Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year - 2012

So, another year goes by.

A year when the winds of change blew hard. Tough times were followed by even tougher times.

But you know what? I roughed it out.

I might have taken a couple of blows along the way but that only makes the will and resolve stronger.

And so here I stand at the start of another year.



Willing to take on whatever destiny has in store for me and doing what I do best: being me.

Happy New Year everyone.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kabuliwallah Stories - Rabindranath Tagore

I'll be honest, the only reason I bought the book was because of the story which is the centerpiece of this collection: Kabuliwallah. Anybody who has read it or seen either the Bengali or the Hindi film adaptation will understand the emotional tug that the story has.

Kabuliwallah tells the tale of a migrant trader from Kabul who befriends a little girl in Calcutta. The mismatch is most accentuated by their physical appearance: the dainty 5 year old Mini, a non-stop little motor-mouth who has a question ready for everyone she meets and the giant Afghan trader in his huge robes, carrying a giant sack on his shoulder, bemused by this little girl's frankness and jovial nature.

But this book does have other short stories worth mentioning too.

The Living and the Dead is the unfortunate story of a widow who must prove to the world that she isn't dead yet herself. Skeleton is a fun ghost tale that has been thrown into the mix. Fury Appeased is the tale of a beautiful wife who must deal with her husband's negligence in her own way. Guest is a wonderful story about a young man and how he doesn't wish to be tied down to the world's understanding of love. The character of Tarapada, a pleasant young man who strangely moves away from all relationships which tend to hold him back, reminded me somehow of Krishna. Wishes Granted is a funny little story of a father and son wishing that their roles be reversed and kaboom, it so happens that a Goddess decides to grant their wishes. The hillarious results which follow form the rest of the story. The Hungry Stones is another ghost story with a slightly unconventional end. The Gift of Sight is about the insecurities and the tribulations of a woman who loses her eyesight because her husband's negligence.

All in all, a decent book to read if you don't mind sad endings.

Guests for Christmas

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Books I read in 2011 - Part 3: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I have just finished reading Steve Jobs' biography written by Walter Isaacson. Like I had mentioned to a few of my friends, no biography / autobiography had gotten me this interested since I read Jack Welch's "Straight from the gut" when I was in college.

My one word review of this book: awesome.

Agreed, the author had an interesting subject. An adopted child, a Silicon Valley whiz-kid, an entrepreneur who over the span of two and half decades revolutionized not just the computer industry but also the music, retail and animation industries.

What makes Isaacson's effort spectacular is that after reading the book, you feel you've been witnessing Steve Jobs' life unravel right in front of your eyes. The creation of magical products, the frustration at doing things wrong, the fights and the celebrations... all come alive.

The book does not intend to be a publicity gimmick for the hero who has passed away (it would've been had they stuck to the title 'iSteve: The Book of Jobs') but an honest narration of one of the most amazing CEOs of the modern era. Jobs was no saint and he knew it. He threw tantrums and hurled abuses at people. But all of this stemmed from the fact that he was a perfectionist. The same passion for excellence that led him to sometimes delay product launches also led him one time to take eight weeks to decide which washing machine to buy. There is no doubt about it: the man was a genius. Albeit, slightly flawed, but genius nonetheless.

Another great feature about Isaacson's book is that it is honest. Not only are there conversations with people who revered Jobs' but also from his troubled past. Mona Simpson, his biological sister; Lisa Brennan-Jobs, his illegitimate daughter; Tina Redse, his one-time girlfriend; and of course, Bill Gates, the man who grudgingly accepted that Steve Jobs had a habit of pulling off the impossible.

This book is a great read not only for those who wish to read the biography of one of the best CEOs but also who want to find out more about a fascinating man who had an incredible passion for excellence in business, just as in his personal life.

(image courtesy: Little, Brown book group)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Throw your past out of the window

Sometimes, life just seems mundane. People and places pass you by in a blur. Daily events become a punishing routine which become a matter of going through the motions. You are expected to live, work and perform based on how you have lived previously. In other words, people expect you to conform to the world that you have always pretended to conform to.

It is at moments like these when you need to step back, take a deep breath and analyse which direction your life is headed in. Maybe you need a break. Maybe you need a cup of tea. Maybe you need a hot shower. Maybe... all you need is a clear head.

Sometimes, all you need to do is throw your past out of the window. The past got you to where you are now. Great! But what next? The destination you choose to achieve tomorrow is decided by the path you decide to take today.

My mind has been pretty occupied with similar thoughts this past one week. Its as if the mind decides to numb the body and instruct it to go through the daily activities, all the while trying hard not to focus on the past and peer into the future.

Interestingly, today I came across something which appealed to me on similar lines.

I'm currently reading Steve Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson. Here's an excerpt from an interview that Jobs gave in February 1985 around his 30th birthday (Bear in mind, his 30th birthday was a milestone for him as it signalled that he had grown older. Also, it was around this time that Apple started facing real trouble on a grand scale and Jobs began having major difference of opinion with the CEO, John Sculley. Soon after this, Jobs had to quit Apple and start over at NeXT):

"If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you've done and and whoever you were and throw them away.

The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, "Bye. I have to go. I'm going crazy and I'm getting out of here." And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Books I read in 2011 - Part 2

There is special joy reserved for "discovering" books; books which you wouldn't have normally read. These are the ones that you stumble across unexpectedly at a bookstore, at a second-hand book shop or are a recommendation from a friend you haven't spoken to in a long time.

The Goodreads suggestions section has become one such source of joy for me. I was searching for good novels in the detective genre when I came across "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins.

By the time I reached the end of the prologue, my nerves were already tingling as the build-up for a great mystery novel had been set.

The book is set in 19th century England, although the events in the prologue take place slightly earlier in the faraway exotic country of India. The prologue, ominously titled "The storming of Seringapatnam", describes how an officer of the East India Company comes in possession of a valuable diamond through thievery and murder right after the fall of Tipu Sultan of Mysore. The diamond, originally placed in a statue of the Moon God (hence the name) at Somnath, was sworn to be protected and restored by the priests of the temple at all costs.

Cut to half-a-century later when the said officer has been alienated by his family. To get back at them, the ailing old man leaves the diamond in his will to his niece on the day she turns eighteen. As it happens, the birthday party is also visited by three strange Indian gypsies. Later that night, the diamond mysteriously disappears. The theft, the search for it and the ultimate recovery of the diamond forms the rest of the novel.

Apart from the spine-chilling narrations at various parts in the book, the most interesting feature of the novel is the manner in which various chapters have been narrated by various characters in the book. The author's brilliance in eliciting humour and suspense from the narrators who speak in different styles is one of the highlights of the book.

Widely considered as one of the first mystery novels ever written, "The Moonstone" is a classic which you must read if you like reading Poe, Eliot and Doyle.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The debonair duo

One had an impish grin, the other had a cherubic smile. The one with a slim frame swayed as if his moves were inspired by the wind, the other jumped about with his full weight on shikaras while wooing the love of his life. One had a hair style which people said was inspired by Gregory Peck; at the same time, girls across the nation screamed for the other since he seemed to emulate Elvis' style of dancing.

They redefined suave. No, let me rephrase that. For the newly independent India, Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor did not redefine suave... they defined it first-hand.

What I liked most about the films of these two gentlemen was their light-hearted nature. Not for them the pathos-filled heavy films of Dilip Kumar or the look-into-society Raj Kapoor films. These were two young boys about town, looking for a good life and a great life-partner (Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Jewel Thief, Kashmir Ki Kali, An Evening in Paris to name a few).

Their songs remain etched in our memory. Whilst most of Dev Anand's famous songs were sung by Kishore, Shammi Kapoor and Mohammad Rafi complimented each other perfectly, right from that old black & white film "China Town" (remember 'Baar baar dekho'?).

One is spoilt for choices when trying to choose *that* one song by which one would like to remember each of these princes by. For Dev Anand, although 'Hum hai raahi pyaar ke' (Nau Do Gyarah) comes very close, the prize shall definitely go to 'Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya' (Mohd. Rafi singing for him in "Hum Dono").

For Shammi Kapoor, while most would remember him with 'Yeh chaand sa roshan chehra' in "Kashmir Ki Kali", my personal favourite is him singing 'Aasman se aaya farishta' in "An Evening in Paris" (interesting how both "Kashmir Ki Kali" and "An Evening In Paris" are Shakti Samanta films). The madness of the romantic lover-boy suspending himself from a helicopter asking his lady love for another look while she is water-skiing in the lake below is exactly the kind of exuberance I would always like to remember Shammi Kapoor by.

RIP sires.

(image courtesy: The Hindu)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The magic of S D Burman

Brilliance need not always jump to the rooftops and shout in order to draw attention to itself. Sometimes, and as in this instance, long after the creative minds have left the world of mortals, it peeks out from the surrounding clutter to remind us of the sheer magic of simplicity.

Take for instance this ad for cooking oil which has been playing on TV lately.

For some reason, the voice of S D Burman kept playing over and over in my head. I inquired about the origins of it on Twitter and Mish was kind enough to tell me the song was from Talaash, a 1969 Rajendar Kumar film.

The song is 'Meri Duniya Hai Maa' (lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri) which plays over the opening credits of the film.

But wait! Hadn't Dada Burman sung another song which also played out during the opening credits?

The film is Dev Anand's 'Guide'. In the opening credits, as we see Raju "guide" leaving his known world behind and walk towards his transition to a 'spiritual guru', you hear S D Burman's lilting voice singing 'Wahaan kaun hai tera musafir jaayega kahaan' (lyrics: Shailender). The song has been sung which such pathos that you can't but have a moist eye when Dada Burman sings the words "koi bhi teri, raah na dekhe, nain bichaaye na koi... dard se tere, koi na tadpa, aankh kisi ki na royi".

But it isn't always that his voice will reduce you to tears... it is there to soothe you too just when you begin to lose hope. Remember the title track of "Aradhana"? As the mother's soul gets tormented over having lost her husband and then being separated from her son, S D Burman's soulful voice assures her... "Banegi aasha ek din teri yeh niraasha, kaahe ko roye? Safal hogi teri araadhana" (lyrics: Anand Bakshi).

Brilliance does that, you know. It can reduce you to tears as well as show the way ahead.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The yin-yang of self-confidence and humility

The other day I had an epiphany about the yin-yang of self-confidence and humility.

On one hand we have self-confidence. Too little of this and you end up being a mockery of the potential within you. Instead of dictating your own destiny, you end up being a pebble in the warpath of strong-willed neighbours. Self-confidence requires you to be convinced of your own arguments and reasoning; of being able to decide on the path that you wish to pursue.

Yet, too much of this virtue and the dangers of over-confidence and hubris can start ringing the death knoll of success. Let being overtly cocky be left to your so-called larger than life figures; they will see the light soon. Being "too full of one-self" and not being able to see the faults in one's own schemes is perhaps one of the most short-sighted things to do.

Which is where the beauty of humility sets in...

By learning to have a patient ear and listening to the opinions of others we gather the wisdom of the world. It is an attempt to acknowledge that the universe is a sum of many parts and you are just a part of the grand puzzle, a brush of colour on the master-stroke that is life.

However, too much of humility and you have the trap of not being able to listen to your own thoughts, drowned as it were in the multitude of voices that you've opted to surround yourself with. To be able to drink in the wisdom of the opinions around you and yet make your own judgement is the way of the wise.

Which is where the self-confidence sets in...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Songs of the "black & white" era

Mom loves listening to the radio.

Not FM. Radio. For her, that means Vividh Bharti.

I credit my love for old (and when I say old, I mean OLD... as in, '40s and '50s stuff) Hindi songs to Mom's habit of listening to 'radio' before going off to sleep each night. It is this habit of hers which made me fall in love with the golden voices of Rafi, Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar long before I knew who they were.

For a generation which will grow up to Himesh singing 'Tera suroor' (Aapka Suroor) there was one which grew up listening to Hemant Kumar sing 'Bekarar karke hamein yun na jaiye' (Bees Saal Baad); today we think Mika's 'Main tennu love karda' (Desi Boyz) is fun.. some of us thought nothing could beat Kishore's madness in 'Jhoom jhoom kauva bhi dholak bajaaye' (Half Ticket).

This post is not to ridicule or challenge the 'like' factor of today's songs. Just to remind myself that the kind of music that I will hum ten years from now will most probably not be the ones that are recorded today.

Here are the top 20 of the most played songs from my 'Hindi B&W' playlist on my iPod:

1. Khoya khoya chand - Kala Bazaar (1960)
2. Chalat musafir moh liya re - Teesri Kasam (1967)
3. Yeh hai Bombay meri jaan - CID (1956)
4. Haal kaisa hai janaab ka - Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)
5. Bekaraar karke hamein yun na jaiye - Bees Saal Baad (1962)
6. Aaiye meherban - Howrah Bridge (1958)
7. Honton pe sacchai rehti hai - Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960)
8. Gore gore o baanke chhore - Samadhi (1950)
9. Dil deke dekho - Dil Deke Dekho (1959)
10. Maana janaab ne pukara nahin - Paying Guest (1957)
11. Tadbeer se bigdi hui - Baazi (1951)
12. Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si - Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)
13. Jiya bekaraar hai - Barsaat (1949)
14. Cat maane billi - Dilli Ka Thug (1958)
15. Hum to mohabbat karega - Dilli Ka Thug (1958)
16. Hum bhi hain tum bhi ho - Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960)
17. Chhod do aanchal - Paying Guest (1957)
18. Dil ka haal sune dilwaala - Shree 420 (1955)
19. Babuji dheere chalna - Aar Paar (1954)
20. Jaane kahaan mera jigar gaya ji - Mr. & Mrs. 55 (1955)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Books I read in 2011 - Part 1

Over the next few posts, I shall be putting up short reviews of some of the books that I read this year. Here is the first in the series.

The Ramayana Series by Ashok Banker: This 6 book series (a 7th book titled 'Vengeance of Ravana' was later added by the author) is a retelling of the great Hindu epic. Everyone has read / heard the story of the Hindu God Vishnu's avatar in human form battling the great demon Ravana. As I have noted previously on this blog, I was a sceptic when I started reading the first book 'Prince of Ayodhya' since most of my memories of Ramayana were tinged with the Ramanand Sagar produced TV series that we grew up watching on Doordarshan.

However, this series is a far cry from the soap-opera that I remembered. The book presents Rama, Lakshman and Sita well versed in martial arts and not shying away from taking up sword and spear to defend their land. Also, the country is not a "soft" state; it is a modern nation with highly evolved politics, military warfare and trade.

Perhaps the greatest strength of this series is that Ravana hasn't been reduced to a caricature. He truly emerges as a champion who won over the Gods with his devotion and defeated the humans in combat; an emperor who ruled a prosperous nation and a general who was brilliant at warfare. The sheer brilliance of his character lends a great deal of weight to the hero who must champion against all odds.

There are portions towards the end of the series where one feels the author hurries along and the narrative stumbles. Important battles within the great war seem to have been suddenly won without much explanation.

The reason why I loved this series is because it has renewed my interest in the Ramayana as an epic. It is all too easy to get carried away by the majestic Mahabharat, what with all the wars being waged and dynasty politics. But it took this version of Banker's Ramayana to remind me that this is also the story of a simple prince who loved his princess.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Being grateful

Sometimes, for no apparent reason, the soul demands that one be thankful and grateful.

To that Force that is Life.

For everything. And I mean... EVERYTHING.

For the simple pleasure of being able to breathe day after day.

To feel the joy of waking up to the sun shining in the morning when just the previous night it seemed there would be no end to darkness.

One can't be thankful enough to one's parents for shaping one's character.

Being grateful to our friends who are ever ready to share a laugh or eager to lend an ear in times of trouble.

Thankful to the world where there is music, song and laughter.


I am thankful.

May there be peace.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


"Anyone who brings up someone else's son becomes specially devoted: there are no rights, no social claims - nothing but ties of affection. Affection cannot prove itself with a legal document; nor does it wish to. All it can do is love with doubled intensity, because it owns so uncertainly."
The Living and the Dead by Rabindranath Tagore
(trans. by William Radice)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Here's to the crazy ones

Before I lose this image again...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tiger tiger burning bright

As someone who enjoys hearing and reading cricket anecdotes, specially those of Indian cricket, it was impossible for me to not come across the trail the Tiger had left.

My earliest memories of hearing about the Tiger was when Mom (Pataudi Jr. was charismatic enough to draw her attention to cricket) told me India once had a captain who only had one eye. Apparently, this bloke had had a terrible accident and yet was good enough to play for the country with just one good eye. "Must be one heck of a fella," I thought.

It was much later when the legend of the Nawab of Pataudi started swirling around me. Everywhere I looked, article after article praised this handsome prince whose debonair style of batting suggested he was much better than the record books suggested. The phrase "his record doesn't do him justice" seemed to have been made for him.

I remember watching an interview of him on "Rendezvous with Simi Garewal" (hey, I was *very* young, ok?) and remember her asking him "Is it true that when you appealed for an lbw and if the umpire thought it wasn't out, he would politely tell you 'Not out, Your Highness'?". The impropriety (to him) of asking the question on national television seemed to have caught him by surprise as he paused for a couple of seconds and then without batting his eyelids said, "Yes."

In many ways, that interview told you a lot about the personality that this man had. Quiet, dignified, straight-laced humour, maybe a little snotty (he was a Nawab after all) but very certain about the opinions he had.

Before Pataudi came along as captain (at the age of 21, he was the youngest captain the game had ever seen at that point of time), it is believed that the Indian cricket team were still reeling from a sense of inferiority complex towards their ex-colonial masters. Test matches were played with the objective of somehow eking out a draw. It is to Pataudi Jr.'s credit who walked in with an attitude that said, "Hang on a minute, we should be playing to win and not draw matches." It is to him that the credit goes for bringing steel and grit into a side which once only knew abject surrender.

Not that we won too many matches under his captaincy. But the mindset had been changed. Here was a man who "with one eye and one leg" played a fighting innings at the MCG when India were, I think, 25 for 5. Indian cricket had found its Spartacus.

To him also goes the credit for introducing the spin attack of Chandrashekhar, Bedi and Prasanna. I am sure tomorrow morning's newspapers will be full of better praise from these fine cricketers than I could muster up.

But I will leave you with two quotes about the Tiger which for me epitomize what he meant for Indian cricket.

Asked to describe Pataudi's leadership style, Prasanna once mentioned "He wasn't the kinds who would have to shout at you to tell you what to do. Pataudi led by his eyes... he would just look at you and then look in another direction and you knew what had to be done."

Bishan Singh Bedi, the graceful magician Sardar, said that the greatest contribution of the Tiger to Indian cricket was that he was the first captain to forge an "Indian" team. He was the one, Bedi says, who taught us to think beyond Madras, Bombay, Punjab etc. You're playing for the country, he would say, so play as one.

RIP Nawab Sahab.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

From Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Jab jab dard ka baadal chaya
Jab ghum ka saya lehraya
Jab aansoo palkon tak aya
Jab yeh tanha dil ghabraya
Humne dil ko yeh samjhaya
Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai
Duniya mein yunhi hota hai
Yeh jo gehre sannaate hain
Waqt ne sabko hi baante hain
Thoda ghum hai sabka qissa
Thodi dhoop hai sabka hissa
Aankh teri bekaar hi namm hai
Har pal ek naya mausam hai
Kyun tu aise pal khota hai
Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai

Pighle neelam sa behta ye sama,
neeli neeli si khamoshiyan,
na kahin hai zameen na kahin aasmaan,
sarsaraati hui tehniyaan pattiyaan,
keh raheen hai bas ek tum ho yahan,
bas main hoon,
meri saansein hain aur meri dhadkanein,
aisi gehraiyaan, aisi tanhaiyaan, aur main... sirf main.
Apne hone par mujhko yakeen aa gaya.


For me, meditation is a moment in which I have quietened my mind.

Meditation need not be religious, although it can be. If you have by repeatedly saying a name or a chant emptied your mind to only one thought, and that one thought alone, you have meditated.

I have found the best form of meditation to be sitting down quietly for ten minutes anytime between midnight to five in the morning and just breathing slowly, calmly. The choice of the odd hours is only because I'd rather meditate in a quiet, peaceful world than when the energies of people rushing about is colliding with my energy field.

There are other ways of meditation too.

Swimming underwater can be a very peaceful experience. It gives you the feeling you are alone in the world. Alone. No one reaches you there. Not your parents nor your friends or even the people you dislike. It is just about you. That moment is about being one with yourself and realising that you're immersed in and one with Nature.

Running long distances is also therapeutic. I often found that after I'd run a couple of laps and when it had started registering in my mind that my legs were tired, the simplest way of going on was by reminding myself of just putting the other foot ahead of the current one. Simple. And repeat. And keep repeating. Keep doing that and before you know it, you've finished another lap.

However, the simplest way of meditating is perhaps while drinking water. Pick up the glass of water, close your eyes and drink. Feel the water gushing down your throat. Feel the joy in the simple happiness of your thirst being quenched. Let the feeling tingle over you for that split second. Open your eyes. And smile. You've meditated.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Cup at a Time

I came across this brilliant piece while browsing through my inbox yesterday. Instantly wished to share it with as many people as I could. Here goes:

My vision is to change the world one cup of tea at a time.

How? Consider where you are right now. In your body. In your heart. In your life. I’m guessing you’ve got dreams that you are striving for, and challenges to overcome. Somewhere, on paper or in your head there’s a list of projects that you chip away at day by day. Some projects are old and stagnant, and others are fresh and urgent.

For those of you not reading this, if you are not getting what you strive for in life then now is the time to do something different. Shatter the routine. Just stop and wake up and change. If you are reading this, then you are probably used to getting what you strive for. Continue on as you have been and chances are good that sooner or later your dreams will come true and your current challenges will yield to your efforts. What then?

When you achieve “it,” will you have more money? A bigger house? Flatter abs? More friends? Happier kids? A more loving partner? More leisure time? More happiness?

Now, imagine for a moment that everything is perfect right now, just as it is.

Imagine that, miraculously, all your dreams have come true and all your challenges overcome. You have arrived. Look around. Notice your body. Listen.

Breathe in.

And then out.

When all of your goals are hit and all of your challenges overcome, where will you be? Here. Now. Of course the future hasn’t happened. That means all your worries and what-ifs are just illusions and totally bogus. Tomorrow will always be tomorrow. And the past is past. Yesterday is forever gone. Whatever. Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s over and it will never happen again. All we have is now. This singular moment.

This is the gift you get for being alive.

If you can slow down enough to pay attention to the details of this moment then the basic goodness and raw joy of being alive is impossible to ignore.

For me, drinking tea is a reminder. The ritual preparing, serving, and drinking tea reminds me to slow down, to let my senses take over, and to let this moment flood the Now. The clatter of tea ware. The warmth of the cup. Hot steam swirling in the early morning sunlight from a cup of brilliant green sencha.

This ritual is a reminder I try to carry with me throughout the day. This is it. This one cup. This one moment. This one life.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Four men and a funeral

I love browsing through posters that Landmark stores puts up on display for sale. Of course, most of them are about comics / cartoons / football clubs / movies. In fact, I have bought a couple of them to be put up on the walls of my house whenever I finally can. Till then, the black and white image of Marlon Brando as the Godfather and the poster of the Batman logo shall stay in a corner of the house for me to muse over every time I steal a glance.

Coming back to the post at hand. On one of my recent visits to Landmark, I really loved this one particular poster of the Beatles where they're simply walking across a zebra crossing. I loved the free-wheeling 70s look and especially the fact that Paul McCartney is walking barefoot, giving the image a "let's just take a walk" feel.

I don't know what it was about the image which came back to me yesterday as I was about to hit search on Google for a new wallpaper for my laptop.

These four just look so relaxed taking a walk on a sunny London morning.

However, this wasn't it. I just *had* to find out more about when this picture was taken. Was it a promotional photograph? Or an album cover? Or just some newspaper photojournalist who landed the coup of the decade by getting The Beatles to pose for the Sunday morning edition?

So I searched and expectedly came across the answer on Wikipedia.

The picture is the cover image of the final album The Beatles did together, "Abbey Road". The picture is one amongst the six that photographer Iain Macmillan took during the ten minutes that he got with the legendary four on the morning of 8th August 1969. The four are walking across the Abbey Road crossing to the then EMI Studios (later renamed Abbey Road Studios).

I also found out why I had to take the trouble to search for the image; apparently this is the only "original UK Beatles album sleeve to show neither the artist name nor the album title on its front cover."

Expectedly, the image has achieved cult status. There is a website where people can send pics of themselves as they walk across the zebra crossing. Not to mention the website of Abbey Road Studios themselves who have a page simply titled "The Crossing" for their 'Visit' page and which has live video feeds of the crossing.

I was also unaware that back in 1969, an urban legend did the rounds that Paul McCartney actually died in a car crash in 1967 and was replaced by a look-alike. Of the various clues that the supporters of the rumour used was the cover image of Abbey Road, which they said symbolised a funeral procession and Lennon dressed in white symbolising a preacher.

Whatever the truth may be, one thing I'm sure of. I like this picture and would have never thought there was so much history attached to the image which is now my wallpaper.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Just couldn't go to sleep without sharing this awesome visualization of the Ardhanareshwar that I came across on Twitter some days ago.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Would you like a drink, Sir?

Who wouldn't love the concept of a manservant who took care of all the nitty-gritties of daily existence?

For a single bachelor living in Mumbai, I sure would love to have some extra time on my hands during the weekends, not to mention evenings after office on weekdays. Clothes to be washed, put out to dry and then ironed, meals to be prepared, dusting the house... I could clearly do with some help.

And if one is getting help after all, why not in style?

Why not have someone who not only ensures the book-shelf is always neatly arranged but also knows how to stir up a perfect Long Island Iced Tea as you come back home after a long day at the office? One who is there not only to offer a word of advice when requested but also to take care of the work on Saturday and Sunday mornings so that you can get happily sloshed the evening before.

Now, I haven't had the privilege of watching a live butler / valet (What's the difference? Read on...) in action but here are the three best fictional ones I have come across:

3. J.A.R.V.I.S. - At no. 3 is the artificial intelligence system which serves Tony Stark in the Iron Man films. JARVIS stands for Just Another Rather Very Intelligent System. Of course, the original Jarvis is Edwin Jarvis, manservant to Tony Stark and who later serves members of the Avengers Initiative (not to mention, also has a mildly romantic relationship with Peter "Spiderman" Parker's aunt, May Parker).

What I really liked about the film version of JARVIS was the spunk that the character has, the slight sarcasm in it's words as it serves Tony Stark with the coolest looking gadgets.

2. Alfred Pennyworth - Losing out the top spot very closely is "Batman's batman", Alfred Pennyworth. The man the Dark Knight trusts is obviously no ordinary mortal. Not only is he the caretaker of Wayne Towers but also keeps everything running smoothly in the Batcave in the absence of Batman and Robin.

A father-figure to Bruce Wayne, Alfred's continued jibes at him for not eating, sleeping and resting enough is the perfect wry-smile earner in a series which would be even more sombre were the Dark Knight left to fend for himself. An ex-actor, a military man, a self-taught surgical man and often the voice of reason to the various young boys who donned the mantle of Robin over the years, Alfred is the champion at home Batman cannot do without.

(Trivia: In the Pre-Crisis Batman series, Alfred's father's name is revealed to be Jarvis, a hat-tip to the very same gentleman at no. 3 on my list)

1. Reginald Jeeves - Now, there's a man! He's not a butler, but a valet, i.e. he serves a man and not a household. However, were the need to serve a family arise, as Bertie puts it, "he can buttle with the best of them."

Personally, no other fictional character has accounted for as many hold-your-stomach-laughing-bouts as Jeeves has. The inherent quality of being unperturbed by whatever Bertram Wooster throws at him is bound to charm even the coldest reader. The ability to out-think the cleverest machinations of an entire generation of cheats, scoundrels and aunts makes this man an enigma.

It is argued it must be all the fish that he consumes that gives him the legendary problem solving brains that he has. But wouldn't you kill for a valet who knows the recipe for the perfect get-me-up drink when you're suffering from a terrible hangover? What would you not do for a saviour who rescues you when you're stranded on an island and an angry goose is hell-bent on attacking you?

As the caption in the picture above reads, if everyone had a valet like Jeeves, there would be no wars. But just in case there is a war, I know I want Jeeves on my side.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

IT Helpdesk

Office laptops are one of God's peculiar creatures. They give up on you when you least expect them to.

A couple of weeks ago, I was back home in Calcutta. I was using my wireless USB stick to connect to my official mail server. I had used it to check a few mails on Saturday and so was relatively relaxed on Monday morning when I tried to login again, living in the false belief that the IT gods were still smiling on me. Little did I know, they were just getting started.

For some reason, the laptop wouldn't recognize the USB modem no matter how many times I put it back in the slot. After doing this a couple of times, I realized the problem: my admin rights had been removed and hence, also, the rights to the modem.

"Damn," I said, and called up the IT helpdesk number at my Mumbai office.

IT: Good morning, IT helpdesk. How may I help you?

S: Yeah, hi. Listen, my laptop isn't recognizing the USB modem, because my admin rights have been revoked. Can you do something?

IT: Hmm.. right sir. What is your desk no.?

S: ~mentions desk number~

~Furious typing sound~

IT: No problem sir. I have taken down that complaint. I'll have somebody sent to your desk in 20 minutes or so.

S: Arre?!!! I just told you, I'm in Calcutta, not in Mumbai leave alone at my desk.

IT: Oh !!

Here, there comes in a very, very long pause. I can almost hear the guy's mind slowly moving into first gear.

IT: Oh, ok sir. Just give me a minute.

~some scrambling and hollering in the background~

IT (new guy): Yes sir. How may I help you?

S: ~sighs~ ~repeats problem~

IT: Sir, no problem sir. Why don't you bring the laptop here to the IT room and we'll resolve the problem.

S: God have mercy!!

IT: Sir ???!!! Sorry, I couldn't hear you.

Needless to say, I couldn't get my modem's functionality back till a week later when I joined office. Such are the mysterious ways of the IT helpdesk.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Credit belongs to the doer

Hat tip to the Sporting Edge for the following quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

The Sixth Verse of Lao-tzu

The Sixth Verse of Lao-tzu

The spirit that never dies
is called the mysterious feminine.
Although she becomes the whole universe,
her immaculate purity is never lost.
Although she assumes countless forms,
her true identity remains intact.

The gateway to the mysterious female
is called the root of creation.

Listen to her voice,
hear it echo through creation.
Without fail, she reveals her presence.
Without fail, she brings us to our own perfection.
Although it is invisible, it endures;
it will never end.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Be wary of the Lankans

Got this as a BBM forward via Kushan and it is by far the best forward regarding the World Cup that I have read, including from the ones that I received before the India vs. Pakistan match.

Here goes:

India waalon, zara sambhaal ke rehna...

Tumhari Munni badnaam hai, aur Sheela jawaan hai

Aur yeh Lanka waale saale Raavan ki aulaad hai.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yamla Pagla Deewana: The Review

Couple of things:

*Dad is much better ~touch wood~, discharged from the hospital and back home. Heartfelt thanks and gratitude to every one who helped, prayed and was there for us.

*Have linked my blog to Facebook notes; so many friends who comment there don't really know that they're actually reading stuff that I put up on my blog at

*The blog crossed 20,000 hits !! Yeah !!!

*Recently spoke to a friend who hasn't really commented on the blog or on FB. But felt nice when he said he liked reading what I wrote from time to time.

*With that, onto a film review, 'coz I've really had it with writing / thinking serious stuff


Yamla Pagla Deewana: My thoughts

*Doing a bullet-point review 'coz really, that *is* the theme of this post (haven't you noticed already?)

*The idea of opening the film with Ajay Devgan's voice-over with the choicest of clips from Yaadon Ki Baarat / Amar Akbar Anthony set the theme of the film pretty well, telling the viewer that the film-makers were here to have fun

*The second half, where the action shifts to Punjab, is definitely more fun than the first half

*What the hell were they thinking when they got the clothes for the item girl in "Tinku Jiya"? Sorry, but she ended up looking cheap.

*What the hell was Bobby's stylist smoking ? (a jacket which was half green-half purple, another which had three different shades of yellow, printed floral shirts with a 'gamcha' around his neck and finally, a red kurta with golden, yes, GOLDEN pyajamas) Not that it didn't bring a lot of laughs.

*Loved the bit where the trio are getting away after looting an ATM and Dharam paaji goes "U-turn kyun li? Gaadi ki doosri side to paint hi nahin ki" and what appears to be a security van on one side turns out to be a stolen ambulance on the other !!

*The "Chadha De Rang" song is actually pretty hummable once you've heard it a couple of times

*Loved the fact that the film took pot-shots at the Deols:

- Dharam paaji did almost *all* his signature dance steps and don't even ask about the number of times the drinking habits were alluded to

- Sunny Deol did *that* hathoda-chaap dance step from 'Yaara o yaara' (Jeet)

- When Sunny isn't able to draw water from a hand-pump, Bobby goes "Abbe chalayega ya ukhadega?"

- Even Abhay Deol wasn't spared: "Aaj kal to Devdas ko bhi Dev-D banna padta hai"

*The new girl, Kulraj Randhawa, looked really pretty but could've definitely done with less make-up

*The whole 'Caneda' (not a typo) angle with the Poli character was ROFL

*Watch out how 'Chori chori jab nazrein mili' from Kareeb is used to hillarious effect when Bobby rescues Anupam Kher from villains by swinging on a rope ala Tarzan

All in all, a good comedy film. Leave your brains behind, but as if you didn't know about the movie already.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lessons from the last couple of days

The last couple of days have been a test. You can't go through life without expecting some knocks, and SOS calls at 4:30 AM are as good as knocks can come (I wouldn't want to know worse, thank you very much).

Here are some things I learned in the last 72 odd hours:

* For any given situation, you can either get stressed and worried or you can determinedly keep re-focussing on the positive side of things. Keep doing the latter and be a positive influence on those around you.

* Many people say "This too shall pass" is a good way of reminding oneself of the ephemeral nature of troubles. However, I prefer telling myself "This too shall be overcome" to remind myself of the strength of spirit and undying positive energy each one of us carries within ourselves.

* Have you ever been part of or have observed how a *team* of people walk out into a competition as opposed to a single person? The sense of camaraderie and "I got your back, brother" attitude is what, in my opinion, creates the effect of the sum being greater than the parts. I have never felt more relieved than I was when 'my gang' of college friends just stood by me in the hour of need.

* Dunno, but I feel nobody understands a woman's pain like another woman. Thank heavens my paternal aunts were here when Mom was so disturbed. Having them around helped Mom greatly and I stand indebted to them.