Oct 5, 2013

5th Oct 2013

I don't even know where to begin.

Looking at the title, one could easily deduce that it is one of those days when the writer's block has a dual with the itch to express the state of mind.

I started watching Elementary last week. And Boston Legal. Add that to the usual Big Bang Theory rerun on TV and the Indian version of 24. It's too much of TV, I must say. After the hectic days at work, this one seems to be one reliable way to divert mind.

Elementary is not as brilliant as Sherlock. But it does entertain to a large extent. I find it hard to admit that I've started liking Luci Liu as Watson. Sometimes some interpretations, however hard to accept, are refreshing.

Boston Legal - well I started this to satiate the hunger of legal drama that has grown manifold after Suits. It lacks Suits' flair and has much more complicated plots. I've already found my favorite character. Looking forward to more of it in coming days.

Enough of TV. Actually I should stop this crap here.

Just before I close, one more last minute thought - Garbage Bean has been giving some rib tickling moments on a regular basis. This comic strip brings back so many of those memories from childhood that we've almost forgotten. Give it a shot, you won't regret.

Sep 22, 2013

Undo Redo

Undo and redo.
Save, delete and recover.

These are some of the greatest gift of this computing and internet age. Iterations ensure that we've less to repent about. If there were some mistakes, there are high likely chances, we can correct our course at a later stage and stay as if nothing had happened.

It's a tricky gift. One would want to have it applied to anything and everything that happens to him/her in this lifetime. Alas, world is not yet fully a digital imagination from the age of Matrix.

For now, I guess the way forward is to learn from the mistake committed and hope it is not repeated.

Aug 31, 2013

You've Got A Mail

It's fun reading through old mails. I'm not talking about the forwards and almost 'spam' mail that we've sent to our circle. I'm talking about those personal mail that we wrote to our friends, well-wishers and some time to even people who we've not even met. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people who write to themselves, otherwise that would been exploration of a different proportion. 

I still have some of those handwritten letters preserved that my parents and friends wrote to me when I was in college. Those were the days of snail mail, greeting cards and demand drafts/cheques. Every mail was awaited with so much anticipation & desperation. Those mails could not be cherished in just one reading. A one pager small letter of sort (or note) also could mean so much happiness. One could see some hidden tears spoiling writing and thus bringing some more in your eyes.

Then came the days of emails and RTGS transfers. Emails are different from snail mails in one very distinguished way - I could never imagine the writer's emotional face popping out at the top left corner. Damn you Bollywood, why did you stop that brilliant special effect from those old days. From a technical point of view, emails are instantaneous. But then waiting for a email is equally frustrating. Interestingly, by this time, sms and yahoo chat had taken over a big share of our expressed views. It brought some more suffering for the impatient types. Worst kind of suffering was when you could see that person you are chatting with is typing something (in case of those online chats) but you are just waiting for the enter or send to be pressed. Those were the days, of thinking a hundred possible answers, reactions and counter reaction to every question that was typed in.

Email has one more peculiar issue - the backspace and delete functionality gives a lot of time for revisiting our views and thus hide that natural response or view that one has. In a snail mail, it meant cutting and thus could not be hidden from reader if the writer was confused or nervous or having a doubt about something.
It hid our handwriting too, and thus the entire focus shifted to spelling mistakes and grammar. If one was methodical in his method, even that could be avoided.

I have found myself changing my writing style over this period, there are more questions than ever, fonts have changed, so is the color and way I sign it off. I guess these are the things that will define our progression in life. One day there will be a science (like those handwriting experts's work) where one will tell things about me by reading my old mails.

Till then... lets just write a couple more mails to record our this stage of life and persona.

Aug 21, 2013

The Barber Shop Project

From that barber shop in the neighborhood to the swanky salon or hair spa center in the mall, life has seen a great change when it comes to getting your hair cut.

In those early days, Papa will take me with him to his regular barber shop and instruct him to cut my hair 'short'. That's it, life was so simple. Those posters of guys in various hairstyles was a thing of fantasy. First achievement for most of us would have come on a day when we got our chance to get a hair cut sitting on the chair and not on that special wooden plank for children. Level one cleared.

Around the same time, Papa decided that I was ready to go for that haircut alone. So here he gave me 4 Rs required for the hair cut, there I went to the same old shop. Life was a little different now. Not that I had a chance to change from the regular "short hair" and try out something cool from that poster on the wall but I was 'independent' now. Level two cleared.

The first big hurdle in this growth process was the first time I took the courage to ask the barber to give me a 'hair style'. Salman Khan had inspired the whole nation by now with his long silky hairs in Maine Pyar Kiya and Ham Aapke Hai Kaun. Of course, that would have required long hairs and our PT Instructor Dagdhi Sir will never allow something like that to feature on anyone's face. Dagdhi Sir's scale was simple, if your hairs can be grabbed in one feastful, you will be dragged by them and sent to the salon (again) for hair cut. So you are safe as long as he is not able to catch your hairs. There went the 'style'! But then the world could not end just like that. So there was a thin line that was negotiated between short and long hair. This could easily go unnoticed if combed like a regular kid, yet get transformed into something very close to Prem's hairdo. Gosh, life was becoming difficult now. We were good as a kid only. By the way, now barber shop gave us one more window to Bollywood with its unlimited supply of Filmfare magzine. Yes there were India Today and Outlook too, but then they were not for us, we decided.

Time passes by, and I learned a great deal or two about stylish hair cuts. One they look good only in pictures and there is more to hair care than applying your regular coconut oil (or Almond Drops for that matter). Yes, even your sister's shampoo is not enough. As if growing up had no other challenges that I had to take up some more around hair care. And so I started settling for the regular 'short' hair cuts. At times the instruction to barber became 'itna chota kar do ki do mahina tak nahi aana pade.... par haan ekdum takla bhi mat kar dena...". I wonder how did he actually comply to this instruction!

Peace could prevail for long though. Those facial hairs started appearing now bringing a new set of challenges. That 'zero machine' was deployed in multiple usage now, it gave one of the quickest haircut and now was a good trimmer too. This temporary arrangement works for quite some time before I decided to take that first plunge and asked the barber to give me a proper 'shave' and clean those baby mustache. Gosh! It was such a dumb choice, I could not see my face myself. But something needs to be done, no matter how apprehensive you are about them. Sooner, papa taught me 'shaving' at home and thus I could save myself from that dangerous weapon in name or razor that barber used. The weekly phenomena of shaving became a regular part of my life for next few years. Barber shop again became the place to get my 'short' hait cut done.

Things are little different now. Shaving everyday is not my cup of tea and thus I resort to delay this task as long as I can (majorly based on client meeting schedule or visits of relatives at my home). Getting shave done at salon is my favorite experience. It's easy, convenient and most importantly gives you a chance to relax. It's one luxury that one can easily afford. My hair cutting regimen went from 'short' to 'spikes' to 'medium' and back to 'short'. I think on that front, I've realized that I've got very little choice. :) Choice of salon is my biggest question. Last few years, I've kept moving from one city to other. So the definition of neighborhood barber shop changed every other month. I guess, this quest will take some more time before I reach a solution.

ps: I do not have any memories from "Italian" shop and "Katora" cut. Thank god. For those uninitiated about these two, here are a quick set of jokes that we shared when we were kid.
Italian cut - a barber shop on  the roadside where the barber makes you seat on an ITA (pronounced as "eat", hindi for brick) and cuts your hair.
Katora cut - the simplest of the style. Barber will put a big katora (round vessle) on your head and cut all hair that are outside. Actually he mostly used a headband tied around your forehead as a reference. The output was very similar to the DORA cut that we see today.

Jul 21, 2013

House of Cards, Game of Thrones & Shiva Trilogy

It's not been long since the season finale of Game of Thrones. I still think about the plot and the characters that this brilliant series from HBO has brought to life. It's about an age that did not exist, still the story is as real as it can be. The fact that it's based on a book that is supposed to be an awesome and gripping read makes it an interesting case for me.

Next came House of Cards, a political drama based on power games that are played in US of America. Kevin Spacey portrays a character that is ambitious and inspiring. He can be cunning and cruel at times, but then in the context of dirty politics, one would not really mind that. I wouldn't know much about politic in USA. But this series has been able to raise my interest in a world that is far away from me. That this series also originates in a novel by the same name makes it second interesting case for me.

And then I saw a movie called The Hunger Games. I wouldn't put in the list of one of the better watch that I've seen in last few years. The plot is very simple and end is just too sudden for the pace at which plot was built. Still, it portrays a world that is still more closer to fantasy than anything. Again, this one is also based on a book by the same name.

History of America is not a very long one. They are not like Roman's who can tell you umpteen stories about their Kings & Queens. Neither that can be like China to boast about an old civilization. They don't even have a mythology as strong and diverse as what we have in India. But still their cinema today has so much to offer compared to most other places. They talk about mythology that did not exist, past that was created purely out of fictional accounts written by a few passionate writers (unfortunately some of those work cannot be even called literature), dream of a future that is as unique and unreal as it could be. It's their courage to take it from literature and make it mainstream. Superman and Batman are their Gods, their story is what every kid grows up listening to. Cinema and TV does more than just entertain the people there. It's creating their past, present and hope for future.

I wonder if we would be able to do something similar here! I grew up reading Chacha Choudhari & Super Command Dhruv. I'm not sure what are the kids of today's generation reading. None of us are reading Mahabharat or Ramayan for sure. What we need in these times is something that mixes all these varied ends together. Shiva trilogy is one brilliant effort in that direction and I cannot wait to see it on silver screen. Unfortunately, I have very little faith in KaJo's motivation in making something worthwhile. Just hoping for the best.

Jul 7, 2013

Ranjhana & Lootera

I would not have seen these movies, if not for Sonam. Ofcourse, I'm referring to meri Sonam and not the 'actor' from Ranjhanaa. Romance as a genre does not entice me much. It's too intense for me. Unrealistic emotions and expectations overcome the fun of watching entertaining cinema. There is no feel good even if the ending is a happy one. Of course, these kind of movies come with some really nice and melodious songs, but then what are ipods and mobile phones for.

Anyways, I did watch these two movies.

Ranjhanaa, ek movie ke daam me do movie hai. Two halfs are as distinct as those 4 stories in Bombay Talkies. Dhanush acts well but has got a uninspiring character to portray. Sonam, well there should not be any expectations from her. And then there is one more wasted part for Abhay Deol. In a time when my Facebook and Twitter TLs are filled with news from AAP, NaMo, RaGa & Digvijay Singh, a plot around college and later mainstream politics was something that raised my interest during the movie. But like Yuva, it was just a means to an end. Abhay comes and goes. What remains is the silly plot of road side romeo chasing his dream-girl. I loved the end though.

Lootera goes a step further in becoming boring. It's pure art, said lots of reviews. I feel these reviews are sole output of PR machinery from the product house and big brands associated with the movie. Movie is a 3 star even before the poster design is released. The love portrayed is beyond my comprehension and pace of the movie did not give me any reason to put effort to understand it. Only positive for me was the beautiful portrayal of post independence period and life and difficulties for Jamindaars then. For sure, I want to read and watch more on that bit. In Ranveer Singh's performance reminds me of Ranbeer Kapoor & Hrithik at times, otherwise he is just ok. Sonakshi, well she hardly spoke. The movie could have easily complete in 70-80 minutes, if they were honest about the plot and content.

Too much critical I'm becoming, I must say. 

Jun 30, 2013

Ghanchakkar, Fukrey & Bhag Milkha Bhag

People who went to watch Ghanchakkar came our really disappointed. Everyone has one common thing to say - its trailer is all the fun and entertainment that this movie has to offer as a whole. I'm not surprised. That's what is happening for most of the movies in recent times. A song or two, a couple of trailers and you know that you are well past what the director feels you are entitled for your share of entertainment.
Luckily I've not seen this movie yet, I would have if I had not been following my twitter/facebook feed closely. And also for the fact that I had been to a movie marathon in newly opened PVR cinema last weekend itself.

I guess Fukrey was a really good watch as it did not promise to offer something but crazy kind-of slapstick comedy. That the music was good and interestingly mixed well in the plot is something of an unexpected gift from the director/producer. It had its lows and highs but overall a good watch, specially if you are watching it with people your age.

I'm looking forward to Bhag Milkha Bhag at this moment. It's music is very catchy, trailer is very catchy and I'm a die-hard fool to have faith in capabilities of some actor directors.

Jun 13, 2013

Disappointed

I'm disappointed with the way whatsapp behaves on my Lumia 800,
and with the increased tariff from Airtel for the broadband that has become a continuous source of entertainment and knowledge,
and with the false alarms that rains are playing in Bangalore,
and with the capsicum bun that I just ate and now feel like puking,
and with the way unread emails keep increasing in my email,
and with the count of todos in my mind,
and with the increasing number of people I've to keep happy,
and with the increasing number of people I've to not make sad,
and with the pace of my learning to become a good driver,
and with the dents that spoil the beauty of my car,
and with the way my photography is improving,
and with the speed at which I've written this blog, or the frequency of posts
and with the fact that this list is never ending.

All I can think of now is this song called Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve.

Cause it's a bittersweet symphony this life.
Trying to make ends meet, trying to find some money then you die.
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah.
No change, I can't change, I can't change, I can't change,
but I'm here in my mold, I am here in my mold.
But I'm a million different people from one day to the next
I can't change my mold, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

May 22, 2013

2 Years and counting...

It's like a fairy tale. She never fails to make me feel so, at least. Every few days she will shoot her favorite dialogue - "tum bahut lucky ho ki mein mili hoon..."
Of course, I deny her the happiness of over enjoying this proud realization every time by saying something or the other. Mera bhi kuch to bhav hona hi chahiye...


But then, deep down I know, she is not incorrect. I'm indeed very lucky. She is a friend, wife and sometime a philosopher too. Most importantly, she is my biggest critic and opponent (on many fronts). She challenges me, to improve and to grow. I, being the lazy ass I am, would have got so easily satisfied from life otherwise. It wouldn't be wrong to put it in more romantic "she completes me".

2 years is not a long time unless these are spent in IIMA doing an MBA with your fiancee was doing MBA in TAPMI. It's not long specially when you've spent it in most amazing manner exploring aate daal ka bhav. From purchase of LCD (or LED) TV to color of the car and hunt from our dream home, there are new deciding factors, consideration angels and urgency elements for every decision in your life. They are new to both of us and thus make it a challenging yet fun activity everytime we face them.

There are many more such joys await us as we enter this third year of our marriage. I'm confident that they will be bigger, better and each one more fun than the earlier ones. That's the comforting fact of life. I say this directly from my heart as Sonam has made me believe so.

It's like a fairy tale. See I told you so.

May 14, 2013

Peace Time

I wrote most of my post in that first hour in office during my Lucent/Juniper times. I guess my punctuality made me one of the early birdies in the office thus giving me my sweet little peace time. It was a nice time to reflect on things around as nobody was around to disturb the chain of thoughts.

This scenario changed in Ahmedabad when the free time became a luxury. Howmuchever I try to think what made me stop writing regularly, I cannot pinpoint any particular reason (including studies and class work).

Later in Nokia days, morning time was the critical most hour of the day to plan for rest of the day (and be prepared for the daily sales call) and thus my writing schedules (however few they were) tended to shift towards evening. Same trend continues in Zovi now and I write this at 7pm in the evening waiting for Sonam to come.

[Finally posted at 9am the next day]

May 12, 2013

Bombay Talkies - (Rating - 2/5)

I'm not sure why I seem to be the only one getting very disappointed by this movie. If four totally detached stories were not enough, the last song with all film stars made it my worst investment in Hindi cinema in last few months. No doubt at least two stories are very good in themselves, but then I don't see a reason why they couldn't be a part of series of episodes on Hindi Cinena. I remember a couple of tv series on star plus and zee in early 2000 (Star Bestsellers & Phurjhari) essentially made for such things. How could this movie be a attribute to Hindi Cinema?

And yes, the song at the end made me feel like I had just watching Star Parivar event. Ridiculed to the core!

May 6, 2013

Walking Tours


Sandemans New Europe free walking tours was our first date with guided sightseeing of a city by walking. They were informative as well as fun. Our guides were young, enthusiastic, talented and most importantly very good storytellers. They knew their stuff really well (at least that's what we believed after spending the day sightseeing with them). They gave us innumerable stories to keep our day interesting. They laughed, ate, drank and danced with us. In the end, this is all that mattered for novice travelers like us who were in a hurry to explore the whole Europe in less than a trimester's time.
And if I tell you now that those tours were free, then it becomes a wow! We could tip the guide at the end of the tour or just walk away having spent a memorable day with a crazy set of people roaming in streets of an unknown city.

Can something like this be done in India? Ok let us leave the free part, can we still make a paid walking tour of our cities? Ofcourse, there are some such activities available in cities like Bangalore & Mumbai. But I want to see them in even smaller cities, towns & other tourist attractions. They should not be expensive so as to not lose its charm for students and travelers on shoestring budgets. And most importantly, they should provide an offering filled with a unique & memorable experience pertinent to the local culture.

I would be making my list of suggest walking tour plan of some cities (Indore, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Mumbai) for sure. Anyone interested in joining hands with me? Or working to develop this idea? My initial idea is to generate content, travel plans (directions, maps, point of interests and tidbits around it) to be made available online (tripadvisor, blog etc) so as to make the DIY guide for travelers. If interested, comment below or connect with me at jain.pritesh@gmail.com

May 5, 2013

Souvenir Saga


We could have got these made anywhere in the world! There is nothing unique about these, nor are they specific to any geography. Still, whenever I will see them, I will remember the amazing time I spent in Krabi's Walking Street. That's the magic of good souvenirs.

Sonam and I are not the biggest of souvenir hunters, still we like to capture our memories in our own unique way. If my Eurotrip collection is a fun-filled collection of my memories captured during the exchange program, Langkawi collection goes a little further and helped capture those honeymoon days beautifully. Each and every item in our collection has a story to tell. It's a story of their origin, the place they were created, the people who made them, thoughts that went through our heads when we were there at those places and everything connected to those memories captured at those precise locations, times & people. The story is as much their as it is ours. It's a brilliant way to relive those moments.

We love our trips abroad for one simple reason - they have lots of new and creative souvenirs to sell. Every city has it's unique style and charm, so does the souvenirs that are sold there. Somehow in India, the souvenirs fail to capture the charm of our cities. We are selling the same old (or same new cheap factory manufactured artefacts) at most of our tourist attractions. There is nothing unique about them, nothing which will make us remember something about our times at those places. Our arts and crafts are not lesser to those in any part of the world, our artists are the best of the lot - still we have nothing to share. Forget those Cauvery emporiums & likes which are selling arts that are meant for those with heavy purses. We need those small little shops at every nook and corner of our cities selling unique memories. Memories that are not impersonal.

One thing that has inspired me from my times in Krabi & Bangkok is that personalization is the way to go. It's simple and can be a good display of our creative side. Moreover, it connects to anyone faster than any other way. I still feel so happy when I think of the moment I first saw my first iPod with my name engraved on it. The keychains bought in Krabi will have a similar effect whenever I will see them.

These are small things that  can make a lot of impact. These are our little mementos of joy.

Bangkok Krabi & Back

It's going to be a post consisting of some random observations/thoughts from the recent trip to Bangkok & Krabi. Randomness of these is a testimony of the amazing time I've spent in last one week.

1. Iphone iphone all along, no Nokia to be seen - they are using iphones, in all possible colors and forms (actually more than what apple has designed and dreamt of designing). Samsung must be the close second. They are using it continuously, chatting, playing games, taking pictures and occasionally talking. Where is Nokia? Well it's sold, and good number for sure. Most of the drivers, tour operators I met were using it. No Lumia, no asha - I wonder where is Nokia heading!

2. Ipads and Tabs are the way to go - people are using them in restaurants, trains, hotel lobby, on the beach, near the swimming pool and any other place you can imagine. They are taking photos using it at every tourist spot. Who says 42 MP cameras are the way to go! Give them just a couple of megapixels and people are just going crazy clicking photos.

3. Local markets are the places to go - they are lively, fun and cheap. You will meet crazy people, see and eat wild things and ofcourse shop for quirky stuff. Most importantly, you will see the life in as real as it can get. We had superb time in Krabi walk street. I wonder why we have forgotten all our local markets and resolved to have Mall as tourist attraction. 

4. I me myself - People in thailand like to click themselves a lot and I'm sure self-portraits in all possible poses must be filling the GBs of memory their mobile phones/ipads offer.

5. A city is a city after all - BKK is a metropolitan. It's building itself for the tourism and has accomplished good enough in doing so. Still it's a city in the end. So if you are on a short trip, better have your days planned well. A crazy weather, the distances and all the crowd will kill lot of your enthusiasm otherwise.

6. A good meal is worth all the pain - as long as you are able to eat one good meal in the day, you are guaranteed to get a fun-filled day. An empty stomach can become a spoilsport in no time.

7. Souvenir shopping is about getting the best experience and not the best deal - if you like it, if you feel you want to preserve some memory - just go for it. You might get a better deal later but then there are chances that you might not get it at all later. Don't bother much in saving those couple of Rupees.

more to be added soon...

Mar 21, 2013

Jolly LLB

Jolly LLB is a half cooked narration of David v/s Goliath in India's legal corridors. While the starcast include Boman Irani and Arshad Varsi, the characters appear to have come from Madhur Bhandarkar's cinema. They are funny, they are proud, sometime rude too - but never realistic and always over the top. The protagonist itself is a stereotypical confused Indian underdog who gets his sense of responsibility towards the society in middle of nowhere. In one scene he is enjoying the gift of his sweet little thing called bribe, in other he gives it back with return gift of junglee rats. Why rats? I'm sure even the director will not be able to answer that. Arshad Varsi looked old, rusty and out of touch with his usual comic sense. I feel Circuit had a stronger persona inspite of being the second fiddle to the mighty Munnabhai. Boman Irani is the all-too-powerful lawyer who just knows one thing - to win cases. He is loud, arrogant and bad. But he is not a villain. He lacks a persona that will make me respect him. For some random reason, he is like those villains of South India movies, whose only job is to bring some smiles with slapstickic comical scenes and then get killed in hands of the almighty hero (rowdy rathore, singham type villains)
I wish this movie had offered some interesting plot & dared to think beyond the obvious.

PS: My expectations from this legal drama could have been high after those sleepless night of watching SUITS. However, I still stand by view that this movie is just mediocre.