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Showing posts from 2006

Christmas is such a drag

A wee bit accusatory, the cleaning woman’s sly question: “You don’t hang a star or put up a tree?!” I wanted to be blunt and say it has become one big bore. But instead I shrugged and let the question pass.It is not just Christmas but all festivals have become aggressively predatory. The festival is packaged to entice and lure the unsuspecting stupid believer and then it closes in to make the monetary killing.Once upon a time Christmas was simple. Life was not easy but the real fun was there and that was long before the ersatz fun became packaged ware. Planning began months before. The pinecones were collected from hill stations then painted silver, gold or left plain and painstakingly wired into the wreaths. Bright red suede with green leaves and dry flowers tucked into it became table runners and pretty candles entwined in tinsel became centre -pieces. We even borrowed Christmas decs when we had a dinner and that was about wowing and sharing and wowing again!Every year an exhibition…

Code Name Re

There is certain fallacy in the assumption that grizzled hair makes one wiser. And a personal example kind of endorses that statement: My beautiful grey hairs have done nothing for my grey matter. And even if I am warned a million times I succumb so daftly to the great Hope. I guess age only tweaks the gullibility factor.The case I am making out here is the great e-mail spam trick. The e-mails that flood my mail box have subject heads that are ambitiously disguised to entice an opening.
“You have won a lottery!” “Check this”, “Urgent”, “Re”, “It’s Me” even an audacious "Thanks for last night!" and a million other heads that have all seen nothing but the trash. I have been quick to delete without even the slightest peek. Very clever of me! But sometimes Subject heads beyond my wildest dreams lead me into temptation and deliver me into …..Here is a mail from the Volkswagen Automobiles Company that had me clicking hard on the mail to open up. The subject said: File for your pri…

Casino Royale: Bond or Rambo?

Hey, It's Rambo in a Tux!
That about sums up the Casino Royale effect. Is it a genre shifting of Bond? It sure is. The makers have given the pure cool headed impeccable Bond who could come out of any situation wholly intact – as cool as a cucumber – the royal snub and instead is the miserable amalgam of Rambo and Bond. A bloody Rambo who does not do it the Rambo way and a very uncool Bond who does not get his Bond right. The new Bonding effect – all that gore and the less mint attitude- is disconcerting and hard to swallow.The Big ChaseAn African runs up the steel frames like a lizard nay a Steel Monkey (high rise jockey?) and you begin to wow the guy. Then you watch Bond in a floral shirt in hot pursuit and your jaw drops. Its not the style, but the lack of style that makes the jaw drop. Bond sloppily scrambles up after him- more like the canine in the Hutch ad. Tsk, tsk!Cut to another scene- Bond chases the bad guys and smashes up his car real bad. And he deserves all the credit …

Jethamalani and Manu Sharma

A few years ago I interviewed India's legal ace Ram Jethmalani when he visited Kochi.He was really sweet to talk at length to me. One of the questions that I posed to him then was: Why he does he defend people like Indira Gandhi’s assassins?Ram replied: There comes a time in every lawyer’s life when he is called to defend such people. I consider it is as my duty to defend such a person if I am approached. The brouhaha erupting over Ram Jethmalani defending Manu Sharma seems so silly. The man should be admired for having the gumption to defend such a person. Never mind the fact that I think Manu Sharma deserves the worst punishment if he did commit the crime.It is not this eminent lawyer (a shame some said on TV) who should be blamed for callously defending this criminal ( that's his duty) but for the fact that a 100 people saw Manu Sharma pull the trigger and yet there is no concrete evidence. That speaks a lot for the people and our system.
And it was funny to see Sagarika of …

Classmates

According to Wikipedia Classmates is the highest grossing Malayalam film ever!
The ‘House Full’ sign outside a theatre is perhaps the best advertisement for any film and “Classsmates” has worn that tag for every show for more than fifty days now. Half past nine in the morning, soon after breakfast is an awkward time to run to the theatre but I did it to check out what was drawing the crowds……Review
The lights dim and her laughter of arrogance echoes through the darkened cinema hall and his smirk suggests, ‘no one can get the better of me’. She- Thara Kurup (played by Kavya Madhavan) the daughter of a MLA is a dancer and he- Sukumaran (played by Prithviraj) is the SFK leader- both final year students of the BSc Chemistry Class of‘91. Two strong personalities are out to get each other and the scenes rapidly unfold to tickle you with their mishievous inventiveness. You know they are destined to fall in love but meanwhile only Thara seems to have the guts to stand up to Sukumaran’s bullying…

My corner : The End of Innocence

Book Review

The End of Innocence
By Moni Mohsin

Almost immediately you will hurtle into a love story- one that is hectored by adult wisdom and succumbs to the inevitable consequences. This Bildungsroman nostalgically takes a peek into the affluent world of a curious eight- year -old Laila and her best friend Rani, the dreamy granddaughter of a maid. Rani is busy cavorting in her love story that gets briefly elevated to the cinematic kind by nothing else but the vehicle of her imagination.
A child herself, fifteen- year -old Rani plans her marriage and gets her dowry ready: “six glasses and a jug and four sets of new clothes. Oh, and shoes, golden and shiny, with heels-like brides wear-and maybe even some lipstick.” It is a secret that Laila promises to never reveal to the adult world further cemented by the fact that Laila and Rani are partners of a game called “Terrific Two”. Laila swears to never betray her partner. But in that innocence there lurks the hint of betrayal that is propelle…

MY corner: King of Ayodhya

My Corner: Transports me to wordy realms: Just me, a book and my imagination.Book Review
King Of Ayodhya By Ashok K BankerThe complicated art of epic telling and retelling makes it an entangled mesh of imaginations. And the protagonists- their foresight has to be accommodated too. The protagonist of the epic, Rama, the future King of Ayodhya, hardly knows whether to smile or sigh as he crosses the living bridge of leviathans into the realm of rakshasa, “he was resigned to the knowledge that virtually everything they did would be turned into lore and legend, with all the accompanying flights of imagination and exaggeration that poetic licence allowed.” As Rama, traverses the making of his own legend he seems almost amused by what story -tellers would make of his feats as the defender of Dharma. Thousands of years later, Ashok K Banker’s retelling of the epic in the modern idiom only underscores what Rama had already envisaged. Even if you have grown up listening to the Ramayana, each ne…

The Magic of Godmen

Saturday last was a dull and soggy day and Kochi had still to awake from the Onam hangover. A reporter’s mare –dearth of ads and large empty spaces to fill. When someone said there was a Magic Show I volunteered to go- for the reason I would not have twiddle my thumb for the next few hours. The show had me spell bound.The art of illusion illumed that dull and soggy day: the sleight of hand, the ventriloquist’s act and the yarns that embellished the spells captivated me. And even as I was transported to the world of make believe, travelling through the illusionary maze of deception, incredulous at what magician’s can do to one’s mind, an illuminati interrupted the colourful magical forays with an interlude grounded in reality. He introduced the element of skepticism. It was his lesson to us that magic is nothing but an art or entertainment and should not be mistaken for the sacred. He unravelled the mystery of the purportedly arcane relationship between the Gods and Godmen that enables…

Taslima Nasrin in Kerala

At 7 am on 22 August, Taslima Nasrin, feminist writer, poet and critic sat sipping tea without sugar at Shirley’s Home Stay, run by KV Thomas’ daughter Rekha at Maradu, Kochi. Taslima was scanning the morning papers carefully. (What are they writing about me? Perhaps she wondered.) "What Kamala Surayya said was a bomb. And when journalists questioned me in front of her I was careful not to say anything against Islam because I did not want to offend her. But Kamala had other things to say when we talked in private."
She looked up from the paper she was reading to tell me this. And there I was waiting patiently for her to stop reading about herself.
I got about five -ten minutes alone with Taslima. She was casually dressed in a black and white salwar kameez. When at ease "she shivers her legs".
Then a horde of journalists descended on the scene but I hung around for a little while longer before leaving. One lucky journo knew Bangla so he fired questions at her privately…

Kamala Surayya and Taslima Nasrin: The Tale Of Two Women

One a convert to Islam, the other a rabid critic of women’s position in the religion. It was the language of feminism that effused when two of the world’s most outspoken women writers met. When Kamala Surayya and exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin sat alone at the former’s residence at Kochi on Monday, their conversation was punctuated by eloquent silence. Talsima Nasrin told me, “I met Kamala Surayya. We talked. I asked her why she converted to Islam. She was silent. She said she is afraid now and disturbed whether people will do anything to her children and grandchildren. I told her if she did not like to remain in this condition she should leave. I asked her: Why don’t you live freely as a human being?”Taslima Nasrin expatiated on the pain she felt for Kamala Surayya. “Kamala is a fine poet. I feel sorry for her. It is impossible for women to get salvation from any religion. She is suffocating. She should have the freedom to come out of the cage. She made that cage. If she wa…

NO FIZZ LEFT: Achu's RIGHT Choice Baby!

Banned in KeralaEvery guy with a wee bit of Leftist imagination loves bashing the colas. Who wouldn’t want to put some salt in the cola fizz and watch it fizzle out- almost infantile are the games that politicians play. A few days ago, even as the LDF government was toying with the idea of banning colas in Kerala because of the high pesticide content, people in Kochi didn’t give a damn- they were guzzling the beverages (read "pesticide-cocktail") to the very last drop and shops were stocking up to cater to the demand. Sources say PepsiCo sells about 20 lakh cases per annum from 30,000 outlets in Kerala. (One case contains 24 bottles). Nothing is known about the Coke sales. And before the ban both the companies maintained their sales had not dipped.The shop-keepers in Kochi confirmed this. One guy said if the people want to drink poison who are we to stop them? “We will sell poison.”The Left’s coke hysteria is much like the big terrorist attack on the planes from UK to USA th…

The Fascinating World Of Joseph K

I spent almost five and half hours with Joseph K negotiating the virtual world. It was fascinating to watch at him work nay play. In the end it was a full bladder and an empty stomach that made me say bye at 4.30 in the afternoon. He had lost track of time.If you have seen MacGyver –the television series in the late eighties then you will know what the hell I am talking about. MacGyver could do anything with the things around him -even create bombs out of deodorant cans, vaseline and other household stuff.MacGyver was a non-violent action-adventure hero. Armed with only a Swiss Army Knife, a roll of Duct tape, and whatever materials happen to be lying around, the ex DXS agent was the field operative for the Phoenix Foundation, MacGyver applied common sense and basic principles of science to imaginatively outwit his adversaries.
And there I was watching Joseph K do something pretty much like what MacGyver would have done.Joseph K casually demonstrated how a small electronic USB enabled…

The Law of Jealousies

In antiquity, during the time of Moses, the ancient law of jealousies nailed the adulterous woman while for her male counterpart itwasthe law of silence that prevailed. And if you think that modernity has changed the laws much. You err. Those laws of an ancient culture still hold today. They give the balls of man much license and freedom of movement. It is ridiculously funny. Interestingly in the New Testament Jesus did intervene, but the lawmakers (some of these laws are inherited from the British Raj) looked to antiquity to script the modern laws that are all too archaic.To quote from the Holy BibleNumbers Chapter 5: Vs 13 to 17If any man’s wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him,And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no close witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner.And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the …

MISTRESS

I attended a Kathakali appreciation course that whetted my appetite to see it all-the colourful stories of Gods and Goddesses and Kings and Queens so expressively told. But the character that I fell in love with was a lesser one-the fisherman ordinary. The silvery fish tossing in the water mesmerizes him so he casts his net into the river. He pulls in his net. Nothing. So he casts his net again. Nets nothing. Then it dawns on him that it is not the fish but it is the reflection of the eyes of the women bathers that had beguiled him. The wonder and the amusement...... Book Review
Mistress
The strand of gold that embellishes the narrative of Anita Nair’s latest offering “Mistress” is the tale of Koman, the Kathakali artist, while the darker skeins pattern the drudgery of his niece Radha’s marriage and her sexual escapades. The story unfolds on the banks of the River Nila, where Shyam runs a resort catering to tourists while his indifferent wife Radha begins an affair with an American tra…

The Conscience

Poor, poor Jiminy Cricket. All alone in a candy store.Who gave birth to me- The Conscience?It was no blank slate or was it? In that bloody state.When they cut the chord and tied it up
Did the Doctor slap so hard: to breathe in the good and the bad?The right and the wrong?Who the hell gave birth to Me- The conscience?In this orphan state I want a motherTo chide me and send me to bed.

Of Clichés and Brochures

Strike tourism: St Mark's Square, Venice: Striking Workers
The marked shift from picture postcard tourism to the participatory kind has given our perception of tourism new spectacles. To view from a distance and snap a picture “Wah Taj!” is considered the jaded route. Tourists have outgrown brochures and are experiencing the esoteric. “The elections in Kerala”, “Monsoon Tourism”, are the new packaged ideas that now draw tourists to this God forsaken destination. And it was the Minister for Home and Tourism of the State of Kerala, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who suggested that the striking trademark of communism as a marketable tourism commodity. Even in jest, his was the pitch of a true blue capitalist salesman. He said, “After Monsoon tourism, strike tourism seems to be the emerging trend in the state. There are tourists who visit the state to witness strikes.”Political TouristsAhh! Even Working Communism with its practitioners has the potential to bring in the political tourists. A…

The Google Generation

If ONLY.If only some nun or some son of a gun had asked me what I did for fun: I went through school, through college and through some life. My list of fun…..Long. But no such question was put to me. My favourite fun thing: (Advisable to Hold your breath here)Cultivate my underarm hair, Curl it, Braid it and Bow it. Definitely would have breezed through Harvard. And The Dean of admissions would have loved it.THe GOOgle GAGGleAt the work place I hang out with the Google Generation. I like to call them that coz for better part of their lives Mama Google has suckled them.
Imagine Life without Google! But I have been weaned on a healthier diet of Doordarshan before I gorged on the alien Star TV and the Newsage.(Very much like the Iceage- all that information kind ofsmothers you and buries you.)
For foreign affairs on DD, I was treated to the suave stuck record Prannoy Roy with his “Good evening and welcome to the world this week’’. He never let go of that line ever.And the entertainment dos…