27-Aug-2006

Creatures of routine

In the limited TV Shows that come on the limited channels available at my home, I have managed to start watching a sitcom called ‘That’s so Raven’. It can be described as terrible if you were to choose one word. However, given my inexplicable need to watch some kind of chick flicks from time to time, I end up regularly watching these U.S. high school episodes that evoke laughter with great difficulty. I have been watching it for nearly 3 months now. The other day my friend called in the middle of an episode and I cringed, as I wanted to finish watching the episode. Then it occurred to me – (a) the TV series is horrible and I am watching it out of sheer boredom and (b) I was bored in the first place because I was not doing any of the ten other things which would have been more interesting and which included talking to my friend


How easy is it to fall into a pattern of life that may not be fully interesting but can nevertheless give you the illusion that you are too busy for your friends. Back in college plans to go out could be made suddenly and spontaneously. You could call a friend and end up having a conversation on nothing for hours. You did not have to think about what you would like to do on Saturday as early as Thursday because you knew Saturday would automatically fall into place.


At 28, life is rather different. All of us have cell phones and are theoretically reachable 24 hours a day but no one likes to take the call unless they are reasonably sure they are in the mood for a conversation. I have been planning to go for ‘Omkara’ for many weeks now and due to a combination of either me or my friends being busy we have not been able to do it and now the movie is no longer running in the theatres. I usually know exactly what I am going to do in the weekend by the time it is Friday and in the unlikely event someone were to call and check if I wanted to catch a movie on Saturday night I would probably have to say no. Vice versa.


The strange thing is I used to think that people used to get this affliction for routines and priorities if they were married and had kids (an excuse that is held more sacrosanct than it should be). I am not married nor are a lot of my friends. And no one has kids. Yet our lives are filled with mundane things that give it some shape and rhythm and which have become indispensable. Ironically, we forget that those things came because in the first place we were bored and did not know what to do.


That is not to say there aren’t things that I think are interesting or important and will definitely take precedence over a sudden plan to go shopping. But sometimes I wonder if I have lost sight of the line, which separates these from the things that I don’t care about. Like watching ‘That’s so Raven’ everyday of the week.


Do we get so caught in our routines as we grow older that there is little place left for spontaneity? Luckily that day I took the call and missed the part on how Raven managed to return her dress to the store (Don't even ask me how lame the whole story was). We did not end up having a soul searching conversation that changed either of our lives. My friend just wanted some info related to her work and I gave it. I am glad that my taking the call immediately instead of returning it later made her quest for the info just a wee bit easier.

21-Aug-2006

Soccer mania

Last year during the annual office picnic, someone had come up with the bright idea of having a soccer match. It was apparently good for team building. My team at Chennai did not have anyone who knew what soccer was (All of them watch cricket or at most football). However, no one was unduly worried. After all what was the probability of someone in the opposing team actually being good at the game.

It turned out the probability was pretty high. The other team was from Delhi and comprised people well over six feet who had put in two weeks of practice. Thanks to a token nod to gender equality a woman member was present in both teams. The lady from Delhi looked meaner than all the guys collectively in the Chennai team. P was representing the women of Chennai. P was dressed in pretty tracks and a cute sleeveless T-Shirt and a headband that let her tresses stream behind her as she ran. Unless she was going to beat the other team with sheer sex appeal, the chances of her contributing to the team did not look high. However in a team of 5 ft something-60kg men, she was not really bringing down the average quality by too much.

The match started. The Delhi team pounced on the ball with a vengeance. M, the only fit member in the Chennai team, bravely charged back and turned to the others to gauge a pass. This is what he saw – Ar was tripping over himself and falling. He picked himself up but again tripped after a few steps. Ar had had one too many drink the previous night and the results were showing. Within 30 seconds the disoriented guy went to the sidelines and sat and in another 10 seconds was joined by D who had given him steady support the previous evening. The subs had figured out that this was a losing match anyway and there was no sense in being mauled by rowdy opponents while losing. Within minutes, the team was short by 2 people.

P had been positioned somewhere at the back and after a while figured out that she better atleast run up and down to look like she was contributing. Good corporate philosophy obviously. S, who was the goalkeeper stopped for a brief second to comment ‘P you do know that the warm ups are supposed to be done before the match?’. P slunk back to standing at her place and watching the game. After a while she noticed that S was missing and looked around to see S in the midfield. Disheartened at the play in progress, S had clearly decided to take matters into his own hands and had deserted his post. P decided she might as well stand in front of the goal post instead of in the corner of the field.

The game meanwhile was exploring new nadirs. V bumped into K. M was still chasing the ball hopefully. Luckily he could manage to because by now the Delhi team was collapsing with laughter. After a while Delhi scored a couple of goals, which P could not stop. Of course since she was not technically the goalkeeper, it would have been pointless trying to stop the goals too. There had been six matches going on simultaneously and the commentator suddenly realised the comic potential in the Delhi – Chennai match. Within minutes he drew the attention of the entire crowd to the match. Nervous, V and K bumped into each other again. P started running up and down the field again given the number of people watching. S continued his position in the middle of the field. A and D had wandered off in search of some beer to recover from their hangover. The rest of team was scattered - all away from the ball.

The match came to an end. The Delhi team (the mean ruthless guys) jubilantly called out nasty things to the Chennai team. But if team spirit was what was meant to be promoted, the match had achieved its goal. The Chennai team tacitly agreed that it would never discuss the match again. Till date when someone mentions soccer we all grin and nod at each other quietly like members of a secret society.

Mujko bhi lift kara de

The first time I used the ‘Open’ button in my office lift and watched the doors close mindless of my command, I knew the lift at my office was not really State-of-the-art. In fact whenever you wanted the lift to remain open longer than its scheduled time you had to manually push back the two doors. The lift did not offer a smooth ride either. You could pretty much tell by the bumps on the way which floor you were on.

For a short while thanks to some general short circuiting, when you pressed ‘4’ you went to the fifth floor and vice versa. It took us a while to figure this out but being good adapters, we started pressing ‘4’ instead of ‘5’ to go to our office on the 5th floor. 5th floor houses very few people, so the secret was known only to a select group and other passengers in the lift who knew we worked on the fifth floor thought the whole team had decided to stay healthy by getting off on the 4th floor and walking a floor.

Incidentally, we have two such lifts. One fine morning the Facilities Management head decided that enough was enough and it was time to upgrade the lifts. So one of the lifts was shut down and the other one started making stops only in the basement, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th floors. This did not affect my life too much except I had to walk down occasionally to the 1st floor from the 2nd floor. The thought of a new lift however gave us all courage and strength and we bore the difficulty without too much of a fuss.

Two days ago the floor indicators inside and outside the lift stopped working. So now when I waited for the lift I had no way of knowing when the lift would arrive. Once I got into the lift I had no way of knowing if the lift was going up or down. Luckily, thanks to all the training we got in being able to judge the bumps on the way, we could instinctively make out which floor we were on.

Today, I came and stood by the lift on the fifth floor to find a small queue standing there. People were reading, some were cleaning their nails (and had cleaned quite a few) and some were staring wistfully at the horizon. I questioned the security guard about the foyer on the 5th floor becoming the new hangout in the office. He pointed out that the buttons outside the lifts had been gouged out as a part of the modernization. So there was no way one could summon the lift. Whenever someone using the lift pressed ‘5’ the lift would come up to the fifth floor. The bunch of people had collected over a period of time given the few visitors fifth floor got. Suddenly the lift appeared and everyone lunged into the lift. The poor chap getting out looked like someone trying to get off at Andheri on a Virar fast train (In case you do not know what it is, the sensation is akin to being run over by a herd of elephants).

I know I have been very patient with the lift renovation for nearly two months now. Though now I think perhaps I should just walk up and down the stairs till such time the lift is nursed back to good health.

17-Aug-2006

Review of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna

To be honest when I went to watch K.A.N.K (And what a weird sounding abbreviation that is), I had already made up my mind that it would be trashy and I could get a good laugh out of it. On the good side, it was not as bad as I thought it could have been. On the unfortunate side, while it was not corny enough to be laughed at yet it was tiring enough to give me a good headache at the end of… hmmm..almost 4 hours


When Karan Johar decided to name the movie ‘Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna’, boy, he really was not mincing his words. The movie stretches on forever like bubble gum – long after the taste is gone. But let us begin at the beginning. Which is – what exactly is Amitabh Bachan doing in this movie? With him and Kirron Kher’s character out, the movie could have easily been cut by an hour. But no, Sir, no. Rem this is Karan Johar and he will put in every marketable movie star in his movie (including special appearances for John Abraham and Kajol). This man is never is going to be able to make a great movie till he gets over his obsession of serving decked up movie stars in the correct proportion in great locales, with expensive settings and dancing to hummable songs. Hey, we all know Karan Johar’s movie is about catering to the NRI market where the big bucks are and formulas still work. So we cannot really complain that we did not know what to expect.


Well after that general piece of ranting (I hate to know that Rs. 60 crores was spent on this silly movie), here is the review. Dev (Shah Rukh) is married unhappily to the ambitious Riya (Preity Zinta). The duo has a son and Dev’s mom (Kirron Kher is yet another annoying role) stays with them. Abhisheik (oh never mind his character’s name) is definitely unhappily married to the tedious Maya (Rani Mukherjee) and the couple is childless. Dev meets Maya. There is chemistry (which we have to use our fertile imagination to visualize) and they both embark on a staid and boring affair. The respective spouses throw them out when they find out. After some confusion, Dev and Maya get together. And what about Amitabh you ask? – I told you he was irrelevant.

Maya’s character is probably the dullest and most irritating character in recent times. You are surprised that she has managed to snare a looker like Abhishek forget the fact that she actually embarks on an affair. Rani Mukherjee wearing rugs shaped into skirts and in grey make-up does nothing to spice up the character. Preity Zinta has clearly not learned how to age gracefully – she looked like a hooker in the promos but thankfully in the movie looked like the mother of a seven year old. Shah Rukh is his usual ‘Look at me I am Shah Rukh’ self and has some of the funniest lines in the movie. Abhishek’s character anyway is never developed (and thank God for sparing us another 15 minutes of torture).

There are a hundred faults you can find with the movie but the main one is that you need to show the lead couple actually having some chemistry. Both look like they were bored in their respective relationships and decided to take a break – not like they met their soul mates. Given that Karan Johar was trying to tell us all about soul mates and stuff, what a damn waste of 4 hours.

Let your NRI brethren watch this one.