Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Catch-up #12

Hello, bewdas and bewdis!

I usually do a catch-up post right after I receive a concerned email from a bewda or two asking why I've fallen off the face of the Earth. So thank you, A G, for your email and getting me back to this page. Sometimes, even the most regular bloggers need a little nudge (or a kick in the ass) to get going.

So I thought I'd do a catch-up on what's been happening.

- We got back from a holiday in the Gold Coast a couple of weeks ago and it's officially my new favourite Aussie holiday destination! I'm currently trying to update my travel blog with the details. However, I'm also inundated with deadlines this month, so everything is in a mess at the moment. I hope to sort it all out soon.

- Speaking of holidays, someone please suggest a nice holiday getaway for (a) Northeast India and (b) Kerala. These two have been in my travel bucket list for too long and I don't know where to start. We will only have 3-4 days, so ideally I'd like to focus on only 1 or 2 cities at the most instead of trying to bhatko firo everywhere with a map and a bag of thumbtacks.

- Like the rest of the world, we had been following the ordeal of the Thai boys stuck in the Chiang Rai cave. Every single day, Xena would come back from school and ask me if there was any update on their situation and I would tell her whatever I'd read. We would then talk about how the kids must have felt in that dark cave with no food and little hope, and how they'd have coped. My head is still reeling at how the whole thing played out. Absolutely mind-blowing. I think I will remember this as one of the significant world events that happened during my lifetime. Something to tell the grandkids.

- I organised a 'back to school' reunion for our batch of university friends as this year, we complete 20 years in Singapore! 16 of my batchmates turned up, and one of them even flew in from India just for this. It was unbelievable walking down memory lane with the same people, but two decades later. Two decades. Man. I can't believe it. Sometimes I wonder if coming to Singapore as a teenager was written in my stars so I could successfully carry out the whole 'do Engineering but don't be an Engineer' thing in peace without getting any Sharmaji ka Engineer-MBA ladka talk from concerned relatives and neighbours and watchman bhaiya and doodhwale chacha. Or maybe it was the kaaynaat plotting for Viv and me to meet. (We'd never have met if we hadn't gotten the same scholarship to come study here.) Or maybe it was just for KK hospital to give me a second life. Whatever it is, these twenty years have been spectacular, full of ups and downs and laughs and madness and I wouldn't change any of it.

- I watched Sanju and was very disappointed. Other than Ranbir nailing Sanju's looks, there wasn't much to the movie. Why do they call these things biopics when they change names, change storylines and totally omit important details of the person's life? Not to mention that I wanted to slap every single female character in the movie. Why are they so badly written? Why didn't Anushka, Sonam and Dia roll their eyes at the script and go, "Thanks, but no thanks"? Also, you expect so much from Rajkumar Hirani that when he starts going down the Imtiaz Ali path, it's very disappointing. I read somewhere that he's writing MunnaBhai 3 now, though a trailer had released some seven years ago! Guess that's abandoned now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

- I saw the trailer of Dhadak and no, no, no no no and no. Ishaan shows promise, but Jahnvi no no, no, no, no no no. Call me harsh, but no, no, no no no. Maybe the movie will prove me wrong, but if not, Jahnvi should stop herself before she goes down the Abhishek Bachchan path, and do something else with her life that she's good at and that she enjoys. I have been told that the Marathi original Sairat is very good and I'm thrilled that it's on Netflix. Will catch it when I get a breather.

- Meanwhile, we started watching Sacred Games on Netflix on a friend's recommendation, and boy, is it addictive. We have just watched a few episodes though, so don't post any spoilers! And I know Radhika Apte is getting rave reviews for her performance, but I don't know why I don't get the RAW agent wali feel from her. (Not that I know any real RAW agents, but still.) I keep thinking of Sushmita Sen in Samay and how she came across as such a strong character and how I'd have loved her or someone with that kind of powerful presence to play this role. But maybe there's a twist somewhere about why she is the way she is, and I'll be a convert once the season ends.

- In completely unrelated news, Xena and I have joined inline skating lessons and there is so much to say about it that it will need a whole other post. Soon soon!

Until then, be good. But not too much, ok?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Happy Meal

We were having breakfast at McDonald's by the beach.

Viv (to Xena) - When you're in secondary school, you can work here during your holidays.

Xena (excited) - Really??

Viv - Yes. And Mummy and I will come here and you can serve us food.

Xena (thinking) - Oh, I cannot serve you food.

Viv - Why not??

Xena - You will have to give me a kiss and a hug first.

Amen to that. 😃😍

Friday, May 18, 2018

Going loony

No no, don't go by the title of the post. Though it sounds very similar to my previous post's title, I'm not about to inflict another stunning "song" on you. This post is about entirely something else.

Like almost the whole world, I was a big fan of Hergé's Tintin comics as a kid. Well, even now for that matter. The only difference is that now I know that the author's name is not pronounced 'herj' like I did as a kid, but air-zhay.

I couldn't wait for Xena to get started on Tintin. So when I found out that a neighbour was giving away a lot of books, including five Tintins, I JUMPED. Not just with indignation that someone should be giving away their Tintins, but also with excitement. You see, my Tintin collection is probably still at my parents' house in India and considering the number of times my sister and I had devoured them as kids, I don't think they are in a state to be used by Xena. So I JUMPED and got the Tintins from my neighbour.

With a flourish, I handed them to Xena. I waited with bated breath for her to fall in love with them instantly.

She read a page and a half and then returned them to me.

"I don't understand anything." She declared.

Of course. I should have known.

Even though they are comics, I'd momentarily forgotten how grown-up they are. There is a lot of geography and politics and social commentary and other elements I was unfairly expecting a 7-year-old to grasp on her own. So I told her how much I used to love the books as a kid, and read one out to her. It took us about an hour to get through about 10 pages because I was pausing and explaining literally every dialogue and every scene, and also answering questions like "Is this a bad guy? Is that a good guy? Why does Captain Haddock love whiskey?"

So over a few days, we read and re-read all the books together. Slowly, she started to laugh at the parts that I had laughed my guts out when I was a kid. It started to feel like a worthwhile effort. She would giggle whenever Thomson and Thompson made an appearance, or sympathise with poor Snowy and the number of accidents he had.

"Mama, Snowy is not really talking. He's a dog. He can't talk. But he can think. The speech bubbles are showing what is is thinking, not what he is saying." She 'explained' to me. I nodded.

And now, finally, she's on her own. Consuming Tintins at such an alarming rate that the library can't keep up. Thankfully, like me, she's also re-reading them a lot.

Last week, I popped by the library and got her 'Explorers on the Moon'. Unfortunately, they didn't have the prequel — 'Destination Moon'. Nevertheless, she was thrilled to see a new one. We have been reading it together because it has way more complex concepts than she has gotten used to. And because she hadn't read 'Destination Moon', she needed a lot of background information.

The other day, Viv was reading it to her while I was making dinner and a thought struck me. Did Hergé actually write the two Moon books before the 1969 Moon landing? As a kid, I had never really given it a second thought, but now I was dying of curiosity. So I flipped to the first page to see the year of copyright and I almost fell down in shock.

Not only had Hergé written the books before Neil Armstrong and co. got to the Moon, he had written it even before the Space Race had started, even before Sputnik I had gotten to space! A quick Google search revealed that the Moon books were printed in strips between 1950 and 1953, and converted to books in 1954. I'm still reeling from the accuracy shown in the books, given that space travel had not started, and people didn't know much about the Moon, and there was no Google.

Even though he had consulted aeronautics experts in order to write the books, a lot of it was his own imagination and extrapolation of things people had not seen or experienced, e.g. the details on the Moon, the blobs of Captain Haddock's whiskey floating inside the spacecraft and how astronauts on the Moon would be 'hopping' instead of walking.

What a genius.

And oh, I also found out that after the Apollo 11 landing, Hergé sent Neil Armstrong this picture as a gift. Hilarious!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

You drive me crazy

You know how some people enter your lives and change it forever? I had that happen to me recently.

So a bewdi of the bar emailed me sometime ago with the subject 'Not a stalker'.

I found it and the rest of her email hilarious. After exchanging a few emails, we met in person a few weeks ago and bonded over Bollywood crap and motherhood woes. I wasn't even all that surprised to know that she's from Bangalore. My blog and Bangalore really do have some pichhle janam ka nata, even though I have never lived in the city. In fact, the majority of my inner circle in Singapore is comprised of Bangalore folks that I met through my blog.

I was fascinated to discover that her store of random Bollywood trivia far surpasses mine. And then I found out that it's not just limited to Bollywood. She also sent me a video, which has changed my life forever. Which, if not shared here immediately, would be a grave injustice to inhumanity.

I am proud and honoured to present the life-altering song 'You are a doctor; I am a driver'. I can assure you that Vennu 'It's my life whatever I wanna do' Mallesh can't hold a candle to 'legendary producer, director, musician and singer Mr. Rajkumar'. (Not my words; this is exactly what the YouTube description says.) However, it may come close to the 'If you come today it's too yearly' song by the other legendary Rajkumar (who, btw, is definitely a doctor and not a driver).

Here you go. This kind of driver a day can really keep the doctor forever away.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Billions of blistering Bollywood barnacles

I was working on my computer with some random 90s' songs playing in the background. Xena was doing her homework.

Thanks to Youtube's autoplay feature, suddenly 'I am very very sorry tera naam bhool gayi' from Chand Ka Tukda started playing.

Xena started bobbing her head to the beats. All of a sudden, she stopped and looked up.

"Mama, this song..."


"Signora Bianca Castafiore can sing this to Captain Haddock!"  

Sunday, May 06, 2018

I'm shook

Every Monday morning, after I pack Xena's snack box, I stick a little sticky note on it. It usually features a random drawing with a speech bubble wishing her luck for a test, or just to say hello from mommy.

(Hey, don't judge. I drew these at 6 in the morning, ok?)

She really looks forward to my notes and from what she tells me, some of her classmates do too. She diligently brings the notes back and gives me constructive feedback on whether the drawings were cute or not, and what I can do to improve them. Sometimes she asks me to explain things, like what the motion lines that I sometimes draw around the arms and legs of the characters indicate. 

Yesterday, I was looking through one of her classroom workbooks that the teacher had sent back. She had to write three words ending with -ook, and draw a picture to show one of them. I was so amused (and impressed) to see that though she could have easily drawn 'cook' or 'book', she chose to go off the beaten track and drew 'shook' using the motion lines we had discussed.

Takes right after her dad, I can see.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The swan song


April has ended, and it has done so on a bittersweet note.

Doing the A-Z blogathon this year was a super fun ride, and I know I'll miss thinking of and hunting for crazy songs to regale you with. At the same time, I'm also relieved that it is over. Because it sure was exhausting. I was battling multiple deadlines at work, Xena had lots of assignments and tests to prepare for, and with Viv gone on his annual teerth-yatra business trip to Vegas, and me having to manage everything, it was not easy. April never is, and I ask myself every year why I do this and whether it would be considered cheating if I simply did the blogathon in another month instead. (Yes, it would be.)

But this year's A-Z blogathon felt different. I know it doesn't make sense, but it felt easier as well as more difficult to come up with songs rather than random thoughts for the 26 letters. I also picked up the amazing millennial skill of gif-making, which I am still so excited about that I want to go put it on my resume.

In the last one month, I have watched wayyyy more bad songs than anyone should ever have to. And that too, multiple times before deciding they were worthy, and then multiple times again when creating the gifs. Yes, I am scarred for life.

And YouTube is not helping. My current YouTube 'recommended for you' list is mortifying. If anyone saw it, they'd look at me, tsk, shake their heads and walk away.

Another side effect was that the songs would get stuck in my head, and even if I woke up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, my brain would be humming 'Gali gali mein pani hai' or 'Barah maheene line mari'. Whenever I'd be in a cheerful mood, suddenly I'd hear 'O happy in my heart dil dance maare re' in my head. And it's not just me. My lovely songs have touched many lives. When Viv came back, I made him watch the Dreamum Wakeuppum song, and 15 minutes later, I heard him singing to himself, "Dreamum, wakeuppum, breakfast mein uttappam".

The song that got really badly stuck in my head was the susu song. I had to literally shut my mouth so I wouldn't end up singing it aloud — Xena would pick it up in a flash and share it at school, especially in Hindi class and I'd be that mother that corrupted an entire class of kids.

There were some songs that didn't make it to the list for emotional reasons. For example, there are several Sridevi songs that would neatly fit in this blogathon, but I just couldn't get myself to make fun of her songs. Not that I am a fan, but it's just too early.

There are so many other songs that didn't make it for various reasons, and I'm wondering if I should do this for next year's blogathon as well. I can't let these precious finds go to waste. They have to be shared with the world, especially with the folks whose lives have not been touched by these gems. Like a friend said, "Yeh kaunse patthar ke neeche ke khopche se did you dig these songs out?"

Thank you all for your emails, comments, messages and encouragement. They meant a lot to me and kept me motivated throughout the blogathon. I will now go and respond to all the blog comments, after which I plan to go into hibernation for a while and then focus on updating my travel blog.

I also need to immediately go and listen to a LOT of normal songs so that my YouTube recommended list goes back to its old glory. Coke Studio, here I come.

Thanks for the love, bewdas and bewdis. I will miss you like mango.

PS: Btw, do let me know which songs touched you in particular.

Z is for 'Zindagi main tujhi par lutaunga'

No, I have not forgotten the promise I made in my 'Gali gali mein pani hai' song. How could I end the blogathon without a song from the so-bad-it's-good Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani? In fact, how could I even think of ending a blogathon like this without a naagin song?

For the uninitiated, Jaani Dushman: Ek anokhi Kahani is a naag-naagin movie from 2002, starring...

[let me take a deep breath for this]

...Akshay Kumar, Manisha Koirala, Sunny Deol, Sunil Shetty, Aftab Shivdasani, Sharad Kapoor, Sonu Nigam, Arshad Warsi, Armaan Kohli, Aditya Pancholi, Sharad Kapoor, Atul Agnihotri, Jaspal Bhatti, Rambha, Raj Babbar, Amrish Puri and Johnny Lever.

Yes, you read that right. Basically, the producers just went around ringing a bell and yelling, "Role le lo, role le lo!"

This song is a love song between our Naag and Naagin. They are somewhere up on a mountain.

The fog clears, and we are introduced to producer ka beta Armaan Kohli, also our main Naag-man.

Check out his naag-eyes.

Manisha Koirala, our Naagin, is singing 'Aaa jaaaa', though the background reminds me of Frozen's 'Let it go'.

And here are our Naag-Naag-Naagin on heaven's door.
(Not my original joke btw; read 'naag-naag-naagin on heaven's door' in some joke/meme somewhere and fell down laughing)

This movie had a huge VFX budget, and the producers made sure they got every penny's worth. 

The number of background changes in this song is mind-boggling. You name it, you see Naag-Naagin dancing there. 

After dancing on many, many substrates, they finally reach the one that will bring them their doom. 

They decide to dance on top of a cave, not realising that...

Right under them is a poor sage, aka Amrish Puri, trying to meditate. 

But how can he, with these two dancing like this? 
Oh boy. Mogambo khush nahin hua.

Enjoy this song, and after enjoying it, please go and enjoy the movie too. It is amazing and has amazing scenes like this. 

I will go so far as to say that you can't call yourself a true blue Bollywood fan if you have not watched Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Y is for 'Yaad sataaye teri neend churaaye'

Today's song has a strong social message.

It teaches you that you can be anything you want to be.

No, wait. Let me rephrase that.

It teaches you that you can be anything you want to be — as long as your bae is agreeable to spending her life doing nothing but dancing in apsara costumes for you.

The song is set at a beach, with ladies in colourful costumes, dancing amidst carefully balanced colourful pots, carefully balanced cardboard sitars and random background explosions involving leftover colours from Holi.

No, seriously. Check this out.

A David Dhawan movie featuring hero no. 1 and heroine no. 1, and no budget for real sitars??

Anyway, so our heroine starts a random hugging dance with her cardboard sitars, waiting for our hero...

...who has come running to the beach... right after his convocation. 
(No, she didn't attend his convocation. Phir dance kaun karega?)

And because he is Govinda, his degree scroll is.... a flute. 

Our heroine has been told, "Jab tak tere paaon chalenge, Govinda ki tarakki hogi.

And she is taking it seriously. 

For it is true. 

See? He is now a navy guy. Because she never stopped dancing. 

Please take a moment to admire this bit of choreography. He literally runs away from her to do his signature step and runs back to her. Wow.

He looks all set in life, but she knows her job is not done. Gotta keep dancing. Maybe only then will be become like maybe an army officer and maybe he will marry her and she can finally stop dancing. 

Oooh, has her dream has come true? 

Nope, not yet. 

'Cos he still has the air force to conquer, you see. 

Out comes the apsara costume. If this won't get him flyin', she doesn't know what will. 

Aaaaaand... bingo!

Behind every successful man is a dancing apsara. Enjoy. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

X is for unknown (and hence you will have to put up with whatever song I put up)

Ok guys, I tried.

But there are no Hindi movie songs that start with X.

At first, I thought I'd cheat and feature that song from that movie Style and call it 'Xcuse me, kya re?' Or pick a song like 'Ek sawaal main karoon' and call it 'X sawaal main karoon', or 'Ek sapna maine dekha' as 'X apna maine dekha', but it all got a bit too... algebraic.

And then I thought — if I'm cheating, I might as well go all the way.

So I decided that X is unknown, which means this is a wild card song, which means any song will do, which means I could just pick anything from my very long 'almost made it' songs' list.

This song is from a 2012 movie called Aiyyaa, in which Rani Mukherji plays a Marathi girl obsessed with a Tamilian boy. She has bizarre dream sequences involving the two of them, such as the one featured in graphic detail in this song, a song that can only be described as Rani Mukherji's audition video for The Dirty Picture.

It's a pity that Aiyyaa released a year later than The Dirty Picture, because if this song had come out first, there was no doubt that Rani Mukherji would have been a strong contender for the role of Silk. Just check her out in the song and you'll know what I'm talking about. (By the way, isn't it delightful to see someone so out of her comfort zone and yet so comfortable in it?)

So the song starts with a normal-looking Rani Mukherji...

...before she transforms into...


If her actions are shocking you as un-Rani-esque, just check out these lyrics:

Dreamum wakeuppam critical conditionum
Hey earthum quakepum hil dul sab shakeupum
Face to faceum dharti putram
Top to baseum kama sutram

There is also talk of thunder thighs and mattering size. 

Thighsum thunderum 
Downum underum
Sizeum matterum
Thinkum wonderum

It only gets worse. 


Heart beatnum dhol peetnum
Love lust double kasht
Bada dheetnum

The two pictures below very aptly describe how many Rani fans reacted to this song. Shock and awe. Pure shock and awe. 

Yeh... body heatnum
Hot seatnum
Calling fire brigade bhi defeatnum

We must also take a moment to admire Prithviraj's mindblowing outfits in the song. Please, do not miss them. Well, I guess you can't. Even if you want to.

Enjoy this nightmareum called Dreamum Wakeupum.