Sunday, January 25, 2009

To drive home a point!!

During the trip home, the first major roadblock was to convince Mom that I still knew how to drive a car. coz she was saying…

”Chekku haven’t driven a car for 1.5 years, you must have forgotten it...”

This comes from someone whose driving test went like…

License Inspector: “OK...Do you know ‘H’?”
Mom: “Uh…I am an English teacher… Do you know what a “past participle” is?
License inspector: “Err...madam…we have to ask we ask “8” for two wheelers”
Mom: “Well there again…you bribed into this job haven’t you…Do you know what a CLUTCHUU is!!”
Mom (over to me pointing at the gear): “Edaa….you call this CLUTCHUU alle… ”
License inspector (looking at me in pity): “OK…License issued madam!!!!”

And armed with a license she set foot on the pedal in pursuit of long drives. Of the 25000 kms our car has done she has contributed a generous 12 meters…And those 12 meters...My dear Henry Ford!!!!

Remember scenes from the movie SPEED, a couple of Prem Nazir car chases and little miss sunshine all rolled in one. That would explain how it felt!! Not bad considering the learning experience at the Sarathy driving school which taught her the finer points about driving. The niche “ladies-only school” where the alumnus was more enthusiastic in discussing global prices fluctuations (to say precisely at Palayam market) and product supply management (no milk at home…could you spare a packet for me).
Unknown to general public is the fact that most damaged leaky buildings or otherwise known as heritage monuments in and around Trivandrum aren’t the handiwork of natural disasters as many think but the ladies who passed out from this driving school!! Historians have noted that as a consequence only a part of the legendary east fort still exists and rumors say that even chandresekharan nair stadium (which is like Kerala’s Colosseum) once used to be complete. Well, I concluded the only way mom could drive is when they invent a voice activated car which would take her where she wants when you say “MOVE”!!

Well getting back to my interest in driving I managed after some convincing to take the car out for a drive…It was difficult in the beginning to keep tab of the complex traffic laws in our system...i.e…you shouldn’t follow it when you are driving in India…

Once, while waiting for the lights to change at an intersection, I was stared down by drivers behind me with an ”Are you crazy look”. And I pointed them towards the lights which were still red….Now my friend accompanying me was giving the same looks…and I said...”Daa...they are Red”

“Whaat...They are just an ad campaign for bulbs…we have them everywhere…they are special disco bulbs which Philips is aggressively marketing…they become yellow and green sometime…quite retro!!”

Schmuck…I was losing my good civic sense!!...

After a few kilometers , I slowed near a zebra crossing which seemed to have last got a coat of paint during the second world war...Here I was met with an old gentleman who was crossing the road..…The surprised look, like of a child who just discovered something said…

“OMG!!...“I never knew it all these years….car’s STOP at the zebra crossing!!!!”

Soon I got hang of the things and inspite of being severely criticized for not honking every 2 minutes which is the average frequency for most vehicles back home, I was driving fine. Besides the driving rules one critical part of the experience are the roads. In my city roads serve dual purposes and hence administered together by the surface transport (during summer) and water transport ministry (during monsoons).

Talking of other road matters I have news for folks who say there is no employee satisfaction in government jobs …Numismatics Club (specializing in 500 Gandhi notes) is popular among most employees and even a very vibrant archaeology club exists at PWD .In passionate pursuit they have dug up most roads in the state uncovering rare rusted sewage pipes, plastic bags, old tires and other such valuable artifacts... Though as a minor side effect I couldn’t find a road to drive my car.

Sometimes their antics resulted in inter-department conflicts too…like with the flyover under construction at bakery junction in my city…Archaeological survey of India has now locked horns with PWD who attempting to finish the flyover work which was started decades ago…As ASI argues that partly constructed piles do now have an heritage value of national importance which must be protected at all costs!!

Amidst all the tussles I am in NH-47 at cruise mode. A stretch of road which is still virgin from the handiworks of digging club…Listening to Hotel California, enjoying the breeze from Arabian Sea and tapping my fingers on the steering wheel to the rhythm , I am driving at a relaxed pace. Bro says I am looking like a stoned Mr. Beans…

But wait, Do I see a KSRTC bus behind!!

And he said "JIM CARREY!!"

Wishing you all a Happy Republic Day. The essence of this day couldnt have been put better than what is written here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Its Showtime Baby!!!!!

As the year 2009 rolled in with greetings from boss to your dog, most of you might have already broken those new year resolutions made under much aplomb. My resolution to work-out and spend time more effectively ended effectively after watching three Rambo movies in succession on day one…6-packs and you end up with an horrible profession in Vietnam fighting Russians...that’s not the way!!
And these days with words like recession, cost-cutting getting more popular and words like growth being used only sparingly in places like your beard… life is ofcoz getting tough buddy !. As a matter of fact, the only one who is making any dough these days is the neighbourhood baker...

Being a victim of cost cutting measures myself, I understand the anguish we all have to go through in these troubled times…Last week to my utter dismay the help desk denied me a humble request for a wide screen monitor, a surround sound system and a popcorn holder inspite of convincingly narrating the need for a wholesome work environment in office.

Anyways the last year did leave us with a sprinkling of watchable movies... and some so bad that the reels should be treated like nuclear waste stacked away from mankind .Though I managed to catch only a few of them, the movies as usual with the plotlines...the saga...the destiny.. the size zero and the six packs… kept most of us entertained. Presenting before you four must see movies of the year 2008!

1) Slumdog Millionaire

This movie is about the rags to riches story of a boy called Raju who lived in outskirts of Hyderabad…The struggle of a boy as he go on to achieve his dream of being a millionaire and beyond . The story tells you how several incidents in his life were linked to each million in his kitty, like once buying a cat called Sify…staying in an a 2 BHK Maytas Apartment …standing outside the neighborhood World Bank during one rainy night…each twists and turns that shaped his future...But there was one final question in the game…and someone was watching.!! Will he make it!!

Rush to your nearest theater and watch Slumdog Millionaire to know it all!! Titillating music by Maestro Vadlamani esp. “Jail Ho” which has topped the charts and once in a jail time performance by the lead role would keep the viewers engrossed.

Our rating * * * * *
Now running at Dalal Street Cinema Ghar

2) Politics Ne Bana Di Jodi

The moving story of two parties coming together for the greater good...This movie is a sequel of the blockbuster movie “Singh is King”…A nice blend of romance followed by hatred and finally ending in a divorce dominates till the interval…As the beleaguered hero Manmohan hailing from the Congress khaandan struggles to come in terms with the bitter separation with Karat there enters someone to save him.. It was love at first sight when he spotted Mulayam sitting coyly under the nuclear tree. Scintillating songs shot at scenic locales in 10 Janapath takes the romance forward with climax considered one of the most expensive in the industry...545 actors acted out in the final scene at the Lok Sabha Haveli...This is a tale of two unassuming partners coming together...But, would the villain Thakur Karat let them live!!

Good: edge of the seat climax
Bad: Forgettable villain

3) Kismat Konnection

Tale of two people….two races…and one aim….
They fight...they shout…they provoke….a bitter relation threatening to break...and after beating around the “bush” for sometime they become one...The moving story of how two people Obama and Hillary are connected by their kismat ...Drawing parallels to an Hollywood movie “The Unfaithful” this movie is worth its weight in clintons and at times Hillaryous..…When the relation was threatened by an Alaskan storm from north and a destructive hurriCain from the west, the love blossomed like karma for a greater good. This is a musical you can’t miss!

Good: a welcome ‘change’ from regular musicals
Bad: did not do much bushness at box office.

4) Dasavatharam

A Magnus opus ….This movie stands out for the sheer brilliance of the actor who manages to enact 10 different roles in a single movie…each one distinctly superb hardly giving a clue to the common Joe of the same actor’s histrionic skills. He plays the role of a honest man in his first avatar. As the story moves forwards each character emerges suavely…the aam aadmi …the tactician….the exploiter of religious sentiments….the man of promises….silent assassin… its very hard to believe that an actor can play such a wide spectrum of roles.. yeah…sure he can...coz the actor is our humble politican!!!

5) To watch out in 2009

With quite a good deal of movies expected this year, some are already generating quite a hype...

Lucknow Chowk to Nayi Dilli: The BSP…err USP of this movie is upcoming star and vivacious bubbly actress Mayaji and the new star in tinsel town is already making waves throughout the country. Not surprising if you remember how she came into limelight with her hit song ‘No stopping me…coz mein hoon uptown girl...UP se aaya uptown girl ’

Billu barber: It revolves around the story of an humble barber who took upon the challenge of a 6 month long massive deforestation program conceived under the five year plans on Ishant Sharma , finally paying off…Inspite of connections with celebrities he doesn’t get paid often as the movie tells you about Aamir Khan who forgot to pay him after a haircut coz he suffered from anterograde amnesia…a tragic story indeed!! Carry loads of tissues…

Anyways signing off with the best song of last year Lets shake our legs to it…oh yeah!!!!!!! ;-D

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A December to remember!

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne is considered as a classic in literary circles and in a desperate attempt to recreate Around Central Travancore in thirty days, I boarded the flight home last December. Theoretically I shouldn’t have worried much about air travel, but when you often read about Dawood’s and Kasab’s you appreciate more the calming effects of emirates air hostesses and their plastic smiles.

However as the flight progressed, the pilot informed us that he would be circling around Dubai for sometime as he was struggling to dodge the plane through a maze of several Burj Al Arabs and other funky buildings … Inshah Allah, he won the game landing smoothly at Dubai airport with enough fuel to spare!!

Folks who have visited Dubai airport might know that the place looks like an erstwhile golf course remodeled into an airport, where they actually forgot to do away with the golf carts. Anyways, I spend a few minutes browsing the duty free shops which in arabic language means grossly over-priced shops and fancied owning the orphaned Merc someone had abandoned at the terminal … But then like all good Sheikh’s they showed me the easiest way to being super-rich and owning a Merc is to go sit at one of those sleeping lounges and start dreaming. Well..I did not care to disagree.

The flight from Dubai was not eventful though am pretty sure the plane was overloaded with all malayalees on board carrying copious quantities of traditional cure for all maladies ..the SCOTCH. Infact the plane very much resembled a cargo from scotland and even the air hostesses seemed to get the whiff when one of em told me..”Mr.Jack Daniels..your’s is the aisle seat” !! The next day I was home in good old Trivandrum where I was greeted by NSG commandos besides Mom and bro...


Well staying at home jobless is absolutely divine…Infact the only job you have is to appreciate home made food and watch Asianet…Though I was occasionally harassed by parents asking me silly questions esp. while I was doing something absolutely critical…”Daa…ninte kalyanam kaaryam odannei enthenkillum …” .I reiterated why men hate when they are distracted at work...”Amma...cant you see am doing the jigsaw puzzle!!”…Though I managed to buy time ,that was a persistent question throughout my trip from Dad, Mom, relatives , sales boy at Josco jewellers to the CITU leaders at the chaayakada…

And ocassionally in desperate need for distractions I switched on the television which was dominated by priests ,nuns, the CBI and star singers!! It was interesting to see televised ragging sessions in those singing competitions…And damn with all that humility of the contestants and the arrogance of the judges I was glad for once that I did not know how to sing !! The Hamburg Nightingale would have made them cringe for a song you see…

Apart from television I watched this documentary on body building called ‘Ghajini’ at the theater which was attended by who is who of the VeeraKerala gym …Aamir Khan was roughly twice the size of a malnourished Shah Rukh Khan and is shown working out most of the time besides running a mobile service company and doing revenge in his spare time. I don’t mean to be rude, but Asin needs a more peaceful , working in an IT company sorts , a malayalee who occasionally blogs and who loves chakkakuru maanga curry…Just stray pointers you know!!


The city which I love when stuck in a timemachine. Couple of days in this city where my grandmother lives was always in my minds when I left here…Though I was a bit surprised to see my uncle’s place which once used to be outskirts of Bangalore become part of the city itself…The vineyards nears there place had gone giving way to new flats and apartments. Just that silly desire to have some images frozen ,like the Bangalore of yore , but then that ofcoz would be a mere wish!!

Anyways what was more important was having a great time with grandmother, uncle, aunt and cousins…and so did I. The next day I moved to an apartment in the city expecting old friends who were coming down from Bombay, Mysore and Chennai…Meeting old buddies after 2-3 years is always special and we relished every bit of it…staying awake till 5 in the morning and regaling on good old debates like who is better Mohanlal or Mamootty amidst generous supply of beers , and retelling old college tales and laughing like you heard for the first time, having a cup of tea and fish fingers at 4:30 in the morning at a nearby hotel much to the dismay of the waiter. …By morning we had lost any pending baggage of corporate mannerisms we hardly had anyways. The stay was short but memorable.

Kottayam/ Changanacherry

During the trip to Blore, Amma and grandmother opened a box of old childhood tales...One being a incident at Kottayam raliway station.. As kids we used to love a particular brand of soap and it once happened that my brother shouted loud at mom pointing at a billboard ad outside the station..”Chettante chandrika..chettante chandrika” ..Well must have been quite embarrassing for my parents!!

Visited most of my relations and a special request for mathuraakallu which I wanted to taste after a long gap was duly granted by uncle..Not to mention some delicious naadan food that was served at all homes…One of the best part was being able to meet my niece whom I really wanted to see ever since I saw her first snaps…You could spend hours with her and not realise how time flies by!!

Travelling from Changanaserry to Alapuzha via kuttanad makes you glad that some places never change..The route was as scenic as ever before with lush green paddy fields giving you a landscape that you would see nowwhere else in the world…Its probably just these imageries which most people who stay away from naadu crave for..

The first rains of the monsoon…the smell of good home made food…the prayers from the temple near home…drink a glass of water from the nearby well…mere images…. that probably sustains and motivates many.. During that halt in Dubai I saw that in the eyes of many poor malayalee and tamil labourers who were travelling home to enjoy those imageries in real..for a week…or for a month maybe!!
pic: valiathura pier..trivandrum
p.S. I am lovin this video! look at her expression when he says its girl's bike :-)