Saturday, November 05, 2011

Simply Hate

Owing to the mass unpopularity of open letters in recent times, I'm ditching the plan of writing one and embracing the idea of launching into a full-fledged rant instead.
Hate is a popular trend of our times. By hate I don't mean a Communist's trademark 'We hate America and capitalism' kind of hate. 'Hating on' Justin Bieber for example, for crooning in that semi-childlike-semi-effeminate voice of his, and making hormonal teenage girls invent creepiest of hashtags to trend on twitter-if #HornyforJustin isn't creepy, then nothing else is. (Please to note, that 'hating on' is technically incorrect English but that's what 13-year old Americans write.)
Hating latest SRK/Salman movie. And so on. There are countless items on this list.

Now when I say this kind of typical hate-mongering is
Image source: last.fm

fashionable, I mean that there are a few of us who have just jumped on the 'hate' bandwagon, supposedly because 'hating' is cool. It shows you're putting up a stubborn resistance against the viral marketing tactics and publicity stunts you're being subjected to on a daily basis via all media channels. And the minute you openly proclaim your disdain for one of these over-hyped, below-par, but well-marketed products on Twitter or Facebook, you automatically acquire taste.
Okay enough of the self-referential humor. A majority of haters are genuine haters. After reading three of C-Bag's books I decided I wasn't going to read any more of his masala-lathered stories and waste time by writing reviews trashing them. If you have time enough to do all that, go read an actual book and stop making a fool out of yourself.
Now let me state the real purpose of this post. Just recently, I came across a few promotional videos of a new reality show named 'Love 2 Hate You' on Star World - the format of the show specifies that a 'super star' meet up with his/her 'biggest haters' and do god knows what. Whether they will spar verbally, or with a couple of swords or have a tete-a-tete over coffee is best known to the makers. My best guess is something along the lines of this. Also I'm not sure about who these 'super stars' are. But this is what I want to say to them.
Dear all 'hated' ones and the makers of this innovative, new tv series, please don't flatter yourselves into thinking that we 'love 2 hate'.
We hate. Just that.
We don't experience some form of vicarious thrill by dissing over-rated actors, music artists, writers and other celebrities. Social media has given us the opportunity of getting to know actual facts and not distorted versions of reality, made interactions with individuals all over the world possible with the click of a mouse, helped dispel a lot of popular misconceptions. And it is because these social networks have given us a platform where we can write opinions freely and be read in turn, we can call a spade a spade. Please don't insult our intelligence by deriving reality show ideas out of our new-found power of expression. We don't do this for fun or to get noticed or to get our 15 minutes of fame.
I have never written a tweet full of hate or in abusive language and tagged a celebrity's handle in it. I have no desire of trolling anyone. But I have every right of posting my honest view of a book I've read or a movie I've watched. Which code of conduct in the world states that we are only entitled to lavish praise on an actor and keep negative criticism aside? If you're being hated by a group of individuals for the work you do, please stop saying 'they're jealous of my stardom' or 'I earned crores in profit and people love me.' in your defense. I mean, in what parallel universe does that make any iota of sense? We're also consumers here, and steadily running out of options while choosing products from the market because you are flooding it with your shit encased in glittery packages. Books with awkward English sentences, incorrect grammar get published all the time - 3 pages into it and you start regretting having faith in the publisher's aesthetic sense. So you'll excuse us if we feel the need to give vent to our frustration somewhere.
Instead of producing more fake reality tv shows and using sneaky marketing tactics while pandering to the tastes of a certain kind of consumer base, put your heads together to make something worthwhile. There was a time when youngsters in our country read Ruskin Bond and R.K. Narayan and grew up watching School Days and Hip Hip Hurray. Now they read Chetan Bhagat and watch Mtv Roadies. Or better still, Bigg Boss.
Commercial doesn't automatically translate into asinine or a mish-mash of anything low-brow. Commercial can also be meaningful, devoid of cliches, characterized by sensitivity, depth, heart-felt emotions, unique/familiar stories and closer to reality. Remember all the popular tv shows of 80s-90s? - Dekh bhai Dekh, Nukkad, Humlog, Mahabharat, Chandrakanta, Malgudi Days and the likes?

Image source: abhisays.com

They were liked by one and all. Young and old. Literate and the illiterate. Not only were they a hit with the masses but they also managed to keep the viewers with refined taste, interested throughout their runs.
Bring back that era when better sense still prevailed with our entertainment industry.
Or else prepare to keep being 'hated'.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Norwegian Wood

Sadness is indeed a very complicated emotion. It has the uncanny ability of dissolving the edges of reality surrounding you and immersing you completely in an alternate world, where only you and that feeling exist together in complete harmony. And nothing else matters. You luxuriate in the richness of its beauty and marvel at the tranquility it offers you.
Haruki Murakami's, Norwegian Wood evokes exactly similar kind of emotions in the reader.

There are some books you read, which leave you with stories-bitter, exciting, adrenaline-driven, romantic, depressing or grisly. And then there are books which leave you with feelings. Norwegian Wood, most definitely, belongs to the second category.
And in my opinion, it is infinitely easier to deconstruct a story in a review rather than the feeling it leaves you with. But here's an attempt anyway.

Norwegian Wood is a beautifully sad yet incredibly sensual tale of unfulfilled love where the central characters are, in all essence, broken individuals.
In a most indolent manner, the book begins with our narrator Toru Watanabe, catching the strains of an orchestral version of The Beatles' 'Norwegian wood' on a flight to Hamburg and beginning to reminisce about a certain girl named Naoko, from the days of his youth in Tokyo. From hereon, the story is told as a flashback, as a sliver of memory that the 37-year old Toru has carefully preserved or perhaps is struggling not to forget.
Majorly the story revolves around the trials and tribulations of the 3 key characters - Toru, Naoko and Midori.

Toru, a reserved young college student, is shown to be somewhat anti-social, not quite opening up to others as easily as others open up to him. There is a sense of profound sadness about him hidden skilfully under a veneer of indifference, probably arising out of losing his childhood friend Kizuki, who committed suicide at 17. While Naoko, Kizuki's first and only girlfriend, is a beautiful and emotionally fragile being who has been unable to grapple with the tragedy of Kizuki's untimely death. Still in mourning, bound by a mutual feeling of isolation, Toru and Naoko, forge an unnatural connection of sorts, when they cross each other's paths years later in Tokyo. Toru falls in love right away and even she feels something love-like for him, but sadly enough it is not enough to heal them both. Soon the emotionally unstable Naoko recedes to a sanatorium in mountainous Kyoto while Toru tries to continue with his life as an unremarkable university student, seeking comfort in sleeping with random women. In Naoko's continued absence from his life, he makes friends with the bright, sassy, sexually liberated Midori Kobayashi, who has had her fair share of tragedies too but still manages to be optimistic. An unlikely friendship with Midori, helps dissipate some of the darkness in Toru's life but he is still unable to get Naoko off his mind and keeps writing her letters irrespective of whether she sends a reply or not. The rest of the book details Toru's dilemma as he is torn between these two women, never too sure of whether to shun his troubled past and embrace reality as it comes or keep waiting for Naoko to fully recover from her festering psychological wounds.

Written in a lucid language, the book is full of metaphors usually represented by the description of natural scenery. Murakami's obsession with western classics and music is reflected in the countless references to Beatles numbers like "Yesterday", "Michelle", "Something", Bach, Mozart, Scarlatti and literary works of Joseph Conrad, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Mann, Karl Marx and so on.

The brief overview of the plot does not, in any way, do justice to the story. For a book like Norwegian Wood cannot be summarized.
It is about human relationships which cannot be given a name or a clear definition. It is about the ghastly spectre of death and the way the people who are no longer with us, sometimes leave us in a permanent state of damage. It is about friendship and love and sexuality. And most important of all, it is about sadness. In its cruelest yet most beautiful form. The inherent dreariness of the book gets to you at some point or the other, but Murakami's compelling story-telling ways, make sure you keep reading till the very end.

P.S:- Despite being a Japan buff, I came to know about Haruki Murakami, quite recently while reading an article on his latest work 1Q84. He has been hailed as one of the world's greatest living novelists, and is one of the finest Japanese writers of our times. 

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Friday, October 14, 2011

The ones who choose not to

A recently released UN report on world health, states that there will be an estimated 4% increase in the number of children suffering from malnutrition in the African continent by 2014. Not only that, due to global warming and other environmental hazards, the climate will continue to be unpredictable and food production will considerably lessen in the coming years.
It is nothing out of the ordinary to be greeted with bad news early in the morning these days, but the thought of starving infants in some corner of the world, forces you to eye your breakfast with a sense of profound guilt. Just when you and me are busy planning another vacation in the Maldives or thinking of getting some elite club membership, there are people out there who are fighting for a morsel of food in unimaginably adverse conditions.
This led me to wonder. Why do parents bring children into the world they cannot feed?
Why is the population of the world growing at an exponential rate when we are running out of valuable resources at an equally alarming rate? Why do people still make a big deal out of a woman who doesn't have a child?

Since the dawn of civilization, we've been entrusted with the task of devising ways to carry our races forward and ensure the survival of our species.
Get married. Have kids. And when your kids grow up, make it your first and foremost duty to pester them into getting married and have kids in turn.

Image Courtesy : Zazzle.com


I don't know if I'm venturing into uncharted territory by questioning accepted social institutions, but shouldn't marriage be an individual choice and not a compulsion? Shouldn't the question of having children, also be given a lot of thought?

I remember a teacher from my high school, who had a perfectly blissful marital life. She was above 40 at the time I was in the 7th grade and still childless. She was also glamorous and accomplished.
We came to know much later that she and her husband had mutually decided that they would not have any children. Now I don't understand why others (like the opinionated parents of many of my classmates) had to worry their heads over the whys and why-nots of this or concoct cock-and-bull stories about my teacher's 'infertility'. Can't remaining childless be a conscious decision on someone's part?

Quite recently I came across the information (all thanks to an amazing Korean drama) that a child born to parents who have both crossed the age of 35 is at a higher risk of having Down's Syndrome. It's not like I'm judging those who become parents at an older age than most. But do people ever pause to think about the repercussions of raising a child who may not have the same cognitive abilities as the rest, who maybe at the receiving end of everyone's sympathy for the rest of his/her life?

I have no idea whatsoever about how parenthood might feel like, but when I think about it from a rational point of view and observe so many people around me, I realize not everyone is made out to be a good father or a good mother. Giving birth to a healthy, normal baby may keep gossiping neighbors and nagging parents/in-laws at bay and end your fears of dying childless. But then it also marks the beginning of a perilous new journey fraught with more difficult hurdles. Bringing up a child is not the same as raising a Labrador puppy.
That is why we need to think a million times before judging a couple who do not have a child. Or a person who has not married or is reluctant to start a family.
More important than just adding one more to the ever-expanding sea of humans, is to inculcate good values in your young one, so that one day he/she can contribute positively towards building a better world and a society where dichotomous opinions may co-exist in harmony, where people learn to take responsibility for their own actions and those who choose to defy established norms are not frowned upon by the rest.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Part 5 - Contact

For the newcomers, I present to you all parts of the 'You and I' series so far. Read in sequence to understand better -
Part 1 - Distance
Part 2 - Am I stalker now?
Part 3 - Catharsis
Part 4 - Rewind

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There are people in this world, blessed with brains capable of working perfectly in difficult situations without a glitch. You know the kind, who can accomplish the impossible and even talk two people out of starting a fight with one another. Take my mom for instance. She never fails to come up with the most maddeningly reasonable thing to say when I'm opposing her in any way. And I'm left with no other option but to see sense in her statements and comply with her wishes.
Then there are people like me who manage to think of a clever counter-argument only when the debate is over.
It's like my mind has been programmed to stubbornly resist any of my attempts at making it work and obey my orders in times of acute need.
Like now.
I need to study and focus on the pages of this big, fat book full of derivations and definitions and explanations with complicated diagrams. Exams are just a couple of weeks away. But I just can't.
This is not like me. I can concentrate on lectures even when there's a constant buzz of conversations in hushed voices coming from the back benches. And I always thought my brain co-operates with me atleast when I'm trying to get some studying done. Apparently I was jumping to conclusions too soon.

With a sigh, I grab the bottle of water on my table and gulp down several ounces. It doesn't help in any way whatsoever to calm my nerves.
I go over to the window and stare outside into the face of another uneventful and unproductive day coming to an end. Sun going down along the western horizon in the all-too-familiar fashion, kids in my apartment complex screaming 'out...out' in high-pitched voices while playing cricket in the parking lot. And my hormonal, teenage sister blasting Imogen Heap tracks on the pc speakers from the other room.

From my vantage point, I can see the community park. The hint of soft green grass which I know feels like warm velvet on being touched, toddlers in colorful clothing frolicking about, full of childish restlessness...some of them clutching the hands of their grandparents.
Once upon a long time back I must have been one of them. Happy to just hold onto my mom's hand as she walked me back home from the bus-stand excitedly telling her about what happened in school that day.  Unaware of all the unpleasantness found in the world. Unaware of the fact that my parents' marriage was falling apart piece by piece. Unaware of all the hurt and bitterness that my mother was keeping carefully sealed within her heart and maintaining that facade of a smile.
I wish I could be that toddler again and stop being Avni, the girl on the verge of womanhood. I wish I could go back in time. I wish I could unlearn and undo a lot of things.

"I close the door...
Like so many times, so many times before
Felt like a scene on the cutting room floor..
When I let you walk away tonight...."

My phone's sonorous ringtone almost startles me out of my skin.
"Must be Manny..." I grumble to myself.
I have neither memorized nor managed to understand any of the important concepts of the subject I was supposed to be studying. Now how in the world am I going to explain anything to Manasvi when I virtually know nothing?
Reluctantly I reach out for my phone and then stare at the screen for a good many number of seconds. It's not my best friend who's calling.
My heart starts to hammer in my chest so loudly, I can almost hear it myself.
'No way....'
I mouth soundlessly like a goldfish for a while, still gaping at the name that flashes on my screen and then hit the accept button.
"Hello?" I manage somehow.
Silence.
"Gaurav?"
A sharp intake of breath from the other end.
"You didn't delete my number?"
I feel giddy with nervousness and some other unknown feeling. The familiar raspy voice I hadn't heard over the last 6 months is affecting my brain in more ways that I thought it could.
"Why would I?" I manage to say, without betraying any other emotion I hoped.
"Were you expecting me to call you some day?" the voice sounds firm though a bit wary.
"No." I say flatly without thinking too much and realize immediately how unconvincing that must have sounded.
"Your number being in my phone contacts or not...is not that much of a big deal. Now did you just call to check whether or not I recognize your number? 'Cause if you did you're wasting both my time and yours. " I add ruthlessly. I hope against hope that he doesn't realize how breathless I am.
"Are you studying now?" Gaurav asks unfazed and unabashed.
Suddenly I feel irritated.
"Yes. And if you'll excuse me I would like to go back to...."
"You can't concentrate can you?" he interrupts, a hint of amusement in his voice.
Now I am feeling a lot irritated. Since when did my ex-boyfriend turn into a psychic?
"If you're done with your odd inquiries which I wouldn't like to dignify with coherent responses...I'd like to.."
"Come down to your workplace right now." he says abruptly, the words coming out of his mouth like a command of some sort.
My mouth is probably hanging open now. Gaurav never talked to me like he was ordering me around.
"Where?" I blurt out before I can stop myself. Shit! I was supposed to tell him something rude and cut the call and not sound like an obedient slave asking for further instructions.
"You know...your workplace...the bigass convenience store at the mall where they sell consumer goods at exorbitant prices...where you don that stupid looking apron and cap...and wear a fake smile all the time while preparing receipts." he elucidates with vigor as if I was not getting the obvious.
"Why would I go there now? I took a few weeks off." I ask dumbly.
"I know that." he says impatiently and goes on to add "You're going there because you've nothing better to do right now. You don't seem like you're studying and neither am I...besides a mere 30 minute deduction from your daily quota of study hours doesn't seem like that much of a loss does it?"
What is wrong with this person? And more importantly, how does he know I took a break from work?

"Listen here Gaurav....We haven't spoken to each other in nearly 6 months and you're not in a position to give me a call out of the blue and start issuing orders."
"Mhmm...were you keeping track of time since we last spoke?" he asks almost teasingly.
I was about to utter something unkind in response to this but he cuts me off.
"I've something to return to you. So just get yourself down here....it won't take long. I'll be at the store by 6 o'clock. See you then!" he says authoritatively and, to my utter annoyance, disconnects the call.
I sit on my bed for a few moments, clutching the phone tightly with both my hands, still unable to believe in the phone conversation that has just concluded.
Like hell I was going down there to have an awkward meeting with the person I had unceremoniously banished from my life without a proper reason.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

The uninspired ones

Twitter has quite become the source of constant, unadulterated entertainment these days. First there was the curious case of Govind Tiwari's blog and his enviable skills in multimedia editing that rendered him the ability to blink incessantly in all his pictures. His 15+ hours of fame moment gave his blog more than a million hits and started a twitter trend. And then an open letter spewing venom against all Delhites written by a disgruntled Southern belle rekindled the ubiquitous racial debate in our country : "My people are the best, yours are the worst.".
Now a few days back this gem of a movie trailer with an equally ingenious title to boot was posted by someone on twitter. I guess it must be the account of Y_films, the section of Yash Raj films producing movies, seeking to cater to the likes of Generation Y or whatever-English-alphabet-that-is-currently-being used-to-refer-to-the-young-generation. A war of words ensued between mihirfadnavis, greatbong and Y_films possibly due to the fact that Y_films took offense at Mihir Fadnavis calling the trailer wannabe-ish. Which it is in my opinion. Heck the movie is about two wannabes in the first place!
Now I don't usually watch trailers on youtube until and unless it is something epic or highly-awaited like Harry Potter or a Christopher Nolan/David Fincher movie. But in this case, I could barely contain my curiosity. When you get to learn that the title of a movie is Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge with 3 a's in fraaandship, it rings all sorts of bells in your head (mainly alarm bells though). I thought that the Yash Raj people had already hit rock-bottom when it comes to naming films with Mere Brother ki Dulhan but apparently I was wrong.


From the looks of the trailer, it seems like a story of an ugly girl and ugly guy, trying to look hot and alluring in their respective Facebook profiles and falling in love?! Obviously enough, it is normal for women who are not Poonam Pandey to pose in bra tops for their Facebook display pictures. And wearing denim shorts and checkered full-sleeve shirts with converse shoes is nerdy or uncool .
Well in any case, the makers of the movie have probably been 'inspired' by the success of The Social Network to concoct another one of their surely cliched, overtly dramatic and nonsensical tales of love and throw in Facebook as the backdrop for the brewing romance. These days, even a blog post having "Facebook" in the title or in the labels, is entitled to get a few hundred hits. So I totally understand the sneaky tactic of trying to cash in on the buzzword of our times. But the word 'fraaandship' is still a bit too reminiscent of the stalker-like hot-blooded males who go by the name of Orkutiyas on twitter and on the internet, with their grammatically flawed English and penchant for conversation with random females in monosyllables like "hiiieeeee".
Well whatever the curious case of this movie's story(or lack thereof) maybe, I wish the producers all the success in swindling the nit-wits(with no taste) of our generation of their allowances/incomes.

On the topic of lack of inspiration, I must make you watch/listen to this :-


This is a track "Sarang haeyo" from the superhit 2005 Korean drama, Delightful Girl Choon Hyang or Sassy Girl, Choon Hyang. Sound familiar?
I came across the song quite accidentally while youtube-ing for dramas to watch next.
Now we all know that Pritam is the improvised, new-age version of Anu Malik. But this is outrageous. Especially to me who is an ardent fan of Asian culture, food, languages, music, anime, manga and fabulous Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese dramas/movies.
How can this talentless Neanderthal with lice-infested hair unabashedly steal music from such a popular Korean drama and NOT bloody give any credit?
I also discovered that the "Kya mujhe pyaar hai" track from Woh Lamhe is a virtual copy-paste job of an Indonesian band's song.
I was really in love with the whole Jab We Met OST. I still am. But now I am apprehensive of stumbling across more foreign language songs and discovering the actual source of Pritam's "creative genius".

It is appalling to see what is being marketed in the name of creativity these days. Latest being the case of Paoli Dam (a Bong actress to my utter chagrin) proudly proclaiming that she shed all inhibitions along with her clothes to do an oral sex scene in the movie Chatrak, which is being touted as the boldest movie ever made in our country.
I'm not adding a comment regarding the producer, director, script or screenplay-writer of the film. But even prior to its official release, the story of the explicit scene and a 'leaked' youtube video of it have ensured that the movie doesn't go unnoticed.
And I assure thee it hasn't. My Facebook feed was full of disgusting status updates by hitherto closet pervs in my friends' list and other pervs commenting on them specifying the url of the file-sharing site from where you can download and watch the whole sequence and jack off to.
But thankfully enough a few sensible ones also pointed out that there's a difference between pornography and creativity.
Damn straight! Since when did a film need to boast of nudity in order to be stamped as an art-house venture?
And while defending the mature content, why does the lead actress have to cite Kate Winslet's nude scenes in The Reader as examples?
Unoriginal much?
Like my good friend, Anish(@Eccentricfella) said..a certain Mr Ray never needed any nudity or graphic sex scenes to earn a cult status in the world of cinema.
___

P.S: Before you accuse me of the same, I must confess this is also an uninspired post to the core.

P.P.S: Apologies to the now extinct Neanderthals, for that comparison with Pritam.


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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Songs of blood and gore

The hope of tomorrow is a dreary haze,
With darkened skies and darkening days.
The world has changed into a bloody battlefield-
Where hatred and mistrust reign supreme.
Breaths are shallow and limbs are sore-
All I hear are songs of blood and gore.

The pouring rains may wash away the grime-
Along with shards of broken glass and broken homes.
Leaving behind scars that never heal-
And a desolate look on her face.
A wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister-
She couldn't find a piece of him to mourn.
Motionless, she stood by the door,
Listening in horror to the songs of blood and gore.

Condolences are but empty words.
Which cannot bring back what's no more.
Laughter and hopes were all in the distant past.
What remains are wounds, running too deep-
And endless nights bereft of sleep.
Life is merely a shell without a core-
All we hear now are songs of blood and gore.
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P.S:  Dedicated to all victims of terror acts throughout the world. May God give their families the strength to endure!


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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why the tab trumps the pad

I'm not really a gadget-freak. In fact I'm far from being one. Since the only gadget that features in my life and without which I feel like a part of me is missing, is my Android phone - a humble but immensely useful Samsung Galaxy 551 at that.
Ever since I made the wise decision of acquiring an Android phone instead of a Blackberry or any other smartphone, my life hasn't been the same. Now almost everything is available at my finger tips and I don't even need to approach my desktop to surf the net. Hundreds of apps on the Android market make life easier for me- whether it's a word I want to look up in a dictionary or a new song I want to download or a Google search I want to run or a chat on gtalk I want to have, the centre of my being and all that I need fits in the small of my palm. But there are times when I feel a device with a larger screen like a tablet pc might have helped me better since I don't have a laptop. Especially when I'm reading e-books (that too on the miniature phone screen) or searching for information while studying on my bed or at times when typing on the minuscule touch screen becomes a bit tiring.
And naturally since I'm already an Android user, I'm likely to be in favor of any Android tablet.
This is where my lusting after a Samsung Galaxy Tab -750 comes into play.
But before I begin explaining what's so great about the Samsung Galaxy tab let me ask you....



......who wouldn't want this baby in their right minds?


  1. Lighter and Slimmer :- At a mere 565 grams and 8.6 mm depth, the Galaxy tab is the lightest and the thinnest of them all, tablet pcs I mean. Not only will it be extremely easy to carry it around with you on the go but it could easily fit in your bag and not add significantly to the weight. It beats the iPad in the weight and depth department, which comes at a 601-607 grams and a depth of 8.8 mms.
  2. Processing speed:- It has a 1 Ghz Dual Core processor which means you can effectively multi-task without any risk of your Android OS acting up or applications freezing all of a sudden. It will also be possible to switch between various windows without halting any of the processes running in the background. Convenient eh? Now there's a higher chance for you to reach the next level of the game you were so engrossed in, without your device hanging up.
  3. Multimedia:- A lot of websites we browse are enabled with multimedia content. Galaxy tab includes the very important Adobe flash player support which helps you to view such content without a glitch. Point to be noted is this kickass feature is missing in the iPad. 
  4. Brilliant display:- The Galaxy tab so far boasts of the biggest screen yet for a tablet pc. At a length of 10.1 inches it surpasses iPad2's 9.7 inches. With a 1280x800 WXGA display and a pixel density of 149 PPI(pixels per inch) it again trumps the Apple iPad's 1024x768 pixel resolution at 132 PPI. This effectively translates into the fact that the Galaxy tab will give you a flawless visual much better than the iPad. Further reason to ditch the iPad in favor of the Galaxy tab right?
  5. Camera:-The Galaxy tab has a 2 MP front-facing camera while the iPad possesses a 0.3 MP VGA one. The rear camera of the Galaxy tab is of 3 MP, has an auto-focus with LED flash(720p) while the iPad lacks in this department with a 0.7 MP Fixed-Focus one. 
  6. Storage and memory:- Both the Galaxy tab and the iPad come in 16/32/64 GBs storage capacities. But only the Galaxy tab boasts of a micro SD card slot which can increase your storage by another 32 GBs. This nifty feature is conspicuously absent in the iPad. Further the Galaxy tab offers you a 1 GB RAM storage whereas iPad2 possesses a mere 500 MB RAM.
  7. Battery life:-In terms of battery power and back-up too, the Galaxy tab beats the iPad2 hands down. While the Galaxy tab has a 7000 mAh inbuilt battery, the iPad has a 6750 mAh one. The Galaxy tab gives you a stand-by time of a whopping 2120 Hr(2G) and 1840 Hr(3G) to boot.
  8. Connectivity:-Both the Galaxy tab and iPad2 boast of 2G, 3G and Wifi connectivity but while Galaxy tab gives you HSDPA @ 21 Mbps and HSUPA @ 5.76 Mbps, iPad2 only manages a HSDPA @ 14.4 Mbps and HSUPA @ 2.0 Mbps.
So the gist of the matter of is, the Galaxy tab is giving you a better worth for your money than the iPad2. It is lighter, thinner with a larger and impeccable display, better battery back-up, better storage capacities and better connectivity.
If I could, I would no doubt choose the new Galaxy tab over iPad2. Gosh even the anticipation of being able to read e-books, blog on the move or keep up with my daily quota of news on the 10.1 inch screen is getting me excited. What about you?

Check this video below of the Galaxy tab 750 launch in India.


P.S:- This post has been written for Indiblogger's It's time to TAB! contest. Click here to know more about the other specifications of the Tab.
P.P.S:- Another annoying last request. Do put in a vote here if you feel this post deserves one.
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Ban-Anna Republic?

So our system sucks. All politicians are corrupt bastards who abuse power and have their loot conveniently stashed away in Swiss bank accounts. Kasab is still surviving on tax-payer's money. Bombs keep going off across the country now and then as if it's Diwali, only difference being these bombs trigger casualties and deaths while Diwali does NOT.
And now Anna Hazare has been arrested and sent to Tihar Jail for organizing a peaceful protest where he threatened to fast unto death unless the Government accepted his demands (legitimate or not).
Now as a responsible citizen of the world's largest democracy, I'm supposed to be taking a stand - either against the people running the government who are acting like a group of autocrats or against the civil society in which case I'm running the risk of being labelled unpatriotic and stoned to death in turn.
But I'm a bit confused here. Really.

First things first. Detention of a man even before he did something to violate the law, in this case, section 144 of the Constitution, is highly imbecilic behavior exhibited by a government. Deciding to send him to Tihar Jail for 7 days and then scrapping that plan by the evening and negotiating with him the terms and conditions of his own release, is again further proof of the fact that you screwed up. Big time.
As per my knowledge of the Constitution, nothing gives you the right to actually specify the terms and conditions for someone's peaceful protest, how many people it should involve, for how long it should continue. That's just absurd.

But blowing things out of proportion to the point of comparing the situation with the Emergency (when all democratic liberties were snatched away from the public) or Jallianwalah Bagh massacre, is even absurder.

Image courtesy : Deccan Chronicle
Every time I witness a bevy of supporters with their faces painted in the colors of the flag, singing patriotic songs completely off-key or waving the tricolor with more than necessary vigor, on BBC or CNN with captions along the lines of "India gets its own Arab revolution" or "Anna Hazare kickstarts second independence movement" I am seized by the desire to literally facepalm to the ludicrousness of it all. Partly because the whole scenario is deeply reminiscent of the flurry of activity right before an Indo-Pakistan cricket match rather than a revolution. And partly because I am forced to wonder how many of those very vocal supporters of Anna actually know the salient differences between Lokpal and Janlokpal bills.

Isn't our penchant for high-powered drama getting the better of our rationale?
The ruling party has so far done a fabulous job of misappropriating public money and aggravating the people who voted it to power in the first place.
But are we an oxymoronic one-party democracy, like China? No. Is our government in cahoots with terror outfits like our illustrious neighbor? No. Is our PM a douchebag megalomaniac like Kim Jong Il? No.
Last but not the least, are we faced with a mammoth debt of 14.3 trillion dollars and teetering on the verge of an economic meltdown? Hell no.
Then isn't all of this a bit of an exaggerated reaction to the actual problems at hand?

I'm as fed up of bribing government officials as you are. And the very thought of coughing up cash for the sake of getting a simple signature on a piece of document is downright disconcerting.
But I'm not sure whether Janlokpal is really going to help reverse the situation drastically. It is a step in the right direction, but it's fraught with too many inner contradictions and impracticality.
Besides corruption is a deep-rooted evil which has already spread across all levels of our entire democratic hierarchy like a malaise. As long as we continue to flout traffic rules thinking that bribing a cop is as natural as the setting of the sun, nothing will change. As long as the monster of corruption within each and every one of us continues to thrive, a piece of legislation will be able to achieve nothing.

I do support Kisan Baburao, aka Padma Bhushan awardee Anna Hazare, and his lifelong crusade against corruption and other social evils. I do support his version of the Janlokpal bill.
But I do not support what seems like his earnest desire to do a Gandhi. I do not support the media glorifying him as a savior of the nation or comparing this agitation to the Quit India movement. Because frankly speaking, threatening to go on a fast unto death, every time there's a disagreement between you and a democratically-elected government, is a far-cry from the actions of the man who was a brilliant strategist and diplomat to the core. And a social activist who waves at and poses for television cameras every opportunity he gets and reeks of new-found arrogance and pompousness, cannot be compared to the the frail and selfless old man who earned us our ticket to freedom from the British Raj.


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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The ingenious masterminds

Chanakya's Chant is not one novel, but two different novels, spanning across alternating timelines, combined into one thrilling roller-coaster ride that you are bound to enjoy throughout.


The first story follows the machinations of the ingenious Brahmin Chanakya, who mentors a young Chandragupta Maurya, right from childhood into finally ascending the throne of Magadh, the most powerful kingdom in ancient India. The latter one deals with Gangasagar Mishra, a Chanakya-like character, who plays kingmaker in modern India.
The book begins on an eerie note as we are introduced to an ailing Gangasagar Mishra, awaiting his imminent death in a hospital ward, while he watches his protege of years, Chandini Gupta, get shot while taking oath as the eighteenth Prime Minister of India on television.

Soon after this we find ourselves plunging headlong into the core of the story - the early life of Gangasagar Mishra, his discovery of Chandini in a slum of Kanpur and his subsequent foray into politics. Alternately the story switches back 2300 years into the past, to the era of Dhanananda's misrule and we're shown a young Chanakya vowing to avenge the death of his father Chanak by bringing about the downfall of the oppressive king of Magadh.

Chanakya's Chant may put you off politics for good (that is, if the unending series of scams and scandals and dumbass politicians of this country haven't done that already). For it repeatedly stresses on the importance of forsaking moral values or ethical considerations, to reach your goal. Both Chanakya and his modern-day avatar, Gangasagar, are depicted as wickedly shrewd, ruthless men, who are hell-bent on achieving success at any cost, allowing nothing to stand in their way.
And by the time you reach the end of the book, you will find yourself despising them with a passion as most of their political strategies and decisions, border more on the criminal side rather than just immoral. But then again you will also begrudgingly marvel at the cunning plans they devise.

Having read Ashwin Sanghi's The Rozabal Line quite a few months back, I was aware of his writing style. But when I took up Chanakya's Chant, all thanks to the grace of the Blogadda book-reviews program, I must say I was pleasantly surprised.
Unlike The Rozabal Line, this book focuses on weaving a tale of political intrigue without meandering into various subplots or a series of seemingly unconnected stories. Here the plot and events are the key driving factors while detailing and characters become secondary. Although this much is evident that a painstaking amount of research has been put into gathering facts about Chanakya's life and the political environment of our country.
The book will bring back memories of history lessons in school when you were taught tales of valor of historical figures like Paurus or Alexander or even Chandragupta Maurya. Although it may also plant the seeds of a nagging suspicion that not all their actions may have been as glorious or awe-inspiring as our history text books suggest.

The narration switches back and forth between the two different eras, ending every arc of each story at a point which just heightens the suspense. And one is compelled to read on to find out what happens next.
The book can't exactly be called un-put-down-able till the end, but it packs in enough punch to make you want to reach the end as quickly as possible nevertheless.

Coming to the negatives, both Chanakya and Gangasagar are portrayed as almost invincible men and their plans are seldom or never thwarted. Not much attention is given to fleshing out the characters of Chandragupta or Chandini. And at the end, you are faced with the bitter realization, that they were perhaps nothing more than mere puppets at the hands of their respective mentors. Cliches, such as pregnancy out of wedlock or sacrificing love in order to realize bigger ambitions, abound. Dialogues are somewhat weak as well and there are hardly any quotes worth remembering. Certain incidents such as the honorable home minister of India, shooting a civilian with his own hands, without batting an eyelid, seemed incredulous to me.
And what's most regrettable of all, none of the characters leave a lasting impression on you.

But even so, Chanakya's Chant, remains a must read political thriller. I give it a 3 1/2 stars out of 5 more 'cause of the fact that it successfully kept me hooked from the beginning to the end.

P.S: Hope the Bollywood adaptation doesn't end up ruining the original flavor of the book.
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This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books! 

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

From the diary of a chronic shopper


This place is your get-away from the microscopic dust particles, heat, sweat, ultraviolet rays and the dullness of everyday scheduled life. This place offers you retail therapy in its most alluring form by bringing together all your favorite brands right from Dior, Vuitton, Catwalk,  FCUK, Vero Moda,  to Latin Quarters, Chemistry, Mango, Deborah Milano, Marks & Spencer, Hidesign conveniently all under one roof.
Remember those times when you would feel jealous to the power infinity while watching Samantha, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte go on a wild shopping spree, splurging on another pair of Louboutin heels, and wished you were in New York? Well that was all in the past. For the age of mall culture has invaded your city with a vengeance and boy are you hooked?! You can now shop till you drop (more so during the end-of-year or mid-year sales) and also choose from a variety of lip-smacking delicacies belonging to different cuisines to please your ever-growling tummy. And what's more interesting, you can also amuse yourself by indulging in some people-watching while you're at it. (or maybe that's just me)
So let me sort all kinds of mall-goers into a few categories for your entertainment. :-P

The window shoppers :- Mostly human females fall under this category with few notable exceptions where men are coerced by their girlfriends, wives and daughters into tagging along with them on this pointless mission. You can identify them from the casual way they walk about, not spending more than 5 minutes at each store, gushing about how "this shirt will go so well with my skinny jeans" to fellow girlfriends. (Although at this juncture you're forced to wonder which brand manufactures "skinny jeans" for waist size 40). They will whirl the circular clothing rack in one fluid motion, picking up one or two pieces for further inspection, add an expert comment regarding the fabric or the cut, put it back to where it belonged and move on.

The time-killers :- Okay I know this title sounds lame, but no other way to describe them, for they are basically here to kill time. They can be all kinds of people- from a young couple waiting it out for a particular movie show at Fame or Inox by traipsing from one floor to another, to a group of giggly school/college kids who basically seem to be having a time of their lives wandering about aimlessly, possibly due to the thrill of having bunked classes (been there done that).

The PDA-ing couples:- Now they are the most interesting of all subjects. One look at them, and you'll know that this pair has only stepped inside the confines of this humongous building for getting touchy-feely with each other in an air-conditioned environment without wasting a single buck. You'll notice the lovebirds giggling away standing side by side leaning dangerously over the railing, unable to keep their hands off each other, probably whispering sweet-nothings(ugh!) into each others' ears, treating the escalators as a sort of free ride in some amusement park by going up and down and up again.

The fashion faux-pas makers:- Ahem! You may accuse me of voyeurism for this and I'd counter with "guilty as charged". But I just can't help looking at what people are wearing when I am seated at a table after a meal, sipping on my can of Coke, with little else to do. Now mind it, this group of people usually think they are the best-dressed of all and hence they'd care to slow down their pace of walking for the crowd to take it in and applaud mentally. I also seem to think they are of the opinion, a mall is the most likely place for them to flaunt the newest additions to their wardrobe. Now sample these : An otherwise good-looking woman in a floral-printed, knee-length strapless dress in loud colors paired with rainbow-hued chandelier earrings, white leather boots and a white tote. I kid you NOT! 
A size-14 woman sporting a pair of ultra short denim hot-pants(ones which cling to both of your butt-cheeks in the most obscene manner possible) and noodle straps, horribly blonde hair billowing out around her football-sized head. Or a young mom, steering her 8-year old towards the best spot in the food court, wearing the worst cleavage-revealing thing ever invented since the bra top (which looks like a bizarre cross between a halter neck top and a vest with criss-cross straps at the back) with a huge dragon tattooed across her partially bare back. Some day that 8-year old little guy is going to grow up and hide his face in shame or disgust at mom's choice of apparel, if he grows up to acquire any taste that is. I could possibly give about a hundred more examples but this is where I must reign in temptation and not get carried away.

Image courtesy : http://wingsandhalooflight.blogspot.com


The real purchasers:- Armed with their credit/debit cards, a condescending know-it-all expression plastered permanently on their faces, they hop from one store to another, trying out 10 outfits before buying one, bombarding the attendants with questions about the size, shape, elasticity, texture of fabric, longevity, history, date of release of the garment in question. And the store-keepers, recognizing the symptoms exhibited by actual buyers, help them out enthusiastically, hoping against hope, that this time around they'll get to hear the cash-register making that intensely welcome sound. 

The useless seat-occupiers:- They're the ones who occupy a table at the food-court, for minimum 2 hours at a stretch, chatting amongst themselves about God knows what, possibly exchanging tales from the time when their grand-dads were in their diapers or something. They'd sit at a table for hours on end, still thumbing the edges of the empty styrofoam-glasses which had contained their soft drinks centuries ago. You would spend agonizing minutes locating an empty table, sit down with a sigh of relief, order your food, wait for it to be prepared, fetch it from the stall, finish it at a leisurely pace while texting someone back or talking to the one accompanying you. And when you finally get up to leave after an hour or two, you will find them STILL deeply engaged in conversation with no visible signs of getting up any time soon.

The shameless gawkers:- They are also a sub-group of the seat occupiers, key difference being they're ALL male. They plant their asses firmly on the empty benches placed around corners of every floor and NEVER seem to get up. From their vantage point, they keep a look-out for pretty females, and on spotting a specimen of this highly sought-after species, they keep gaping at her till drool oozes out from the side of their not-so-pretty mouths. Sometimes they would exchange notes with fellow shameless gawker friends, seated beside them, about the hotness or do-ableness quotient of a particular female in question, who is blissfully unaware of their existence on this planet. These hapless chaps have even invented a name for this routine which is "bird-watching". 

So there. I can possibly make a few more categories, but then again I think I've mentioned the more obvious ones. 
Although feel free to incorporate your own into the list.
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Monday, August 01, 2011

Things I learnt from Asian dramas

So I love Asian dramas. No, not the devoid-of-a-story-but-fraught-with-mindless-cliches, saas-bahu, angsty romance bullshit airing 24*7 on Indian channels. But the exquisitely shot, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese/Mainland dramas wherein actors actually act without appearing like bumbling morons and production houses do not sign agreements with the glycerin industry to rake in TRPs.
Now even though these dramas are mostly awesome enough to hold your attention to the very end without being too lengthy(mostly consisting of 16-20 episodes) or annoying in parts they are not free of some typical cliches. Especially the dramas of the romance genre.
So here's a list of sorts:-


1.)The lead actress is always inevitably a scatterbrain who doesn't bother to dress well or try to look presentable. She is either a poor homeless woman trying to survive the harshness of life, a headstrong lass orphaned in childhood, a bit dumb or downright innocent. Although it turns out she does look quite hot with the requisite fashionable clothing and some make-up. (courtesy : Oh My Lady!, My Princess, Shining Inheritance)


Go Eun Sung, from Shining Inheritance
2.)Occasionally the female protagonist will be faced with a downright incredulous situation which requires her to bandage her breasts, cut her hair short, wear men's clothing and transform into her twin brother in an effort to join a boy-band or an all boys' school or for other similar lame reasons. (courtesy : Hana Kimi,  Coffee Prince, You're Beautiful ) And despite how obvious her disguise is, nobody, yes nobody, sees through her true identity....until of course at the very end where the male protagonist needs to know that the HE he likes is actually a SHE and hence he is not gay. Fun no?

Go Mi Nam from You're Beautiful. Did you for a second think this person is a HE?
3.)Apparently in Japan and Korea, it is the men who are stalked by psychotic women and not the other way round (usually). Even if the male protagonist has declared his undying love for the less-hot girl and spurned more than a million advances of the more-hot girl, she will continue to act like a bitch and pursue him relentlessly. She will also devise the most inane strategies ever (like creating silly misunderstandings) to ruin the credibility of the less-hot girl, come close to achieving success in that venture and then fail miserably in the end. Even though she should be slapped right out or beaten black and blue for all her misdeeds, the heroine is actually kind enough to understand her "heart" and show mercy in the end.

Oh Yoon Joo from My Princess, who made me want to wear 6-inch heels and land a  might kick on her annoying mug
Yoo He Yi from You're Beautiful, who deserved to be dropped in a water-body brimming with hungry sharks
4.)The male protagonists range from a rich chaebol (heir to a business empire), a resourceful lawyer, assassin in disguise, a dashing young man hell-bent on vengeance to a narcissistic actor/pop-idol who throws his weight around a bit too much to be taken for real. But irrespective of everything he MUST be hot. As in HOT with 6-pack abs, a perfect face, a complexion which gives rise to the suspicion he must get a facial done every 2 hours, over 6 feet tall always dressed impeccably in designer suits, sunglasses and accessories. His hotness must be enough to hypnotize any woman or gay man on earth. 
Believe me this is my most favorite cliche.

Park Hae Young from My Princess *DROOL*

Domyouji Tsukasa from Hana Yori Dango. *GOD that hair*

But occasionally he is also a bit of a goofball, like

Cha Dae Woong from My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
But since he is a cute goofball, I'll let it slide...

5.)Even if the guy who plays second lead, is waaay hotter than the main lead and treats the far-less-hot girl, with more compassion and sensitivity, she will ALWAYS ignore his gestures and continue to drool over the jerk who doesn't treat her well. He will try do everything to win her heart, be so sweet and nice, that watching him will make your heart break. But STILL she won't fall for him. Hah!

Kang Shin Woo from You're Beautiful. Do you fancy turning a blind eye to this man's advances? Sigh!
6.)Crazy fangirls mean life and death for our boy-bands and pop idols. Winning their approval for your girlfriend is more important that winning the approval of your family. Otherwise dude, you can kiss all that stardom goodbye. And it's anyone's guess how supportive they are of their love lives which,of course, doesn't involve them in any way.


7.)There will always be a crass and loud grandpa or grandma, to make life hell for you or your girlfriend/boyfriend. They will scream into your ears to make you see 'sense' even in the face of all hostilities. They'll fix your marriage to some girl you have never seen before, who is a complete bitch, to boot. And they will NOT back off even when told to do so repeatedly. They will nose into your business with a passion rivaling someone's who is about to give up his life for his motherland. Yes!


Grandma to Han Kyul in Coffee Prince. See what I mean?

8.)Something or the other has to go wrong in the last or the second-last episode of all dramas. Even if there have been enough conflicts already, which threaten to separate our lovey-dovey lead couple from the prospect of a hunky-dory, happily-ever-after-until-breakup ending, the last episode must in some way create a life-threatening one. Sometimes one character will be killed off quite unnecessarily in order to inflict mental anguish on the viewers. *sob sob*

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Most of you must already be acquainted with Japanese movies like Ringu (The Ring), Ju-on (The Grudge movies), Chakushin Ari (One Missed Call) and Korean movies like My Sassy Girl, Old Boy, The Chaser, A Tale of Two Sisters and so on. For many of these have been remade into Hollywood blockbusters over the years. But I'm sure you are blissfully unaware of these dramas, most of which in my opinion, are even better than the movies. Not only are these dramas shot in beautiful locales, but the characterizations, story, plot and acting are top-notch as well. And the best part is they recount a story and don't stretch the plot beyond the point of tolerance like our desi serials do.


So don't let this post discourage you in any way. Believe me, when you do start watching them, you'll know what you were missing out on all this time.


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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Newsworthy?


In keeping with the increasing crappiness in standards of journalism of our times, a substantial amount of media attention is devoted to "Page 3 celebs" and people who in all probability, do not deserve any of it.
Now do not ask me what kind of people qualify to be Page 3 celebs. For I do not know myself.

Here's a glossary of sorts to elucidate further on who and why or how exactly they land up in the news, although you know THAT already, I guess :-

Ranbir Kapoor:- For whoring his way through tinsel town. Be it some married older socialite, or coochie-cooing with Anushka Sharma/Katrina Kaif or getting all hot and heavy with some model-turned-wannabe-actress (Angela Johnson? or was it Thompson?) his exploits in the can't-keep-it-in-my-pants department make for a great page-turner.

Sonam Kapoor:- For wearing good clothes. And accessorizing them with good shoes. And you know, good bags. And good jewellery. And making appearances at events for...reasons best known to her and the event-organizers.

Mallika Sherawat: For not wearing clothes.

Uday Chopra: For realizing too late that he should've retired from acting right after his debut.

Shah Rukh Khan: For his latest version of Himani Navaratna Tel ad. Or a jibe at Aamir Khan. Or giving an impassioned speech (punctuated with barely-concealed self-admiration) while receiving an award for best acting, nobody gives a shit about. Also for being at the receiving end of the wrath of few disgruntled IIPM students.

Abhishek Bachchan: For his "Pa", ma, wife, unborn kid(s) OR an Idea ad.

Katrina Kaif: For denying relationships with Akshay Kumar and Ranbir Kapoor and Salman Khan. Also for being the only Bollywood actress who doesn't have to fake a foreign accent.

Salman Khan: For assaulting people (psychologically or otherwise) with his fabulously shitty movies and shittier driving. Or for trying to threaten ex-girlfriend's current beau into submission, by calling him up n number of times.

Aamir Khan: For deciding to flaunt a bizarre new mustache for random declared-hit-even-before-release movie.

Imran Khan: For the above mentioned person.

Deepika Padukone: For fuming over being dumped unceremoniously.

Ekta Kapoor: For changing her astrologer/numerologist/tarot card reader for the 97462354th time. Also for generating widespread alarm on dropping the letter "K" from her serial names.

Arindam Chaudhuri: For well...being the author of books which become best-sellers even before launch and running an institution which guarantees 100% fictional MBA degrees with 100% placements in 100% fictional organizations.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali: For making a movie with a supposedly ground-breaking new theme, which often turns out to be a scene-by-scene copy of some phoren filum few people have heard of.

Aishwarya Rai: For making fashion faux passes at Cannes and Oprah and the Oscars every alternate year and posing for photographs, with that famous plastic smile intact.

Ram Gopal Verma: For expressing support for a psychopath murderer so that some people finally take note of the fact that he is still around making movies.

Chetan Bhagat: For posting intelligent tweets and deleting them later on 'cause they proved to be too intelligent for ordinary people to comprehend.

Karan Johar: For threatening to make a sequel to Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, (possibly pissed off with all the gay jokes on twitter).

Last but not the least,

Wait...I can't remember if I actually have dementia or if it is my lawyer's idea to get me out of jail!!
Suresh Kalmadi: Previously, for pretending he does not know anything. Now in the news for actually not knowing anything anymore.

(Since I'm unsure about who a Page-3 celeb actually is and given the obscene amount of coverage he has been given since last year, Honourable current Tihar-Jail-inmate Mr Suresh Kalmadi surely deserves a special mention in this department)

P.S: Feel free to add names to this list, in the comment box.
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Photo courtesy: Google Images



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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Farewell Harry: The end of an era

On a certain cold December evening, a little over a decade back, I had ventured outside the cozy quarters of our apartment, parents in tow, for the sake of a visit to the local book fair. It was a pleasure trip and I had no plans for any specific purchases. Being the ardent Enid Blyton fan that I was (still am) I would've in all probability bought a book of the The Malory Towers series or maybe a classic or two. But fate had other plans.
My eyes landed on a very colorful cardboard box in a certain shabby-looking stall and upon further inspection I made out the names "Harry Potter Boxed Set" engraved on it.

The 11-year old me wasn't exactly what you call aware of the latest developments in the world of fiction but still the name "Harry Potter" did ring a bell.
Although I couldn't quite remember where I had heard of it, the brief summary written on either side of the box was enough to excite my curiosity and TADA. I knew I had to unravel the mysteries that the 4 books held inside.
Back then I had no idea that I was bringing something home which was going to be a part of my life forever, something which was going to enrich me as a reader in more ways than one and cement my relationship with reading into a permanent bond.

Come this Friday and the mad hysteria, the unbridled frenzy, the ground-breaking publishing phenomenon named Harry Potter is about to reach its conclusion, with the release of the final movie - The Deathly Hallows Part 2.
The saga that was conceived as a mere idea in J.K. Rowling's head on a train trip from Manchester to London, back in 1990, will come to an inevitable but sad end with the last movie of the immensely successful franchise.
The final book of the series had released back in 2006 and despite earnest requests from fans worldwide to continue with the series or atleast author a spin-off based on it, Rowling hasn't shown signs of ever writing another Harry Potter book. She thinks she has closure with Harry although she says it had been fun while it lasted.

For millions across the globe, especially those in my age-group, the Harry Potter books formed a part of our staple reader diet.
We grew up on the books. We grew up on the movies. We grew up with Harry, Hermione, Ron and their adventures.
Even the Harry Potter stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson grew up with the movies.

Image source: www.leowo.com


Being the owner of any HP book was a matter of prestige back in my high-school days.

I still remember the envious glances directed my way, as I would take out a HP book from my backpack and read during lunch hours...how people who never showed any signs of becoming friends otherwise, would approach me very cautiously to ask me if they can borrow one of them.

I also remember those, who would openly go about dissing the books, because supposedly it was all "kindergarten fantasy crap". It was quite amusing to find people passing expert judgement on a series of books they've never read.
Not that it was unexpected. If something earns popularity, then it will gain its fair share of haters as well.

However fame and uncharted stardom weren't the only things associated with Rowling's brainchild. Controversies, acerbic critique and accusations of the central idea and character sketches being plagiarized from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings followed.
But somehow none of this deterred Harry Potter from attaining a cult status in the world of juvenile/fantasy fiction or came even close to preventing it from turning into the entertainment behemoth that it is today.


The books brought millions of children/adolescents back to reading, introduced major changes in the landscape of creative freedom in movie-making. Rowling had asked Warner Bros to be true to the spirit of the books while making the movies. And even though they may not always have lived up to the expectations of the fans, they surely did enough to bring the magical world of Harry Potter come alive on screen.

I can't help but experience an odd sense of nostalgia, when I think of the very first chapter of the very first book- "The Boy Who Lived". When I had turned over the first page, I had been blissfully unaware that the story which was just starting to unfold will eventually transform into an epic tale of good triumphing over evil, friendship, trust, betrayal, courage, love and every possible human emotion ever felt. That it would acquaint me with a bunch of sometimes-lovable, sometimes-quirky, sometimes-obnoxious, sometimes-mysterious or sometimes-downright-evil characters I would hold dear for the rest of my life.

Even though profound sadness envelopes me as I realize that this long but extremely fulfilling journey has come to an end, I feel the magic contained in the 7 books and 8 movies will continue to live on forever.
"The Chosen One" will never fade out from our memories or our lives.


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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Unsaid

Dearest love,
                    Things would never be the same between us. You were just a habit anyway, a reluctance to face reality head-on, a fear of embracing loneliness. The most convenient way of letting myself know that I was fine. But how could this change the truth? The truth never fades away even if you seek comfort in a thousand lies. Like the blinding light of the resplendent morning sun triumphing over darkness, it washes away all the uncertainties.
The truth hurts.

The truth is I never loved you to begin with. I do not believe in things such as love. Nothing is done without a purpose in this world. Nothing without any value is cherished. Whatever it is that you felt for me wasn't love either. It was just like a child-like longing to be the proud owner of the object of its fascination. It was an obsession of a kind.
And that is why I have to go.
The truth leaves permanent marks of damage but it also heals you in a way. It teaches you to be braver, it teaches you to be patient, it teaches you to make amends.

There are things in this world worth fighting for, worth living for. Better and greater things than love. Love is just an over-rated emotion anyway. When an infant dies of starvation in a poverty-stricken nation, when a woman is gang-raped in some corner of the world, love is the last thing on their minds. They seek a morsel of food at the end of the day. They seek the right to stay alive. They seek protection from all evils.
Love, marriage, a fulfilling family life....these are but luxuries only the high and mighty can afford. For the ones who are far less privileged, life is like a series of tortuous battles waged against uncountable evils.

I digress.
To tell the truth I don't even know why I'm writing all of this down on a stray piece of paper. It's like a stupid little self-justification for the choices I've made. Like one last ditch attempt to hold on to the frail reality, I was so absorbed in once upon a time.
Love is just a shallow excuse for carrying on with the facade of life as we know it. A clever way of masking the most primitive biological drive for survival. Love is the biggest misnomer of all.
It was never meant for someone like me.

I'm about to go far, far away...to a place full of unknown faces. A place where colorful dreams are forbidden from entering. A place so deeply enmeshed in the cold darkness of despair, that hope is alien. A country ravaged by the brutalities of war and geo-political tension, where millions are in need of warm clothes, food and a refuge from atrocities.
A place with people who need tender care, concern, empathy and love.
And as I work for their welfare, I may think of you sometimes. I may shed tears at the thought of what could have been.
And who knows? Some day, I may come to realize that I loved you after all.

__                                                                                                 

P.S: This post was lying as a draft among several other half-written posts. Finally published. 
P.P.S: Also it is fictional.

Image courtesy : http://fictional-fearless.blogspot.com/

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