Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Everything seems normal
In fact better than normal..
on the surface
But i know
it is nothing but
controlled madness
suppressed fury
A bubble
waiting to burst..
An overheated wire
waiting to fuse
it's just
a matter of time

And no
it's no poem
but my thoughts
getting broken
between those 'short breaks'

Sunday, August 26, 2007

On my reading platter

Thanks to my three day holiday at work, I managed to finish Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' yesterday and start Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye'. The work schedule had been crazy past couple of weeks otherwise I had planned to finish Of mice and men in a single sitting.

I have been on a book-buying spree last couple of months and have gathered quite a few books that I had always wanted to read. I have enough books to keep me busy for the next 2 months at least. Next on my reading list is Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 'Love in the Time of Cholera' followed by either Orwell's 1984 or P Sainath's 'Everybody Loves a Good Drought'. I need to buy Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath' next as I had borrowed it from Renuka and only half-finished it in Charlotte before returning to India. Nothing hurts more than a half-finished book ..

And I hate to stack the books on my table (the way I have done right now) or for that matter tuck them away in cupboards or cartons. That's why the only furniture I have made mandatory for my room when we move into our new home later this year - is a huge bookshelf. And I have already started planning which book would fit where :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Real Heroes

The thought had crossed my mind several times during the past few weeks. Once when I saw on TV news the report about Colonel Vasanth laying down his life in Kashmir while fighting against insurgents from across the border. Again when crossing the the cantonment area around MG Road in Bangalore on a Saturday evening I saw two very young army jawans standing guard at an army building and longingly looking out at the weekend crowd in flashy cars and fashionable outfits. There was an article in the newspaper few days ago that the defence services in India are running very short of manpower. And why not, how many of us would leave our cushy, high-paying jobs and be ready to face hardships of the battlefield, where one wrong decision costs a life - either your own or someone else's?

There was a media frenzy to capture glimpses of Sanjay Dutt after his sentencing and news channels/papers were dishing out stories about his lucky kurta, his entire life history (including various marriages/affairs), how great he is as a person. There was also a national debate on one of the news channels to discuss if the sentencing was too harsh on him because he was a celebrity! We were so engrossed in reading/watching about this reel-hero that we hardly paid any attention to the real hero who did a great deed of sacrificing his life for his country. But all he got was a 15 second mention in the news or a 4x4 inch mention in newspapers.

There was a very thought-provoking article on Bangalore Metroblog from someone who knew Colonel Vasanth closely. Isn't it time we move on from worshipping screen gods & goddesses and start doing something for the real heroes of our country?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Celebrating Independence Day

India celebrates 60 years of Independence in two days from now. There are loads of 'Independence day' sales, music concerts, roadshows .. even special DJ events happening across the city celebrate this event! This brings me to think what Independence Day really means to us?

I remember when we were in school (KV, to be precise), Independence Day celebrations used to be such a big event. We used to look forward to this day and start preparing for it 2-3 weeks in advance - patriotic speeches, cultural events (patriotic songs, folk dances - the works!). Hoisting of the tricolour followed by singing of the national anthem used to fill our hearts with pride. We used to feel fortunate to be part of such a great nation. At home , we used to put a tricolour on the rooftop, watch 'Gandhi' or some other patriotic movie on DD (that used to be the only channel in those days). My mother used to get emotionally charged each time we saw Gandhi and used to sadly remark - so many people laid down their lives for our country and what have we done to it. If those people were alive today, they would be so ashamed of us.
To most of us, Independence Day today means another holiday on which we can get up late, go out for movie or shopping (there are so many special sales any way), hang out with friends. Do just about anything without even sparing a second thought about our country, the people who gave up their lives so that we could live in a free nation. It all seems to us like another time .. another era. One TV channel (I think it was MTV) was showing a a programme last year where they were getting hold of some youths in a shopping mall/multiplex theatre and asking them some very simple questions about our country (like what is our national anthem, who was the first prime minister/president etc) and to my horror most of the people did not know answers to these questions!!

A great article by Amit Varma on changing face of India and meaning of Independence Day in today's context which voice similar sentiments in far better way than I ever could - The Republic of Apathy.
In today's India, we always need a Munnabhai or an RDB (or more recently, Chak de India) to teach us the meaning of patriotism ...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Animal Farm - by Orwell

I just finished reading George Orwell's Animal Farm. It was a brilliant piece of writing, one of the best that I have managed to lay my hands on in recent times. It was a poignant satire on rise and fall of communism depicted through the lives of animals inhabiting a farm in an English countryside. The concept of communism in its true sense is great - with equality for everyone being its core principle. But how it fails in implementation such that in the end it is hard to tell friends from enemies and people fail to distinguish if they were more miserable before or after embracing communism ('Animalism' in the book).

The book is full of symbolism - each character depicts someone/something (primarily in the context of USSR). A brief description of Animal Farm symbolism/interpretation can be found here. The author brilliantly portrays the dissolution of principles - from the seven commandments changing over time as per the convenience of the so-called leaders. 'No animal shall sleep in a bed' becoming 'No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets', 'No animal shall drink alcohol' to 'No animal shall drink alcohol in excess' and 'No animal shall kill another animal' becoming 'No animal shall kill another animal without cause'. And in the end it is replaced by one single profound all-encompassing commandment "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others".

Friday, August 10, 2007

Some Good Films

I have been watching some good movies in the past week or so, most of which have been on my to-watch list for a long time. First it was Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan'. I had given up watching war movies for a while, but this movie got me totally moved. There are some touching moments in the movie - like when Ryan tells Capt Miller how he is not able to remember his brothers' faces (who all have died in the war) and then bursts out laughing when he narrates a funny incident about him and his brothers to him.

Then it was 'Phir Milenge' - a film loosely inspired by Philadelphia. It is a film about AIDS awareness shown in a sensitive and sensible manner without being preachy. Something urban youth can easily relate to. Another movie after 'Life in a Metro' in which I have liked Shilpa Shetty. And since the film was shot in Bangalore, there was this familiarity quotient.

And just now I finished watching 'Rain Man'. Had watched it in bits and pieces earlier and had an idea of the storyline. but watching the whole film was a different experience altogether. The transformation of Tom Cruise's character Charlie from a selfish money-hungry character to a caring brother is depicted very well. And Dustin Hoffman is superb in the character of autistic-genius Raymond. A funny thought came to me in the last scene of the film where Raymond leaves Charlie boards a train and the train passes - I thought had it been a regular Bollywood movie, Raymond would have been standing after the train passed with a big smile on his face. But thankfully no such thing happened in Rain Man ..

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

If God was a Banker

I finished reading 'If God was a Banker' by Ravi Subramanian today. I had been reading this book for a while now - few weeks, that is, ever since I finished reading the extremely well-written 'The Kite Runner'. I think I will write a full-fledged review of The Kite Runner some time soon.

It took me unusually long to finish If God... Partly because of lack of time in the past few weeks and partly because the book failed to grab my attention/interest for over an hour at a stretch. Today I made a resolve to finish it as I needed to start George Orwell's Animal Farm. If God .. is a forgettable kind of book - a fiction about the professional and personal lives of young and ambitious bankers working for multi-national banks in India. The writer himself is a banker and his characters & storyline are pretty much reflections of his own life. In fact Vandu & CD, who know the author personally, say that Subramanian has portrayed himslef as the all-good-no-evil character of Swami and another of his peers is the 'inspiration' for the other protagonist smart-but-slimy Sundeep.

The author goes on an on about the nitty-gritties of sales in banking industry, describing each selling campaign & business operation in great detail. This may appeal to someone from the industry, but to an outsider (like me), it's nothing but boring stuff. And when he is not writing about banking/sales, he is writing sleaze. It seemed to me that I was reading a Shobha De piece with some banking jargon thrown in. The point where Subramanian scores is the narrative - it is simple and the conversations are very real.

But overall, this book can be better left unread and that wouldn't be any loss at all!