Saturday, February 28, 2009

Takkunu Oru Tale - 5

He was tagging along with her. He hated traveling - especially by air. He was used to living quite an indoors life, except for the annual December vacation which was a certainty in Varshika's life. And being in the US meant that most of his travels were by air - where he felt mishandled and cramped. He could not help think about his days in India - Though dusty and dirty, the personal touch was more there, he felt. People were always happy to see you, with the obvious expectation of what you'd brought for them. Thinking about India, that was where they were going. 26 hours of agony for him and perhaps for her too and then they would be home.

He could feel her fingers twitching and her palms sweaty. Whoever said that the face is an index of the mind forgot that there existed something called hands. He knew that she was holding onto him more for a sense of reassurance than anything else and he knew that she was going to lose that reassurance soon enough - perhaps within the next 2 minutes. And with him he carried more than what Varshika could manage on her own. He liked being a source of physical and moral support for her. After all, she had retrieved him for the dark abyss that his life was in India when she first started her college life in India. He always felt that Varshika had made his life a lot better, a lot cleaner. But for her, he would definitely not go through the mistreatment that he'd be going through for the next 26 hours. He knew he was huge - in fact more often than not he was proud of his height and size. But the same size now was a bad thing to be - especially if you were travelling by air.

"Hello Ma'm, you would mind weighing your check-in luggage?" said the airline staff as Varshika lugged her huge box onto the weighing scale - feeling desolate. She had felt reassured holding onto the thick handle as she was lugging it till the check-in counter and now, it was gone!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Dark Humor - 1

In times of great peril when nothing catatrosphic or horrible happens
it's counted as a good day. Sometimes you cannot help smiling at a
grafitti this knowing quite well that either your online savings bank
has reduced it's apr or people you know are getting stoic looking for
jobs or that the small company you are working might not exist

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Snow Curse

The last 3 places to which I have travelled - Chicago, Charlotte and now, Seattle - all of these places had a downpour of snow right when I was there - while it was not out of season in Chicago, Charlotte and Seattle are not the places you'd associate with snow!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blog Music Widget

Grooveshark provides you with the ability to add music to your blog in the form of a playlist. Check it out. Its pretty cool. I never knew Kula Shaker and all that would be available!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Dilli 6

Dilli 6 released almost unnoticed, with all the hullabaloo over குப்பத்து நாய் லட்சாதிபதி KupputhuNaai. The Masakalli song has managed to corner the spotlight, partly due to its un-understandable words, there are quite a few other songs which were quite good. The movie is directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra comes after Rang De Basanti and so, naturally, there are two fold expectations - whether ROM will go above and beyond his previous effort and the other expectation is to see if Rahman, will give out a completely new genre of music like he did with RDB.

Dilli - 6 music is definitely different - you wouldn't associate the songs with Rahman if you listened to it with no prior information about the songs. But, increasingly I can see that even though songs coming from Rahman retain certain trademarks of the Mozart from Madras, I can see those assistants contributing something new to his albums, which is one way Rahman's music is always in sync with the times. In this album, my pick of songs: Masakalli, Dil Mera (Dil Gira), Hey Kaala Bandar, Rehna Tu and Arziyaan (Maula mere maula).

Masakalli has that un-explainable thing to it - perhaps the weirdo lyrics? - which makes you like the song. The song has this refreshing feel to it and the voice of the singer is quite interesting too.

Dil Mera (Dil Gira Dafatan) has some super starting vocals which sounds more like a soft rock number and then gently drifts into a superb Guitar piece. The transition is class - typical Rahman. And the songs builds up tempo with layers of music attaching to the song. Rahman's genius will definitely touch in this number.

Rehna Tu - Nowadays his signature, this song has lead vocals by Rahman himself. Sounds a lot like a soft jazz number. As I have always wondered, it is quite a mystery to me how a 42 year old guy can sound so young. The song has a quite a eclectic mix of string instruments - it has an acoustic, electric guitar playing for the most part and there's a hint of some arabic strumming (what isntrument?) and in the end, there is some fantastic carnatic ragam played out (as I'm ராகம் challenged, I can't tell you what it is) which is played on the keyboard to resemble some wind instrument (a cross between some kinda flute and something else). Class!

Arziyaan (Maula mere Maula) - I'm not that comfortable understanding hindi. Though not as bad as "ek gaun mein ek kissaaan....", I depend on a Hindi Pandit who gets quite irritated when referred to as a pandit :). So, to me, Maula comes across as a muslim word and thus, somehow this song reminds me of Khwaja in Jodha Akbar. But I think this is like the qawwali style over the sufi style in the other.

Hey kaala bandhar - My limited hindi tells me its something like Hey black Monkey - that gives you an idea about the song - it has a hip-hop/Rap feel to it. And has those usual DJ type music. The magoodi-like sound actually gets you hooked.

So here you go:

Masakali - Delhi 6

Dil Gira Dafatan - Delhi 6

Hey Kaala Bandar - Delhi 6

Rehna Tu - Delhi 6

Aarti Tumre Bhavan Mein - Delhi 6


Tour De Florida

As I'm trying to record some kind of a travelogue of places I happen to visit, there is no way I'm going to take a pass on the Florida mini-trip I did in December.

1. Miami - The biggest tourist sthalam in Florida - Miami is about 4 hours odd. The best thing I did was to rent a Jaguar for the road trip. Florida is notorious for having really sunny December and this car was the most comfortable one I've driven (I've not driven that many luxury cars, except for Infiniti and a colleague's BMW 5 series). Life in Miami begins at 4pm onwards - we left TPA @ 10am and reached there at an odd time of 2pm which made us late for lunch and most of the restaurants (the non-chain ones) were closed and so we had to do with some pizza from a very average place. I tried to do some research online and found that you get reasonable priced Marriott or Double Tree prices near the North Beach. This North Beach is the notorious nude beach. Thanks to a friend of mine who had had a horrible experience there, I avoided that place like the plague. In his own words, the only people who are nude there are botox-abusing, senile people ~50 years of age. It is entirely a different story if your preferences are not normal ;-). Well, this place called North Bay Village is 5 miles away from the South Beach and Collins Avenue and if you have a car and a GPS unit (with text-to-speech enabled), you should be fine.
The Miami beach is more like the Marina in Chennai in terms of crowds and azhukku on the beach (at least most parts of it). And be warned that the beach is zoned out into gay/lesbian areas and straight area. As its been quite a while since I last went to Miami, I ended up in the part where I'd rather not wanted to be at and I guess I have the co-ordinates of that area well defined and won't be found there again. (Its tricky when you go to that part of the beach as 3 guys! ). The evening life of Miami has to be seen to be believed - the whole of Ocean Drive bursts to life with music and sarakku around 7pm-ish and it goes on till 4 or 5am the next day. And the Miami beach in the night is a sight to behold as there are lots of cruise liners out on the sea and the moon, stars and the sparkling water amount to an awesome spectacle. And the wind you can enjoy has to be felt to be believed. A friend of mine and me spent sometime at this club which was supposedly the coolest place to hang out - the clubs are the usual kinds - Kudi and Kummallam. And we did go to the beach past 11pm - but the worsht thing was makkal were randomly making out there and most of them must have thought of my friend and me as gay ________. But then, we did walk around all the happening places and for me, after New York, Miami was another city that could take the tag of the city that never sleeps. But then, we headed back to our hotel at 4.30am and so do not know whether makkal are up early morning too. But then, if you like walking and taking in the breeze from the sea, then Miami is the place for you with added shopping areas and ocean facing restaurants (be warned that the prices on these menus might make you gasp for more of the breeze that's blowing).

Key West - If you are a time constrained trip, never drive to Key West. Either take the ferry from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale or fly into Key West. The drive is quite scenic. You are on a causeway-bridge and you have turquoise sea on both sides. And if you are water sports addicts, then do your parasailing, wave-running (jet skiing), Skurfing and other stuff before you reach Key West in Islamorada or Key Colony Beach, where the sea has an electric color, is shallower and the rental rates for the equipment are much more economical. Whatever prices you see marked here, the same activities will cost you X1.5 (at a minimum) at Key West. The only activities that have to be done only at Key West are the scuba diving and deep sea swimming for which you need deeper and rough waters. And talking about Parasailing, it is a one time activity. People who have para-sailed will mostly share this thought as once you are up in the air for 10 minutes, the novelty wears off. Though Key West is called the water sports capital of the US, stick to doing parasailing in Miami where the sea coast has a few high rise buildings very close to the sea which might add to your thrill during para sailing. But, if you are comfortable with swimming, then for the pure thrill, do wave running at Key West in the evening (between 3 and 5) on cold days - I did on such a day and man, the sea was quite rough and just managing to hang on to the jetski/ wave runner was difficult. My swimming warning might be redundant given the fact that you are given a life jacket. But, if you are thrown off the jet ski, you might have to dog paddle back to the jet ski (at a minimum) so prior knowledge of swimming will mean that you get to spend more time wave running, rather than waiting for somebody to bail you out from water and put you back on the jet ski. And the best thing you can treat yourself to is the deep sea swimming - try that. The key West place itself is contained in one street - Duval Street - the whole city/town gives you a very sleepy town feel - nobody hurries or there are no 'tours' trying to show you places to see. I think IMO, this is the best touristy place in the US. Go there with a week to spare. I went there with a few hours to spare and needless to say, hardly got to visit all the beaches or do other stuff apart from wave running and swimming.

The only other places in Florida I have not visited are Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Gainesville areas. I really have no interest to visit Jacksonville/Gainesville areas as they are really in the non-happening part of Northern Florida.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fall of a Titan

There is a old theory to quite successful people failing and taking it really hard. The higher you are on the ladder, the more painful the fall that occurs. It was this that came to my mind on Sunday when I saw the once-invincible, still supremely talented, Roger Federer cry out of helplessness. He has tried everything physically possible to beat that man from Majorca. But as is obvious, the problem lies elsewhere - the mind. They say that the face is an index to the mind and I still remember myself remarking that Federer has lost the game in the second game of the 5th set when his face and eyes had given away the fight. He had given up, mentally, at the very least.

I find that it is quite a puzzle that supremely talented people are mentally frail. Another ready example that springs to my mind is Sachin Tendulkar. To say he is the best batsman to come from India is an understatement - his genius partly borders on being paranormal. I think with the current deterioration in technique, there might nobody else who can thump a short of good length ball for a straight driven four ever, on a consistent basis as SRT has done. But, on quite a few occasions SRT has failed when it comes to putting mind over matter - the final of WC 2003 or  the Chennai test against Pakistan or the Super Six game against Aus in WC 1999. Or for another broader perspective, when he was the captain, India regressed - Sri Lanka scored 945 in a single innings. We lost a test series to SAF at home, which promptly made Tendulkar to quit. A stronger soul would have taken it upon himself to lift the team out of the rut.

What is it that these guys who are supremely talented are not made of sterling stuff in the cranium? Is it the fact that they are so unbelievably talented that they are never required to develop a tougher mental make-up?

But getting back to the tennis game, grudgingly, I have to admit Nadal is a tennis great. I was almost 6 years old when I started to follow Pistol Pete. I still remember the sportstar having a cover edition with Pete after the US Open victory. I like Champions who play with grace/elegance. Sampras was an efficient destroyer. No fancy dress stuff nor over the shouting/grunting/mukkal-munagal stuff. And I think it because of that aspect of his game that he was never appreciated for a killer serve. Seeing Federer and Nadal trade breaks was weird having seen Sampras break his opponent and follow that up with a 15-0, 30-0, 40-0 and game pounding, mostly coming in the form of his killer serve or his 'slam-dunk' serve and volley. I think it is fitting that Federer has to dig deep into himself to equal the master. But, again it will be a fairy-tale of sorts if Federer can draw level at Roland Garros and then, break the ceiling at Wimbledon - the hallowed turf. I know this is much difficult that it actually sounds, but I want that to happen so that that cup-biting, grunting-moaning kaattaan from Majorca is put to pasture forever.