Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Years down the line

Perhaps this is best pictured as a what-if scenario. May it never come true.

It all started when I was but a wee lad when visiting relatives from far off lands of wealth and mystery dropped in at our home. Their presence filled us, still unable to find the means to leave this land of poverty and stagnation, with awe and wonder. Their very presence made our lives that much more pleasurable. They sat me down next to them and asked me a question. A question they assumed to stimulate an intellectual conversation. And as they asked the question, the humble people at our home waited with bated breath for me to answer the question.

The Question?

Ah, yes. The Question. The Question in question, never really left me. For I was always asked, " Where do you see yourself ten years from now?". I finally decided to exorcise the ghost of this question. The ghost of the lies and the barely concealed half truths in the interviews. The ghost of the irritation I felt each time I heard the Question. Yes, it is time. Where do I see myself ten years from now?

Years down the line

I see myself commuting in heavy traffic to a job I barely tolerate. I see myself waiting at the traffic lights as the light continues to stay red. I wait of the chance to jump the moment it turns amber. I sit at my desk wondering whether what I did yesterday, was what I did any other day. In a life in which even the outer lane is the slow lane.

I see myself in a neatly pressed shirt and crisp trousers. I see myself with neatly trimmed hair and a clean shaved face. I see myself using words like "business logic", which I presume is more money grubbing as compared to normal logic which is more egalitarian, benevolent and works of the benefit of all humanity.

I see myself happily participating in approved fun events, organising fairs to improve employee morale. I see myself in a world where my job is the centre of my life. A life in which I want to say, as Eric Cartman did, "Screw you guys, I'm going home" to my superiors, but unable to summon the courage to. I see myself in a life which is anything but.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Of Books and Bargains

A question. Have you spent in one day more than your monthly expenses on rent, water, electricity, food, and clothes put together? If so, on what? Answering my own question, well, I have. Pray on what you ask? On what else, but books!

A small request before I go on and on about this rather addictive experience. Please don't label me an intellectual snob. I put this before you not to show off, but rather to share this very pleasant experience with you. Moving on, allow me to welcome all you ignorant masses to the thrills of the 13th Annual Delhi Book Fair. Spread over four halls of the Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, it is the most compelling place to loose your mind and loosen your wallet. Books to the left of me, books to the right; here I was, very pleasantly stuck in the middle. Accompanied by none other that his Lordship, Sir Ajit (B.Tech, O.B.E, F.R.C.S and Supreme Commander of all Universe), I travelled the halls purchasing books left, right and any other direction.

Sweet, sweet print!

In the second stall we visited, I found in two volumes, the complete history, works, criticisms, and descriptions of the one and only Salvador Dali. And the asking price, only Rs. 1700. Not a problem. In the next stall I find rare works on the histories of Sikkim and Bhutan. In the next stall, an excellent collection of Ruskin Bond's travel writings. Well, you can easily picture my delight as I stumble from store to store laden with my heavy purchases. Along the halls I find an entire stall dedicated to the Gnanapeet awardees. Nirmal Verma's "Lal tin ki chath" is added to the growing booty.

Turn the corner and what do I see? A book on the architectural splendor present in Chandini Chowk. And I kid you not, this book, this seminal book has been written by the Member of Parliament of Chandini Chowk. This book is replete with beautiful pictures of really awe inspiring buildings in present day Shahjahanabad. What a lucky constituency to have such an MP. It just makes you fall in love with the old Dilli. As I walk along, books on the histories of Kabul and Kandahar get added to the already heavy booty. Butterball by Guy de Maupassant, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux and the collected food writings by Vir Sanghvi just to add the finishing touches. I am a child in a chocolate factory.

Better bargains than your local grocer

The one reason I refused to go vegetable shopping when I was in Bangalore is because I can't bargain to save my life. I never bothered to pick up the art (as brilliantly displayed by Vivek S at the Palika Bazaar), preferring to quietly pay up the asking price. Bargaining for your vegetables is one thing. But, bargaining for a Certification Examination? That too is now possible. For it has been done.

Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine by the name of Vaibhav D. Mild mannered techie by day. Feared bargain hunter by night. For he has taken the process of bargaining from a passing skill to the level of the darkest of arts. His mere presence sends many a shop to pull down their Sale signs. And his claim to fame? He has successfully bargained to reduce the price of the SCJP examination by Rs 2100.

For the uninitiated, SCJP stands for Sun Certified Java Programmer, a certification examination offered by Sun Microsystems. Their asking price for the examination? Rs 7200. And the price he paid? Rs 5100. Like I said, a dark dark art. Imagine what I would do with a dark art like that. Today the Delhi Book Fair, tomorrow the world! No on can stop me!

No, must not reveal evil plans to take over the world...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The ins and outs

Perhaps I should begin by saying that I don't usually put up reviews lest I impose my views on the unsuspecting populace. Setting aside the fact that the said populace usually counts in the single digits, principles are principles. Now, however, I shall make an exception. My currents thoughts on one book and and one film have been around for some time. I shall now put them forth.

The Anthology of the fake Potters

Harry Potter, the series, has been around for some time. Many many reviews have been written and quoted in various articles. This series has been seminal in the amount of mass hysteria it had managed to create. That aside, here I intend to shine a tiny light on a very ignored facet of this media circus. The Fake Harry Potters.

All this media exposure has brought into light, I think for me at least, the very questionable writing and story-telling skills of the author of the original Harry Potter series. Many thoughts have been put down by others on this matter, so, I shall refrain from stepping into that arena. I now shall take you through my experiences of reading the many fake books of the Harry Potter series. These are not the many parodies that have been written. These are what the masses call "fan novels". The books written by people who are not J K Rowling carrying the same title as the original books.

In my opinion, a few of these books have better writing and more compelling a story that the originals. Speaking particularly on the seventh and hopefully the last in the series, one fake novel in particular had a much better story that the original. The plot of the book was simpler and explained the mysteries of the previous six book in much simpler scenarios. No far fetched objects of mystery. No out of this world, perhaps even out of the magical world, explanations for the happenings of the previous books. In fact, I seriously wish that this book was the original and not that disaster of a story that is actually the original. This book I speak of begins with the chapter titled "Secrets Unraveled". Do read it if you get the chance. After reading this one, I almost wish that I hadn't read the original.

Before time, there was the Cube

Yes. The Cube. That's right. Please feel free to express utter incredulity and amusement at this line. Once upon a time, in the creative depths of Hollywood, there was made a movie called The Transformers. That movie, which began with the line, "Before time, there was the Cube" narrated in the usual movie trailer voice, was released upon the innocent masses.

The Cube? Really? Couldn't the makers of the movie who spent copious money think of something better? Perhaps this is the dawn of a new era, an era of movies best described as a sort of visual pornography. Let's list the similarities between this movie and run-of-the-mill B-grade pornography, shall we? In B-grade pornographies, they have sex just because they can. In this movie they have eye-popping visual effects just because they can. In the B-grade pornographies, the plot is irrelevant. In this movie, the plot is irrelevant. The plot is just an instrument to make the movie last 90 minutes. Truly speaking, this movie had a cornier plot line and cornier dialogues than most B-grade pornographies.

The story consisted of giant robots from outer space fighting, threatening to destroy the cities of the Earth in the process. The chief villain in question is called "Megatron" and the robot species are called "AutoBots". What were they on when they came up with these names? This is straight from those Japanese serials about giant robots from the early 90's we used to watch eagerly. And the cube, that which existed before time, is responsible for everything for it was the font of all life, and Megatron seeks it to become all powerful. For the love of God people, please don't make the mistake of watching this absurdity and wasting good money.

Now that my views have been imposed the unsuspecting populace, I hope they make of it what ever they will.