Sunday, November 10, 2013

Starry Night

Her hands were on his cheek, his hands around her waist, as they lay there facing each other.

She was gently slapping him on his cheek. He, smiling, gripped her hand and tried to shove it away. She burst out laughing. She managed to free her hand and once again, continued with her playful slapping, him giving up and playing along with her this time, she unable to contain her laughter.

Their baby, comfortably nestled between them, had his sleep broken. She shushed him hurriedly, and began to caress her child. She felt a little guilty now as they lay there silently. Their child fell asleep once more.

He murmured something, she listened intently. She re-assured him, and gently caressed his cheek. He smiled. He was happy. She was starting to fall asleep. He carefully adjusted her head-rest. He kept looking at her with his folded hands below his head, unable to fall asleep.

He will have to find someplace else for his family to sleep tomorrow.

Adjacent to the ledge they slept on, a person tried to squeeze his bike into the last remaining gap in the small parking area there. A car honked and zipped past, narrowly avoiding the person coming towards it on a bicycle. The last few shops began to pull their shutters down. A young professional, carrying a bag-pack after a long, tiring day at work, stopped at the corner paan-shop for a cup of tea and a smoke. A group of friends stood beside the shop as they laughed at each others' stories about their day, each holding a cup of tea in one hand and a cigarette in the other. There was a queue of annoyed people at the nearby A.T.M., waiting to withdraw money and go about their lives. Across the street, a fat middle-aged man alongwith his two spriteful children, followed by his wife and his old mother, slowly walked towards their car in the parking-lot to get back home after having a sumptuous dinner at the near-by gourmet restaurant. A street-light flickered. The leaves on the road-side trees rustled in the soft, gentle breeze. The sky was clear, but stars were not visible. They twinkled somewhere, silently, alone.

None of it mattered.

[Based on an eye-witness episode.]

Monday, September 23, 2013


He hated midnight flights. On top of that, this was going to be a 16 hour long flight, straight to the other end of the world. Courtesy lost sleep and timezones, he would be miserable for days. He had been having nightmares about the journey. As they announced the call for boarding, he dragged himself towards the gate to be greeted by a mocking 'Enjoy your flight, sir.'. As if they knew.

He boarded the craft and walked towards his assigned seat. He had the middle one, the other two seats were unoccupied.

She made her way through the aisle, stopping near him. She struggled to put her luggage into the overhead bin. He tried to get up and help, but by then she had already managed it on her own. She pointed towards her window seat next to him, followed by a 2-minute awkward choreography of letting her get to her seat. As they took their seats, he turned to her and gave a well-do-we-have-any-other-choice smile, which she tried to acknowledge but pretty much ended up ignoring him. 'Alright, so be it.'

The safety announcements designed for 5-year-olds began. The craft taxied, sped along the runway, and took off. Entertainment was switched on, wine and dinner started being served, the air eased. He turned towards her to make a conversation. She was going to be next to him throughout the ordeal, so he might atleast make it not awkward.

'Do you fly along this route often?'

It seemed to him as if she made too much effort to return a casual smile. 'Doesn't seem interested in a conversation', he thought. Fine.

The trolley stopped beside them. He asked for white wine to go along with the peanuts. She took red. He put on his headphones and turned his entertainment on. His pick was 'Wall·E'. She looked outside the window while they sipped their wine. 'Why do they make these peanut packets so difficult to open?!', he thought getting annoyed. Everytime! As he managed to open his after much struggle, he saw her beside him struggling too. He popped a peanut in, sipped his wine, and continued to watch his movie. After looking at her struggle some more, he took his headphones off.

'May I help you with that?'
She smiled sheepishly.
'There you go.'

Food was served soon. More wine was poured. As she started with the appetizers, she began...

'I love this movie.'
'Yes, it's an amazing movie! This is probably for the hundredth time that I am watching this.'
'Haha, really? I don't think I love it that much. Which is your favorite scene from the movie?'
'Dancing, surely. It's amazingly done.'
'Yes. For me it would be the last scene though. I swear I must have cried during that scene.'
'Haha. Well, for what it's worth, I didn't like how they ended the movie. Wall·E shouldn't have gotten his memory back. Sad endings are more real.'
'So, what are you? Clinically insane, or a sadistic psychopath?'
'Haha, c'mon! Firstly, neither. Secondly, I have a theory about movie endings...'
'...which is?'
'Most movies actually end about two or three scenes before they end the movie.'
'See, for me this movie ends when we learn that Wall·E lost his memory. Everything after that is mostly appeasing the audience. This happens in so many movies!'
'Ah... I see. So you are a sadistic psychopath. Do you do it professionally or just as a hobby, being a psychopath?'
'It's a hobby.'
'I don't need to raise any alarms then. Yet.'
'Not at all! And if you needed to, you wouldn't have gotten the chance. I am that good.'
'Haha. Hey listen, I am sorry about earlier.'
'The peanuts?'
'No, before that. It wasn't nice of me.'
'I know. And the company of sadistic psychopaths doesn't help too much, does it?'
'Cut me some slack, will you?!'
'I will, if you stop taking it all too seriously.'

Both smiled. Paused. 'So...', they both began together. 'Please go on', he said.

'So...why do you hate flying so much?'
'How did you know that?!'
'It's hard not to know when it is written all over you.'
'16 hours in a metal tube being hurled across the sky, huddled like cattle and you can hardly sleep, with nowhere else to go. What is there to love about it?'
'How about the fact that you are going the reach the other end of the planet in less than a day, all the while dining, sipping wine, watching your favorite movie? And you're flying! Just look outside!' The moon followed them, the stars twinkled, and the clouds glistened.
'Haha, yes of course. Maybe travelling frequently makes you grumpy. Or maybe, the reason of the travel affects how you feel about the travel. You are right, I have no reason to complain. Do you travel a lot?'
'I do. I love travelling! More like, I like the journey as much, if not more, than the destination. Travelling gives you a lot of time to introspect. Sometimes you meet interesting people along the way.'
'I'll take it that you mean me (too) when you say that.'
'...and you had to ruin it. Bravo, monsieur!'
'Haha. Alright, dinner's done. I'll see if I can sleep for a while.'
'Yes, the time-zone monster awaits us too.'

He finished the movie, and slept. Several hours passed before they woke up. He began...

'You know, I haven't slept with a girl before.'
'Wow, you did NOT just say that!'
'I did.'
'And it was a horrible pun.'
'I know.'
They both laughed. Paused.

'Do you love someone?', she asked.
'That is a little too personal, don't you think?'
'You did not think about that before sleeping with me?! And your reply makes me sure you don't.'
'I am not really sure what that means. Love. Everyone else seems to know.'
'Well, maybe you need to fall in love once to understand it.'
'...and that's exactly what everyone says! It's so pissing off! Do you? Love someone?'
'So it isn't personal if you ask?! Well, it's complicated. I don't think I would be able to explain.'

'Okay. Tell me, then, what do you think love is? Is there a definition? What is your definition of love?'
'Love is bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. To love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.' [link]

'It's like the way you feel about travelling.'
'That the journey is as much, if not more, important as the destination.'
'If you put it that way, yes.'

'That's what I feel about "Life".'
'As in?'
'As in, it's like a journey. People's paths cross with each other, and they become experiences for one another. I met you here, and I will remember this. But I don't know if we will ever meet again. In life we meet people who walk one-way with us. It's who comes back with you that counts. I think maybe that's love.'
'Then the movie doesn't really end there for you.'
'Two scenes before Wall·E ends, it doesn't end there for you. Wall·E comes back in the end, doesn't he?'
'I never thought about it like that before.'

He exited towards the terminal. It had been a long journey, but he felt surprisingly fresh. As he walked, suddenly, the airport was filled with piercing white light coming from a single source. He shut his eyes and almost knelt. The light began to fade, and when he could see again, he saw that he was alone there, and the airport deserted. He began to move hurriedly towards the exit, the place looked liked it had been ransacked. He came out from the exit, she stood in front of him. She was the only one there besides him. He didn't know what to do. She walked towards him, smiled, and gently said, 'Let's go back.'

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Aam Aadmi Party: the political start-up

"Aaj hum yahaan aayein hain sabse ye kehne, ki kuch to karna hoga. Hum sabko kuch karna hoga."

"Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota. Use perfect banaana hota hai. Police mai bharti honge, military join karenge, IAS banenge, politics ka hissa ban ke iss desh ki sarkaar chalaayenge. Ye desh badlega, hum badlenge ise."

-- Rang De Basanti (2006)

I quoted from Rang De Basanti, but it does not mean that this is going to be an incensed hysterical rant of a twenty-something someone which goes "Inquilab Zindabad!". Inquilab, sure. But let's put it into perspective and context. Inquilab will happen. One step at a time.

Election is coming.

It's easy to talk about politics sitting in our rooms, dissing any and everything that is happening around us. Heck, even this post qualifies. People here in India, and people abroad too - US, Europe, or farther east, you name it. "India has gone beyond a point-of-no-return." Sure, it must have sounded profound sitting in a room in a high-rise with a city skyline view in some sophisticated corner of the world, or here, in India. Sorry, no. But I have no interest in a conversation that begins or ends with that sentence, whether you live in India, or live abroad and intend to come back. It does not sound profound to me because I intend to spend my life in this country, by choice. Hopefully.

I would not care if haters and dissers shoot holes into this post. By all means, go ahead. I admit I don't know my politics or economics. Let the intellectual masturbation begin. But I will not engage you in a conversation unless you give me a viable choice in the upcoming Delhi elections in November. We'll talk about NaMo vs Rahul Gandhi, sure, after the Delhi elections.

It is really sad that after 66 years of our country's independence, the issues today, still, in the capital of India are Water, Electricity, Safety of Women, and Corruption. Forget Infrastructure, Public Health, or a healthy eco-system for entrepreneurs, we haven't afforded ourselves that luxury. Not yet.

We, the youth, are lucky to have been born at a very opportune moment in the history of our country. We have the privilege to be a part of the 'Indian growth story', to be the Indian growth story. Be a part of it. Engage. Of course, it is unreasonable to ask people to quit whatever they wish to do with their lives and set out "to clean the system". No. But help those who are trying, in whatever little way. You can still be a part of it. That's why I am writing this.

I know about a start-up that is trying to win the Delhi elections. I hope they do. It was unthinkable until a year ago, that a newly formed political party could think of forming a state government, let alone contesting elections with a strong foothold, or even fielding candidates in all the contested constituencies with confidence. Today, not so much. AAP doesn't have a long history, nor do they have the money or the adequate resources even, but they do have the passion and the will to do something. They believe they can, I believe they can. Sure, you or me might not agree with everything that they say or want to do, but do you agree with anyone a hundred percent? And if not them, who is your pick, and why? The question is whether anyone, anyone with the will and the passion can make a difference if they want? This is the test.

Santosh died. No, I am not using her name to sensationalize this and drive my point across. The fact is, a good person wanted to contest the elections, and she died. It is NOT trivial. Can you do something about it?

Take a look at their candidates list. Go ahead, look at their profiles. There is a commando who lost his hearing a hundred percent during 26/11, and was fired from the Army after that. Or this construction worker living in the slums, who is looking to contest from Rajouri Garden. And then, there is an ex-IRS IITian who championed the cause of RTI. He is pitting himself against Sheila Dixit. These people are getting their voice heard. We are getting our voice heard.

At the very least what I'm confident of is this, that these candidates won't be murderers or rapists, and that if they are deemed incapable or corrupt, they will be sacked by their own party. Atleast give these people a chance. One chance. And like all start-ups, they need money to scale. They have been angel funded by several investors, and are looking to mobilize resources through crowdsourcing.

What are you doing, Delhi? I'm jealous because you got this opportunity before I did. And things are happening and will, with or without you. Here's what the donations to AAP from our country looks like [link] :

Almost as much from Maharashtra as from Delhi?! And it's not even Maharashtra's elections! There is still time. Get on board with this, man.

1) You can donate in kind. There is much more than just money that is required to contest elections. You can give whatever you have to spare. [link]

2) You can adopt a constituency. From anywhere. [link]

3) You can make a recurring donation every month. [link]

4) Or, you can just donate once and be done with it. [link]

5) And the least you can do is get your voter i-card made and exercise your franchise. Vote. [link]

An incident happened not so long ago. Arvind Kejriwal was asked by a journalist, "What would you do if you don't win the Delhi elections?". He responded by saying, "If we lose, what will you do?"

Atleast we are talking about the right things.

So... what will you do?

Oh, and in this interview, Arvind Kejriwal answers most of the questions commonly posed by the haters and the dissers. Do watch. You might not agree with him or still be unsatisfied, but atleast hear what he has got to say.

If you know me personally, or have been following this blog, you would know that I am not someone who begs for likes and shares. But this one time, I will. If this post struck a chord, please share it. It's only a click, and is much less to ask than an Inquilab.

Monday, August 12, 2013


It's almost evening.

The river rages relentlessly, its water white, its roar deafening.  

It's a normal world not too far from here. 

People must have gone to work, worked hard throughout, tired by the end of the day. It must be someone's first day at work, and they must have been excited about it. Someone must have gotten their first salary, and they must have been ecstatic. Someone must have been fired from their jobs for no fault of theirs. Someone must have gotten a raise or a promotion, and they must have felt really proud.

But here, here was different. Time didn't seem to move so quickly as it did out there, in the normal world. I have been sitting here since morning. I like doing that.

Children must have gone to schools, and their teachers must have taught them, about the world. There must have been exams for some of them, and some must have done really well. Meanwhile, a few others have not cared about their results. They will show the world their potential one day. One day. Or at least that's what they would like to believe. 

I had never been here before, here, isolated, not a soul for as far as eye could see, except birds, trees, and the River.

Someone must have met someone and must have been bowled over. Someone must have told how they felt about the person they loved, for the first time. Someone must have had a big fight with their partner, and must have said things which cannot be unsaid, and it must have gone irreparably wrong. Someone must have asked their partners to marry them, and their partners must have said 'yes', overwhelmed.

Someone must have gotten married today, to someone they deeply care about, with a promise to be together for life. Someone must have filed for a divorce today because it just wouldn't work. Some happy couples must have had a baby today, and they must have been feeling joyous. They must be thinking about doing their best, and giving their children the best possible future. Someone must have died. Their loved ones must have mourned, and remembered their legacy.

It happened when the moon and the sun were in the sky together. I saw smoke rising from distance, that dragged me out of my stupor. I started walking towards it first, and then running. I started to feel out of breath soon but I keep going. It looked bad.

As I began approaching it, I saw a burning hut, engulfed in high flames. There was hardly anything I could have done to save it, it was too late. A middle-aged uncouth man stood beside it, looking at it, smiling, naked. I stood stunned for a while, then I went closer and I frantically asked, shouting at the top of my voice to make myself heard above the din, "What are you doing?"

He looked at me, hardly surprised at seeing another person there. He didn't need to shout to make himself heard, and calmly said, "I lived in this hut for several years. This, and everything inside, is all I had come to have over the years. I burnt it."


As if I didn't see the obvious, he replied, "Now I have nothing to lose. I am free."

I couldn't think of anything to say.

A stream of water rose from the river, and started flowing mid-air towards us with an intimidating force. I didn't have much time to react. The stream flowing along its serpentine path, drowned the hut and the man. I remained untouched by water, and could hardly see or make sense of anything in all the chaos. In a flash, the stream receded, the river flowed as usual, the hut and the man disappeared.

Monday, August 05, 2013


"Beautiful!", She said, as dawn cracked. A thick sheet of clouds hid the ground beneath, and it had tears from the rising jagged hills waking up to their morning elegance. "Just look at the colors, you! It's like someone has thrown random hues at the sky, and they all mix in a specific way and present themselves to us such that all of it makes sense. Like there is some hidden order in all this chaos, a greater purpose. Isn't it overwhelming?", She asked innocently.

I could only smile. To me, She, with all her charm, looked more beautiful than nature's art collection on display in front of us. She caught me smiling mischievously.

"What now, mister?", She asked.

"Haha, yes, yes. Of course. It is really beautiful. I am only slightly amused at the deep affection with which you were describing it.", I said.

"Affection? What does that mean?", She said, with a quizzical look on her face.

"You know, affection. Like, love. Gentle, tender, warm, fuzzy. Or, any other adjective that you may prefer."

She rolled her eyes. "Yes, mister. I have deep affection for the rising sun. More than I have for you, perhaps. Deal with it."

"I never really got how people use that word, you know. I have been thinking about it."

"Which word? Affection?"


"What is there to think about it? Like you said, it is like love."

"Well, yes. Maybe not the word affection, then. But the word that follows it in standard use - 'for'."

"For?! Now for what do you have a problem with for, now?"

The sun was up now, the morning brighter. It seemed like everything around us was getting off their beds, with ruffled hair, rubbing their eyes, in order to get ready to jump into action for a long, eventful day ahead. I took a deep breath, the fresh morning air acting like a stimulant.

"See", I began, with a demeanor of being about to say something really profound, "I think the word 'affection' is derived from 'to affect'. With that assumption, saying that one has affection for something, or someone, becomes grammatically incorrect. Because the effect of the affect is really on the self."

She turned to look away from me trying to hide her smile's genesis, into the far-away hills, which looked like they were getting all dressed up to leave for work.

I continued, "Whether I have affection for you or not, is really for you to decide. All I can know on my own really is whether I have affection from you, or, to put it reversely, whether you have affection for me. It works the other way round. So yes, when someone says that they have affection for someone, or something, they really mean that they have affection from them. You know, for that matter, every person I have met in my life, and each of my experiences with them has contributed to what I am at this moment, in however small, little way. All of that has led me to now. I have affection from all of them, really. There is no denying that."

She turned to look at me, smiling. After an extended pause, she said, "For once, you make some sense, mister."

"Haha, err, thank you?", I said casually.

"I think I understand now what you meant earlier."

I smiled. "I read a story some time ago. I want to recite a few lines from it which I really loved -
“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”
“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”
It got me thinking. We have everyone's affection, afterall. Without us, or them, knowing it all the time. There is so much love in the world, and we fail to acknowledge it."

The clouds had started to thin, and everything around us was wide awake, ready, raring to go.

She grinned, now. "I will acknowledge it for you, mister. I have deep affection from you."

I laughed.

We turned around to go back home.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Note 1: So you got a Nexus 4. Congratulations. You have an incredibly powerful device in your hands. This post is not N4 specific, so you can try several of these with any top-of-the-line Android device. N4 because all of these have been field-tested on mine. If you've got interesting apps/uses to share, shoot in the comments, I'd love to hear 'em. Otherwise, if 'Angry Birds' is all you've done, read on, you must. ;)

Note 2: I'm sure someone at Google is huge Guillermo Del Toro fan. Galaxy Nexus was code-named 'toro', Nexus 4 is code-named 'mako' (ref: Pacific Rim).

Part I: use mako

Part II: root mako

Part III: sudo mako

Part I: use mako

a) Lock screen

Widgets were always the strength of the Android ecosystem, and 4.2 Jelly Bean added the capability to add widgets on the lock-screen. There are several lock-screen widgets, but none standout like Roman Nurik's DashClock widget, which is beautiful, and isn't heavy on the battery. There are several extensions for this widget available in the store, so suit yourself.

b) Home screen

I use the Android stock launcher. What you see in the background is the Ice Galaxy Live Wallpaper. This fellow, Maxelus, makes beautiful wallpapers. Most of the widgets are created using Zooper Widgets, and the icon pack is Minimalist.

Nova Launcher is a popular choice for launcher replacement. It gives you a lot of options to customize just about everything. A shoutout to Buzz Launcher, which attempts to create a marketplace for out-of-the-box homescreens, which you can download and apply in a flash! Worth checking out if you are among the lazy ones.

Head here for some inspiration.

c) Computer-phone connectivity apps (Productivity)

Chrome to Phone - Send links from Chrome browser on desktop to your android phone.

Phone To Desktop - Send links from your android phone to Chrome browser on desktop.

Desktop Notifications - Get notifications from your phone on Chrome browser on desktop as desktop notifications.

AirDroid - Transfer files to/from phone to desktop over wi-fi. Send SMS, use phone camera as a webcam, manage contacts, apps, music et al, from your desktop.

TeamViewer - Remote control/remote desktop your computer from your phone over a data connection.

GOM Remote - Control GOM Player on your computer through a remote-like interface on your phone.

Unified Remote - Use your phone as a keyboard/mouse for your computer.

d) Travel apps

FlightTrack - Beautiful interface which shows flight path on a map. Gives schedule and gate information. Excellent, excellent app.

Currency - Offline currency conversion.

Google Maps / Google Translate - Their 'offline' mode is sweet! Download maps, and language packs for offline use! Very, very handy if you are planning a foreign holiday soon!

Triposo - Travel guide.

e) Special mention

SMS Backup+ (backs up SMS, call logs, and now WhatsApp messages to Gmail!),
Clean Master (clear system cache),
Battery Doctor (battery optimisation),
CamScanner (excellent app to get scanner level quality for documents through the phone camera),
TrueCaller (it's creepy how they get the unknown numbers right, but they do),
Light Manager (customise phone's LED notifications),
SphereShare (photosphere images sharing community),
TV Show Favs (track TV show episodes), and
Default App Manager (manage default apps for any phone action).

...and since you will install so many apps, it is easy to get lost. Enter: App Dialer, yep, an app to find apps installed on your phone!

Part II: root mako

Rooting gives you the ability to flash custom ROMs on your phone. I haven't flashed any custom ROMs yet, I am pretty happy with the stock ROM. But rooting allows you to make full backups of your phone, and some pretty nifty apps. Most of the methods of rooting Nexus 4 factory resets the phone, and guides are easily available if you google it.

The method I used doesn't factory reset the phone. (Motochopper method)

1: Get motochopper and the drivers from here.

2: Root. Yep, that simple. A full guide here (they even have a video!). The guide is for Galaxy S4, but it works just the same for Nexus 4 (I've done it!).

All the other methods unlocks bootloader first, and then applies root. Hence the factory reset.

Motochopper roots without unlocking the bootloader. Once you have achieved root, you can unlock your bootloader using BootUnlocker (yep, there's an app for that!). Android 4.3 update was announced today, so there's a decent chance you'll lose root after the update. You can use Voodoo OTA RootKeeper to preserve root during the OTA update.

Part III: sudo mako

Well... you have a rooted phone. What now?

ShareKM - My favorite root app's gotta be ShareKM. It's brilliant! It connects the phone to your computer over wi-fi/data/bluetooth. Slide the mouse pointer from the edge of the screen, and voila!, the mouse pointer jumps to your phone! You can now use your computer's keyboard to type on your phone, or copy text from one to the other. It's really neat, you should check it out if you have a rooted Android device. Video of this app in action embedded below:

OBackup - Nandroid Backup - Nandriod backup means a full image backup of your phone. So if you mess up something tinkering, you can always restore the phone exactly to how it was. OBackup does cloud backups and you can schedule your backups, which is pretty neat.

LMT - LMT enable features on stock Android that are typically available on custom ROMs, and is often the reason why people do install custom ROMs. It isn't avaialble on Google Play, but can be downloaded from here. A full review here, and video of the app in action below:

Spend time configuring your phone, it'll be worth it. Tinker. Enjoy.


Monday, April 29, 2013

7 things wrong with our country

Note 1: If you are looking for a government/politician-bashing rant, or a discussion about corruption consuming our nation, or a list which enumerates education, poverty, development et al, this post is not going to touch any of those things.

Note 2: This list is relative to things often found in other countries on most accounts.

#7 Pull-to-open bags

This is a bag of delectable chips.

This is how it should be open-able... we can enjoy our chips like this...

...NOT ruined by this.

If other countries in the world can have this, why can't we?! I mean, how difficult is it?!

#6 Coca-cola


Just look at this. How can you not want to have this refreshing drink with lunch and dinner, and to go alongside the chips in #7. (I skipped mentioning breakfast for the risk of it being an overkill.) For most countries, bottomless coke, or for that matter, any drink other than water is offered alongwith meals by default. Water is the last thing you should be drinking, with the evolution of man.

#5 Airports

They suck. And before you go all "T3" on me, again, they suck. Travelling, especially air-travel, should be an experience, not a punishment. Travelling by air is the pinnacle of human achievement. Think about it, you are flying at 30,000 ft, half-way across the world in less than 24 hours, at more than 900 kms per hour, while dining and watching movies along the way, even watching cat videos on youtube, and liking others' updates about their amazing lives. Not to mention the spectacular views and the perspective you get on our planet.

Airports should present it as such. It should be huge, unlike anything you might have seen before. While you wait for your flight, you should have a magnificent view of the craft from the gate, through big glass panels, so you can marvel at its sheer size, filled with a childlike wonder. Not shoved into buses which take you on a tumbling ride towards your craft. There should be enough seating, clear signs and directions. The immigration should be polite, welcoming to its own citizens, a small "Welcome home." with a smile. The security should not feel derogatory. The experience should be welcoming. It's the pinnacle of human achievement, afterall.

#4 Public Signs/Addresses

A metro station should say "metro station", an airport or a railway station should be navigable from anywhere in the city, with signs that say "Airport -> 15 kms", and a bus-stop should say "Bus Stop". It made me think when a Chinese guy visiting India asked me at a bus stop, "How do you know that the bus will stop here?", and the only response I could give was, "Ummm, because this is where everyone else is standing.". It shouldn't be this way. 

And the addresses should make sense, with numbered streets and crossings. Do away with the MG roads! Use more numbers, PLEASE! This should not be how my address looks/sounds:

Opp. XYZ Hospital,
Near ABC Hotel,
Quite close to Forum mall,
Come straight from PQR Flyover, and take 2nd right, then left.


My address should look like this:
42, Lush Meadows Residence
7, Riverview Road, Bangalore.

That's IT.

#3 Utility stores / Vending Machines

Fewer malls, please? And more utility stores. Where I can go, pick things, pay money, and get out with minimal turnaround time. Maybe 7/11's at petrol pumps? And every other 100 meters too? And vending machines! Aaaargh. Quick turnaround time!

#2 Breakfast

There are CRORES of people who go to work every day. And they want breakfast. The corn-flakes, and the dosas and the idlys, and the paratha-sabzi are okay. People need to be able to grab a bite in the mornings, and quickly. Croissants, muffins, selection of juices and sandwiches, salads, fruits, as pre-packaged take-away, available close to any means of public transport. Also, coffee. How can so many other countries get this right, except us?! I will not even touch the despicable state of our lunches and dinners, but we can always work around that. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, remember?

#1 Respect for workers

Cheap labour, right? Be kind to the people working at your house. Give the auto-waalas 20 extra bucks. Talk to them, chat with them. Listen to their stories, they have several. Make a joke or two, and see them smile. Trust them. Offer them a glass of water, tea, or food after a few hours of hard manual work by default, which shouldn't be seen as an act of generosity, but of responsibility and of respect from a person, to another. Give them gifts on festivals, give them leaves. Give them a raise when you get one. Share your happiness with them, and be a part of theirs.

So many poor Indians go abroad to work as sweepers, cleaners, carpenters, construction workers, and they do that with their heads held high, with pride. They don't want to come back. Give them that opportunity here. Make them feel that they belong, and that we are fellow-countrymen.

7 things wrong with our country...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stranger than fiction

Before sunset.

Good morning. It's a wonderful life, jackass. High and low since you went away. Gone with the wind, the lady vanishes. Dazed and confused. That was then... this is now. Devil wears prada, following breakfast at Tiffany's. I'm not there. Wish you were here, the best years of our lives. Stand by me, life is beautiful.

My life as a dog. Coffee and cigarettes. Thank you for smoking up in the air. Kiss kiss bang bang. What's up, Tiger Lily? 'I know where I'm going!'. Whatever works.  Man on wire, walk on the wild side. Small time crooks take the money and run! Breathless chase. Speed. Snatch. Catch me if you can. Dirty rotten scoundrels. There will be blood. Kill! Carnage, pulp fiction. Extremely loud & incredibly close. Anatomy of a murder, blood simple. The act of seeing with one's own eyes, eyes wide shut. Shame, the killing. Anything else? Apocalypse now.

Before midnight.

Hunger. The unbearable lightness of being.

It happened one night, October sky, the Milky Way, city lights. Through a glass darkly, I saw the odd couple. The boy in blue, that girl in yellow boots. A beautiful mind, little miss sunshine - the dreamers. He said, she said - "I love you to death", "I love you too, like crazy." Stolen kisses. Night on Earth, stranger than paradise, bigger than life. Spellbound. And the ship sails on. Play it again, Sam.

Before sunrise.

A walk with Love and Death. The green mile. The long walk home. A night to remember.

Once. 2 or 3 things I know about her. Great expectations. Letter never sent, somewhere lost in translation. The silence, the prestige, unforgiven. Bad timing. Do the right thing. Make it right being there. Requiem for a dream. The pursuit of happyness, love, and other impossible pursuits. Finding Neverland. Inherit the wind, eternal sunshine of the spotless mind singin' in the rain. Dil chahta hai the road to El Dorado, days of Heaven, city of God. Good morning. It's a wonderful life.

Hollywood ending.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kai Po Che!

Kai po che! (2013) on IMDb
Note 1: This post is going to be short, like the movie, and sweet, like Amrita Puri.

Note 2: What a weekend this is going to be for cinema! Kai Po Che! here, 85th Academy Awards there.

1) I hereby resolve to never bash Chetan Bhagat. Curse him all you like, but his work formed the basis of 3 Idiots earlier, and Kai Po Che now. If anything, his work is atleast giving film-makers a skeletal plot to make brilliant, original movies. And delight for people like us when we see "Based on a novel" in the opening credits (of an Indian movie). Also, gives us hope about writing being taken seriously in our country.

2) Detailing. It is true to the time and place it has been set in, and (almost) none of it looks cheap. Way better than the half-assed attempt in Special 26. Also, they took a source material and made it shine. Unlike Matru ki Bijli ka Mandola or Special 26 where potential was thrown into the toilet and flushed. Twice.

3) Music and score. Amit Trivedi. Need I say more?

4) Raj Kumar Yadav. Sheer brilliance as an actor, stands out in a film filled with good performances (brilliant casting choices) all over the place.

5) Abhishek Kapoor. Also gave us Rock On, knows how to make a movie with a tight running time (125 minutes for this one), brilliantly pacing the story, without introducing unnecessary song-and-dance sequences, as is typical with movie-making in our country.

6) Avoids the obvious pitfalls for such a movie. Deals with the parallel events spectacularly.

7) Amrita Puri! Boy is she cute! If I do a '7 girls...' post like I did last year, she is definitely going to be on it.

Kai Po Che...

Friday, February 15, 2013

most beautiful


I will say that you are the most beautiful girl in the world, and it will not be true.

In an absolute sense, that is. For one, to call you the most beautiful girl in the world, I would have to see (meet?) all the girls in this world. Not that I don't like this idea, but it would be an impossible thing to do. And that is not the only problem. I mean, you could easily dismiss it as me talking in hyperbole, not that you would have a problem with it, would you? And even otherwise, it could be dismissed as me being cheesy, albeit in a good way, cheesy still. Or, it could be challenged by anyone, no?


What songs, what words, sentences should I write?
She walks with unsaid words and unshed eyes;
A few steps behind me in the moonlight.
She knows, and that I know not, yet she shies.
Behind me, even the moonlight cries;
So her lips unseal, eyes weep, wrong made right.
She knows, and that I know not, yet she shies.
Doth mystery revealed make romance bright?
Her silence I hear and away I glide.
Romance be mystery, and mystery tries
the truth of my heart, healing from hurt pride.
The shadow remains still, the water dries...
Songs, words, sentences I could never write
A few steps behind me in the moonlight.


"I love you."

Heh, saying it even in front of the mirror is seeming so ridiculous, and I can only imagine how ridiculous it would be in front of her. Maybe I could put it differently.

"Jab se tumse milaa hoon, bas tumhaare hi khayaalo mai khoya rehta hoon. Tumhaare bina mera naa aar hai naa paar. Mai tumse aur sirf tumse pyaar kartaa hoon." Yeah, right. Bollywood would be such a perfect way to go. Damn you, Bollywood! Real cinema, please?

I have to get every expression, every gesture right. It has to be perfect. I will put on a smile first, give an elegant pause, look into her eyes, and just say it. If only I had some practice before! How, I know not, this mirror thing is surely not helping me.

I should also be prepared for everything that she could say. I have to play every scenario in my head, and have an appropriate response for her every response, so that I do not look like a fool after saying it. She could say "Huh?! What?!", and then maybe leave or something. I am a little scared of this scenario, I wouldn't know what to do or say. Well, I kind of know what to say.

I know that I have to tell her. She must know.

On an off-chance, she could also say, "I love you too." And that would make me the happiest person on this planet, not that it is going to happen. But if I am getting prepared for everything, I might as well do an exhaustive job.

We think that a number coming on a dice is a random event. It is not. It is a direct function of how a dice is thrown, and we could come up with a perfect model which could exactly predict the outcome on the dice. This, on the other hand, is a completely random event for me. For I have absolutely no control over it, nor am I in a position to predict the outcome. It has to be lived through to know.

I met her in the evening. She looked beautiful, like always. It is amazing how when I meet her even today, I still feel like how I felt when I met her for the first time. It is such an amazing feeling, something one would want to hold on to for life.

We ordered something to eat, while I was still trying to figure out the perfect time to pop the words. I was nervous. No matter how much prepared one is, when the time comes, it seems like an impossible thing to do. I decided to say it between the food and the dessert, that way, atleast the evening would surely end on a sweet note. And while I made this decision, a part of me hoped that the food never finishes.

Time passed quickly, as is always the case when I am with her, and we ordered dessert. I now had a small window within which I had to say it. How?! My heart was racing! I think I let my nervousness show, even. "I love you", I said. The world around me moved in slow motion, and it seemed like there she was, in front of me, in suspended animation.

Phew, here comes the dessert.


When I met you for the first time, I remember the electricity. You looked beautiful. Enchanting, really. I don't really remember the major parts from that evening, what we talked about etc. But I remember such minor details that I amaze myself. Details which would never matter otherwise. I remember the sounds of your laughter. I remember the heating up of my ears when I embarrassed myself because of something really stupid I said, and you giggled still. And how I kept on going about something so obvious and trivial, and you looked and smiled. And how you kept going about something so obvious and trivial, while your hands rolled a chocolate-wrapper, which we had had then and there, before finishing up the whole box. I remember how you said that you needed to leave in another 5 minutes, and then stayed on for half-n-hour. And then before leaving, gently added, "So when do I see you again?". I remember how the entire evening felt like 2 minutes. The minor things about that encounter were the major parts of the evening, really.

And then so many other times.

People say that love is nothing more than a bunch of chemical reactions in our head. But isn't it amazing, that this other person could cause such strong feelings? I mean, if we were to dismiss love like this, then we should also dismiss having good food, coffee, chocolates, life, us, because even those are just a set of chemical reactions.

I remember when we met one afternoon, and we were just walking along the street. It was just you between me and the setting sun. The sun-rays trickled through your hair, glistening. I couldn't look away. It seemed like nothing else in the world really mattered in that moment. And in that moment, in that one, single moment, you were the most beautiful girl in the world, in an absolute sense. And then several such times, again.

I'll tell you every day of my life, that you are the most beautiful girl in the world. And when I do, I do not mean right then. I would really mean the moment in which you really were, and I would mean that because I have seen you in those moments, and so many such moments we would have spent together in which you would have been.

I will say that you are the most beautiful girl in the world, and it will be true.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

85th Academy Awards

Note 1: This is probably for the first time that I have watched almost all the movies in contention for the Oscars before the Oscar ceremony, so I might as well do a prediction post, with a healthy 2 weeks till the event. Just for the kicks, and maybe some "pre-Oscar discussion", not that it matters.

Note 2: In every category, I will list one name if my prediction is same as my vote, two otherwise.

CategoryPredictionPickHit / Miss
Best Motion Picture of the YearArgoAmourHit! Yay! \m/
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading RoleDaniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading RoleJessica Chastain, Zero Dark ThirtyEmmanuelle Riva, AmourMiss. JLaw, oh well. :|
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting RoleChristoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Hit! Waltz, aww yeah!
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting RoleAnne HathawayLes Misérables
Hit! Hathaway! ♥
Best Achievement in DirectingSteven Spielberg, LincolnAng Lee, Life of PiWoohoo! Ang Lee for Life of Pi! \m/
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the ScreenQuentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Hit! T.A.R.A.N.T.I.N.O. \m/
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or PublishedTony Kushner, LincolnDavid Magee, Life of PiMiss. But Argo, deserved!
Best Animated Feature Film of the YearBrave
Hit! Pixar FTW!
Best Foreign Language Film of the YearAmour
Best Achievement in CinematographyClaudio Miranda, Life of Pi
Best Achievement in EditingWilliam GoldenbergArgo
Best Achievement in Production DesignLife of Pi
Miss. Lincoln, seriously? :|
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original ScoreMychael DannaLife of Pi
Hit! \m/
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original SongAdeleSkyfall
Best Achievement in Sound MixingSkyfall
Miss. Les Misérables - deserved.
Best Achievement in Sound EditingDjango Unchained
Oh well, a tie! And both misses. (ZDT and Skyfall)
Best Achievement in Visual EffectsLife of Pi
Best Documentary, FeaturesSearching for Sugar Man
Best Short film, AnimatedPaperman

 14 hits ( + 1 woohoo/ 20

85th Academy Awards...