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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

Tales From The (Father) Hood... (Part Two)

Monday, April 28, 2014
  • Somewhere immediately after the first birthday, there’s a cruel switch which gets flipped to turn your adorable moppet into a cranky, howling little bundle of fuss. It makes you wonder whether it’s the same pliant imp from exactly a week ago.
  • Immediately after said switch toggle, said moppets can also morph into little baby vampires – biting every inch of exposed skin they see, especially when they feel a surge of happiness or love. And they make no bones about loving it and persisting with it, till your thin, wasted forearms are covered with little puncture marks. Dracula ki Mohabbat? Yep. (Another one of Andaz Apna Apna’s subversive gems, if you will. It’s right up there with – “Tum to bade woh ho…  Woh?!!! Woh main hoon.”)
  •  It is supremely cute, and ironic in the same breath – that the only ‘children’s song’ worth your kid’s time even today might be ‘Lakdi ki kaati’ from Masoom. Which was 30 years ago. Gulzaar sahab’s stream of consciousness stuff starts to eat away at your soul however – when kiddo wants to watch the damn thing 26 hours a day. Eyes glazed from the over-cuteness – you start noticing Urmila’s over-acting tendencies surface even back then, all the while fomenting a special type of hatred for this song. Breathing can get difficult. (Also, add one more to my list of bouncer Gulzar songs – given that most of his stuff can be ‘out of syllabus’ for me. This is no exception…)
  • Remember how cute meal times were? When they wanted to play with their food, and you found it incredibly cherubic? Not so fast, not so fast. With time, baby wants to play with YOUR food, and how. No plate left behind. Also, the amount of stuff smeared on to YOUR clothes is now exponentially larger, causing your monthly detergent budget to overrun on 'Name-Any-Mumbai-Infrastructure-Project’ levels.
  • Communication is not a one way street now. There’s a lot more call-response kinda fun to be had. The biggest relief? Is when your father-of-man can begin to tell you exactly what’s needed to be done, and also, what has been done. Something as simple as pointing out water or food when needed, is comparable to the relief you feel when you get to watch 15 minutes of uninterrupted TV after attaining parenthood. Makes 50% of the job easier, when contrasted to the below Standard Operating Procedure in response to assorted caterwauling.
       a.    Offer water
       b.    Offer food
       c.    Offer milk
       d.    Pinch stomach to check for gas or colic
       e.    Check diaper for ‘treasure deposits’
       f.    Rinse
       g.    Repeat
  • While we are on communication - beware of cuss words. Baby vampires are also proper popats, with uncontrollable propensities to greet istri-waalas with ‘Chu***a’ or ‘Pakau’ – depending on your last references to said party. (Especially when they charge you 4 bucks per item and insist on giving you three different crease marks per trouser in return. Classic third world problem by way of first world. I know. But still.)
  • Behold the hinterlands of youtube – where the sheer amount of bad acid trips that pass for nursery rhyme videos are scarier than running out of diapers at 1 am. For example – this. Which births troubling questions like
       a. Guy in red shoes + hammer in hand + three little kids on a horse + same           room = downright creepy.
       b. Why is another fine gentleman doing the bhangra only during “Tak bak,             Tak bak”?
       c. Why is that damn dog so happy?
       d. Is that a barber, or is that a French chef?
  • Toys are meant to be tossed aside across the room. Just like every curtain needs to be swung from, and every door to every cupboard needs to be opened exactly like Amitabh in Zanjeer, kicking the devil out of every piece of furniture.
  • You begin to start to lose it – just a little. Especially when baby decides to give you a chamaat (Pro tip - they hurt) whenever they feel like it, especially in front of an audience. Takes superhuman self-awareness and true mastery over your reptilian brain, to avoid hitting back.
  • It takes a herculean effort as a couple to have a square meal together. So much so, that you will gladly watch even ‘2 States’ - if it means going out on a movie date. You learn to be very very non-picky about these things...
  • Running behind a runny nose in human form, with kerchief in hand slowly becomes part of your muscle memory.
  • If you ever wanted to know what an eel farmer goes through, take a ride with a 15 month old on your lap in the backseat of a car. It is emotionally, physically and spiritually draining. The knockout blow when you are already on your knees, begging for mercy from the Heavens above? You have to blast ‘Lakdi ki kaati’ there too, to broker peace.
  • Baby going off to sleep on your shoulder = bliss. Especially when you both are exhausted from generally monkeying around the whole day. Baby suddenly goes quiet, rubs eyes, seeks you out, hops on board and finds a comfortable nook on your shoulder. Some squirming and pinching of your arms later, there’s some regulated breathing. For both of you. A you, who will sit there – irrespective of the red-hot pins and needles slowly clawing through your arm – as the afternoon sun wafts through the drawn curtains. Just to keep listening to the rhythm of baby’s breath, the rhythm of your own happiness. Indeed.


posted by Tapan at 10:10 PM

Tales From The (Father) Hood... (Part One)

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Dear (occasional) reader,

Just in case you didn't know – I am a father now, worth around 10 months of experience.

With that out of the way… let’s…

Hark! Forsooth! Did I hear someone say “Learnings?!”

Ye be in luck, for some choice ones follow…
  • Gynaecologists' waiting rooms are perfect to catch up on essential life skills like baby-poster-staring, (own) fingernail health inspections, bladder control (expert level), cord blood bank brochure reading, and of course, accurately counting out dineros by the kg. Also, you slowly realize that It is perfectly OK to read ‘What to expect when you’re expecting?’ – really. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
  • The actual delivery of the baby? All a blur, all a blur. You plan, you panic, you learn to pray. And then, you get your own, you know, kid. After the most intensely scary waiting period in your life ever. (The only thing that will remotely ever come close to this later, is when the missus pops into a changing room three months down the road, and wonders (aloud) whether "she is looking toooo fat in this..."?) Just as you wonder how to come to terms with this supremely wrinkled little thing fresh out of the delivery room you now call you know… yours, comes the take it home bit. 
  • Home, which will never be the same again. A microcosm of your own life, in short. Saying good bye to all forms of retentive, ‘Everything… in its right place’ kinda behaviour is the only way out. You have seen the end of orderliness as you know it. Resistance is futile…
  • The first hint of a smile, of being able to express joy for the very first time – is simply a beautiful thing to behold, capable of making the strongest cynics melt a little. You keep marvelling at natural instinct. And never stop at the wonders of natural programming.
  • Baby speak, they said. Hell no, I won’t do that, he said. Not on my life, he said. It’s just stupid, he said. Till the first time he tried speaking to his one in an adult tone.  And that’s when he realized that he had utter, complete communication breakdown. Baby howled, he did too. Till he lost all propriety, and cooed and talked utter nonsense. The results were amazing. He was rewarded with the time of the day. And going forward, smiles which were proportional to the ridiculousness of his speech content. (True story, happened to a friend of mine…)
  • If you ever pride yourself on your ‘Hulk – smash!’ routines when woken up from the supremely sexy embraces of REM 5, be prepared to be humbled as badly as the Indian cricket team whenever it travels abroad.  Learn to adapt. Embrace the pain. There’s no sleep till playschool.
  • Baby clothes are a LOT smarter these days – remember those ‘H A P P Y’ t-shirts with four balloons and brown corduroy trousers which were the epitome of fashion when you were a kid? Well, well, while you were growing up, the world moved on to brands offering sweatshirts, singlets, coloured denim, cargos, v-necked tees for kids. All of them costing as much, or much more than what you wear even now. Also, you might even begin to realize why in your childhood, baba/baby always got two sizes bada clothes. Just about…
  • Meal times – are a glorious, glorious mess. Especially if they involve mashed stuff of any sort. Because for baby, mashed stuff is as much meant to be languorously, joyously played with, as it is to be actually consumed. You shout a couple of times, and then join in on the fun. Till you are both covered in pasty food, and are grinning gloriously like prime idiots. Much happiness.
  • Baby nails, are as tough as well… nails. Now to fully understand, just present your face real close to the subject. At first, there are a couple of sweet strokes and pats on your cheek, which make you go awwww... and then comes that Ninja swipe. Much blood can be actually shed, with some choice cursing from self (on mute). A couple of such incidents later, boy, are you are ready to trim those fingernails every day if need be... 
  • The baby grip can be surprisingly strong. Enough to topple half full buckets of water, give you nasty blood clots and bruises when pinched, and also almost rip off your nasal septum in an extremely smoov move when you get too close.
  • Only when you go to buy toys, is when you realize how pervasive Chinese manufacturing actually is. Gone are those quintessentially ‘Indian’ toys you grew up with. What you have instead are majorly battery operated contraptions with ghastly, tuneless songs - all in Mandarin. Some of these morph into proper earworms, and have a funny habit of burrowing themselves into a fold in your brain, slapping you awake in the stillest of nights. Rendered helpless thus, you start retrofitting Hindi lyrics on to those tunes to fall asleep before the next duty call. The horror...
  • For sheer entertainment value though, the finest that China has to offer, however ain’t got nothin’ on the followin’
    • The friendly household broom – the dustier, the better.
    • All sorts of shoes and slippers – again, the dirtier the better
    • Dust bins
    • The bucket of incrementally dirty water generated while swabbing floors
    • Spectacles
  • The Baby Product industry is a fantastic joke of our times – with products from febrile minds like
    • 'Sterilizers for feeding bottles' which you know, boil water
    • Audio Visual projectors – which are supposed to beam soothing montages on ceilings. The catch? The music is in (you guessed it), and actually awakens babies to a peak state of activity. So much for ‘make slumberful boby for magical night’.
    • Toothbrushes for babies with one tooth, two teeth, three… and so forth.
    • Snot suction devices for month-olds.
       Da Fuq? Word.
  • Crawling speeds are always faster than you estimate. Just when you think your lazy ass has a minute more to loll on the couch before baby gets to the nearest subject of havoc, is when you are beaten to it. And reach the scene late, just like that Bollywood cop cliché.
  • Babies are generally just happy to wake up, eat, crawl – basically just be. Which is something that we forget pretty quickly – when was the last time you really smiled at someone first thing out of the bed?            
  • No one said parenting was going to be easy. Hell it ain’t. In the same breath though, Hell? It ain’t. It ain’t...



posted by Tapan at 11:03 AM

Alibag - Redux

Thursday, May 03, 2012
Some observations from a recent trip to good old Alibag.

1) Staying in a slightly more upmarket accommodation can be very very jarring. Given that you always went there during college times/early earning days on shoestring budgets, renting local houses by the beach. 

Which meant 
  • Staying 8-10 in a room. 
  • No AC. No TV. Heck, no electricity too, for the better part of the day.
  • Fixed usal-chappati-rice meals per day. 
  • Bhurji Pav and Gola on the beach, when you felt particularly rich. 
  • One small Sintex tank of water per day for all abolutions. Which would not really suffice for particularly finicky guys who would wash their undies luxuriously, using up half the tank, at the expense of four pungently smelly dudes.
Better amenities somehow seem very incongruous with the experience, given how frequently you would have visited this place if you are a Mumbaikar. Takes a little getting used to, since the rustic charm is very hard to wear off.

2) Getting there by ferry is very very cool - and a very good reminder that Mumbai has a waterway which is a nice thing to behold. With a ferry every half an hour from the Gateway of India to Mandwa, and the ticket price including a (packed) bus ride from Mandwa jetty to Alibag's main bus stand - quite a good way to travel, wot? (Tip - run like Gump as soon as you get down from the ferry at Mandwa jetty, to ensure that you get seats on the said bus.)

3) Even cooler, is feeding some seagulls along the way. 

Now, they start squawking as soon as the  catamaran leaves port - and what they really want, takes quite some figuring out. But married men should have no problem at all here. They need (you guessed it) - Kurkure! Throwing these at them, and watching them pull off stunning mid-air catches kind of makes you feel you are in a National Geographic special. Which is a welcome change from the dreary  waters that we have to cross - and the overall lack of anything to watch - neither port nor starboard-side. Using this Kurkure unit of measurement, Mandwa is roughly a packet and a half (give or take that 20% extra) from the Gateway.

4) Pulling up grandly at a hotel reception in a rickety rickshaw called 'Rani' is one thing you should really do at least once in your lifetime. Beautiful. 

5) The one thing that simply doesn't change is the relentless Alibag heat - which continues to bake you, every chance it gets, irrespective of where you stay. The Alibag tan is really gratis. You get it even if you don't want it.

6) Beaches like Nagaon have moved with the times - from exactly two stalls - [one gola, one Bhurji Pav] to a virtually endless line of shops selling everything from Ronaldo and Stone Cold tees, to Maggi, cigarettes, Chaines food and of course, Kurkure.

7) The sunsets are still as gorgeous as ever.




8) There are water sports options available now. You do wish the waters were a little more inviting though. Or maybe, the adventure is in tolerating that nice, itchy feeling after braving said waters. 

9) Glimpses of the good life now include a family of four with dog, hopping on to a private yacht with uniformed staff waiting with cold towels and beer on-board, at Mandwa. Making people who yelled at them for 'breaking the line' for the ferry back to Mumbai look really intelligent.

On one of those budget trips of yore, a classmate had the nerve to ask the Gola guy whether he used mineral water in his preparations. Which had kind of become a running joke hounding him all his life. Till now that is, when I broke it to him that he WILL find it now in Alibag. Easily.

posted by Tapan at 7:53 PM

A Farewell To Agrawal's - In all Earnest

Saturday, January 01, 2011
Today's paper read like the proverbial morning cuppa. Only this time, it was strong enough to jolt self out of years of blogging slumber.

Well, you know this has to special right?









Agrawal's Classes (Ideal for Scholars) is downing shutters.

Big deal you might say, if you're not from these parts. But for any Mumbai Science HSC student, there is a lot of context here. Especially if you were lucky enough to have got an admit into the hallowed portals of 1st floor, Harganga Mahal. Oh, in case I didn't make it really clear, you got an admit, you just didn't enrol by throwing money. Right. There was a CUT-OFF to get ADMISSION here. A 'COACHING CLASS'. (Show me any other place which had the cojones to do that, and I will convince you that Mumbai has gone to the dogs. Wait, do I need to...?)

The SSC Marksheet - Science+Maths total - would determine whether you were good enough to enrol here. I remember rushing for an Agrawal's admit immediately after my SSC results were out, and then worrying about which Junior college to go to. The joy on dear Mother's face was of Nirupa Roy proportions on learning that I had made the grade by one mark. "You have made us proud, and our struggle was worth it", et al.(If this sounds too melo, well, she had the habit of subtly pointing to the neon logo, whenever we would pass by Dadar TT, ever since I was one.)

All in all, a very smart business model by the man. If you take the cream of a city's students, and subject them to a really bitchin', bad-ass boot camp, you are bound to top the HSC lists too. Which really gives their proclamation that 'Top ranking students almost always come from Agrawal's classes' a very very smug sheen indeed.

By the time I was in, Agru's offered only vacation batches - where we had to wolf down the entire HSC syllabus, in a generous 3 month period. This led to discovering areas about self that one didn't ever know - prime fact being that the human brain is incapable of concentrating on Limits and Calculus after half an hour. This is where the seeds of that seminal life skill called Zoning Out were sown. Probably the single biggest thing I have taken away from Agru's and used in Life. Which is saying a lot.

Agru's weekly tests would be exercises in the worst kind of sadism possible, with questions airlifted from IIT JEE levels. There would be just one question related to what was taught in class, and all the rest were barbed wire underwear masquerading as 'Application of Knowledge'. Prime Example? Physics 2 - "Why do farmers plough their fields in winter, and not in summer?" (This still sticks, after more than a decade. The trauma.)

Held in IES Dadar, with a marriage unfurling outside your classroom, what with (Shrikhand+Puri+Batata Bhaji) fumes creeping up your nostrils, shehnai white noise, and you cooped in Fourth Standard benches, it was barely enough to just write your name and roll number without wincing, leave alone answer gems like the above.

To pile on the joyousness of it all, there was a mandatory half an hour minimum period to be spent in the classroom, irrespective of whether you wanted to write past the first question or not. Which in my case, was 11 times out of 10.

The sheer evil genius of this whole show, was manifested in the Report Cards. Which arrived by good old Indian Post, for your parents to admire and cherish. More so, when they had the highest scores, the average score, and your ward's score, all neatly laid out, with mug shots of the toppers. Was something I really looked forward to.

Agru's had a great selection of profs, ranging from the pits to absolute stud-boys, and everything in between. You couldn't get a better deal though, for the price you paid. Their entire fees would cover one subject's tuition fees for 'Private' (sic). Individual attention be damned. Some real dudes who taught there who still trigger unbearable nostalgia attacks are

  • Prof Babu ("LimtuponLimitSumofLimitCompleteIt!!!!!")
  • Prof Vengsarkar ("IIT Question... very popular question, give it some thought.")
  • Prof Awatramani ("You are my students... How CAN you fail?!")
  • Prof Kadali ("Hello Hello Alkane, Dihalo Alkane")
  • Prof Kulkarni ("In general...")
  • Prof Dhir Singh ("Yes please")

D Damodar functioned as the un-official canteen for Agru's, and a couple of samosas a day, served as the highlight, where you could commiserate with other wounded fellow men, marvelling at the pincer attacks of the subjects before and after.

Agru's peons were the friendliest people on earth, and had sweeping executive powers to make you stand outside as punishment, in case you were late for the lectures. Their word was final. Even friendlier were the sari shop owners just below the building, who would shoo us away like cattle, if we blocked their display windows while waiting to be let up. Evidently, they lost crores in five minutes. Heartwarming.

Agru's memories are something which will stay with me for a long time, and ironically outlive Agru's itself. It is sad to see them wind up, and it is like one part of your life which you thought would be there for ever. Fact of the matter is, that nothing ever is.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

posted by Tapan at 1:12 PM

The Sawatdee Digest

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Some lessons learnt from a week in Thailand

--> Leaving your slippers outside a temple doesn't have to be a panic-attack inducing affair. There are no hustlers outside offering to look after your precious 'paadukas'. You leave them in stands (free!) and you come back to find them exactly where you left them.

--> Tiger cubs are not as adorable and docile as you think they are. They momentarily fool you into "Awww... they are just like kittens" mode. Till they roar, and try to swipe your epidermis off. And then shoot you another baleful look.

--> Carrying army rations of Gujju savouries just-in-case, is not worth it. There are tons of desi restaurants almost everywhere you go. With passable food.

--> An omelette is not necessarily always flat.

--> If it looks like a pea, and it's a Thai curry, it's probably not a good idea to shovel spoonfuls of them into your mouth.

--> Singha beer totally rocks. Till you try Singha Lite. Countless bottles of which later, there's no rocking, just spinning.

--> If the board says it's a massage parlour, and if the building is huge-ass and posh, and if the crowd going in and shooting you quizzical looks (since you are with the Missus) is all male, then there's a very good chance that the place is not as wholesome as it seems. Think this.

--> The night life in Pattaya is a total piranha like assault on your senses. You think you have a handle on what it might be like before going in, but nothing prepares you for what lurks there, on Walking Street. All I can say is the words 'boom boom', 'ping pong' and 'Russian ballet' will never be the same for me anymore.

--> Getting currency exchanged after a trip down forementioned Walking Street is not a good idea. You will keep smiling, even though the exchange rate sucks. And even after the lady has warned you twice before handing you the forex.

--> Thai guides and vendors surprise you with their Hindi. "Chaaalo!", "Teen shau paachaash baht!", "Naariyal paani!". Till they sucker punch you with their Marathi. "Chalaa! Chalaa! Kaka, Kaki!" (not too good, if you still harbour visions of youth for self), "Basa!", "Utha!". Mere watan ki saundhi saundhi khusboo and all that.

--> Having seen Ong-bak (highly recommended) and Prig-Kee-Noo (Ditto. Had seen this way back on MTV when I was in school) are great ice-breakers.

--> While shopping, it is a good idea to just pay up, if the price seems fair enough. Bargaining to reduce already basement bargain rates will cause those welcoming smiles to vanish like breath on a razor blade. And invite some really warm treatment. Like quoting 10 times the price suddenly, and asking you to go and die if you cannot afford to buy it.

--> Traffic can be bearable, if no one honks. And especially if the driver comes extremely well prepared with an ice-box cooler full of water and Coke, and a couple of newspapers. When faced with a long wait, swig some cola, read the papers, and move when everybody does. No melodrama, no cardiacs. The no honking policy also applies to vehicles behind cabbies who are negotiating fares, and the signal is full chalu. Respect.

--> There is a universe (called Bangkok), where a taxi ride (for an AC Toyota Corolla, 6 people) is cheaper than an autorickshaw one.

--> It is a pleasant surprise not to be harassed majorly (negligible by Mumbai standards) by 'friends' outside airports, hotels and touristy places. It hits home even harder, when there are prominent signs all over Mumbai airport arrival, asking you to say 'NO' to touts.

--> God bless digital cameras. Coming back and marvelling at the sheer number of redundant photos of the same thing you have clicked, makes you feel decadent on an almost Roman-emperor-before-it-all-crashed level. Or like an IT professional in 2007.

--> Saying thank you and please so often starts to grate on you. Till you catch the return flight home, that is. Full of extremely well-behaved bretheren, it feels so, so right. As soon as the boarding gates open, there's the stampede. Seat number wise boarding calls be damned, only to be turned away at the boarding gate. After boarding, there's yelling, there's ordering the air hostesses for glasses of water ("I also want water.") around even before take off, there's a massive fight because one didn't get a 'special meal' which is resolved only on receipt of an exclusive arrest offer by the Captain himself, no less. Then there's cranky middle aged farts who are in a tearing hurry to get to their seat ("What if the plane starts to take off while I'm standing! Gasp!"), exhorting you to "Do fastly fastly!", when you are searching for space to stow your measly backpack amidst the rough Johhny Walker seas in the overhead bins.

Sure ain't no place like home. Especially when you start feeling it right on the tarmac at Suvarnabhumi.

posted by Tapan at 11:42 AM

You Hab My Attention

Monday, February 01, 2010
Finally, a reason to click on 'Publish Post' at good old Blogger. Courtesy Greatbong.

My Top 10 Hindi Movie lines

1) Abbe O guroor ke mitti se bani hui ghamand ki moorti!!!! - Charanon Ki Saugandh
(Prabhuji at his romantic best.)

2) Na goliyon ki bauchar se, na talwar ki dhaar se, bandha darta hai, to sirf Parwardigar se... - Tirangaa
(The mother of all 'entries'.)

3) Chhilegi chhilegi. Kyon, chhilegi na? - Maine Pyaar Kiya
(Cute. When it comes from Bhagyashree.)

4) Shekhar Gupta, kya aap Damini se pyaar karte hain? - Damini
(Cuter. Especially when it comes from Sunny.)

5) Sumri mein kumri - Rakhwala
(One of Shakti's lesser knowns.)

6) Abbe, agar tu Bijli hai, to main paamhhaus hoon... paamhhaus - Aag Se Khelenge
(That's 'pumphouse', the way Aannil 24 Kaaboor says it. Note: If you have seen this movie, please leave me a comment. I am sick of being the only one.)

7) Bhaaaktaaaawaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr - Hum
(Cathartic bliss.)

8) Yaay loob loo tibiya... - Shikari
(That's 'I love You' in Russian. This is the Prabhuji-F C Mehra flick. Note: Again, If you have seen this movie.. etc etc)

9) Aila, Juhi Chawla! - Andaz Apna Apna
(A precursor to the innumerable one-liners that hit you every 30 seconds later on... picked this, purely cos it's kinda the first one out of the gate.)

10) Khoya to maine hai 'Deddy'. Aapne kya khoya? Asli pyaar,apnapannnnn, maine .... Bihari ke ghar mein paaya. Bi-hhh-aari. - Khudgarz
(Jeetu at his anguished best, on learning that 'Deddy' (played by the ever adorable Saeed "Of course, betchey," Jaffrey) has razed Bihari's little 'hotulll')

My Top 10 English Movie lines

1) Yeah well. The Dude abides. - The Big Lebowski
(Again, there's just too many to choose from. This is the one with maximum skull thwack impact. Sums it all up, don't it?)

2) Why don't you quit? It'd be cheaper for both of us. - Midnight Run
(See this movie, am not going to give this away. One of De Niro's lesser known gems.)

3) You talkin' to me? - Taxi Driver
(No explanations required, eh?)

4) Run, run, you stupid son of a bitch! Run!!!!!!!! - Forrest Gump
(Somehow, this sticks...)

5) Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives - Fight Club
(...)

6) You come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder - for money. - The Godfather
(Gives you a VERY good idea early on, that this is not gonna be your average movie experience...)

7) Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. - The Matrix
(A little too Zen mebbe, but yep, it works.)

8) What business is it of yours where I'm from, friendo? - No Country For Old Men
(Chilling. Probably the best scene in the movie.)

9) Let's sort the buyers from the spyers, the needy from the greedy, and those who trust me from the ones who don't, because if you can't see value here today, you're not up here shopping. You're up here shoplifting. - Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels
(Again, gives you a VERY good idea early on.. etc.. etc..)

10) You complete me - The Dark Knight.
(The one from Jerry Maguire came in a close second, actually.)

Quote

1. On your blog, provide a link to this page.(http://greatbong.net/book).

2. Then write down your top 10 Hindi movie lines or top 10 English movie
lines (You can do both if you want. Only one set is required for the
contest). If you cannot think of top 10, make it top 5. Cannot think of
even 5? Make it top 3. No problem. Only restriction: no two lines from
same movie. This done to make it fair for other movies so that they dont
get swamped by Gunda or Loha or Sholay.

3. Tag five friends to do the same.

4. Go to the comment-space of this post and post your blog's link so I can go and read it.

Unquote

I hereby tag SEV, Aarbee, Supremus, Guns, and of course GB. Heh heh.

posted by Tapan at 9:03 PM

The King Is Dead. Long Live The King.

Friday, June 26, 2009
Circa 1989. A grainy VHS tape on Cable ('Bad') was my first exposure to a performer who was so compelling to watch, that it left me really dazed. To put it frankly, hadn't seen anything like it before. This was a different kettle of fish when compared to ABBA, for sure.

What puzzled me most at the time, was why the dude was proudly calling himself 'Bad'? Wasn't that a you know... bad thing? I couldn't understand a word of what he was singing (WTF were Shamone! Owww! Cootchie coo! supposed to mean anyways?!). But there was something about the way he moved, and the way he performed, that demanded that you kept watching. He was the first point of entry into the big bad world of 'western' music for me. There was no MTV here, yet. He was the personification of what the west had to offer, music-wise. My only exposure to that stuff prior to 'Bad' was in the form of a couple of mixtapes filched from a cousin, full of 80s pop gems like 'We Built This City', 'Madonna's Eyes' and 'Party All The Time'. This guy's music was on another totally different class level, and it was evident that there was a lot more to pop than 'Love Touch'. Like good, bouncy music which didn't sound right off the bat cheesy, even to a kid in the third standard.

Add to that the dancing moves which seeped into my veins like Smirnoff Green Apple Twist does these Friday nights. They were emulated so relentlessly by yours truly, that when puberty really kicked in, my hand would go to my (*blush*) crotch every five minutes, do that patent grab and (gentle) twist, and my mouth would twitch and sneer, and go "Hee hee, Hee hee HEEEEE" all in one smooth, spinal-cord-controlled motion. It got to a point wherein I had to actually learn how to consciously control it in slightly more austere and public surroundings.

The moonwalk was a slightly more difficult proposition. Try hard as you would to perfect it, you invariably ended up looking like you were walking backwards trying not to step in something of animal/human origin. And of course, classmates at that age can be very ruthless in their criticism. Childhood innovations then included sprinkling the mother's Emami talcum powder in generous quantities on the floor, and then achieving markedly better results. This workaround lasted (quite gleefully, I must add) till that parsimonious lady suddenly found herself buying two tins a month. After that, it was trying it out with socks on feet, which was not exactly the same thing, but worked all the same.


I still remember watching Moonwalker - The movie with desperate devotion, and not caring a damn about niceties like plot, and such assorted blahs. He turns into a robot at the end of the movie, and a spaceship too. The way I looked at it, 'Hell, if he could do the moonwalk, and do that bend in the 'Smooth Criminal' video, he's entitled to do just about anything that he wants. I'm watching.
'

'Thriller' was yet another dose of pure childhood pleasure. Every bleeding song, was radio worthy - there was just no filler material on it. The sound was a little dated for me, when compared to 'Bad', but there was something very fresh about his voice on that record. A sure grower, and once hooked, 'Beat It' and the title song were on heavy rotation. My parents especially were very disturbed by that laugh at the end of the
title song.

'Dangerous' happened at the peak of my MJ obsession. I remember staring at the cassette cover for hours, while the cassette was blaring on in the background. The man released videos that single handedly took the scene to another level. At that age, a super sultry Naomi Campbell (phew!) in the mix definitely made things more interesting. 'Black Or White' even featured an Indian dancer! Yay! MTV must have made a sound fortune off the back of this album's videos alone... played in an endless loop, on the hour to boot. Of course, that was when you know, MTV used to play music videos (remember those?!) almost exclusively (gasp!). 'Smooth Criminal' remains one of my all time favourite videos. Ever.

Post 'Dangerous', I kind of outgrew my obsession with the whole thing, and gradually drifted off his music completely. Part of the whole growing up process, I guess. Add to that his personal woes which really affected his output as an artiste, and overshadowed his achievements to a large extent. To the point where the music was totally forgotten, and all that was projected was a freak in financial trouble. Of late, the odd iPod shuffle randomness would invariably hit me with a shot glass worth of nostalgia - think the intro of 'Wanna Be Starting Something' or 'The Way You Make Me Feel'.

His reach, and his popularity, at the peak of his powers, was a truly global phenomenon (tip - think of all those countless, milked-to-death-due-to-dehydration 'Mai Ka Lal Jai Kishan' jokes, in the best of Bollywood comedies on offer). There is no one today, to cut across barriers like he did, and achieve the same kind of connect with audiences the world over. Blame it on the shortened shelf lives of musicians these days, or the shorter attention spans of people in general, or maybe, just accept that there was no pop star even remotely in his league, once he faded from the limelight. Think boy bands and the unspeakable things they did to the pop music industry in general. All but killed whatever little hope you had of listening to something with a little more depth, even though it was labelled 'pop'. Everything these days is an ephemeral niche. He was a lot more than that.

Travel well, MJ.

posted by Tapan at 10:14 PM