Vantage point

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Terrorizes Boston!!

Adult Swim's famous group of detectives consisting of milk-shake, french fries and meatball has done many delightful things. But today they added a new dimension to their achievements by inadvertantly terrorizing and shutting down the city of Boston. Hilarious.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Two Birds, One Stone, You're Welcome America

Since I have come to America, I keep hearing people crib ad nauseum about several problems. I hear them crib, and protest, and debate on TV. And They have done it so much that I have come up with an ingenious solution that'll make two of those problems disappear. And it's as elegant a solution as a number theory proof.

People have been talking about the possibility of the draft being reintroduced. Not the beer variety, the military variety. You know, conscription? The possibility of a draft, something not thought about in this country since the Vietnam, really gets people hot under the collar.

Another issue that bothers people is that of illegal immigration. They are building a fence along the Mexico border to stop illegal immigrants, planning laws to crack down on firms hiring illegal immigrants.

So here's my solution. Introduce a draft for the illegal immigrants. Compulsory military service in Iraq for those who cross the border illegally. Doesn't it make perfect sense? Liberals say that illegal immigrants have a place in America because they do the jobs that Americans don't want to do. What job is more unwanted than policing the streets of Baghdad? I'm sure illegal immigrants will be queueing up enthusiastically for the draft. What they'll earn in Iraq will be much more than what they earn mowing lawns or cleaning toilets anyway.

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The State of the Union Address Party

A couple of days back, I was invited to a State of the Union Address Party. As far as party names go, I don't think it can get more unenticing. Maybe a Balancing the Budget Party or File Your Tax Returns Party could out-unshine the name. So frankly, I wasn't expecting much from it. Just a dozen or so American college students listening to Bush's speech.

The evnt however was fantastic. Sure enough, there was a TV tuned to C-Span. Sure enough there were a dozen or so American college students. But there was also a board on top of the TV. It listed some words like - freedom, Iraq, terrorism, Baghdad, Al Qaeda, nukular, half-an-ovation etc. Next to them was written "Take One Swig". And there were some more rarer words, next to which was written "Take Two Swigs". And needless to say, there was copious amounts of alcohol.

As you can guess, we were all pretty stinko by the time the speech ended and Sen. Jim Webb felt compelled to list his family's military record for a reason we weren't sure of when drunk, and have not been able to figure out even sober.

You folks in India have to play this game tomorrow during Manmohan's Republic Day Speech.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How Green Is My Backyard?

Hillary Clinton finally made it official that she's throwing her hat in the ring for 2008. No one's surprised by the announcement. What is funny though is the greenery visible through the window behind her, which is so not January-in-the-north-east, no matter how mild the winter has been. Green leaves, blooming flowers and all. It is obvious she shot this video a few months back. Not that there's anything wrong with it. But funny.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Oh just STFU

I posted the two Colbert videos discussing the Amitabh and Shahrukh feud because I found them hilarious.

But a lot of people are basking a little too much in this attention. Led by reporters always hungry for Indian recognition in American eyes, a lot of people are saying that this means there is a growing awareness about Bollywood and India in general in the US mainstream media. That Bollywood is becoming more popular. To those people, I would say, STFU.

While that may or may not be the case, basing such an opinion on the Colbert clips is so (insert Indian City name here)-Times-ish. As a regular viewer of Colbert I find such assertions even more hilarious. Firstly, the whole segment makes it obvious that part of the punchline was the fact that Colbert picked such an arbit feud from some unknown universe to make fun of right after the Rosie-Trump feud. Colbert picks anything random to make fun of. Literally anything. Recurring themes on his show have been based on completely random things like some bridge in Hungary. Or some high school ice hockey team in the Great Lakes area. Or some arbitrary eagle whose migratory habits are being tracked by ornithologists.

Imagine if someone was to say, "this means there is a growing awareness and respect for Hungarian bridges in the American media" based on Colbert's show. It is ridiculous!

At the most, we can speculate that there is probably an Indian writer on Colbert's staff, who thought of the Amitabh-Shahrukh feud as a randomly hilarious follow-up for the Rosie-Trump feud which was dominating the American media.

Well whoop-de-doo. An Indian writer is on the staff of a cable comedy show. If that is news, then an even bigger news that one of the writer-actors, Mindy Kaling, on a network show(i.e much higher reach as opposed to a cable show) The Office is an Indian and the show had a 'Diwali Special' episode.

Go crazy (insert Indian City name here)-Times writers. Weave a story about how NRIs are becoming influential in the American entertainment industry. Bask in that glory.

But for FSM's sake, if you are going to make stupid claims based on the Colbert Report clips, I repeat, STFU.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nice One, Tourism Office

Incredible. In an unprecedented display of tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, the Indian tourism department has put out an advertisement disguised as a letter to Shilpa Shetty's nemesis.

Nice One, Tourism Office

Incredible. In an unprecedented display of tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, the Indian tourism department has put out an advertisement disguised as a letter to Shilpa Shetty's nemesis.

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Solapur All Over Again

News of the latest riots in Bangalore can't help but remind me of the Solapur and Lucknow riots. All instances were triggered by something which India had nothing to do with.

4-5 years back, Jerry Falwell, noted American right-wing nut-job, called the Prophet Muhammad a terrorist. Muslim organisations in Solapur, a city with no prior history of hindu-muslim violence, felt offended and took out a protest. As is natural with all mobs, this one too got out of control. They destroyed some property, and tried to force shopkeepers to shut their shops, driven by zeal to make their protest "successful". The shopkeepers did not play ball. Things escalated. Violence erupted.

Then last year, Bush visited India. Muslim organisations in Lucknow, another city with no prior history of hindu-muslim violence, took out a protest march. Again, they tried to force shopkeepers to down shutters. Again shopkeepers, mostly if not entirely Hindu, disagreed. Again, violence ensued.

And the same drama is being repeated in Bangalore, a city with no major history of hindu-muslim violence as far as I know (though I could be wrong). Muslim organisations took out a protest march to vent their anger at, of all things possible, Saddam Hussein's execution. Reuters reports that they tried to force Hindu shopkeepers to down their shutters. Disagreement. Hindu activists jump in and violence escalates.

The pattern in all these riots is the same. Indian Muslims stupidly protesting issues which have nothing to do with the pathetic conditions that they find themselves in. I mean seriously, if they came out protesting soemthing concrete, I would oppose the violence of course, but I would at least respect their outrage. But in all these cases, their outrage is childishly stupid, their attempts at bullying shopkeepers completely wrong. And their actions completely stupid and short-sighted.

Stupid and short-sighted because by firing the first shot, they give Hindu extermist nutjobs like RSS, VHP etc an excuse to jump in an escalate the situation. And fellas please, let's take everything moral, ethical, political etc out of the picture for a moment. Let's think about the basic instinct of self-preservation, the same instinct that stops you from picking a fight with that guy in your neighbourhood who is a foot taller and a quintal heavier than you. Why go and start the fight? If the guy did something to provoke you, like threw a dead pig in your mosque, or disrupted your taziyas, fine. Let it rumble. Knock yourself out. But why provoke this bulky guy and get your ass kicked? No, it is actually worse. You won't get your ass kicked. You are actually opening up innocent families, women, children from your community to retaliatory riots. And when you pick a fight for a reason as stupid as some foreign dude being executed by other foreign dudes, you lose whatever little sympathy you have in the mind of the utterly partisan policeman who already isn't quite fond of you.

In all these instances, and obviously in Bangalore, the Hindu rightwingers responded with frenzied glee. Wow, the Muslims have actually given us a legit excuse to go crazy? Then let's go crazy. And riots ensued.

With apologies to Lester Burnham, I have to say, sometimes there's so much the world...I feel like I can't take my heart's going to cave in.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

More on Barack Obama

In this post I will talk about what I like about Obama, and what will work for him. Some things which will work for him are not necessarily things I personally like or support. I will also look at what could drag him down.

Here's what I like about him. He is not a knee-jerk reactionist when it comes to foreign policy. The most stupid thing that the Democrats did was to first blindly support Bush during the Iraq war, and then, as things went wrong, oppose him. Kerry's Iraq war flip flop is legendary, and played a big role in him losing the election. Obama however, right from 2002, has been opposing the Iraq war. However his opposition is not that wars are wrong, but that the Iraq war in particular was stupid and unnecessary. He was not in the Senate then, so unlike Kerry, he does not have a voting record on the issue, which will work in his favour.

Here are a few things I don't like about him, but are likely to work in his favour, given the current state of affairs in the US. He speaks about a "middle ground" between far right and far left. He proposes a "new bipartisan way" ahead. But all that is rhetoric. On most economic issues, he is very very left-liberal. He opposes privatisation of social security. He has, as if following a commandment, spoken against Walmart. He has supported import tariffs and protectionist moves. He has opposed Bush's tax cuts.

But here's something not many would know about him. On immigration, he has been quite conservative. He has even voted in support of constructing a fence on the Mexico border.

Readers of this blog know I am in favour of social security privatisation, and open borders with a more lax immigration policy. However all these stands have a lot of public support in the US right now. So he has calibrated at least his initial political views well.

Over the next few months we will learn more about his stand on various issues. Hillary Clintin has been in he public eye for years, so we all know in detail her view on literally everything. Obama's views will be interesting to know.

Here's what can drag him down. How many people, and by that I mean common Americans in the heartlands of the mid-west or south really know him? Heck, how many know him even on the streets of the bigger cities? CNN had a story where they went around asking people, "Is Barack Obama a threat to the security of the United States?" playing on the similarity of his name with Osama's. Several people said yes, actually thinking they were being asked about Osama. I don't know how many of the people surveyed responded this way. Maybe they were really ignorant.

But the fact remains that not many people will know him well. And for those average joes, it might be a tough ask to support a black guy whose name sounds like Osama and middle name is Hussein. The Republicans will play this up a lot. And the hype is not going to hold up for ever.

In the Democratic primaries, so far it's just him and Hillary who are in the running. Hillary Clinton is a strong forceful and even polarising personality. Even within the aprty, there are factions who hate her. So she is going to find it tough to win the nomination anyway. And once Obama is evaluated objectively, he is a high-risk bet. With Bush's two terms being so disastrous, Democrats have a great chance of winning the White House back. With everything else going for them, will they take their chances with such a risky bet, knowing fully well that if they lose now, it may well be 2016 before they have another shot?

Plus, these are early days. There have often been late surges in the primaries. I get the feeling there is a third guy who will become a serious contender. Someone who fits the formula... white... male... from the heartland. Maybe John Edwards? Cme Iowa and New Hampshire, we will know.

On Primary Education

There is an excellent debate going on over at kuffir's blog about primary education. He has gone through CCS's voucher proposal, and has come up with a few questions. His main contention seems to be that at least in rural areas, there isn't enough demand for schooling, so private participation may not make too much of a difference. There is a great discussion happening in the comments section with venu, RJ and Raj. I'll join it too, once I post this.

Another relevant post on the same subject is Naveen's photo-post. It has pitures taken during the survey of schools CCS conducted in cities.

Colbert, Bachchan and Shahrukh

I learnt that Colbert's bit on the Bollywood feud was actually a followup to a bit he did a week back that I missed because I was flying back from India at that time. And it has even been written about by CNN-IBN. That means it's REALLY old hat.

Nevertheless here are both the clips in case you have been living under a rock inside an airplane like I have -

Thursday, January 18, 2007

O'Reilly's Deathwish

How desperate can a man get to make his bestseller book and even bestsellerer book? Desperate enough to not realise that he is signing up for an arrangement that will just make him look even more stupid than he already looks?

From the moment the "Colbert meets Papa Bear" thing was announced, an arrangement by which Stephen Colbert and Bill O'Reilly would appear as guests on each other's show on the same night, it was obvious that the overblown right-wing windbag was way in over his head. There was no way his dignity would not have chipped away even more than it already has. And he made matters worse by being a completely clueless moron in handling it.

O'Reilly has had a few run-ins with Letterman before, and to be fair, he has managed them well enough, using his aggressive behavior. It also helps that Letterman is quite clueless about most things and completely incapable of any actual debate. Letterman's brand of comedy is dumb and very run of the mill. Stewart and Colbert however are in a different league. Their comedy is issue-based and intelligent, and that means they are also capable of more potent comebacks. Letterman saying to O'Reilly "It's not an easy question for me to answer because I am thoughtful"..."I get the feeling most of what you say is crap".. and then looking smug is quite weak. Colbert saying to o'Reilly, "I don't think people appreciate you enough for how loudly you say things, and how you keep saying them again and again"... is unanswerable.

Bill O'Reilly appeared off-colour, confused and subdued today. Confused probably because he didn't know how to handle Colbert. He can shout everyone else down by getting angry and self-righteous. Colbert himself parodies O'Reilly and acts like a right-wing nutjob.... so how to handle him? He did try calling him a "secular-progressive", to which Colbert replied, "No sir, I am a deeply religious man who will do anything you say."

Two years back when Stewart appeared on the show, O'Reilly's line of attack was calling The Daily Show's viewers as drunks and stoned slackers. Unable to come up with a strategy for Colbert, he again tried to attack Jon Stewart. Colbert played along, saying Stewart was a pinko who had sexually harassed him.

Poor O'Reilly. What option did he have but to bend over and take it?

Colbert on the other hand was in prime form. When O'Reilly asked him what the profile of The Colbert Report's audience is, he answered, "My aim is to take your message to an audience younger than the one which watches your show... so I target the 50 and 60-year olds." O'Reilly did not even try to think of a comeback.

The desperate act of attacking Stewart during the interview on his own show was a stupid tactical move. It ensured that he gets ridiculed even more on the Colbert Report, on which Stewart is executive producer. So when Colbert held up a copy of O'Reilly's book "Culture Warrior" to the camera, it was a copy in which there was a "30% off" sticker hiding O'Reilly's face on the cover. And later, Colbert suggested that O'Reilly should go undercover as a liberal, and as a suggested disguise, displayed a picture where O'Reilly's face had been photoshopped on to the body of a gay male stripper.

So quite convincingly.... Colbert 2... O'Reilly 0.


Oh by the way, Bollywood was mentioned on The Colbert Report last night. And no, it wasn't Shilpa Shetty's lucrative sufferings that were made fun of. In a section about celebrity feuds, after weighing in on the Rosie-Trump war, Colbert spoke about the ongoing feud between Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan. He used dance clips from their films, and decided that Amitabh was the winner of the feud. It was hilarious. Will embed the clip here when it is up on comedycentral or youtube.

Update: Read this post

The Daily SomeAchaar - MEA To Turn To Porn, Tabloids For Fresh Fodder

New Delhi - Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) say that several staffers in the Ministry will soon embark on a new offensive to find things that are offensive in places never noticed before. This new mission will involve going through hundreds of pornographic books, videos and websites to find anything that is offensive to he Indian culture or Indian peoples. They will also be buying all the tabloids available in supermarkets. Once something offensive is detected, the MEA will then register protest over it with the relevant governments or corporations.

This new mission has been launched following the success of offence-taking exercises against a two-bit talentless unknown and unimportant NRI comedian Gautham Prasad, and against the trashy UK TV show Big Brother.

"We have now successfully targeted the seediest reality TV show around, and a comedian previously known to approximately 7 people. It is only logical that we move on to porn and tabloids next." a senior official in the MEA confessed on conditions of anonymity.

Rumours of this offensive have got struggling newcomers in the porn industry excited, as they see in this decision a sure-shot formula for fame. A spokesman for "They See Films", who specialise in voyeur porn with an Indian flavour, said "All of us at 'They See' are very excited about this offensive. We are trying to come up with ways to insult the Indian culture so that we get the kind of publicity that you just can't buy."

This move is also expected to further boost the revenues of 'F.E.G. Inc', a company that specialises in the manufacture and sale of equipment and supplies needed for street protests. 2006 was a record year for company, with revenues up by 1300%. There is also talk of an IPO next month.

The offensive will be formally launched in Indore on February 14, which the government will be naming as "Offence Day", a day to express anger and disgust at everything that insults or goes against Indian culture.

Cross-posted on Khabari LOL, a new group blog that I am a part of.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

First Name Rhymes with Iraq, Last Name with Osama, Middle Name Hussein

The title of this post is how Jon Stewart once refered to Barack Obama. During my trip to India I realised that not many folks back home, barring some quizzers and really aware people, know who this guy is. In the US, they have been going nuts over him. And yesterday he made it official. He has taken his first step towards the White House by forming a Presidential Exploratory Committee. On 10th February, on the basis of what his committee finds, he will declare his intentions. It is a given that he will run. His time is now.

Some of you... very few of you would be thinking.. who is this Barack Obama? Two years back, even calling this guy a "long shot" would have been considered fictional, and Hollywoodish. I mean come on.... a black President? That's not something even a proper mainstream Hollywood film would have considered. A science fiction film.... set way in the future.... directed by a French guy.... maybe. But not your apple-pie-summer-blockbuster.

And now we actually have a black guy who many people at least I have spoken to consider a shoe-in as the next President. Many many massive hurdles to cross before that, of course, but a lot of people do feel that way.

So here are a few basic facts about Obama. His father was born in Kenya and his mother was a white American from Kansas. His parents divorced and his mother married an Indonesian, and Obama lived in Indonesia for a few years. Then he moved to Hawaii where he went to high school. In his teens, he tried pot and even cocaine.

So get this.... a black guy... with mixed parentage... coming from a broken home.... growing up in Hawaii... and confessing to having used drugs... is a serious contender for the Presidentship of the United States. Who woulda thought?

He has the educational pedigree though. He went to college at Columbia, studied law at Harvard and taught at the University of Chicago. For the last two years he has been representing Illinois in the US Senate. And yes, obviously, he is a democrat.

Obama's rise... for which even the word meteoric seems too mild, is interesting, fascinating, and a significant proof of the influence that the media has. Media hype is what has catapulted him to a position where, latest opinion polls show him to be neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton for the Democrat nomination. And as things right now, the former first lady's staff should not be surprised to find bricks in her toilet.

Obama has charisma... a lot of it.. perhaps even more than Bill Clinton... and definitely more than bushbushreagancarterfordnixonjohnson put together. In fact Obama's charisma-fuelled run is reminiscent of the name which comes before Johnson - John F Kennedy. Not since Kennedy has a combination of youth, charisma and a desire for change seemed so powerful.

But for all these comparisons to Kennedy, will he win the elections? Will he first win the Democrat primaries? Hard to say.

Right now he has been chugging along on charisma and hype. So far it has been just media, Obama and people. Now other politicians will join the fray. Hillary will turn the heat on. Other Democrats will enter the fray. The Republicans will try to tear him apart. This will be the real test of the man's character and ability.

In 2004, everything was ripe for Bush to lose. Iraq had gone wrong, and the 9/11 goodwill had vanished. And yet he survived. Because John Kerry was an idiot. He was boring, uninspiring, flippy floppy, and was more obsessed with a war that happened 35 years ago. Bush didn't exactly win it. The Democrats lost it. They could not sway the swing voters.

As everyone knows, a little less than 40 of the 50 states in America are either strongly Republican or strongly Democrat. It is the remaining states, swing states, that make the difference. Here what counts is your position on some key issues, how well you run your campaign, and your ability to inspire confidence.

Over the next year, we will see Obama's issues and track record being put under the scanner. His personal life.... will be interesting to see if there is anything in that. I find his approach quite honest and straightforward. Remember when Bill Clinton was asked about smoking pot in college, he said he did, but did not inhale. Obama was asked the same question. he said he smoked pot... and also inhaled, because that is the whole point of pot.

Refreshing honesty at best, or impression of honesty at worst.

He has the personality and the appeal that would make youngsters come out and vote for him, just like in Kennedy's case. However, Democrat primaries are closed primaries, i.e only registered Democrats can vote. Of course his charisma, appeal and popularity among the youngsters will be a plus in the mind of democrat voters who will be or at least should be determined to field, for the first time in 12 years, a candidate with a personality significantly better than a fire hydrant. But issues will matter here too.

In the next post I'll look at his stand on issues, his possible weak points, and compare him with Hillary.

Review of Garden State

Many TV superstars have made a smooth transition to the big screen. I can think of only one who moved from being sitcom-chocolate-hero to a successful director - Ron Howard. Garden State gives an indication that Scrubs star Zach Braff has the potential to be an even bigger success, at least critically if not commercially. The movie does not have any earth-shattering twists and turns, is not particularly pacy, nor does it have any exceptionally powerful performances. Yet, it has a very earthy and real appeal which showcases Braff's talents. It shows that he has enough acting talent to be seen as someone other than Scrubs' JD. It shows that it is not just comedy that he is good at. And it shows that he is very insightful and imaginative as a writer-director.

The movie, as its name suggests, is set in the state of New Jersey. It starts off, serendipitously or appropriately enough, with a Ganesh Vandana. A cursory google search did not clarify if Braff knows that hindus consider an invocation to Ganesha auspicious to start off anything new, or if it was just a coincidence that he used an alarm clock with that shloka. Andrew Largeman(Braff) is a struggling actor who flies home from LA to NJ for his mother's funeral. He catches up with old friends, avoids his father for a few days, and then meets Sam (Natalie Portman), a bubbly... trifle too bubbly girl with an addiction for lying.

As the movie progresses, we learn more about the troubled pasts of both Andrew and Sam, and see them falling in love. Usually in "going back home" movies like these, we learn that the lead has some ghosts from the pasts, some guilt issues, or something similar which need to be exorcised. In this movie, there is a slightly different touch. Andrew seems to know that these ghosts have no reason to exist and the guilt is unwarranted. But it is someone else's, i.e his father's inability to deal with tragedy that forces him to bear the burden of those ghosts. In that sense, the movie is about a little boy freeing himself from someone else's subconsciously misdirected blame.

There are a few small amusing as well as touching sideplots, like the guy who got rich after inventing silent velcro, the grave-digger, the supermarket employee ex-classmate whom no one ever gives their number because he is into a pyramid scheme, Sam's African college-going "brother" who was "adopted" via Sally Struthers, and now lives with them etc. All of these blend well with the main storyline and result in a movie which goes down very smooth and stays with you for a long time.

For the first 10 minutes of the movie, I wondered... something is missing... what is missing... and then I realised.... I was expecting in a very Pavlovian way, to hear Braff's voice-over a la Scrubs. The current season of Scrubs is going to be its last since Braff wants to concentrate on films full-time. Garden State is proof that it is a natural and welcome progression.

P.S - How could I forget to write about the film's soundtrack, which is currently on my playlist? It is one of the best compilations soundtrack ever, featuring Simon & Garfunkel, Coldplay, Nick Drake and some very good indie performers. Braff won the a "Best Compilation Soundtrack" Grammy for it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Decades To Be Forgotten

The decade we live in, and the next one to come will be pretty remarkable. However, here is a sad fact about them. They will be forgotten. The cultural quirks, the styles, the new genres, and the icons will all be forgotten later on. Well, they won't be forgotten, but they sure as hell won;t be associated with their decade.

It is inevitable, because there isn't a simple single-word name for them. Just think about it. Ayrton Senna ruled the eighties. Michael Schumacher owned the nineties. Fernando Alonso will be the most dominant driver in the.... ummm.... what's the word? The two-thousands? That's not a name for the decade. Maybe a night club. So while we can say, the swinging sixties were known for their hippies, the seventies were known for bell bottoms, the eighties were known for horrible baggy and frilly dresses, and the nineties were known for unexplicably making Nadeem-Shravan successful, what word will you use to refer to the era of web 2.0, reality TV and the worldwide professionalization of offense-taking? Does your mind either draw a blank or then come up with lame alternatives that are so contrived that they will never catch on?

And the next decade has no hope either. What are we going to call them - tens? teens?

So years and years later, be prepared to lose all inter-decade arguments. Someone will say "The best decade for comedy was the 80s, with Letterman at his best". Someone else will respond, "Nope, the best decade was the 90s, which Seinfeld ruled". Now suppose you want to enter the debate and make a case for Jon Stewart, you will take a pause. Unable to come up with a word, you will say, "No no, the best decade for comedy was the decade which fell between the years of two thousand and two thousand and ten when..." by this time, someone from the 20s has already finished his argument.

That's the sad truth, everyone. Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer, Ricky Ponting, Rumsfeld, Google, et al, sorry. You will always be remembered as greats. But you will never be able to leave your stamp on a decade. Because the decade has no friggin idea what to call itself.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Last week I watched Dhoom-2. Obviously, went in with zero expectations, and as the desi cliche goes, left my brains at home. Decided to just focus on the bizarre and the illogical and enjoy the movie by ridiculing it.

And the movie still traumatized me. And it was not just bad acting, bad story, irritating songs, amateurish dialogues, and Uday Chopra that drove me nuts. It was also the way that the movie treated the Law of Gravitation as mere Guidelines of Gravitation, which could be ignored whenever you want.

There are several dozen instances where gravity is blithely disregarded. And in only about half of these instances is there a logical explanation i.e. "push-up bras". The other half of instances, almost always involving Hrithik Roshan, tortured me, kept me awake at nights and scarred me. Even when I would fall asleep, I would wake up sweating and shouting "BUT SANJAY GADHVI, WHAT ABOUT THE SECOND LAW OF MOTION???"

Finally I learnt to deal with my scars. I had an epiphany. I have come up with a simple explanation to allow me restful nights. Dhoom-2 is a sequel of Dhoom. Of course it is. BUT BUT BUT... it is also a sequel of Krrish!!

It all falls into place. A or Aryan is Krrish. Which is why he can do everything he can without pissing on Newton's grave. Just think about it. Krrish looked like Hrithik Roshan. Aryan looks like Hrithik Roshan. Krrish danced well. Aryan dances well. Krrish had 6 fingers on his right hand. Aryan has 6 fingers on his right hand. Krrish had the hots for a Miss World who can't act. Aryan has the hots for a Miss World who can't act.

It all adds up. Not only does this epiphany allow me and many disturbed viewers like you infinite mental peace. It also gives Sanjay Gadhvi and Rakesh Roshan a chance to collaborate and come up with a movie that is a sequel to Krrish and a prequel to Dhoom-2 and explains exactly why pristine young Krishna took to a life of crime.

Errrm.... on seconds thoughts this epiphany might not be that good for our mental peace after all.

Monday, January 08, 2007

In Defence of Sehwag

Whenever we suffer a bad defeat, everyone including fans, media, experts, and even the team management start sharpening their claws. Bring us our scapegoat, we say. This time it is unanimous - the culprit is Sehwag.

Even I wrote a few days back that maybe Sehwag should be dropped for the next series. And maybe he will be dropped. But before that, here is something that should be considered.

Most of Sehwag's dismissals have been because of not being able to handle movement due to seam and/or swing. He has been caught behind or in the slips most of the times.

This movement is seen only at the start of an innings. Which is why opening is considered a specialists' job. It is not easy to survive such movement, much less dominate it. Until now only one Indian opener had scored more than a handful of centuries and that opener was Sunil Gavaskar. Ever since he retired, Indian cricket has seen a string of failed specialists openers, failed makeshift openers, or wicketkeppers promoted to open.

Rahul Dravid has tried opening, and has failed. Laxman tried opening and failed. In fact Laxman was so sick of the opening slot that rather than do the job, he prefered staking a claim for the middle order. A string of domestic centuries earned him that slot, and he did well at No.3, but not for long. He is more comfortable at No.6.

Given such a background, Sehwag's spectacular success at the top of the order, with 12 centuries, most of them quickfire knocks in excess of 150, is remarkable. It shows the man's talent, range of shots and stamina.

Now he is going through a bad patch. Be it his hand-eye co-ordination or his balance, but he is not able to dominate the movement that well. All those who say "Sehwag has been figured out" are talking through their hat. I challenge them to explain exactly what they mean by he has been figured out. Every batsman in this world is vulnerable to the moving ball on or outside the off-stump. He has faced similar lines of attack in the past and has successfully subdued them. He is going through a bad patch right now, so is nicking them.

Considering that he is not a specialist opener, and even at the peak of his success said, that he eventually wants to be in the middle order, one thing that should be done before dropping him is giving him an extended run in the middle order or the lower order. His 40 in the first innings at Cape Town was quite compact and he did not seem troubled by pacers, since the new ball movement was gone, and he can handle reverse swing well. I am quite confident that given a run in the middle order, he will surely outperform Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly.

Whom will he replace? I'll say the same thing most people say. When India does not get good starts, Dravid is effectively playing like an opener when he faces the new cherry. So he can promote himself, the way he has often done in ODIs. That will make room for Sehwag in the middle order.

This was as far as tests are concerned. In ODIs, since Ganguly is back, he can open with Tendulkar. And Sehwag can be in the middle order. Sehwag's catching and his bowling are also valuable assets for the ODI team, and leaving him out of the World Cup plans will be suicidal.

I know this won't happen. He may still be dropped. And much like Ganguly, he will come back.

But alll those asking for his head, remember - HE IS NOT A SPECIALIST OPENER!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Crazy Kiya Re

That song is literally driving me crazy. It is attacking me from all corners, from all loudspeakers, from all autorickshaws, from all channels and I suspect even from all trees. I swear if I hear that song one more time, I will take a Hanzo sword, and chop off Aishwarya Rai's extremeties.... yes, all 7 of them!

There, I just heard that song again. Use your PayPal account to contribute to my "Hanzo Sword For Chopping Off Aishwarya's Seven Extremities Fund"

My Thesis Topic

I think I have come across a research question worthy of my doctoral dissertation. Using email forwards to predict the Sensex.

My theory is simple. Infosys performance has a direct impact on the Sensex. Infosys is also the driving force behind most, if not all the email forwards circulating amongst Indian netizens. Infy desks are where email forwards are born, nurtured, and sent on their way. The more business Infy gets, the busier Infoscions will be. The busier that Infoscions are, lower will be the number of forwards conceived, suckled and potty-trained. So whenever Infy is doing well, the number of forwards will drop. And with a time lag, the Sensex will do well. Similarly, if Infy doesn't have that much work, email forwards will increase. And the subsequent inferior quarterly earnings will drag the Sensex down.

This theory can be empirically proven. It will be empirically proven.

Doctorate please!!

P.S - If you are my PhD Advisor and are reading this, I didn't write it. I am being forced at gunpoint.

Oh Shut Up!!

The next time I hear someone say "Will this be that one definitive memorable test innings from Sachin?" or "Is this the innings when Sachin will finally silence his detractors?" or something to that effect, I swear on every bowl of pasta in this world, I will rip open their stomach and dance on their entrails.

Word of the Day - Anteniluvian

Anteniluvian (latin for "before the nilu") is an adjective that is used to describe a period of time in the Indian blogosphere that preceded the mainstreamisation of the Nilu phenomenon.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Looking for roommate... or soulmate????

A few months back, before the Fall semester started, I subscribed to a mailing list of desis headed to Penn State. As expected, a lot of mails were about finding roommates and housing. Most of the mails were run of the mill. Vegetarian wanted, teetotaller wanted, etc etc. Nothing earth-shattering. Then along came this gem. I could not believe that this mail was actually written in all seriousness. I thought it was a spoof, until further correspondence confirmed that the guy really meant it. It really is a work of art.

Reproducing it here, leaving out the specifics for obvious reasons. I am really looking forward to how this guy composes his matrimonial ad.


hi ...

I am XXXXX and I have been admitted to the Civil engg
dept. I intend to leave for the US by 10th of august. I did my
undergrad at XXXXX.

Now I am on the lookout for a room partner. Considering we are gonna
spend the next 2 years of our lives together I want everyone to give
a good thought to the following letter before making a decision.

I am planning to get accomodation at parkway plaza. I am planning to
rent a studio appartment or one bedroom set.

Points to help u'll decide on my proposal:
1. I am from an unorthodox family.
2. I am fun to have around with a great sense of humor attached.
3. I am a foodie and would love if my roommate were a good cook and i
can also cook some.
4. I am non-vegetarian but this in no way means that I will not
respect the sentiments of someone who is vegetarian.
5. I am a social drinker in the real sense of the term but smoking is
a total no-no, in the house atleast, although I would prefer a non-
6. I love to party and dance and sing and so music is gonna be an
integral part of the household.
7. I am very particular when it comes to handling finances and hate
fights related to money matters and so I expect a room-mate who has
an equally professional approach…but with a heart.
8. I would prefer someone who is fun, sporty, humble, a team player,
a bundle of energy and whom I can proudly call upon as friend…
basically someone who I would look forward to meeting at the end of a
tiring day.

I will be finalizing the appartment within 10 days. if anyone have an
appartment and want to share it kindly consider this mail.

Anyone who is interested can send me a mail


Sometimes Things Need to Switch Off...

... for people to switch on. That's the line from one of the better as I have seen in recent years. This ad is shown in cinema halls before the movie starts, asking people to turn their phones off.

I find myself knowing the things that I knew
Which is all that you can know on this side of the blue
- Joanna Newsom

Hat-tip: RajK

My Quiz in Pune

I will be conducting a General Quiz in Pune this Sunday. The quiz is being sponsored by everyone's favourite book store Landmark, which has a new outlet in Pune. My quiz is part of a larger quizzing extravaganza.

BCQC January Open Quizzing
Supported by Landmark Books

We kick off 2007 with an early bout of serious quizzing, this time with a College quiz and the other regular features. Here are the details:

Common Details
Date and Time: 7 January 2007, Sunday
Venue: Dewang Mehta Auditorium, "Bhageerath", Persistent Systems Pvt. Ltd., Senapati Bapat Road, Pune
(nearest landmarks: the building is behind Domino's Pizza; this is the same road as the main Symbiosis college, ICC Trade Towers; ~5 kms from Pune railway station; 2 kms from Pune University Circle)
Contact for info: 98810 00957 (Shamanth), 93244 45248 (Ramanand), contact-at-bcqc-dot-org
Fees: none - just show up and you can take part.
Registration: on the spot.
Prizes: courtesy Landmark, Pune.

Quiz 1: Open quiz for College Students:

Organised by: Akhil and Apurva

Flavour: General
Team Size: Upto three per team
Restrictions: none; unlimited number of teams per college, mixed teams allowed
Reporting time: 8:45 am. (The quiz will be from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm)
(Definition of college student: student from 11th standard onwards. School students welcome to take part if interested. Impersonators will be impounded :-))
Registration: call/email. On the spot entries also welcome.
Eight teams in the final

Quiz 2: Open quiz

Organised by: Gaurav Sabnis
Flavour: General
Team Size: Two per team
Reporting time: 1:30 pm. (The quiz will likely last upto to ~6 pm)

Quiz 3: Audience theme quiz
Theme: "Assassinations" + "India at the Olympics"
Organised by: Ramanand
When: In the break between elims and finals

* We'll be as strict with the timings as we can, so please show up on time
* Prizes for both main quizzes
* Everyone's invited!
* If you don't have a partner, don't worry - just show up and you should be able to find someone like you who needs to pair up. At worst, you can take the elims solo.

If you have any doubts about the venue or the rules, mail me. Or call me at 9860144965.

The Puneri Airline

Just returned from an utterly refreshing trip to Mahabaleshwar with my school friends. Most of us live outside Pune, so every time we return, we discover something new which is irritating as well as amusing. Of course, Puneri sign-boards, Puneri aversion towards displaying any business acumen, and curtness are all age-old qualities.

So while one such session of laughing over Pune, we came up with a great business idea. A business idea guaranteed to end in massive losses.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you - "Shree Gajanan Airways", the world's first Puneri airline. Needless to say, it will be a no-frills airline.

Firstly and very importantly, this airline will have no flights that leave in the afternoon. The staff needs its precious seista time. So if you need to catch a flight that leaves between 12 and 5 pm, you had better take your business elsewhere.

The check-in counter will have the following signs placed all over it -

"Krupaya khidki kinva aisle seat cha aagraha karu naye" (Please do not insist on a window or aisle seat)
"Boarding pass sambhalun theva. DhaandraTaasaarkha haravu nakaa. Tyachyashivaay vimaanaat daakhal hou diley jaanaar nahi." (Be careful not to loose your boarding pass like a clumsy oaf. You won't be allowed to enter the aircraft without it."

All such signs will of course end with "hukumavarun"(by order).

You walk in to the aircraft and there will be no stewardesses to greet you. You will look for your own seat, stow the luggage away, and notice that all the stewardesses are sitting at the back of the aircraft, chatting with each other and having a hot cuppa. As you will be sitting on your seat, a stewardess will walk up to you, and notice the overhead compartment's lid still being open. She will glare at the lid, then glare at you, then cast an omniglare. She will then walk to the front, take the microphone and say,

"Krupaya overhead compartment che jhaakan band karaa. Athvaa tumchyaach dokyavar saamaan padel. Tasey zaalyaas takraar karu naye." (Please close the lids of all the overhead compartments. Or else the luggage will fall on your head. If that happens, don't complain).

After this, the stewardess will direct your attention to the terms and conditions, where the 23rd point will say "Please eat before you come for the flight".

"Tumhi sagley gharun khaunach aala asaal. Tyamuley khaayla pyayla kaahihi diley jaanar nahi. Paanicha tambya pudhe thevlela aahe. Tahaan laagli ki svataha uthun ghene." (All of you must have already eaten. So no refreshments will be served. A jug of water is kept in front. Help yourself to it when you are thirsty.)

This will be followed by the standard in-flight announcements, which will include the following lines -

"Potaachi patti avalaa. Na avalalyaas danda kela jayeel" (Fasten the seat belt, or face a fine)
"Jar vimaanaat kami dabavachi parishtiti nirmaan zaali tar oxygen mask khaali yetil. Aadhi svatahacha mask ghalava. DeeD shaNyasarkha dusryanchi madat karu naye." (If the pressure in the aircraft drops, then the oxygen masks will drop down. Wear your mask first. Don't be a smart ass and try to help others.")

You get the general idea.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Don't Be Stupid, Chappell

Virender Sehwag is out of form. There is no doubt about it. Everyone and his uncle is asking for him to be dropped. Especially the weather-vane media. I am not ntirely opposed to the idea of giving him a jolt by dropping him. I just don't think this is the right time to drop him.

He is a man who sets up wins when he gets going. Sehwag firing puts you in the driver's seat. It takes extraordinarily bad cricket to lose a match from there. He scores big hundreds at a rapid clip on a fairly regular basis. And he has done that as recently as 5 tests ago at Gros Islet when his almost run-a-ball 180 set up a win which was turned into a draw only because of a whole day being lost to rain. Granted that he has been in poor form recently. But the odds of his firing, especially on a pitch like Newlands, are still high enough to make his inclusion a worthy gamble.

If he still fails, maybe dropping him for the next series can be considered. But not before the series decider. Especially not when the possible replacement is Gautam Gambhir of all people.