Friday, December 30, 2011

What do women want?

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Note 1: I am but a mere speck in the Universe, a no-one in the Grand scheme of things. So, let me at the outset declare, that I am in no way capable of answering the posed question. I will still try to answer it, just like I try to dance (at a disc) when I am incapable of dancing.


Note 2: Girls reading this (if any), take this with a pinch of salt. I am not a total ass, I have written some 'aww-ish' posts earlier, like 'I See You', and 'Memory/Memories'. :)
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Well, well. Now that all the disclaimers are in place, I might as well get down to some ass kicking and kicking ass! :D I have been thinking about this question since quite some time now. So, like most of the people of our generation, who turn to Google if they want answers, I tried to search  for it too. On Google. And I am sure none of you would be surprised when I tell you that no sooner had I typed "what do " in the search box, there, Google popped me a suggestion - "what do women want?". Imagine the relief I got! It is heartening to know that I am not the only one clueless, the entire world is! And when I completed the search query, I got 99.1 million search results! Ninety-nine point one freakin' million results! Whoa! :D


I am sure it must be all the losers doing all that writing. You know, like the great Socrates said, "By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher." Ha! And judging by the fact that Socrates became a philosopher, now we all know how he fared. (And similar logic will lead you to judge me as well. Like I care.)


So, I began my quest for answering this apparently un-answerable question by tackling another, easier question first. Something I can relate to, and I am acquainted with. That question is, "What do men want?". I did research, and conducted surveys. I present to you the results of the second survey I did below, in the form of a pie-chart:




Now, keen readers would have noticed that above are the results from the second survey, and not the first survey that I did. That has been done because, otherwise, my tabulated results would have looked like this:




So, I had to strike this option out for the second survey to get some meaningful answers. (Yeah, since when has our generation considered sex "meaningful" anyway.) Anyway, the fact of the matter is, if you look at either of the charts above, you will notice, that men are pretty clear about what they want, and the objects or things of their desire are quantifiable and can be expressed mathematically.


Women, on the other hand, are made of sterner stuff. Only a fool attempts to quantify their desires and tries to express it in simple mathematical terms. With whatever little experience and understanding I have, I have come up with the following (single-line) explanation of what women want:


"Women want men to understand what they want without their telling it to them."

Friends, don't let this seemingly straight-forward sentence confuse you. It is the most devious plan designed to always make you fail. To understand it, you have to first understand where does this come from. This stems from the women-folk's inability to discover and know what they really want. So this, in effect, outsources the thinking to the men-folk. Men-folk, who were truly happy playing their video games and watching movies, are now forced to think for the women to win her, and themselves becoming unhappy over a due course of time at their repeated failures. And try and picture this from a girl's point of view. Someone, who had no clue of what she wanted (and is aware of the results of the first survey that I did!), now has several men doing the thinking for her, and creative, and ingenious thinking at that! Plus, she also gets to throw tantrums, make a face, and say, "No, this is not what I really want.", and then move on to the second and the third option. Until, she comes across something that is seemingly awesome, and then she can glee-fully go, "Yes! This is exactly what I want! :) ". Sheer genius, ain't it?


Feel free to leave comments, or you can contact me directly to send me hate-mails, about any and everything, including:


What do women want?!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Clean Slate

"Congratulations Class of '11!", the Board reads. It is from before the Summer. It has been that way since we had the Final Party in this class for the graduating batch. It has been that way for over two months now. And it has been sad. Dust. Cobwebs. I, too, a mere Duster, have been lying here, neglected. Until now. Now, is my favorite time of the year. Now, is the time I have been waiting for. Now, is exciting. Yay! Finally! Now, is here!

"What Now?", you ask? Wrong question! The correct question is, "Why Now?". Ah, and pardon my excitement, and pardon my not being brief, and pardon my being cryptic. I have had no-one to talk to over the Summer. It has been lonely. And you should know that I truly, with all my heart, appreciate your being here, and listening to me, a Nobody. I really do.

I will answer the question in two simple words. Clean Slate. You see, the cleaners will come in some time, and wipe the Board squeaky clean! Using me! And voila! Clean Slate. The Board will read, "Welcome, Class of '12!". And it makes me so proud that it is me, I, who will give this new Class, Clean Slate! Now, good Sir, is the time for me to answer your original question - "What Now?". Ha ha! I know it is obvious to you now, wise Sir. Let me still answer it.

Now, is a fresh beginning. New, bright, cheerful, curious faces, starting a new chapter in their lives. And it is poetic, that they do so with a Clean Slate in front of them. Over the coming year, they will learn new things, meet new people, discover themselves, and in the process, will be building themselves, and preparing themselves for the next chapters in their Lives. I have seen so many batches come and go, with similar anxieties, similar doubts, about life, about the world, and about themselves, and I have seen people growing, and facing failures, and maturing, and being sad, and falling in love, and being distressed, and being happy, and being miserable, and being successful, year after year. Ha! And, humble Sir, I must tell you, in the End, in the End, they will all turn out just fine. All of them. It's an exhilarating experience for me. Despite knowing that it will all fall into place in the End, the journey of each and every individual is full of surprises, and it amazes me! Everyone has their own story. Similar, yet different.

And you should see them ask questions! Valid, sometimes juvenile. But I think it's a part of growing up. You know, there was this Professor who used to teach here a few years back. He taught Philosophy to the students. A bright young kid asked him a most difficult, yet simple question - "What should I do to be Happy in Life?". I stared at the Professor in horror! Was there one definite, or even a right answer to this question?! But, kind Sir, I still remember how the Professor replied to that bright young kid, and it made me happy.

The Professor simply smiled, and with calm, replied to the bright young kid, "Look at this Board. This is your Life. You will write the chapters of your Life on this. Write as much as you can, knowing that...", and he walked over to the Board, and he wiped it, and he continued, "... that one day you will have to start all over again with a Clean Slate. When you do, embrace it. For you are lucky, for a fresh opportunity, for you to try something different-ly this time. Be strong. Persevere. Strive, to make every chapter of your Life a work of Art, a literary piece, and know no remorse when the time comes to wipe it all off. Do it with a smile, and you shall know Happiness.".

I don't know how true the Professor's words were, maybe they weren't. But that day, I truly felt proud of what I do. I offer them a Clean Slate. To make a new beginning, and write the next chapter of their own little Adventures. Thank you, gracious Sir, thank you for listening. Time flies, and before we know it, the Board will read, "Congratulations Class of '12!"...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Multiple Chrome-gasms

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Note 1: I know, I know. I haven't blogged a lot lately. <- One clich├ęd sentence which is to be found far too often on the blogs of people who "think" they are regular bloggers, and "think" that they attract a decent blog-o-dience. So, I will avoid it. Though, I swear that there have been atleast five instances in the last three months, when I almost got myself to write something random that had popped into my head.

Note 2: It was only a little more than 2 years ago that I liked Firefox so much, that I likened it to a cake, a suggested Icing for it. 2 years later, here I am, broken-up with Firefox, in love with Chrome, so much, that I thought I should write about it. Also, this is a cheap way for me to get a new post up on my blog.
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Google Chrome was awesome. But now, Google Chrome has become so much more super-mega-dooper-awesome, had it been a girl, I would have married her. Yaa yaa, don't give me the looks just yet. Read on!


I will try to avoid wasting your and my time, by assuming that you know that cutting edge is baked right into Chrome, like the silent updates, amazing omnibar, neat Translate integration, slick memory management, a separate task manager, minimalist design (down to the last pixel), blazing JavaScript engine, and advanced download experience (oh the joy when you click on a file currently downloading, and it goes "Opening in x seconds..." ), to name a few among several others. And who can deny that the incognito mode comes handy in times of need.

So, let me not talk about all that, and instead talk about the additional things that make Chrome awesome (for me).


1)
Let me start by introducing 'Incredible Start Page'. This replaces the standard 'New tab' interface of Chrome, and, well, this is what my 'New tab' page looks like now, and I love it!

Incredible Start Page

2)
Sync. Sync. Sync.
'Sync (to Cloud)' is a buzzword in tech today, and not without reason.


So, you can setup sync in Chrome ( Options -> Personal Stuff -> Set up sync ), which will sync your apps, extensions, bookmarks, and autofill information, among other things, to your Google account. And with Chrome 16, comes multiple profiles ( Options -> Personal Stuff -> Users ). So, next time you are somewhere other than your own computer, just create a new user, and login using your credentials, voila, the browser becomes yours. Multiple profiles is good to have on your own computer, if several people are using it, or you need to open more than one GMail/Facebook account in the browser.


Adding to this capability is the Chrome extension 'Context', which lets you profile "extensions" usage. So, you can have a different set of extensions for work, for home, for playing games, for idle browsing, and so on. Neat.

Also, we have the 'Fresh Start - Session Manager', which saves all your current tabs as a session (which is synced to your Google account), which you can restore later.



3)
Search engines! Custom search engines feature in Chrome is sweet! This is how it works:

Right click on the omnibar, and click 'edit search engines' (or you could go to "chrome://settings/searchEngines" ). Under 'Other search engines', you can set up the 'Name', the 'Keyword', and the 'URL', in that order. The "%s" parameter gets replaced by your query when you type it into the omnibar using the keyword. In layman's terms, I have this setup on my browser, in order of the columns:


Imdb Search | imdb | http://www.imdb.com/find?s=all&q=%s

Subtitles | srt | http://subscene.com/filmsearch.aspx?Submit=Search+[Subscene]&title=%s

Facebook | fb | http://www.facebook.com/search/?src=os&q=%s

Wikipedia | wiki | http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&search=%s

Twitter Status Update | tweet | http://twitter.com/home?status=%s


In effect, if I have to find something on wikipedia, I type "wiki", hit space/tab, type my query, hit enter, and voila, the page opens up! So on for searching imdb, subtitles, facebook, and yes, updating my twitter status. Sweet.

Happy creating-your-own-custom-search!


4)
Apps.

When Google first launched Apps for Chrome, they were nothing more than fancy bookmarks for websites. Well, this has changed today. Apart from the variety and range of apps available, it is their functionality which has undergone a drastic make-over, the key being, offline capabilities. So, apps now, are neat little small packages of happiness residing inside your browser with tremendous offline and online capabilities.

We have games you can play offline, like 'Angry Birds'.

And then there are games which I have played so many times, that I see them in my dreams now - 'Bejeweled'

Then we have games which defy what has been done inside browsers up until now, like 'Bastion'. Seriously, you have to see it to believe it.

We have apps that takes your mail offline - 'Offline Google Mail'.

We have a full fledged offline scientific calculator - 'Scientific Calculator'.

And, and, we have an app to remotely connect and control other computers - 'Chrome Remote Desktop' !


The day is nigh when all we would need would be a browser!  


5)
Handy Extensions.

This post would be incomplete without my mentioning some of the very useful extensions.

I have this habit of opening several youtube windows in my browser, and then play them one after the other. Well, after a while, navigating to the tabs and individually playing them becomes annoying. Enter, 'Video Controller', which complies all the open youtube tabs into a neat playlist.

Sometimes. you don't want to bookmark pages, you just want to read them later, like in an hour or so. And the open tabs annoy the hell out of you. Well, there is 'Page Snooze' for you.

'Google Dictionary', to quickly find definitions. 'efTwo', a more than brilliant replacement of the standard 'Find on page' in the browser. Try it to discover awesomeness. 'Cloudy Calculator', for quick calculations. and 'World Clocks', for people working with people across several time-zones.

Ah, and for the Google Plus fanboys, do checkout 'Google + Notifications', 'Google +1 button', and the 'Hangout Canopy', for discovering live public hangouts! :)


6)
Chrome webstore.
Google has a very well cataloged webstore for extensions and apps.


7)
Chrome experiments.
And, Google also features experiments to show what could be done inside a browser. My favorite is - 'The Wilderness Downtown'.



Do tell me what your favorite Chrome feature/extensions are in the comments! OR, you can contact me directly! :)

Multiple Chrome-gasms...



P.S.: No, Google did not give me any money to write this. Though, I wouldn't mind some.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Illumination and Rangoli, IIT Kharagpur

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Note 1: Every time I write a post, I think quite a lot about what the heading should be. It is pretty straight-forward in this one.

Note 2: Happy Diwali!
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Every year, some 4000-odd bright and smart students, tucked away in a tiny village/town in India, create Magic. Every year. Students, who are known to be brilliant in "The Sciences", create Magic in Art, beyond imagination, and it comes from a place so unlikely for something like this. A spectacle seen at no-place else, a spectacle a lot of people don't know about. A spectacle the world needs to know about.

Which is why I want to write about it. And I will, knowing that my blog's reach isn't too great, but hoping that I am able to make this grand event reach a few more people than it would have otherwise, and do my (tiny) bit in spreading the word about something that deserves to be known.

I am talking about 'Illumination and Rangoli', popularly called 'Illu' by the students, organised every year at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur. It is a "competition", among the various halls of residences inside the campus. It involves two events, 'Illumination', and 'Rangoli', fiercely contested among the participating halls. Winning the event goes beyond the pots and pots of Rasgullas given to the winners, it's about pride, honor, the sense of togetherness, accomplishment, the rush of adrenalin, and more...

As someone who had the privilege of going to IIT Kharagpur, I would like to share what I have seen over the years as a student there, as someone who has seen the emotions and the feelings, felt it, and feels the need to shout it out for the world to hear, and can only attempt to describe it in words.

Illumination:

Diwali is the biggest Indian festival, meant to be celebrated with friends and family. For most of the four/five years that the students spend at IIT Kharagpur, it is celebrated with only friends, without the family. For Illu.

So, the preparations begin a month in advance. Huge chatai's, or grids made of bamboo, are used to tie diyas to. Several days are spent in tying up the diyas to wires, which would be used to keep the diya in place on the Chatai. No electronic lights of any sort are used in the whole setup. The diyas are tied to the Chatais to make patterns. Popular scenes chosen are straight out of Indian mythology, like 'The Mahabharat', or 'The Ramayan'.

There is madness on the final day. The atmosphere is enveloped in rush and urgency. The halls are decorated. Huge containers are filled with oil. Pichkaris would be used to fill the diyas with oil. The oil is preheated so that it burns effectively. Wicks are put in place in the diyas. When the moment comes, thousands of diyas are lighted simultaneously by hundreds of students, mounted on tables and chairs, placed one over the other, to reach Chatais sometimes as high as 20 ft. And in that one moment, when the hard work of the past one month comes together to create magic, which will last for a few minutes before it goes out, every KGPian is proud and happy. Once the lighting is done, the tables (one over the other) are removed from in front of the structures in a mad rush in a matter of seconds, for the judges to see. The judges come and do their bit, and it all comes to an end. Ah, and yes, the halls that won't win, will go to sleep feeling sad and hungry  (because most of the eating joints are closed due to the festival) after the month-long sweat and toil they put in. On Diwali.



Tying of diyas in progress


Scene out of the Ramayana


Scene out of the Mahabharat


The Taj Mahal


Gautam Buddha


Lanka Dehan


A video of one of the Illu from '09 is embedded below:











Rangoli:


If you read the Rangoli article on wikipedia, you will come to know what a Rangoli typically looks like. Rangoli at IIT Kharagpur is in no way like that. You can easily mistake a Rangoli here for a painting, when in fact, it's all just coloured powder. Work for the Rangoli begins days in advance, on a huge canvas (the floor), often as big as 15 ft X 10 ft. The work is done in sealed rooms, so that a crawling insect or the slightest wind doesn't ruin the design. And if that was not enough, we have out-of-the-box ingenuity coming every year, like a Rangoli which looks different in red ambient light, and different in green ambient light (also featured in 'Ripley's believe it or not'.), or one which is meant to be seen in a convex mirror. I know it will not make much sense, so I will let the pictures speak for themselves. 


Rangoli-making in progress












Different in Green...

...and different in red. (Video of transition at this link)

Final image seen on the convex mirror in the center



THAT's how KGPians celebrate diwali, and they wouldn't any other way. :)


Now, coming to the intent of this post. Nothing I have said in this post would be new to anyone who has been associated with IIT Kharagpur in any way. I feel that the quality of the illumination and rangoli is of such a standard that it deserves to be covered at least by the national media. If this post is able to give even a little idea about this tradition and culture of IIT Kharagpur to even a random visitor to this blog, I will be happy. Illu and Rangoli is something EVERY KGPian is proud of.


Public album on Facebook - Illumination and Rangoli, IIT KGP, 2010

Public album on Facebook - Illumination and Rangoli, IIT KGP, 2011



Illumination and Rangoli, IIT Kharagpur...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

faceless


Right from the day we were born, when we entered the world, we have been trying to tell people, to show those around us, that we have arrived. Here we are, notice us, respect us, admire us, and love us.

The feeling of faceless-ness first hit me when I was a senior student in school. Students, and teachers, knew us. We had a face. One day, I was asked to go to the nursery section, to "mind the class" for an hour, as the teacher was not present, and substitutions, unavailable. As I entered the nursery section, I saw crowd. Little, teeny-tiny kids all over the place, and they all looked the same. Annoying. And faceless. I realized that, these kids, these faceless kids, this exact set of kids would one day go on to become senior students of the school. They would be differentiated by their skills and talents, and would be known throughout the school. They would have a face. People would notice them, respect them, admire them, and love them.

People who have studied through high-school and senior-secondary in the same school would know how awesome it feels when, suddenly, we transition to being the senior-most students around. Teachers, who often gave us a hard-time became friends, really. Junior students looked up to us with awe and respect, hoping one day they would emulate what we did. It felt special, and it felt like we knew the world. Then, I entered college, and entered the world.


In essence, it was a rehash of the earlier cycle, only more invigorating. Our faceless new batch, freshers, each one trying to find our own place in the crowd. We stumbled, we struggled, eventually coming to terms with who we are, and what we are good at. As we marched ahead in the system, we gained balance. We had a face. A new face. This time, we had discovered ourselves in a surer way than before. It felt special, and it felt like we knew the world. Then, I graduated, and entered the world. This time, for real.

Again, we were just one face in the crowd, faceless, and the crowd, mightier and larger than before. It was overwhelming. But this time, there was a little voice inside me that told me, "It will be okay. You will find yourself, again." I now know that it is a cycle, bound to repeat, and that if we are faceless today, we will have a face one day. I now know that whenever you become a part of something, you begin as being faceless, and eventually find a place for yourself, except...

...except when you were born, and entered the world. When you were born, the instant, right from that very moment, you had a face, in your mother's eyes. You never were, or will be, faceless in her eyes. If you know this, then no matter where you end up being, you will find yourself. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

ExcelSocial: Use facebook from Excel spreadsheet



The inspiration for building this app comes from this article on Lifehacker (this article on Mashable) about this site.

Introducing ExcelSocial, using which, from right within Excel, you can:
  • Check facebook newsfeed and friends' wall
  • Like/comment on newsfeed stories/friends' wall stories
  • Update status/post to friends' wall

This is the first version of this app, so their might be bugs.





Use the button below to download ExcelSocial:




Feel free to send me your suggestions/feedback through the contact page.

Enjoy!


Note 1: You have to enable Macros to be able to use ExcelSocial.
Note 2: Special thanks to loneranger for helping build this app.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shaitan

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Note 1: I failed to see what the audiences and the reviewers are so excited about for this movie. I usually avoid negative reviews, but again, like 'Raajneeti', I just had to write this one.

Note 2: I am sure a lot of people would disagree with me. If you are willing to spend your time, I would love to hear your opinion in the comments.
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When you come to know about a movie that will be releasing shortly, and you scrutinize the promotional poster carefully, and see the name 'Anurag Kashyap' printed on the poster, you get excited about it. You eagerly wait for the movie. You are excited for you don't know how the maestro will surprise you this time. It doesn't matter in what capacity is he associated with the movie, his name is enough for creating the buzz. So far so good.

Now, I came to know about 'Shaitan' a couple of months back, and naturally, I was excited about it. I saw the poster, and truly, the poster was remarkable. Then, something happened. Something ominous. Now, I haven't seen the movie 'Kaboom', and have no idea what that movie is about, but the striking resemblance of the posters seriously pissed me off.




Now, there is a specific genre of movies called "Mindfuck". In a good way. [define:Mindfuck - An idea or concept that shakes one's previously held beliefs or assumptions about the nature of reality. (Urban Dictionary)]. When an Anurag Kashyap production has this tagline - "Face your Inner Shaitan", that is precisely what you expect. You know, like 'Black Swan'. Or even 'Gulaal', Anurag's last directorial venture. NOT, to get your mind fucked by an amateurish attempt.

There is no underlying prominent theme in the movie. That should have been there. There is NO power-packed acting performance. That should have been there. There is no empathy (or sympathy, for that matter) the audience feels for any of the characters. That should have been there. There is little or no surprise element in the movie. That should have been there. The only thing that should have been there and is there in the movie is the excellent cinematography.

When dealing with a subject as complex as 'inner conflict' and the dilemma, the characterization should be spot-on. We should be able to understand a character. What it does, and why it does what it does. It should come down to two simple things - reason, and purpose. And that is where this movie fails so spectacularly.

The movie is only brilliant in parts, and those parts are very few and far apart in the movie. I really really expected a lot more out of this venture, and probably that is the reason I am so disappointed. What pains me is that the intended idea was so powerful, that they could have made a masterpiece out of it. But they ended up making it one big mess. Towards the end, the movie is just noise. Annoying, disappointing, noise. The plot holes in the movie are so many that I can't find the patience to sit and write about each one of them, and tear it apart one at a time.

Watch this one only to see how even a genius can make a bad bet.

Shaitan...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Chance

When I was in school, I used to particularly enjoy my English classes, only because of the teachers we had. Incidentally, they were probably one of the best teachers I have ever had. One of our teachers kept on reminding us, "You come here to study the King's English. Don't ruin it with your Hin-glish and all the other nonsense you people blabber all day. At least not here inside the classroom." And it was the teaching which got us all interested in grammar. We came to appreciate the beauty of language.

There was a particular section of grammar which interested me a lot. Homonyms. A Homonym, according to the Wikipedia, is "one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings." Now, in a typical class on Homonyms, our teacher would fire words at the class, and the students had to come up with sentences to bring out multiple meanings of the words. This exercise, you know, really made us think of all the different possibilities with the word. We used common words in ways that surprised us. When I think about it now, it is amazing how our teacher made us get kicks from language, similar to how we would later get when we solved a complex differential equation. Over time, this developed into a deep sense of appreciation for puns, play on words, and probably an improved sense of humour. Like, you know, it made you appreciate sentences like - "Whoever came up with 'The grapes are sour.' probably had a lot of whine.", or, a comic like this:


So, I remember this particular English class on Homonyms from when I was in class 7. Our teacher fired words at us and we shot back with crisp sentences. 'Scale', came the word. "I used my scale to measure the width of the table.", came a prompt response. Then, the class was lost for another meaning. I saw my opportunity, and blurted, "I want to scale the Mt. Everest." You know that smug feeling you get, when you get extra credit for doing something others couldn't. My face shone! When the feeling had subsided, I got thinking about how brilliant my answer was, and realized, although my answer had been deemed "correct", it wasn't really correct in the truest sense. If you think about it from a broad perspective, scaling the Mt. Everest is as good as measuring its height, as if with an actual scale! Soon, I found myself trying more and more to unify the meanings of Homonyms I came across.

It makes perfect sense, you know. When you witness a live concert, you are actually living it (different pronunciations, I know). Or, that a minute is really a minute unit of time (again, pronunciation). Or, that a project is a project-ion of ideas. And that refuse is something which you refuse to have inside your house. There is an interesting anecdote about how the expression "breaking the record" came into use (the Homonym here being, of course, record). In olden days, people used to literally "break" the records engraved on stone tablets when someone bettered it...

... all of which brings me to chance. When we look back on our lives, we find how much of it was really based on chance. Chances we took, chances we got. Chances we gave, taking chances on something. On how many times we took chances on all the chances life gave us. On how we messed up some of the chances we got by taking an unreasonable chance. And that there was always a chance for the things that went right for us to go equally wrong. And when we look ahead into the future of our lives, and try to "plan" it, how we want one chance, just one chance, to turn our lives around! Or get another chance to make things right, which, it so chanced that it didn't go well the last time. You know, given a set of circumstances and understanding, we take a chance on the best possible chance we get, even when chances of success look grim.

Chances are, Life will give you another chance, you just have to wait long enough, you will know when you get it. Or, if you have waited long enough, you'll know how to create one for yourself. Aur jab tak mauka naa mile, tab tak mocha se kaam chalaa lenge!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Shor in the City

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Note 1: I haven't blogged recently. Either because I did not come across something inspiring to write about. OR, because I have been writing for a very (very) small audience lately. Not that anyone missed it, so that's alright.

Note 2: I have wasted atleast 1500-2000 bucks watching a load of crap lately. Dum Maaro Dum, No-one killed Jessica, 7 Khoon Maaf, Yeh Saali Zindagi. ALL bakvaas. Different degrees of bakvaas-ness, I agree, but bakvaas. Kya bakvaas! 'Shor in the City' is surprisingly fresh!
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I had almost decided to NOT blog about this movie, until the end credits of 'Shor in the City' started rolling. And then, what I saw on-screen made me want to blog about it. Why? I am sure I am not letting out a major spoiler by telling you what that is, and I'll tell you what it is in this post. We'll come to that later.

With bollywood on a we'll-dish-out-whatever-nonsense-and-people-will-pay-to-watch-it spree lately, I was about to skip this one, had it not been for my listening to the movie's soundtrack, which is stunning!

...Nainaa nawaabi ji, dekhe hai sab ji;
Phir bhi na samjhe ishaare
Dheere dheere, naino mai dheere dheere;
Apna sa dheere dheere, laage re saibo...


When people ask me how I found a particular hindi movie, I try to think about the movie till the interval, and if the movie is watchable till the interval, I recommend the movie as watchable. Because mostly thats what you get here. At best, a watchable first-half. 'Shor in the city', surprisingly, doesn't lose its charm even in the second half of the movie, and full points to the directors for not letting the movie lose its pace throughout.

The characters are engaging, and the actors have been very balanced in their portrayal of their characters. Sendhil Ramamurthy (of Heroes fame), Nikhil Dwivedi, Sundeep Kishan have all done very good work. I was charmed by Girija Oak after 'Taare Zameen Par'. She does well, but the new find of this movie is definitely the charming Radhika Apte.

All said and done, the show-stealer is Pitobash Tripathi. Wow! That guy! I haven't had my tummy hurting laughing my ass off to some scene in an Indian movie in a very very long time, and this guy doesn't deliver just one scene, he delivers it again, and again, and again. Especially the scene where the trio go out to "try and see" if the bomb they found makes some noise and damage because it won't "sell" in the market. Superb!

I find a major flaw in the way movie-making is done in India. Indians want a story. It has to have a beginning, it has to have an end, and it has to have some events in between. That Indian movies often end up without a story and always in ways the director did not intend is a different story altogether. Where is the slice-of-life film-making in India?

Several minutes into the movie, I got wondering - "There is no clear-cut story, and I am engrossed!" THAT is the power of writing. And although you may find the movie in bits and pieces scattered here and there, with outrageously hilarious writing, the writer does well to knit it all in the end. And let me reveal what I saw on-screen which made me want to stand up and applaud for the directors and the writers of this movie.

"Every incident depicted in this movie has been inspired by a real newspaper story."

Watch it!





Shor in the City...

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Black Swan

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Note 1: Finally! :) Watch it on the big screen. Please.

Note 2: I write this post for princess!
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Black Swan. I can talk about this extra-ordinary piece of cinema on so many different levels. Let me begin with my agonizing wait, anticipation, excitement, temptation to watch it on the small screen, some more agonizing wait, and finally, it hitting Indian theaters in March, after it had been going on around the world for almost 6 months. Was the wait to watch this movie in its full glory and magnificence on a larger-than-life silver screen worth it? Hell yeah!

Natalie Portman has managed to blow my mind and overwhelm me on more than one occasions - V for Vendetta, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Leon: The Professional. With Black Swan, she took it to a whole new level. This year's Oscar nominee list for the Best Actress should have had just one name on the list. Natalie Portman. If not the greatest, her surreal performance is definitely among the greatest performances by any actress, ever. Natalie! ♥


Nina: I just want to be perfect.


Requiem for a Dream was about obsession. Black Swan is about obsession for perfection. We have all experienced it at some level, in some form or other. And have felt it destroying us, slowly, from inside. And this destruction is not destructive, its an exploration, of you. You cannot stop it, you eventually let go, and maybe achieve (perfection), but at what price? Perhaps, the pursuit of perfection is meant to persist, and people, persistent. Perhaps.

The hand-held camera work gives an ethereal quality to the footage. The scenes are picturised perfectly. The use of mirrors is overwhelming. The climax, when Nina is dominated by her dark side, and she transformed into a (black) swan is absolutely brilliant!


Thomas Leroy: Perfection is not just about control. It's also about letting go. Surprise yourself, so you can surprise the audience. The only person standing in your way is you. You could be brilliant, but you're a coward.


Natalie shines playing Nina's quest for perfection as a ballerina. To be truly complete. The frustration, in being the perfect white swan, but a frigid and stiff black swan.


Thomas Leroy: We all know the story. Virginal girl, pure and sweet, trapped in the body of a swan. She desires freedom but only true love can break the spell. Her wish is nearly granted in the form of a prince, but before he can declare his love, her lustful twin, the black swan, tricks and seduces him. Devastated the white swan leaps of a cliff killing herself and, in death, finds freedom.


The Perseverance. To let go. The Greed. To be perfect. The Envy. Of another flawless black swan in front of her eyes. The Wrath. Of failing. The Lust. Of the enemy. The Sloth. In her performance. and The Pride. Of perfection.


Thomas Leroy: Little princess...
Nina: I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect.


Black Swan...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Coyote (and love)

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Note 1: This is what I was doing on last Valentine's Day. I know, sad.

Note 2: This is what I am doing on this Valentine's Day. I know, sad(der).
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Coyote and Road Runner. Awesome, right! :D

I know, we all loved how Coyote's grand plans failed to capture Road Runner, and the joy we got when Road Runner went "Beep! Beep!" and vanished! And even more when Coyote just knew that it was over for him, and did not resist the situation, and went down, just like that, with a blank expression! :D

BUT, it got weird over time. Its like it is narrating our life's story. And no, we are not Road Runner, we are Coyote. :| How?


There are certain Laws and Rules which goes on in the background -


1. Road Runner cannot harm Coyote except by going "beep, beep."

one. Yup, a girl cannot harm us except by going "beep, beep.". (not counting the "thadaaaak!" sound the slap makes). That's enough damage for us anyway.


2. No outside force can harm the Coyote — only his own ineptitude or failure.

two. LOL. Our own ineptitude and failure is enough. Outside forces enter sometimes, when the girl has a boyfriend, or a disproportionately huge brother.


3. The Coyote could stop anytime — IF he were not a fanatic.

three. Fanatic? :| Romantic, you mean?


4. No dialogue ever, except "beep, beep" and yowling in pain.

four. Haha, that depends on whether we have got anything else that we can say, and yes, mostly, we don't.


5. Road Runner must stay on the road — for no other reason than that he's a roadrunner.

five. So now we know where to look?


6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters.

six. Natural environment. Hmmm. I am pretty sure we need an unnatural environment for ourselves. Ohk, THAT makes it a catch 22. :|


7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.

seven. I see. And where is Acme Corporation?


8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy.

eight. Gravity (or, lack thereof) IS our greatest enemy! :D


9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.

nine. Like I am (would be), after I am done with this post. Or, in a general case, you get the sense.


10. The audience's sympathy must remain with the Coyote.

ten. Yes, mutual sympathy in our brotherhood is what has been making us to keep going. Sometimes we are Coyote, sometimes the audience, but sympathy shall remain.


11. The Coyote is not allowed to catch the road runner.

eleven. Please change this. Please! Allow? Why do we need allow(ance)? We should have that by default, right? Or maybe we are not. And hence the predicament. Blah.


Some light entertainment after a (majorly) boring post...




Happy Valentine's Day! :)

Coyote (and love)...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Proud to be an Indian

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Note 1: "Ab bhi jiska khoon naa khaula, khoon nahi wo paani hai; jo desh ke kaam naa aaye, wo bekaar jawaani hai"

Note 2: Happy Republic Day.
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Proud to be an Indian

For those of you who didn't spot it, I'll spell it out. The sentence above, it lacks a punctuation mark at the end. 'Proud to be an Indian.' would mean that I am proud to be an Indian. 'Proud to be an Indian!' would mean that I am excited in being proud to be an Indian. 'Proud to be an Indian?' would be a question to people reading it (or, to myself) whether they are (or, I am) really proud to be an Indian. Honestly, I don't know, and hence, no use of a punctuation mark.

There is a disease rampant in India. That disease is called talk-big-ideals-and-philosophies-on-independence-day-and-republic-day-and-don't-give-a-fuck-any-other-day. No problem with that though, freedom of expression, right? Also, the fact that I am writing this on Republic Day would mean that I have this disease too (mild, maybe?). But then, freedom of expression, right?

Having said that, I will not rant about onions being dearer than petrol, or how illiteracy and corruption is destroying this country inside out, or how a common man has to fight each and every day of his life in this country to make ends meet, and then conclude 'kuch nahi ho sakta'. Nope. Not today. Nor will I brag about the rich culture, heritage and diversity we have in our country, nor how A. R. Rahman has taken India on to a global arena, nor how this country has ushered into the new millennium with a bang and might be on the road to become a super-power, nor how each ton that Sachin Tendulkar produces fills the heart of each Indian with patriotism, nor how Saina Nehwal became world No. 1 and made our country proud, nor how things are really changing and that there is hope for each of us, and then conclude how lucky I am to be born in this country and go 'Jai Hind!'. Nope. Not today.

As an extremely common man of this country, I would, though, like to mention one single observation, which, personally, triggers a thought-process in me about me and my Indian-ness every time it happens.

Ever been to watch a movie at a theater/multiplex, after spending a couple of hundred bucks, with a tub of cheese-popcorn? No sooner have you taken your comfortable seat than the message would flash - "Please rise for the National Anthem". Now, whether this practice of playing the National Anthem before the movie starts is right or wrong is a very different debate altogether. Let me not argue that. I accept that National Anthem be played right before you want to be entertained and your heart be filled with patriotism. BUT, do it right! I don't deny that the video is brilliantly made and is very compelling, and features some of the greatest artists India has ever produced (video embedded with this post). BUT, my concept of "National Anthem" is different. I want to be able to sing along, and I want to be able to sing it out loud, with my head held high, alongwith everyone else present there, and be proud. Not only will you find this rendition of the National Anthem to be totally un-sing-along-able, you will find no-one else present there humming the anthem with you! What. A. Shame. And to add insult to injury, Asha Bhosle adds a fourth 'jaya he' to the second last line of the anthem! And to everyone's disgrace, while the government mandates that the rendition of the National Anthem should be 52 seconds long, this video goes on for approximately 120 seconds! Hadd.

As a common man, may I ask just one thing. That next time you are some place, any place, and the National Anthem plays, please sing along, or at least try. That will make you proud, and make me proud.




Proud to be an Indian...

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Memory/memories

Thud. Whoosh. Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle. Everyday. Every freakin' day. This gardener would turn on the tap, and I would go round and round and round, and sprinkle and sprinkle and sprinkle. You know, when I was young, I was happy, happy happy, every freakin' day. And then, I got bored of being happy happy, and then it was me, just me, sitting here, doing my routine job, and well, being bored.

Today is different. I don't know why. You know, there is something about today. It's bright, it's sunny, and there is lush green grass all around me. And, I know that the lush green grass would not have been there if it was not for me! Yeah! I should have been proud all this time. I don't know why, but I kind-of feel over-whelmed today. And, I am smiling!

You know, a thought struck me today. The water, the water that I sprinkle all around, they are so joyous. They have always been. Every single day. Without exception. They would gleefully fly through the air into the grass, and make it green, lush, and fresh! And then I got thinking, what made them so happy? Maybe, just maybe, it was their lack of memory. They would travel all over the world, in clouds, in rains, in bottles, in drains, what not! But these, the ones right here, they are here from God-knows-where, but now they are here, all fresh and sparkling, and, happy. Probably because they don't remember what they have gone through. But they know they are here right now, and that now is awesome, and that makes them happy. Ha, but they wouldn't remember this later. What's the point you ask? At least they are happy now. :)

I have had a long life. Yes, I was young and happy once. Every day was a joy. Now all there is are memories. Good and bad. Sometimes, I feel, it would be so nice if the bad memories went away, just like that. Sometimes I wish I don't remember anything at all. Then, I think, maybe that's what makes me me, thats what makes me unique. Maybe thats the way it was meant to be.

I think I know why I feel this way today. This girl, standing there amidst the crowd that never acknowledges me, she has been looking at me. And she is smiling :) Yeah, for the past half-an-hour, she has just been standing there, and has been looking at me. And she smiles when she feels that occasional spray on her face. She is enjoying it! Haha, let me play with her! It feels awesome. Yeah. You know, I can see the wonder on her face when she gets to see that occasional rainbow in the spray of the water. Awesome! Yeah, today is different. This girl made it different for me. Ah, a memory to cherish this shall be...

...there's such a lot of world to see.