Monday, December 24, 2007

Taare Zameen Par Indeed!


So yesterday, after a mega long period of five months, I finally went to the cinemas to watch one and a half movies - A half of "Awake" which does not need to be spoken about and the full of the latest Aamir Khan production, "Taare Zameen Par." Yes, I was friggin' excited, both for the latest Aamir Khan experience and for the replenishment of my cinema needs.

I really wanted to enjoy "Taare Zameen Par" and I did. It was simple, direct and yet, brilliantly creative. The story is straight forward, but intriguing enough to keep you hooked. It is about this dyslexic kid whose parents are oblivious about his dyslexia until the great Mr Khan comes along and turns everything around. People say that it does become slightly draggy, but I hardly felt so. The kid, Darsheel Safary, is beyond brilliant. I really wonder how they pulled out such a convincing performance from this new-young-kid-on-the-block. His rabbit teeth and killer expressions are heart-warming and amusing. He is NOT the cliched kid that we see in almost all other Indian "blockbusters" and that says a whole lot. Aamir Khan is good as usual, but cries a little too much for my liking. I love the way he has this kick-ass Mohawk-of-an-hairstyle throughout the film, but that doesn't rectify his pansy-ness. I guess the Mohawk is somewhat of a decent attempt of bringing out the youthful exuberance of Mr Khan, but I'm afraid the wrinkles get the better of him. On the otra lado, the kid's mother, Tisca Chopra, plays her role so perfectly that no one else could play her role more perfectly that she has - props to her!

But then, to make sure that the "flim" has some Bollywoodness, some of its parts are pretty over done. For instance, Aamir Khan's entry initially takes you by surprise and fills you with glee, but then the "Bum Bum Bole" gets to you. It's almost as if they over-enjoyed shooting the song and thus made it super long. Also, there is a little melodrama here and there, but not enough to annoy, but just enough for it to be lost in the positives.

All in all, I laughed a lot in this film, and at the same time came very close to tearing up. It's intentionally touchy and well sprinkled with outright funny jokes that will crack you up. Aamir Khan, as a director, has tried very hard to look out of the box for inspiration and has succeeded many more times than he has failed. The songs and it's sequences are brilliantly animated and are far from a typical Bollywood film. The subtle use of animation and cartoons is laudatory. The soundtrack blends beautifully throughout the movie and hits the right spots when it comes to eliciting emotions - the song "Maa" is so very touching. I missed my mummy so very much during that song, and the homesickness did creep in...

Beyond the technical aspects, the message that this movie screams out is strong. It preaches equality of education for all children, whether they are physically/mentally challenged or not. It almost ridicules the Indian system of its close-minded, theoretical approach and begs for the introduction of a more creative and practical system of study. It demands the Indian system to tell a child to dwell into his passion and lay more emphasis on it, rather than wasting time mugging extraneous information. The movie delivers this message beautifully and therefore, I think all teachers and all schools in India should deliberately be shown this movie so that it can help open their minds up. I strongly feel our Indian system of education needs to find a balance between rigorous theory and oblivious practical applications. What that basically means is that we need to find a midpoint between the crazy Indian System and the laid-back American/Western High School system, so, umm, shall we?

P.S. Dad, Mum, Gulshan Aunty - please make sure you watch this movie. Thanks.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Nephews & Skies

My first first-cousin's son was born twenty days ago. Buried in finals and paper submissions, it took me twenty one days to get my first real glimpse of Ayan. He is this tiny little thing with one of the strongest necks among 21-day olds all over the world. He spends the most amount of time sleeping, so interaction is minimum, but enough. Whenever he is awake, his father, his grandfather, his mother, his grandmother and especially his Austin aunt take and make great entertainment from this cute little boy. I just wonder what feedback Ayan gives to the Almighty up above...

God, I like Earth. I get everything I need but the funkiest aspect is definitely my cute little bini. My dad is super cool, but why does he keep calling me "gundabachha"? My Austin-aunt is a little crazy, I must say. She thinks I am some "golgappa" waiting to be devoured, and she keeps messing around with my stomach, yelling that atrocious "golgappa" like thing.. No one apart from my lovely Granny calls me by my real name, so I often forget what it really is. Apparently, it's Ayan or something. Oh and my Mum keeps telling everyone to sanitize his/her hands before they touch me - I must indeed be holy. Sometimes my Dad holds me like he is clasping a magnum rifle! Don't get me wrong folks, it's rather comfortable. God, I need to ask you something, why do I sleep so much? What's worse is that I make these weird groaning noises while I sleep which seems to confuddle the general public. Oooh, I have successfully learnt how to create spit bubbles - it's fascinating. And why in the blooming world can't I cry? God, it's like you are taking away my strongest, most useful weapon from me. Please God, you need to sort these issues out for me. I need to be able to cry. But, on the other tiny hand, thanks for giving me a lot of hair on my head - I just hope it lasts forever. I love the glint in my eyes and my ears are huge - I can hear everything (hehe)! Oh, my parents are super techno-savvy. They have this special camera fixed on me while I am sleeping and can monitor me from anywhere in the house. It's cool and all, but what about some privacy huh? Jeez! But, the bestest thing in the world is the 46-inch-television that is going to be coming into my house soon. I have no clue as to why it is the bestest thing in the world, but I can't wait to find out. And oh, my youngest Austin-uncle is super-duper cool. Right now, that's all I know about him. Okay, Mum's coming to feed me - yum yum. See ya!

P.S. The skies of Austin are so very beautiful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Finals Week & Homesickness

Last week was crazy in a not-so-fun way. I had three major finals and a lot emotional “trauma” [yes, I’m exaggerating, but still] to deal with. The finals were awesome – I got my As and I’m glad. However, my Spanish treacher-er did screw me over – he gave me a B for my 89.53%. Everyone rounds up you fool, why don’t you? Life.

But what really made this week crazy was the homesickness. Way back in summer, I was this young man, confident of being in control of my emotions and ready to belittle the homesickness theories. I cognitively dissociated myself to believe that there was no need for me to return to Dubai this winter for I was this strong fellow who had a ton of related people in the US of A, and who thought that visiting them, instead of going back home, made way more sense. After all, spending ten pocketfuls of money and going down to Dubai for 20 days didn’t make any darn sense, right? Wrong! It makes all the friggin’ sense that it needs to, and yearns for far more attention than I have ever given it. I should have gone back home. I really should have.

It hit me when I saw all of the gazillion people that I know in universities all over the world facebook their excitement of heading back home. Pictures and videos of school and Dubai did not help either. The typical-ness of Mum and Dad made me more nostalgic than ever. The thought of enticing Ghar-Ka-Khana [home food] was agonizing. Ali, the fool that he is, was not helping either. One day before my Philosophy exam, these thoughts rattled my emotions. I stopped studying, got on Expedia.com and started looking for the cheapest possible flights to Dubai. How I searched! I called Mum and told her I wanted to come home, giving her vivid details of how the air-ticket was relatively cheap and how it could all be possible.

Oh, it’s not possible! I was in this emotional delirium which made the ridiculous seem reasonable, and that dragged me into thoughts that my Psychology professors Sam Gosling and James Pennebaker would be proud of. Emotions offer stir up such extreme thoughts and actions. However principled and “in-control” you are, the passion of true emotion can sometimes drive you to do things that you know are in no way reasonable or right. Obviously, this doesn’t solely apply to homesickness. Temptation to do the pleasurable wrong, whence engulfed in an emotional trance – that’s a broader description. It is closely related to “cognitive dissonance” [this wacky term that I learnt in my awesome Psychology class]. Cognitive dissonance occurs when you have two contradictory thoughts, which drives you to choose one and justify it. Didn’t get it? It’s a little complicated – e-mail me if you really want to know. =)

I am better now. The homesickness has subsided but I am afraid that it has only become dormant. I am dealing with it right now, but I will not deal with it next winter because I am so going back home then! At least that’s what I’m saying now. We’ll see how cognitively dissociated I will get then.

P.S. Apologies to those that got bored/annoyed by my usage of certain not-found-in-Wikipedia terms [i.e. Cognitive Dissonance =)].

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Postergación y Práctica

Estudiando es muy importante y postergación no es. De los dos días ultimos, tengo perdido mucho tiempo por tocando “X-BOX 360” y disfrutando con amigos. Sé que este es malo pero la vida es así…

¡Tengo tres exámenes en los próximos tres días y necesito estudiar! Más importantemente, mañana, tengo un examen final de español a los dos de la tarde. Yo tratando de estudio pero es muy aburrido, entonces yo escribiendo este “blog post” en español a practicar mi español.

P.S. I write this post to practice my Spanish and with a secondary motive of updating my blog. Translate if you care - http://www.google.com/translate_t

Monday, December 10, 2007

Melting bankPot

It was a good friend’s birthday the other day, and we decided to go to this stuck-up, “posh” restaurant and decorate our stomachs with one of the most delicious of delicious delights that mankind has ever created – Fondue, expensive Fondue.

So, on the pleasant evening of a good friend’s birthday, the seven of us entered Melting Pot, one of Austin’s finest server’s of scrumptious, expensive food. We were treated with great royalty and were led to a nice, round table. The first thing that took me by storm was the “pre-waitress”. The “pre-waitress” gave us a hearty welcome and referred to our actual waiters (yes dears, there were more than one). They took our drink orders, and a couple of us ordered some virgin cocktail. The second thing that took me by storm was that each of these “virgin” drinks was intoxicated with a bulk of alcohol, even when it was pretty obvious that we were under age. Strange, but my friends enjoyed the extra-nice service.

We then placed our order – a three course Fondue Night Special. Starters included two pots of glorious fondue - melted cheese of different types with rich wine and fine flour, and accessory dip-delights that included bread of all colors, beautifully cut apples and some chips of the highest quality. Obviously, the entrees were next. Two large pots of steaming meat fondues were served. Meat Fondue is essentially a boiling, gravy-like oil. We were also given freshly cut raw pieces of all types of meat – salmon, shrimp, beef, pork and chicken to dip into the fondue. The eating process involved us grasping the meat of our choice by our fondue sticks, and putting them into the fondue to cook and sizzle right before our eyes. Once cooked, there was a plethora of sauces to dip into to add more luscious taste to the freshly cooked meat. Sauces included the horseradish spicy cream sauce, the herb butter dipping sauce, the sour cream mustard sauce, the peanut butter sauce and a dozen more. Taken by storm for a third time, I savored every bite of meat and seafood that penetrated my stomach. Little did we know that the best was yet to come.

The dessert was what made the night wonderfully memorable. The two pots were now filled with molten white chocolate and molten milk chocolate. As our waitress poured the chocolate into the pots, the warm, enticing aroma of the chocolate engulfed our nostrils, as we prepared to savor the best of the best. We were given chocolate marshmallows, bright-red strawberries, munchy rice-crispy blocks, freshly cut banana and delicious pieces of green apple to dip into the molten chocolate. As each of us dipped our way into chocolate paradise, we grew oblivious to our surroundings and let the delicacy allow us to reach this orgasmic high, experiencing seemingly eternal joy and thanking the Swiss Gods above for their brilliant gift to Earth. But then, just when it couldn’t get better, it didn’t – the waitress delivered us the bill.

A whopping’ $45/person is what we paid for this mega-expensive meal. Yes, it was delicious, but $45! We’d rather have bought some white chocolate and some milk chocolate, melted them in some melting pot and purchased some marshmallows, some apples and some bananas to enjoy the almost similar “savory” dip. Suddenly, the brilliance of the meal turned to sheer ridiculousness. The orgasmic nature turned to regret – oh why does this sound like a one-night stand? It was no longer royal treatment, but rather an exaggerated, unnecessary exuberance. The perils of temptation that man has successfully created drowned us in this moment of guiltiness. But we shook it all away, because it was one memorable night in the celebration of one good friend’s birthday. And that’s when the extremes ceased to matter, and what remained were the memories that came along with fulfilling a good friends birthday wishes.

P.S. I did get phone-whipped [kind of] by my Dad for this exuberant expenditure, but hey, it’s a once-in-four-years experience. Yeah Dad, I know that’s no excuse – lesson learnt.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Musical Excitement, Etc.

Without any intention to show-off, but with a definite intention to share my future joy is why I write this post The next four months have Michael Buble, matchbox twenty and Bon Jovi lined up on my calendar - Buble on my birthday at the UT campus, matchbox twenty a day after, that is on the 28th of February at Houston, and Bon Jovi at Dallas in April. Excited? Bloody excited.

Concerts, to me, are still quite simply what I said a year and a half back on this blog:

"I would again like to highlight the sheer joy and memories a 1 hour 50 minute concert can give, so if any of you get any chance of seeing Robbie, or any other good performer for that matter, grab it with your hands, your feet, your stomach and everything else that is possible - because it is rare."
-Sunday, April 23rd, 2006.

Yes, I thoroughly enjoy concerts and love getting lost in the music. Obviously, I am the most excited about matchbox twenty. They have been my favorite band for quite a few years now, and however "cliched" or "gay" this sounds, watching them will fulfill one of my many dreams. Bon Jovi and Buble are supposedly great performers - I love their music too, so there isn't going to be any boredom issues there either.

In other news, my laptop's motherboard has quite conveniently, without any reason, crashed, which has ultimately resulted in the tragic but temporary death of my laptop. To add to this disgrace, HP is being a united idiot with regards to my warranty. I will rant and ridicule about this issue soon. Where as emotionally, I am so annoyed with how much my laptop's crash is annoying me. Lord, we have'st become'st so'st dependent'h on'th our'st laptops'sts.

Thanksgiving at Tarryn's was a great escape - relaxing, fascinating and fun! A bunch of finals and paper submissions are coming up, which I am looking forward to only to get them out of my way. Winter plans are done and involve everything but being home. Ali just blowed the bezeezles out of me, oh how I miss him!

P.S. I am writing this post only after making sure that I have the tickets to all three concerts in my hands. Muhahahaha! :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Fall

It was on a chilly Sunday morning. Thanks to the ICA, I hadn’t slept much in the last 24 hours. A ton of ICA work had kept me up all night. I was at a friend’s place, working, while the rest of the gang chirped away about the most random of things, throwing in bits of laughter here and there. By 6 in the morning, I was done, and decided to finally head back home. Tarryn came along and I hoped to walk her back to her car, and then sleep away the exhaustion in my cozy dorm bed. But things did not quite unfold the way I planned them to.

A heavy breeze made the dark, early morning chillier. Tarryn & I were walking arm-in-arm singing and talking about the most random things, as we inched closer to her car. All of a sudden, the calm of the cold Sunday morning met with a loud yelp. Our heads immediately turned towards this sound and we saw this body falling from about four floors above the ground. It hit the road with a crunch, a crunching of bones, and then the body lay their motionless. No screaming, no twitching, absolutely still, dead.

Initially, I didn’t realize what had just happened. The shirtless body that fell seemed as unreal as a doll. The sheer magnitude of what we had just witnessed seeped in only slowly - this ‘body’ was of a university student who had just fallen four floors to his death. With his back facing us, we couldn’t see the extent of the frontal damage done, and this mysticism somewhat made it worse. Was he alive? Was he breathing? Had he passed out? My heart started to race like it had never before. I bet Tarryn’s did too, and we both started freaking out, so overwhelmed by what we had just witnessed. There wasn’t a soul around us and we needed to do something about this. I frantically asked Tarryn for the emergency number. “911.” I dialed it instantly. About 3 minutes had passed since the fall when I dialed 911. The emergency officer answered instantly, and I started ranting out details of what had happened, where it had happened and to my self-amusement, why it had happened. She told me to slow down, and repeat the details a few more times. I really can’t recall how freaked I sounded on the phone because I was in flight-and-fight mode. The adrenaline was pumping with fear and shock. I was fairly efficient in giving the emergency officer all the details. She seemed as panicked as me for there was no other reason for her to call me ‘madam, sorry, sir’.

The emergency officer then asked me to approach the body and see if there was any sign of life - that’s when I saw his face. His mouth was oozing with blood, and there obviously didn’t seem to be any sign of life in him. I was glad that the sun was not out, because that would have resulted in a gorier picture. I moved away, fearful, but slightly relieved to hear the sirens that now loomed the air. Meanwhile, three people who seemed to be enjoying a morning run arrived at the scene. They were also, obviously, taken aback by what they saw. They asked Tarryn and me what had happened, comforted us and said that they had no business to be there, and resumed their running. That was slightly weird. A few minutes later the police, the EMS and the ambulance arrived. Tarryn & I moved away from the scene and saw the rest unfold from a distance.

The police marked the crime scene – it was either suicide, homicide or an accident. Obviously, it was most likely to be an accident. A few minutes later a bulky police officer came and asked us a few questions, and took our contact details down. We were the only witnesses, and if this death became any bigger a deal, we would be called in for further questioning. We asked the police-officer if we could be excused for a few minutes to go wash our faces and put on a jumper. He obviously agreed. So Tarryn and I went up to my room, freshened up and came back down at the crime-scene. At about 9, we were still there, on police-orders to stay. We were then called by a Victims-Help officer and briefed on what was happening and what would happen. She said that we could be called in to the police station for further questioning. But what she primarily was trying to tell us that what we witnessed could be a traumatic enough experience to affect our life in university for the next couple of weeks. She said that if we needed any help, we could contact her, or visit one of the university counselors. We liked the support.

The detective finally arrived at the scene. He questioned us quickly and told us to go back home. I think he was trying to avoid us getting exposed to the media, and he did a pretty good job at that, because just as we were leaving, we saw a news-channel van arrive at the scene. I was glad that happened. I was also glad that I hadn’t slept in the past 30 hours, because as soon as I reached my dorm I fell asleep, solely because of the fact that I was thoroughly exhausted. What a day.

The next two weeks were not easy, but not that difficult either. My classes were not affected, and ICA work was keeping me very occupied, but more importantly, distracted. My university did its bit by offering us support if we needed it. That felt good, even though we didn’t actually need any of it. I think the reason why ‘the fall’ didn’t affect me or Tarryn that much was because we didn’t witness it alone. However clichéd it sounds, Tarryn and I had each other. We supported each other, and understood what the other was going through, making everything easier for the both of us. Ultimately, it brought us only closer together. I get scared to even think of what would have happened if I was alone that fateful morning.

Having said all that, the side effects of ‘the fall’ are still there. Late at night, when the air gets chilly, and I am walking back to my dorm, this automated fear starts building within me. Out-of-the-ordinary sounds send chills down my back, bringing back memories that didn’t need to exist. This fear is only temporary though and seems to disappear as quickly as it comes. But what will stay permanently in my head, is this video, this video that continues to loop over and over again. It’s barely three seconds long. But it’s three seconds of something that no one needs to ever witness.

P.S. This is a memory I will not forget how much ever I want myself to forget it. Writing always helps.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cows & More

My Chinese and Korean suite-mates just semi-disturbed me. They knocked on my door and asked me to come outside and witness something. Gordon, the Chinese one, pointed to a take-away box which had curly and slimy yet garnished food in it, and said, "Try it."

"What is it?"

"It's a cow's stomach and intestine, deliciously savored with garlic sauce."

Gordon and Chol laughed at my reaction, and I laughed back. My religion condemns such actions but their religion almost embraces it. Personally, I really don't care. The only thing I cared about was the ghastly odor that the cow's intestine left behind. Currently, the addressed food sits in the fridge, waiting to be devoured and shut out from contaminating our suite...

*****


I haven't blogged in quite a bit. It's not that I am blogstipated, in fact I have tons to say, it's just that I have been hit by time constraints - majorly. In a nutshell, October of '07 sets out to be the most dramatic and eventful month of my life, and I write that with no exaggeration. From gravitational and traumatic falls to the "biggest cultural event", October might not have had it all, but it did have quite a large chunk of it all.

I wonder if I will be able to write it all out.
Next month, maybe.

P.S. Recently, Austin, Texas experienced a 400F in temperature in a single day. Oh and my suite-mates are awesome . Also, I can assure you that our suite is by far the most culturally and educationally diverse - 1 Korean, 1 American, 1 Chinese and 1 Indian.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The ICA


If you know me and if I talk to you or if you are an Indian at the University of Texas, you better know what the “ICA” is. The ICA is a decently establishing acronym for the “Indian Cultural Organization”, and quite simply, the ICA is all about the spread of Indian Culture.

So why is it important for you to know about it? Firstly, it is very interesting and often borders a story of sheer devout patriotism, and secondly, I am in it – no Taylor, I don’t intend to sound conceited, it’s just that if anyone is reading this, you probably give half-a-shizer about the world around me. So before I lose you, let the story unfold.

Once upon an exciting long day, Sahil Jain told me that the ICA is loads of fun only if you actually make it into the core committee. That got stuck somewhere in the rear of my brain, and I enthusiastically applied for an interview for the position of a Junior Officer. After a slightly thorough interrogation that was my interview, Saheb led me out and said “good job man”. And later that night, it was somehow magically revealed to me through the brilliance of the electronic mail that I had made it into the ICA as the ICA’s Technical Consultant. Brilliant – Sahil’s words echoed in my mind like some super-filmy Bollywood film, and I was blissfully happy.

There are two major Indian organizations at UT – the ICA and the I(ndian)S(tudents’)A(ssociation). The ISA is largely dominated by the ABCDs or the Indians that have grown up in America, and the ICA is mainly dominated by the FOBs, or the fresh Indians from the Middle East and the Indian mainland itself. However, unlike a typical dramatic Hindi soap opera, there involves no unhealthy rivalry between the two. They both function in harmony, often working together, fulfilling their own objectives; which is a pleasant surprise, considering all the chaotic politics that takes place back home in India.

After having been debriefed on the mega-humongous Indian society that exists in Austin, I was all excited to attend my first committee meeting, and meet the ICA gang! The “ICA gang” has all the good types of unique people that The Almighty has ever produced. From the straight-out “nice” people, and the unbelievably hard-working people, and the academic geniuses, and the creative maestros to the hottest of Indians, and the Love-Therapists, ICA is a melting pot of humanity.

With a dozen or more events that happen through out the semester, which includes the biggest cultural event “Jhalak”, ICA means business. Once you are in, the commitment is hardcore. It takes up a good number of hours each week, and you start feeling the load even before the beginning of mainstream work. With 17 hours/week of classes, soccer activities, Texas Latin Dance and the random fun stuff, another major commitment like the ICA can be quite a dosage. There have already been times when it seemed to be an over-whelming burden. Jason, a very close friend, told me the other day, a commitment so severe may not be worth it, and I could completely get where he was coming from – I kept complaining constantly to him. But what he, or any other non-Indian, will not understand is that unexplainable bond that most Indians have with their roots. It’s so strong, that complain as we may, there is this bound duty that we feel that we almost owe our country. And it’s not negative debt, it’s this inborn urge to stay connected with our culture, and however occupying ICA seems, it is extremely fulfilling.

We freshmen are still new to the whole ICA work ethic, so I guess it will take a bit to get fully accustomed to it, but we seem to be learning and fitting in well - an inspiring senior workforce helps! A bunch of the senior members are doing hardcore double majors and other strenuous activities, maintaining a 4.0 GPA and taking on the third major that is the ICA. When you see such devotion, you feel ashamed to complain, and soon find no reason too. Instead, you get caught in the passion.

Jhalak ’07 is coming up. The Jhalak saga is ICA’s biggest event. It is entirely student driven and aims at the pervasion of Indian culture in the UT society. How does this happen? Indian dances, musical performances, comedy acts, fashion shows, video clips delineating the unique colors of one of the most colorful countries, accompanied by Live Video Editing, Indian food and this Indian ambience that is unmistakable to typical Indian. And to top all that, guess who is headlining Jhalak ’07? Dan Ninan – a stand up comedian who has done many shows with Russell Peters and has even performed for Hilary Clinton. November 2nd at the University of Texas at Austin is going to be one big Indian bang, and I cannot wait to be a part of it all!

P.S. The usage of ABCDs and FOBs was not intended to offend anyone. However if anyone does get offending, I apologize and want to bring to your notice once again, that this was not my intention. I proud to be Indian.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Goodbye Jose


19th September 2007 witnessed one the most dramatic managerial departures that the English Premiership has ever seen in its recent past. One of the most successful, yet controversial soccer managers, Jose Mourinho was an annoyingly effective Chelsea soccer club’s manager. His brute spirit and killer attitude had transformed Chelsea’s ridiculous Abramovich-investments into actual silverware – two English Premier League titles, two Carling Cup victories and one FA Cup triumph.

Jose was a colorful chap, who said the most colorful of things in the most colorful of ways. A passionate coach who would do anything to win, Mourinho was a brilliant player manager, bringing the freakishly international and disconnected Chelsea players together. The players at Chelsea loved him, but everyone else around him just hated his guts. Other managers took great offense to Jose’s verbal attacks on everything that did not go his way. Mr Benitez of Liverpool couldn’t stand the Portuguese Mourinho, and he wasn’t afraid to show his hatred. Mourinho has had spites with almost every other egoistic manager, and watching these egos clash has been a wondrous site at times.

So why did he leave? Did he get sacked? Did he quit? Chelsea say that they reached a “mutual” consent with Mourinho on his removal. But personally, I do not think it was as simple as that. I think Chelsea sacked Jose, and Jose could do nothing else but accept it. So as smart as he is, and as smart as Chelsea try to be, according to them, a picture should speak a thousand pretty words, rather than a thousand true and ugly ones. That is the only bit I think they mutually agreed on.

Sacking someone is all about a clash of egos. The billionaire-owner of Chelsea, Roman Abramovich couldn’t stop poking his nose into Mourinho’s job. For instance, he forced Mourinho to spend around forty million dollars on a thirty-year old striker, Andiry Shevchenko, who he really wanted in the team because of Shevchencko’s and his common areas of descent. And amidst this entire nose poking business, Abramovich’s expectations were unbelievably high. I guess, a billionaire would think that money could buy success. Money did partially bring success to Chelsea, but not as must as Abramovich wished it would. So what did the egoistic, success-hungry billionaire do? He blamed the egoistic, success-hungry manager of not being able to convert Chelsea into the best team there is. Now when two such strong egoistic similar personalities clash, what it really calls for is a “The Bold & The Beautiful” episode on their love-hate relationship.

Personally, I feel that for a manager to be successful, the chairman should have faith and patience in what he has hired, but most importantly, the chairman should enjoy a good rapport with his manager. If he doesn’t then it is not worth maintaining a combustible relationship. So Mourinho’s departure is indeed better for the greater good of Chelsea. On the other hand, he is a great loss to the cinematic entertainment that English Premier League managers are masters at.

I hated Mourinho. He annoyed me so very much, but I always respected the fact that he was a very smart soccer manager who knew how to win, even without playing pretty soccer. Quite simply, he is a passionate untroubled maniac, who always seems to be in control of himself and of everything around him. He is like this mega, huge, strong, annoying wall that cannot be pushed around – to get rid of this wall, you need to break it down with a bulldozer. Mr Roman Abramovich is quite a bulldozer. Good luck to him with him finding a new wall.

P.S. I really felt like going back to my football (soccer) writing roots. It's been a while...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dobie & Elevators


Dobie is my dorm. It’s 27 floors tall and is the tallest darn thing in this area. There are about 900 residents living in Dobie and another 900 friends-of-residents too. It doesn’t have any issues, and is very cool with friends [even of the opposite sex] staying overnight. But it has only three elevators.

Yes, the three-elevators-issue is probably the only issue. I live on the 16th floor and have climbed up the sixteen 3 times. Move-in day was horrendous – there was only one elevator available for vertical transport and it resulted in a very un-merry sight - too many people, too much contact, too much of time-squandering. The elevator waits can be long, very long, but are always entertaining none the less. Here’s why: The elevators are small, and are almost always full. So when you enter them, you are greeted with this eerie silence, and a dozen sets of daunting eyes. You look away instantly, counting the number of hot women around you in your head from a previous freeze-frame, and acting as cool as possible in the process. You press your floor, and then start looking at random conscious things. Sometimes you look at your watch, sometimes at elevator floor-countdown screen-like thing, and if you’re shameless you blatantly stare at the most attractive person of the sex you are attracted too.

There are times, when you are with a group of friends, buzzing in conversation; but as soon as you step into the elevator, there is that eerie silence that takes over you yet again. Thus begins the long, silent journey to your destined floor. Now as these elevators are prone to a large number of stops, you almost always find someone clicking his tongue on every unscheduled stop, and cursing the heavens above for making this seemingly short journey, painfully long. And if you are prone to claustrophobia, God has certainly not blessed you with Dobie.

So for all the above reasons, Dobie has now come up with “Elevator Etiquette” - no two consecutive floor-buttons can be pressed, and people living on floors 2 – 5 have to use the stairs. Robert doesn’t follow “Elevator Etiquette”. No one likes him.

Basically, the point to this pointless post is that the “Elevator Experience” is one of the unique sights and sounds of Dobie that does not ever fail to amuse me. From the etiquette betrayers, to the eerie silences, to the random laughs and conversations, to the furtive glances at a fellow elevator-traveler and to the annoying waits, Dobie elevators can be thoroughly entertaining, if not annoying.

P.S. The other day, Taylor, a close friend, lost a bet and thus ran around floors 16, 20 and 27, in his skimpy boxers. No one was around in the corridors, but the elevators didn’t spare him – apparently seeing a guy naked with only a towel to protect him is highly peculiar.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hitting The Real World

50,000 students in and around 40 acres of campus can be overwhelming. From being a decent somebody, it doesn’t take long for your ego to crash-land, and suddenly you realize you are a nobody. Establishment takes time, more time than you think it does.

School is more of a micro-mini-super-special-extra-caring world that you are almost born into. The teachers bring you up as their own little babies, and everyone’s ASS [Attention Seeking Syndrome] is satisfied. Fun and frolic, elementary school is considerably easy to make friends in, and to settle your tiny and naive yet wild brain. After Kindergarten, it’s almost like you ease into High School. If you are lucky enough to be in a considerably small High School [a thousand people or so], then making a somebody out of yourself in some field or the other is not difficult. Sometimes it’s so easy that your ego soars to skies and you think you are one of the greatest undiscovered talents of the world, eager to step into tougher territories to try yourself. But before you enter the real real world, you step into a human-generated independent mini-world: university.

There are no liabilities, no responsibilities, no external pressures on you except for your own, and well for those decent ones, their parents. With numerous doors waiting to be opened, you can’t wait to knock on wood and give yourself to your passions. You embrace freedom and opportunity with such vigor that you almost feel that you are born again, like this vivid butterfly that has just burst out of its cocoon, waiting to discover what’s out there, and at the same time waiting to be discovered of its beauty.

But then, there are times when these butterfly dreams come crashing back to earth and you don’t feel that “beautiful” at all. Yes the world has become small, but there are so many people in this “small” world of ours. People with diverse talents, cultures, faiths, gifts, disabilities, luck and everything else that constitute our global lives exist. Their lives are as complex as ours. And when you fall among 50,000 different people, everything doesn’t seem as colorful. There are ups and downs, but why the “downs” are better is because they bring you back to reality. They don’t necessarily make you feel good, but hey, we non-ideal people should ideally worry about what happens in the longer run, right?

On a slightly positive note, its only 50,000 people now; it will soon be 7 billion. So yeah, university does have a very important role to play beyond education, so make sure you butter-fly your rear to a good, LARGE university.

I missed out on the soccer tryouts and now I’ve missed out on blogging for UT too. I really wanted to at least blog for UT. Anyway, next year, I’ll try again. Classes are fun, except Spanish. I really want to learn Spanish, but unlike most of my classmates, I have no background in Spanish, so it’s tough. I’m struggling in it. I guess it will soon even out. The UT Women’s Volleyball game is on today, so I will probably go watch that, and oh I am going to be “auditioning” for some salsa group too. If I miss out on this, it’s not too bad. I don’t want to compete at Salsa, I just want to dance; and anyway I am getting pretty used to missing out on stuff and crashing back into this human-generated independent mini-world.

P.S. However different and diverse people seem to be, when it comes to a deeper emotional level, everyone is just the same. Some are just very good at hiding it.
Wow, a much needed vent - I really needed that. If you’ve reached so far, thanks. =)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Gone To Texas!


10,000 people held together with the binding force of the Burnt Orange, the Cheerleaders, the Longhorn Band, the Acapella singing groups, the multi-cultural dances, the videos, the speeches, the cheers, the flying balls, the “ \m/ ”, the Eyes of Texas, more singing, more of the Longhorn Marching Band, the unfurling of the biggest Texas Flag, the lighting of Tower, the Bevo, the spirit and the life of UT was all encompassed in one super-duper mega night. A day before classes began, UT held an official welcoming event for us ’07 freshmen – “Gone To Texas”.

It had two stages at either end of the main mall with performances on both stages. In addition to that, a good light setup, topped by the involvement of the UT Tower, made everything even more glamorous. The show went through as smoothly as a smoothie, with a balance of speeches and performances, and that made everything non-boring. Us Desis performed a traditional dance and an Acapella performance, and I felt glad that the Indian community was heavily involved. But they were blown away by this African American girl who unleashed the UT anthem, “The Eyes Of Texas” in a truly wondrous run-filled voice. But the Longhorn Marching Band blew her away. The grand finale had the massive band laden with percussionists, trumpet players and what not, walk through the audience playing popular Texas anthems, leaving the audience in the state of frenzy. They collected under the Tower and the picture you see above is how it ended.

The common thread that connected all the events was the undying everlasting longhorn spirit. The spirit here at UT [and any other university I guess] is awesome, but what’s brilliantly brilliant about it is that you get drowned into the spirit as soon as you step into university. The pure passion in the faces of the longhorns while chanting out TEXAS spreads like a healthy virus into the blood of even the 5-day-old freshmen. The Bevo horns, the sports and basically the spirit is freakishly uniting. I never felt so united in my school and I like my school!

Classes have begun, I have moved into my dorms, I think I’ve found my friend circles and I am going for the Football [American] game today – so I think I have officially settled in, “gotten into my groove”, “found my flow” and all that rot. I went for soccer tryouts and didn’t make it - I wasn’t good enough, but I now know what I need to work towards. I might be blogging for UT this year – I’ll get to know next week [fingers crossed]. The weather is nice. My dorm is nice. People are nice. Good times. J

P.S. The girls here are pretty darn hot. But it’s depressing; they are so hot that they are out of any league that I can think of. Ahh life!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

UT

13th of August, 2007 is historical in my short history. My much-older cousin brother dropped me off at the University of Texas at Austin and went of to work. With a map in one hand, and a really heavy backpack on my shoulders, I stood, pretty clueless of my surroundings. I had some formalities to sort out, and I was determined to find my own way to one of the myriad of buildings that make up UT. It was as if there was a glow in my eyes, that combination of excitement and resolute that you see in a pacing racehorse’s eyes as he strides towards the finish line - you could just see it in my face. I stood overlooking my campus ready to dismantle my barriers, and conquer [i.e. discover] that tiny GIAC [Graduate and International Admissions Center] building. But I just stood. I stood for a long long time, starring at the map, straining my “glowing” eyes to find that wretched GIAC on the map. With great effort, I did eventually find it, but all my thoughts of being a “striding” racehorse crashed away.

It was hot, my back was beginning to feel the strain of the laptop and paper-laden backpack, and I was lost. It took me a good one hour to locate GIAC. When I did find it, I realized that I had walked around it three times already. Not cool. But hey, I made sure I didn’t take any passerby’s help when I knew I easily could. This happened for the next few days. As I kept getting lost, I did also, somehow, find my way .What did all this teach me? No, I am not getting metaphorical here about how “we constantly get lost in our lives, but always seem to find a way”. That’s true, but too friggin’ Paolo Coelho – let him write all that. What the getting-lost bit helped in was figuring out the campus. My path to self-discovery of the UT campus has now resulted in me knowing the campus pretty darn well compared to other new students. Yes it took time, and I was no racehorse, but it’s something.

Besides all the self-exploration and the sorting out of formalities, UT is finally getting very exciting. Yes, there are moments when you get drowned in nostalgia and in your insecurities, but you also soon find your way out of them. Now having put many physical emoting faces to Facebookers, there is at least no feeling of being a complete stranger.

I attended International Orientation on the 17th of August and it was pretty decent. Yes, getting loads of information can be boring, but the Orientation committee tried their best to make in un-boring. They incorporated heavy participation from the audience, unscrambling scrambled letters, food and water, and a vibrant and friendly atmosphere - so out popped a plethora of different people, citing their experiences and first impressions of the US of A. The first 6 people to step up onto the podimu were Indians – some made us a little proud, some made us not so very proud and some just lied their rears off to get some free gifts: yes, we Indians leave no page unfolded. There was this Australian guy who traveled across the world, as in literally, stopping in various Asian and European places, using 7 modes of transportation [horses, water-ferries, airplanes, trains, buses, cars and feet], and finally landing in Austin. Fascinating. Oh and we met a Chinese guy with possibly the smallest full name in the world: Yu Du. Wow.

Orientation was fun. The pizza-lunch was okay. We didn’t eat much, and instead headed to Gregory’s Gym to play some basketball, but with our greater intention being to finally use our campus’ facilities. So Jason [another Sport Management-er] and I rented a basketball and “shot some hoops”. There were other people there too, as in more seasoned players, who asked us if we wanted to join in for a game. We did. We weren’t that great, but they were. Some of the players we played against were brilliantly brilliant, way better than any I have seen in Dubai. Initially I was scared I’d be embarrassed, but we just fitted in, so it was not all that bad. =)

Next week is scheduled to be hectic and crucial. We have to register for classes and I need to figure out if I will be taking up a double major or not. Other than that, meeting more Facebookers and more new people will continue. Exciting times, very exciting times.

P.S. Again, the world is so small [yeah more crazy connected people stuff happened] and we Desis are everywhere!


Emotional Rollercoaster

Till the day before, I had not properly spoken to my parents for a good fifteen days. My nights are painfully nostalgic and I am missing home more than I previously thought I would. Getting on to Facebook late in the night, - tired, but longing for belonging and longing for the treasured companionship that is now only the past, I was often depressed. Not depressed in the sense that I have issues, but just sad. Lost in memories, I started to wonder whether I will ever find friends like the ones I left behind. The whole concept of starting my life again, seems exciting, but at the same time a little scary. To physically disassociate from the life I once breathed, and the people I knew and loved, is sometimes difficult to swallow. Maybe it’s because I am thinking too much and have nothing else to do late at night. Yes, I know it’s a phase, and that everyone goes through it. Yes I know it’s temporary and it will last for sometime, before stabilizing itself like it does every morning anyway. Yes, I know I will meet new people, learn new things, grow, enjoy the independence, enjoy 6th Street [hopefully] and get accustomed to the “new life”. Yes I am excited and I have been excited ever since I have been here. I know all of this, and I know everything will eventually work itself out. But knowing is not feeling. And I can’t help but let nostalgia get the better of me sometimes. Attachment and detachment, however opposite they are, are both so hard.

Ahhh, life! Fascinating, we humans are.

P.S. I don’t know why it took me so long to watch Good Will Hunting – it is an unbelievably brilliant movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet, please do watch it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Angelina Jolie, Chicago & St. Louis

The past week saw some of my dreams come true, and others just crash away. Having been deprived of a good theme park experience all my life, I owe it to St Louis’ Six Flags to de-virginize my 18 year-old good theme park virginity. I have now been on enough roller-coasters to satisfy my tank for another year or so; Universal Studios and the Disney experience still beckons.

Also at St Louis, we witnessed one of the greatest spectacles to hit the saintly city in the recent past: the St Louis Arch. Now this mammoth structure is the most pointless, lazy, BIG, metallic, upward parabola I have ever seen. Yes, its giant-ness gets you awestruck for a second, but then it’s back to ‘why the hell would you spend 13 million dollars on such a large pointless, slightly beautifying but blatantly bland silvery upright rectangular parabola?’ There is probably some “deep”, metaphorical explanation for its presence, a whole bunch of “leading into a new world” theories, but all that is pretty darn useless because it is only mildly fascinating. To put it into better light, it at least, seems to be more worthwhile than the 200 million dollars that are being spent in capturing Beck-sie Boy, his Posh and his Romeos and Juliets. However, the St Louis Arch experience wasn’t all that bad; add some younger-cousin-companionship, a decent documentary on Alaska [yeah, we saw it inside the arch in this I-Max like theatre], a sweet family picture and a glimpse of a packed baseball game through the tiny window from atop the Arch which we paid a ludicrous sum of 15$ per head, and it seems pretty worth it.

A road-trip to Chicago was next and the only major highlight was that I was fortunate enough to meet a married close friend of mine from Dubai. Slightly nostalgic, the meeting was mildly therapeutic in its own way. Oh, and I pretty much know all the basic information that there is to know about the architectural work pieces of Chicago along the Chicago river. But the second major highlight is what you guys will be really interested in: Angelina Jolie (and family) were in Chicago when I was there and were about 3 kilometers from us in a museum [we found out later]. Now if it was Sandra Bullock, I wouldn’t care much [not that I hate her, but you get the point]. Oh and we saw Oprah’s building too. =P

Sprayed between and during these road-trips were circuses, and lunches and dinners at all the finest of places that the US of A has to offer, devouring a variety of cuisines and being wonderfully spoilt – that’s what a holiday is all about. All this was possible only because of my highly loving and generous uncle and aunt. Thank you so very much for a lovely stay [Chacha, I am not sucking up!].

Right now, I am heading to Austin, Texas. Excited but more nervous, I don’t exactly know what to feel. Not blessed with the company of a decently attractive woman like last time, I am still passing time wonderfully well. We will be landing in another 45 minutes or so, and then my soon-to-be-father cousin will pick me up. University of Texas tomorrow – I really can’t wait.

P.S. The “Angelina Jolie” in the title is also a publicity stunt to get more hits. :P
Oh Bharath (and all other faithful readers), I apologize for the constant bickering and justifications of my why my posts are turning out to be long.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hindu Heritage-ness

One of the first things I did on entering the US of A was the last thing I thought I would ever do – semi-attend a Hindu Heritage Camp. Initially I was quite bamboozled by the fact that Bloomington, Illinois, USA actually had a full out, fully Indian, hard core Hinduism camp. Organized by the HSS, the Hindu Heritage Camp aims to inculcate moral Indian values and the Hindu culture among the detached Indian American children, hoping to build bridges and bring them closer to their roots; by holding a 7 day overnight camp [for the older ones] and a 4 day overnight camp [for the younger ones], without sacrificing the concept of “fun” that every camp should ideally bring. Okay, that was the formal bit that I had to include. Anyway, these camps are held all over the US, so if you ever feel that you want to be a devout Hindu, but stay modern at the same time, just fly up to the US of A. Okay, enough advertising.

My cousin was attending the camp, and as I happened to be there at the same time, I was told to come along and see what it was all about. Still shocked with the fact that it was a Hindu camp, I didn’t know what to expect. Lots of Sadhu’s dressed in their yellow clothes-like stuff? Kids with their heads shaved off, besides the small pony tail they adorn that we all somehow mystically relate too? Cow worshipping? 100% strictly pure vegetarian food? 3’o clock rise and shines followed by Bhajan hymning? My uncle and aunty said: Anish, just come along.

On the first day, I was decently tired – I still obviously hadn’t fully recovered from the jet-lag, how much ever I would love to boast that I did and that I am too cool. So my first visit went in observation, and I thanked the mightiest form of the Hindu God for not making the camp overly serious. It was nowhere close to being extreme, but rather was a brilliant balance of fun and the Hinduism stuff. I was pleasantly surprised [yeah I know that sounds British] by how much the kids wanted to be there, and genuinely enjoyed the camp – my cousin has since been reading comics, Ramayan comics. The lunch and dinner was 100% pure vegetarian but was not always Indian food. It was multi-cultural: Mexican [Tacos], Italian [Lasagne] and Indian. I guess Hinduism also preached multi-culture-ism.

After the observation day, I somehow got myself entangled in semi-attending the next day, as a proper student. My uncle laughed when I politely, but reluctantly said yes to the ordeal. But then I thought about my whole “experience” philosophy, and how this would expose me to the Indian American culture, and how it would also bring along a little bit of Hindu enlightenment that I think I require, and converted the pessimism into semi-optimism. So the next morning, I got up at 5:30 AM and my uncle dropped me off to the camp where I started the day with a yoga session. I hadn’t warmed up and was stiff all over, so ended up straining my back, and internally I yelped in pain. Anyway it wasn’t that bad and I later ridiculed my internal-melo-dramatics. The physical conditioning followed the Yoga session. The children learnt Hindu martial arts, “Dandh” [fighting with a stick] and Hindu games. As I was new, I just got a lesson on the basics of using the “Dandh”. Fascinating. We then played games, Hindu games: stuff like “Vish Amrut” and “Kho Kho”. This rekindled my days in Aurangabad [a city next to Mumbai] where I played such games with my long lost friends – Sai! Vishal! Vaibhav! Those were the days [not a disturbed childhood Ali]!

It was then the turn of a preachy and boring lecture, in which half the class slept or got lost in his or her own worlds. After the boring lecture that preached about the basic concepts of “Adharma” and “Dharma” [i.e Bad and Good], it was time for musical instruments. Most students were into the percussions bit, and I was amused to see a Hindu form of written percussion beats. Fascinating. I didn’t contribute much; just continued to observe. Lunch followed [Tacos] and a sleeping or “relaxing” session followed the lunch. The yoga teacher quite literally made everyone fall asleep. I didn’t sleep because I thought I wasn’t supposed to. When the Yoga teacher asked us to get up, only 3 out of 20 people got up, and rest snored away. Bloody fascinating.

It was then time for me to escape and go play a cricket match for my Uncle’s team. To cut it short, it was no heroic day for me. We lost and I scored a golden duck. Slightly depressed, I returned back to the camp, and witnessed the “Talent” show. Yes it did showcase glimpses of talent, but was poorly organized [sound issues]. But all that did not matter, as everyone had fun, and the mums and dads loved seeing their children do crazy stuff. Oh I had to mention, one of the performances was a Hindu Bhajan rap accompanied by percussion; which was quite funked out and did not give anyone the slightest thought of it being a mockery, thank the mightiest form of the Hindu God again.

Now, this post is getting way too long, so it doesn’t really matter what I write, because most of you will most probably not reach this bit. But I still have to conclude this Mightiest-form-of-the-Hindu-God darn experience. It was fun and mighty fascinating. My first experience with American brewed Indian students and kids was pleasantly pleasant. I am still shocked at witnessing such an ardently preachy religious camp in the middle of the US of A. And guess what, it’s been on for 20 years. Something like this can never happen in Dubai. The power of democracy, I say.

P.S. I too don’t like long posts because they are too long and get draggy, and I therefore apologize for being a hypocrite. But somehow, for some reason I just felt like writing this, so deal with it.

Friday, August 03, 2007

End Of An Era: Epilogue

Just when I thought nothing more could happen in the “wonderful” city of Dubai before I leave, a few Eastern people entered the fray and enthralled us. Ali, Tejas and Romit dropped me off at the airport [I feel the love guys], and Omar and NC just happened to be there too. Checked in, relaxed, I came out to say my final goodbyes. But before that there has to be a conversational, “hearty” build up you know. So we were talking about how these guys had done haram things before coming to the airport, and we just happened to be a little loud. An Eastern, Kazakhstani-type [not Filipino] couple got a bit annoyed. So the woman of the two, who obviously thought she was the hottest damn queen in the world, snapped at us rather impolitely: Could you please shut up? Now a weird ascent, and a high pitched high volume statement like that cannot be taken lightly, and thus, Omar semi-flipped. He snapped back [more politely than her] telling her that she could have been more polite. But then her ego came sliding in, and she retorted. We retorted too. She then randomly told us to go to the Indian Airport and talk loudly there. I think she was trying to insult us by making a racist comment. You pay for the tickets loser! But then she became more direct. She started yelling, and told us to “shut up our mouse” and go to “India/Pakistan” which she claimed to be the same things. She then called us all one “Indian Animal”. We on the other hand were not quiet, but we dared not to enter racist territory. We laughed at how angry those Eastern-asses were getting, and then we laughed more even more because they got even more annoyed with our mockingly “loud” laughter. Amidst all this laughter we did spray a few “Indian” insults [she was really asking for it]. Then her husband/friend/[really want to but will not use the profane word that I have thought of so you can fill in the meanest thing that comes into your head about Eastern Uzbekistani-type people] joined in. “I will shut up your mouth,” he said, acting all protective and cool. But we laughed. After a decent number of exchanges we got bored, so we calmed things down and walked away. But I tell you, it was an enthralling experience.


Right now I am flying to Chicago in an American Airlines flight, a happy man. Everyone has those hopes of getting a decently attractive person of the opposite sex sitting next to him and her. Today I had no hopes because whenever I did have such illusionary hopes, it only led to disappointment. But today, right now, things are different. I am partially enjoying the company of a fairly attractive German girl. She is next to me looking at the screen, but she says her English is not that very good. But if she is reading this I am kind off screwed. Anyway we have both just dealt with farewells and annual separations so it’s all cool! =)

I will reach Chicago in exactly 2 hours and 2 minutes. I hope I don’t get too jet-lagged. 8 hours of flying time with crappy in-flight entertainment is not that fun.

P.S. The whole enthralling first bit is not intended to be racist in any way, and I don’t intened to hurt anyone’s sentiments except for that wonderfully awful Eastern couple that entertained us in the most insulting of ways.

Romit & Tejas – I saw ‘Lucky You’. Drew is a bore, but Poker is a total score!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

End Of An Era


It’s 30 minutes before I leave, so this is going to be short. I just got off Facebook and MSN, after saying my e-goodbyes. I am still shaken by the “farewell” get together that took place at home. It started off normally; then slowly moved into gear. It then shifted to [in order] condoms and bananas [thanks Romit], pool, foosball, an unbelievably awesome gift, some Indian chat, truth and dare, stripping of my pants, some awesome Ishika-singing, ketchup massage by Ali on Romit’s head, Dad’s entry, Mum’s constant camera work, all the letters and finally, Ali’s “Never Say Goodbye”. Suddenly, it hit me. It hit me hard. It would probably never be the same again. Yes, we would see each other again and again, but time and distance are bitches. Yes, the “love” would be there, but our priorities will have changed – drastically. It would never be the same again - a temporary goodbye for sure, but a permanent end to a friggin’ era.

18 years and “era”? It almost doesn’t make sense. But together, we and alone, I have been through oh so much, done a billion things, had the loudest “output” laughs ever, fought like rabid dogs with egos clashing like Expelliarmus and Avada Kedavra, worked our butts of with Redial Entertainment without much compromise on fun, won the friggin’ Inter School Football Tournament against all odds, went to Burjuman and City Centre a record number of times, buried Romit in Jumeirah Beach, drifted away into another world at Poseidon’s Pier, given exams that we hated, seew my sister leave, seen my parents win the Best Parents In The Entire Universe Award, SFS-ed all year round, prepared for universities, dealt with separations, dropped Mcdonalds and the rest of the fast-food gang for a year, ate pizza, saw a bunch load of midnight premieres, grew our hair and shaved it off completely [Romit!], loved and hated school, loved and hated ourselves, but loved and loved each other. Always. This is my first ending. The final chapter of Part 1 of my life has concluded – time for Part 2.

Mum’s calling. She wants me rattle out the traditional Indian prayers, before heading out with my bags. My mouth smells a bit thanks to the garlic butter in the Shawarma I just had. Oh I am going to miss Shawarma. Tears wiped, goodbyes said [most], hugs hugged and bags packed – it’s Austin time.

P.S. Sonia, I told you I’d do my last entry whilst in Dubai. =)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Driving In Dubai: Beginners


Today, I failed my first road test. Damn.

I got up in the morning, nervous as hell about two things: (1) Getting a cab at 8:30AM and (2) Hoping to conquer the Dubai RTA Ultimate Road Test. Adding to the nervousness, I cut myself while shaving. “It’s not a sign Anish, chill.” I devoured my banana, drank my milk, packed my bag and went down to catch a cab. Nervous Issue (1) was no problem at all – I got a cab in about 3 minutes, brilliant. Now that’s a sign, definitely very much 100% so, right? Wrong, “I don’t believe in signs” – maybe I should.

It was Nervous Issue (2)’s turn. But what was haunting me, were the "signs". I met this long lost friend who I used to play football with 8 years at the Emirates Driving Centre Road Test Centre. It was his second test and it turned out to be second time lucky for he, or he was plainly just a good driver. He told me they make you drive for literally two minutes; one left turn, one right turn, a couple of lane changes, parking and you are done. “Do that properly, and you’re through.” He buoyed me up with hope, hope that was previously, mysteriously dim. What these driving instructors do is that they scare the living pants off you, and say that the “Shoorteh” will fail you at the smallest possible error. Doing this is good to an extent, but seriously, everyone is crapping in their pants during their driving test due to this injection of paranoia, and that makes it tougher to pass than it should. One activity at a time is seriously enough. Crap time is later.

Anyway, I made my way into the EDC Test Car with my “Shoorteh” and my three other fellow compatriots. They had been waiting for me; apparently I had not heard my name the first time. “Anis KisHOre Malbani” on a not-so-clear mike can be slightly confounding. So I was late - That’s Bad Sign #2. There was this Chinese (or Japanese, definitely NOT Filipino] guy, this South Indian guy and the Paksitani guy, in the car along with me. The Chinese guy was first and he drove well. But I thought, “Hah! I can do better than that!” Semi-over-confidence = Bad Sign #3. He did well, and he did eventually pass. Next on the wheel – Me. I got of to a decent start and shifted into the third gear with supreme confidence. Apparently a confident driver [not a semi-over-confident driver] is a good driver. I took a right and then a left with sublime ease. Time to change lanes – easy stuff. I changed lanes twice quite expertly showing perfection beyond my years. Lane changing 3 – I somehow, quite unfortunately, forgot to look in the side mirror, and there just happened to be a car coming by next to me. I went for the turn, with a crafty smile on my face, and then suddenly, the “Shoorteh’s” hand jut into my sight, and he handled the wheel, saving us from “serious danger”. He failed me on that: “5. Applicant causing a serious danger (hazard)”. All my hopes of conquering the accident-filled Dubai Roads crashed away. I had one chance before I left for the US of A, and I had mucked it up. With a heavy heart and a heavier bag, I got an empty cab quicker than I have ever before in my life. Obviously. Bloody signs!

The South Indian was an okay driver, but a little confused in the head. The Pakistani guy was pathetic. His car stopped in the middle of the road, and the poor bugger let his nervousness get the better of him. So fate or some other shit made one Chinese/Japanese guy euphoric, and three Sub-Continental guys miserable today. I called mum and told her the bad news and she laughed, not out of ridicule, but out of the sheer feeling that I was teasing her. She was like, “How can you fail Anish? Don’t kid me.” I am like I just did fail Maa! That didn’t help, but then that’s motherly love.

Dad called a few minutes later. I recited the story, and he was like you deserved it. Thanks Dad – like a true father. =) And then he dropped the bomb: “Anish I just met someone who could have helped you getting your license, like 5 minutes ago.” No bloody way. “Fate,” right? I guess but “I don’t believe in fate” – maybe I should. Ahh life! What's really annoying is that even though the UAE has such an intense driving program, where passing the Road Test is quite a task for people, there are still such rash drivers on the road, and the number of road accidents taking place in Dubai is nothing to be proud of either.

Anyway, on a more positive note, I don’t really need the license. I am leaving the country for good in 9 days. I might as well get my driving license in the US of A. But failure is in general pissing off, especially when the past two and a half months have gone in learning how to drive. So what was it exactly? I had 3 Bad Signs, and 2 Good Signs. Oh, so the Bad prevailed over the Good? Right.

P.S. Don’t get thrown away by the “perfection beyond my years” bit. I am not that great a driver, only average. The “perfection beyond my years” was to instill a little drama which is greatly inspired by JK Rowling’s writing style.

Friday, July 20, 2007

“Oh Harry!”


Right. So I saw Harry Potter 5, and no, I didn’t take a pencil and a notepad with me, but I didn’t love the movie either. It was a midnight-er, as in a midnight show, a-weird-Dubai-“premiere” type of thing. Anyway, Romit was really excited and was hitting falsettos quite often. Tejas was there and Ali wasn’t. 3 girls accompanied us – woohoo, yeah? But two were out of place and made the third feel out of place, so you do the math.

Anyway, the movie was okay-ish. The script was poor and Emma Watson cannot act. Nor can Danny-boy. So if your leads are messed up, it is, in no way, going to be a good movie. Emma is supposed to be hot, or well “cute” and supposedly “smart” in her role, but here she is more like a blond-ish bimbo saying some cheap, corny lines. Very disappointed, Emma tut tut. I think it’s high time you learn from Megan (Fox, you can’t-relate-to people). Yes Radcliffe was better than before, but if his previous exploits were rated Z, his current one would be given an F- : an improvement; but still crappy. Rupert Grint is the savior, or well would have been the savior if he had more lines. Crappy acting, marred with major plot holes and pure ignorance, Harry Potter fans should be quite disappointed.

On the positive side, I loved the camera-work, and the cinematography was quite brilliant. Obviously, it was nothing compared to Transformers, but the Voldemort v/s Dumbeldore was beautifully done; props to the director on that.

So I’d say, watch HP5. Hell, watch it in the theatres! Not because it’s great, but because it’s Harry Potter. It’ll help you make conversation, and also gives you a fun topic to blog on.

Yeah, recently, this blog is more of a movie-review website than anything else, and I apologize to those readers that have still remained faithful. It’s just that there is so much going on at present, that I cannot choose something concrete enough to blog on, as in without sounding too cheesy or too melodramatic in my posts. Movie reviews seem safe. Or I’m just being lazy. No no, I have too much to do!

I am going to try and get back to reading HP6 now. I have restarted that darned book to get into the whole “Potter Mania” again. It’s just that I have been faithful to Rowling, and want to finish the saga with as much enthusiasm as I read HP1, i.e. continue to be faithful [hint hint]. Also, it could also be that I have forgotten most of what happened in the 6th book, so I want to get a heads up before the 7th one arrives. But that’s similar to the whole getting into the “Potter Mania” bit, yeah? Damn. “Whatever”.

Till more personal posts.

P.S. At least this update was faster than the earlier one.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Transformation


Yes, I haven’t blogged in quite a while – a thousand apologies.

Yes, I said I would get back to you on the best-est film of the recent past “Transformers”, so here I am.

Yes, I have been a tad bit lazy with the blogging scene, and I am a little late with the “Transformers” review, but screw that.

Yes, here come a bunch load of “I”s.

I attended the midnight show at Al Ghurair with a few friends and Ali, the biggest Transformers fan ever [please contact me if you wish to contest that statement, seriously]. I made it a point to sit next to him to absorb all his enthusiasm and it paid of. I clapped for the movie, I clapped. It has been a while since I have really enjoyed enjoyed a movie, but “Transformers” changed all that. From the beginning to then end, you cannot take your eyes of the friggin’ screen. The movie draws you towards it like the legs of sexy lady. The humour, the direction, Megan Fox, the acting, the heart and the out-of-this-world cinematography will hit you so hard, that there is nothing else you can do but clap or stare in disbelief or stare in awe or act as if you have suddenly become the biggest “Transformers” fan in the world.

“Transformers” has set a new, as-tall-as-Burj-Dubai high standard of film-making; if not for film-making then definitely for special effects. The intricacy and the accuracy with which each frame is done is mind-blowing. 38 hours to do render each frame of CG – that itself says a ton. Hats off to Industrial Light & Magic for pulling off the near impossible. The way these Autobots and Decepticons transform is sublime. The sound effects and the animation is beautifully intertwined to pull off a magnificently pleasing look. How the bloody hell can you make robots lovable [besides cartoon/animation – that doesn’t count]?

The acting is decent too – Shia Labeouf, the lead guy, is funny and more importantly NOT annoying. The robot voiceovers are spot on and the evil, tiny spy Decepticon so cleverly crafted that I want to personally blow the beetles out of him. The only minor flaw that I can maybe point my dirty little finger on is the direction in some of the fight scenes. Mr Bay, a few long shots of these giant robots wouldn’t have done any harm.

A special paragraph must be devoted to Megan Fox. Megan Fox is pure hotness. Her heat blew the life out of me. She is beautiful and sexy. WOW! I would go watch the movie only for her! No seriously, Megan is the next, big thing. Okay well the next, petit, nice, hot, beautiful thing or woman to take Hollywood by storm. Screw Hollywood, the world! I can imagine Bin Ladin and crew enjoying her every move. Ahh Megan, if only every woman was like you. Piss off Ali.

However, everything wasn’t woo-hoo-haa-haa. The movie de-motivated me when it comes to film-making. It was so, so well made, as a film, that any budding film-maker would either be highly inspired or go how the hell can anyone pull that off? I am in the latter phase, maybe sometime later I’ll switch to the former. But for now, I really need to go watch this movie again, in the theatres, because it is a must.

P.S. Talking about “transformation”, life’s current transformation is finally sinking in. Shit. I will blog soon. Mother promise.
Also, Harry Potter 5 is next.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

SHOOFTV Competition

We, as in Redial Entertainment, have entered an amateur film-making competition that is taking place in the U.A.E. To cut to the point, we have made it to the quarter-finals, and are two steps away from winning. Our progression depends on your voting, and therefore any support will be appreciated.

So if you like our videos, and you would like to vote for us, please vote for us in the following way(s):

[NOTE: Voting is possible only on TUESDAY, JUNE 19TH, 2007 FROM 12:00 AM TO 6:00 PM]

  1. Go to http://www.shooftv.com/sq11.aspx, see our video submission, follow instructions and VOTE!
  2. Follow instructions on this post which are the same ones as the ones on the official website. VOTE by:
    1. For UAE Residences: SMS “SHOOFER 11” to 4324. [It costs only 90 fils. Any contribution will be really appreciated!]
    2. For Internationals: SMS “SHOOFER 11” to +248980010.

Thank you for all your support guys, and I sincerely hope you will bless us with at least one vote!

P.S. Seriously, thank you for your support.

Fantasticated!


Okay, this time there was no crazy build-up and there were no freaky-fun occurrences before we entered Cinestar Cinema 01 to watch Fantastic Four 2 – Rise Of The Silver Surfer on the fate-less 15th night of June, apart from the race in which Tejas kicked our asses because he took a less crowded route. We had Rohit Kataky in our company, and his crazy-hippie appearance did turn a few heads towards us. We smuggled in some drinks that we had previously bought from Carrefour, and Romit was bamboozled when he found out that his 500 ml Coke was 2 dirhams compared to the 1 dirham that my 1500 ml Aquafina water cost. Also, Romit bought pop corn and almost missed the trailers – almost.

So basically, I am going to jump right into the “review”. Fantastical the Second is worth a watch! It’s much better than Spiderman 3 in the sense that it’s much shorter, more gripping, and more exciting. The action and the cinematography is as good as the Spidey flick if not better. Yes, there are a few corny dialogues, but it’s a superhero movie so that’s rather expected. The acting is okay. Jessica Alba is a Goddess dropped from the great heavens above. Truly, God bless you, and God, bless yourself too for creating Her. Also, the movie was genuinely funny at times. Silver Surfer is super-cool! Dr Von Doom is an idiot. The Human Torch kicks some real ass. Basically I really enjoyed it on the whole - a really good Superheroes flick to kick off the crazy block-buster-filled summer up ahead. Harry Potter 5, Transformers [ALI!], Shrek The Third, Ocean’s 13 and so on are all very exciting prospects.

Ooh, one to watch out for is Transformers. Apparently it won the most anticipated summer blockbuster MTV Movie Award over Fantastication, Harry Puther and the other rot. Apparently Michael Bay has cut out the corny-ness and made Transformers more real, shrewd, mature and hopefully cinematographically and brilliantly brilliant. I am looking forward to it, but I don’t think anyone is looking forward to it more than Ali Yar Khan is.

Okay, that was short and quick, so basically my ultimate message is: WATCH IT! And it’s a theatre movie so, WATCH IT IN THE THEATRES!

Till transformation!

P.S. Ali missed the Fantastic Four 2 experience. Idiot.

Constructiveness V/S Laziness

For the past few days, or rather weeks, or well months, okay, 2 ½ months – I have been busy. Not the “OMG-I-am-so-cool”-type busy, genuinely busy. Redial Entertainment is ruling my world, and so is salsa and so is the Nissan Sunny that I learn to drive every other morning. Also, obviously, I am not going to for any reason, sacrifice fun. So add that to the equation, and it becomes fun-busy.

However procrastination is a common practice, and when you have lots to do, it is not cool. Why? It adds to the tension, finally sums up to last minute hysteria and the school exam days come storming into your brain. So knowing all this, when you do procrastinate when you know you have work to do, off goes your head. You have this urge to be over-constructive, and do megatons of work. But at the same time you need your space, and you need time to just chill, because you are on a friggin’ “holiday”.

So, basically, in this battle of constructiveness and laziness, neither wins. What helps is a balance of both the extremes. Currently that’s what I am enjoying, and the feeling is brilliant. Life’s good. Besides getting my daily meals, I am also self-employed in a potentially prosperous business. The love-life is getting very interesting. University stuff is mostly sorted out, and the only headache that remains in the US Visa. Salsa is the best thing that has happened to me so far. I will soon be a licensed driver [hopefully]. Yeah, I could do with a little more exercise and a little more football, but I have July for that. Mum wants me to stop working and practice mind peace. July, Mum, JULY! Happy Father’s Day Dad!

P.S. I haven’t written for a long time and I apologize. But I had this urge to tread on philosophical grounds, so screw you if it’s too damn clichéd-ly emotionally philosophical for you!