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).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

this is happening once too often.

Everyone at home, stay safe.

No words to describe people who do this. Just none at all.

Monday, July 10, 2006

preliminary demns and blasts

Ah, sport.

Some part of me knew it was inevitable, but heck, it’s too bad that a young, driven, brilliant guy had just one thing standing between him and glory.

Still, that Roger Federer. Really something to come up against, huh?

…as for that other minor sporting event that only about half the world was watching, wow. Italy. Italy. Who’d a-thunk, huh? Except for a few million pasta-eating Meditteranean populations, and ME, ME MEMEMEMEMMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMYTEAMWONOMG!

And it wasn’t a kick in the face to Jean-Marie Le Pen, worse luck. Maybe it wasn’t an airy beautiful catanaccio-free game, and alright, maybe one or two parts were actually like an operatic nightmare, but they won. And they won because there wasn’t a one among them who weren't focused utterly on winning, on sticking it out to finish the job. And they did. Kausha and I were talking before the game and we both agreed that it was brilliant to see how well this Italy had knit together. They’re a team that can afford to bench superstars like del Piero and Inzaghi as subs, but overwhelmingly it felt like they were playing as an eleven-man team, an Italy rather than a Totti or Toni or whoever that came on with an assorted back-up chorus of players when they felt like it. They don’t have someone as transcendently great as Zidane or – as he will undoubtedly count someday – Henry, but that worked out to their advantage in the end, didn’t it?

As for Zidane, I’m deeply unhappy about what happened. If it hadn’t been for the red card, I’d probably have been struck dumb with joy (and then this blog would have been a smiley face and many, many fashion-calendar shots of the winning side). I wish there was an explanation. After the cool and confidence of his penalty kick – which was SO undeserved, by the way! – things just seemed to go downhill. And just as we were asking each other why he couldn’t just, y’know, lighten up; boom. I have no doubt that Materrazzi was being annoying, but the headbutt? That was not Zidane. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t even soccer. Not even Argentinian soccer. I watched some of the Germany-Portugal game on Saturday, an utter waste of match, and wondered at Figo unpatriotically making himself unavailable until it was too late – didn’t he wonder if it would have made a difference if he’d have been on the pitch, even in a loser’s final? How much more gobsmacking the idea of it being a Cup final, and a farewell match, and it being Zizou?

So of course after Henry and he left it had to run into penalties, which are a deeply unpleasant way of settling scores, especially with Italy’s history with shootouts. And whoa, hello, turning of tides much. As much as I hate them for sheer dependence on chance, it did in retrospect look like everything Italy 2006 had been about had come together to score those five shots. I wish Buffon had been able to pull off some Lehmann-like saves, but I guess the fact that he can’t and still be widely acknowledged as the world’s best ‘keeper says enough.

If I had to pick one man for special credit, though, I’d have to call Cannavaro. I’d have to call Cannavaro for President. VOTE him. Because. Because! World Cup 2006!



current musix: david bowie - golden year.

Friday, July 07, 2006

this blog is not about cristiano ronaldo. in fact, it's not even about soccer.

There is no subtext here. Not talking about it. Not one bit. Soccer is totally on the backburner. I have a life outside of ESPN. Plus, I don't really watch sport. Competitive physical activity degrades the life of the mind.

Instead, we shall turn to one of this blog's favourite subjects, Johnny Depp, and talk about him with spirit and verve for much of this post. I watched 'Finding Neverland' for the fourth time on Wednesday, and discovered that there does in fact exist a film that answers the age-old meme question, "Name one film that never fails to make you cry." And I don't mean that in a bad way. It may have its flaws, but watching Kate Winslet walk into Neverland, right after the wee old lady meeting Johnny on opening night says, "My husband would have loved it - he was just a boy, really ..." turns on the waterworks every time.

Hollywood is disgusting, ohmigod. * moans feebly * Die, emotional manipulation.

We shall also mention in passing 'Shrek 2' which I watched for the first time immediately after 'Neverland'. The Shrek films have charmed me with their ingenious and incredibly tasteful soundtracks. Frou Frou's cover of 'Holding Out For A Hero', viz. the title song. Sheer genius. Immi Heap is eminently worthy of worship.

Er. Right.

Going to work now.

Going to eat lunch.

Going to drink orange juice.

Not talking about soccer.

Still not talking about soccer.

Okay! Really not talking about soccer! Talking about hot men instead. Who happen to play soccer. Primary purpose of post = not soccer. Triumph of logic, really. Examining notions of beauty = perfect occupation in the life of the mind.

A conversation ensued lately between myself and Wikisharma, who has lately unleashed his fearsome skillz and deadly WMDs on the blogosphere. I quote here:

me: paolo maldini is the reason i began supporting italian football
WS: you know that i cannot share your enthusiasm right?
me:: i'm unable to understand how you can't
his hotness breaks boundaries of cultural and sexual preference
he's just ... guh.
WS: have u seen raging bull?
me:: no i havent.
WS: okay, so there is a scene in the movie
WS: in which his wife says that his boxing opponent is cute
me:: okay.
WS: this drives an already paranoid man mad
so when they face each other in the boxing ring
he breaks his nose
and beats him with vengeance..
when the bell rings, the commentator says..
"He aint gonna be pretty no more"
me:: eek.
WS: so my point is. all the pretty boys are more likely to get a beating than anything else
me:: yes, but from whom?
who is going to beat the pretty boys? more pretty boys?
the delectable pouty henry?
WS: no the ugly ones
me:: zinedine 'ralph-fiennes-possesses-me' zidane?
pish, robert de niro is NOT ugly
he's very attractive
WS: no, but i do know that ronaldo is itchin for a beatin
C. Ronaldo is the most hated character in the WC so far
me:: see, he's getting himself into trouble because he's an obnoxious prick
WS: www.ihateronaldo.com/
me:: not because he's pretty
WS: he's not pretty
me:: no one hates him because he's beautiful.

And that is seriously that. At the risk of being accused of - many things, I have to say that I have never known the general population of my acquaintance to vote someone as so hot, so unanimously. It is outside my sphere of experience. I quote another conversation at work with my flatmate last afternoon.

me: by the way, cwistiano? turns out to be football's most hated player
everyone seems to think he fouled his way to victory
flatmate: WHY???
in what way?
me: well, you know how they dive and pretend to be hurt so that the ref will award them points?
cwistiano is a MASTER
a GOD
at that.
flatmate: he is lovely
he can do what he wants.
flatmate: no court of law will stop him.
me: there is only one court, and it is the court of pretty.


He's cute, he's a brat, he's a billionaire born in frickin' 1985. Does all this account for something in the legacy of ickle Cwistiano Wonaldo? Why do more people not cheer for, say, Camoranesi? Is there something like a landslide victory in the gorgeous stakes here?

Profound questions, no doubt deserving every bit of the twenty-four hours or so before Cwistiano goes on field again. And then, Sunday night. Mmm. But more on that later.


current musix: imogen heap: goodnight and go. "why d'you have to be so cute?/it's impossible to ignore you ..."

hahaha. close, immi, real close.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

some observed statistics in last night's thrilling soccer semi.

Times Ros actually looked at the telly during the game and thought, 'Well, this is thrilling': < 5.

Times Ros looked at the telly and thought, 'What is this, tennis?' especially in the second half: Approximately 200.

Times Ros went * blink * and '...well, fuck, I was supporting the better team after all': Approx. 60.

Times Totti groped various and sundry Germans on camera: 1.

Times everyone on field tried to touch Michael Ballack inappropriately: 90 million.

Times Camoranesi acted like a Harlequin romance heroine, flashing dark baleful eyes at Metzelder and refusing his help after being knocked down: 1.

Times Materazzi clung to his 'drama queen of the world' title with desperation rather than flamboyance: Approx. 118.

Times Ros looked at Jens Lehmann and thought, 'Wow, it's going to be difficult as hell to put anything past this guy': 14.

Times Ros looked at Jens Lehmann and thought, 'Or not!': 2.

Times Gigi Buffon was awesome: > 1. Definitely almost 3! Maybe 40! Nobody knows!

Goals at the end of 117 minutes of play: 0

Italian goals at the end of 119 minutes of play: 2.

German goals at the end of 119 minutes of play: 0.

Overall goals at the end of play: 2.

World Cup 2006 matches in which Italy outclassed Germany at practically every point: 1.

Ros' happiness factor at end of game on a scale of 10: 10.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

folks in bombay

Stay safe.

*worried*

Saturday, July 01, 2006

a few more informal notes, pursuing previous blogs

Dear Jens Lehmann,

... oh, forget it. Good show. Here's hoping the Italians distract your brains out.

Can I send you a bill for the paper hankies?

Gloomily,
R.



Dear Italy,

Good show! You had an easy time of it, I daresay, but from what I hear - I didn't stay up to watch the game - you actually played a fantastic attacking game. I did get to the news early this morning, though, and saw all the cheering and the goals and Alessandro del Piero kissing the rest of you in inappropriate places*. I didn't realise how much I was depending on a victory from you to counter the heartbreak of the other game, but I was. Your undeniable superiority over Ukraine is all very well, but it's good to know that Luck and I back the same teams now and then. Molto grazie for the uplifting win, chaps. You have a tough one ahead of you, but nothing is impossible. Remember, on an average you're about a thousand times sexier than Germany. Invoke that awesome.

Fondly,
R.



Dear Brazil and France,

Hi,
get done with it already.

Impatient,
R.

P.S. Portugal, if you're reading, I'm on your side.




Dear Bryan Singer,

Hi, I just got back from watching Superman Returns. I have to say, my knee-jerk reaction was: 'You gave up X3 for this?' However, there's no denying that you've made an interesting film, or at least a film as interesting as it gets when your protagonist is the Man of Steel, rather than a ragtag bunch of mutants of varying ages, sizes, sexes and emotional compositions.

I was waiting for this film eagerly, because I think your work rocks. Better and more eloquent critics than myself have said that you win at making tight, slick superhero films.

--- slight spoilers follow. Ridiculous, I know, giving you a spoiler warning in an epistle about your own film, but such is the nature of open letters. ---

So I want to know why Kevin Spacey as the cracktastic Lex Luthor seemed like he was a in a different film from the well-meaning, slightly cheesed-up one the rest of your characters were placed in. It reminded me of Johnny Depp in that modern classic, Pirates of the Caribbean, functioning on a whole different plane of energy and sass. I mean, come on. Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey in the same film? Who were you kidding?

Your grasp on the technical aspects of the film, the play of light and sound, on the fact, most of all, that superhero films are practically required to be dazzling, lovingly-crafted firework displays, has only grown stronger. Full marks on that. I notice, however, that you treat emotion the way your source comic-books treat science, freeing it from accuracy and complexity on the condition that it makes a big bang when set off. I know you didn't have much to work with in the first place, and believe me, I'm almost pathetically grateful that, far from caricaturing or pratronising the character of Lois, you made her the central character. I realise that filmmaking takes a lifetime of learning. So maybe subtlety and ambivalence can wait a year or two, eh.

Speaking of subtlety, though. That Christ metaphor? I might have missed it entirely. If you hadn't slammed it all over the screen like PIE. I didn't mind the hanging in the air, father-and-son thing all that much, but the crawling. Oh god, the crawling over the kryptonite-infused rock island. I don't know if my gut wrenched in sympathy or annoyance.

Apart from that, loved your Daily Planet, your Jimmy Olsen, your Clark Kent was adorable, Lois' boyfriend Scott Sum- erm, Richard. Richard! was really cool. And yes, I'd totally watch it again.

Here's hoping this film earns you much wealth and sexual favours,

Your fan,
R.



*What? It IS inappropriate to PDA in front of an audience of thousands in most countries in the world!