Thursday, December 27, 2007

Du-bye!

Hello bewdas,

Bhai has bid goodbye to the really cool desert with the tallest tower in the world.

Stories and pics will be up on Hopscotch soon, hopefully by the end of the coming weekend.

Merry belated Christmas, everyone! :D



Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Du-b(h)ai - the mother ship beckons

I am very very busy at work these days. End-of-year assessment period is never easy. I have to do appraisals, look at mergers and acquisitions, organise the annual symposium, sort out performance bonuses to give out, assess my global network and come up with creative ways to increase it, and what not. Uffff! After all, being a Bhai is not an easy job.

Waise tension nahin lene ka - apun ka global employee network toh akha duniya mein chaadar ki tarah phailela hai. India mein Satish mast kaam kar rela hai - akha country akela sambhaalta hai chhokra. Bahut tarakki karega. US mein baby Aish toh bachpan se hi apun ka naam roshan kar reli hai. (Uska size aur US ka size compare karo toh ricard is impressive - big fat bonus to her. Gives new meaning to the term 'baby bonus' eh?) UK mein bhi apun ne teen char gunda-type cousins bichha diya hai (family ka khayaal toh rakhna padta hai na). Apun ko bachpan mein bahut maarta tha yeh log, abhi laga diya doosron ko maarne mein - better utilisation of energy and resources.

December is also the time for 'SAsh Bhai's Annual Symposium for Bhaigiri, Englis-spikking, Wasooli, Dadagiri and Assorted Skills' - also known as 'SABAS, BEWDAS'. Every year, the symposium is held in different parts of the world at undisclosed locations to give sabasi to bewdas who, with their exemplary work have been an inspiration to many a new chhokra in the business. The symposium also serves to facilitate knowledge- and skill-sharing between international bewdas. The location of the symposium is so secretive that sometimes even Bhai ka khud ka chhokra log don't make it there because they can't locate the errr.. location. In the symposium, strategies are discussed, money is handed over to the Bhai, and bonuses given out (to those who manage to find the location of the symposium and get their asses there - it's a test I have designed for them).

Location kabhi repeat nahin karne ka - pulis ka khatra hai. Ekich motto hai Bhai ka - akha duniya cover karne ka. US, UK, New Zealand, India, Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Pakistan - Bhai's done 'em all.

And now it's time to... Du-bai.

Ah, the mother ship beckons.

Is baar bar meich khullam khulla location bol dala - apun ka ilaka hai na. Toh ja rela hai apun - bar par nazar aur bheje par control rakhne ka, rada nahin mangta apun ko, samjha?

See you at the symposium, bewdas! Those who make it, I mean. I'll see the rest of you when I get back to Singapore.

Bole toh - dekh lega apun tum sab ko. :D

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spreading the Christmas chair

It was one of those office Christmas parties where all I wanted to do was wear my new boots with my glittery dress. Though the Christmas committee had been publicising the lucky draw prizes for weeks now and there was a general buzz about them, I wasn't too bothered. I have been generally lucky with lucky draw stuff since I was a kid, so I thought I should win something at least.

The committee had also been publicising the theme of the party for weeks, which for some weird reason was 'glitter'. I thought it was an extremely discriminatory theme. Firstly, how the heck are guys supposed to glitter up? Secondly, who the heck wants to look at glittered-up guys? One of my colleagues in a desperate attempt to find some ideas on how guys can glitter up, googled for a phrase involving "guys" and "glitter", and let's just say the results were such that I can't disclose them here - after all, this is a family bar.

Anyway, as we settled down in the Esplanade Room in the Carlton hotel amidst the glitterati (quite literally), there were speeches and wine and food at the party, but no one was really interested. Everyone was just waiting for the lucky draw. They started announcing the lucky draw prizes with the lowest value first, and threw in a game once in a while. I was totally rooting for our table to win the 'Identify the carol and sing it' game, because it seemed to be intellectually the most stimulating one. They were showing the clues on the screen and the table that could crack the most codes and sing the most carols would win. However, I completely forgot that though I am good at cracking clues, I am hopeless at carol lyrics. Bollywood lyrics I know, but carol lyrics? Ahem. So the high point for me was when I cracked the most difficult clue, and my colleague seated next to me actually knew the lyrics. (The clue was 'ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRST' and the answer was Noelle. No 'ell', geddit??).

Then they started calling out the top ten lucky draw prizes. I knew that my name had been evading the hand of the 'picker' because I was meant for greater things that 200-dollar vouchers. But by the time they got to the top three prizes and hadn't called my name, I started to worry a bit. They called out the top three prizes by extension number. So when it was time for the first prize, and they called out "Extension number 8...2...5..." I turned to my colleague and said, "Dammit."

"What's yours?" She asked.

"Umm... 8242." I answered.

Before disclosing the last digit, they asked all the people whose extension numbers started with 825 to stand up so that there would be some suspense in the room, and also each candidate could look at the competitors. The rest of all just looked at all the standing parties and said "Damn you, people."

And then they called out the last digit.

"It's 2!!"

Suddenly everyone looked confused. None of the people standing were doing the victory dance. The announcer then went on to announce the name.

"And tonight's grand prize winner is... SAYESHA!"

HUH?

I looked around. Everyone was either giving me confused or dirty or murderous looks.

"My extension is 8252?" I wondered.

"Sayesha, could you come up here and collect your grand prize?"

Still in a state of daze, I said, "Uhhh... okay!" Obviously at that point in time, it was pointless to do the Miss World "Oooh I won I won" hands on the cheeks and round eyes expression.

(I really got a big round of scolding from everyone later. You win the grand prize and all we get is a "Uhhh... okay!"??)

So I went to the stage, collected my grand prize, and sensing that people were still wondering why I hadn't stood up when they announced the first three digits, decided to come clean.

I took the microphone and addressed the room.

"I'm sorry. I never call myself. That's why I didn't know my extension number."

At least some of the hurts looks changed to forgiving ones, while others still couldn't believe I had just won a OTO Master Relax music-sync massage chair worth $1880. Well, I couldn't either. But I had I had! Yeay! People play musical chairs at parties, I had won myself a musical chair!

The reactions of the people were quite varied and interesting.

"Sayesha, e-bay it! You can get at least two thousand dollars for it!"

"Sayesha, no don't sell it! Keep it! It's a great prize!"

"Ship it to your parents in India!" (Not a bad idea, just that the shipping charges may marginally exceed the cost of the chair which I never paid for.)

"Sayesha, bring it to office and substitute your regular chair with it!"

"Sayesha, my office has a lot of extra space... ahem." That was my boss. So I told her, "This is unbelievable! Everyone is eyeing your chair, and you are eyeing my chair??"

But the best one came from my friend BH who suggested that I take it to the office and keep it in the pantry, install a coin system, and let people use it when they want. At the end of every week, I collect my earnings. Sounds fab to me.

Now that's what I call 'spreading the Christmas chair"! ;)


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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A boot-ylicious story

So Clueless came home for the weekend before flying off to India. Two of her friends came along with her, and one of them Soleil (an adorable Malaysian Chinese girl who refers to our place as “my Indian home”) stayed for the whole weekend. Viv and I slept early on Saturday night as we had badminton the next morning, but the two girls chattered on till very late. They were still asleep when we left for the game on Sunday morning.

On our way back from badminton, I asked Viv, "Do you think the girls would have woken up when we get home?" Viv said, "Soleil maybe, but not Clueless." Like most adoring older brothers, he trusts his sister's friends more than his sister.

"I bet Clueless is up too." I said.

"Naah... I don’t think so. I'm sure she's still sleeping." He said.

"Wanna bet? Okay, it's a bet. If she's up, you will give me 79 dollars. Okay?"

Viv didn't even raise an eyebrow at that statement.

He knows by now that if I want to buy something rather badly, I use such weird bets. They are just tactics to get out of the guilt. The guilt that arises out of being a girl and hence spending money on so many random things, while as a guy, he doesn’t have much to buy. So I have this weirdass bets with him which I win and then hop away to buy whatever I was eyeing, while he looks on amused. We don’t even have a my-money-your-money system. It was not like he was gonna open his wallet and give me 79 dollars to spend, I use my credit card for everything I buy. So to an outsider, this may not make sense at all. After all, when you’re a working gal, you can buy anything you want with the money you earn, and no one can question it. But sometimes, you just need that assurance that you’re not just blowing your money off on silly things (especially when it's an amount like $79, you feel better if you have 'the license to spend it'), you’re merely “spending money you won on a bet”. Tee hee!

So we went home, and both girls had woken up. Yipeee! I had just won myself 79 dollars. Viv was shaking his head at me and smiling. He knew that half the time, I don’t even buy anything after the stupid bets. But I get a real kick out of ‘winning the money’.

But this time, I was so gonna spend it. 'Cos it was time to reboot!

I may not be the greatest authority on computers, but I do know that when your computer crashes and nothing works, you gotta reboot. Rebooting - a concept that is just as relevant to life as it is to a CPU. When life seems like it's coming crashing down and nothing works, I 're-boot', i.e. I buy yet another pair of new shoes, and life's good again.

And I knew exactly what to do with the 79 dollars I had just won. They had been speaking to me, you see. The black boots on display at BHG, which would go fabulously with the muted purple dress with black sequins I had saved for my office Christmas party. (By the way, the dress was sponsored by one of my price-of-friendship thingies, I still have to recover the money though. Girl, if you're reading this, we have some accounts to settle, muahaha!).

So where were we? Yes, so the boots, they spoke. They put forth their case – like two lawyers in black coats. “People are so cynical these days. There are very few things they actually like. So if you're lucky enough to find something you really like, shouldn’t you grab it? Don't look at the price tag, woman, look at us!” Tell me - how can you counter such a beautiful argument? I bought the argument and the boots.

On the way back home, I decided to pick up some groceries and make my special pasta for dinner before Clueless flew off. The special pasta actually has very little pasta (carbs and all) and truckloads of vegetables. So I bought pasta sauce, broccoli, capsicum, cans of mushroom and babycorn, and also picked up two cartons of milk and a big loaf of bread for the next morning’s breakfast. Heavy stuff. By the time, I was done, it was raining as if it had never rained on earth before.

As I opened my umbrella, I noticed a man standing outside the supermarket. He smiled at me politely but what he meant was “Are you out of your mind, lady?”. So I smiled back at him politely, but what I really meant was "Wuss!" He was holding one of those large Laloo Prasad family-size umbrellas, and yet looking up at the sky and hesitating to step out. My blue umbrella is so tiny it can fit in my purse. And yet, the supermarket superwoman figured that her place was a just a short walk from here, she could just walk it.

Though I was carrying about six bags, I knew I just needed to protect the new boots from the rain. So held the paper bag with the shoebox close to my body, balanced the rest of the bags on various parts of my arms, and trodded on.

I was about 100 steps from home, when I heard it.

THUD!

THUD! THUD!

Oh my goodness, did someone get hit by a recklessly driven car? Shocked, I turned around. There was nothing.

And that’s when it struck me. Holy cow, the base of the paper bag with the boots had dissolved and collapsed, and the shoe box had fallen through the gaping hole! The other two THUD sounds were the milk cartons that had also decided to join the boots and play kaagaz ki kashti. Sheesh.

Next was the bag with the broccoli, followed by the capsicum. Holy cow.

It was at that point in time when I realised I did not have enough hands. I had bags on every part of my arms, and the umbrella between my chin and right shoulder. Not to mention that I was drenched to the marrow. How was I to pick up the shoes and how was I to carry them? So I thought – to hell with dignity and squatted down on the roadside in a manner that is only used in Indian toilets. To add to my embarrassment, a car actually stopped and the guy inside was almost going to get out and “take the poor woman who had collapsed by the roadside to the nearest hospital” but supermarket superwoman gestured him to get on with his life. I can only imagine his shock if the pasta sauce bottle had also fallen and broken, with the red sauce seemingly streaming from my body, mixing with the rainwater. That might have been fun.

Anyway, by some magical force, I found a hand to pick up the shoebox and clutched it to my chest like a baby, picked up the rest of my dignity along with the groceries and headed home. Finally, I made it, soaking wet.

The 20-odd pairs of shoes in the shoerack at my doorstep seemed to be mocking me. I'm used to it by now. I love all of them equally, but every time I reboot, I get a little resistance from them. I reckon this time they were also jealous because I had never clutched any of them the way I was clutching the new ones. I could sense the buggers rolling their eyes because I had decided to put the new shoes under my bed instead of out there in the open with them, braving the sun and the wind and the rain.

“Bite me!” I said and ignored their jealous looks.

(Holy cow, I just hope they don’t take my words literally.)

Home had never felt cosier as I got out of the soaking clothes and changed into warm, dry ones. As I checked the boots (they were surprisingly dry) before keeping them under the bed, I suddenly forgot all about the miserable situation I had been in a few minutes ago. I was happy again.

I had rebooted, you see.

***

Viv still has no idea about the boots. And I just realised that this post is a great way to find out whether he really reads my blog like he claims he does. Viv, if I do not get a reaction from you on this in the next 48 hours, you will err… owe me $49.90. Thank you.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Lost Christmas

Christmas is in the air!

'Tis the season to be jolly!

In the true spirit of giving, I wanna give too. Give some gaalis to the people who make the playlists for the malls. Now I'm not anti Christmas carols, but I'm not a big fan either. The only one I have liked so far is my friend's remix rendition of Rudolph. It goes something like "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny Ahuja!" Any doubts as to why it's my favourite Christmas carol ever? :D

Of course there was another one I recently encountered. Now that the cricket season is over, Viv still finds himself waking up early and having nothing to do, composes Christmas carols. Just yesterday, I found myself waking up to him crooning about how he was making a snack for Santa. Huh? He not only sang the entire carol to me as an anti-lullaby three times, he even made me sing it when my eyes opened. Sheesh. I'd like to share the torture with all bewdas here. May this 'carol' get stuck in your head. Amen.

(Viv to Santa)
Riding through the snow
On a one-horse open sleigh
Where are you gonna go?
(Santa to Viv)
Far far away!

(Viv to Santa)
When will you come back?
I've made a tasty snack
(Santa to Viv)
I'll come back very soon
I'm just going to the moon.

I'm not surprised Santa ran off to the moon to get away from Viv's snack, and worse, his song. It made me quite loony too. But not as loony as the Christmas carols played in the malls make me.

Carols in the malls are fine, sometimes they do bring more cheer than some of the top ten songs with the awful lyrics that we otherwise have to listen to all year. But I feel the veins in my temple popping out when they start playing 'Last Christmas I gave you my heart'. I just don't get it. Why do they play that song every single year? Hell, it's not a Christmas song! It's just a heartbreak song sung by a road romeo, the kind who stands in the streets and rings his bicycle bell when you walk past, and sings the nicest of romantic songs in the most awful manner? Of all the things I don't miss about living in India, this tops the list. But looks like the road romeos are expanding and are quite an international organisation now. Check out the lyrics:

"Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special"

So every year this guy just picks someone to give his heart to, sheds some tears and then picks his next 'victim' the following year? Lucha lafunga road romeo is all I have to say! Just because the song has the word "Christmas" in it, it has become a carol now. Sheesh.

(This reminds me of Sting saying in an interview that he often wonders why people play his "Every breath you take" during their weddings. "It's not a love song," he said, "It's a stalker song.")

The jolly spirit of Christmas is lost if depressing songs like this keep playing everywhere, every year. As far as I am concerned, Christmas is all about Christmas sales, about buying fabulous things at great prices, but the song is ruining it all. The other day, I was looking at a pair of fabulous Christmas sale boots going at $79. I was wondering what expensive gift I could get Viv so I wouldn't feel bad if he got me the boots, when Last Christmas started playing. I was out of there in a flash.

Kailash Kher once said of the success behind Himesh Reshammiya's songs, "His songs always have words repeated several times (think "junoon junoon junoon junoon, aashiq banaya aashiq banaya aashiq banaya, naam tera tera naam tera tera"). If you listen to them enough number of times, they will embed themselves in your head and you start liking them."

Going by that theory, maybe a few Christmases down the line, I'll actually start enjoying the song.

Oh boy, just the thought of that is depressing me more.



Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The ultimate couple(t)

Most couples make me sick with their couply ways, especially when they act all coochie-coo romantic and what not. But thankfully, there are some couples that just give you a very good feeling each time you see them together. I think Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi are one such couple and I was lucky to catch them on an episode of 'Koffee with Karan' (one more time - Youtube ki jai ho!). Whether it was him teasing her about all her activist stuff, or her teasing him about his bad memory with appointments, it was a pleasure to watch them interact. I have written about them in the past, but here's another post dedicated to not just the most talented couple in Bollywood, but one of the most ideal as well. It's amazing how both being incredibly serious people, are also incredibly funny people at the same time.

Javed really stole the show when Karan asked him to recite a couplet for Shabana and he said:

Kh
ush-shakal bhi hai woh
Yeh alag baat hai magar
Humko zaheen log hamesha aziz they.

("She is beautiful but that is besides the point...
The fact is that I have always loved intelligent people.")

Man, I was totally bowled over. Now this is the kind of couplet a girl would like to hear. Heh heh!

Darn, if only Viv wasn't so Urdu-challenged! :P


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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Loopy Room

So a friend of ours from ye olde university days was in Singapore and decided to catch up with us on a few years' worth of data.

Of all places in the world, he chose The Rupee Room. Now it may sound like a place where beggars would gather to count the earnings of the day, but Singapore has no beggars - so it's just a place that plays Bollywood music and serves drinks. A place where apparently the ladies gotta be 20 and the men 22. (Why oh why the funny numbers?)

Now I haven't been to an Indian club since I was in the second-year. In those days, we'd go to Mohammad Sultan road for the annual Bhangra night, which was actually the alternative of shaadi.com for many a bachelor looking to net a hot punjabi kudi. After a while, I started getting sick of it - not to mention how much I hate remixes, especially the kind where you can barely hear the words above the dhik-chik anymore.

So I thought - okay let's check out what The Rupee Room is like. I wasn't particularly pleased with the venue. But then I guess I wasn't in the mood for it that Friday night. It had been a crazy week at work (every time a new editor is hired for my team, weird-hour teleconferences are held with the Boston office) and I was sleepy and tired and in no mood to drink or dance. So we entered The Rupee Room around 11-ish and looked around. The curtained sections had empty seats with the 'Reserved' tag on them. We were told later that no one really reserves the seats, it's probably just a ploy by the management to make the place seem 'happening'. So basically everyone is standing and but the seats are empty. We grabbed one of the small tables with the tall stools and instantly snooty waiter popped over.

"I'm sorry, how many of you?" He asked.

"Right now three, but we have more coming." I said.

"I'm sorry, ma'am. You can't occupy the table unless there are four of you."

WHAT THE...?!

I can't bat my eyelashes coyly and get myself a seat in a situation like this, but I can errr... bat... that's it. If only Viv had carried his cricket kit like he does to everywhere else we go, snooty waiter would have gone flying out the window, I'd have raised my bat and the very high people around me would have raised their bottles and glasses and paused to yell "Chhakka!"

(I'm forgiving of waiters and waitresses but I do have high expectations of them too - after all, I'm one myself.)

"So where do I sit?" I glared at the waiter.

"You could hang out at the bar..."

I looked at the bar. There were many many many people 'hanging out' at the bar, possibly waiting for the fourth person to turn up and complete their lives, including a bachelorette party of three which was soon joined by *surprise surprise* the groom himself. Sheesh. Either the guy was really insecure or the girls called him at the last minute to use him as a 'filler' and get a table of four.

Anyway, our filler guys soon arrived and we deposited ourselves back at the same table we had been outed from.

Reminiscing in a crowded and loud place like that is nothing but a nightmare. After the hugs and the "Man, it's been years!", when we decided to try our hand at conversation, this is what resulted.

"Hey, do you remember the time when..."

"WHAT?"

"I said - remember the..."

"SORRY, WHAT?"

"REMEMBER..."

"HUH?"

"ERM... FORGET IT!"

After a while when you realise that your ears are getting an earful of saliva every time someone leans over to yell something to you, and covering your ear with your hair doesn't help (you don't want that kinda 'conditioner', do you?), you just shut up and learn that this is not the best place to sit down and talk with an old friend about the 'good old' days.

So our reminiscing session consisted of sporadic dancing, generally shaking, looking at the people on the dance floor (which had suddenly been occupied by the entire Indian population of Singapore), and looking at the TV screens which were playing songs from the 90s on mute. It was actually quite hilarious to see a video of Manisha Koirala doing her signature "O yara dil lagana" move and the audio going "Kaindi ponnn ponnn ponnn!" Though I must admit that the remixes were well done with audible lyrics, and were extremely danceable to.

My executive summary of the Rupee Room - very good music, but limited playlist, snooty waiters and ho-hum drinks.

Go only if all you want to do is dance, cos there literally is no room for conversation.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Complimentary angles

So a few of us (including my visiting blog friend from India) were hanging out at New Asia bar at the 71st floor of Swissotel the Stamford. The Stamford is the tallest hotel in southeast Asia and New Asia bar, in my opinion, offers the best view of Singapore. So we were all looking at the beautiful city lights through the window when I suddenly remembered another panoramic view - the restrooms in the Stamford. So in a purely girly gesture, I dragged both girls to check out the restrooms. They were exactly like I remembered them - huge, beautiful, luxurious, an almost vulgar waste of space.

As I sat down on one of the cushioned chairs waiting for my friends who were checking out the interiors, a Caucasian girl walked past me. Then she stopped, turned and exclaimed, "Oh my god, I LOVE your dress!" Now I'm the kind who believes that it's not your clothes that people compliment, it's how you carry them. So I took the compliment rather personally and grinned like a hyena. She accepted my thanks and went her way, leaving me wondering about compliments from strangers.

There is something amazing about a compliment from a total stranger. It must take quite something for someone who doesn't know you at all, isn't trying to get anything out of you, to stop and say something that makes you happy, but is probably not of any consequence to him or her. That is, perhaps, the purest form of appreciation.

When my Mom was here on the way to the US, I sent a light blue top for my sister through her. Now my sister and I are polar opposites in everything. She's calm, serene and dignified. Ahem. I rest my case.

So Mom said, "I'll probably be bringing this back when I return. I doubt she will wear it." Unlike me, my sister doesn't wear very bright colours. She goes for greys, browns, blacks and muted shades of other colours.

"It'll look good on her. Ask her to try it on."

"Yeah, but you know her. This is not her colour."

"I know it's not her colour. But make her wear it once. If she doesn't like it, bring it back. I'll wear it." I told Mom.

A few days ago, Mom called.

"You know, she wore it today?"

"She did?? Where to?"

"The library."

"The library??"

"Yeah."

"Hmmmph! Of all places..." :/

"And some random girl walked past her and told her it was a beautiful top."

"Really?? And??"

"Yeah, and now she really likes it."

It's difficult to convey rolling eyes over the phone, but I rolled them anyway.

And I wondered - what is it about a stranger's compliment that overrides everything else? The same 'pointless' point made by your own family members now has a point because a total stranger made it? Perhaps it's the total lack of bias that makes a stranger's compliment so objective, so pure, so real... the truth?

Have you ever complimented - or been complimented by - a total stranger?



Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kids say the darndest things

It's a lovely moonlit night. A lady is walking along the road, holding her two kids' hands. The girl is aged about four and the boy about seven. My friends are I are walking just behind them.

Girl
(looks up and points at the moon) - Look! Look! Moon!
Boy (glares at his sister) - Don't point! It's rude to point!



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

(S)O-SO

"You saw an SRK movie yest and still no post about it on your blog. Are you alright? Is everything ok?"

My friend sent me this sms yesterday.

Sheesh.

The rest of you who probably think Bhai has kalti-maroed from patli gali after leaving bar khulla, are wrong. Bhai is not underground, Bhai is overworked. I am covering four titles of one of my editors who's away on marriage leave, and also involved in the training program for the newest editor in my team. Bole toh - this week fultu biji. Saans lene ko fursat nahin types. Aap convince ho gaye ki main aur bolun? (Yes, this dialogue is from Jab We Met - one of my favourite ones from the movie!)

Besides, a very dear blog friend is visiting Singapore and staying with Viv and me, so I doubt I will have a lot of time for the bar this week. Dukaan khulla hai, bindaas piyo, bhidu log! Bhai bhot generous hai.

So I watched OSO on sunday (I totally refuse to watch SLB's translucent-towel-dropping movie), and my review is exactly that. (S)o-so. I watched Jab We Met again in the theatre right after OSO and I think I still enjoyed it more. But there were brilliant moments in OSO too. Here is my quick review (may contain spoilers).

1. Shabana Azmi totally phodoed it - her one-liner was the best in the movie.
2. I totally think Karan Johar should have said what Sanjay Kapoor said - that would have brought the house down!
3. Manoj Kumar, chill re, if there's anyone who should feel insulted about his portrayal in the movie, it's Sooraj Barjatya and even he was heard ROFLing over his scene.
4. I can't believe Vishal got two lines but Shekhar didn't get any. Acting nahin aati? Do line nahin bol sakta? Useless fella!
5. Deepika is hot, but not hotter than Shilpa Shetty in a sari.
6. Farah should only make spoof movies.
7. Sonu Nigam sounds heavenly in "Main agar kahoon". The song sounds better heard by itself - without the video.
8. The 70s scenes were not very authentic. Looked very movie-set type. I'd expected Farah to use the 70s' grainy look in the first half.
9. Shreyas was wasted.
10. "Real life mein kitna short hai!" was howlarious.
11. King Khan is King Khan. Arrogant rascalaaa, but we love him. Mind it!

Samachar samapt hue.




Thursday, November 15, 2007

The code - cracked

Note: This is my 555th post. Panch sau pachpan washing powder panch sau pachpan! :D

So I have cracked my code, I mean 'cold' and can say my m's and n's. Yeay!

Now it's time to see which of you guys cracked my code on the last post! Everyone did well, but it was kinda expected, cos knowing Viv and me, you'd know that this would be very heavily cricket/Bollywood focussed. :D

1.



















Of course this is Dhoni! Most of you got it, but Himesh Reshammiya was a close contender. I guess it could be Himesh, but he has more facial hair, yeah? Other contenders were Jack sparrow and Yasser Arafat!

2.





















Again an easy-peasy one. There is only one famous muchhwala chef - Sanjeev Kapoor! Again, most of you got it, but special shoutout to Shub who thinks I am soooo SRK-crazy that I drew SRK in the movie Duplicate here. Haha! I don't think he had a moustache in Duplicate, did he? Army, yes, but Duplicate? :O Ursjina's guess was 'Sayesha's cook'! Damn I'm insulted! I dun need no cook-shook! :/ Ramkumar thought it was Viv! Hahaha!

3.





















Okay, this is the one drawing I am most ashamed of. Fortunately, some of you guessed it, and may I just say you guys ROCK for having guessed this is Oprah in spite of the very bad drawing. I didn't mean for the others to turn out as kids, I just wanted to show that on her show everyone cries. Viv took the longest to guess this one! Your guesses included Rakhi Sawant, Evita, Mamata Banerjee, Sayesha (SHEESH!), SRK (Shub, I'm gonna kill you for this one!), "some teacher", Kalam, Viv (SHEESH!), Hilary Clinton, Indian Idol, Madonna and Ms. Briganza aha (Duhita, bonus point for you for this one!)!

4.





















Yeah, Viv started with Beyonce too, but then I drew the big butt and he said Jennifer Lopez and then I drew the 'shake' lines near the butt and finally he guessed it was Shakira! Most of you also guessed one of the three. Sanchit and Bivas thought it's Mauli Dave (well done, guys!), while others came up with Annie (who's that?), Janet Jackson, Madonna, Britney, and Mariah Carey. Crazy Dhakkan gets bonus point for her guess "Saroj Khan trying her hand at singing".

5.














When Viv first drew this, I glared. "Dude, this is a cricketer. Do you know how many cricketers there are in the world?" Then he drew the goitre-like thing, and I immediately guessed it was Mandira Bedi. He wants a special shoutout to Kosh and VR who actually guessed this one correctly. Other contenders were Sachin, Dhoni, Ganguly, Symonds, Viv, Ponting, Malaika (why?), Sayesha (CHHEH!) and Deepika. My bonus point goes to Amey for asking, "Is that a bat or a knife?"

6.

















South Indian superstar - Rajnikanth! Most of you got it, but other contenders were Nelson Mandela (Sheesh, my India map looks like Africa?), Shah Rukh Khan, Dravid, Mani Ratnam, de-turbanated Manmohan Singh (shabash, Bivas!), Manoj Kumar, Big B, Himesh and Narendra Modi.


7.


















Okay confession - first I thought I'll draw the guy who copies Harsha Bhogle, then I remembered that I did not remember his name, or whether he even wore glasses. Sheesh. So I decided to draw Harsha. Apologies to his fans for giving him the wrong kind of frames. Again, most got it, but some also guessed Kumble, Udayan Mukherjee, Dravid and Sachin.

8.





















Okay, here come's Viv's famous body cast. Come to think of it, most of what he draws resembles this. However, since I have been thinking of OSO (haven't seen it yet!!! Oh the horror!), the moment he drew the two lines across the abs, I knew it was King Khan. Viv was a bit sad that I did not even let him complete the six-pack, but boy, was he delighted to see that many others also guessed it correctly. Bonus point to Raj for guessing 'Hangman' and to Crazy Dhakkan for guessing 'Gabbar with his arms re-growing'. Aequo Animo thought it was a scarecrow, whereas Sandew thought it was someone wearing an oversized T-shirt. Sowmya said, "LOL @ this. Hands look like mug handles." while Amey asked "A man?". Clueless thought it was an Ajanta/Ellora painting while Duhita christened him 'Plastic man' (I'm already singing in my head, "Plastic man, plastic man, friendly recyclable plastic man!"). Somya thought it was Rakhi Sawant because "anything that looks weird is Rakhi Sawant."

9.


















This was another simple one that almost everyone got. Those who didn't guessed Gopi Chand, Ritwik Bhattacharya (who's that?) Mahima, Hingis, Sania Mirza, Leander Paes and Federer. Come on people, surely that doesn't look like a tennis ball? I took great pains to draw that shuttlecock! :/


10.

















Again, if you're in the OSO frame of mind, this is a give-away. Most got it, but those who didn't guessed Sayesha (why oh why?), Ekta Kapoor, Deepa Mehta, Ahana Deol (she's a director already?), Barkha Dutt and Deepika.

11.





















When I drew the heavy kohl and lipstick, Viv still couldn't guess it. So I just kept drawing bottles and tubes of cosmetics till he arrived at Shehnaz Hussein. Some of you got it. Other guesses included Kareena Kapoor (actually yeah, in Asoka she did look like this!), Aishwarya, not Sayesha (gee, thanks! :/), SRK (*throws a durian at Shub*), Britney, Rekha, Paris Hilton and Mandira Bedi. Amey responded with a "Did Halloween come late? Who is THAT? :o"

12.





















Again, almost everyone got this. Those who didn't (and thought it was Siddhu, Sukhvir Singh, Ishmit, etc.) hmmmph! :/ Sanchit thought it could be Mika or Rabbi too, but Mika doesn't wear a turban and Rabbi doesn't wear this overcoat thingie. Ha! :D

Okay, it's time to announce the winners!!

1st prize goes to... Sandew with 9 correct answers! *a keg of pani puri ka pani to Sandew*

2nd prize is shared by... Sanchit, Kosh, Shekhar and Bivas with 8 correct answers! *a jug of pani puri ka pani to each*

3rd prize is shared by... Shashikant, Shub, Ursjina, Stone and Baawara Mann with 7 correct answers! *a glass of pani puri ka pani to each. Oh wait. Except Shub. Shub doesn't get anything. :/*

Thanks for playing, everyone! :)


.



Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Crack the code

So I have a bad code ad by dose is blocked ad I'b sittig at hobe feelig bored ad I thought I'd write a blog post. Viv ad I played pictiodary last dight ad we drew sobe persodalities. Cad you guess who they are? I have edabled cobbet boderatiod so dobody cad copy others' adswers. I will release the results id the dext post, with special bedshud of special guessers.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Who put the goat in there?

My dear friend American Pie could not have sent me this video link at a more apt time. You see, I'm trying to learn tamil, and even though I can now officially differentiate between 'kannaadi', 'munnaadi', 'takaali' and 'muttaal', I still have a long way to go. However, this video actually made me glad that I don't understand everything in tamil, because if I did, I wouldn't be able to enjoy, appreciate and most importantly, ROTFLOL my ass off at this uber-hilarious (albeit highly inappropriate at times) video the way I did.



And here's another one I found on Youtube (this one's in Telugu).



Friday, November 09, 2007

O Bhaiyas, where art thou?

Diwali often makes NRIs nostalgic. In my case, it depresses me. I start missing the festivities in India and no matter how clean my house is, how beautiful the rangoli around the house is, how nice my new clothes are, how tasty the kheer I make is, how ethnic the hand-painted diyas at my doorstep are, how pretty the henna on my hands is, I miss certain things very very much. I basically miss the festive spirit in the air, which, in spite of the public holiday, I don’t feel here.

Even though I have been scared of loud firecrackers when I was young, I miss the smell of the barood in the air. Even though I have always hated sweets, I miss the exchange of mithais that happened between neighbours. Even though I hate crowds, I miss the crowded lane just before the ‘gali ka ladi bum’ was lighted.

And I miss the Bhaiyas.

The Bhaiyas were a rare specimen that knocked on your door every year a few days before Diwali. They were like Halloween kids, except that they were seventeen and to my six-year-old self, very very tall, and very very cool. They were also known to all grown-ups in our neighbourhood as ‘the good-for-nothing ruffians who had never given darshan at the college gates’.

***

Flashback 1986

The doorbell rings. Mom asks me to open the door.

I look through the peephole. It's the Bhaiyas of the neighbourhood. I like them. They let me fly their kites, ride their bikes, spin their tops and field during gully cricket.

I open the door.

Bhaiya 1 - Is your Mom in?

Me - Yes. And Dad is in too.

Bhaiya2 - Oh shit!

Bhaiya3 - Okay, can you call your Dad?

Me - Dad, Bhaiya log are here!

Dad comes to the door.

B1 - Namaste, Uncle.

Dad (suspiciously) - Haan namaste namaste... what is it?

B1 - Happy Diwali, Uncle!

Dad (glares) - Diwali is next week.

B2 - Yes yes. But we have to prepare beforehand, isn't it?

Dad - Prepare for?

B1 – The celebrations, uncle!

Dad - Just exactly why are you here?

B3 - Uncle, 50 rupees...

Dad - 50 rupees?? Why?

B1 - Uncle... chanda...

Dad - Chanda??

B2 - Diwali donation, uncle!

Dad - Diwali donation?? For??

B2 (nervously) - Uncle, everyone is giving...

Dad - But why??

B3 - Uncle, ladi bum!
(I'm sorry, but there's just no other way to spell it if I want to do justice to the way they pronounced it!)

Dad - Ladi bum? What's that??

B1 (grins with delight) – Uncle, it's a firecracker. For the whole neighbourhood!

Dad - For the whole neighbourhood??

B2 - Yes, uncle! We are going to buy the 1000-rupees wala ladi bum and line it from one end of our lane to the other.

Dad (dirty look) - Huh?

B3 - And then we will light it at 10 pm. It's for everyone who lives in this lane... You can come out and watch.

Dad - Watch? Watch what? Watch you people set fire to a 1000-rupee note?

B2 (murmurs) - Ufff... Yeh banker log...

B1 - Uncle, please?

Dad continues to look at them sternly.

B2 (tries to look beyond Dad's shoulder) - Aunty, please? Samjhaiye na Uncle ko...

Mom looks at Dad helplessly.

Dad - I will give you 20 rupees. That's it.

B1 - What will we do with 20 rupees, Uncle? If everyone started giving only 20 rupees, the ladi bum won't even reach the end of the lane!

Dad (glares again) - It will reach all right. Just don't subtract your alochol money from it.

B3 - Alcohol? Uncle, what are you saying?? Alcohol and us??

Dad - I know your ways. You will use 50% of the money for your ladi-wadi bum, and I know where the rest will go.

B1, B2 and B3 look at one another in mock-horror, and then silent resignation.

B2 - But Uncle...

Dad - 20 rupees. Take it or leave it.

B1 - Okay fine, Uncle...

Dad hands 20 rupees over.

B2 - Thank you, Uncle!

B3 - Happy Diwali, Uncle, Aunty!

Dad – Theek hai, theek hai, bye.

B1 (to me) - Bye! 10 pm, okay?

Me (delighted to have been spoken to) - Bye, Bhaiya log!

"Good-for-nothing gundas..." Dad mumbles, shakes his head in disapproval and goes back to reading the paper.

***

Sometimes I wonder where all the Bhaiyas are now. I imagine some of them as pot-bellied uncles probably, trying to sweat it out in the family business. Maybe some of them really made it big. Maybe they are all are married by now, bogged down by office and family responsibilities and stolen of their infamous gunda-image. But to those who still have that spark and remember the Diwali-chanda days two decades ago, I want to extend my appreciation.

You guys were an integral part of the years I had spent in India, and my Diwali-nostalgia will always always include you.

.



Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Check-in' the mail?

July 1998

So I’m sitting in the canteen writing a letter (yes, you read that right!) when a second year guy approaches me.

"Hi Sayesha, what on earth are you doing?" He grinned.

"Bharatnatyam." I wanted to say, but smartass freshies really get it (and I’d had enough and enough of being ragged), so I decided against it.

"I'm writing a letter." I said.

"You're writing a letter?"

"Yeah."

"To whom?"

"Santa Claus." I went in my head, then changed my mind again.

"Mom and Dad."

"You're writing a letter to your Mom and Dad?" He was extremely amused.

"She's writing a letter to her Mom and Dad!" he hollered to two of his batchmates who also decided to join in and examine “the specimen who wrote letters to people”.

"Why don't you email them?"

"They don't have email."

They looked at each other.

"Besides, letters have their own charm." I added.

"Letters have their own charm... wah wah!" they guffawed.

"You know what, Sayesha? I bet you'll stop writing letters by the time you make it to second year."

"I'll NEVER." I said indignantly.

("Never stop writing" I meant, not "never make it to second year".)

"I will prove you wrong, dude!" I made a resolution.

Erm, I stopped writing letters by the end of the first semester.

My excuse? Everyone did. Dad had got email, it was faster and hassle-free, and I could do it in the middle of a boring class. I emailed him every day. Then every week, then every month. I believe I’m still at every month.

Back in the days of letters, we checked our mailboxes once in a few days. The world then moved online and there were fewer reasons to check our mailboxes. Mailboxes became almost useless, in other words - spam central. And we got crazily emailing. In the beginning, it was fun. Emails were long and descriptive and delightful. Over the years, they started getting shorter and shorter. We actually preferred them that way. Then people we know stopped emailing us, and people who did not know us started instead. People who were trying to sell you online university degrees, or drugs to enhance body parts your gender doesn't have in the first place, or promises to transfer gazillions of dollars to your account on no account, or pleas for help from 8-year-old Ethiopian orphans who never grew a day since the early nineties when they first started emailing us. Sometimes we ‘paid it forward’ by sending them to people we dislike.

We hated these emails because they were not sent to us - they were not personalised. They were stupid forwards meant for the whole damn world and sent to the whole damn world. We deleted it all. Then came gmail and the spam disappeared. So for all those jobless blokes who checked email just to delete spam and hence “have something to do”, gmail was of no use.

But we continue checking. I am not even sure why we do it. I highly doubt that it’s in the hope that someone some day will write us a nice long email meant only for us. If that was the case, why do we look at the personalised emails that bhoole bhatke come to us and go, “Shit! Do I have to reply to this?” We read it and put it aside because we don't know what to reply, even though it was probably why we kept checking our email. And even if we reply, and we get a reply to our reply, and after that, there is not much to say anymore. But isn’t that why we were checking our email in the first place – to receive something meant for us? Didn't we delete like everything else??

Yesterday I made a resolution, to make better use of email. To email properly and reply properly, and perhaps devote an hour or so every weekend to what Rachel (F.R.I.E.N.D.S) calls "catching up on correspondence". Enough is enough. I can't keep checking my email when I don't expect to send any out - it's downright ridiculous!

Strange… We want to be remembered, but we don't remember.

But we keep checking our email. Day in day out. At home, at work, during the weekdays, during the weekends. From our PCs, from our laptops, from our phones. We keep checking. Several email accounts. Several times a day. Like maniacs.

Sometimes I wonder - what the heck are we checking for?

.



Saturday, November 03, 2007

Jab they met (and exceeded) expectations
























Chill, bewdas, chill - no spoilers. :)


When a movie has a title as inane as ‘Jab we met’ and stars Kareena Kapoor, there are only two people in the world who can make me watch it. (They even look like each other, hehe!)

1. Raja Sen, Rediff movie reviewer – I have been a fan of the guy since I read an interview of his where he described the relatively unknown movie ‘Socha Na Tha’ as “an honest script” and I felt like he had literally stolen my exact thoughts about the movie. Yes, I may be a total Bollywood person with my share of love for the SRKs and the Karan Johars, but truth be told, my all time favourite movie is the simple and down to earth Socha Na Tha.


2. Imtiaz Ali, the relatively unknown director of the movie ‘Socha Na Tha’ who also wrote and edited the movie, and went on to script ‘Ahista Ahista’, another movie I like very very much. What I love about Imtiaz Ali's movies are the way the characters speak - just like you and me. I guess it helps that he's a writer/director, so nothing conceptualised by Imtiaz the writer is lost in translation - because Imtiaz the director ensures it is executed exactly the way it was conceptualised.

So Raja Sen did not review ‘Jab We Met’ (perhaps he’s gearing up for the OSO/Saawariya marathon next weekend) but as soon as I knew that Imtiaz Ali had directed the movie (check out this conversation between the two), I not only knew I was going to watch it, I knew I was going to love it.

Quick sms messages went out to my friends Shub and Pizzadude (I could not wait for certain people who live in China) and soon we found ourselves in the best seats of the house, thanks to my paranoid buying of the tickets 45 minutes before the show (an Imtiaz Ali movie can only be appreciated from nothing less than the best seats). We had all been rolling our eyes at the movie title, but the worst was when we saw the title written in the hindi script. All of us read it out as ‘Jab we mate’ and burst out laughing like maniacs even before the movie had started. Little did we know that we would be laughing every five minutes of the movie courtesy a certain very very funny Ms. Kapoor.

Now here’s the honest truth – I have disliked Kareena Kapoor rather immensely all my Bollywood-fan life. And over the years as she reprised the role of her K3G Pooja (or Poo, as she was better known as) in movie after movie, she became the warning signal and I ran in the opposite direction at the mere mention of her being in a movie. Just when she’d redeem herself in a Yuva or a Omkara (I was impressed by her in both movies, even though she had very brief roles), she’d make another bimbotic appearance somewhere. And I used to think – if only she got rid of the annoying Poo inside her (okay that sounded gross, but you know what I mean), perhaps she’d make quite a good actress. Maybe all she needed was the right movie.

And boy, is ‘Jab We Met’ the right movie.

Imtiaz Ali is a genius. Interestingly, all three of his movies so far have had the underlying theme of ‘running away from home’, yet they are all treated in very different and creative ways. His movies are like thrillers without the gore – you get involved in the character’s life and stay involved till the end. You want to know what is going to happen to the characters, and often you do not know whom to empathise with, which makes his movies amazingly real and relatable. And the creative ways in which he ends the movies, even if the ending is one of those happy predictable ones, always always get my applause. Not to mention the little ironic quirks he sprinkles evenly throughout the movie.

I believe the reason why I like Abhay Deol and Ayesha Takia so much is the way Imtiaz presented them in Socha Na Tha (and later Abhay again in Ahista Ahista). He managed to get the best out of both of them. And just when you thought that it was because he worked with newbies whom he could easily mould into the characters he wrote, he pulled off a ‘Jab We Met’ with a seasoned commercial actress.

The casting of ‘Jab We Met’ could not have been more perfect. However, it must have taken some vision to imagine Kareena in the role of Geet. And it must have been quite a task to make her shed her Poo-ness and get under the skin of Geet so effortlessly that even hardcore anti-Kareenas like me melt away and root for her. It's the kind of role that is difficult to portray without making the character an annoying, hamming over-the-top one, especially by someone like Kareena Kapoor. Though Imtiaz Ali is the kind of director who has that perfect control over his cast and does not allow them to ham, due credit must go to Kareena for letting him portray her in such an un-Kareena manner. Throughout the movie, she had many unconventional lines to say, which are extremely difficult to pull off, but Kareena got away with them and how. I am pleased to say that as of 3rd November 3.55 pm, I officially like Kareena Kapoor as an actress. And that is a brave brave statement for me to make.

Don't you love it when the so-called ‘predictable Bollywood’ takes you by surprise? I totally totally love it.

Shahid Kapoor has a shaky start in the movie. In fact, in the first two minutes of the movie as he wanders around in the streets in his business suit and glasses, sans the monkey-grin that we’re all so familiar with – you will actually think of him as a miscast. But as the movie progresses, he grows on you, just like Kareena does. I never believed that real-life couples can be convincing in reel life, but this movie has changed my belief. There could not have been a better fit for the role of Aditya than Shahid. Mainly because this is an out and out Kareena Kapoor movie, and Shahid lends able support to the larger-than-life character of Geet she portrays. He steps back and lets her shine, in a way that perhaps a boyfriend, not a co-star, would. You see the genuine chemistry between the crazy-bubbly Geet and the sensible-serious Aditya, you yearn for their togetherness and wonder - why oh why did Kareena and Shahid have to break up?

(And you also realise that if he turns off the monkey-grin you see in every movie of his, the Shahid dude is quite a looker. The intense gaze, the glasses, the rolling his eyes and shaking his head at her antics, all welcome.)

The movie, in spite of being brilliantly funny, is intense, moving and honest. It will touch you - if not now, some day in your life, one of the lines from the movie will come back and get you. I am so going back to watch it again (can't let Viv miss out on this one, and can't wait for the DVD).

Kareena and Shahid may not be together now (damn you Saif, now you’re going after the kids?!), but this movie is the best parting gift they could have given each other.

And us too.

.



Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Who's your daddy?

Sayesha Smitten showbiz kitten is back!

And this time she brings you hot news about the two most awaited Diwali releases – Om Shanti Om and Saawariya.

Large living room with a small bar in a corner. Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor are sitting on a two-seater couch. Deepika Padukone and Shreyas Talpade are seated on another two-seater opposite them. The two parties are pouting at each other. Shah Rukh and Salman are seated on high stools at the bar, having drinks. Farah Khan is seated on a rocking chair in the balconey. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is pacing the floor. Sayesha Smitten Showbiz kitten is, as usual, perched on a tree outside the living room, taking careful note of the proceedings.

Sanjay – So is everyone here? Who’s missing? Rani?

Salman – Rani just sent me an sms. She can’t make it.

Sanjay – Huh? Why not?? This is an important discussion that can affect the performance of both movies.

Salman – She said she's depressed and can’t participate in any conversation about performances of movies. She says her chunari has got a daag. I'm not quite sure what she means...

Farah – Arre yaar! Let’s just go ahead without her. My children (points to her tummy with the triplets) are hungry. Let’s wrap this up quickly.

Sanjay – Hmm… okay. (turns to face everyone) We have gathered here to discuss the clash of release dates of Om Shanti Om and Saawariya. If both release on the same date, they will cannibalise each other. It’s best that we hold the release of one of them, and push it to a week later.

Farah – Exactly. But of course neither of us wants to push our movie release. So we have to come up with a way to decide.

Ranbir – Simple. Just pick the grander of the two movies and that gets the Diwali release!

Sonam – I agree!

Shreyas – I think…

Deepika – Sounds good to me!

Shreyas – But I think…

*Farah and Sanjay shrug their shoulders and agree.*

*momentary pause in the room*

Shah Rukh – Sallu Bhai, haar maan lo yaar. Mere paas toh Swades bhi hai, aur Pardes bhi. Tumhaare paas kya hai?

Salman – Mere paas… mere paas… (tries to remember his last hit movie)… mere pass Partner hai! (dials Govinda’s number)

Govinda – Bhaiya, keep me out this, please. I can’t be involved in any Saawariya vs. Om Shanti Om war.

Salman – But why not??

Govinda – Erm… I have a cameo in Om Shanti Om.

Salman – Aila! Baaghi! Sangdil Sanam! Paththar ke fool! Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha… Sanam Bewafa!

Govinda - *click*

Salman – Aila! Phone kaat diya!

Shah Rukh (grins) – So?

*Salman looks helplessly at Sanjay*

Sanjay – Farah, let's get real. This is only your second movie. I am a more seasoned director.

Farah – Hmmm… let’s see, my first movie was a superhit… your first movie… hmmm… what was it now? Khamoshi the musical? I rest my case.

Sanjay – Errmm… but don’t forget I made Aishwarya act! The entire industry acknowledges that.

Farah – I give you that. Any day. *bows head*

Sanjay – Well?

Farah – Well what? I have Shah Rukh.

Sanjay – Well… you may have Shah Rukh… but we have two heroes in the movie.

Shreyas (indignantly gets up) – Excuse me? We have two heroes too! Did you not watch Iqbal?

Salman – Baal? Mere baal? (instinctively touches his head with an alarmed expression)

Shah Rukh – All there, all there…

Shreyas – So I was saying… didn’t you watch Iqbal? Didn’t you read the critics’ reviews?

Sanjay & Farah – Critics??? Critics???? Hahahahahahahhahahaha!

Farah – Well, you know what? Shreyas is right. We have two heroes too.

*Shreyas looks at Farah with utter adoration, his eyes almost tearing with emotion.*

Farah – Shah Rukh Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. Reincarnation, remember?

*Shreyas looks stunned for a minute, gets up and storms out of the house in a huff.*

Sonam – Am glad he’s gone. Who is he, man? I mean, like… who’s his dad and stuff?

Ranbir – No idea man. Unknown person?

Farah – People! My kids are starving! So how are we going to decide this??

Ranbir – Well, you know… your movie is called Om Shanti Om… and don’t forget, my dad starred in the original song ‘Om Shanti Om’!

Sonam – But my dad was Mr. India!

Farah – Well, we don’t have to go back in history. It’s actually quite simple. My movie has Shah Rukh, the biggest star. My movie is grander.

Sanjay – Now now. Don’t undermine Salman’s star power. Plus, I have Rani and two star kids. Add ‘em up and Saawariya has more star value.

Farah – Oh you wanna add ‘em up? Do you know - one song in my movie has 31 frickin’ stars??? Beat that. Star value ki baat karta hai…

Ranbir – Ha! There are like… 31 stars in my family itself! (starts counting on his fingers) Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor...

Deepika – Uhhh… I think I am seeing stars…

Ranbir – (continues to count) Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor, Karisma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor…

Sonam (annoyed) – Oh stop it, Ranbir!

Ranbir – Hey, you don’t have to feel bad… I mean you have a famous Kapoor in your family too… only one Kapoor yes, but it still counts I guess? He may not be one of “the Kapoors”… I mean that’s us, of course… but he was… kind of a famous Kapoor, no?

Sonam – Oh puh-leez. My dad was Mr. India!

Ranbir – Oho ho! You really wanna go there? My great granddad was Mughal-e-azam!

Deepika – (coyly looks at nails) Ahem. My dad can kick both your dads’ asses.

Sonam and Ranbir – Oh yeah?

Deepika – Yeah! You wanna try him? You call your dads, I’ll call mine, and let’s have… say a badminton match? We settle this right here and everyone goes home. What say you?

*Ranbir and Sonam roll eyes at Deeepika.*

Farah’s triplets in her womb, also known as Om, Shanti and Om – Tch tch… kids these days… so immature...



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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Slipping partners

“Hi XYZ,
I was wondering if you received the email I’d sent you last Thursday. I have to send this month’s issue to press in two days, so I’d appreciate a quick response from you.
Thanks,
Sayesha”


“Hi Sayesha—
Sorry about that. I'd received your email but it must have slipped through the cracks. Here’s the info you need...
XYZ”

Slipped through the cracks? So this person received my email but did not respond because it “slipped through the cracks”? Man! What cracks are these??

And here I thought the only things that could “slip through cracks” were friendships.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about friendships, especially of the lost variety.

Long long ago, there was a Big Bang and the universe was formed. And according to scientists, everything in the universe is still reeling from the effect of the bang - moving away from one another at very high speeds, expanding towards the unknown. And that is what is happening to our lives as well. Not only are we physically moving away from one another, we’re doing so emotionally as well. The things that bound us together are slipping through the cracks. When we were kids, we could not make up our minds about who our ‘best friend’ was. Today, we still can’t make up our minds about who our ‘best friend’ is. The reason, however, is different.

The older we grow, the smaller gets the pool of people we can become friends with. The busier we get at work, the less time we have to meet people who are not gonna buy stuff from us or appraise us. We meet new people but we don’t have time to follow up. Over time, everything slips through the cracks. Sometimes, we get so cynical, we stop looking at people as potential friends. We look at them as “someone I work with” or “someone I randomly bumped into” or “someone whose blog I read” or “someone I know through someone else”. And more worryingly, "someone I'm eventually gonna lose touch with or have a fallout with, so no point investing in this". We stop investing our time, our effort, our emotions into friendships because we have seen them slip away. As far as friendships are concerned, time froze the moment we left college. At most we look back at our old friendships – school and college friends - with fondness. Our yaars, our buddies, our partners, our dost-log. Sometimes we’re lucky to have them still around. At other times, everything, everyone slips away. Right in front of us and there’s nothing we can do.

In a world where ‘home’ has been redefined as not a place, but a concept, where everyone including you is on his or her way to somewhere else, how do you stand still and stay friends? Perhaps the only way you can stay close to your best friend is to marry him or her, a strategy applied rather successfully by many people. But then of course, there is a limited number of people you can marry so this doesn’t really work.

When I was a kid, I had a favourite cousin. He and I were so close to each other that when all of us cousins played monopoly, I’d become the banker just so I could slip him a few notes here and there when no one was looking. When I grew up, I found out that he was actually not even my first cousin – he was not even remotely related. His grandma and my grandma hailed from the same village or something like that, and that was why we'd been hanging out all our childhood, not because "he was my cousin". But that did not change anything. He was my favourite cousin, and more important to me than my own sister. He was the brother I never had. Fast forward 15 years and not much is left. We do see each other every few years, and it’s apparent that both are aware of how close we used to be, but we can’t do anything to bring back that closeness. That has slipped. Slipped through the cracks.

Nine years ago, when I landed in Singapore, I was pretty much a reject. There was the Delhi bunch, the Mumbai bunch, the Bangalore bunch and the Madras bunch. And then there was me – born in Orissa, brought up in random cities, hailing from seven schools most of which fall under Jharkhand now – and not fitting into any of the coolness quotients. We were all there on the same scholarship, but we were not quite the same. My spoken English wasn’t too good (I was used to thinking in hindi and translating it to English, and discovered that doesn’t really work when people speak as fast as my classmates did). I was by myself - friendless because I could not identify with my own classmates. Yet, somehow I managed to make friends with a bunch of third-year guys who smoked and drank and did all the things that ‘bad guys’ do. But we were friends who hung out without judging one another. They were themselves around me, and I was myself around them. It was the most comfortable kind of friendship you could think of. But over the years, it all slipped away. Yes, they are all on my Facebook, but I have practically nothing to say to them. We've all added one another, but not even a “Hello” seems to be in order. I just watch them fling sheep at one another, and tell one another how drunk they got at the last party they attended. Everything sounds the same, but it is not.

There was this phase in my life – I think it was quarter-life crisis – when I had a sudden horrifying realisation that my friends and I have all moved away from one another. It was around the time my closest friends were moving to the US to do their MBA degrees. I felt lonely, incredibly lonely. And I started looking for what had slipped over the years without me realising it. Cousins I had not seen in a decade, friends I had not spoken to in years, teachers I had not remembered in a while. I reached out and for a moment, it looked like I could get everything back. But it wasn’t true. I had probably missed the 'window period' - the duration after losing touch when you still can get it all back. Once you miss the window period, even if you get back in touch, it's nothing but odd and uncomfortable. Time had corroded away everything we had in common, everything we could talk about, and even though we got back in touch, it just wasn’t the same.

That’s the problem as we proceed from quarter-life crisis towards mid-life crisis. Sometimes it's the things we don't know about each other that bind us. The more people we meet, the more we get to know them, the more we realise how different we are, and the lonelier we get. The lonelier we get, it becomes a way of life. We stop realising what’s slipped or is slipping through the cracks anymore. And worse - we stop caring.

In a world where we are getting lonelier by the second, what is worth investing your time, effort and emotions in - peering down the cracks and reaching out for what has slipped, or just holding on to what has not yet slipped, but will do so any moment now?



Monday, October 29, 2007

Eyelash batting

So Viv is going to China.

*rolls eyes.*

Viv is going to China. Again.

*rolls eyes higher*

*eyes hurt*

The Singapore team is in Kuwait for the ACC (Asian Cricket Council, not the cement company) Twenty20, and Viv's office rejected his leave application to go and play for Singapore. Instead, they decided to send him to China on work. Bloody hell. I believe that the real reason why his office moved from Central Singapore to Expo in the east, also known as "right next to the airport" is not "bigger office space". It is because the back door of his office leads to the back door of a China-bound aeroplane.

So all the other guys in his team got the cool new cricket kit and the cool new cricket cap, and flew off to Kuwait, while Viv prepared himself for the extremely tough life of "a non-Chinese speaking vegetarian in China". I was very angry at his company. And not just because I'd planned to tag along. "If we were in India na... and you were in the team, your company would have been so proud of you! They would have handed you your leave on a plate, along with a fat bonus. And they'd have gone to the airport to welcome you back armed with garlands. Or erm... tomatoes, depending on how you performed." I said.

The one time I want to go support the guy and watch him play, this is what happens. The one time I'm willing to be a WAG, this is what I get. Erm, do you know WAG? I didn't know either, till Viv told me. Apparently it's a sports term. WAG - 'Wives and girlfriends' aka the women the cameraman zooms to every now and then when you're watching cricket matches on TV and nothing's happening on the field? The women who wear dark glasses which are so big that you can't see three-quarters of their faces so they end up looking hot anyway? And the cameraman just keeps focussing on them even though the next over has started and is three balls down and the two commentators are yelling at him to turn the camera back to the pitch? Yup, that's the kind I'm talking about - the wives and girlfriends of the players. In other words, "the WAGs".

Okay, confession time. Till a few weeks ago, I'd never gone to watch Viv play in any of his matches. Of course I'd watched him play in university tons of times, and had even played cricket with him and his study-buddies using a book as a bat in tutorial rooms at midnight just before the damn engineering exams. But that was gully cricket. I'd never gone to watch him play a proper match as 'his girl'. Many people had expressed surprise at this.

"You've never gone to see him play at the ground?"

"Nope. Never."

"Why not??"

"Because... I dunno... he's playing well, and I'm scared I'll jinx it... maybe he'll score a duck or something if I go watch him play."

This was only partly true. The other part was that I did not want to become a WAG. I had heard horror stories about the other WAGs on the ground - many of whom did not even understand cricket - forming 'groups' that had 'cool names'. I was afraid that some day if I did land up to watch him play, they'd hand me a set of pink pom-poms, a short frilly skirt and a teeny top and motion me towards the dressing room. Large-sized dark glasses covering three-quarters of my face I could take, but that I was not prepared for.

So I made up by hanging around with him and his cricket kit at other places. Other very unconventional places. Due to the odd timings and long duration of his cricket matches/training, if we had any plans on weekends or weekday nights, he'd turn up with his cricket kit. He wouldn't have time to go home and keep his kit, just enough time to shower at the shower rooms in the cricket ground and look civil.

I've been to parties with him and his cricket kit, I've seen movies with him and his cricket kit (remember I lifted his bat and yelled out 'Chak de!' in the movie theatre after watching Chak De? Erm, actually I'm surprised no one yelled back, "Wrong sport, you bimbo!"), I've even been to serious concerts with him and his cricket kit. Imagine a guy in formals, accompanying a girl who is all dressed up in fancy clothes and high heels, and then imagine them with this large cuboidal canvas bag that can fit a grown man, knocking against people in the bus, train, movie theatre, concert hall and what not. I, my friends, have lived through it all.

So a few weeks ago, I told myself, "What the heck, I've been seen all across the city with my 'bat & batsman' entourage. Maybe I'll just go watch him play." Maybe I couldn't 'bat' my eyelashes and say, "Go, get 'em, tiger!" but I could be there - just for the sake of being there. In any case, I told myself, if people have to score a duck, they will score a duck.

"Viv, if you score a duck, I'm not responsible, okay?" I warned him thirty-seven times. That was my 'batting order' for him - you don't have to score a century, just don't score a duck.

And I sat on this plastic white chair in the covered area of the cricket ground and waited for the guy before him in the line-up to get out so Viv could go and bat. He did, soon enough, and I watched our man walk up to the pitch, dressed in his whites and helmet and pads, holding his bat in one of his gloved hands.

His moves today would decide my presence (or the lack of it) at all his subsequent matches.

And I crossed my fingers and watched.

Disclaimer: This post does not have a sequel.



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Keep the Boll(ywood) rolling

So a few weeks ago, one of my Chinese colleagues told me, "Oh I caught a bit of Munnabhai MBBS on Central over the weekend. It was funny!"

I paused to absorb that information. It meant two things.

1. Contrary to my belief, Central – also known as crappy channel with crappy shows - does show good movies.

2. Here was a perfect conversion opportunity. It was time for missionary Sayesha to get to work.

"Did you watch the whole thing?" I asked.

"Nope, I didn't."

"You didn't watch the whole thing?" I tried hard to say it without gritting my teeth amidst visions of myself kidnapping thousands of Singaporeans, tying them to their chairs in a large theatre and forcing them to watch Bollywood movies back to back for a week.

"No, it was already half-way."

Hmmm... I forgave her.

"Do you want the DVD?" I asked.

"You have it??" She sounded excited.

"Of course I do." I said coolly.

"YES PLEASE! I'd love to watch the whole thing. It looked very funny from what I saw."

The next day I got her the DVD. She returned the DVD three weeks later. She had not only watched it herself, she'd made her sister and mother watch it too.

"Oh, if you liked this, you should watch the sequel." I gently suggested.

"There's a sequel??"

"Yup. And it's funnier than the first one!"

"Really? The first one is hilarious!"

"I'll bring you the DVD tomorrow."

The next day, I passed her the DVD. She loved the movie so much she even wrote a review on it on her Facebook. This morning she told me she was buying her own copy of both movies. I beamed like a salesperson in an electronic goods showroom who had just sold 13 high-definition LCD TVs on her first day at work.

Yesterday, I saw another colleague's comment on the first colleague’s review, saying something like, "Ooooh I should borrow the DVD from Sayesha too! I watch Bollywood movies once in a while. You know, the best Bollywood movie I have ever seen is Asoka! Have you seen it?"

I stopped in my tracks when I read that. It was time to call in the troops.

Asoka? Asoka? The movie where the only thing more moronic than the sword-wielding long-haired SRK was no-lipstick-but-a-kilo-of-kaajal Kareena with her silly antics in the water? I'd like to find out who lent her Asoka. Come on - own up!

Troops, if people out there are thinking that Asoka is the best Bollywood movie ever, you're not doing your job properly, damnit!

So who are these troops I am addressing with such deep anger and agony?

It is the Bollywood brigade.

As many of you are aware, Bollywood is my full-time religion. (Cricket is another contender, but it's a part-time religion because I’m not faithful to it all the time.) And I'm glad to say that I am not alone. Just like any over-religious freaks, we too are passionate about it to a mind-numbing degree. You can call us missionaries. We do have a mission – to convert as many people as possible into Bollywood freaks. I fancy myself as the President. *looks coyly at her nails*. And if you want to know how I got to the top, I have a story for you. This gal right here – one of my bestest friends - was inducted by yours truly. She is Chinese, and has not only watched 76 new and old hindi movies and reviewed all of them on her blog, she even took hindi lessons! She has seen movies that I have not seen! Unpleasant truths aside, she is to date, my biggest success story.

And there are many more like me all over the world, selflessly doing their bit without expecting anything in return. If this is not passion, what is? *shoutout to all fellow missionaries* We don't know one another but we're all striving towards the one common purpose in life – world domination by Bollywood. We're like Alcoholics Anonymous. Except that we're high on Bollywood movies.

And here I present to you, our ten commandments. It is important for each of our new members to fully understand and absorb the holy commandments before they go on their converting spree.

Bollywood produces movies by the truckload, of which about 20% are watchable, 10% are good, and 5% are very good. And I am being kind here. Most Bollywood movies are bad and the sooner we accept it, the better we will be at our job. In fact, some are so bad that they make 'Van Wilder – the rise of the Taj' (*pauses to wince*) appear like Academy award winners. The important thing is to use the right filter and drain the rest away. Henceforth, the term Bollywood movies will only refer to this filtered stuff.

Commandment #1: Thou shalt admit publicly that Bollywood produces a lot of crap before you embark on your mission - for that will grab your market's attention.

Bollywood movies do not discriminate. No matter which nationality, caste, creed, gender you belong to, they will entertain. You do not need Einstein’s IQ to understand them. Sometimes, you do not even need to understand hindi to understand them. They treat everyone equally, and anyone can understand them. Use this as a unique selling proposition, but be diplomatic - don’t tell your victims that even someone as dumb as them can understand it.

Commandment #2: Thou shalt market Bollywood as the neutral force the world needs.

Hollywood makes short movies, most of which do not have songs. Bollywood faces some resistance here from people with low attention spans. One strategy is to introduce the songs first and get them to appreciate why Bollywood is so musical. Then slip in the fact that each movie is 3 hours long. And oh, with some people, the "the songs are for toilet breaks" strategy works. Use whatever they will buy.

Commandment #3: Thou shalt know your competition well and strategise accordingly.

Know your victim… err… target… err… I mean customer before you lend the first DVD. Do not induct someone with ‘Vivah’ if his/her favourite movie is Fight Club (the one with Ed Norton, not Dino Morea)! Do not pass Lagaan to an American who thinks the only sport in the world is baseball. Know the Iqbal types from the Kal Ho Na Ho types. And oh, love it or hate it, you can't ignore Karan Johar's contribution to hindi cinema. It is important to note that while his movies can be the glue to keep some kinds hooked to Bollywood, they can also make someone run away so fast you won't even know what hit them. The placement of Karan's movies in the platter is crucial. Understand the nature of your client before making the first attack. Once they get into it and Bollywood grows on them, you can get experimental.

Commandment #4: Thou shalt think before you pick.

Play up the modernisation of Bollywood to the cynics. Rarely do you see movies any more where the hero and heroine jump out of their window in a slum in Mumbai and land in Switzerland to sing and dance (unless of course, it’s a dream sequence, then it’s forgiven). Rarely do you see movies any more with lines such as “Nahiiiiiiin, yeh nahin ho sakta!” and “Main kisi ko mooh dikhaane laayak nahin rahi!” and “Kutte kameene, main tera khoon pee jaunga!” The directors are getting smarter, the actors are getting more and more talented, the humour is also getting better and is not confined to making fun of accents from different states of India any more. And we have had some real gems in the last decade or so. Not to mention some of the oldie classics.

Commandment #5: Thou shalt champion the cause using the right examples.

Target the NRIs, especially those who have never been to India, but are curious about it. Get ‘em hooked. Get ‘em emo. Tell ‘em how Bollywood keeps us NRIs connected to India. That is not a lie, by the way.

Commandment #6: Thou shalt make ethical use of emotion to get your point across.

Never criticize Hollywood when trying to sell them Bollywood. Especially if they are hardcore Hollywood. Use the ‘It’s different’ strategy. Give them time. The hardcore ones are the last to admit that they cried when Farida Jalal tied Hrithik’s shoe laces in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Let them be as long as you know in your heart that the conversion is complete. Let the sleepover effect take effect. Let them be. Pretend to lose. Don't hang around. It's the ones who still roll their eyes at the mention of Bollywood after all your efforts who will hunt down the DVDs and secretly watch them behind closed doors. Of course, do acknowledge that there are some who just can't be converted. Do not waste your time on them. Be professional when making your exit though, just 'thhhrrrrbrrrrt' at them and move on. There are plenty of other fish around.

Commandment #7: Thou shalt not waste time on those who do not deserve it.

If you’re going to India for a vacation, offer to buy them DVDs. Tell them how much cheaper it is compared to buying them at Bombay Talkies or Mustafa. If they get 'em, they’ll watch 'em. Do ensure that the subtitles are of a good quality. If the subtitles suck, to a non-hindi speaker, the movie will suck too. And oh, do spread the word that Video-Ezy carries hindi movies.

Commandment #8: Thou shalt travel for the holy cause.

Don’t be overenthusiastic in your DVD-lending mission. Lend the next only when you get the first back. Firstly, because they may never come back to you otherwise, and secondly, you gotta maintain the class and credibility of the cause.

Commandment #9: Thou shalt act pricey should the need arise.

If you run out of movies, admit it. Do not start lending movies like Asoka and all just because the convertee has exhausted your ‘good’ collection faster than you expected. If there are no good movies left, wait it out. Go back to Commandment 1 and think of all the crap. Remember, the gold will rise above the crap.

Commandment #10: Thou shalt always maintain the standard of service.

If you would like to be a part of this great cause, you’ll be pleased to know that we are currently hiring. Please send in your applications, stating your name, age, number of Bollywood movies watched, favourite movie and level of obsession. If you have the passion and the right attitude, full training will be provided.

Help spread a good cause.

We will achieve the ultimate nirvana when people start thinking that Hollywood is Bollywood with an ‘H’.