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 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 -

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.