Category Archives: Current Affairs

The now and here of everything…

Of European Elections and Holiday Halloween-ing

As you’ve all no doubt heard by now, France is done with its first round of voting in its national election. They’re getting a new President soon, and they want to make sure that they give the top 2 candidates a fair shot at the title, so they have a 2 stage process – phase 1, which just ended, featured all of the candidates wooing the voters (including this one who took technology to transcend the physical limitations of the human body); phase 2, which is later in May, features just the top 2 candidates from phase 1. It’s a fairly simple process compared to the complex electoral process followed most recently in a nation that elected a fairly complex president, but only slightly less complex than in my own country, where there is a somewhat layered approach to electing a Prime Minister.  Anyway, for the first time in a very long time, none of the mainstream politicians are eligible for the 2nd round voting in France – both Macron and Le Pen have unseated the long-favoured socialists and republicans and have set up a unique race in France; not a surprise, considering the exit polls, but certainly an indication of changing winds. And for the second time in a very short span of time, we may have yet another not-so-orange-faced-but-certainly-orange-minded President to contend with. With Brexit on course to derail the EU and one candidate’s clear indicates towards a Frexit or a Fra-tata, the world is following this election. Me – I’m not. I’m binge watching Fargo (Martin Freeman is such a classy actor that you’ll want to watch the series again, just for him.)

Meanwhile, my neighbourhood decided to honour Halloween in mid-April. We had Halloween decorations, candy, people in costumes… everything to believe I had indeed crossed the Atlantic. Why they decided to harbour the belief that we need Halloween, I don’t know. Why they felt we needed it in the middle of April, I get though… its super duper hot and I can only believe that ghosts and witches and the paranormal are responsible  for it(climate change – pfft!).

Conjuring witches and pumpkins in Mumbai y’all!
The laziness of pulling down decorations transcends borders

And on a side note – Adnan Sami still performs. He performed at this Halloween extravaganza the other day and he was pretty good. His band almost broke the window panes of my house with their bass settings and amplification, but he was pretty good. I had a headache from the extremely loud music which didn’t reduce despite me blocking every single crack through which sound waves could creep into my house, but he was pretty good. Apparently, local residents complained that it was a bit too loud for their liking, but the cops may have told them,

He was pretty good…!

Until I find more relevant news and/or annoying local tidbits. Ciao!


Busy Busy Busy

The last couple of months have been super busy for me. As you know, I have a job. Ergo, I must work in the office. The office has only suddenly realised that I work there full-time (or so it seems), so they seem to be going all out to make me work full time. So I haven’t found any secret time at the office to write – or let me put it this way; the kind of stuff I write at the office would not can not go on my blog.

Socially, I’ve been super active.
I was instrumental in ensuring that an evil corporation (whose name does not rhyme with The Notebook) was unable to sink its deep claws into our proud nation with its Basically Free version of the internet. The internet-savvy Indians (that’s like 0.001% of our nation) went nuts about the violation of our right to access all websites freely, irrespective of who provided the internet connection to us and did all we could to block this monster. We succeeded, and now the 99.999% of the country that could have accessed the internet (or some parts of it) will no longer be able to. Take that!
It was also saddening that 2 heroes of my childhood will no longer be around. David Bowie and Alan Rickman, both of whom contributed to making my childhood so much cooler, took a permanent leave of absence from this plane of existence. I was barely getting over the fact that Ziggy Stardust (whose latest album dropped 2 days before his untimely exit) would no longer be around to gawk at that Professor Snape decided to join him in the big showland. Twitter and Facebook and all the other social media were filled with #RIPZiggy and #Always references that mere mortals or Muggles could never appreciate. After a week in mourning (and changing my phone’s ringtone to Space Oddity and editing my message tone to Silence!), I realised that I must now shop to get over my grief (because, hello, that’s how its done). I bought Bowie’s new album and went shopping all over for a gown just like Snape’s (which I still haven’t found – the number of burqas I had to turn down from over-eager shop owners is not even funny).
I was also busy cruising the websites to find all references to Leo not winning an Oscar and making new memes about it. I made it my life’s effort to make memes highlighting the unfairness of the Oscar in never awarding our most favourite deserving actor this highest office in the Hollywood world. Never mind that the super deserving cast of Straight Outta Compton and Idris Elba got a snub as well – this year was all about Leo (and the bear. A little). So when he finally did win the Oscar, I spent a good 2 days clearing my phone’s memory of those half a dozen memes that I created just in case he didn’t win. And also leaving a one-word comment on my newsfeed – Finally.

Now that the awards season is done and the financial year is nearly done (in that order), I have some time to breath, and blog (in that order). I’m super stoked to have a lot more to write about and cannot wait to get it all out. Happy March everyone!

The WOW effect of the World Cup

Generally I dont comment much on Cricket, cuz I sincerely feel that its not much of a sport, and more of entertainment. True, it may take some skill to learn to toss the ball at a fellow some 20 yards away, and then to slam the ball hard enough out of the stadium. But, I dont consider it sport – its not, say, football, or hockey, or athletics. It’s just cricket.

But I was reminded in this month how much it’s more than just entertainment to my fellow Indians. Late last month, the World Cup began, and many Indians began rescheduling their days to catch their favourite teams play. People mysteriously disappeared on inane meetings, feel violently ill and were terribly late in making flights on account of 22 lads running after 1 ball and 1 trophy.
For those who havent followed the World Cup, here’s a quick recap. India, England, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies advanced to the Quarter Finals from the League matches. India beat Australia (the resultant loss in man day, and the expected loss of another man day today is not counted as a loss in this context), Pakistan whitewashed West Indies, Sri Lanka defeated England and New Zealand triumphed the choker South Africans. Last evening, Sri Lanka beat New Zealand to book themselves a berth in the Finals.

And today, India plays Pakistan in what appears to be not just another semi-final but the most important match for India in this tournament. For a week now I have been receiving several humour laden messages referring to this match. Having Rajnikant on our team apparently makes us invincible… hell, I could make Rajnikant appear on any team!! Since Mohali is close to the border, people comment that our neighbours can ride a rickshaw home… getting to Mohali by air or train appears to be so expensive that they’d probably be better off on those rickety 3-wheelers. Shahid Afridi’s tryst with God seems hilarious… yet you must remember, God’s own team drew with England and lost to South Africa. References to the many other mails/messages I’ve received may not be appropriate for this public forum, but you get the point… some people have been spending valuable time in coming up with snide comments for the occasion.

And I find myself surrounded by cricket talk today. VT station appeared more than half empty. Churchgate station wore a forlorn look. The talk in the bus to work was about how India can best win the match today. The liftman glanced at his watch every 3 seconds like it was already 2 p.m. Friends posted status messages on how they were either off or allowed to work for half day today. People are already scouting for the nearest TV (we have one right in our office, so I’m rather strategically located). Many are overworking in the morning, so that disappearing post-lunch at least appears conscientious. And the fever rubs off.

So go on. Turn off your laptops and desktops. Take a break. Cheer madly at every four and six. Boo like crazy at every wicked ball. Take digs at whoever you can.

And enjoy the madness that is the World Cup.

A long sabbatical

Its true… they say distance makes the heart grow fonder… and after a long break from an unlimited internet connection, I feel the sadness within me.
Never mind. Down to business then.
I’ve spent the last week catching up on Egypt (and the ensuing Middle East situation), the change in guard at SEBI, the falling prices of several vegetables and, last but not the least, the bloodbath at the markets. For those salaried employees who still have to make the ELSS investment for this fiscal, I’m told this is probably the best time to put ur money into the markets, because the word on the street is that the market is seeing heavy support at current levels and may not take a free fall just yet. (But let me caveat this – this is my personal view, and cannot and SHOULD not be treated as investment advice).
Elsewhere, I’m still in the process of figuring out how to blog via my phone (since WordPress doesnt support an application for Symbian yet), and I’m not highly successful. This mobile version of WP is very cumbersome to navigate around, and for some reason it dislikes the ideas of drafts or pending review posts. So I’m gonna end up posting this one at a very odd time. Nonetheless, if anyone has an idea of how to improve this, I’d sure like to hear it.
Till the next time I have an urge to break my fingers on this miniature keypad…

The week in perspective

So I promised myself that I would blog at least once a week. Last week, my internet connection gave up on me, and I was forced to compose and post from my phone, and I must say the experience of blogging on the phone wasn’t half as good as Facebook Mobile. Since I have the time and the connection to post this, I’m gonna make the most of it.
If you don’t already know, I’ve spent this week pi**ed at the Admin Guys in my office. They’ve ruined and re-ruined my ancient desktop one too many times this week. But that isn’t part of this post. It’s just an afterthought.

I’ve spent most of this week figuring out how I’m gonna make time to make it to Bryan Adams in concert in February. Considering that my worklife doesn’t allow for a rockstar obsession on the side, I’m trying to reconsider my options and consider attending the concert in some other city. After all, Bryan Adams is worth flying to any city for. And this won’t be the first time I’m flying across the country to attend his concert either – back in high school I flew to a certain re-named south Indian city famous for IT parks to catch Adams playing at the concert. And I’d do almost anything to go watch him in concert again. More on that later.

I recently got a new haircut. Again. I mean it’s just a shorter version of the look I already had; but the eyeballs its been getting me all week makes me think I should get a haircut every few months just for all attention. Maybe I will do that…

I watched “Phas Gaya Re Obama”, a rather hilarious Bollywood movie themed on the recession. It follows a perfect junk bond story – a fellow finds an asset, realises its useless, and sells it to someone else; who then makes the same mistake and passes it on to someone else. The cycle continues till the last guy realises that he’s got noone to sell it to… so he drops it on the market, gets as much as he can for it. While the story itself was a rather smart one, what stood out was the stellar performances by Rajat Kapoor, and the entire supporting cast. With a shoestring budget, a finely spun story and a brilliant set of characters, the director makes sure that you wont be bored for a minute, and will spend at least a few minutes after the credits roll patting yourself on the back for a smart choice of a movie. Well done mate… Well done!

I also caught a song from “7 Khoon Maaf”. It’s called “Daarling” and is heavily inspired by a Russian song. But listening to Usha Uthup singing after so many years was fun, and she was brilliant throughout the song. It’s true that she dint need to do much – the song itself was very well composed; but the feel her voice brings to the song is a light and breezy one. I bet you’ll be swinging to the beat as you hear it on your phone. Hope the rest of the album is as good.

If you’ve been isolated from the media this week (and yet you’re reading this), you missed a few things this week – the Cabinet reshuffle, the release of “Dhobi Ghat”, the surprisingly springy numbers posted by TCS, the rise in petrol prices, the not-so-great numbers by Infosys, the handing over of the reins at Google to Larry Page, the bad numbers posted by Wipro and last, but not the least, a break in the upward trend of Onion Prices (I’ve seen so many onion and petrol jokes and status messages that they’d give Rajnikant a run for his money).

And I end this post with a thought for the week to come: Its true that one can only realise the true value of something after losing it. What’s the point in understanding the value of something you’ve lost…? So I’m trying the best as I can to hang on to some things – they’re not necessarily stuff I need; they’re stuff I just can’t do without.

Breaking News!

As I was travelling by train today, I saw quite a few people adorning… wait for it… SWEATERS!! After 3 years, Mumbai has once again pulled out its woolen wardrobe (3 years ago, many people had BOUGHT a sweater for the first time).

Why is this breaking news you ask? Mumbai generally doesn’t experience winter… it has 2 seasons – Monsoon and Summer. The general weather during winter months is pleasant, and devoid of extensive sun burns. But after a very long time, this year we have witnessed actually cooler-than-pleasant weather. This is an indication of the gradual weather shift the whole world has been experiencing, and while this bothers me very little (the pleasant weather makes the extensive travelling much more bearable), it reminds me of that documentary by Al Gore, and of the million other global warming documentaries we have all seen that suggests that THIS is rather bad.

Since I can do very little about it now (I’ve done my bit in reducing my carbon footprint), I’m just enjoying Mumbaikars dig out their black and grey pullovers, while I show off in my green, blue and maroon cardigans 🙂

A quickie

It’s most certainly not what you’re thinking. Just that I had little time, and thought of posting it before I forgot.

My business newspaper (I read only like 3 a day, and only one of em in the morning) reported today that “Big Boss” has been “allowed” by the HC to continue telecasting at prime time i.e. 9 pm. The reason for its apparent shift to the graveyard shift i.e. 11 pm slot was… its racy content. (“Raakhi ka Insaaf” was also moved to the same slot, but I wont comment on how good it would be that waking kids weren’t exposed to the exploits of Miss Sawant)

My take on this rather unnecessary intervention by the HC.
If the intent was to REALLY maintain childrens’ innocence, a lot other TV channels would have to face the music. Channel V, MTV, Star Movies, HBO, even Disney Channel probably plays “inappropriate” content at times that kids would be in front of the couch. But since that dint happen, why single out just these 2 reality shows? Is it because they’re telecast on Indian channels and not foreign ones…? (Splitsvilla and some other adult reality shows used to telecast at 7 PM or so in the evening… )
Or is it because the HC has finally realised that not all televised content can be regulated and/or censored? True that they’re quite entertaining (Dolly Bindra and Samir Soni’s fight on Big Boss raked in some major TRPs for the channel) but they’re run by the television for the purpose of entertainment and not to protect childrens’ innocence.

Any how. I dont watch the shows (I simply follow them on my newspaper) and I dont intend to. Just a thought that I wanted to let out into the virtual universe.

The Obama Post

Cyberspace in Mumbai has been buzzing with Obama. And I wouldn’t stand down for anything.

Here’s presenting you 5 simple steps to becoming Obama

1. Announce to the economic centre of the country that you will spend a day there. Even if all you did was arrive in the evening and leave next morning.

2. Stall all traffic in the city for the whole day. And the next. Both on the streets in South Bombay, and at the airport, as you flew in and out in your private jet. (I spent a full 70 minutes to get from Cuffe Parade to VT, which is otherwise a 30 minute commute at worst)

3. Spend Diwali at an English school. Not in a Vernacular school. Just because your security might go crazy.

4. Arrive a day AFTER Diwali to spend Diwali in Mumbai, only because Diwali is classified as a security threat. Way to respect our beliefs President.

5. And finally. Poster your face over every news channel, newspaper, and in some case, flyover, so that people know you are going to be around and so that they know to stay off the streets.

While I completely am in support of Indo-US relations (refer to post not so long ago), this is no way to foster relations Sir. If the President, or any of his innumerable intelligence agencies is reading this, I hope he is aware of the inconvenience that he has caused this city. Mumbai is not Washington. Yet. It is not equipped to handle VIP personnel the way his city is. Yet. His trip to Mumbai may have been a political and diplomatic success, but the murmur on the streets are not in his favour. He has become a household name, but for all the wrong reasons – for stalling traffic in downtown Mumbai for hours at long, for cancelling flights at an airport that is already breathing for space. I hope he realises that India is a democracy and that, at the end of the day, public support will be necessary if he needs to take relations between our countries to a new level, and isolating the masses is not the way to do it.

But political decisions probably dont rely as much on the public as I imagine they would be. I’m just a blogger, with no footprint in the political lobbies, so I’ll probably be ignored. But in a country with free speech, I’ve said my bit.

More on CommonWealth and more Random

As I write this post, India is safely at the second position in the medals tally. I followed a nail-biting badminton final on twitter, and read about the hockey debacle on a news site (with no access to TV, its what people must sometimes resort to…). With Saina Nehwal the first woman to win a CWG Badminton Gold, and the hockey team receiving an 8-0 thrashing at the hands of reigning World Champions Australia, the day’s been good overall. This outing of the Games has sprung up many surprises, including our prowess in lesser-known sports like Athletics. It’s also made Indians realise (hopefully) that Cricket isn’t the only sport to follow – Shooting, Boxing, Wrestling and now, Badminton are other very entertaining options. (Sigh) But we’ll always be a cricket-loving, “Sachin-is-God” swearing bunch of people.

Since we’re at it, I made a note about Saina Nehwal last night. I was browsing through my TV (which I rarely get the time to do), and I came across an advertisement for a brand of edible oil that used the shuttler as their Brand Ambassador. The concept and execution was spot on, but COME ON! sports people promoting the use of an edible oil brand has got to be the heights of desperation. I know that, other than cricketers, all other sports people have a tough time (Olympic Boxer Vijender Singh endorses a chocolate); but edible oil is just below the belt. Point Made. Next.

I travel a lot by Mumbai’s local trains. A lot. Like 4 hours a day. So I end up noticing mundane things while passing time in the train. Like the handle at the window seat. The utility of that accessory beats me. It’s not like the crowd inside will push you out (through the grills that too!) and that HANDLE will save you. It’s also not as if, in the event of a fierce battle for the window seat (and they happen quite often), that defenseless piece of metal and wood would be the last thing standing between you and seatlessness (and loss of pride too). It isn’t like our trains fly so fast that you need to hold on. In a scenario where at least a half dozen people die in a day for want of space IN the train, a handle at the window is plain dumb. It’s not like the handle will hold 6 people, but hey I’m making a point here. (Sigh) If only the stupid who designed the compartment would actually ride in it, he’d know how little utility that handle has…

Movies, Music and Mata ke Manmohak Rang…

Okay so it isn’t much as about me SEEING the movie as it has been about hearing about it. Rajnikanth’s Robot a.k.a Endhiran released recently. While the Bollywood community has been raving about the awesome effects and the sky high budget, large (very large) portions of South India saw empty offices with early birds (as early as 4 am birds) waking up to catch the Rajni show at a local spot. The Rajni mania is South India is so much that a temple is built in his honour and many many streets and local spots are named after him. A friend of mine made it a point to watch the movie TWICE in the same theatre; then again he’s seen the previous movies gazillion times, so he’s probably used to it. The appeal of a 60 year old romancing a 30-something on-screen will never strike me… but it grossed almost 120 Cr in a week, and that’s the size of some mid-sized companies, so I’ll take it that its just me that’s not seeing the Rajni craze. If what I hear (and see on status messages) about Rajni is true, the world will be divided into 2 – those who Rajni spares (since Rajni doesn’t spare many) and Rajni himself… and I dont see myself being spared for this post.

The other day I was listening to the Radio on my way to work, and a certain FM station was having a “Play Your Music Day” with Mohit Chauhan. While I most certainly enjoy Chauhan, I have, as earlier mentioned, been cautious about him being used by so many music directors and am afraid that he may lose his charm. The radio show was most captivating, and his unplugged renditions of some of his most well-known works was very very endearing. Silk Route, his band, was also present on the show, and the band lent a very rustic feel to the music, making it so much more special on the ears. I was having a particularly crappy day/week/month and those 2 hours of pure, superb music soothed my nerves. (Sigh) If all problems in life could be sung away…

In other movies, I caught up on a few other movies.
How to Train your Dragon” is a MUST-WATCH for them 3D fans; and even if you don’t enjoy 3D, it’s a treat. Butler as the towering Viking and Jay Baruchel (of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” fame) are brilliant voice-overs… perhaps we’ll see more of Baruchel.
Russel Crowe’s portrayal of bandit Robin Hood in the movie of the same name wasn’t as endearing as the previous version of the movie… but then again it dealt more with the origins of Robin Hood than his activities. An average watch, credit goes to Crowe for bringing to life a script that very few others could have portrayed.
Recently released (at least online) “Jonah Hex” disappoints. An average story, average actors, even an average screenplay. So much more could have been done with the talk-to-the-dead angle (think Rajnikanth now ppl…)
The Ugly Truth” starring Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl (from “Grey’s Anatomy“) plays out to the average American audience, who likes a laugh and a cute girl (and a hot guy). A run-of-the-mill RomCom, watch it only if you’re a fan, of both the genre and the people.

In other music, almost EVERYTHING disappointed. New Bollywood music releases “Golmaal 3“, “Action Replay” and “Crook“, all Pritam creations lead me to believe that the “Dhoom” and “Gangster” guy has lost his touch (as my FB status message indicated too); the saving grace was Nikhil D’ Souza in “Mere Bina” from Crook (I’m still in the process of figuring out if this is the same Nikhil D’Souza from the Rock show…). “Knockout” was TKOd, with only Vishal Dadlani’s rendition of the title track lending some weight to the album.

Moving on to Mata ke Manmohak Rang. For those who are unaware, Navratri is underway in India. It is a festival involving, essentially, celebrating the various avatars of a deity. In Gujarat, it is accompanied with dandiya (dance with sticks, remember American Desi..?), and large parts of Kolkata shut down in for Durga Puja. In Mumbai, we see both of them, accompanied with a city-wide colour co-ordination among women (this one’s new to me too!). The origins of this custom to appease the deity are unknown, but women all across Mumbai swear by it, and actually look forward to it. As a result of this city-wide colour code, women all around the city look like they’re part of some promotional campaign. Today was Red, and, but for the bad quality of my fone’s camera, I would have posted an image of what looked like a bus full of women wearing what looked like school-uniforms dyed a very dangerous colour. I watched in wonder, and waited for the day when the colour for the day would be yellow, and a woman pairing it with formal attire (black pants) would look like a walking taxi… 😉