Sunday, September 26, 2010

'Dork' and My Upcoming Vacation

'Dork' by Sidin Vadukut is one of those really funny books that are so hard to come by. It's laugh-out-loud funny. It's the story of a guy who has just started working at a management consultancy and the blunders he makes during his first year.

The setting is very familiar - the corporate world. All of us who've held some kind of a corporate job will identify with the story and the things that happen. We all know/have known guys who think they're the best thing to have happened to the corporate world but in reality they're crap. The guy who gets drunk at office parties and makes a fool of himself. The guy who goofs up big time in important client meetings/presentations. Office politics. Colleagues who pretend to be our friends but backstab us at any given opportunity. The book will have you in splits. I would highly recommend it! More so if you're going to be on vacation like I'm soon going to be (BIG smile :D) and are looking for a light, fun read.

Let's now talk about my impending vacation, shall we? :)

I'm going to the hills! Far from the heat, humidity and psychotic weather of Calcutta. To a place I've never been before. Hopefully it'll be misty and cool. And my hotel has a fireplace! A functioning fireplace. How charming is that! Apparently they give you logs at night to keep the fire burning as the temperature dips.

There are two reasons why I'm so excited about this vacation. For one, I'll be spending 5 days with Moonshine & her adorable husband. They are two of my absolutely favorite people in this world. Moonshine is fun, she's very similar to me and I haven't met her in two & a half years now! We've become really good friends during this time, or so I like to believe :P

Besides, we have a lot of gossipping and catching up to do. It's going to be 5 days of unadulterated girly fun.

The second reason I'm really looking forward to this vacation is that I haven't been on one in the last 4 years. Can you imagine? That's an excruciatingly long time to not have taken a vacation (and by vacation I mean more than a couple of days off).

I've always had a reason or another to not take a vacation and it's mostly been work-related. In the past 4 years that is. Before that, it was always a shortage of money. I had just started working and was living in Bandra and paying enormous rent, so I never had the money to go on vacation. And in my first few years of working I didn't mind it so much either.

Over the past 4 years though it's always been an issue of too much work. In my mind at least. So while colleagues trooped off on weeks long vacations, I always felt I had too much work. So how could I have gone on vacations? But one of the many things I've decided to do for myself since turning 30 is that I'll take at least one long vacation every year. Maybe two. Maybe one long & one short. Because...I'm worth it! And because there IS such a thing as 'burn-out'.

Friday, September 24, 2010

On Nudity

At the ongoing London Fashion Week, the show by French-born designer Charlie Le Mindu, the favourite wigmaker of Lady Gaga, featured naked models walking down the catwalk clad in hot pink high-heeled boots, hats, bags and...wigs of course. No clothes.

His show generated quite a bit of comment in the British media with questions being asked as to whether creativity needs censorship, do we need to draw the line somewhere ya di ya da.

Without discussing the quirkiness of the designer and his penchant for designing wigs made of real mice and rat carcasses, and wigs shaped as teddy bears and the Eiffel Tower (he is Lady Gaga's favorite wig designer after all), let's talk about the issue of nudity in public.

Why do we make such a big deal about nudity? Or let me re-phrase that...why do the Brits make such a big deal about nudity? Their cousins across the Channel don't. Nude beaches are extremely common in Europe, particularly France & Spain. People amble around the beach wearing nothing, not even underwear, and no one gives a damn. There are parks in Germany - such as the Englische Garten in Munich & Tiergarten in Berlin - where people are allowed to sun-bathe in the nude. Where as you can get arrested for "indecent exposure" if you tried to do the same in America. Unless you're at Mardi Gras, of course.

I think it's time we get over our Victorian hangover and realize that nudity is really not a big deal. We don't think twice before letting kids run around naked, do we? Why should it be any different for adults? Tolerance towards things such as nudity & sex is one of the indicators of how mentally evolved people of a country are. And let's not even talk about censorship.

New Delhi 2010

I don't even know where to start on the mess that is the Commonwealth Games. After missed deadlines, allegations of inefficiency and corruption against the organisers of the Games, the collapsing foot bridge at the Games venue (which the Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit unbelievably says was not for the use of athletes....HUH??), the collapsed ceiling of the boxing venue, and statements from the CWG committes of participating countries saying that "the Games Village is filthy and unsuitable for human inhabitation", come the shocking photographs of the Games Village.

These embarassing & shameful photographs were released by the BBC and were subsequently lapped up the global media, which means that the entire world has seen these photographs by now.

These are photographs of the facility where athletes from 53 countries were supposed to stay for the duration of the Games. They are photographs of the place that the tax payers have been forced to pay Rs 70,000 crores for. Dirty rooms & bathrooms, stained toilets & sinks, dog shit all over the room, dog paw prints all over the bed spread, laborers defecating where they shouldn't be, water-logged buildings. To justify these pictures, the Secretary of the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee, Lalit Bhanot, says that "Western hygiene standards are different from ours".

Excuse me?? Does he mean to say that Indians like to live as filthily as the pictures above indicate? That we like to have stained, leaking toilets and sleep on bed sheets with dog paw marks all over them? Maybe he was refering to his own hygiene standards while making that comment.

As if these pictures weren't embarassing enough for the country, there is a report that says that India bribed 72 Commonwealth countries USD 100,000 each to win the hosting rights for the CWG.

Oh much more shame are we going to have to endure infront of the entire world? Countries such as Australia have already made an official statement that India should not have been awarded the rights to host the CWG. And you know what....I completely agree. We should not be awarded hosting rights of any such event until we learn to be honest, until we can offer our guests clean toilets and bed sheets, unless our security guards can provide enough protection to the athletes, unless our policemen can guard the female athletes rather than leching at their white skin, until we can have proper ambulances in place (rather than hired jeeps) to carry athletes to the hospital in case of injury, until we can learn to construct apartments that are suitable for human inhabitation. But now that we've been awarded the hosting rights of one such event and landed ourselves in a royal mess - not to mention embarassed ourselves infront of the entire world - the only way to salvage some of our lost pride is to cancel the Games.

Yes, all participating countries should cancel their participation. The Games should be called off. Only then is there a chance that the men behind this mess will be taken to court. Else, like every other time before, they will walk off scot-free claiming that the Games went off just fine, and all's well that ends well. And the hapless tax payers will be able to do nothing about it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Immortals of Meluha

'The Immortals of Meluha' is an "action-drama" based on Hindu mythology. It's the first book of the Shiva trilogy by Amish.

Frankly, it's not a book I would've picked up under normal circumstances, but the jacket caught my eye. Then I read the blurb at the back, which seemed different and interesting. I was also intrigued by the name of the author. 'Amish' sounded very mystical. It's an entirely different story that he turned out to be some Amish Trivedi!!

Anyway, the story is set in 1900 B.C. in what is now known as the Indus Valley Civilization (called Meluha by the people living in that period). Meluha is an utopian empire created many centuries earlier by Lord Ram and inhabited by the Suryavanshis. However, they face annihilation as their life-giving river - the Saraswati - is gradually dying. At the same time, they face terrorist attacks from the Chandravanshis, who are corrupt, immoral and unethical - basically the anti-thesis of the Suryavanshis. To make matters worse, the Chandravanshis have allied with the Nagas - a sinister race of deformed humans with astonishing martial skills. The only hope for the Suryavanshis is an ancient legend which says that ‘when evil reaches epic proportions, when all seems lost, when it appears that your enemies have triumphed, a hero will emerge’.

I really liked the book. It seems to be vey well researched. The story is fantastic. It's based on the premise that all Gods, including Shiva, started out as regular human beings. It was their deeds - their karma - due to which they came to be considered Gods.

Even though the story is based really back in time and there's a certain amount of awe and reverence attached to gods among Indians, the characterization of Shiva, the protagonist, is such that you really connect with him. Also, the author has woven certain incidents - such as why Shiva came to be called the 'Neelkanth', how the slogan of 'har har mahadev' came about, how the 'trishul' came into existence etc. - very beautifully into the narrative. There's even a cute love story in there, with just the right amount of mush!

My only issue was with the language, especially during conversations between the characters. The language is very American. It feels really out of place considering we're talking ancient India (1900 B.C.) and sort of takes away from the book. "What's wrong with you, woman?", "Oh come on, man!" and "It's a deal!" don't quite sit well on the lips of Gods & Goddesses, do they?

However, inspite of the language the book is very engaging. It'll have you hooked. A word of caution though : this book is part of a trilogy, so obviously it ends at a point that will make you buy the next book in the series as well. Now, we all know how sequels go, so we can only hope the subsequent books are not a let down.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dabangg...and Other Things

The 'Dabangg' frenzy has reached hysterical levels. Some guys at work have already watched the movie twice and they're planning to watch it again this weekend! I’m missing my beloved Gaiety-Galaxy :(

Seriously, the movie is insane. It's too crazy to be reviewed, so I'll just say go watch it if you like or can at least tolerate Salman Khan.

'Dabangg' plays straight to the gallery and makes no bones about it. The movie is ludicrous - Rajnikant style action, dialogues riddled with sexual innuendos & toilet humor, a script straight from the 70s (step-brothers who grow up hating each other but reconcile in the end, sons avenging their mother's death etc.), a rebel hero and a demure heroine, straight lifts from Sherlock Holmes & The Matrix, raunchy item song - it's got it all. And yet, you'll clap and whistle your way throughout. I think the last movie to have generated such hysteria was Rajnikant’s ‘Sivaji’!!

‘Dabangg’ works because of one man alone - Salman Khan. He's THE dude. No one can play a character as quirky as Chulbul 'Robinhood' Pandey like Salman Khan can. He doesn’t try to “act” in this movie - just does the usual shit we’ve come to associate with him, and you have a blast watching him at it. Frankly, I can't see ANY other actor being able to do this role.

I'll say a word for Sonakshi Sinha too - I liked her. She doesn't have much of a role in the movie, and can't say she's a great actress based on what little I saw of her, but she's pretty, has screen presence and holds her own next to Salman Khan. And more importantly, she's a refreshing change from the waif-thin anorexic women we see all around these days. She looks healthy. And I have a feeling that she'll be a better actress as compared to Sonam Kapoor or Deepika Padukone.

I liked the music too - the title song 'Hur Hur Dabangg', 'Tere Mast Mast Do Nain' and 'Munni' are quite catchy. I don't generally like Malaika Arora but she's so raunchy in 'Munni badnaam hui', she's done full justice to the song.


I’m bored of Khatron Ke Khiladi 3 already. Is it the stunts or Priyanka Chopra as the host? I think it's a bit of both. The stunts this year aren’t as exciting as the previous years. Or it may be that the last two seasons appeared more exciting b/c there were women trying to perform stunts. The men this year are really thanda – they’re quiet, composed and show no emotions or fear.

I also find PC very boring as a host. She speaks in a monotone, shows no excitement or enthusiasm and squirms while watching people perform the stunts! What’s she doing hosting KKK then? And really, I’m more interested in watching an action-oriented show filled with adrenaline rather than Priyanka Chopra's perfectly toned butt & thighs in her micro minis.

Akshay Kumar was so much better.


I loved what Alyque Padamsee said about Indian culture & sexuality in one of his recent interviews.

“Indian culture is the most open when it comes to sexuality. All the moral policing is a result of the Victorian hangover. It was a time when women would be made to wear long gowns and hemlines above the ankle were thought scandalous. Why just women? Piano legs that were thought to be too curvy were also covered! In our culture, on the other hand, women were at par with men, where demonstration of sexuality was concerned.”

This is SO true! The English have always been infamous for being conservative. Even today, English society is way more conservative as compared to, say, the Americans. Indians on the other hand, were very sexually liberated. I’ve read a couple of books on Indian mythology and ancient Indian civilizations, and they frequently mention women dressing in a way that celebrated their sexuality & enhanced their sex appeal. Prostitution was common and not a big deal. And then there are the famous sculptures of Khajuraho & other similar temples. For a society that was so liberal and tolerant, how did we become so conservative?

Blame the Limeys!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is Milind Soman Losing his Mo-Jo?

Khatron Ke Khiladi - the Indian version of Fear Factor - is back for its third season with Priyanka Chopra as the host. I like the show - it's adventurous, racy and engaging. The last two seasons were hosted by Akshay Kumar and had women as contestants. This time around, the contestants are men - a mix of television & Bollywood actors, models & sportsmen. And Cyrus Broacha.

Sportsmen would be at an advantage in this show - their endurace levels are high and they're mentally tough. Both qualities are integral to succeed in this show. Still, it came as a big surprise to me when Milind Soman got eliminated in the first week itself! He's a national level swimmer and regularly runs the Mumbai Marathon. I did not expect him to go so soon. The challenge he got eliminated in was water based. He had a disadvantage - he was made to go first - but hey, someone's got to go first! He got eliminated b/c he didn't try hard enough. He gave up too easily. I hope he makes it back on a wild card. I've met the man - during his I-love-facial-hair phase, no less - and he is HOT. Even with all that facial hair. They just don't make them like him anymore. Sigh!

Coming to PC, she looks uncomfortable hosting the show. She's fidgety and her voice lacks modulation. I hope she improves, and I also hope she stops wearing frocks and gets rid of her horrible hair extensions!!

On a different note, I have revived one of my discarded blogs! It's got a new name and a new theme - movies! All my movie reviews go there now onwards. For the time being, I've copied reviews that were originally on this blog. I hope to keep adding to it, and hope I sustain it this time! Fingers crossed.

Monday, September 6, 2010

One For My Sanity

I've been thinking about the dangers of social networking for some time now. The apprehensions were triggered by an episode of 'Criminal Minds' that I watched lately. In that episode, a man was using social networking sites to befriend women, stalk them (thanks to their constant updates on where they were, what they were doing etc.) & finally kill them!

Then I read about the funny episode when Paris Hilton got done in by her own tweet. Just a few days ago she was arrested for possession of cocaine (it was found in her purse). She claimed the purse did not belong to her and that she had borrowed it from her friend, completely forgetting that just days ago she had tweeted about how excited she was after purchasing the same purse! The attorneys dug that tweet out and used it to rubbish her claim that the purse didn't belong to her.

And we all know the number of times Shashi Tharoor has been done in by his tweets.

Now, overall I think social media is a good thing. I'll even agree that it's a brilliant invention, for obvious reasons. But I'm not quite sure we know how to use it safely. We all know people who indiscriminately add "friends" on Facebook, usually just to seem popular. There are people whose profile, photos, message board etc. are open for public view. And then there are people who post minute-by-minute updates of where they are & what they're doing.

What we don't think about is this - there are a number of psychos on the internet, and by doing the above we may be making ourselves vulnerable to stalkers & putting ourselves in danger. There are more bored, lonely people in this world than we care to imagine who live their entire lives on chat rooms & social networking sites. The stuff we put on the internet is out there forever!

I have a Facebook account but I'm not a Facebook addict by a long shot - I spend probably 10 minutes a day on FB. I don't add people to my Friend's list unless I know them. I don't even add 'Friends of Friends' unless I know them - who has access to my information & photos is more important to me than the possibility of pissing a couple of people off. I don't put minute-by-minute updates of what I'm doing (I don't live under any illusions about the importance of my life to other people). My privacy settings are such that only my friends can access my profile. I rarely log on to Facebook through my cell phone. This last one is mainly b/c I want to retain my sanity.

I'm not active on Twitter either - never was. I created an account but found tweeting to be too boring. I haven't logged on in months!

To be honest, I feel I have way better things to do than to compulsively obsessively check the web all day. There is simply no time for that. I have a life! I'd rather read, watch movies, meet friends, work out than spend my day logged on to a website to see which of my friends is flossing his teeth and who ran out of toilet paper! And I think it's healthy to be able to make that distinction between what's a great tool to help you stay in touch w/ friends & what completely takes over your life. I don't want to be one of those people who spend more time on Facebook than living their life. Not to mention, I can do without the psychos crawling over the world wide web.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


The ubiquitous Lady Gaga, she just won't leave us alone, will she?

So, the tussle is between continuing with French and learning a brand new language - Spanish!

Here's the deal. I can speak French. Un petit peu. Enough to make basic conversation with someone. But I need fluency. It's also been about 8 years since I had a conversation with someone in French, so there are a lot of words I've forgotten. Recently though, I've been brushing up my French by tuning into Air Canada on my way back home from work - they have a program on everyday French lessons. And I've been reminded once again about how I'd love to be fluent in it.

Then there's also the interest in Spanish. I find it to be a very beautiful language. It's also slightly easier to learn as compared to French b/c unlike their neighbors, the Spaniards believe in pronouncing every alphabet of the word. There are no alphabets just hangin' around havin' a good time, which does make life much easier. Then there's also a very high possibility that when I'm traveling the world and lost, or in trouble, it's more likely that a Spanish speaking person will save my ass rather than a Frenchman!

I do want to learn some language. Help!

And no, don't say German. I went through that phase when I was fourteen. I used to idolize Steffi Graf, you see.