Quote Unquote

September 5, 2009

Note: The quotes below are all made up, most of them within the few minutes preceding the deadline for the Lit-Soc Creative Writing event. For some reason, it was decided by most of the hostel junta that we will go with Barbie dolls as the theme of our entry (keeping in mind their 50th anniversary), with the primary purpose of poking fun at them.

Having picked a theme that I have no knowledge of, everybody else went off to sleep, leaving me with four A4 sheets to fill in four hours. Somehow we met the deadline, with six of the seven articles having been put together at the last minute. Needless to mention, we did not score any points. It was also the very first time in my life that I disliked having to write, and is something I never want to do again.

However, I quite enjoyed making up these quotes. Some of them were funny, even. I doubt if the judges got the joke, though.
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“I’m a Barbie Girl, in my Barbie world.”
– Aquaman

“If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?”
– A frustrated parent, on Barbie

“Math is Hard.”
– Professor Barbie, during a lecture on the Mohs scale

“I was JEE rank 1035. Will you marry me?”
– Average IITian, on seeing Barbie

“I am less gay than him.”
– Ken, on seeing aforementioned IITian

“Barbie dolls! When I was little, I used to secretly play with them when I was all alone in my room… no, wait, that sounded perverted.”
– A male of questionable sexuality

“I um… actually got a bit confused since they both look the same. I planned on casting Indian Barbie in my next film, not that Slumdog girl.”
– Woody Allen

“Barbie can divide by size zero.”
Chuck Norris, on Facts About Barbie
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PS: That last one is actually pretty good. Whaddya know, I fed my blog something slightly substantial.
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Seen on the street

July 21, 2009

The cultural khichdi in Calcutta is a bit spicier than I previously believed. Charming nonetheless.

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Tales from Rhinoland

July 13, 2009

Finally, my much- procrastinated article on Rhinoland is over. Personally, I never like writing about vacations, but I quite liked this place, and the experience was too memorable to be left unrecorded.

The very first thing I noticed about the place was that there were no Rhinos. Well, not for a while, at least. The trails in the jungle were a bit difficult to tread, and they really added to the whole experience. Every tree, bird, bush and blade of grass was spectacular, but it was the watering- holes that I liked most of all. You could almost see a motley herd of animals out there: elephants bathing with the aid of their built-in showers, storks drinking through their elegant ballerina- like necks, and the odd ugly rhino, disturbing the harmony of it all.

During the whole experience of taking in so very much of nature, I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures. I am not really a photography nut (as evidenced by my average photography), but for the few days I spent there, I became one. In particular, I took to taking pictures of the many nameless wild flowers that filled up the place, mostly the ones that were withering. I’m not a flower person, but the image of a wild, nameless, withering flower- once beautiful, now in it’s twilight, struck me as almost poetic.

But the best bit was the Elephant. Looking at Rhinos and flowers and trees is pretty ordinary; it was the elephant ride that I’ll always remember. We sat on it quite precariously, and it took us deep into the jungle, easily ambling through territory which no car can tread. We saw the real bits of the jungle- all of its raw beauty, it’s birds and it’s beasts. And even it’s bugs. The mahout kept telling me about his many adventures with larger elephants, but I was more interested in this one. Lakshmi the elephant was forty years old, a mother of four. “Two of her sons are abroad”, said the mahout, with the slightest hint of pride. Lakshmi too, picked up her chin a little, seemingly proud of her children who had found a place for themselves in cages across the oceans.

Before I dismounted, the mahout told me that many people sell elephants, and a baby was worth about 8 lakh rupees today. I thought about that for a while. If I live in the jungle when I’m older, should I buy a Range Rover or an Elephant? For all of it’s impracticalities, the elephant will provide me with a higher ground clearance, so speed bumps on the road won’t be an issue any more. I think I’ll risk being compared to Rajesh Khanna in ‘Hathi Mere Sathi’.

These are a few of my (least) favorite things

July 9, 2009

The other day, while channel- surfing, I came across a movie called DOA. No, this is not some American hospital movie that features crying doctors with DOA= Dead On Arrival. Here, DOA stands for Dead Or Alive. It took me about 30 seconds into the movie to realize exactly what it was. It was a movie based on a video- game.

For those who are unaware of such films, most of them (especially those directed by a critic- punching German named Uwe Boll) are maajar flops. Most Uwe Boll flms, in fact, ended up in the IMDB worst 100 list. And DOA isn’t based on just any video game. The game that inspired the film belongs to a genre of games that some of us like to call chick- boxing. In case you didn’t get that, picture women in chuddies having catfights, except that they don’t slap each other and start crying.

I watched the entire movie, and was a bit disappointed. You see, it wasn’t quite as awful as I had hoped. Most of my friends would know that I take great pride in watching the worst films ever made. Among the worst that I saw in the last few years were Deshdrohi (that Bhojpuri movie), Love Story 2050 (that film with a Hrithik Roshan look alike fighting evil with fluorescent tubes that almost resemble light sabers), and Aap Ka Suroor (the less said the better).

However, the title of worst film ever watched by me goes to a movie that transcends everything mentioned above: one that is a cut below, in a league of its own, completely out of sight of every other film ever made. IMDB lists it as #26 on the list of worst movies ever, but I call it #1.

This film is Hobgoblins. I cannot begin to express how bad it was. The closest I can come to is this: have you ever seen a warthog? If you have, haven’t you noticed that these disgusting creatures are so incredibly ugly, that they almost seem beautiful. It was the same for me: the movie was so bad that I almost liked it.

The characters consisted of : Loserboy, the male lead (imagine that loser who plays lead in Transformers, times 10); Loserboy’s Cold Hearted bitchy girlfriend; Horny boy and his girlfriend Horny girl, whose only role was to make crude double entendres. And Idiot boy, whose girlfriend was Vamp girl (who looked villainous but not very womanly. She resembled Robert Plant in concert- leather pants and all).

But the worst bit of all was Loserboy’s car: it looked like a Chevrolet Camarro. And it was colored violet. Imagine that! No wonder everybody hated the movie. It wasn’t so bad, had it not been for the sacrilegious presentation of a violet muscle car.

Off late though, movies haven’t quite been down to that mark set 22 years ago by Hobgoblins: they just aren’t all that bad anymore. Fear not though, for the long awaited sequel to the great movie- Hobgoblins 2, is finally out! Their tagline warns potential movie watchers: ‘Don’t say we didn’t warn you!’. And the sequel has lived up to the original, with an IMDB rating of 2.4/10. This I have to watch. It might be the worst film ever.

On second thought, it can’t possibly be worse than that new Transformers movie.

Federer won… or did he?

July 7, 2009

Sure, he is the greatest player ever. But for me, Roddick was the real winner. Ahem… a bit of history, before I delve straight into my arguments about why Roddick won.

September/ October 2003: Andy Roddick, age 20, wins the US Open, and goes on to become one of the youngest ever Men’s World Number 1 players. Roddick, who was called the natural successor to Pete Sampras (mostly by Americans) due to his powerful grass court game, seemed destined for great things.

And why not? He had the most powerful serve and forehand in the game, and was an incredibly hard worker, which was evident from how fast his backhand and his net game was improving.

June/ July 2004: Roger Federer, now World number 1, faces off against Number 2 Andy Roddick in the final at Wimbledon. Roddick completely shatters the defending champion’s game in the first set, winning it. But it rained. And the game was stopped.

Federer returns from the rain break, revitalised. He moves into a higher gear, and destroys Roddick’s game in the next three sets. After losing, Roddick gives the crowd a display of sportsmanship and humour in equal measures, by joking about plans to crash the party at the Wimbledon Champion’s Ball, and to check out Maria Sharapova.

Over the next few years, Federer would go on to beat Roddick infinite times. Roddick’s ranking dropped, but never outside the top 10.

What I always loved most about watching any match between the two, was the fact that there was so much talent on offer, and such contrasting styles of play. People used to love Sampras, the serve and volleyer Vs. Agassi, the baseliner. But Federer vs. Roddick was beyond that- Federer, the artist, would use his racquet like a paintbrush; Roddick, the powerful Texan, would use his own like a sledgehammer. Unfortunately, the rivalry did not fulfil it’s promise- Federer was just too good. Or perhaps, he had become a bit of a mental block for Roddick.

Watching a good, hard- fought match between the two was wonderful, and despite what the scorebord might say, Roddick emerged the winner on the day. He finally succeeded in bringing Federer to his knees, after years of trying. What a match!

Transcontinental Thrash

July 3, 2009

I often feel quite jealous of Europeans, because they live in Europe and I don’t. And that just isn’t fair.

Before we jump into it, this post isn’t really all me moaning on and on about corruption in India or the educational system or anything of that sort.

This is about how Europe is just so full of countries, all conveniently located next to each other and well connected by road, so that you can just drive down on the weekend to Switzerland, or the south of France, or wherever. Which in India, is pretty difficult.

A drive down to Pakistan (if the Paki authorities would permit such a thing) would mean risking being shot at by terrorists; a drive down to Nepal would mean risking getting shot at by Maoists; Burma is under a military rule which makes it less attractive to go to, and China would mean having to cross way too many mountains.

So the only remaining option is Bhutan.  And I went there.

The first thing you notice is that the roads are all better. The Chinese built them, or so I hear. The second thing you notice is the number of dragons. Petrol pumps are painted with dragons, trucks have dragons rather than the traditional Indian ‘Buri nazar wale tera muh kala’, and so does every shop. The third thing you notice is how similar to India the place is. I paid a shopkeeper in Indian rupees, and he gave me my change in Bhutanese money.

My point about the whole thing is: there’s nothing like driving down to discover a place you’ve never been to, and it’s an experience that I do know a bit about.

Driving to Kutch a few years ago was a great experience: I know, on a map it looks just like a crappy desert, but it’s a wonderful place. Whenever I tell people that I saw wild asses in Kutch, they just laugh, wondering why anybody would want to see such a ridiculous sounding creature. But these beasts were powerful, almost majestic- a bit like zebras, except that they were ugly. What’s more, they were quick enough to keep up with a car.

Ultimately, I have to say that flying or even traveling by train is so much more dependent, less adventurous, less fun, and most importantly, it’s like looking a place up in the map rather than really knowing it.

For me, exploring Europe has always been a dream I’d love to fulfill, but not before the experience of sitting in a big 4×4 and driving across as much of South Asia as possible. That’s at the top of my ‘To Do’ list now.

Pictures from Rhinoland- 1

June 30, 2009

A while ago, I went on Holiday to a vague place. Let’s call it Rhinoland, because Rhinos is what they said I’d get to see. There were, of course, Rhinos, but quite a lot more as well. More pictures to follow, as well as a proper travel diary of sorts.

The first couple of things you will notice is the lack of Rhinos and the poor camera work. Please don’t blame me, as the Rhinos will arrive later. As for the latter, I didn’t have a very good camera, and most of the pictures were taken from a moving car. The pictures in the following few posts would include some that were taken from the back of a moving elephant. Be prepared.

Death of the Funny?

June 30, 2009

Of late, the world has seemed a much less funny place to me.

Take the virtual world, for instance. The cyber- universe was once full of rickrolling, hoaxes, and painfully funny jokes that were even funnier because most people didn’t get them.  Now, the closest thing to an attempt at humour is the annoying new Facebook memes that keep popping up every other day. No, I do not find labelling people in vague photographs with several Hello Kitty look-alikes amusing, and nor do I like sending out chain letters with twenty five lines of ‘About Me’ on them.

And don’t even get me started on why I dislike LOLcats. For one thing, I don’t think I’m nearly nerdy enough to like them.

Of course, a person can always escape the confines of the virtual world and explore the entity called real life. My life, for instance, is full of people who make fun of me, and people whom I make fun of. It’s a bit like a food chain within my species. But the unfortunate bit is that nobody rips on me anymore. I mean it- people no longer wish to make fun of guys who wear glasses, own a pair of Spider- Man undies and prefer milk to coffee.

And it isn’t just about making fun of people. I really cannot remember the last time somebody ran up to me, bursting to narrate a joke or incident. Even television has failed to deliver: all the comedy series are boring, South Park is airing some ancient episodes I’ve seen a hundred times, and Cyrus Broacha has all but disappeared from television.

The world seems to have gotten bad enough, but worse news follows the above: even sportsmen have lost the ability to amuse. I miss the on- court and interview room dramatics of Ivanisevic and Safin, as well as every single McEnroe- Roddick interview, not to mention Agassi, who once shaved his chest claiming, “It makes me more aerodynamic.” And no, that mongoose who won Australian Open last year isn’t very good at being a Joker.

So why is it all happening to the world now? Is it the recession? Does every one of us have someone dear to oneself who has had to suffer because of it? Rubbish. People tend to want to be happy in hard times. They need lightening up, and they try their best to put up a brave, happy face.

Then is it because humans have become so used to humour that we can no longer find anything new or funny? No, that’s not it either.

Then is it because I’m pissed at my work? Yeah, may be so.

Never mind if I said anything.

Should I stay or should I go?

June 30, 2009

Transfers, transfers. Nobody likes being at the same place too long.

Some people prefer the Pescado Frito in Madrid over good ol’ Fish and chips in Manchester, while others move from one Mediterranean fashion capital to another. I am, of course, making rather obvious references to football.

And I too feel like a bit of an expert on the subject of shifting base, having changed cities and schools more times than I can remember.

And a part of me feels that it may be time to outgrow the blog as well. I think I’ve enjoyed the place (if I may call it that), but gotten a bit bored of it. Frankly, this is the first time I’ve visited it in months.

But then again, I do feel obliged to stay on for a bit. I mean, I never really did much for the blog; I just dropped a few scraps off my table and expected it to live off them, I never really nurtured it or gave it half a chance to grow.

I think I owe my blog a decent farewell, and if only to leave later on in a blaze of glory (read articles), I think I’ll stay on for now.

What’s your perversion… er, profession?

January 14, 2009

The other day a friend of mine was talking about Woody Allen, and when people start talking about Woody Allen, they just never shut up about how stud they think he is. In my experiences, the average reference to Woody Allen in daily conversation goes like, “Hey macha, seen Annie Hall da? Utlimatest comedy. Too stud”, after which the speaker proceeds to describe how watching an effeminate, nerdy man stammer while trying to be witty makes for a great movie.

To me, he’s like an investment banker who accidentally got into film making. I mean, he just makes ordinary films about the lives of ordinary people, except that he fills them with long pseudo intellectual dialogue and monologues, making him a pseudo artist in much the same way that an investment banker is a pseudo economist.

Which is why I did not, and will not, see Vicki Christina Barcelona. I don’t care. Even if it wins every great award in the world, I will remain as opinionated as always. The movie wasn’t made by a real artist.