Friday, July 29, 2005

Hazaar F*cked

The last one week has been exciting, not just in terms of events, what with the Mumbai floods and fires and NASA shuttle launch, but at a personal level as well.

Perhaps it’s just my naivety speaking, but I feel I would have enjoyed the 80s more than the present. Yeah, sure, not all was right with the world then either, but for some reason Upamanyu Chaterjee made me feel that I’d be very much at home.

I first read Chaterjee’s debut novel English, August in school and shelved it as a ho-hum fun read book. Last week I reread it and also managed to watch the movie. I sincerely recommend both. The sequel Mamaries of the Welfare State and Chatterjee’s other novel The Last Burden both, for the lack of a better word, sucked. But I digress…

In many ways I relate very well and empathize with Agastya, the protagonist. We’re both Bengalis who spent their formative years in boarding school, lost a parent very early, and went to college in Delhi (partially in my case) and then were lost; with no idea what to do except fantasize our ideal world with no actual inclination to try and reach there.

Agastya, who spends most of his time smoking marijuana and masturbating while training as an IAS officer in a small, hot town called Madna, does not want much from life. He just wants to bask in the Delhi sun in the winter, read, listen to some music, smoke and drink. Not quite the American Dream, but close enough for me.

So where do we go from here? We get hazaar f*cked. But I’m sure it’ll be fun. You see there in lies the rub. I’m unable to break away from my societal obligations of actually amounting to a normal Bengali man and take a chance.

Last week I also went to IS-CON, Mayapur. Shady is perhaps the first word that comes to mind. All around were clean shaven (all the way round!), saffron clad, stoned foreigners, tripping on acid and religion. To the non-discerning eye nothing seems suspect. Dad never caught anything! But one can clearly see that the euphoria on the young devotees’ faces are artificially induced. I, of course, had my little adventures during my little stay at Mayapur which I won’t delve into. Let it suffice to say that it was a welcome trip for me. It wasn’t easy. The first guy I asked gave me a look as if I had asked if we could shit together.

“Saddam Hussein is a lawyer! I feel sorry for the first guy who told him a lawyer joke.” – Jon Stewart, The Daily Show.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sixth Seduction of the Papal Kind

Seriously there’s no news like bad news is there? These days the news is filled with a blast here, a kill there, a Mamta Banerjee here, and more detonations in London. It could be the handiwork of enraged Aussie fans, considering their dismal Day 1 performance at the London test, but I’m skeptical.

But instead of tripping over the pitfalls of tragedy, we should focus on the lighter-side of things…

Well it appears that like Ms. V, there are a lot of Harry Potter haters out there. One of the more hardcore ones is a German, Gabriele Kuby; who hates HP enough to actually write a book about it. Get a job lady. Wait sorry, I forgot Germany was in recession.

The Pope happens to be another aggrieved anti-HP activist. In fact he was quoted as saying that the HP books are “…subtle seductions of children which act unnoticed and by this, deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.”[1]. Subtle seduction of children, eh? Who better to know about that than the clerics, right?

Apart from boring stuff like China re-evaluating its currency and Francis Fanthome being asked to “take a holiday” (never liked that guy, he really screwed my ICSE!), I picked up two rather interesting stories. Three, actually:

Bulletproofing the Ayodhya shrine? Come on mate, surely the good people at DRDO are not that vella.

“Dear terrorists, new firman issued. Kill 10, take a branded T-shirt and be the best terrorist in the group. Jihad begins from July 18-20. – Osama.”
ICICI Prudential actually used this to motivate their insurance salesmen. One wonders why they didn’t dress them up like black bucks, paint a large bulls-eye on them and send them to Pataudi’s home.

On a graver note, a girl was molested in Presidency College at 11:30 am on a staircase after a sociology class by some “outsiders”. What I don’t understand is how this girl was all alone after class on a staircase in the middle of the day in a college with five thousand students? Either Presidency has a serious attendance problem, or this girl lacks friends. But who cares really, it was after all a legitimate reason to call a student strike! Disappointing world we live in, isn't it?

[1] Courtesy "The Daily Show".

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Run Rabbit Junk

I had to get out of the Harry Potter groove…

It’s been an exciting few days even without Harry P. What with PM Manmohan Singh visiting the US to a red carpet reception and speaking to a joint session of the Congress and President George Bush not goofing up for the first time in a long time while introducing Manmohan Singh. So, India, US nuclear chaddi-buddies eh? But the funniest part is definitely the Pakistani PM canceling his US visit…and the Left... oh the Left.

Kaur gets thrown out accused of messing around with funds…says she’ll go to court. Face it woman, you’re screwed! I hope you have a couple of million stacked away somewhere safe.

Aishwarya Rai now claims that it’s not her voice either on the tape! Somebody call Oliver Stone.

The Hurriyat meets the Kashmiri Pandit leaders in a conference for the first time in sixteen years. I hope you’re happy now, Athar.

Dada has to play under Rahul Dravid, provided, of course, he gets to play. Is this the end of Saurav Ganguly? With a multi-crore deal with the Nimbus Group, it’s hardly relevant, is it?

Disneyland celebrates its 50th birthday with Arnie, the Gu-von-er of Kali-for-nia. Europe is over ridden with tension – everyone’s crapping their pants. Musharraf blames the Madrasas. British tabloids are making Blair look like a lollipop in Bush’s hands which is being stolen by a big bad bully.

It’s a shame that with so many things happening all around, when I go back to college, conversations as usual will steer into sex, drugs and alcohol. Come to think of it, maybe it’s me who’s got the priorities wrong!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

If Dumbledore was a Mumbai Godfather…

Yesterday I managed to watch Sarkar and finish Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

It’s clear that Sarkar has been heavily influenced by The Godfather, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Sarkar is still a brilliantly well made movie. Stellar performances, excellent background score (though very reminiscent of Company) and some rather smart dialogues and camera angles made Sarkar a very worthy watch.

Half Blood Prince on the other hand was a bit of a let down after all the hype, much like Order of the Phoenix. One was hoping that the Harry Potter franchise would not become another Star Wars. Alas, it’s too late now. I still don’t understand that if the potions book was fifty years old, how could it belong to Snape? [Edit: It was originally his mother's] Interestingly enough, the contents of HBP and what is to be expected bear a remarkable similarity to a brilliantly well written fan fiction that Nisha had once showed me.

I noticed a bunch of printing errors and typos in the Bloomsbury edition. They forgot to add Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in the list of previously published HP books in the back dust cover. There was a lot to be wanted from HBP, but in the end I agree with one review I read in ToI (forgive me!), HP6 is nothing more than a tie up of loose ends before embarking on a grand finale that is to be HP7.

However, HP6 has sparked a lot of speculation, particularly about the mysterious R.A.B. and Snape. Snape of course remains the most enigmatic character and after the movies (cheers Alan Rickman) he's become my favorite!

The HP news on television has been very irritating. It’s like the Beatle mania all over again.

I wonder if HP will become another Sherlock Holmes, to be brought back from the dead by an enraged readership?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Because You Touch Yourself At Night

A couple of days ago, by sheer coincidence, I found an old notice amongst my books, don't know how many of you remember this:

Studants' Union Society
St. Stephen's College
Cordially invite all students to a special dinner.
Venue: Mess Hall
Date: 22nd March, 2004
Time: 7:30pm
(P.S.: Please do not break down the doors this time)
Ah, those were the days when there was little to life than tormenting Tawakley and the SUS...
These days I envy Vaks to a certain extent. At twenty two, he's got it all. A job that pays him to flirt on his blog's chatterbox. Lovable little nephews and nieces who see SUS people and pink sweatshirts and like cracking perverted Santa-Banta jokes, cats to welcome him home and "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince"...sigh, one should be so lucky.
So, here's wishing a very Happy Birthday to Vaibhav Tawakley, without whom I'd be living a boring and pointless life. May he find happiness, and a woman 7000 ks away with a penchant for Brayan Adams, oh wait he already has...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Selling the Drama with Cool Blue Reason [1]

The Japanese actually made a cartoon on spinning tops (Bey Blade) [2]. Suddenly understanding life has become unworthy like a made-in-China Holy Grail.

The summer holidays are nearly drawing to a close. Although, at a personal level, this period has been rather uneventful (just the way I like it), the world it appears has spared no quarter to be as random as ever. If the world is hit by a giant chocolate ice-cream cone, the book can be sent for publishing.

Dad had applied for a US visa and I spent three hours outside the embassy in the pouring Calcutta rain waiting for him. I killed time talking to mothers who's kids were going to Princeton or UCLA or *insert fancy school name here*. There was one rather pretty girl who was happily dispensing advice and gyan to the nail biting mothers outside. She was a returning student to some shady university... I first overheard one of her conversations with a hoity-toity English aunty waiting for her daughter. The accent, the swirl of the skirt, the talk of parties and the gyan, was a hilariously fascinating combination and we struck up a conversation. Soon we were drawing crowds of over anxious mothers desperately trying to keep themselves dry with newspapers… it was like working for the study abroad consultancy company I used to work for while in St. Stephen's. Dad got a 10 year visa.

I did manage several trips to my ancestral village in Midnapore over summer. I couldn’t exactly chill considering the temperature was in the late thirties, but the fishing and soaking in the ponds was fun till someone told me that a crocodile had been spotted in the vicinity. I tried tracing back my lineage.

Among interesting things in the world were the Live 8 concerts and the Floyd reunion and some Japanese dude reciting the value of Pi to 85,000 decimal places (take that Ramola)! It was then that I realized that it was far better vellaing than subjecting myself to such mind-numbing activities…I’d rather smoke pot if I wanted that.

L.K. Advani acts out “The Importance of Being Earnest”, the RSS are pissed. The 2012 Olympics go to London for the third time, ze French are le pissed. Some obscure terrorist group blows up buses and tubes in London in celebration, suicide bombers have a blast in Ayodhya. CPM wins election in West Bengal, again (big surprise there), Bangladesh beat Australia in England (definitely big surprise there). Six cars racing at Indianapolis, Venus Williams acting the monkey, Whacko Jacko gets acquitted, Harry Potter posters gracing flyovers across Calcutta. The absconding IIM-C dhobi makes news in local newspapers. St. Stephen’s has a reunion at the Raj Bhavan in Calcutta. The government wants 25% quota for underprivileged students at private schools; CPI threatens to topple the government. A pauper makes one of the largest companies in the country, his Wharton and Stanford educated sons attempt to undo it. Singapore Airlines is flying you to Singapore and back for Rs. 4000. A friend in college commits suicide.

And here I am writing about Kaiser Blewzew feasting on stuffed peacocks on a blog.

Although, I guess, there is no need to be realistic since Abhishek Gupta is in Calcutta en route to his HLL job posting in Jharkhand [3].

“They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our underpants” – Beau Peep.

[1] “Selling the Drama” – Live! and “Cool Blue Reason” – Cake
[2] Courtesy Jug Suraiya
[3] Courtesy Amit Chandra

Saturday, July 09, 2005

"Joie de Vivre"

Joie de Vivre will be a short film for the 24 hour film contest chronicling the effect that the contemplation of one’s mortality has on action. In it, the troubled protagonist, sits as a drone at a computer screen, typing. He begins to think of his life, and what he will reflect upon in the future, when he grows near death. Upon the realization that he might, in theory, have only 24 hours to live, the film bursts into an explosive creative energy that leading film critics have heralded as “magnificent,” “brilliant,” “makes you want to run stark-naked through the dormitory hallways of a small liberal arts college.”

SCENE 1:Protagonist sits in chair in front of a computer, typing. Suddenly he stops.

Various shots of protagonist sitting in front of computer, thinking.
Narration:It is said that “No man on his deathbed wishes that he had spent more time in the office.” What will I, on my deathbed, think? Will I feel satisfied after a long, fulfilling life? Will I feel unsatisfied after having realized that my time was spent unwisely? Will I even have time to reflect upon my experiences? What if I am lying on my deathbed tomorrow? What if I only have 24 hours to live?

Cue music(Possible songs: “Pipeline” The Ventures, “BDNB” Cowboy Bebop, “Winter: Allegro non Molto” Vivaldi or even “Block Rocking Beats” Chemical Brothers).

The protagonist gets up and walks away from the computer.

Montage of the following during music:

• Protagonist frolicking through the woods.
• Protagonist running around, humping people’s legs.
• Protagonist emptying his wallet of all his cards, credit cards, debit cards, phone cards, IDs, laying them out in a row and setting them on fire, a la Jimi Hendrix.
• Protagonist using a fake hand to grope random people, then throwing the hand aside and actually groping people.
• Protagonist getting out of bed in undergarments followed by three girls then a guy getting out of his bed one at a time, also wearing undergarments.
• Protagonist taking his CDs out of their cases and breaking them.
• Protagonist taking a baseball-bat to his printer a la “Office Space”.
• Protagonist running through dorm halls naked, screaming.
• Protagonist planting a charge of C4 on a random car.
• Jamming.
(Anything else we get at the spur of the moment, suggestions are welcome…)

FINAL SCENE:The Protagonist leaps off of the bridge, and frozen in midair, the following is narrated:
Never take leave, of your joie de vivre.

The camera follows his leap as he lands on the bridge, rather than in the ravine as camera would have led you to believe. (Though I would rather leave it frozen and fade out…with the narration slowly coming into focus, white on black)
The End
Idea Conceived By: Noah D. Wright, Hamilton College 2008 ©(Cite your source. Otherwise there is no difference between you and Bollywood.)
Presently working on another idea for the same contest titled "Tamim's Brother Is Bald"

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Kaiser Blewzew, Mongoloid, Esq. Chapter 2: The Unassuming Assasin

A long time before The YG or the Boka Gang had taken control of the Stephen’s underground, a man, nay an evil wind known as Blewzew was blowing through the corridors of college. Every clandestine activity, every subtle crime, had his stamp on it. Not only were the authorities helpless, they thanked him for it. Even the college president was too petrified to stop his tyranny.

Blewzew’s penchant for business and his shrewd analytical mind is what made him so successful. In 2003, as the rest of college was distracted by the rigors and tribulations of elections, Harmony and St. Vitus’ Trust, Blewzew, like always, sought an opportunity. In the shadows of ANGA, and shady places in Daryaganj, Blewzew formulated a plan.

In those days I used to live in Blewzew’s neighborhood in ANGA. In those days I also did a lot of gyp work for the SUS. One night, close to the eve of Harmony, as I was going back to my room I happened to stumble upon a Family meeting in the Kaiser’s room. From the reflection off the glass on the door, I could see the Kaiser seated at one end of a low Japanese table. On his right was sitting The Other Guy and on his left sat Hari Om Dahiya. Someone else was sitting at the other end with his back to me, so I couldn’t see his face. Something big was going down. Risking my life I pressed my ear against the door and tried to hear what was being discussed. Suddenly I felt a thick hand on my shoulder and a sharp object probing the bottom of my spine. I turned around to see a scowling face of The Renu. The Renu smiled and I almost soiled myself.

Bahar kyu kade ho, ander ao…” The Renu said politely waving his kodachi in front of my face. I acquiesced and slowly walked into the Kaiser’s room. Kaiser Blewzew looked up at me and smiled.

Arrey Maity, ao, ao, baito, yaha baito.” the Kaiser said, pointing to the empty cushion next to Hari Om. Nervously I took of my chappals and walked towards the table. The plush Persian carpeting felt ticklish and the entire room was swamped in the fragrance of French perfume. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone and I could feel four sets of eyes studying me.

Kuchh khaoge?” The Kaiser asked, forcing me to look at him. No one refused the Kaiser. I smiled politely. The Renu who was leaning against the bookshelf against the wall opposite me, threw a pack of biscuits at me and resumed sharpening a stake with his kodachi. Just for a second there was an uneasy silence. Then Hari Om spoke in his lucid New York accent “Maity, we understand that you are a relatively smart individual. The Family has uses for intelligent people. For now, we don’t expect much. For now, you just keep your mouth sealed and we won’t erase your existence, savvy?” I could hear The Renu chuckle. I nodded.

Tum ek dusre ko jaante ho?” The Kaiser asked pointing at the person opposite the table. I turned and saw Abhishek Panda desperately trying to smile at me. I nodded. “Accha huya, phir tum jao.” I was puzzled at first but decided to get out before the Kaiser changed his mind. As I was leaving the room, after a quick bow at the Kaiser, I could hear him shout “Arrey tumne to kuch khaya hi nahi!” I ran back to my room and locked the door. What the hell was Panda doing there? I fell into an uneasy asleep. And the next morning I forced myself to forget the whole incident.

Three days later Panda tried to kill me with a pair of scissors.

(Coming Soon: Chapter 3: The Salil Incident)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Kaiser Blewzew, Mongoloid, Esq. Chapter 1: Beginnings

This is a story about change. This is a story about the cruel Delhi culture that brings out the worst in us. This is the story about one man who decided to rise against the tide of apathy and protect those who were close to him. This is a story about Kaiser Blewzew who created one of the most ruthless crime syndicates St. Stephen’s has ever seen. Even Wency Mendes was powerless to stop his rise to power.

In its first few years itself, the Family had grown from a handful of vellas into an organization of massive proportions. By the time I came into college, Blewzew already had a faithful following, loyal and fearsome; men of honor who had sworn oaths of fealty when they had kissed the machwara anguti.

Among the most notable ones were Rahul Renu. The Renu as he was known in the Family was Blewzew’s right hand man. The Renu had grown up in a rough neighborhood and was as tough as dining hall chapatis. His battle-scarred face and the six inch kodachi he kept hidden in his socks kept people at bay and made sure the local dhabas paid up at the end of every month.

On Blewzew’s left hand was The Other Guy. No one knew his real name. He always worked in the shadows. Assassinations and espionage was his forte. He always had a crumpled bidi stuck in his right ear and never wore shoes.

And last but not the least; Hari Om Dahiya, the brains of the organization. Born in the suburbs of New York, Hari Om attended the Wharton School of Business before joining the Family. While The Renu and The Other Guy made sure no one was muscling in on the Family’s territory, Hari Om’s job was to make sure the Family’s money was clean and the IRS was happy and he did his job well.

In the lower echelons of the family there was a myriad crowd all eager to help the Family and keep their ears. Among the more notable members were Nikhilesh S. Chand and Arkoprobho Ray. At the height of its power, the Family boasted a membership of over thirty members including Joe Peschi.

For years Kaiser Blewzew held the campus at ransom. The fastest cars, the prettiest girls, the largest higher education posters, Swaziland…all were his. But it hadn’t been easy.

Coming soon: Chapter 2: The Unassuming Assassin

Monday, July 04, 2005

Left Foot Trapped in a Sensual Seduction

This post has nothing to do with the title. It's random.

A couple of days ago I was speaking to Dinkim and I inquired about my old friend Blewzew. I was disappointed to learn that Blewzew had not made it to an Ivy League, but was setting himself up for a career in politics in Uttar Pradesh. So ends the reign of one of the most God fearing dons at St. Stephen’s College.

So I decided to pay tribute to the glory days of Kaiser Blewzew and the Family and write:
Blewzew, Mongoloid, Esq.

(Coming soon: Chapter 1: Blewzew Begins.)

Friday, July 01, 2005

"Help! I'm A Rock!"

More music angle...

This week, I returned to the roots of rock and roll with "Mr. Rock and Roll: The Alan Freed Story" with a surpisingly brilliant Judd Nelson as Alan Freed (way better than the crappy jobs he's done before!) and the documentary "Rock and Roll" along with the 1971 Frank Zappa movie "200 Motels".

I first heard about Frank Zappa when Griffin Dune starred in the movie "Parental Advisory" as Zappa. The ending credits of the movie claimed that none of Zappa's albums ever received the "Parental Advisory" label, however, Zappa's "Jazz From Hell", which is an instrumental album, did receive such a label! Anyway, at that time there wasn't any Zappa readily available and School wasn't much of a help... it was ATB and trance all the way there. And so my interest in Zappa slowly faded away.

It was only after I watched a recording of a 1978 Zappa concert at California State University in college that I was interested in Zappa again. Fortunately, James, like most other stoners is a big Zappa fan and leant me most of his collection. With more than 60 albums to his name, there's a lot to go through!

Zappa may not suit everyone's tastes, specially those who prefer coherent, romantic and mushy lyrics of say Backstreet Boys (I was going to put Bryan Adams here but decided against it). Most of my favourite Zappa songs, including the title of this post, have strange undecipherable chants and blabber that remind you of Candarian demonic worship but are undeniably catchy.

Speaking of catchy and undecipherable, nothing beats Tom Waits' "Telephone Call From Istanbul".

Black humor and social satire is another intricate aspect of Zappa's music as is evident from "Why Does it Hurt When I Pee", "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama", "Take Your Clothes of When You Dance", "Help I'm A Rock" and "Uncle Remus" (to name a few).

One of Zappa's songs "Watermelon In Easter Hay" was used for the brilliant 2001 Mexican movie "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (which stars Gael Garcia Bernal of "The Motorcycle Diaries", another good movie), although Zappa had requested that three of his songs, including the one in question, be never used in any other media except in an album. However, his widow (Zappa died in 1993) allowed this exception because she was so moved by the film.


Read out loud...

1) That's not right ----- Sum Ting Wong

2) Are you harbouring a fugitive? ----- Hu Yu Hai Ding

3) See me ASAP ----- Kum Hia Nao

4) Stupid Man ----- Dum Fuk

5) Small Horse ----- Tai Ni Po Ni

6) Did you go to the beach? ----- Wai Yu So Tan

7) I bumped into a coffee table ----- Ai Bang Mai Fa Kin Ni

8) I think you need a face lift ----- Chin Tu Fat

9) It's very dark in here ----- Wao So Dim

10) I thought you were on a diet ----- Wai Yu Mun Ching?

11) This is a tow away zone ----- No Pah King

12) Our meeting is scheduled for next week ----- Wai Yu Kum Nao?

13) Staying out of sight ----- Lei Ying Lo

14) He's cleaning his automobile ----- Wa Shing Ka

15) Your body odour is offensive ----- Yu Stin Ki Pu

16) Great ----- Fa Kin Su Pah

Sounds more like Arnold Swarchenegger's accent in Predator doesn't it?