Monday, February 23, 2009

Shameful Day

One would want to rever the Academy, but it turns out that they have been swayed by the shit being sold by Danny Boyle, maybe because someone told them that the F18 hornets have a market in this subcontinent. The Indians have to be kept happy. And if you select one of their hundreds of silly song-and-dance fantasies and give it a bunch of Oscars (art for the economy's sake), the brown bastards will come out of their slums and do a jig a la Jai Ho. Did you, did anyone...see the mindless Bollywood dancers strutting their shit on the revered stage? And Rahman winning an Oscar for THIS shit? At least Masakkali from Dilli 6 would have been a better choice. Jai Ho? Rahman had become stereotyped and had lost it long back, but this is one of his WORST compositions, as everyone sadly agrees. An Oscar for that?

I mean, whom are you trying to please here? You think by giving away some Oscars to India for a B-grade, over-the-top movie you can have a market here? Maybe you are right. Like Crouching Tigers and Hidden Dragons, despite being utterly mindless, bags all the Oscars, at the cost of art. And you had a nice market warming up to you in China.

Yes, so you will probably give some Brazilian movie all the possible Oscars soon, or maybe you already have, and yes, I grant you this: you have been able to conquer all the markets. But, unfortunately enough, you have let down a world full of serious moviegoers by your judgment. You have lost your right to be at the judge's seat.

Indian commercial cinema has a long way to go, so the lesser said about that the better. We have had stalwarts in parallel cinema, but because their films could not make enough money at the Indian Box Office, we wrote them off as psuedointellectuals. We hailed the Raj Kapoors instead. So, the moment you base your judgment on the amount of money a movie makes, you are talking about a business. Not about art. And Slumdog Millionaire comes nowhere near art in any form. Like Aamir Khan said today, it is a little over the top. Like Bachhan and Arindam Chaudhuri slammed it, it should be written off as just any other movie. It definitely doesn't have what the other Indian nomination got: Taare Zameen Par. Poor Aamir Khan. He is considerably fair, but probably not as much as a Caucasian. And Aamir, lemme tell you one thing: you are not any bit poorer for not having won it for your masterpiece. If this is what the Academy judges are capable of, you can at least look forward to some kudos from the Europeans, the true keepers of art.

The Academy Awards? Thanks, but no thanks.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A World Outraged

Just now I got some threat messages from right-wing Christian groups for having published my last blog. They objected to the word psalm, but I didn't get an opportunity to tell them that a psalm means a sacred song or a hymn and it has NO reference to the book of The Holy Bible whatsoever. So I will change it to a shloka. Does a shloka, by virtue of being a Sanskrit word, become a Hindu term? Can't there have been Christian shlokas in The Holy Bible?

And then some women pointed out that clicking a picture like that was very objectionable and that they will take me to court for having outraged their modesty publicly like this.

Mallika Sarabhai* called to say that the subject is fat and thus by putting up a picture of someone's fat ass I have outraged the aesthetic sensibilities of bloggers and online joggers. Mallika actually believes obese people hurt our aesthetic sensibilities. I silently agree with her, but then, for the fear of brickbats from expected and unexpected quarters, I publicly disagree with her. What utter nonsense, I say!

The Muslim waqf board has expressed its utter disgruntlement at this picture being clicked at a kabab joint run by Muslims. I fail to see the connection here, but then...

The Hindus were the most noisy of all. And this is the group that came up with a variety of conflicting viewpoints, much like their conflicting gods at loggerheads with each other. First, a group claimed that me being a Hindu, I should have elaborated on that hand in the picture. They feel it can belong to anybody from Durga (who has ten arms) to Kartik (who has four). Closer inspection of the picture, they further said, revealed that it was a male arm, and because Ganesha has fat arms, this arm definitely belongs to Kartik. They now want to perform kar seva at the Muslim kabab joint because they feel it was Kartik's original birthplace. Another group of Hindus (and their leader calls himself Mr Mutalik) asked me about the identity of the woman in question and are out looking for her for not having worn a sari to a public place. I pointed out to them that she isn't wearing a pink chaddi either, but that must have further outraged them.

The last threat was from Israel. They want to know why a falafal is being called a shwarma roll, why Muslims have not paid any royalty for having stolen their recipe of a falafal, and why there is no hummus used if it is a falafal after all. When I told them that these rolls indeed have hummus in them, they filed a lawsuit against the Muslim kabab center at the International Court of Justice for damages to their intellectual property rights.

The only congratulatory mails have come from some really fat, mid-Western Americans. I wonder why.

*Mallika Sarabhai, to serve your short memories, is a famous danseuse and twenty times better looking than Mallika Sherawat. It wasn't a typo.

and then He said: psalm 29.3, SGR

and then He said, do you want some of that? And we both turned to see where he was pointing.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Holding His Hand

Suddenly I woke up with a fear. What if he grows up? What if he starts cleaning himself after potty and doesn't scream DAAAADDDDDY, AM DONE? What if he doesn't place his hand in mine and say "keep holding until I go off to sleep"?

What if I lose him? Frantically looked for some pictures to put up here and reassure myself that he is still my lil son. He isn't grown too much yet. He still likes it when I holler out every evening "where's my lil darling" at his day care. He wants to ride his cycle with me next to him. Wants to go on motorcycle rides. I have very selfishly not included his mom in these pics (apart from in one) because it is usually a dad who loses his son and not the mom. I always went back to my mom with my stories while my dad and I were moved further apart. This is a selfish exercise to remind him later that it WAS ME, MY SON :-), who brought you up.

He moved to his room (adjacent to ours) a year back, before he turned six. It was on my insistence, actually. And then I started missing his little palm snuggling in mine. Went to his room and got him back to his bed (this too is adjacent to ours). I used to be very adamant about sending him to a good boarding, but now am not so sure. I know am in for a big shock when he finds his wheels. He already has, you know. He rides his cycle within the street right now unless I am on my motorcycle escorting him, but very soon he will turn that corner and vanish. Ride into his own life.

Till then, let me savor the memories. Let me try not to hold him back. But also not push him away when he still wants to snuggle into me.

A few years back when he used to go to this day care run by a vegetarian family, I almost felt that I have lost him. His taste buds changed and he started preferring curd rice and sambar instead of food. He would refuse beef and sometimes even chicken. Those were very depressing months for us but we managed to get him out of that vicious vegetarian grip. Now, things are much better and he eats normal food. He has even learned to eat chicken rolls and momos like Bengalis. I could almost thank god for that had I had any gods available at that moment.

I guess that also rules out the possibility of him going for a vegetarian Kannadiga girl. Now my eyes are set on my current mixed doubles partner in badminton. She is about seven and is a Mangalorean. Hits the shuttle like nobody's business and is very aggressive on the court. She also happens to be the prettiest thing I have seen in a long time. hehehehehehehe . . .

I guess the best way to keep him by my side is by finding him a girl besotted with Uncle Ari. Wot say?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Two fantastic diesels

Two fantastic diesel cars were launched recently, and I sincerely hope both of these do well. I couldn't say two beautiful diesel cars because while one of them is from the same design house that designs Maseratis, the other looks like an Australian hybrid cow. But they both seem set to be champions in their respective segments.

The first is the Fiat Linea. Designed at the Fiat Style House, it has European elegance written all over. In an age when the Japs are busy making their midsize cars look like spaceships, the Linea is simple and beautiful without too many nicks and edges like the new Honda City, which loses it in trying to emulate the beautiful Civic. While the Linea has two petrol variants, it is the diesel (1.3 liter multijet, tweaked to make 90 bhp and capable of 160 kmph) that will sell in the midsize segment, given the price sensitivity in that class.

From the back, the Linea will remind you of an Opel Vectra, and the front grille continuing down to the bumper is a powerful style statement as well. I am an elegant car, and not a wannabe. Here's a design that takes the Linea from the midsize and places it right in the executive segment, where the Civic, Accord, and Camry rule.

What's attractive about the Linea is its pricing. It is priced lesser than the ugly Korean Hyundai Verna and also a lot lesser than the Honda City or the Toyota Altis. Will it be able to wean away Honda and Toyota buyers? There's little chance of that happening, but people considering buying the Swift Dzire (which gets the ugliest car award along with Suzuki Versa, Toyota Qualis, and Toyota Innova), Tata Indigo, and Mahindra Renault Logan will definitely consider this as a viable option. It would have been nice to see Indians falling in love with the European character of a car instead of falling prey to boring Japanese reliability, but Indians are only second generation car buyers and you cannot expect a lot of class and maturity in their choice. They want practical cars, and Honda and Toyota give you stable, practical cars that don't give you any trouble. The fact that they don't give you any pleasure either can be overlooked in a market like this. I would like to keep aside Mitsubishi from this discussion because that's one company that has given us cars that you don't want to part with. You can soup up your Lancer, add a different engine, take it to a rally, and give it a wacky paint job after you have had it for ten years, whereas you will only upgrade from your Honda or Toyota.

Will Tata be able to do justice to the Fiat name? Unfortunately, no. The Tatas make the Safari owner and the call center Indica driver stand in the same queue when they come to get their cars serviced. It is doubtful that they will do any justice to the Linea either. It would have been a different case had Fiat had their MoU with Mahindra and Mahindra.

Coming to Mahindra, the Xylo is the other car that I want to write about. It baffles you at first. Is it as ugly as the Innova? Is it as butchy and mean looking as the Scorpio? It will be nice if you can reach the driver's seat before you can make up your mind either way. If you think it is ugly, you will miss what this car has to offer once you are inside. Plush seating, lots of legroom, unexpectedly sweet ergonomics for an Indian car, and a lighter and surprisingly fast engine. It also has the most spacious third row, and is ideal for the big, fat Indian family, like mine. I sometimes have to take 8 people in one vehicle for distances anywhere between 300 to 650 kms. And the knowledge that they are not trying to fit themselves in in the third row of my Bolero on those two jump seats meant for monkey-sized people is a huge relief. In my Bolero, I always feel awkward sitting in the driver's seat because I know two of them at the back must be cursing the roads and everything else in general.

Will the big Indian family now buy a Mahindra Xylo instead of an Innova or a Tavera? I hope they do. It makes sense because again this baby is priced at 7 lakhs on road, which is way cheaper than the Innova. The 2.5 liter engine of the Xylo produces 112 bhp, and despite the weight of the vehicle, it is very quick. I read that the cons are braking and the lack of anti-roll bars at the back, but I haven't driven one to confirm that yet.

What will it be for you, then? Practically thinking, a person like me should go for a Xylo, but the beauty of the Linea (and the affordability factor) is too tempting to resist.

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