startling banals

29 October 2006

Met Muzaffar Ali

Came out in the intermission.. after the Turkish sufi peformance. Muzaffar Ali himself standing at the door talking with people. Man in a brown leather jacket with flowing hair. Like a sufi saint. We were feeling silly to go and talk to him. Finally himmat jutaai aur baat karne gaye.
Hi. Mera naam Anish hai. Aur yeh hai Tanmay.. (shakes our hand) 'Kaise hai aaplog?'
Humko aapki Umrao Jaan movie bahot pasand hai aur baar baar dekhte rehte hai. Bahot achhi lagti hai. 'Thank you'
Waise to hum yaha physics ke phd students hai magar humey films mein bahot interest hai. Aap bataa sakte hai humey kya karna chahiye, shuruaat kaise karni chahiye?
'Concepts pe kaam karo'
'Pehle aap likhna chalu karo'
'Un cheezo pe jo aapke dil ke kareeb hai' (had a smile on his face all the time)
Thank you. Bahot khushi hui aapse milke.
He looks very down to earth and kind hearted - cool and gentle. Nice person.
Zila Khan daughter of Vilayat Khan was quite good. Felt sorry for the firangs who could not understand the meaning of her songs. Maybe just the vocal effect is good enough for them. :)

The original Jahan-e-Khusro at Delhi in first week of March must be fantastic. Have to go there some day.
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Jahan-e-Khusrau—A Festival of Sufi Music conceived and directed by Muzaffar Ali (of Umrao Jaan fame)
7:30 pm
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Museum of Fina Arts Boston

'Based on the extremely successful Jahan-e-Khusrau Festival organized every spring in Delhi by Muzaffar Ali, this is the first time the festival is being organized outside of India. It will include performances by leading Indian and Turkish musicians, including singer Zila Khan, as well as choral and instrumental music by the Cambridge Musiki Cemiyeti under the direction of Feridun Özgoren, and dance by Wendy Jehlen inspired by the poetry of the Sufi mystic Rumi. Artist Niyazi Sayin will also be present.'

I am going :)
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28 October 2006

Police wala kissa

Parso raat ko hum log sutta pi rahe the
mein td vivek aur ashenafi
ek police ka car saamne se gaya
phir peeche aaya
ek policewala utra. Chehra poora laal tha (drunk?)
hands on hips - shouts at td: You! Come here!
why were u so fidgety when i passed in the car?
why were u nervous?
i am not nervous
well i saw u jump 20 feet when u saw me pass
no man
whom r u calling a man?? i am an officer!
what r u smoking? are u smoking weed?
no this is a cigarette
u sure? show me your id!
learn to relax when a police car passes by
aur chala gaya.
He was literally shouting commands as if hum log military ka drill karne aaye hai. Very rude.
Ajeeb desh hai. Is this racism btw? Or just that he had to show some work to his seniors?
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Bollywood tussi great ho ji

"O peena to shuru karo ji, aap to pehli hi funtoosh ho gaye ho"
"Babu Chironjilal jaisi beemari waisa ilaaj"
Khosla Ka Ghosla is fantastic!
Perfect casting, fundoo cinematography, smartly written screenplay, crisp dialogue delivery, right pace, very good background score that complements a well thought out story, human characters and a real feel of the Delhi atmo & lingo. This is the least I can say about this fantastic comedy. Ranvir Shorey, Boman Irani, Vinay Pathak & Anupam Kher are really the best! Should I say.. the movie while capturing the decadent spirit of the capital's polity and showing the prevalence of dalaali & lawlessness at all levels in a sarcastic way also tells the comic story of how some people come together to dupe the ultimate fraudster to take back whats rightfully theirs. Do not miss this film.
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26 October 2006

Cramster KPO

If in India, state education ministers turned education-barons (eg Patangrao Kadam, D Y Patil, Ramrao Adik) and coaching class conglomerates like the Kota-Rajasthan-Delhi IIT-JEE axis, Delhi-based competetive exam classes, Brilliant Tutorials and small fry like Agarwal, Alpha, Mahesh in Bombay have consolidated their positions in the assured-returns education industry, the US has its own equivalents. - "Get help with your homework now!" Solutions to commonly used PCM, science, engg college textbook problems all solved and ready to download for only 5-10$ per month. No need to apply your mind - pay money and get the solutions ready-made. They even preach responsible use of the material available on their website as a disclaimer. I had a chat with their live-chat assistant (who is probably in India). I am already feeling guilty for pain maarofying some overworked person. Original transcript available for all voyeurs here.

But this is not all. They have a KPO in New Delhi where they hire people to solve textbook problems. KPO indeed. We sure know how to process Knowledge huh. An advertisement on some obscure jobs site:

Subject Matter Expert in Math [Calculus + Algebra) (minimum Masters degree (speciality in Vector & Differential Calculus) in Math; good knowledge of MS Office and functional knowledge of Internet] /; East of Kailash, New Delhi

They dare declare on their website that they have outsourced homework to India. People in India seem to be so proud & full of themselves for being the front-runners in the so-called knowledge based economy of the future. Will everything be US-oriented in the future? India will provide the services and China the goods. Whose future is this?

Is anyone concerned about education at all? Borrowing some quotes from a forum.. Tagore, in his Nobel prize acceptance speech:
"... I myself had suffered when I was young through the impediments which were inflicted upon most boys while they attended schools and I have had to go through he machine of education which crushes the joy and freedom of life for which children have such insatiable thirst..."
Another Tagore quote on education which i came across on wikipedia:
"We pass examinations, and shrivel up into clerks, lawyers and police inspectors, and we die young .... Once upon a time we were in possession of such a thing as our mind in India. It was living. It thought, it felt, it expressed itself. But it has been thrust aside, and we are made to tread the mill of passing examinations, not forlearning anything, but for notifying that we are qualified for employment under organizations conducted in English. Our educated community is not a cultured community, but a community of qualified candidates."
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22 October 2006

"You two are from India"

Yesterday night was chilly, it was 8 'o clock and TD, me, Gina & Ashenafi decided to revisit an Ethiopian restaurant 'New Addis Ababa' where we had said goodbye to Wenjie & Puiyin in April. But it was too crowded and we were told to wait for 1 hour out in the cold. So we ditched the plan and started walking towards Backbay station where AsheDadi claimed were many ok restaurants. Stepped into a Mexican looking place and took seats.

The plump waiter comes along and keeps up the friendly banter. Sometime after he serves us our food, he comes to the table and start chatting again. Here and there.. 'Can you guys tell where I am from?' I: 'Mexico?' 'No'.. Gina: 'Guatemala?' He: 'Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador. I am from El Salvador. You know where that is?' "Can you tell where we are from?" Pointing towards me & TD, 'You two are from India(confidently)' Towards Gina, 'You are from .hmmm.. Philippenes(?)' (Gina is from Columbia) 'And you (towards Ashenafi) .. you are from .. Cuba(?)' (He is from Ethiopia)

Desis are so obvious huh. Skin? Maybe the accent? But TD is from Paschim Midnapur and I am from Thane!
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Pati Patni aur woh (Sanjeev Kumar)
Hum sab ustaad hai (Kishore Kumar, Dara Singh)
Hum Paanch (Amrish Puri, Shabana Azmi, Mithun, Naseerudin, Sanjeev Kumar, Dipti Naval)
Woh Lamhe(Shiny Ahuja, Kangna Ranaut) @ schizophrenia & bolly masala
Khamosh Paani (Fantastic!) @ Women & communalism in Pakistan
Going to watch - Khosla ka Ghosla
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21 October 2006

Golconda Sound & Light Show

Golconda the fort of dreams, of the benevolent, visionary, liberal, romantic Qutub Shahs, the fort to whom Hyderabad owes its existence. I was almost completely ignorant of its glorious history & grandeur before seeing the show. It is a fantastic show held at Golconda fort in the evenings where they play a recorded voiceover (compered by Amitabh Bachhan) with music lights and all.

Santosh & I are both too lazy to plan anything in advance. But we were shamed into taking part in a meticulously planned trip to Golconda and the tombs of the Qutub Shahs by an old friend from iitb Mr Senthil Kumar who works in Hyderabad as a senior scientist in India's pioneering biotech company Shantha Biotechnics. He had absolutely everything sorted out.

Meet at Kookatpalli at 1. See his home. Eat lunch at Kookatpalli. Proceed to Mehdipatnam from where we were supposed to catch a bus for Golconda town. Everything went as planned and we reached the town by 3. It was foolproof! He said we would stroll in the wooded area of the tombs of the Qutub Shahs till 4.30 when the sun will be bearable. Then we would go around the fort and be back by 6.30, have something to eat and be ready for the light and sound show at 7.

I cannot describe the show. Simply beautiful. Ghazal, poetry, dialogues, tales of adventure, love, wisdom and passion. The story of the Qutub Shahs unfolds as the sun sets and the fort as if comes to life again with the clever light and speaker systems which follow the commentary. No more flowery descriptions.

Funny thing was that some tourist guides could speak bengali and even the majority of tourists were bongs. The view is fantastic and the tombs are magic and a trip to another age. One of the most visited is that of the revered Queen Mother - Hayat Bakshi Begum the wise matriarch. I photographed a poem about the tombs.

Hyderabad is a charming city of friendly people with the cute accent. When we went to Lakdi-ka-Pul for bus tickets to Bombay, the lady asks, "Kitna ticket hona?" Santosh said to me, "Yaar iss shehar mein saari cheezey hoti rehti hai" :D

Photos of Golconda
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19 October 2006

PM saab when will the suicides stop?

Flashed extensively on the web - PM Manmohan Singh today 'admitted' there is something seriously wrong when he said 'Agricultural sector in crisis'. Encore! I am sure that he is a sincere person. But how long will it take before real help reaches the farmers? Will talk about reforms, regulations, indexes, paradigms, regimes and markets better their condition? Do these people who have lost almost everything need this jargon? Why this step-motherly treatment visavis big industry? 'Ohh Mittal is being victimised by racism!' 'Reliance has a fundamental right to seize lands for SEZs!' Which middleman should they hire to push their 'lobby'? Or should they send a celebrity MP to Rajya Sabha to talk for them? Yavatmal and most of Vidarbha will go Naxalite soon. Maybe that will be better than having to wait & hope for the government to help. The Govt of Maharashtra meanwhile is at its shameless best. Sending psychiatrists & babas to lecture them! As if the BJP-Sena disaster was not enough. P Sainath's article (series) on indiatogether describes the situation.
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08 October 2006

Infernal Affairs - The Departed

Today a friend told me on the phone that she saw this movie yesterday - 'The Deported'. I asked who was deported? Strange name for a film. Turned out that I got the Latin accent completely wrong. Tonight came the touché! A review of The Departed on desicritics which turned out to be the Hong-Kong movie Infernal Affairs remade in Hollywood.

Wow! That was a fantastic movie. All the movie freaks of Powai were clean bowled by this movie 2-3 years back. 'Fuck man kya movie hai. Kya? nahi dekhi? Aaj pakka dekhna. Kaunse server pe hai. Mein jake mera ftp chalu karta hu. Waha se lele. Anonymous login.' Then someone downloaded Infernal Affairs II on public demand and put it on the LAN. Those were the days of subtitle mania and an explosion of non-Hollywood film appreciation and I hope the tradition continues.

But the question is can the star director Martin Scorsese and Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio match the performance of the original artists. Have to watch it before I get deported. Its not fair to compare but when you adapt/remake a great movie you better be good at it. 'Dil hai ke maanta nahi' was a good adaptation cum copy of the 50's movie 'It happened one night'. Maybe I could reconcile the two because I saw 'Dil hai ke..' before. But at the end - all's cool if paisa vasool. So thumbs up Scorsese and people should thank him if he has made a good movie in English.
Breaking News!!!
'The Departed' is as bad as it gets. Bad characterization, zero style, badly written screenplay and a waste of money and time. Go for 'Infernal Affairs'. No comparison. Tony Leung is a much better actor than Leonardo DiCaprio who is very unconvincing as a cop in a ganster's guise. Matt Damon is even worse. There is nothing great about 'The Departed'.
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