its available for rent. When I went around looking for it , I knew I was in the right place but just couldn't spot it. I asked a shopkeeper if there was anyplace to get soup nearby, he said there was, but if I was looking for the Seinfeld place, it was closed down. He pointed me in the right direction and said a lot of folks came by asking for the place.

Now that that's done, hopefully I can start writing about Miami!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bye Bye NJ/NY

I am scared of my boss. THE Boss, the owner of the company, that is. He has really thick fingers with rings on them and wears expensive shirts with cufflinks, like all rich people do. But when I actually had a chance to talk with him I realized how wrong I was. He was as easy talk to as anyone else in the office. That is one thing I like about America. No matter how old the person is you can talk to him like he is your own age, with the same air of familiarity. So about two weeks ago he called me to his office and asked me straight away , How would I like to move to Miami? Now my office is on the 30th floor. Beautiful NY skyline view, you can see both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge. I have a cubicle, and whenever I have to go to one of the cabins and talk to the really important guys, even though I am talking to them, I am actually looking just over their heads, admiring the skyline, nodding my head and jutting in at the right moments. But that question brought me right back to the room. The perfect answer at the time would have been "I need time to think". I said to myself thats what I am going to say. And I said, No I wouldn't mind moving to Miami. Like those moments when the waitress asks if you are ready to order, and you are not but still you blurt out whatever you see on the menu. I was going to Miami, then and there in that room, it was decided.

I cant get NY out of my head. Within this orchard of concrete & glass trees, within this perfect lattice of bitumen resides the quintessential notion of a city. It is a personal life goal to live in this city for some time. I like to think that this place has never changed. A place where time accumulates, layer upon layer, era upon era. That afternoon as I was munching on the Pizza bought by The Big Boss (he buys lunch for the entire office whenever he is in town) I looked down upon a nearby Building - an apartment, with its open windows. A lady was sunbathing on the roof/penthouse. A person had his bed propped right up to his window and had an amazing view of the denizens on the street. A baby grasping the window and trying to stand as its mother/nanny looks on. Another apartment was filled with books. Everywhere. All so Woody Allenish.No, Woody Allen is NYish. All those people getting to live their lives in the city, and I was going away. It broke my heart, it did, that merry rent controlled downtown red building.

So Miami it is. Where Dexter and Burn Notice take place. Tony Montana's town. I hear they show Mallu movies in the theaters there. It cant be that bad ,rt? But I will miss this place. I guess more than NY , I am in love with the idea of NY. The life it represents. There is you and the city and the endless possibilities of life. With Simon & Garfunkel playing in the background. Even when you don't want it to.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Are John Locke and Creed Bratton long lost brothers? I like to think so..

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New York Commute Pt.2: Commute Harder

Why do people lean onto the tracks to see if the train is approaching? It is going to come when it comes, leaning is not gonna make the train engineer make it run faster or feel bad for arriving late. Its just some things people do. You want to tell if the train is here, close your eyes and just stand at the platform. When you feel the wind suddenly picking up pace, almost a gust, thats when you know the train is here.

I have 24 minutes everyday from when my office lets out to when the 5:54 NJTransit trian leaves NY Penn station. I have to rush out of the office everyday if I have to catch the subway. It runs at every 6 minutes during the evening rush hour and 4 minutes during the morning. Yes,I have timed it. I try not to get all tied up about being late, because ,hey , you get there when you get there. Right? But going to the office and to a movie are the only two times I am hyper , alert and really flummoxed abt getting late. It irks me to no bounds when the people in the subway try to get in even when its fully packed. Its a true measure of the nature of the people of a city how they behave in the mass transit system, and let me tell you from what I have seen , theres no difference between NDC and NYC. This last Thursday, it was a true case of Hexagonal closed Packing . You can tell if you are late at the platform by the number of people waiting at the platform, naturally. It was overflowing. Apparently an A-express was cancelled. So we all waited. The next to come was a local C and suddenly I saw some ppl running further down the platform. I knew it must be some newyorker trick so I followed them and the train stopped way down the platform and I was right in front of the last car. I got in as did the whole platform. It was hell. and the door closed and opened several times with the engineer pleading ppl to stand back and wait for the next train. Finally we started moving. The next station was Spring St. If we couldnt fit in ppl at the last station why bother now , I thought .But there are always ppl getting off , silly. And again, ppl trying to wedge in as much as possible. I couldnt understand how where they fitting in. I looked over to the other side to see if there were ppl spilling over from the doors and windows like a priyadarshan movie, but no. Some ppl were actually taking a run and plopping into the mass of human meat. Like a bucket filled to the rim but still not overflowing from the drops that keep dripping into it. At the next station I wanted to actually put my arms across the door and stop ppl from getting in. Cant you see? We are full. No more!! The crowd thinned away as we got closer to NY Penn. And what happened just 2 stops before NY Penn?? The train stopped for some reason. My NJT train had already left , so I was no longer worried. So we all just stood there looking at each other, looking away when abt to be caught only to catch someone else who was staring at us, look away. I saw two ppl discussing a blueprint and I knew they were brothers of the same cloth. Civil Engineers. Why does it make me so giddy to know that they wield the same sword, the same shields?? Nearby a curly haired dude tries to read from the book , a old black lady is reading. She frowns at him and he looks away. A stop arrives. People get off. We rearrange ourselves. And now the curly haired dude is trying to decipher the blueprints. He even rubs his chin in mock wondering. The new cargo of ppl has with them a large black man who pleads with us to confess our sins and come under the lord's shadow, offering his own story to convey the power of JC. "I stole from my mother" "What answer would I give , when I die and the lord asks me , How is it that you were a lousy christian but an extraordinary crack head " "i was beyond redemption, but if I can see the light , hail the lord, so can you". The subway comes with its own brand of entertainment. I have actually seen this guy before peddling the same "wares". Have you wondered what would happen if two eccentrics were put in a ring and asked to have a go at it? Thats what happened the other time, when a drunk guy started loudly agreeing with everything the large dude was saying, putting him off and then leading to a loud argument resulting in the large guy getting off at the next station. The drunk guy beamed triumphantly.

My stop arrives and I get off. I have 15 minutes till the next train. All around me food tempts me, calling out to me, weilding a magnetic pull on my wallet. I give in and grab a white slice and join the scores staring at the info screen , waiting to know which platform are they docking my train. I get on.The train enters the tunnel soon after and you cant tell when its out because its dark outside when it comes out, as dark as the inside of the tunnel. It stops at Newark Penn, a station I have had a long relationship with. People cram in, among them Punit Kataria , Lavesh Gupta and Samir Dudani, complete with the french beard he has had since he was 9 years old, only its a trio of desis who remind me of them. Thats how Ms.Marple solved crime , you know. She was old and had met a lot of people in her life and could compare anyone to one of those people and predict how they would act and how they would have acted in a certain situation. I can tell they are consultants. Oh how some F1 students detest consultants, who arrive here on a direct H1B. I pretend to read but I am listening to their conversation. The ever eavesdropper. It gets boring after a while and I stop. I try to look at what the guy sitting next to me is holding. He has fell asleep with his wallet open displaying his train pass. He has some 20 $ bills, a few cards and why is he carrrying his SS card around. Dude , not safe. I reach Edison where the train spews out the last of the FOBs, the H1Bs, the ABCDs, the F1s and every other kind of desi including me. I put on my cap and my gloves and crush the snow as I walk to the other side. And I wait for my ride. Squash awaits and arrogant victory too.

De-Evolved Technology.

I like to eat with my hands. If its Indian food , hands it is. Thats the only way to truly savour the dish. I cringe everytime I see an idli being dunked in sambar with a fork. That is so wrong. You have to prod it, cajole and coax the idli with your hands, tell it to make love with the sambar. Thats the only way to do it. No firangi instruments can bring out the true taste of Indian food. How can you eat a biriyani with just a fork? I have done it, but only under social duress and weak resolve. Are you telling me, that 4 pronged instrument can deftly include the perfect amount of raita,achar, crushed papad all in the same "nivala". You then ,Sir, are plain lying. I'd rather not go to an Indian Restaurant with a white person. Its just not going to work out. No people who know wouldn't call me a violent person or prone to anger. But you wanna see me flip out? I tell you if I ever see someone eat a Sadya with a spoon or fork, I swear to god, I am gonna go napalm on his ass.

Ok now being the master digresser that I am lets get to the issue of getting hands dirty. There are certain situations, where you would want your hands to maybe remain un-messy. Shaving for instance. I just cannot stand the gel and foam that you have to apply with your fingers on your face. You always end up using more than required and drop sods everywhere. What if there was a instrument that could help us lather better, it could be a small brush of some sort and the gel would be applied to one end and then you use it lather up your face. Smart rt? Lets call it the shaving brush. Wait a friggin second. There used to be just such a thing. And it worked perfectly. What happened? Somehow everyone decided that its just an antiquated redundancy. Didn't we. Now its gone and we cant find it. Lost in the annals of time. Tell me how is this moving forward, how is this progress.

Touchscreens are another thing that irk me. Can you imagine sitting all day with your hand raised in front of you like a zombie and touching and moving things on the screen ala the new touchscreen desktops from hp/lenovo. How inconvenient. I agree that the whole touchscreen technology can enhance the user experience manifold. But it shouldn't be on the screen but on my keyboard. Give me a keyboard which doubles up as a touchscreen and I will be a happy camper. You cant expect anyone to stand all day in the office and be like Tommy Cruise in Minority report. Not happening. Now maybe I haven't been watching TED as much as everyone else and what I may be saying might be no longer relevant but from my limited exposure to the touchscreen technology, this is what I deduce and feel.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A self aware dream

I am sure everyone thinks they have the best damn , strangest and quirkiest dreams ever. And they are right. We all do. Some dreams are just so compelling and thrilling that they could be movie plots. And we forget most of the details as soon as we wake up. That sucks doesn't it. The price of admission I guess. Well I think the one I had today was exciting cause it broke the fourth wall in a sense.

So its Tuesday Morning and I am at the train station with Teja and I find it oddly disturbing that the weekend just went by like that. I tell Teja that we must be in a dream because there is no way this Tuesday morning because I have no memory of the weekend. Where did my weekend go?? Teja tells that it is Tuesday morning even though he too doesn't remember the weekend. Then I show him my watch which says the time is 3:26 pm. Its the afternoon and we are standing at the train station thinking its morning, it has to be a dream. He agrees, and we find it strange that we are having the same dream. There are three other people at the station two girls who go to Rutgers and another one from my school who used to act in public service messages on doordarshan. She wants us to come with her parents on this hike that they are taking up a mountain that morning. We realize that the only way to escape this dream is to accompany her and do what her parents want otherwise we are going to be stuck in this time loop forever. There was lots more which I don't remember and a follow up dream where I tell some old lady about having this dream where I realize that I am in a dream. Then like all good things.. I woke up.

On Neighbours

In India growing up , your life is intangibly intertwined with the lives of your neighbours. The people whose name you shout out in the evenings to come down and play cricket with or whom your mom has knitting parties with and whom your father stops you on the way back from the vegetable wallah to discuss the Mulla Periyar Dam issue with, while you pull restlessly at his arm, are all your neighbours. Sweets, green bananas, coconuts and packets of elaichi brought back from the "gaon" - a term used to refer to that part of your home state where your parents grew up and where all your cousins and aunts and uncles live and which by now has become a full fledged town - are invariably shared, car rides given, keys left with while you go out to play and even books and toys handed down from the older kids next door. We are one big community aren't we.

However I find that once you are a grown up there exists a certain formality when you interact with others which actually prevents you from getting close. It is this formality that actually makes it hard for you to find friends when you all grown up. The place where my family lives right now in Delhi is a fine example of the anti-community that is characteristic of the modern highly individual and independent lifestyle that we are forced to lead. Pandara Road is a government quarters with the best damn location in Delhi. Everything is near by. South Delhi, CP, India gate, central Delhi everything an M-13/440 away. This place was built by the British actually for their bureaucratic elite and still serves the same purpose. The ceilings are higher that 10 feet, the fans bulky and look like inverted pressure cookers and the doors all two leafed. It reeks of the Delhi of old and for that I love it. But there are hardly any people about. Where are the children playing in the parks, tip topping for their batting turns, where are the servant guys hanging on to their Babas, where are the teenagers returning from the mother dairy and promptly hitting the books, where is my damn colony experience?

Children play a remarkable role in bringing a community together. They don't need to break the ice,they know that all their brethren are thinking of, are cartoons and games just like them. They lack the hierarchies that adults seem to bracket themselves in and maybe it is this no show of children that is pulling Pandara Road back. Sure there are people trying to make this a community, with half hearted Diwali melas and association meetings being held but c'mon who are we kidding here. Its just not working out.

In America , I have lived across from a joint family of Mexicans , a trio of Chinese students and now undergrad exchange students. The Desi guys below my apartment are the most intriguing yet. They are, as my investigations and as even first impressions will suggest , a den of poets. They listen to old hindi songs and soulful tamil melodies of heartbreak and unrequited love. They smoke like steam engines and drink like fishes and when thats not enough they strum their guitars and sing along. And do they debate. My god the debates, you know its on serious issues of ending world hunger , the symbolism of Nights of Cabiria and the nihilstic turn of modern art(??) and while I strain to catch as many words of tamil I understand , the tone of the argument is always spirited and righteous. Unleash these Azhagiya Tamil maghans upon the world and we will have nothing short of a rebellion on our hands.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New York Commute

Living in New Brunswick/Highland Park , I have had to commute to Trenton and Newark before for internships. Commuting when school is not in session is the worst because of the awful bus schedule. Now I have to commute to NY everyday for work and surprisingly its not that bad.

Apart from getting up at ungodly hours and sitting in a car that just wont warm up, there aren't any major hiccups. I get the train from Edison in the morning, a station that is closer to Highland Park but for some reason none of the desi junta ever goes to. I guess thats because the Rutgers bus doesn't run thataway but it is much nearer and very convenient if you have someone to drop you off at the station. Edison and the two stations after it, Metuchen & Metropark are hot spots for working desis. Its crowded with desis and as the train approaches Metropark you can see the hordes crowding the platform. The funniest thing is people running from afar trying to catch the train. Even though this happens to me at the Edison station, I find it funnier when it happens to others. But I cant understand why they keep on running even though its plain obvious they are gonna miss it. I have actually waved at an uncle , after the doors closed right at his face. Haha! I love NJTransit. Its very convenient and comfortable. I mostly read. As does the rest of the train. I on a lowly paperback while several on their Kindles and Sony Readers.I gave up sleeping after once I missed Newark Penn and landed at NY Penn. Also internships have taught me the absolute necessity of sleeping on time. You have to get your 8 hours of shut eye or you end up drooping at work and feel the debilitating grip of the sandman.

Its annoying when your train gets queued up before entering the Tunnel to NYC. I would reach spot on time if it weren't for that 15 minute delay that is now happening very often. Its an endearing sight that greets you just as you emerge from the tunnel and witness the skyscrapers and the NewYorker building among others. Stepping out of the train I dash for the Subway as does everyone else. You have to actually swim through a a deluge of people headed the other way , exiting the station. In the evening this river flows upstream. Also in the evening you have people transfixed like flies, glaring at the LIRR updates. They are another roadblock you have to skip over. You have to navigate slowpokes and old people as you reach the subway. I take the A express and thats the best part of the commute. You get to see the NewYorkers!! Ah, those vibrant multicultural species. So many kinds and shapes and odors and hairstyles and clothes. The only thing common would be the ubiquitous white iPod earphones. Even when people are talking to each other they don't take it off. Its almost rude. Whats the other thing thats off? Just like in the DTC and several other mass Transit systems in cities all over the world, people love to huddle up near the doors. No one likes to go to the very end. Of course in the DTC it would literally be impossible to get out at your stop in time if you are way inside the mass of humanity, it is not so in the MTA. Why don't people just move in then?? Once I reach my stop , I have a direct entry to my building through the subway and that is that. Although its not the easiest or shortest commute it is not too tiring, however it does eat up 3 hours of my day, prompting me to think of shifting shop in the near future. Wouldn't it be a dream to live in NYC?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

10 Movies I have to see in 2010

The whole of 2010 looms ahead filled with exciting possibilities and sureshot have-to-sees. Somehow most of these lists include movies from the summer and that come out in the first half of the year. This year will be the first time that i get to see a Sly Stallone, a Marty Scorsese and a Shyamalan flick on the Big screen. Let the good times roll...

1) Get him to the Greek

The only movie from the Judd Apatow camp this year, and which is being touted as a pseudo sequel to "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" with Russel Brand returning to his role as British Rocker Aldous Snow with Jonah Hill starring as a young music exec who must get him to the Greek theater in LA. There are lots of cameos and it is directed by FSMs Nick Stoller.

2) Clash of the Titans

If you have seen the trailers you know why this is on the list. The insane amount of awesomeness oozing from the 2 min trailer completely sold me on this film. This remake of the partial stop motion animated flick from the 80s (??) boasts of an impressive star cast and stars Jake Sully himself in his next action hero role battling medusa, The Kraken and Hades himself. Its directed by Louis Leterrier who's last film was the entertaining "The Incredible Hulk".

3) Iron Man 2

I am not a big fan of Iron man however the first film was enjoyable and this one too looks like hell of a fun time. Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell star as the antagonists to the charming Rob Downey jr, essentially playing himself as Tony Stark AKA Iron Man. Also Don Cheadle joins the cast as War Machine/ Jim Rhodes and Scarlett Johanssen as the Black Widow/ Natasha Romonov.

4) The Expendables

I have always bemoaned the fact that Sly and Arnie never teamed up in a film during the height of their Action hero careers. Well , Sly fresh off the success of Rambo 4 and Rocky Balboa has set out on a rejuvenated career path with The Expendables among the first of his projects. It stars almost the entire action hero line up from the 80s-90s as a ragtag team of special op guys sent to a South American country to overthrow the dictator. It stars among others Sly himself , Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Stone Cold Steve Austin and has cameos from two other big stars which is a secret that everyone knows.

5) Predators

The original Predator scared the living sh*t out of me as a kid. To the 12 year old me , the entire set up of being stranded on an island with an invisible hunter out to get you was a pretty effed up scenario. The Predator is not after some helpless teenagers but an entire team of special op badasses and still proceeds to hand them their respective asses. It was fun, scary and it taught me one thing "if it bleeds , we can kill it" a tenet I live by to this day. The second part with Danny Glover was also entertaining (loved the whole subway scene and the climax with the chase through the city and also the AVP reference) however the AVP films left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I had heard of a Predators 3 script existing out there, with Arnie's character Dutch hunting/getting hunted by a predator in a snowed out NYC. That would have been awesome to watch but I guess that is not happening. However I have got this flick to wait for which stars Adrian Brody, Topher Grace and Mr.Machete himself.

6) Shutter Island

Well this movie was on my list last year but sadly it got pushed to this year from a late nov release date last year. Leo D reteams with Marty Scorsese, Mark Ruffalo and the lovely Emily Mortimer. Watching the trailer has made me a bit jaded but you know its going to be a good movie. Its Marty friggin Scorsese fer God's sake. If I were walking down the road one day and someone comes up to me and asks me "When was the first time you saw a Scorsese film in the theater?" , I will actually have an answer rather than wondering why this random guy is asking me this question.

7) Inception

Who doesn't want to see the next film from the director of "The Dark Knight". A crime thriller set in the architecture of your mind, or so they say.Who's in. Me!! Leo DiCaprio , Joseph Gordan Levitt, Cillian Murphy and Ellen page , that has to be the best cast this year rt after The Expendables. From the trailer it appears Leo D and Ellen Page are out to steal ideas from inside people's heads . Cillian Murphy is his boss of some sort and Joseph Gordan Levitt is the person who guards the idea. I cant wait for it. My most anticipated movie of the year.

8) Green Zone

Matt Damon reunites with his Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum director for this war flick set in Iraq about a conspiracy to seek out non existent WMDs. Matt Damon is a military officer who is sent to look for WMDs and realizes there aren't any. It was all a ploy for some military contractor to make money. Based on a book by an Indian American journo. Desis rule!!!

9) The Last Airbender

You know who gets flak all the time? Manoj Night Shyamalan. I have liked or loved all his films save for "The Happening" which, while I did understand what he was trying to convey (one fine day an invisible force unleashes itself on you , how do you defeat something you cannot see or touch) , and if that had properly gotten through , the finished product would have made one heck of a film. Unbreakable is one of my all time favorite films and I hold him among my favorite director. And hey he is Half Mallu and that always gets points in my book ;) . I have seen the cartoon on Nick on which this movie is based and though it feels like it is a powerful story with a rich mythology I have never seen a complete episode. So come Summer 2010, not only am i going to enter the Mythology of Avatar: The Last Airbender , but I am also going to see my first MNS flick on the big screen.

10) Paul

The director of Superbad joins up with the stars of "Shaun of the dead" and "Hot Fuzz" in this flick about two Brit geeks who run into a stranded alien named Paul. Sound exciting?? No? This film has so much comedic talent riding on it , it is a definite must watch on my list.

11) The Other guys

Will Ferrel teams up with the only director he should ever work with Adam McKay (Step Brothers, Anchorman) in this flick about two overlooked NYC cops (Ferrel and Mark "y Mark" Wahlberg ) who get a chance to step up to the limelight and be like their idols (Dwayne Johnson & Sam Jackon)

Also must watch : Robin Hood (Russel Crowe + Ridley Scott tackle medieval militia. After The Kingdom of heaven and Gladiator , it is my religious duty to see it on the big screen), Fighter, Red , Black Swan ( Coming off from The Wrestler, Mr. Aranofsky tackles a thriller starring Natalie Portman) , Piranha 3D (Alexandra Aja has a good track record of solid thrillers/ horror movies plus this is the franchise which gave James Cameron his first big break), The Cabin in the Woods, Your Highness, The Town, Kick Ass, Cemetry Junction, Agent Vinod

PS: on a related note , 2009 for me was a year when several proven directors failed to deliver as I noted in my previous post. However I forgot to mention the one movie that would have to top the list. Rakeysh Om Prakash mehra coming off from RDB had the world of expectation riding on his shoulder's and his ode to the Delhi of his childhood , Delhi 6 failed to deliver what I or the gen public desired. Its an Okay flick I guess but I did not enjoy it on the level I expected to. The whole Monkey Man bringing out our inner insecurities and failings might have made for some excellent drama but it failed to live upto my expectations. The picturization of "Dil gira dafatan" and the Ram Lila were for me the most memorable parts.