Thursday, June 30, 2005

A dream, a post, Star Wars and some ramblings...

There are days when things worth writing about happen. Most of these things are disconnected, trivial incidents but they are funny and interesting.

I made my directorial debut yesterday. Yeah, in my dreams.. (That's not sarcasm.No, I mean literally :-)) I slept off after watching some Vivek comedies and in my dream, I started watching a movie. I switch on the TV, pick up the remote and hit the play button. Only the TV is in focus. And "Manichitrathaazh" starts playing except it is black-and-white. I haven't seen this movie and god knows what prompted me to dream it all up. And so the first scene is someone with a deep voice who describes what MPD means and he says: "The best example is the story of -----" and the scene cuts to a verandah. Two people are sitting reading newspapers. The camera focuses on the lady and she removes the newspaper in front of her face and lo! It is Shobana! Again, all this is in B & W for some weirdo reason. And she talks animatedly with her hubby (I can't see his face). After a while, Mohanlal walks in looking all serious and scholarly and he talks something in Malayalam (I swear to god I have no knowledge of Malayalam but believe me, Mohan Lal talks a full-length Malayalam dialogue in my dream! God knows how my sub-conscious made it up so well. I seem to be blessed with a fertile imagination...:)). Then, there is one scene where Shobana rips up at MohanLal like a wild cat. Then finally, when we get to the "Raa Raa" like scene a la Chandramukhi, my dream goes bust....kind of a sad, dull
ending to my directorial debut. I am curious to watch the original to see how it matches with my dream venture...:)

The funny thing is that in my dream, I watch the movie in a big bhoot-bungalow type place and I hear the echoes richocheting off the walls.(There was one place in the dream where I hear a scream and my actual self shuddered in response to it) So my dream-self decides to close/open the window and I lean out to do it. Now I know that in reality, I had opened my window that night before sleeping. So when I
woke up, I had an eerie doubt as to whether I actually leaned to close the window or not.......


Baby K has written a post about money and investing. I liked it and found it useful. So here's to Lex's new found Sledgeman and Financial Advisor...:))


I had to switch to a Japanese character set for Windows recently for some work I am doing. And I found it so hard to navigate through my system. I didn't even know which were the OK , Cancel, Apply buttons anymore for some screens. And I had to IM someone and without looking at the screen, I hit the keystrokes and pressed enter. Only to find gibberish (Japanese to those who understand it, Gibberish to me) on my screen. I am not sure but the probabilities are the person at the other end thought I was swearing at them. Embarassments galore.


I have become such a lazy bum that I am far behind with schoolwork and if I don't get my act in place soon, I am going to be in a huge mess...Eeks! I wish I'd not have these great enlightening thoughts just before the long weekend. They just spoil my peace.


Some movies should be watched in the context of the decade/era they were released to capture the awe and amazement. Watch them farther down the line and they just don't seem as eye-popping as they must've been back then. I watched Star Wars-IV last week. It was not mind-boggling for me. In the 70s, the concept of spaceships, aliens, robots etc...was a giant leap in creativity and it captured people's imaginations! Now I am used to having aliens pop out of woods and cupboards and have all sorts of Borgs, Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians walk across my living room daily. Sigh. This jaded feeling is what comes out of watching Star Wars after having heavy doses of Star Trek (Deep Space Nine, Voyager etc...),Earth-Final Conflict, Mars Attacks, Independence Day, MIB and so on and so forth. I wish I were a kid who'd be amazed with every thing that she sees.

Why do people need to elevate a person talented in some field to iconic status to the point of making them non-human? Be it Rajinikanth (to the extent that he was doing all sorts of Vittalacharya style magic tricks in 'Baba'), Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson or Gandhi, people simple make them icons to the point that any one negative quality attributed to them becomes totally unacceptable. Why not? I mean, weren't they humans too? So what if Rajinikanth has some bad qualities or Abe Lincoln doubted the divinity of Christ or Gandhi had (allegedly) been a bad
father? In my view, all that doesn't make any of these men lesser. I think it kind of cool that even people with imperfections can be great/famous. The quest for non-existent perfection in icons is dangerous.

Monday, June 27, 2005

And here I go again....

People, you've gotta put up with me for pouring tag lists on you..:) This one is in response to Dinesh's tag.

1. Favorite fellow blogger and why?

There's no one person I can name as being my favourite. I enjoy all types of writing and as my mood varies, I like one or the other. Here are a few that caught my attention recently:
a. Agnibarathi's Saadhanaa and Lalitha Maha Tripurasundari

I'd have to say I was very, very impressed with the flow of words and beautiful description in some of his posts!
b. Thus spake Vivek
I liked his post "Blah, blah and a lot of blah". Made me laugh.
c. Atanu Dey
d. Ramya Kannan I enjoy her creative taxonomy! She calls her shoutbox the "Tower of babel"..:)And I like her matter-of-fact, interesting ruminations.

2. Your favorite person/people in life

Tough call. Invariably, there's no list one can conjure up that could cover all people/aspects who've influenced me. This is just what comes
off the top of my head:
a. Mrs. Nair- One of the most well-read, intelligent, kind, graceful and elegant people I've met in my life! A PhD. from the University of British Columbia, she was as famous for her lectures in Mathematics as she was for her crisp, cotton sarees. A Canadian student of hers
remarked to me, "She is not just a great professor, she is a sight for sore eyes too!". My mentor in many ways, she introduced me to a variety of books ranging from "History of Civilization" to Alfred North Whitehead's "Introduction to Mathematics".
b. My Brother- At the risk of sounding maudlin, I am putting in my bro..:) I like him for his cool, devil-may-care attitude toward life. He is completely laid-back and rarely lets things upset him. Loves life and enjoys it to the hilt right from food to movies to friends. So here's to you bro (Whenever you read this post!)!
c. Kanchi Paramacharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi- I don't think I am worthy of writing a preface for him..:)
d. Steve Waugh- For his tenacity, strength of determination and the will to win. Aside from his tough sportsman attitude, I like the fact that he is involved with orphanages and charity. Glenn McGrath- for his punishing line and length. The next on my list is going to evoke a
lot of criticism: Sourav Ganguly for his bad-mouthing, swearing and off-drives...:) I like the fact that he sledges back and his getting penalized for that doesn't reduce his image in my eyes one bit! India needs more players like that. Frankly, the Mr.Goody-two-shoes image is jaded and
doesn't work these days.

3. If you could be one person of the opposite sex, who would it be and why?
No thanks, I think I am quite happy being a female..:) Of course, I like and adore many people of the opposite sex, but I'd rather be me.

4. If you could be in a book/music band/movie, what would you be in ?
I would like to be in a music band. Singing/songs lightens, refreshes, levitates me and makes me plain happy.

5. If you were to be marooned in an island and you could pick one friend to go with you, who would it be?
Hmm. If I had to be marooned (which I wouldn't prefer in the first place), I would rather be marooned with someone who is strong and good at practical things- foraging food, building shelter, making a fire...:) I am not much good at this stuff and there's not gonna be much
to enjoy in an island with someone if we were both to drop dead in a few days. And this person had better not be a whiner because I hate whining when caught in life-death situations.
I'd probably pick my best buddy, Shailaja to go with me because she is witty, cool as a cucumber always and finds humour in the most unlikely situations. We have both been in a zillion scrapes together in college and have managed to wriggle out of most tight corners.
Or I would pick another good friend of mine, J. I always fight endlessly with him over the silliest of things. And despite all the terrible fights we've been in (with a good measure of swearing,cussing, gnashing teeth), we have managed to be good friends over nearly 5 years. Good timepass and that'd keep my mind off other pressing concerns..:)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Shades of Secularism


On my recent trip to India, I had an instance of how misunderstood the term "securalism" has become in India's politico today...
The Railways is a great leveler. For the period of the journey, you get to talk on par with people from all walks of life. I met an interesting, old Muslim gentleman on the Dadar (Mumbai-Chennai).
Old man to me: So, would you marry my nephew? He is smart and intelligent but he is a Muslim.
Me: (laughing) Well, if it was that easy!
Old man: You are Hindu? Ah, you don't like Muslims!
Me: No, it has nothing to do with it.
Old man: Then why are you averse to the idea?
Me: But...
Old man: (shaking his head) Ah, you are a Hindu fundamentalist; not secular.
Me (Totally confused at this tangent): ????????????????!!!!!!!?

(Who says that only women go on tangents?:))

And the old man didn't talk to me for the rest of the journey!So, these days, I gotta marry an unknown Muslim whose Uncle thinks it is a good match in order for me to be "secular". Sweet.

The Spectre of Jinnah

Jinnah must be turning in his grave. A half-century after the demise of the founding father of Pakistan, he still lingers fresh in people's memories; fresh enough to brew trouble, this time in the House of Saffron. India Today carries a series of articles on the soup that Advani has landed himself in with his comments on Jinnah.
Amidst the ruckus that Advani caused by calling Jinnah "secular", some say, "Why bother with issues surrounding a man who's been dead for a long time?". Some others, like the VHP and RSS, are adamant that Jinnah shouldn't be characterized as a secular figure.
I don't think you can ignore some things as being in the past. After all, the past is what defines the present. But neither can you say that the past is all black and white. Jinnah may have caused the bifurcation of the erstwhile British Raj but then he might have had his own ideas on secularism just as our netas have today (And most of what our honourable netas say are skewed, politically motivated and utter crap!). I prefer not to judge Jinnah. I think he must've been a complex man and perhaps, he had his own reasons....

[Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre give a more unbiased (I thought it unbiased. My dad disagrees with me.), objective view of Jinnah's political motivations in their "Freedom at Midnight". Read it if you get a chance!]

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Blame it on Arun! :)

Well, Arun got me going on this Music tag thing. And after half an hour, I was struggling to fit in all the songs I like. I couldn't fit in my favourite Hindi/English song collection in this. Blame it on Arun if you think this is a huge post..:))

I. Albums I own

There's really no end to this. I don't have all the albums I own with me here in the US. But back home, I have quite a collection.


The earliest recollection I have of collecting music is of Hindi songs. I am a huge Rafi fan. So I have

-Rafi sings for Shammi Kapoor
I love his "Yeh Chaand sa Roshan Chehra" from Kashmir Ki Kali and "Tumse Accha Kaun Hai" and "Badan Pe Sitare"!
-Rafi in Blue moods
-Rafi's melodies
Also, I have a comprehensive Kishore Kumar, Talat Mehmood, Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt ('Babuji Dheere Chalna' is one of her best!), O.P.Nayyar collection.


I have a considerable English songs collection too with all varieties like Guns n' Roses, U2, Aerosmith (this is a bit too much for me!), Eagles, Beatles, Elton John, Bryan Adams (my eternal fave). I don't enjoy very hard rock and Eminem sucks (no matter what anyone else says)!


Of course, the usual medley of Tamil songs is always there. The one thing I really cherish is a Tamil old songs Mp3 that I made recently. It has one of the best selection of old hits and listening to it on Sunday mornings is the most satisfying thing!

II. First album/cassette I bought

I had to think a long time for this because usually my dad did all the buying...:) I believe it was ARR's Vande Mataram in 1997 that I bought with my pocket money. I bought it from New Music India (?!) in Adyar.

III. Other albums I bought...

These days there's no buying. I usually just burn songs from the net. But even that has become rare of late..:) I just let my friends do the hard work and copy CDs off them.

IV. Present Favorites

Here's my top 10 in no particular order:

1. Raa Raa (Chandramukhi)

- Binni has put in a lot into this song. Chandramukhi's yearning for her lover can be felt in her voice and the carnatic-filmi mix goes well. This song usually gets my pulse racing especially when she sings the closing lines of the charanam,

"Mila mila magasina, meruvula meriyaka raa raa raa raa..."

Awesome number!!

2. Chinna Chinna Sigarangal (Kana Kanden)

- A very husky number. Very well sung. The lyrics are a bit vulgar but nonetheless, a good rendition! I like it.

3. Konjam Konjam Enakkum Unnai..(Arindhum Ariyaamalum)

4. Kaadhal Yaanai (Anniyan, of course!)

- Again, a total dance number. Gets me each time I listen to it. I like the part "Ring master-in singam pol...". Waiting to watch it onscreen!

5. Stranger in Black (Anniyan)

- Again, a copy of the Lord of the Rings score. But nonetheless, quite good. As I listen to it, I can get the feel of a mysterious stranger..

6. Appan Panna Thappula (Thirupaachi)

- I know many screw up their faces if I say I like this song. But it is a fast number and I like Vijai's dance in this one...:)

7. Nee Endha Ooru (Thirupaachi)

-Again, a popular down-to-earth mass number!

8. Sathikadi..(Sukran)

A very racy number..I confess when Priya first told me that she liked this, I was kind of like, "Ewww!". But then, the "paal ice cup ice.." hum kind of catches on. The hero has done a worst-u job of dancing. It is one of those songs that doesn't have much to it as far as uniqueness goes but still becomes popular.

9. Seetukkattu raani pola (Mayavi)

I love this number especially the "Jo jo jothika" part!

10. Kaadhaal Valarthen (Manmathan)

I simply love Kay Kay's range and voice in this number.

V. I usually hum..

I confess this list is going to coincide a lot with Arun's. Suprising to find a lot of common songs.

Minnale Nee vandhadhenadi.....(May Maadham)
Nee partha parvaikku...(Hey Ram)
Thoda Thoda.. (Indira)
Azhage Sugama... (Parthale Paravasam)
Sangeetha Swarangal...(Azagan)
Rama Rama... (Sivamani. This is a Telugu movie. Short and sweet song.)
Inji Iduppazaga..(Thevar Magan)
Maraindhirundhe Parkum...(Thillana Mohanambal)
Aaha Inba Nilaavinile.. (Maya Bazaar)
Sowkkiyama Kanne...(Sangamam)
Ondra Renda...(Kakka Kaaka)
Ennai Yenna Seithai...(Ivan)
Aasai Aasai...(Dhool)
Kannil Kandhame Vendam...(Mounam pesiyadhe)

VI. My Fave dappankoothu songs:

- Aal thotta boopathy... (Youth)
- Malai Malai... (Chocolate)
- Tirunelveli Alva daa...(Sami)
- Inthadi Kappa kizhange...(Dhool)
- Inthunoondu Muthathile...(Dhool)
- Vaadi Vaadi...(Alli thantha vaanam)
- Theradi Veedhiyil..(Run)
- Sarakku Vechirukken...(Shahjahan)

VII. My Fave nakkal song:

Pombalainga Kaadhalai Dhaan...(Unnai Ninaithu)

VIII. Fave music directors


IX. Fave singers:

Malgudi Subha, Sunidhi Chauhan, Chitra, SPB (of course!), Kay Kay, Karthik, Kishore Kumar, Rafi, Adnan Sami.

Friday, June 17, 2005


If there are no hands to wipe our tears of distress
If there is no comforting shoulder to provide us succour
If none is there to say "Hey, its okay!"
Is worrying even meaningful?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I am 'IT'!

Well, Venkitu sir has tagged me and I am 'IT' now!

Total books I own:
Around 250 back home in India. At present, around 40 in the US. Would like to transport my library here sometime.

Last book(s) I bought:

* The History of Civilization - Parts VIII and IX (Will and Ariel Durrant).

This epic series spans 10 volumes and covers the development of civilizations from pre-historic times to the present times. One of the most amazing historical accounts I've come across!

* A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking

Simply a masterpiece!

* Ponniyin Selvan

Requires no review! :)

Last book I read:

Regency Buck - Georgette Heyer

Light reading. Victorian era romantic comedy.

Last Book I was Gifted:
1000 Places to see before you die

Book that made 0 sense to me:
Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie

It is no exaggeration to say that in 23 years of my life, this is one book out of which I understood zilch. Nothing against the author. It is just dumb 'ol me!

Books that mean a lot to me:

Ponniyin Selvan (Kalki), The Road Less Traveled (Scott M. Peck), Katradhum Petradhum (Sujatha), Theivathin Kural (Compilation of Paramacharya's talks), Lessons of Life (Ariel and Will Durrant), Calvin and Hobbes (Comics by Bill Watterson), The Color Purple (Alice Walker), The Kitchen God's Wife (Amy Tan), Freedom at Midnight (Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre)

Now, it is my turn to tag!

I tag:


All those tagged, you've got to compile a similar list and keep the tag going around..:)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Memorial Day Weekend

A weekend to remember. Met J and R after a period of 2 years. Drove to Dayton, picked J up and went to Edwardsville, Illinois to see R. Ate at an Indian restaurant (Punjabi cuisine) in Dayton. Food was thoroughly awesome! To someone who hates Tandoor these days, the food was a suprise to the palate. Drove all night (J did most of the driving) and arrived at 4.30 AM. We had a comedy of sorts trying to find R's house. We were in the vicinity and the roads didn't have any names. We vainly searched for a road named "Center Grove" which proved elusive. Finally, after two people sent us in the wrong direction we managed to find that road. After some confusions about a church (there were two of them), a basketball playground (which was totally invisible to us), a stop sign (stop signs are ubiquitous), R finally managed to get us home.

Trip highlights included visits to the St.Louis Arch, St.Louis Galleria, Priyaa South Indian Restaurant and J Lo's "Monster-in-law". But the evening walk along the Mississippi with two old friends chatting away (J was exasperated because I rarely stopped talking for a few minutes..:)) was my favorite! It was like fitting right into an old hat or an old shoe...:)

All in all, a memorable weekend.

The hot Summer days leave me craving something cool during afternoons. Not being a big fan of soft drinks, I have taken to yogurts for solace. I've been trying new flavors this week. Yoplait's 'White chocolate with raspberry' and 'Chocolate with cherry' are really good. Of course, 'Orange Creme' always will be my fave. Breyer's Fruit Bottom yogurts are cool. It surprised me the first time when I suddenly scooped up some fruit along with yogurt. Yummy!

Songs on my lips today:

1. "Ennai enna Seithai"

Movie: Ivan
Singer: Sudha Raghunathan
Raga: Simhendra Madhyamam

2. "I love you.." and "For all those times.."

Singer: Celine Dion
Album: These are good times

3. "Omkara nadhanu"

Movie: Sankarabharanam

I was listening to the starting beats of "Ennai Thalaatta Varuvaala.." from "Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai". I was expecting Hariharan's voice to break out mellifluously when suddenly I heard Gangai Amaran! Didn't know that a version sung by G.A. existed. Anyway, I didn't like it much. Can imagine Vijai with Hariharan's voice but a big no-no to G.A!

The next song that played was "Vinodhamanavale". We always used this term to describe weirdos and here it was as a song! There's a line that goes "Tholaipesi seithai"?!!!
Making a phone?! I guess "phone seithai"="tholaipesi seithai" but the translation is ridiculous!

That's all, Folks! :)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Cinderella Man!

Who doesn't love a fairy-tale? Almost everyone does (at least, girls do. Prince Charming and the Happily Ever After are more appealing to us, I guess..:)). And who doesn't love underdogs? And throw into this mix two terrific actors, a superb cameraman, a talented director, a story of heroism and love and you have a hit!

My roomie and I happened to watch this movie yesterday evening. I became so ga-ga over it, I just had to blog about it.

The highlights of the movie (I loved these):

* The exchanges between Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti (his manager). Giamatti is thoroughly convincing and impressive.

* Killer camera. The fight scenes, I think, have been shot with multiple hand held cameras. Every blow delivered feels like it is delivered on one's face. I found myself flinching reflexively during the boxing scenes.

* Russell Crowe. This is another of Crowe's best performances. Looking more chiseled and gaunt than previous movies, he slides into the part of the gentle giant, James J. Braddock. I still can't get over the dignified yet emotion-filled dialogue delivery when he goes begging and says,
"My kids have been farmed out and I've no electricity at home. I'd be grateful if you could help me out now."

* The champion Max Baer. Whoever the actor is, he sure has done a terrific job. At one point, I just wanted to punch his face! Now, that's acting!

* Braddock's cutie pie daughter, Rosy! The kid is just too adorable.

All in all, a must-see, feel-good flick. I think people always fall in love with characters like James J. Braddock: strong yet kind; down on hard times yet dignified and honest; thoughtful, helpful and loving. Finally, modest and unassuming despite fame and success. Watch out, guys, this is the Prince Charming that women fall for...:)

Read The New York Times review here.