Friday, May 15, 2009


String a chain of memories
A pocketful of stories
Husha Busha
Boys don't cry

Ring a ring of promises
And build in escape clauses
Who're we kidding?
This is goodbye

Sunday, December 21, 2008

This Year, in Film

I stared at the sight of the accelerating Batpod, disappearing out of view, as Gary Oldman's measured voice paraphrased it all for us. And as the credits rolled, I was disappointed. I had expected the perfect movie and I had expected too much.
It was May and in Mithapur, I spent a precious Sunday watching 'Requiem for a Dream'. I couldn't help but feel a bit queasy and hopeless, wondering whether the experience had to be as harrowing in order to deliver a message so much more obvious.
Its December in Delhi and an unusually mild winter. Another SRK movie, they say- one of the few I have sat through. For a few moments there, I am in the 1990s and I embrace romantic kitsch whole-heartedly.
My faith is restored.
I go back a couple of months- Subhash Ghai's Yuvvraaj and Atul Agnihotri's Hello- and I find little to enjoy, except the nachos with the cheese dip.
I am back again, in Saket, watching the Batpod disappear for the 4th time. I am content now. For once, there was enough to challenge the intellect and stand-up and cheer.
Its Dec 1st, and I am sitting in my 10th interview of the day. The clincher is my understanding of Batman's motivation; I say -"He is a vigilante with a misplaced sense of Justice". That is enough to crack the case. Apparently.
The more I think of things, of what it is good or bad, worth admiring or detesting, the answers lie in the obvious and the simple. Same with movies I guess. And so, I sit and nod when the Panda says that there is no secret ingredient.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Beatlemania Again

What would you think if I sang out of tune,

Would you stand up and walk out on me?

Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song

And I'll try not to sing out of key.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends

Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends

Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

At the Core of it...

Last week, I visited the Salt Works at Mithapur, which basically feed the TCL Mithapur plant. The major products of this facility are Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate) and Edible Salt (Desh ka Namak!), alongside cement, chloro-caustics etc. However, the flagship products are dependent largely on one resource- Salty Sea Water.

And so, massive pumps send forth thousands of gallons of sea water across 40 km of almost desolate land, through invisible, underground pipes. But, just pumping it through won't do- indeed, it must be concentrated and loads of water vaporized off. Therefore, giant crystallizers- think of lakes- abound, where this water is routed and where natural evaporation is called upon to do the needful.

Which is just brilliant, because it wouldn't be viable any other way.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Anti-Hero

In view of the impending release of the Dark Knight, I find myself firmly entrenched in the mass hysteria that the death of Heath Ledger and the brilliant marketing campaign has generated; rarely have I been as disappointed as when I learnt that the only IMAX viewing of TDK in India is to be had in Hyderabad, for the Ad Labs in Mumbai, with its famed largest dome in the world, is more interested in setting cash registers ringing with short educational movies about animal habitats or space exploration. So the fact that I am going to be in Mumbai for the week from 20th will in no way allow me to obtain the IMAX experience. Tragic.

However, delving deeper into the Batman 'history' and watching Sherlock Holmes TV shows, I couldn't help but think about the (un)obvious need for having an equally formidable villain in these works- a worthy nemesis to our superhero. So, the intellectual Sherlock Holmes almost needs a devious Moriarty and the caped crusader called Batman has to face-off with a freak like the Joker.
As Shyamalan demonstrated brilliantly in 'The Unbreakable', that the hero and the villain are inexplicably inter-twined; their strengths, weaknesses and destinies related.

The 'clever' hypothesis, which apparently the movie (TDK) re-inforces and the Graphic Novels (like TDK returns) harp on, is that the very existence of Batman draws adversaries like the Joker ( and Penguin, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow) to Gotham City; that as Justice is meted out by a superhero, the perpetrators of crime must change from ordinary gangsters like Falcone/Maronis to these super-villains. Unfortunately, I fail to see any great philosophy here, for it follows from the convenience of artistic construction.

I am yet to read, though I hope to, Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces- which I believe will shed more light on such matters. Still, I wonder if a subversion of this trend is feasible; can Sherlock Holmes confront the Joker? (Batman v/s Moriarty is much more feasible, given Batman's penchant for Crime Scene Investigation and detection).

Now that I have stopped making sense...
Batman as a character is quite believable, not unlike Super Commando Dhruv. That being the case, introduction of villains like Scarecrow or Croc purposefully push it towards an 'unreal', 'comic-book' existence, which I believe is sad. Indeed, the realistic trilogy that Chris Nolan hopes to create, where characters die once etc, is a commendable effort to gain some respect in that sense.

"I've been thinking lately. About you and me. About what's going to happen to us in the end. We're going to kill each other, aren't we? Perhaps you'll kill me. Perhaps I'll kill you. Perhaps sooner. Perhaps later"

My apologies for an incoherent post. Random ideas, you know.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Freedom of Information

I am captivated by the possibilities presented by the Internet and indeed, astounded by the concerted effort, across nations and people, to make information easily accessible. So much has changed within my lifetime itself that I am compelled to think that this is what a revolution must feel like. As Coldplay murmurs in my ear that ‘we live in a beautiful world’, I concur (having disregarded the massive inequity of human condition for a moment). If you are one of those souls who rejoice at the prospect of eclectic tastes and random knowledge, this is the Golden Age of human civilization. Torrents and P2P sharing, youtube, Wikipedia, Open Courseware, e-books, Comic Archives- my life revolves around these, allowing me to indulge in my wildest intellectual fancies. How about starting the day with Gauss-Jordan elimination at MIT OCW (on Youtube), and following it up with the Wanted Graphic Novel, as you await the movie?

One can understand the concerns with regard to rampant piracy and violation of Intellectual Property Rights- having even your assignment copied, without your permission, can be an aggravating experience. However, I would still argue that this phenomenon, instead of being a marker of moral decrepitude of most humanity, represents a gap in the ‘market’. Nobody, who likes movies/books/graphic novels enough to scour the Internet for hours for a pirated copy, would prefer to do so if the ‘real thing’ was available or accessible. I doubt if anyone would prefer reading the e-book to an ‘appropriately priced’ paper-back [the quotes indicate some ridiculous pricing that I come across, which may be due to various editions or whatever- but Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day for Rs 170 and Camus’ 120 page The Stranger for Rs 420? Forgive me for equating sizes but dude!]; and I suspect that most graphic novel lovers would be willing to splurge on them, just to add to their collections, despite having already read them! And you don’t even have to be a movie-lover to know that The Dark Knight would be wasted if you passed up on the chance to see it on Imax.

Of course, there is loss of revenue- there is no denying that. But when you realize, and hopefully the right people do, that a whole bunch of university students in India are absolutely in love with Cobie Smulders, it’s an indication that somebody needs to sell the rights!

I doubt if my arguments are really going to quell concerns or end the debate, which is why I want to come back to my original inspiration. I am absolutely fascinated by MIT’s initiative with Open Courseware and the power that this simple, yet daring, idea holds. The fact that I have access to lectures on Linear Algebra, which I can view when I wish to, with notes, tutorials, exams etc, is just so brilliant! I can only recommend it to more people; particularly those who have detected the onset of intellectual impotence. Rusty graduates, i.i. under-grads, over-achieving high-school students or inquisitive people from all walks of life, can get (re)introduced to diverse subjects from the very best in those fields. The fact that other institutions are also jumping on the band-wagon makes me feel that we are truly on the verge of something phenomenal.

With more and more institutions making tie-ups, willing to open up alternate campuses in India (and Asia at large); with an already complex set of licensing and associations that allows us, indifferent students, access to numerous research publications; with even those indifferent students, easily able to find trivial information on any topic in the world, on say Wiki (which is also written and edited and managed by kindred souls) - I am amazed at this conscious movement to spread knowledge (and not just music, movies, TV shows).

On another note, I wonder- how do MIT students feel about sharing their $100K education with the rest of the world for free? Pretty good, I guess- they are the ones who walk away with the scroll that matters!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


At 22...

Norah Jones recorded and released 'Coma Away with Me'

Charles Darwin set off as ship's naturalist on a voyage to South America and the Galapagos Islands.

James Joyce left his family, his church and his country for the European continent, in order to become a writer.

Olympic runner Herbert James Elliott, ranked by many as the greatest mile runner ever, retired undefeated at 22.

U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz won a record 7 Olympic gold medals.

Larry Flynt decided that he "would never be faithful to any woman, ever again".

Inventor Samuel Colt patented the Colt six-shooter revolver.