Friday, December 22, 2006

all i want for christmas

chez Roswitha and Flatmates, December 21.



1. my two front teeth
1. you
1. A version of 'o Holy Night' not processed and power-popped out of existence.
2. A bigger bookshelf.
3. A smaller dress size.
4. Auto-moisturising skin. Sub-gift: bandages for my feet, or, failing that, a pair of comfortable shoes not sewn together by tiny fingers in Pakistan.
5. A poker-playing MI6 agent with thinning blond hair. Shopworn preferred.
6. A new laptop battery. A new laptop.
7. About six more match points for Milan.
8. World peace.
9. Useless and expensive gifts for everyone.
10. Since it's useless to hope for a white Christmas for most of the country: a Miles Davis Christmas. A night of blue in green and white smoke should make the spirit of Christmas feel as welcome as snow, don't you think?

current musix: miles davis - blue in green.

Monday, December 18, 2006

hollywood is strange

Last weekend I watched Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List.

This weekend I watched Liam Neeson in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and Ralph Fiennes in Maid in Manhattan.*

Apart from which, everyone please take note of the amazing adventures of Vivek, whose production of Samuel Beckett's Endgame swept up awards, glory and a wild and delighted audience at Thespo last night. That's all the awards, incidentally, including one for Best Actor Warren. As people other than Ali G would say, respect.

* Yes, totally seen it before, watched it in bits yet again just to see how much I could endure. Besides, I and Flatmate #2, both passionate worshippers of teh_cheez, are going to watch Baabul tonight.

NB: I write this as India is on the brink of a test victory in South Africa. For posterity, like, I inscribe this, although as I and all of India knows the story we are telling each other tomorrow morning may have no bearing on the events of yesterday. I submit, for the record: wha-hey!

NB2: Possibly absolutely senseless to everyone reading this blog, but Gilaaaaaaaaa!


Oh, thank frick for the boy.

Friday, December 01, 2006

bounce

Thanks, Unratiosenatic. The Age of Enlightenment did get some things right: reason makes everything look better. :)

Sometime this week, my friends, I wrote the following, published it, and took it down a couple of hours later, all in the same fit of pique - a pique continuum, one might say. It went as follows:

When you have had a terrible year, refuse to close it with a mindless party, are unable to book tickets to go home because you have possibly maxed out your credit card, have put on more weight over the last twelve months than you have in the last five years combined, and gone from flirting with misanthropy to full-blow practicing sociopath. At least you still have a blog.

The point of this, underneath the paranoia and (at least slightly) genuine despair, was above all crankiness. I haven't been having a blog for a couple of weeks, now, for no reason less mundane than piles and piles of work. All ye olde pastimes have fallen away as garments made of ... something flimsy.

But I'll be back. It takes more than gainful employment to keep a wastrel down.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

project objectify: left too long, too late

Ian Thorpe retired from competitive swimming.

It is hardly ladylike behaviour to bring up objectification in such a sporadic and hurried manner, but I feel I must pay timely tribute.



Ian Thorpe, you with the tectonic plates for feet and the Heath Ledger smile and, OH WAIT, the three million megawatts of talent, you will be missed. As you’re only 23, I hope to see you again very soon doing something cool. Like singing opera. Or taking up mountain biking. Or going to college.

'til later, hopefully.

Monday, November 20, 2006

open thread

What's the tiredest a person can get on a Monday morning before they DIE.



current musix: t. rex - ride a white swan.

Ngggh. Fake Celtic glam-punk ftw.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away

Over the push and pull of the last week I've been listening mostly to Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road." It's an alien song to my pinko, brown-girl, never-owned-a-car, highly urban sense of the world, but the universality of the need to leave sort of caught on and held fast.

Returning from Bombay this time was incredibly hard, because I'm really not pulling out of there to win, unlike Springsteen in his one-horse Everytown. But where can you go to have everything you want? Certainly not home.

So you're scared and you're thinking
That maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
Oh and that's alright with me.


--

Has anyone else watched The Departed? Isn't DiCaprio the DeNiro of our generation?

Friday, November 03, 2006

i'm outta here

In Bombay for the next ten days. See you from the west coast!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

the poetries of love

I got rhymin' on my mind. Today I stumbled across a song from the Tamil film Kaadal Desam - I think in the late '90s they were all Kaadal something or other - that was called 'Oh, Maria.'

O Maria, O Maria, O Maria o Maria,
Fruit cherry-ah, nee vareeyah,
Emailil love letter thareeyah?
Kadalliku, fishing net
Kaadalikku Internet
Desam vittu desam visai
(?) kaadhal valai!

Requiring little translation, but for those challenged by the imagination: one asks Maria the fruit cherry if she will come along/send along a love letter via email? Because fishing nets are for the sea, and the Internet is for affection, and so from one end of the world to the other the nets of love are ravelled. What a conceit - ambitious and clever! It's like something a Metaphysical poet might have written as an undergraduate on purple hearts. A dissolute teenage John Donne having taken leave of his habitual sense of irony and complication and brittle intensity (the gem of the lot, Szerelem). Okay, it's actually ridiculous. But I love that people can think up stuff like this and get A R Rahman to set tunes to these words.

Anyway, for best results I include the text of my personal Donne favourite. It's not a love poem, except in the way Donne manages to sexx up everything, including death and religion. If you sometimes wonder why people ever think of religion as anything beyond an obligation of the social contract, Donne really sort of validates the spirit of the sacred sentiment, giving fresh depth and meaning - and beauty, I daresay - to the individual yearning for the unknown.

Batter my heart, three person'd God; for You
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit You, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue,
Yet dearly I love You, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to You, imprison me, for I
Except You enthral me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except You ravish me.

Now with hi-quality, lite-w8 mp3 snippets recorded at lunch by me someone totally unknown, because GTalk voicemails rule. Click for Sendspace files. Mariahahaha.

And Batter My Heart, curiously and unerotically breathless.


current musix: okkervil river - the velocity of saul at the time of his conversion

Friday, October 27, 2006

project objectify: making zlats out of sportsmen since 2006

eta: *MOPES*

How screwed up is it to make a Project Objectify post about a player for a team you will never admit you don't hate don't care for scant hours before he goes up against a team you love in one of Europe's biggest derbies? Pretty screwed up, right? But this is the thing about Zlatan Ibrahimović. He makes screwed up enormously successful. And graceful. And creepy. And hilarious. And scary, did I forget to mention scary?


"There's only one Zlatan."
"Are you sure?""
"Yeah, I am. You know Zlatan?"
"I know Zlatan. Sometimes I think he has a twin; his behaviour is so different today than it was last Wednesday."
"How you know Zlatan? This is only the fourth time you meet him."


(And third-person self-reference was never the same. Except when bloggers did it, in which case it remained annoying as ever.)

How can the same brain that has objectified the dignified Paolo Maldini have a corner in its sick dark winding alleyways for Zlatan? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Maldini is a lone breed. Italy is full of mean, ambitious footballers stuffed with talent and tactical abilities. Zlatan has provoked, challenged, and broken brains with the best of them. He's been described as "half-gangster, half-ballerina." He's gone on record about someone on an opposing team to say, "What he can do with a football, I can do with an orange."

He's fun. And he's playing across from Hernán Crespo these days. And Milan's defence is not what it used to be back in the day. Of course, back in the day Zlatan made Alessandro Nesta's nose bleed or something.

Friday, October 20, 2006

carpe diwali

I wasn't planning on a celebration until I woke up ten minutes before I was due to leave home this morning, picked out my most shapeless clothes, missed meetings and was generally pointless and underproductive. I thought I was having a bad day. Then I remembered that I spent last Diwali in hospital with a needle jammed into my hand, looking out of my window at the coloured lights in the buildings across, unable to so much as walk outside.

And I thought, damn it all. I need some reassurance. I'm going to be ritualistic if it kills me. So I'm off early today to buy diyas and flowers and a salwar and kurtas. Flatmate #2 and I will at least attempt to fill the kitchen with something other than strategically-placed fungal growths and unused crockery.

Happy Diwali! Seize the day. Especially if you're away from family and unsure, like me, if you're going to be able to carry on the tradition with any success at making it mean something. Smell the til oil in the burning lamps and cultivate the glow. Light is a good thing to celebrate.

the police await don in eleven countries. i catch him before the premiere.

Something in my genetic make-up has predisposed me to love the crack. I can think of no other reason why I didn’t hate Don.

Spoilerrific wonderment at the above follows.


This is the thing: evil Don, conniving cops, Don being pulled out of the evil overlord race by conniving cops, replacement Don turning up, plans for world domination are set in motion by way of mysterious upper hands – but whose? Also throw in a dead dancer, a revenge-seeking sister, and a wronged young man. Go wild.










Watching it in the fifth row from a gigantic Imax screen did not help ease the experience of utter disorientation: the dialogue was off in places, the script was loose and the action often edited in bizarre cop-out ways. The acting was – well, let’s just say bizarre covers it. Allow me to further destroy anyone’s hopes of a likeable Kareena Kapoor when I say that the best thing about her role was that it was mercifully short, and bundled out of the way in the first quarter of the film.

I had great hopes for this story. Anyone who thinks the old doppelganger trope is unfashionable is inadequately prepared for life and art – it is a super cool trope. I know a lot of us Bollywood-fed types hurt at the stupidity of the identical-twins, lost-in-the-Kumbh-Mela aspect of it, but double identities are as hip as they come. I was very enthusiastic about driving myself crazy wondering which guy it really is, and if there is actually only one guy, and imagining the endless possibilities of cross-double-cross. I had such great hopes, as a matter of fact, that I enjoyed myself thoroughly in spite of all the bad stuff.

I thought Farhan Akhtar had some good ideas. He takes the single major dual identity theme in the old Don and unravels it to spread out over every aspect of the film. No one is who they seem to be. Everyone has a hidden agenda and secrets of their own. There’s no particular suspense involved for the audience in this. All the characters soliloquise or monologize enough, in that eccentric seventies way, to lay out their cards on the table as soon as their characters are established. We know Kamini and Roma and DaSilva and Jasjit’s motives and secrets before we know them. We should settle down to enjoy how these things dawn (heh.) on the other characters, and be unprepared for what we are about to learn at the end of the film, which is meant to shock the audience. About fifty percent of the people I went with guessed the big secret halfway through the film, of course, regardless of whether they had seen the first Don or not. It’s no major riddle.

What it did require was a more deft touch. There are some lame, rudderless sequences. Mostly it’s all a hefty mass of uncoolness. Uncoolness is death for a film like this. The set-piece at the beginning will make you cringe. There’s a bit with a parachute that will make you cry – if you have the guts to look at the screen when it’s happening. Kareena Kapoor proves herself equal to the best in the Kapoor tradition of the why-god-why school of performance.

As I was saying, I enjoyed it. What can I do? It was so brazen in its desire to let everything hang out. It was totally on the bad drugs, but it owned up to it freely. The art direction’s sassy reflection of the old style was delightful. And I love how Boman Irani veers between method and madness to play his role: sometimes he’s all invested and serious about it, and sometimes he’s just sitting on his character’s shoulder and making it do mad stuff. I was less excited about Shah Rukh Khan. I think this is the first in a long while that I’ve seen him perform at least part of a role free from the illusion that being awesome and being Shah Rukh Khan are one and the same thing. He loses the tics and the irritating speech habits for at least some of the scenes. And his song sequences are the best I’ve seen in ages – his energy and absorption hearken back to why India made him its blue-eyed boy in the first place. It’s too bad that this film settles, once and for all, the question of where he stands with respect to Amitabh Bachchan. He just doesn’t. Watching him work at anything – the studied menace, the dancing, the bumbling act – and casting your mind back to the unblemished charisma of seventies Bachchan is like having candle-flame meet sunlight. I’m not a Bachchan sentimentalist, and I don’t think I’m wrong about this. The past and present Dons challenge and contrast their personae much more clearly than the Chopra-Johar duds that threw them together ever did.

Phew. Before I’m done, a word about Arjun Rampal. I don't hold much truck with the idea of models being actors, because they aren't, but he behooves me make an exception. His studly being is a pleasure to behold on film.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

...bwuh?

Is America really doing this? Or do I wander lonely as a cloud in a fever dream?

[link via the estimable Pandagon]



"It is the shining light of freedom I espy."
"No srsly, wtf is this shit?"


(I apologise. I have to take recourse in teh_frivolitee as a defence mechanism.)

Friday, October 13, 2006

friday top ten

Oh good, Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize. It makes me happy. Are they including immunity from undeserved trials along with the citation and the moolah for the prizes this year, I wonder?

Anyway, unsurprisingly, I got memed again, this time by the gracious Szerelem - great reference, wot? - to list the top ten songs on my iTunes. I've switched to Winamp lately out of a perverse desire to cleanse my soul, but the song, as the great wizard Robert Plant would say, remains the same. Here goes.

1. Ay Ay - Tarkan. Ooof. This man reminds me of how heterosexual I am. It's funny because he doesn't really fall into my 'type,' but over time I have discovered that my 'type' includes neurotic, waifish, unwashed, plain nuts, and outright retrosexual, so I give up aiming for consistency. I love this song. It's smoky hawt, very lazily bump-and-grindy, a far cry from his notorious Kiss Kiss number, 'Simarik,' which also - shut up - I love.

2. Uma Casa Portugesa - Amália Rodriguez. Isheeta is my enabler. I don't know anyone who holds a candle to my fellow DLG-er for sheer good taste. She's been supplying me with Portuguese folk lately, and the last thing I did before I dropped off to sleep last night was listen to Amália Rodriguez. I hate displaying my ignorance of the song's genre or language by talking about its feel, but the mood is incredible. Hold on to something while I borrow an image from nature: it's like standing under a tree on a sunny morning, with shafts of light dappling the shadows. Amalia is rightly called a queen among her own. Her voice is sweet like honey, and strong as steel wire. (Overwrought fanfic about elves, here I come.)

3. Marlene On The Wall - Suzanne Vega. Spare and catchy American female indie-folk-pop. I love this sort of thing, right from Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell to the more self-conscious work of Beth Orton and Suzanne. Her 'changing, changing, changing,' at the end of the song makes me smile every time.

4. Raga Bhatiyar (khayal in madhyalaya teentaal) - Pandit Jasraj. Inadequate resources to describe this: look at this blog for some attempt at description. I'm a big old soppy Jasraj fan, ever since his morning concert four years ago in the Xavier's quadrangle when I was stumbling about in a sari looking for my friends and he threw six million tantrums and ended up making everyone weep with joy and dance in the aisles like Woodstock hippies as he sang 'Govind Damodar Madhaveti' to the lightening skies. My kaajal was everywhere (the sari, thanks to Kate, stayed on).

5. Defend Her, Heav'n, Theodora! - Artiste unknown. Possibly Handel's most famous aria, from the oratorio - you'll never guess - Theodora. Defend her heav'n/let angels spread/their viewless tents around her bed. A soaring, swelling lullaby, perfect for stormy nights and unspoken doubts. I'm afraid I have no idea who sang this version - it is not, sadly, the sublime Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson - but it's very passable.

6. Suffragette City - David Bowie. Punk and glam have been working their unsubtle magicks upon me. A Bowie classic, I forgot about this song for a goodly while until I happened to stumble (NO SRSLY TRIPPED AND FELL ON THE REMOTE) upon an episode of 'Rockstar:Supernova' on the telly and found the big sassy blonde in a suit rocking the hell out of it. I like to drop-kick annoying people to this song. I cannot account for my affection of the phrase "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am" when Davie B sings it.

7. City Hall - Vienna Teng. Not a maker of my favourite sort of girl-music - sorry, but if I want emo I'll take the eyeliner-wearing boys, you know? - but this particular song is just delightful. It's about the Valentine's Day weekend in 2004 when San Francisco defied constitutional law to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Bittersweet and just a little bit cheesy, but infinitely hummable and full of hope. Outside they're handing out doughnuts and pizza pies/for the folks in pairs/in the folding chairs/my baby's looking so damn pretty with those anxious eyes/rain-speckled hair, and my ring to wear ....

8. Jaded - Aerosmith. I listened to this song on a friend's system the other day and went, 'why, god, why?' And then I listened to it three hundred times on repeat, saying, "oh my god, oh my god, I REMEMBER THIS SONG." It's so bad it's ridiculous. My subconscious has been telling me for years to give up the pretense and embrace my secret love of Steven Tyler. I should really get down to it some day.

9. I Wear My Sexyback At Night (cheekyboy edit) - Justin Timberlake v/s Corey Hart. Courtesy of the ever-reliable Aurgasm. It's so funny to hear people you're accustomed to thinking of wimpy pre-teens singing songs about shackles and whips. Still, one of the comfortable things about dance pop is that it renders your common standards and perceptions of music, things about voices and words and tunes and ideas, quite superfluous. I haven't actually heard the original of either of these songs, nor yet seen the videos, but I trust this version improves them muchly. It's dead sexy.

10. Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall. KT's first album has already taken her past indieness into the stratosphere of pop-snob popularity - you know this happens when you listen to an obscure artist you love and right next week start hearing their songs on soundtracks to television shows, animated movies, or, as in the case of this song, inanimated movies - it's the opening track to The Devil Wears Prada. Simply delightful. Every time I play this song I think about girls in whose admiration my heart wearies - Lindsey and Flatmate #1, for example. She fills up every corner like she's born in black and white - how affectionate! How funny!

bonus track(s): The Abbey Road suite. Sometimes, all it takes to change the world is ten minutes of pop music.

I tag thee all. Take up thy illegal mp3s and walk.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

five things i owe to feminism

1. The belief that 'perfect' and 'good' are two different things, and that letting the first get in the way of the second is disastrous. The immediate thought that occurred to me when I began this post was, 'wow, how tough, I wonder if I can counter-meme something easier, like "five things that feminism hasn't changed for or about me",' because I'm crazy. I'm not a perfect feminist. I'm dealing with it. This is good. It allows one to value what one has and set realistic goals for what needs to be done. It is not the "hedonistic, hypocritical" activity that the laff-a-minute 'Save Indian Family' lot think it is.

2. My relationship with my mother. My mother and feminism are compelling guiding forces in my life, and, as fate will have this, are both strikingly similar and annoyingly contradictory at various times. And in spite of being on opposing sides of a number of debates, including ones about marriage, infants and skin bleaches ('they just take off the grit!'), with her, I've learnt to value not where she's coming from, but her, and her choices. They say that the patriarchy's greatest crime is to have made daughters hate their mothers. I am very glad to have escaped this. My mum's really great.

3. Disrespect. Politicising pig-headedness is just going to end up putting the patriarchy in trouble, innit? Oh, the pleasures of formal enjoyment of art and gratuitous and casual flirtation, for T S Eliot qua T S Eliot! You have been wrested from my bosom. Here is a veil of mourning, that I am not going to wear for you.

4. Resource management. Feminism has taught me that you can kill two men with a single bullet by shooting it into the air and cutting it with a swiss knife in such a way that the two separate bits are deflected mid-air with a special flick of the wrist to embed themselves in the villains' chests.

5. Respect for the gaps in every story.


... wait, the bullet trick was actually Rajnikanth. D'oh! Sorry. (What? He saves women from rape an' stuff, yo. He cares.)

As a bonus favour of feminism, how about: the right to eat the same food at the same time at the same table as my male relatives? Or: the actual right to receive property from my mother and pass it along to future female children? Political franchise, advanced education, freedom to see men as more than oppressors or liberators and all that bad binary shit?

The right to relationships that exist beyond the bounds of blood, money and sex?

To be capable of taking all this for granted?





I was tagged by Aishwarya. In my turn I call upon Isheeta, Kate/Bob, Szerelem, Uma and Vivek. Anyone else interested, please consider this a personal shoutout, even if you're incapable of taking things seriously, or a dude, or both.

--

Maybe I should do a 'five things feminism has taken no part of for me' thing next.

Monday, October 09, 2006

seeing you come of age

The Roswithan weltanschauung has undergone the disturbing influences of pain, rage and disorientation over the past fortnight in alarming simultaneity. However, the muscle strain in my back turned out to be just that and not a symptom of the onset of multiple sclerosis, contrary to my paranoid imaginings. The state of the world has simmered back down to causing mere disgust and frustration, and I'm quite over the whirlwind business trips and general promotion-induced haplessness of the past. So I arrive in this birthday week, first to offer congratulations on the superannuation of Aishwarya, who turned 21 yesterday, and then to the keeper of my soul and best friend, Flatmate #1, with whom early readers of this blog may have a vague acquaintance. Cronehood is here! Soon you will be doomed to unsteady teeth, hobbling, a disinterest in celebrating alienation, and proposals of arranged marriage. Death has crept one step closer to you both. Seize the day.

Apart from the prospect of chocolate cake not much else mitigates today's circumstances. John Lennon, had he lived, would have turned sixty-six today. An early, violent and tragic murder enshrined John in the hearts and minds of two successive generations as the symbol of several things. He is the idealistic man-child whose aversion to violence, at least in his songs, became a sort of fearful prophecy of his own end. He is the irresistible, irreverent Smart One, the troubled teenager, the passionate swain, the Jesus-surrogate, the alternative to politics and war, all things good and innocent. Years after he was shot in Central Park the debate about gun control rages in the United States. The idealised brand of millionaire-hippieism that has become uniquely associated with the Lennon-Ono brand is best praised for not making anything worse. A Lennon solo exists in an airtight, nostalgic space, quite unlike the fluid, mind-altering products of his songwriting years with Paul McCartney.

Paul's always been my favourite Beatle. He was the marketable face, but that never changes the fact that he was as important to the setup as John: he was the artisan, the backbone, the lightbringer*. The conflict is present in the McCartney half of the partnership, between irony and seriousness, but it generally takes a backseat for the vivid, cruel Lennoness, except for the very early and very late Beatles records - on Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, for example, the John-voice overlays so much of the feel that an actually hilarious little jog like the infamous When I'm Sixty-Four seems to be for serious, in comparison. Still, Paul is a straw-victim in the fake war of ideologies that (fakely) bifurcates the world of the Beatles. He'd hold his own in an arm-wrestling competition between the two of them if he had to. John knew this when he said that no one would ever come out of a pub whistling 'I Am The Walrus,' as the might with 'Yesterday.' (I actually think it's the reverse for a lot of people.) He just exists on a different plane, of symphonies and ditties and virtues and sins, as the modern classic of dance-rock has it. He doesn't write tragedies.

Today I wondered if a living, aging John Lennon might have taken on the world's problems, walking down the streets of New York believing he was Bono (who, in spite of everything, is the closest thing to the replacement-Jesus of rock music today). I doubt sabbath economics would have been his thing, or fair trade, or AIDS relief. It's difficult to come down to brass tacks from the billboard-high of 'War Is Over.' The world might have grown into that sort of absolute, final expectation, though. I don't know how much of a chance there is that it might have led people to demand that sort of accountability, because they had a loud, bizarre, absolutist colossus of a mouthpiece. It's so naive - the paths we've taken in the last twenty-five years have all but shattered the dream of the possession-free, agnostic world of Imagine. Nowhere but in music have borders ceased to exist.




Some dream to have while it lasted, I guess.


Out on the ocean,
Sailing away;
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age-
But I guess we'll both
Just have to be patient,
'cause it's a long way to go,
and it's a hard road to hoe,
Yes it's a long way to go,

but in the meantime

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans.


current musix: john lennon - beautiful boy (darling boy)


---

*Oh Harrison fans, but me no buts.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

bubble much?

Oftimes the fact that I live most of my life in the Internet and in my head makes me forget stuff. This seems to be the only way I can explain how I discovered this thing I will talk of only today. Do you know how many countries in Asia have anti-discriminatory laws protecting their LGBT populations? That is to ask, how many Asian countries do not actively or otherwise participate in the oppression of sexual minorities?

Three.

South Korea, Japan and Israel. The world's biggest continent. Three small countries.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

out

... for the next couple of days, because I'm heading to Cochin. Keep the Internetz safe, and have a beautiful weekend. There will be no pictures when I return, for I have no camera. Well, there will be pictures. Just not of Cochin.

Monday, September 25, 2006

fly away, monday. fly away fast.

eta: One more for Project Objectify: Isheeta bags the man of all our dreams, Evgeny Plushenko. If you do nothing else in this world, watch that video, I beseech you.

--

I was going to post up some thoughts about Dor, wot I watched last night, but apparently four cups of coffee + four hours of sleep are not something I can handle on Monday evening without my brain exploding. So before I go bouncing off the walls singing 'Sugar Baby Love' -- I enjoyed the film. It was quite clunky and the acting and the script were all off, but it had an interesting story and looked very fresh and had some charm. Why, though, does Nagesh Kukunoor insist on inserting himself into his films? I have no carefully considered observation, barbed or otherwise, to make here, because that would require focus. It's an honest question. As honest as 'Why God Why?' which has become my rallying cry ever since I started making more money.

The major parts re: the rest of my weekend described here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

things that make me cry

Because they piss me off.

+ The fact that the song I'm currently listening to on repeat is 'Who Do You Think You Are,' from an obscure '90's album called "Spice," put out by the talented but undeservedly obscure band of women who called themselves the Spice Girls. It reminds me of a simpler time when we were young, and I actually considered myself a Spice Girls fan. I weep for lost innocence.

+ Joseph Ratzinger and his opposition, the Nun-Killers of Mogadishu.

+ Orkut messages. The other day I got bombed with three identical forwards that read as follows:


IIT Bombay student Anupam Biswas 5th Year Mechanical Engg is suffering
from Colukabki (caused due to excessive nabad and depression) a disease
very rarely found (3 in a billion). His condition is very pathetic and
the treatment is very expensive, obviously his parents are not able to
afford his treatment. Orkut has agreed to pay 1 paisa after each time
this message is forward. So please pass to all ur friends.


Here's to finding new answers to the question, 'how stupid? HOW stupid?'

+ Evidently, not more stupid than myself. Last week I locked my front door and rushed out to work, discovering only when I got home at eight that night that I'd left the keys in the lock. This week I seem to have lost my specs.

+ The fact that, in 'The Devil Wears Prada,' they make Meryl Streep wear A-line miniskirts. Primary schoolteacher-wear in a film about high fashion! I half expected her to turn around and ask me to say my thirteen-times table in front of the class.

+ The fact that, in 'The Devil Wears Prada,' Anne Hathaway has less personality than a wet dishcloth.

+ This 'Stupid Girls' song by Pink. It's sad that she cares so much about Paris Hilton. I mean, I understand that the point of the song was to berate girls who care too much about Paris Hilton, but seriously, lady, no good at making feminist cred if you're standing around slagging off other blonde girls.

+ Did I mention the pope? I'm going to undertake the dangerous chance of linking to Christopher Hitchens twice in the space of, what, fifteen posts.

I'd also like to mention that the words 'WHY GOD WHY?' miss the spirit of the question and throw up lots of for-serious religious websites on Google.

What Makes Me Happy, on the other hand:

1. De Ludo Globi.

2. 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else' by Jimmy and the Boys.

3. Zee Sports.

current musix: dulce pontes - ferreiro.

Monday, September 18, 2006

on munich

The sister of my heart Kate/Bob was out of Bombay this weekend. She was visiting my funny, ugly step-childlike neck of the woods, where autorickshaw meters run too fast, and packets of instant noodles have been known to disappear into the cavernous maw of the aether, and where it is beautiful when it rains. (Your eyeliner is here, by the way. You aren’t having it back, as I’ve already used up most of it practicing my gawth chica impression. Sorry.)

We spent a mostly vegetative weekend consuming television and cinema. What does it say about Hyderabad that Munich, released a full four months earlier elsewhere in India, stumbled mistakenly into an early evening PVR show last week, while The Devil Wears Prada splashed across our own silver screens right alongside those in the vibrant, pulsating cultural hubs of Bombay, Gurgaon and Whathaveyoupur? (If, even in jest, one feels like attempting an answer to the question, one may want to consider shoving it.) I’m glad to have seen both films in a space of thirty-six hours, and in that way that everything has of relating to everything else, I found that both films have in common markedly similar ways of leaving unanswered questions hanging in the air above one’s tiny head. Something tells me that this was not the intention of the makers of TDWP.

Spielberg, on the other hand, seemed to be pushing very hard for most of three hours to do anything but answer questions. I liked both films, in the sense that DWP left me unoffended and temporarily amused, while I senselessly adored Munich, which tried so damn hard, and apparently I am the sort of person that grades on effort. It was overlong and melodramatic, but it’s been long since I watched a film that used length and melodrama as means that successfully justified the ends. I was one of those who missed Spielberg-mania, but Munich definitely opened a window through which dawning realisation trickles in. I haven’t seen a film that leaves so many questions unanswered to satisfaction.



I think what Spielberg really succeeded in tackling, in a very poetic fashion for what is, on several levels, a smart, sinister action-thriller, is the idea of home – home as something prosaic and annoying, even ultimately disillusioning, on the one hand, but precious and necessary for survival on the other. The way the narrative lingers, in speech and visuals, on the shapes of houses, hotels and families was exactly reminiscent of the also-flawed but interesting Salman Rushdie. Rushdie has answers in the end, though – no man’s land is his home; his books tell us that the person of no country, if wretched, is also incredibly fortunate. Spielberg offers no such comfort to anyone, not the ordinary folk, not the (very nice!) terrorists, and least of all to Avner, the Mossad agent who is his central character. There’s a moment of brilliance at the end of the film, when Avner, played by Eric Bana, confronts his boss (an exceptional Geoffrey Rush), who asks him why, after everything Avner has done for the sake of his homeland, he has chosen exile – such a loaded word in the Jewish context – in a different land. Avner doesn’t answer; he asks, in return, why they believe that murdering terrorists will make Israel any safer, since younger, angrier men will replace them each time. Rush’s answer is pithy and evasive, pure rhetoric: “Why do I cut my fingernails? They grow back.” It isn’t a satisfactory answer, nowhere near enough to induce Avner to return home, in whose service he’s pursued and killed a chain of men responsible for the massacre of the athletes at the ’72 Munich Olympics – if he is any longer convinced at all, at the end, that Israel is worthy of being called home (or is he the one unworthy of Israel? Rush’s character might think so).

Munich has a lot to do with what seems like a classic case of Jewish guilt; its central characters can be said to be stereotypes, in some way – the chatty, kvetchy, good Jews that Spielberg (or Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, the writers) apparently cannot reconcile with Israelis who aggressively pursue survival and other, less-vaunted goals in the Middle East today. The Palestinians are all young, emotional; wrong-headed, but passionate, and desperate and human. How do they ever get any work done? You see where Spielberg is coming from, though – and just the volumes of criticism heaped on him for raising even these basic questions of rectitude and moral justice make it evident that even going this far doesn’t turn on any of the empathy taps in the US media.

I enjoyed the film because it didn’t have any answers. Names and crimes do change from generation to generation, but neither fact nor fiction seems capable of providing solutions to the problems of the Middle East, and I respect the fact that Munich’s concerns, while grand, weren’t all that grand. It played out the realisation of its only simple conclusion – blood calls for more blood – in a captivating way. It is enormously sympathetic to both sides and endorses neither, and I was far more moved by that than I was by Crash. Crash used a smaller canvas, and it had a tight script, but I always thought it was a bit too glib, and having seen Munich, I can’t imagine how anyone would think Crash was smarter or more insightful in any way.

Serious love for the cinematography and the look – the recreation of the seventies in cities across Europe, Israel and America was masterful, but the interiors, oh. The motel rooms, the safe houses, the cars and elevators and the kitchens were something else. The music did tend to veer into schlock, but never too completely to undermine the dizzying effects of Bill Withers in a smoky dark room, or the Israeli anthem picked out hesitantly on a piano. Perhaps the only part of the film I actively disliked was the inter-cutting of the final sequence of the Munich murders with a sex scene, but the Olympics sequence in itself was terrific – claustrophobic, violent, and tragic. The performances were very satisfying, too. Eric Bana obviously had the role of a lifetime, to which he rose well, I thought, and Geoffrey Rush, Ciaran Hinds and Matthieu Kassovitz were all spot on. And I’m determined to watch a James Bond film for the first time come November, possibly more than once, just because I am convinced of Daniel Craig’s brilliance. (He’s also playing Asriel in the adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, which now means that I will explode if this film isn’t made soon enough. He proves my truly detestable weakness for evil men beyond all reasonable doubt.) This certainly takes the sting out of the unmitigated embarrassment that was The Terminal, and I’m very interested to see what Spielberg does next.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

a very special day for project objectify

Today, 9.30 a.m.:

Viv: blogging at a feverish pace, are we?
Me: expect another lightning-fast blog today! it's my mum's birthday.
Viv: happy birthday to her! please do blog. also try not to mention the word football in a blog about your mom's birthday.
Me: ... but it's fabio cannavaro's birthday too!
Viv: * gives up *
Me: i like both of them so very much, after all. especially my mum. and canna. in very different ways.

Seriously, even my mum would appreciate getting pictures of Cannavaro in her email. She doesn't follow footer and may not know why it makes one feel glad that the team one supports has Cannavaro standing around its goal, being ice-cool, reading the game smartly, bringing an almost vicious streak of efficiency to the game. She doesn't really care about the way he makes one-eighty degree switches from 'this is my Batman face' during penalties to licking the World Cup joyously. She probably did not meet one of her closest friends in the course of a conversation about him back during the 2002 World Cup, when one was vaguely hoping for Italy to win although one was shielding one's heart from sport and sportsmen at the time (and what a good thing that turned out to be). But my mum likes a beautiful man as much as the next person.

The very first time I understood what the word 'pulchritude' meant was when reading an old issue of Sportstar. It was used in relation with the beautiful, doomed Gabriela Sabatini - who made the sort of story that makes some people very happy, and other people very disgusted with the way the purveyors and customers of popular media function. I mean, everyone knows sportswomen are subject to a different kind of scrutiny from menfolk; hence the ridiculous short skirts on tennis courts when male players are running around in baggy shorts, hence Anna Kournikova even considered as competition to, in their heyday, Martina Hingis; hence Sepp Blatter suggesting that women footballers need to wear sexy clothes to be noticed.

Do the same standards hold true for sportsmen's excursions into the field of glamour and high fashion? Ha. To believe so is to indulge in a moderately high degree of self-kidding. Viv and I were talking about this after he saw the cover of Cosmopolitan Italy featuring sculpted-to-the-satisfaction-of-the-Roman-Empire Canna*, who posed for it wearing nothing but a football: we agreed that having a nude sportsman pose on the cover was different from Cosmo's standard-issue female supermodel covers. He isn't required to display his glutes o' granite for a living, or for anything, really, other than the attention (How understandable! When does the captain of an international football team and arguably the world's best defender ever get enough attention?). Is it's very purposelessness ennobling? Does it complicate his position with his team or his sponsors or his fans? Does it make me feel like an accomplice in exploitation when I look at one of his legion of topless pictures (I'm positive Cannavaro's the ONLY footballer for whom a Google Image search will throw up a nude photograph among the first ten results)?

No. No. And yes, slightly - but on the whole, no.


--
* I wish I could find someplace the image is hosted on the 'net, so that I could offer a link; I could load it directly on to this post, but for some odd reason, covering my blog with pictures of naked men doesn't seem like the marvellous idea it no doubt is in a parallel universe. In the meanwhile, have this one.



Happy birthday, mum!

eta: Mum's birthday was good, Canna's sucked spectacularly. Madrid's slipped up to Lyon. To my chagrin, Ten Sports insisted on broadcasting Man U/Celtic, which, from what I saw of it - around Saha's second goal - was shabby. Milan, thankfully, did not do anything to upset the pecking order. It's nice that Pippo Inzaghi's manifestation of his alternate persona as goal-machine coincides with their season.

And there are further posts in this vein: Aishwarya objectifies Rafael Nadal, and Szerelem pays tribute to Zinedine Zidane.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

objets de foot

Champions League begins today. Many of you doubtless read Aishwarya's pithy mulling over the correct ways to watch sport; rest assured that I and she, and all the best sort of ladies, believe that if a game is worth watching, it is worth watching exquisitely, dramatically, and frivolously.

Let it be stated for the record that I'm rooting in crude and obvious fashion for gli diavoli, the closest thing to a pinup club in European club football, home to men of patrician noses, great hair and mean, mean - if not one hundred percent effective - football: the Rossoneri, or, A C Milan. Arsenal is second, just a notch above Real Madrid, and Inter Milan is my seekrit love. That traitorous Zlatan, he's some dude.

The Italians look poised to have a bad season, considering the Calciopoli cases that have shooken them up, and given how the traditional and proper thing for a team, any team that isn't Brazilian footer or Australian cricket or Ro-Fed King of Tennis, is to be slaughtered by everyone else immediately after they've won themselves a dramatic, flamboyant fight to be called world champions. Madrid have won some and lost some, and Cannavaro has - as Isheeta sharply noted - been making himself useful to them in a very puzzling fashion, mostly by leaving his defensive position, what he is paid to stand at, all across at the other end of the field, to come by and shoot some goals for them.

Arsenal's had a pathetic start to the EPL season, which should really not be allowed, because Arsenal? Good side. In fact, if Thierry Henry actually aims at the goal more often? Really good side.

Thierry is the first desirable male athlete I'd like to gratuitously draw attention to, for no reason other than that he is Thierry Henry. When talking about footer over Isheeta (as occurs more often than you would believe. Really) she mentioned the sort of stereotypes that hang around international teams: Brazil has flair, the English are fast, the Italians are a bunch of sly Machiavellian divers (l0lz) and the French are elegant. Thierry Henry, unfortunately for brave sterotype-busters, is elegant. One understands, objectively, that he is, in spite of his whoops-feet-of-butter! start to EPL 2006, a truly fantastic player, one of France's superstars, Arsenal's all-time highest scorer, and a force to be recked with. Deal, someone has to be doing all this. But to make it look so stylish, so fluidly beautiful - that's got to be something. The records are just stats, after all. Thierry Henry makes football look callisthenic. I don't know how he manages that with what often looks like just the flick of an ankle.



O, did a better man ever wear puffed sleeves and knee socks (don't say James I, you will be summarily disembowelled)?

(That picture would not have made it to this blog without the ingeniosity of her.)

i swear i didn't take the bad drugs

I did dose myself heavily with Vikoryl (and a touch of brandy) to facilitate sleeping like a very sleepy baby and waking up without an abominably stuffed nose, but not even my brain on crack could have thought of doing this.

At least ten stingrays have been found dead and mutilated on Australia’s eastern coast in the last week in what conservationists believe could be revenge attacks for the death of Steve Irwin, the popular naturalist and television personality...

The dead stingrays have been discovered on two beaches in Queensland state, where Mr Irwin lived and ran his popular wildlife park, Australia Zoo. Two of the unfortunate rays, discovered today, were retrieved with their tails lopped off, according to local fishery officials.


Not even if I was a Steve Irwin fan, instead of a random Vikoryl-dependent and fuzz-head. Killing fish? For a dude that fed his kid to a crocodile? Come on, you sick fucks.

Friday, September 08, 2006

tag the dawg

I was tagged for a meme several days ago by Bitch|Lab, a blogger of superior talents, and never had the chance to do it thanks to this real life bug that's been going around for a while now. Symptoms of this included a) getting promoted at work b) listening to Bon Jovi again and c) watching a lot of useless honestly fucking annoying telly at home, as I was too tired to do anything else (I'm also secretly reading Superman fanfiction, but let's pretend I never said this).


Glad as I am that I missed seeing so much as a hint of Italy's disastrous Euro 2008 qualifiers, I do wish my eyeballs had escaped the fate of being imprinted with such cretinous advertisements for products such as the Tea Of Women's Emancipation. I suppose Tetley's is trying to make a point and deviate from such befuddling product pimps as the Deodorant Meant To Be Confused With Women's Underwear ("Pink or Black?" How about "Run Along And Finish Your Homework, You Creepy Little Zits"?) or the “Turn Me Into A Curvy Bottle, I’m Alice In Pornderland!” soft drink. The Tetley's ad is a comparative island of inoffesiveness. Or: Is It? Iyanno. It annoys me. The conflict between the evil husband and the woman-slave makes my teeth ache. I love tea and I am prepared to accept that it changes everything for the better, but really good tea would allow her to get a divorce and run away to Bombay, rather than stay on in the carcerous confines of the patriarchal tool that is Northern Railways.

But I’m doing the meme now.

1. One book that changed your life?

The Silmarillion, in several significant ways. One, I discovered high fantasy. Two, the amazing tragedy of an ordered universe. Three: elves! Elves who save each other by chopping off hands! Four: some of my closest friends today, whom I first met online to geek out about Tolkien.

2. One book you have read more than once?

The Last Samurai, by Helen DeWitt. Even talking about this book makes me jealous of everyone who’s heard of it for the first time and is only just about to discover it. I read bits of it practically once every three days.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

Something that explained clearly and concisely how to get the hell offa there and back to the nearest city? I’m not so good in places rural and remote. I value solitude, but I must have it in urban surroundings.

4. One book that made you cry?

When I was 12 years old, Heidi. Many of you have probably guessed that I talk a lot because I’m overcompensating for my streak of repression, forged through long hardship in the fires of moral uprightness at my local convent school. I was a pious child. Heidi wanted to go back to her grandfather’s hut in the mountains but couldn’t, even though she spent a lot of time praying about it, and her butler told her that when God didn’t answer prayers it wasn’t because He wasn’t listening, but because He knew what was best for us and withheld our heart’s desire until we were ready to accept it. It was such a comforting thought that the waterworks didn’t turn off until a good two chapters later.

5. One book that made you laugh?

Cold Comfort Farm, the Stella Gibbons classic about a young woman learned, at the cusp of adulthood, in every worldly art save that of making her own living. A friend once posited that Flora Poste would bring about interplanetary peace if she could just be voted in as Galactic Overlord. You know, how Rajnikanth would overthrow known laws of physics if he ruled the world? Yeah. Possibly the best book ever written.

6. One book you wish had been written?

The really exciting one about mad scientists, domineering mothers and the very hot footballer who gets embroiled in a race to save the world from certain destruction before he realizes it.

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Sons and Lovers. Omfg, the ponderous sex and vapid painting. My brain still puckers up in pain when I think of it. DH Lawrence, gah.

8. One book you are currently reading?

Currently I’m reading King Lear. It’s amazing how reading Shakespeare is like having a really, really wonderful boyfriend. (Yes, you can lock me away now. But I will bet you Kit Marlowe thought the same when he saw the first draft of Romeo and Juliet.)

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

The Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson. Bloody thing’s not to be had for love or money anywhere around here, though.

10. Tag five people.

Okay! Aishwarya, Emily, Kaushik, Vivek and the Vikster.

Notes: I watched Lage Raho Munnabhai last night and mourned Hrishikesh Mukherjee a little more. The film was for the most part very goofy and enjoyable, though. How awesome is Boman Irani, I ask you?

And, Aishwarya and I are embarking on a project: a series of posts on desirable male athletes. We are serious about it. As in, ‘do-I-need-an-excuse-to-do-this?’ serious. I’m open to suggestions. Be prepared, Scouts and Guides.

To conclude, I would like to mention that I did find an advertisement to adore over the course of the past few days: the Nokia one starring Shakespeare-declaiming Gary Oldman, Sexpian Extraordinaire. So, so nummy. Also, am I the last person to notice the MotoRazr billboards with Signors Dolce and Gabbana?

current musix: david bowie - suffragette city.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

a cauliflower is not a flower

Hrishikesh Mukherjee. I don't feel able to pay tribute in any coherent way, so let me just say, All that glitters is not gold! Gobi ka phool, phool hokar bhi nahin hota hain.

How silly and glorious.

I had a hideously unproductive long weekend reading random things and suffering Internet withdrawal to the max. The good bit was getting out and stumbling on a gorgeous book sale behind the British Library where I found - and snapped up - two Armistead Maupins, an obscurish Vonnegut and an excellent copy of The Bloody Chamber, all about 50 rupees a piece.

It grieves me to conclude this blog at this juncture, but conclude it I must, unless you want to hear about strangers on Orkut who, having ingested crack cake, write to me saying that they are a. lonely. b. new to this "jambocake city" (thank goodness I'm in Hyderabad, if that's the case) c. "strong enough to be gentle" and d. interested in the friend ship. There is a special place in the solar system for declarations like these. They all travel, as soon as generated, in a hyperspace ring from the massive light-eating globular entity that scientists have named Moron.

Incidentally, Times Now and CNN-IBN come down from Moron with special permits to vacation on Earth, bringing with them their special brand of cultural Moronism, expressed best in their mistakenly confident mottoes. "Feel The News"? Maybe after Stephen Colbert has ripped you apart. ("Anyone can read the news to you—I promise to feel the news at you.") And "Anything It Takes." Of course, the chaps who gave a suicidal man diesel and matches the other day to get a news story would agree. They're visiting aliens from your neighbouring star system, Cretin.

Friday, August 25, 2006

meme girls.

Friday!

Also, I have been blogging with disturbing regularity over the last couple of days.

1… Things that scare me
Snakes.

2…People who make me laugh
Stephen Colbert, who also induces feelings of adoration.
You.

3…Things I hate the most
Snakes, because we hate what we fear,
Movies about snakes, and
Tidy hairstyles.

4…Things I don’t understand
...Nope, can't think of anything. Oh, wait. How do people imagine that women should not be allowed into Sabarimala* because they would weaken and die on the trek? How do people enjoy Scrabble? How is it that I came out of KANK alive? How is the universe?

5…Things I’m doing right now
Wondering what I will order for Friday night Cheap Chinese Special dinner.
Making plans to get as thin as Fleur Xavier, so that people will feel sorry for me and love me, and feed me Chinese Specials every day.
Getting around to recharging Willa the iPod.
Not particularly enjoying P G Wodehouse.
Grooving to Amr Diab's Greatest Hits. (how much do I love this man, in spite of the fact that he's about forty-five and makes like he's an eighteen-year-old Ricky Martin? Ah, Meditteranean-Arabic pop. It's as divine as pita bread and hummus.)

6…Things I want to do before I die
Eat cake.
Not die.
Run one marathon a year for at least a decade.
Make Calcio Ho Naa Ho.
Proclaim "I am no man!" and save everyone's lives, preferably including own (see 'not dying'), in the nick of time.
Cultivate an appropriate, adult sense of compassionate gravitas, like Elrond lord of Rivendell, although without bullying daughter into untouchable virgin state for centuries.

7… Things I can do
That flapping-diapraghm exercise propagated by Ramdev Baba.
Make tea.
Poke fun. (A little boy with jabbing fingers, in Malayalam? Pokemon.)
Eat very large paani puris.
Pretend to speak an astonishingly large number of languages.
Spend more than I earn in bookstores across the world.
Symptomatic readings.

8… Ways to describe my personality
... Very endearing?

9… Things I can’t do
Ohoho, not the half of it.

10…Things I think you should listen to
Beth Orton.
Pandit Jasraj singing "Govind Damodar," preferably live.
The great satirical voices of your time.
Tablas.
My mother.
The crazy looped bit at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever." Creepier than hell.
Sacred harp.
The traffic at the VT intersection.
Yo-yo Ma on "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon." The cello and Tan Dun, wah.
This particular version of the possibly fascist Italian classic "Azzurro."
Suresh Gopi spewing English cuss-words in any given Malayalam film.

11…Things you should never listen to
Imaginary beings on your shoulders.
Rajesh Khanna songs, when simultaneously watching their videos.
Bruce Springsteen plugged in to electricity.
People who tell you your call is important to you.
People who tell you that you look good in peach.
Pink Floyd. I'm kidding. But seriously, grow up. *surreptitiously hides all fourteen albums in possession*
50 Cent.
NDTV's "The Big Fight."
Your workmate's music.
Rajnikanth when he tells you that he's just another ordinary guy.
People combing their hair. Ick.

12…People I’m tagging (to do this meme)

You, you, you and you. And all the rest of you.

* thank you Vivek. How much stupidity, by Ayyappa? What about all the small girls and post-menopausal grandmothers who seem to survive the trek every year? Is it really THAT MUCH EASIER to swallow bullshit than to see some sense?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

me eefa too

Eee, UEFA draw tonight. Not particularly disappointed by Juventus not being around, because apparently even Gigi Buffon isn't, but I do feel bad about Fiorentina, and Luca Toni not getting the chance to show off his awesome striker skillz and funny hand-waving goal celebration to all and sundry.

(eta, 18 hrs later: Draw results are in. Milan and Madrid should be dominating their respective groups; Inter has Bayern Munich in with them; Arsenal's got Porto, CSKA Moscow and Hamburg, none of whom I have EVER seen playing. The big story is, of course, that Chelsea and Barca are together in the same group. *snicker*)

Here's hoping Milan capitalise on the fact that their playmaker won them the World Cup pretty much on the strength of his awesome hair. Is it too much to hope that if they end up meeting Chelsea at a future date Shevchenko will forget that he ever stopped playing for them? "Sheva, that's OUR GOAL." "I know, Frankie, that's - oh. Right."

On a COMPLETELY UNRELATED note, I feel a craving for pasta. This is not entirely out of the blue, since I crave pasta almost as much as I do my *brings out world's smallest violin* mum's avial and bhindi curry on a regular basis. I would very much like some pasta, a little loud music and people to dance about a third of the night away with. My week hasn't yet recovered from the KANK in its eye.



"Crap, they want to bring my team's hotness quotient down. Must convince management that the Ronaldo they want is the cute young one from Man U."



















Incidentally, a good two-thirds of all the Google image search results for 'Ronaldo' now show up pictures of Cwistiano.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

i demand a divorce

Because the universe owes me one. A small unobtrusive one will do. Please not a big fat sparkly one that imagines it's bringing back into fashion things that went out of fashion in the first place not because of the cyclical nature of socio-cultural trends but because the human race as a whole decided that they were WRONG. EVIL. BAD. BABY-KILLERS. Like pastel-coloured translucent saris encrusted with fake diamonds. Tight perms. Embroidered jackets. American soccer.

Then again, I hear it is very easy to get divorces in Manhattan. Perhaps the universe and I should meet there in colour-coordinated jackets and high heels. We've tried, the 'verse and I, to do everything: farce, anti-romance, the ol' lusars-in-love thing, making out in the rain, seeing other, cooler, better-adjusted people. Unfortunately we have managed to make every single one of these endlessly exciting tropes fall flat on their faces.

Seriously, have you people seen all the emo glossy-eyelidded tears coming out of that KANK-thing? I know how it feels. I watched it last night. Nnggh. No horrified fascination, no healthy self-congratulatory disgust at the ostentation of it all, no confident dismissal of it's removal from reality per the usual reactions evoked by K-Jo fare. The indescribable sound of nnggh is the only reaction I feel capable of. I would claw my face, but watching that film sapped me of the energy required for a properly dramatic reaction. You always hear about these films that people say sap their will to live, but you never actually think you're going to come across one, until one day. Nnggh.

As for the infidelity, modern marriage, bold step forward blah-di-blah, I'm not getting started. It's not new to Bollywood. It's not even new to the candyfloss Cho-Jo genre of moviemaking. It's like a logical extension of the howling emptiness of pre-pubescent NSync-loving angst. And it's just as annoying. (Not that I should be complaining about pre-pubescence, since I live there a lot of the time, but, hello, no NRIs were harmed in the making of this blog. Not unintentionally.)

And to think it could have been so much more by just not existing.



"Freezing my kit off in the New York rain shedding emo tears in ugly clothes can't be worse than watching this film...oh, wait."

Friday, August 18, 2006

row it , sisters!

Check out the awesome multinational women's boat-race team for the Nehru Boat Race trophy in Kerala this year. Sometimes I enjoy being a Malayali. It may not guarantee me appearances in all the best Bollywood films, my love of fried fish will mean I am unsuccessful, perhaps permanently, in the 'total vegetarianism' thing, and communism is practically a genetic compulsion (although my antecedents are oppressive and landowning all the way, and if you ever meet my grandmother she will move you to tears with her stories about the earth burning the feet and tears of blood running down the faces of my family as they were cheated of their birthrights by that bastard EMS Namboodiripad). But BOAT RACES. How frickin' cool can you get, man? (Thanks for the link, Uma.)

Hi! It's Friday evening and I'm so dizzy at the prospect of a weekend of vegging out it's like being in love. I'm in love with my own capacity to procrastinate. Like, help.

current musix: laakad - rekha bhardwaj.

ah, i've been listening to this 'omkara' soundtrack on repeat all week.

Monday, August 14, 2006

and what think you, coz, of love?

You have to walk down five floors of mall to exit the PVR in Hyderabad. Imagine how creeped out we were to leave the late show of Omkara last night to find the stairs spattered with blood. Yes, real blood, starting from a broken window in an exit door and dripping all the way down to the parking lot. I do not think it was performance promotion.

Omkara. I enjoyed it. Actually, I loved it, because the flaws didn't distract me as they unspooled alongside the long, meandering playing out of the story. I was very enthusiastic about the film after having seen and loved Maqbool, and it didn't disappoint me in the least. I don't know if Vishal Bhardwaj does the same thing for everyone else, but he certainly ensorcells me into living and breathing the world of his films. I'm amazed at how intelligently he creates tension between realistic 'scapes and the poetry of Shakespearean situations. Can't wait to see which play he'll pick to complete his trilogy (I hope it's Lear, unless he does some crack comic stuff like As You Like It.) Loved the music - although I was a little less thrilled when Saucy Item Number #2 came on - the, heh, conversation pieces, the camerawork: just the life and vibrancy of it all. I've heard quite a few opinions on the subject of implanting the noble heroes of Shakespearean canon into lives of crime and war, and I have to say it doesn't bother me as much as it seems to bother the A C Bradley fans. Shakespeare himself wrote of alien worlds, and I don't know if setting a film in the Mumbai underworld implies a lack of honour any more than setting a play in bloodied, cruel eleventh-century Scotland does. The codes are different, but no less strict. At any rate, evaluating Shakespeare on the basis of morality is only somewhat less criminal than looking for conventional decency in Homer. High on the pointlessness scale.

What particularly shook me about Omkara were the actual truths of Shakespeare that Bhardwaj touched upon, the suspicion of foreignness and femininity that runs poisonously through Othello. Kareena Kapoor spoiled it a bit for me, since she really can't do sensitive no matter how hard she thinks she can, but her mere physical presence - her whiteness, her simpering-girl bits, her cluelessness - were almost too painful to look at. I'm not fond of the reading of Othello as a love story and I'm glad Bhardwaj didn't spend too much time on the romance, lovely as the Saathi Re sequence was. There's too much to lose from believing in the cruel undeserved fate of O&D. I'm glad it came out as a narrative so focused on other "man" stuff, like sex and politics, because that's what Othello is primarily about for me; shame and dishonour. I love Othello's "loved not wisely but too well" speech, but it really doesn't make him a lover, just a super-guilty dupe.

Konkona Sen-Sharma was marvellous. Beautiful and brilliant, the sort of Emilia you wish wasn't playing second fiddle to the leads. Mouthy, amoral, sexual and smart: I could have spent the whole film watching her. I hate that her best lines were a little mouth-meet-words - because which sensible girl lectures your gangland overlord about treating women right when he looks like he could snap your back in a cinch? - but I'm not unhappy that she said them. In a film that trips on language and loquacity, of dialogue and verbal assault and almost-solilioquy and song-narratives, it was great frilling. There is a lot of saying in this film. It's "textually productive" enough to satisfy anybody.

Ditto Saif Ali Khan. I kept watching Ajay Devgan through the film and thinking about all the other times he's played the dark and silent bitchmaker, but I didn't look at Saif once and think, "There's the Salaam Namaste dude." Which is awesome. The effort really paid off; he's so believable and compelling in the Iago role, Shakespeare might have squirmed. He might have squirmed in a lot of places. There's no ketchup in the deaths in this film. The violence isn't gratuitous, but it's a presence and a character as much as the rural UP setting is.



Kaushik is in town! We went to the Charminar and the museum yesterday. He stood humbled and awed by the pseudness of Banjara Hills. Oh, and we watched Chelsea v/s Liverpool, which was a perfect match. Liverpool won but Viktor Krum scored.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

even caesar would watch this

Uma links to this news item on Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, which for those living under a rock or unexposed to Bollywood - but I repeat myself - is the years most eagerly-awaited film among non-resident Indians and lovers of big-budget Hindi "family drama". A new generation of Indians, born post-Independence, tempered by the loud, bad action films of the early nineties, disciplined by a hard and bitter diet of craptastication. I include myself in this generation, naturally. I usually hate on K-Jo (Uma's inspired nomenclature) films with vim - although this was not always the case, I loved him when I was fourteen, before I grew up and found out that girls have to lose at basketball before they can attract men, not but that I distance myself from basketball as a rule because, you know, soft-bellied lily of the valley - and vigour, all the more so because they have the raw material of decent cinema. Everything except the brains.

Anyway, so apparently this film is about infidelity? And honest relationships? And everyone has short names of not more than two syllables? What really caught my attention was the following line, though:
Dev (Shah Rukh) is a professional footballer...


At which my brain snagged and short-circuited because what else could Isheeta and I talk about?

Roswitha: imagine the italian football team in a yash chopra film.
Isheeta: this is too much fun, you know canna's totez item girl material. he'd steal the show.

Even the gist of the conversation is too mind-bogglingly silly (although I will recount that Isheeta mentioned sleeveless silk mini-kurtas and dupattas in conjunction with the mind-boggling pun, FabioIndia) to reproduce here, although I realise that in most circles I no longer have a reputation for sensibility to keep up anymore. But for the interested reader I will record that there were chiffons galore in our version of the K-Jo/Azzurri blockbuster, Calcio Ho Naa Ho*, and there were buff men putting along the streets of Rome on Vespas with their dupattas flying into other people's faces.


* son of Calcio Calcio Hota Hai and Kabhi Calcio Kabhie Gham.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

that book is so good on you.

The Guardian has this utterly charming, self-involved blog on the attractiveness of book-readers. What a worthless goldfish I am, I immediately jumped at it because it combined things I enjoy: public transport, books and attractive people. The comments contain such gems as 'I met my girlfriend when I was reading Murakami in a nightclub,' and 'I'd like a girl who reads Kafka, Beckett or Dostoevsky, but when is that ever going to happen?'. I think the first man is actually single, unless he was in a nightclub that has a reading room, and the second one is likely to stay single until he meets a girl who likes getting beaten with a mop while tied to a bed with her apron strings.

I don't see how meeting someone who reads the same books as you do is equal to true love. I might meet a man reading Jeanette Winterson on a train but unless he thinks Written on the Body was crap we'd end up going nowhere, wouldn't we? And if he were reading The Da Vinci Code he might really be an intellectually and socially curious man who hates the book but needed to know what the fuss was about? It would be wrong of me to dismiss his enjoyment of T S Eliot if it was only a mild aberration, and his real love someone completely different, like Nikki Giovanni.

I should like to see people on the train reading geeky comics, and laughing at pulpy biographies of Jackie O and Elizabeth Taylor. I should like to see someone unable to suppress a goofy, excited grin as they read the last bit of Persuasion. I should like to see someone close their eyes as they turned a page of Yehuda Amichai. I should like to see someone holding open John Donne and silently mouthing along the words of 'Batter my heart, three person'd God.'

I should like to see someone up and throw The Catcher in the Rye into Mahim Creek. I should like to see someone read Christina Rossetti in a pose of pre-Raphaelite meditativeness, or Catullus, biting kuckles and crossing legs. Raymond Chandler with beady eyes, perhaps, or the latter half of Cuckold with the shadowed face and the hooded eyes of one who stayed up the night before, incapable of putting it down. I'd like to see someone reading those old illustrated imported-from-Russia books like Northern Lights with cheeks sucked in, reminded of the children they used to be, or a child reading Dickens, or a teenager reading Pablo Neruda to the boy or girl in the next compartment.

I'd like to see someone in a Jim Morrison tee-shirt reading Anna Akhmatova. I'd like to see someone reading Pu La Deshpande or KM Munshi in the original. I'd like to see someone's face go slack with grief as they read Regeneration. I'd like to see busy women reading Simone deBeauvoir and Wendy Cope and weep with laughter as they read Psmith or Blandings stories. I'd like to see someone cry at the end of a book.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

hitchens to mel-g: cleaners, now.

There are times when I can't stand Christopher Hitchens, but he's so very readable when he takes up cudgels with the aid of spitting sarcasm and righteous rage.

On Mel Gibson's latest show of crazy.

He is given to furious tirades against homosexuals of the sort that make one wonder if he has some kind of subliminal or "unaddressed" problem. His vulgar and nasty movies, which also feature this prejudice, are additionally replete with the cheapest caricatures of the English. Braveheart and The Patriot are two of the most laughable historical films ever made. He has told interviewers that his wife, the mother of his children, is going to hell because she subscribes to the wrong Christian sect. And it has been obvious for some time to the most meager intelligence that he is sick to his empty core with Jew-hatred.


Not quite internally consistent there himself with the disavowal of homophobia, if you ask me - "unaddressed" problem? More like unaddressed "problem," Kitchens - but forgivable, considering how much irony is slathered over the article. And I love that he brought up this thing as a primary accusation: Mel Gibson makes really, really bad films.

MEL GIBSON. What a - what a. What a what? Identifying him as one of any parts of the male genitalia would be too kind, and I suspect he would consider it a compliment.

Alas, Kitchens. If only mocking the stupid ever made a difference in the real world.

(P.S. I don't enjoy South Park a whole lot, but I did watch 'The Passion of the Jew' and thought it was wonderfully unforgiving.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

hydrobath

It is apparently without irony that a bath products shop nestled in Banjara Hills calls itself by this name. Hydrobath. For all your bath needs.

So. To celebrate a year of my change of residence and to mark the anniversary of a dreadful cloudburst in Bombay in 2005, we had the rains slow us down here for a couple of days. Only they weren't the sort of dreadful pouring storms that start off when you go to sleep and rage on through the night so that when you wake up you see that there's still water thudding at the windows, the sun has been blotted out and you can't go to school - the sort you really call a downpour in Bombay? Instead, it was the sort of rain that gets the Harbour line shut down for a couple of hours. Which is to say, the 'A trio of dogs weed on our tracks! SYSTEM CRASH!' sort of rain. People from work got home after midnight, the roads refused to drain off (which can admittedly be a problem in what is essentially a hilly sort of area, especially if you don't, you know, have a drainage system or anything), and water seeped into many, many engines. It was hilarious. The bits where people fell into open drains was not so good. On the whole, however, it was a little like watching Prince George of Blackadder III being a rich, devilishly handsome young nincompoop who can't put his pants on.

I was reading some of the threads on the Bombay communities at Orkut - the Café de Flores of the Internets, only not really - with interest, especially the ones about that gul-dang spirit of the city. I was happy to notice a significant amount of participation from people who no longer live there. Sometimes I think that Bombay is really like a Hotel California, whence you can check out any time you like but never leave, and so on. But that's true of everyone and their hometown, worse luck to those Chennai natives. *ducks*

I'll tell you about what I have inherited as a daughter of the soggy blocks of the Paris of India: pedestrian rage.

People tell me, "walking out in Bombay is so chaotic, it means you will be able to handle anything after it, even hiking down those treacherous goat trails in the Andes." And now, darn. I really don't know about that. In Bombay they teach people to drive in straight lines and obey signals. No one does that in Hyderabad. Driving is really more about instinct down here. It's like a little voice in your head telling you that the traffic signals are guidelines, not rules, mwahahaha, and it would really be fun to scratch the Merc in the next lane, except it's in the same lane, because there's no lane system on Hyderabad roads, and then the Merc owner will get out and it will be Chiranjeevi, who will yell at you a bit and then take you back to his palazzo in Jubilee Hills and feed you peeled grapes. The consequences for pedestrians? A little like trying to get past the Azzurri defence of old: you just never do, AND you end up getting fouled all the same (Well, with notable exceptions).

Walking along the footpaths is even worse. People do not move. Have you ever met a Hyderabadi who told you, "I'd never live in Bombay, the pace of life is too brutal"? I'm sure such people deserve sympathy, but it won't be you giving it to them after you've spent some time trying to walk along the (tiny, sliced-off, pedestrian-rights violating) footpaths behind fifteen people of varying ages and sizes who just never seem to have to get anywhere. Sympathisers will be trying to save them from you and a meat cleaver.

If you're the sort of Bombayite who hears someone tell you, "New York is awful omgz, if you fell down dead on the footpath people would step over you!" and goes "well, duh," in a dark corner of your desensitized, emotionally arrested mind, you will need an oxygen tank and a militant regime of yoga and vegetarianism to keep you breathing after a jaunt about on these roads.

Rage, man, rage. Profane, misanthropic, pukka Bombay rage. I have it every time I have to take a walk on the wild side. Aneurysm. I end up having it also.

current musix: regina spektor - us.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

ratatouille

Arbitrarily decided to share two salient facts of my life at work.


Voila Mr Wigglebottom, a mouse of superpowers. He can be wound up and made to scuttle around on limbs that are undistinguishable from sturdy white plastic wheels. Alternately, his tail can rotate around itself with facility. His shining black eyes and soft brown fur make him a hit with most people. His fans claim to be admirers not only of his looks but also his approachable, friendly personality, and the fact that he's "always ready to offer a cuddle when you need one!," according to one rat-struck young fan. Often considered timid and reserved, he is in fact possessed of a large measure of gritty courage and capabilities to think on his, erm, wheels. Unfortunately, he lacks the sense of direction required for him to make a truly functional mouse, and so is often laughed at by his rodent friends. This has led him to channel his considerable and varied faculties into other areas, such as knitting and taking apart electronics.





Sir Thomas Walsingham (ignore the surrounding pink groupies and the frog on his head) is a cat, or not, of an altogether different colour. A rat of tremendous passion and intellect, he shot to fame as the intrepid head of intelligence under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. An accomplished poet and dramatist, he can claim (but never does, of course) to be the inspiration for many of the works of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, with the latter of whom he also had a brief but memorable affair, which ended when Kit was killed brutally in a bar brawl. His success as a master spy and detective can be attributed to his legendary powers of deduction and observation, no doubt helped along by the fact that his rodentitude makes it easy for him to blend into the background.


Tom (Walsingham to you) has seen and done much in his long and colourful career as all this and more: he has also been a painter, a musician, one of the BBC's earliest and most popular newsreaders, and a rodent of negotiable affection in Phnom Penh. In 2005, he met the lovely Emily at the Globe Theatre in London and was consequently persuaded to come to and stick around Hyderabad for some time in return for a flatscreen Pentium-IV enabled workstation and an iPod. And, of course, the experience.

As for me, I'm okay. It's been a year and two days since I last moved to Hyderabad. A year ago I was listening to 'The Joshua Tree' obsessively and missing home. Now I'm eating a hummus and tomato sandwich and home is everywhere.

eta: Remiss of me to forget. Thanks to Suhel for snapping the ratsters.

current musix: rachid taha - rock el casbah.

the marriage of middle-eastern pop and british punk rock. straight out of the imagination of a daring and marvellous god.

Friday, July 21, 2006

my true love hath my heart

Only not quite. I haven't been enjoying blogging of late. Work is actually getting a bit hectic and is likely to remain so over the next month, which leaves little energy for the Blog. In a way it was just as well that the government decided to OMGDestr0ihumanrightz!!1!! But I understand things are back on track now and people are able to access blogspot blogs once again. I will be keeping up with wordpress for a while longer, at any rate.

I feel like talking about Tolkien again. I've been re-reading the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion - as is my wont - and the melancholy felt like a tangible weight. Frodo's journey is about hope, of course, and how it must persist even in the face of cycles of despair, but the doom (a word Tolkien uses a lot) of Middle-earth really doesn't strike you until you go back to the Silmarillion and read the litany of destruction, as much a product of Tolkien's own experience of war and death as his love for dead and imaginary languages. I love his ability to find beauty in the darkest of things, but so much of it comes from a deep sadness.

I have a conflicted relationship with the films, but I was watching 'The Two Towers' the other day and found the battle at Helm's Deep illumined by the mellow gravity of Bernard Hill intoning Tolkien's words:

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?


--

The blasts remain a sort of benchmark for the immediate span of past, present and future. Things were going well until that Tuesday. I had hopes and dreams. And the enthusiasm to make a series of posts on the drama of Italian football. Obviously this was not quite the primary blow the bombers were attempting to deal when leaving their suspicious packets behind in the locals, but that's neither here nor there.

The world seems to be filled with a strange, uneasy sort of silence now. The war in Lebanon feels like something out of 'Dover Beach':

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Like something inevitable, not shocking. And I hate Matthew Arnold. I wonder what it must have been like to live in the age that produced this kind of poetry. And being moved to quote him! Truly we live in dark times.

There's no heart in the exclamation points anymore.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

mr orwell, i presume

Your jersey number is 84, so you can be no one else.

I like the word 'Orwellian' far more than I should. I have used it lightly in the past, for a number of things from etiquette at weddings to the brown lunch trays in the work cafeteria. (It's also inaccurate. The first is definitely more Theatre of the Absurd than 1984.) Basic training in cultural studies has given me a vocabulary that far overdescribes my actual conditions. Atomisation, alienation, Theodore, Walter, simply marvellous to see you chaps!

Having said that, I do not believe the Indian government has executed an Orwellian move by blocking access to weblogs. A puzzling move, perhaps. Likely a fruitless one. One might even venture to say, if one was a brave-hearted revolutionary unafraid to exchange one's life for the freedom to speak truth to power, that the stupidity of said move was less gobsmacking than gobpulpingintojelly and the less one assumed about the administration's Intarnets familiarity the better.

Of course, there could be a point. After all, just because I've never seen terrorist activity taking place on a public, unsecured web journal accessible to anyone doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Why trust statistics when you can stop people talking about them at all?

Having said this: if you don't see me tomorrow, you will know why.

I've created a duplicate blog at roswitha.wordpress.com, where you may check back until I begin to threaten the state from over there.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Rahul blogs about the liberties people take with the words, "the spirit of Mumbai".

Vivek hopes that Indo-Pak peace initiatives are not sidetracked.

Uma has a series of posts on the day and the aftermath.

And Dilip D'Souza writes movingly of the hours after the blasts.

Various people speak eloquently of the city bouncing back.

Various people make angry and defiant open letters to terrorists.

Various people have no clue about where Mumbai is, which country it belongs to, or how to spell its name (and which one?) correctly.

Various people, having been through the stages of shock, fear, sorrow and rage, begin to recover from the thought that people they might have travelled with countless times in the past might have been on those trains; that but for sheer chance, their loved ones - not to mention themselves - might have been on those trains.

People demand accountability and responsibility from the police. People get sick of this endless game of top dog played by the thugs in power that want to prove to the world that the city belongs to them.

People die. People lose limbs. People, so many people, that sometimes it feels like the spirit of Mumbai has less to do with the innate resilience of citizens living a hard-pressed life and more to do with the fact that its so easy to sink without a trace in a city like this, because ten more people will rush in to take one dead person's place.

Why don't we fixate more on the dead? Is it because no one has the time or energy to look back? Or is it simply because it's more convenient for our media not to do so? Isn't it acknowledging the expendability of human life in some way, to keep from harping on the names and numbers and situations?


current musix: bob dylan - masters of war (live).