Friday, August 31, 2012

Mera kuch saamaan...

Some random bits of trivia - which I don't know what to do with... 

* * * * *
India's two highest grossing movies are both:
- produced by a Chopra
- the directors' third feature film
- acted in by a Khan
- acted in by a lead actress whose initials are KK
- about a lead character's popular name not being his real name

* * * * *
Research topics in Bollywood are really eclectic. 
'Prasiddha arthashastri' Professor Rele has written a shodhgrantha on the 'per capita income of the backward tribes of Maharashtra', which Ramprasad Sharma found to be excellent. 
Samar Pratap Singh (Ranbir Kapoor) of Rajneeti was working on his PhD when he got embroiled in his family's problems. His doctoral thesis was on "The subtextual emotional violence of 19th century Victorian poetry". Whew! 
This reminded me of Meghey Dhaka Tara. Sanat - Nita's wimp boyfriend - was planning to do a research before the lure of lucre too over. His topic was 'Reynolds' Number of the supersonic vibrations of the Lower Gangetic Plain'. As a student of Mechanical Engineering, I was much tickled to find a 'technical term' in a classic film.  

* * * * * 
I was watching Ek Tha Tiger when I realised the most common name for Indian spies is - hold your breath - Gopal/Gopi.
No, Salman's real name wasn't that. He was a macho member of a warrior tribe: Avinash Singh Rathore. Ranvir Shorey was Gopi. Jeetendra in Farz was Gopal a.k.a. Agent 116. Gunmaster G9 was Gopi.
On a related note, do take a look at Gunmaster G9's car. It steamrolls the Batmobile, chews it up, digests it and then shits it out like bullets in Gopi's Gun.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The last three books I read were by three charming ladies, two of whom I have the privilege of knowing. (I have exchanged tweets with the third but cannot pretend to be too chummy.) 

The Taj Conspiracy is India's answer to Dan Brown's mytho-religious thrillers. Manreet Sodhi Someshwar has created a very intriguing detective - Mehrunnisa Khosa. A beautiful woman of Sikh-Persian descent, she throws up when confronted with a horrendously dirty police station but manages to escape a murderer and solve a historical linguistic puzzle. I tried to imagine who would play the detective in a movie version and came up with Gul Panag. Though, there is a twist in the end that makes the book - to my mind - unfilmable.  
Oh - and did I tell you Manreet has written Earning the Laundry Stripes? Which is to FMCG salesmen what towels are to galactic hitchhikers. My review (or rather, ecstatic outpouring) here

Monsoon Wedding Fever is by classmate from b-school, Shoma Narayanan. She used to be Mukherji then but married a tall, not-dark, handsome Tam Brahm to become Narayanan. 
Let me admit this is my first Mills & Boon and I did not know what to expect. For starters, I expected a little more - ahem - sex. (This Fifty Shades of Grey will be the end of the world as we know it.) I also feared there might be a bit too much of the exotic since this book is getting a worldwide release. But I was pleasantly surprised to find romance in a normal, modern, Indian setting. Admittedly, I chuckled a bit at the heroine's 'limpid eyes' and the hero's 'gravelly voice' but a good read nevertheless.

Just Married, Please Excuse is by a colleague, Yashodhara Lal who is Yashodhara Lal Sharma in real life. Before she went on sabbatical, she used to be in the adjacent cubicle and chided me on my jokes. Now, she cracks worse ones.
Not really a novel, JMPE is a thinly (or not at all) veiled account of Yash's life with a total rockstar - Vijay Sharma. He handles rural sales, he forgets luggage at airports, he confuses Kevin Kline with Calvin Klein and he calls Yash Mithun-da (not always, sometimes). Yash has a deadpan sense of humour (which I like) but I liked Vijay even more. He totally rocked the book though my wife had a couple of 'yeh kya bakwaas hai' moments with him. 
End result: for the "price of a Subway salad" (as Yash puts it), you get a book that keeps you chuckling all the way through.  

* * * * * * 

While I am it, I might as well tom-tom my own book a little with the help of three ladies. Three more ladies? Well yes, three of India's leading critics have only had kind things to say about KAT. 
Anupama Chopra, Indian Express' Shubhra Gupta and's Sukanya Verma all seem to have read the book and - hallelujah - even gifting and recommending it. 
Ab aap log issi mein convince ho gaye hain ya main aur boloon?

* * * * * * 
By the way, you know the full form of KAT, right? Repeat after me.
Kharido. (Buy)
Achchha bolo. (Praise)
Tohfe mein do. (Gift)
And yes, do move on from one stage to the next. (Three stages, again. Cool, no?)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The 'Just Married, Please Excuse' Contest

This is my entry to the contest being run around Yashodhara's book - describing a 'funny' event from my married life 'preferably when just married'.
And since Yashodhara is such a good friend (and because I want to eat Mamagoto), I will write three (three? THREE!) incidents.
Okay, two of them are not pertaining to my post-married life but what the hell?

* * * * *
The first incident happened after my wife and I had met (thanks, in no small measure, to our parents' initiative) and both families had agreed to spend the rest of their lives together while we decided that we didn't want to keep them apart.
I was in Bangalore while she was in Delhi. We used to maintain this long-distance yet-to-be-relationship by the chatting on Yahoo IM.This included listing our favourite movies (0% match), our favourite restaurants (100% match) and the occasional bickering (by her) on whether we have made the right choices. Unknown to her, I used to chat with a college friend on a parallel window. Unknown to me, she used to chat with  my father on a parallel window. (Yes, I know. Damn.)
One November evening, she asked "A hypothetical question: What if I say no now?" (Pertinent Fact: The wedding was scheduled in January.)
I pondered on this. I brought in all the available information, processed it with impeccable logic and typed my answer. "Look, if you have to say no, you might as well say it right now. We are putting in a deposit with the caterer on Friday. And that's non-refundable."
*deathly silence*  *end of chat*    
Unknown to me, she had posed the same question to my father who had ended the chat immediately. And called me up next morning at 6:15 AM.
"What have you told Tina?"
"Me? Huh? What?"
"Why does she want to break off the wedding?"
"I want you to call her and apologise right now. I will say sorry to her mother."
"But I haven't..."
"Right now. Before she leaves for office."

* * * * *
A very good friend was working in Madhya Pradesh when his wedding got fixed. He came to Calcutta for the wedding and went back to Bhopal with his wife. Since it was an arranged marriage, they were both a little diffident with each other.
Less than a week after they got back to Bhopal, there was a wedding he was invited to. His wife was also cordially invited. The two of them got on to his scooter and reached the wedding venue. As soon as they entered (and as is the norm in small-town India), the new couple was effusively greeted and the ladies took away his friend's wife to the 'ladies' area'.
My friend went and hung around with the guys, chatted a bit, congratulated the groom and then walked over to have dinner. After dinner, he said his goodbyes and went off. As he was starting his scooter, he had this niggling feeling that there was something missing - specifically from the back seat! He rushed back, found his poor bride sitting coyly in the ladies' area getting thoroughly bored and making a huge effort not to show it.
He casually asked her to come over for dinner, picked up a plate once again, ignored the strange glances of the catering staff and saved his marriage.

* * * * *
After Bangalore (where we also started our married life, quite like Yash & Vijay), I took up a job in Hyderabad.
We found ourselves a nice flat in a small but beautiful complex - which had only one flaw. The calling bell of the flat had a horrendous music ("Tong ling ting tong ding dong hong kong mombasa mogadishu") which was followed by a request in upcountry Telugu accent ("Aw-pain thaa dawr pliss..."). Our friends spent large parts of their time at our flat, outside the flat trying out the bell and ROFLOLing. We were quite convinced this bell was one-of-a-kind, designed to test our sanity.
I went on tour to Chennai and stayed in a nice studio apartment. When the room service rang the bell, I was horrified beyond belief to find that the hotel bell was EXACTLY the same as our flat bell. This gave me an idea.
I called my wife. "Where are you?"
"I am at Lily's. Why?"
"I am home. Waiting outside the flat."
"What rubbish? You were supposed to return tomorrow."
"No yaar. I was supposed to return today."
"You are lying."
"Offoh... here, listen to the bell."
Before the whole cacophony died down and the Telugu aunty could complete her door-opening spiel, my poor wife had left her friend's place and scrambled back home. As I rolled on the hotel floor, clutching my stomach and wiping tears.
I cannot tell you of my wife's reaction since this is supposed to be a funny story. 
But an interesting observation: Every woman who has heard this story has lamented my wife's ill luck. Every man has complimented me on my sense of humour. I have a feeling Yash and Vijay will not behave differently. 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Memories of Another Day

GreatBong is to be blamed for this post. Sometime back, he fanned my not-so-youthful ego by saying that he remembered an article I wrote for my college magazine and managed to quote a line from that. Needless to say, I was over the moon and immediately deployed my classmates to find that issue of the magazine.
One of them - Anindito - managed to dig out a papyrus-like copy of magazine - Chhayapath.

Having gone back to that article, I am convinced that Arnab's tastes in writing need some serious overhauling. I thought of not putting up that article on the blog but then, it has some nostalgic value for students of Jadavpur University. And of course, it also shows - immodestly - that I have improved a lot. Ahem.

I have made no changes to the original text. You get it as bad as it was.
Also, I have not included any explanatory notes. Either you get it or you don't.
So Arnab - this one is for you!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Nostalgia is the strongest emotion known to man. It is what drives this pen and promises to fill up my lazy Sunday afternoons in the years to come.

What follows is a whimsical glossary of things that were a part of our years at this august institution. So here goes:

AC: Haunt of the ‘first years’. Studiously ignored by ‘seniors’. It is at this place, the students of JU have perfected the esoteric art form Ranjitsinghji had invented – glancing at fine legs. Not to mention cutting through silly points.

Arena: Inter-department cricket tournament, for the uninitiated. Precursor to the India-Sri Lanka semifinal at Eden. Makes mincemeat of the Olympian ideal of ‘taking part and not winning’.

Adda: a.k.a. Thek. But then, an adda by any other names would be just as sweet.

Bridge: Official sport of the University. My attempts to master this game were seriously impeded by my penchant for calling 7NT, a sure sign of my MT head.

Byapok Bawali: Unofficial aim of every student. Maybe called the Big BB as its popularity in the campus is comparable to that of the Big B.

Cheap Stores: Manned by the mercurial Haru-da. Supplier of 5268 lab sheets that go into the making of an engineer.

FETSU: Not unlike God. Never seen. Never heard. But always present.

Funda: A commodity is alarmingly short supply and hence in heavy demand. (See my funda in Eco?) Some men are born with it. Some achieve it. And a lucky few can bluff their way through without it.

Jhari: Don’t think about it. Just do it.

M-1-1: Graveyard of attaches, harmoniums etc. More notorious than the Black Hole of Calcutta. Has spelt doom for many a promising career.

Navina: Official entertainer to the University. Provides the A to Z of education (My Tutor) and entertainment (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge).

Proxy: The art of being in two places simultaneously. Caution: Dangerous on careless handling and large doses.

Quizzing: Pseudo-intellectual pastime. Popularised by the maverick who said “Pass” when asked to sum up a GD. Questions range from a googly (which area in Calcutta has the pin code 700094?) to a bouncer (What was Tendulkar’s score in the 3rd Test vs South Africa in ’92-’93?).

Ragging: An activity performed by seniors in order to make the freshers feel as ‘frustu’ as themselves.

Sanskriti: Exists in three varieties – Arts, Science and Engineering. Number in a calendar year depends on the Union election results. Annual festival to promote culture. Also promotes sales of Dasgupta.

Semester: A time of clogged bathroom drains and pencil-written walls. Should be regarded in the same spirit as Julius Caesar’s contemplation of death.

Supple: Official nightmare of the University. Serious threat to sanity. (One victim imagined hearing “Supple waale…” a la Sargam.) Experienced practitioners have mental calmness comparable to that of Socrates.

Tarak-da: Non-entity during the first three years. Big Man on Campus in the final year – especially after the end of ‘The Chatt Show’.

Tech Fair: According to a noted humourist, “At Jadavpur University, we have 4 days of Tech Fair and 361 days of Thek Fair.”

Viva: Rhymes with “Bhai, wah!”. How ironic! A dignified silence is essential for “it is better to keep quiet and let others think you are stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubts”.

Xerox: The second most labour-saving invention of today. (Note: “The greatest labour-saving invention of today is tomorrow.”)

Zindabaad: The clarion call which brightened our days with the hopes of an impending strike.

So those are memories of another day. “Rose leaves, when the rose is dead…” of no use at all. But then “the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless”. Or is it the other way round?