Sunday, November 27, 2011

Feels like Seattle...

It’s Sunday morning. I am at work because of tight work deadlines. My work is kinda blocked and my devs are trying to fix it. Meanwhile I am writing. For the past two days I am feeling kinda good inside. It’s been drizzling here in Bangalore. It’s dark and cloudy and gloomy and chilly! If I close my eyes and take a deep breath, I can almost feel Seattle in my lungs. Due to the drizzling rains here, the streets are wet and deserted. I can vision the wet streets of Seattle, the slow-steady rains that fall all day long with intermediate breaks for few minutes. The streets are always less crowded in Seattle. So, on my bike ride to work, if I ignore the shabby street stalls on the road side and just focus on the wet road and trees, it does really feel like I am in Seattle. It’s November so it’s chilly here and there too. The only thing missing is probably the holiday season lightings and decorations on streets and in malls.
Oh Wait! Most importantly my friends are missing around me. My closest friends at Microsoft, my Seattle Thriller dance group friends and my roommates!
Frankly, I never was happy to move back to India after living for 3 years in Washington. We humans are so adaptable. It’s really surprising how we just gel so quickly to our surrounding and people and situations. It’s almost taken me a year to settle back here with respect to people, culture, facilities and way of living. And I feel at peace now than how angry and frustrated I used to be when I had just returned. Another factor I see is the proximity to husband, parents and close relatives. Living alone in Seattle, I remember cozying up in my apartment in Bellevue with a slight amount of the heater on in my bedroom, having some hot Indian comfort food Mung-dal Khicadi or steaming Fried rice or the best – hot Maggi/Curry  noodles with the best entertainment – watching Seinfeld episodes. Being away alone from family would make me think so much, have sleepless nights. Now I feel at peace. There is no more worry, there is a stagnant job in hand and there is my husband by my side, with parents reachable in my time zone.
The past two days have brought good old memory of Seattle in Bangalore… I can imagine my American friends celebrating Thanksgiving with their family and friends, Indian friends going on vacations during the holiday. I wish them all a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and Happy Holiday. Hope this year has been good and brought peace to all. Miss you Seattlites!
Happy Thanksgiving J

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ultimate celebration

I was off for 3 days involved in the wedding of my sister-in-law. Weddings are the ultimate celebrations in India. It’s the ultimate showdown of everything you’ve got to put up a great show of everything to everyone coming for the wedding. The wedding card, the hall, the preparations, the food, the whole ceremony and the varied tension of getting things done the right way at the right time…the whole thing ends so quickly..it’s like a movie!
When we dropped in, all the cousins had reached..the big fat Indian wedding was on track…all aunts and uncles under one roof. No space is enough to accommodate all. All hands are cooking or cleaning or arranging something…things happen faster…food is ready and younger group sits for dinner first. Loving moms are busy feeding all the adult-children! There is one aunt sitting in the center of the hall and we all sit around her..while she distributes food to each plantain leaf! Couple of cousins share food in the same leaf..another couple too follows the same…brotherhood and sisterhood and spousehood…all in the same room! Suddenly one cousin wails..Amma….some rice…Ammaa…and all follow the lead…in chorus…Ammma….some rice ammmaa… (imitating the beggars when they beg for alms). Different moms react differently..while some moms can’t bear the joke of their kids begging another cool moms joins in our laughter!
So many girls…so many hands to fill with Henna. Not to forget moms and aunts! And the amount of work that will be blocked with henna hands. Night time is even crazy with so many people finding space to sleep. Talks and giggles seem endless after the lights are put off! Moms warning to go to sleep soon because we have to get up early next day! In my head I think and ask my husband, “I woke up early in my wedding…almost had sleepless nights! Then why be sleepless in other’s wedding. I mean why do Indian weddings events have to be so early in the morning…4am…5am???”
It is always fun to be the bride’s team. After all it’s the bride, people look at. Wedding day is the only day the bride looks so flawless, so decorated. Most girls realize that make-up indeed looks good on them. Even the most tomboyish girl loves getting dressed and made up! It is really so much fun to be a girl..the saree, matching jewelry, the kinds of jewelry, the hairdos makeup and the bright smile that lights up everyone!

South Indian wedding have their own glow of the rich, heavy, gold thread woven silk sarees, that display mutilple colors at different angles. The Indian obsession of gold jewelry is justified when they are worn on the beautiful silk sarees. The typical long plait of hair, with studded jewelry is perfectly traditional! The flowers in the hairdo, the colored glass bangles, the silver anklets all make the wedding so worth it!
The wedding day is emotional for all the women in the hall; when the groom ties the wedding knot the bride’s mom can’t hold it in…and almost of us (women) weep silently in our places. Young girls remember their wedding day..moving away from parents…moms remember giving away their daughters…it’s a mutual moment all women share and men miserably fail to understand to the extent of asking us “why are YOU crying now!!!” Duh!
It’s a sweet bitter moment for the bride’s parents..the joy of getting the daughter married but the pain of giving away the daughter you raised so dearly… <sigh>!!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ROCKSTAR!!!!


Last night I went for Rockstar! I am still high with the musical movie! Awesome movie, rocking music…I can’t ever decide if the latest music of Rehman is the best..because he just gets better each time!!! This album totally makes you feel, “nothing like this before”..and it happens at each of his new release!Indians don’t have Rockstars! Indian music (Bollywood or folk) is very cultural, lovey-dovey where everything is a fairytale and all is good at the end of the movie. Evil dies and good prevails blah blah! A rockstar lifestyle is not common for us; we have no Britney Spears or Curt Cobain or Bryan Adams! Our musicians don’t depict the depression, sorrow, anger and frustration of reality that the English ones do! Probably that is why the younger generation survives on English rock music!
Sadda Haq song from the movie (loved the lyrics)
The director Imtiaz Ali is one of my favorites. He has delivered best of movies until now. He definitely has a different and unique vision when it comes to Indian –bollywood film making! The direction is good, music direction by Rehman is mind blowing as always. I had heard of how Rehman was totally impressed and a fan of Singer Mohit Chauhan. It’s so obvious, that the singer has sung about 9 songs in this movie and god! What a performance…He’s got the Indian rockstar voice!!!
Ranbir Kapoor! Well this has to be his best performance until now or the only best! He’s acted very well with respect to the emotions and lip sync for the songs. He looks like he is actually singing the songs. Being the focal point of the movie, the actress is not great at acting. It’s a brilliant move to get a fresh face for the character as the existing actresses have already set a trend for themselves, but given the opportunity she could have acted much better. Eventually they do look great as a pair but you can see the intensity in Ranbir’s acting better towards the girl.
It’s a must watch in the theaters to just enjoy the music that Rehman has created. He has got perfection in making the ultimate Kawali’s now. Kun Faaya Kun is a beautiful piece of music. Saada Haq rocks big time both in music and lyrics. It is actually an intense story with an emotional quotient as a life of a rockstar. But the comical scenes take away the seriousness that was indeed required. It should be a memorable movie for Ranbir in real life as he worked with his late grandfather Shammi Kapoor.I don’t like the ending of the movie where the director leaves it vague for the audience to decide what happens..being used to Bollywood we are used to knowing the “GOOD-END”. But that’s how the direction should have been for this script. Excellent movie!
For those who might enjoy the song Sadda Haq and want to know the meaning of the song - http://www.bollymeaning.com/2011/09/sadda-haq-aithe-rakh-lyrics-translation.html

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Art of bargain

I have spent almost a year in India now, at a stretch. And the art of bargaining is coming into my character, very slow but I am making progress.  Living in India, purchase is always done by bargaining. I have never really been comfortable with this act. Infact I am the best customer any vendor could get; I just pay what I am asked for. You say 300 I’ll pay 300, you say 50 I’ll pay 50 without asking how or why? Not an Indian trait. I somehow find it cheap or may be degrading to bargain. No idea really!
Sometimes I visit this off the street vegetable vendor in the evening on my way home from work. The vendor is sometimes nice to me to let go off a rupee or two. And thanks to his acquaintance I am slowly learning how to bargain. There are different levels to bargaining. It’s really an art. You should know the right amount to bargain, have a bit of idea of the general market price, give out the right reason for your bargain etc etc. Like my dad has always brought the grocery at home and he knows the market prices of all the items so well from the newspaper, he’ll argue with the vendors saying the newspaper quoted this price and you are asking for more!!! You have to be updated with the latest info to not be fooled.
Today I stopped to buy bunch of spinach. The kid at the store said 6/- a bunch. I said fine, I’ll take 2 for 10. The kid said, no ma’m it’s actually 7/- and I am giving you for 6/-. I told him to call the regular owner and when I asked him he said the same, 6/- a bunch. I was quick. I said “come on it’s not even that fresh looking..I am gonna cook it only tomorrow. 10 for is fine”
The thing about vegetables is that vendors want to sell them off by the end of the day, as the shelf life of the commodity is small. Especially leafy vegetables. So the same bunch of spinach which is 10/- each at 5pm becomes 6/- each by 7pm. And if I am buying two I can BARGAIN it at 10/- for 2. J And hence I saved 2 rupees today. Not a big deal..but someday I might be able to bargain more. Baby steps at becoming a true Indian ha haha..
Like how Russell Peters says about Indian customers-
Vendor: 200/-
Customer:50/-
Vendor: 180/-
Customer: 60/-….blah blah blah
Vendor: Ok Last price 120/- Take it…and go…Take it and go!
Customer: Last price 80/-
And the deal is done at 100!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ra.One

The other night we went to watch Ra.one; Shahrukh’s latest sci-fi, big budget movie of 2011. It’s a good start for sci-fi movies in India. Frankly, I feel the Indian audience is not meant for sci-fi, futuristic movies. We can stand all the ridiculous climaxes for a typical bollywood movie or the hero never dying or even hit by a bullet but an officially labeled science fiction movie is too much for us to take.


My review: It’s a good movie to watch once. The logic of using the Xbox technology is cool, where you play with actual physical movements. The artificial intelligence idea is also pretty cool…kinda on the lines of iRobot of Will Smith. Shahrukh’s movies have their own style of humor which is kinda family style; you can watch his movies with a family basically! But being a bollywood movie and that too starring Kareena, they have to have the ‘paisa vasool’ factor. So what if Kareena is playing a teenager’s mom and dances very scantily dressed on the son’s birthday or even on the launch party with her husband.
If I have to compare with Rajnikanth’s Robot and SRK’s Ra.One, I feel Rajni did better with action and variety of the robotics technology. While the graphics of Ra.one is much cooler than Robot. SRK’s movies have to have the emotional content too, so that eats up some of the creative time of the movie. Kareena is a doll in the movie. When she abused last time in Jab we met, it was a hilarious scene and probably they tried to re-create it again…an Indian woman using foul language..trying to generate comedy.
I have seen the email jokes of Ra.one and they are really very funny, but I still feel it’s a good movie to watch. Just thinking of all the effort that goes in generating that entire cool graphics, I think the Indian audience is just not fair. Because they can stand all the senseless movies Salman Khan makes but a descent sci-fi movie, they want to laugh it off! And the double standards for Hollywood and bollywood movies is insane. The audience can go in awe for super complex movies like matrix, minority report, inception even though they can’t understand squat until they watch them like 5-8 times but the same done in bollywood with Indian style is to criticize!
Enjoy the Ra.One jokes-
1) Govt of India just announced Rs 50,000 relief to all those who watched RA1... Rs.25,000 for those who left before interval!!! :D
2) Breaking News...! Crocin, Disprin, Combiflam, Adol Panadol, Diclomol and all Headache Tablets Stock over after RA.ONE's release!!! :D
3) Salman to SRK after watching Ra.One,"Mujh par ek ehsaan karna, dubara aisi movie mat banana"!! :p
4) Rahul Gandhi to meet people affected after seeing Ra.One!! :p
5) Even Ra.mu doesn't wanna waste time by watching Ra.one...!
6) Ra.One gives more pain than a wife - HARD TO BELIVE BUT TRUE!!
7) Get RA.ONE under Lokpal bill...! Put people behind bars who made such movie!!
8) 100 people committed mass suicide after watching Ra.one!
9) Santa: SRK has launched a scheme...all audience get ticket of Ra.one for free! and he claims it will break all box office records!!
Banta: WTH!! How will the film do business??
Santa: Oh they are charging people who try to exit!!
10) Digvijay Singh- RSS hand behind Ra.One's release... :O
11) Abhishek Bachchan- 'Ravan was better than Ra.one!....Seriously!'...
12) Santa: I need Poison..
Chemist: I cant sell without prescription.
Santa shows his used Ra.one tickets...
Chemist: bus kar pagle, rulayega kya...badi bottle du ya chhoti.....