Thursday 27 November 2008

Mumbai mayhem

I don’t even know if I should feel angry or sad or numb. I feel nothing. These attacks…and the periodicity with which they occur has numbed us. We don’t panic like we used to. It doesn’t scare us anymore. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad one.

The drill is automatic now. You see it on the news, your hand automatically reaches for the phone. You message or call people who may be affected. You get a reply that they are alright. You thank god. The next day, you go to work as usual. Everyone changes their profile descriptor on Facebook to do with the tragedy. It may range from XYZ is angry..and sad, to XYZ is wondering will this stop!! Everyone’s name on messengers changes to reflect the same. You make some business decisions like postponing activity in that city. And you go home.

End of story.

Only to be repeated again.

As I said, I don’t know if I am angry or sad….probably just numb.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Dasvidhania....and lists

There is a list I made almost 4 years back. 20 things I want to do before I die. A movie I saw recently, Dasvidhania reminded me of the same list, one that I haven’t gone back to since so long. So here is my list, slightly altered to account for the 4 years in between….and a tally of where I stand. Why am I writing this here? Not so much to share, I would rather keep it in a locked drawer. But rather, in an attempt that if I put it here, maybe I will be forced to revisit it sometimes to see if life is going where I thought it would … or should….

20 things I want to do before I die:

1.Go on a luxury cruise. One with swimming pools and casinos and dining rooms with live singers and huge double bed cabins with the porthole looking out into the vast sea

2.Work for 4 hours everyday and spend the rest taking dance/singing/piano/guitar/language classes and taking care of my home and family

3.Send my parents on the orient express in rajasthan

4.Ride in the canoes in the waterways of Venice and eat at quaint lil cafes serving pasta and wine. Walk the pathways of Florence.

5.Go for a vacation to Kerala, in luxury. With massages and the works

6.Collect famous paintings – hmmmm….does a Van Gogh Poster count?

7.Start a restaurant where I cook once in a while

8.Have my man propose to me in a quiet place, in candle light or moonlight, in formals, with flowers, and wine, one one knee....it should be the most romantic thing in my life – OK don’t know how this will happen unless the Husband decides to do a rerun

9.My own home with a garden...and a picket fence...and a huge dog.....and flowers in every room...the house smelling of freshly baked cookies

10.Give painless childbirth – Science need to advance faster for this one

11.Wear a flowing gown on my reception – hmmm….we need to do a re-vow thing like the rich and the famous!!

12.Visit a wine making festival and trample on the grapes in the casket

13.Write a book – Believe it or not, this one is done!! The Guide for Expats moving to Noida.

14.Die at a good age, not too old that I am dependant, and before my husband

15.Ride a two wheeler on a beautiful road with trees on both sides in a beach town – Do I hear Goa beckoning?

16.Explore India....not just the cities...but smaller towns that ppl have not heard about – one big tick mark here….we go to a new town every month to explore.

17, 18, 19 and 20 are still open....to be added as and when...

Monday 17 November 2008

Russian food in the heart of Delhi?!!!?

There are few things I enjoy more than exploring a new place or a new restaurant tucked away in a corner, unknown to most. And my latest discovery fits the bill exactly! I mean, how unknown can you possibly be if my brother-in-law, a Russian Linguistics alumnus from JNU had not even heard of it. But, as I usually do – I consulted 3 different books and 4 sites for a varied opinion (with Vir Sanghvi being my food god vouching for the place) and decided it was worth the trip to the other side of town.

If you are familiar with Delhi, you will know that it takes hell of a lot of motivation for one to travel from Noida to Anand Niketan (a tiny expat colony near RK Puram). Bravely we set out and were joined by friends who couldn’t pass on the opportunity to try out a cuisine as unique as Russian!! With the help of Google maps and 2-3 frantic calls to the place, we finally parked our car outside the deserted marketplace of Anand Niketan. It is the sort of place that convinces you that someone played a prank on you and there is no way there could be a restaurant inside the dingy building. Nevertheless, brave as we are, we stepped in and found in front of us a signage that announced that we had found the place.

We stepped into this tiny eatery and were immediately transported back to memories of our trip to Egypt. A small room greets you with 4 tables and 16 chairs in all. There is a TV in a corner that arrogantly plays on its Russian Sitcoms. The owner, a Russian himself takes the orders and cooks the meals. It is in clipped sentences that he answers you and hints that perhaps its best you don’t talk much and just eat quietly.

On asking about alcohol, he suggested that they offer Beer and Vodka. As neither were listed in the menu, we ordered 2 vodkas which promptly came in shot glasses and chilled, perhaps how it should be taken, but completely alien a concept to the Indian palate. My humble request for a sprite was met with contempt and a glass of his home-made punch (Kompot) was promptly served – which was not such a bad idea either.

The menu was short but interesting. We ordered a variety of dishes including 2 mutton dishes, beef stroganoff and a chicken Bline – which by the way is the name of the place in case I haven’t mentioned. Pronounced Blee-knee, it’s Russian for pancake and those are his specialty. As expected, the food was delightful. The piece de resistance was the Stroganoff. I make a great one (if I do say so myself) with chicken and mushrooms but this guy took the cake! The dish was perfectly flavored and left us wanting for more.

The prices were great as well. We ended up with a bill of Rs.300 per head and that included drinks so it was a steal. The next time you feel like trying something new, I suggest you give this place a visit….though I would love to keep it my little secret.

Dostana Reviewed

What a fun weekend. I am wondering whether to blog about the new restaurant we discovered or to review the movie we caught yesterday. Food leaves a lasting impression so let me talk about that in the next one.

Lazy Sunday afternoons beg for an exciting evening so we went on to catch the new movie – Dostana.

If you are movie critic, gay rights activist or just someone taking himself/ herself too seriously, please do pardon me for my review. Despite what the critics say - I loved the film. It is an out and out comedy with no head or tail. Yes, it is full of clichés; yes, Priyanka does seem to have a Neil and Niki hangover (I don’t see anyone complaining though); yes they wasted brilliant actors like Boman Irani and Kiron Kher. But at the end of the day, what you do get is a hindi masala movie that had the entire theatre in splits.

The film is about 2 supposedly hot guys (John I can imagine, but Abhishek???) who lie to their flat-mate Priyanka about being gay so that they can get to stay in her cool apartment. As neither of them is really desperate to move to a new place, it does seem odd that one would fabricate such a story just for the appt. Nevertheless, they do move in and the story goes on about how the 3 of them become great pals.



The script writer threw in some witty quips and the first half will have you in splits. The acting is not bad and what works best is Abhishek Bachchan being completely at ease with taking his own case. The fact that someone can get so into the character and make such a complete fool of himself truly deserves applause. Thankfully, he doesn’t take off his shirt a la Johnny boy (who can afford to do so). For some strange reason his character is believable because he drives a pink Cadillac, wears pink clothes and sports a red watch (even while he is supposed to be straight…why????).

So don’t listen to those spoil sports who are trying to find reason in this madness….go check the movie out. I loved it…so sue me!

Rating: 3 on 5

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Quantum of Solace Reviewed

Hollywood has come a long way in action sequences and special effects. If you compare recent action movies to those made 2 decades back, you will notice the finesse with which the new ones are executed. The cuts are sharply edited and no unnecessary talk dilly dallying with the villains.

Quantum of Solace is another one from the same genre. It is a fast paced film where you really are scared to blink or breathe lest you miss the next shot and lose track of the scene. The action is quick and hard. More than once in the movie, I found myself trying to duck a punch that Daniel threw, which is how realistic it was. The stunts did not dwell on themselves and did not give you enough time to appreciate one before the scene moved to the next.

The story, like in most action films, was irrelevant (with exceptions like Bourne Identity). The good guy trying to get the bad guys (who, his government is convinced, are not so bad after all). Aiding him is a pretty thing who kick-boxes with the same finesse as dropping a tear. What they do in the interim is immaterial, point is that in the end, they get the bad guy and he gets his due.

Story finished.

Or unfortunately not. While writing this review, I had almost forgotten that this is a Bond film. Which is what I suggest you do too. Quantum of Solace is a well made action film that might even get a 3 or 3.5 on 5. But the second you expect me to believe that this man running around throughout the movie in a soiled tux with a blood stained shirt, breaking people’s noses and wallowing in the loss of his beloved, is Bond – all I can do is blink and look at you as if you are raving mad! Because he is not. Its not even about him saying “The name is Bond”, or his martini being shaken and not stirred, its not about the gizmos that he is supposed to carry or the fact that Bond doesn’t fight like street fighters, its about the basic fact that Bond is the ultimate in charisma, sophistication and witticism – each of which this movie lacks.

I refuse to rate this film in this review. Because they lied to us. I want Bond back.

Friday 7 November 2008

Not the Presidential Elections for once!!!

Apparently there are only 3 things that people want to discuss today. In order of importance:

1)Barack Obama becoming the President of America
2)The Global Economy crashing (I say crashing and not slowingdown thanks a report that just came out yesterday certifying this could well be the next recession)
3)What you should do with your money given that Barack Obama is president and the global economy is crashing

Ofcourse, 80% of the people around don’t even know the full name of the Indian president or what the sub-prime really is. Its become a fad of sorts to have an opinion on these.

So I carefully peeled myself away from the monotony of discussions and my thought express went chugging towards a completely different direction - cinema. There are some movies that leave a lasting impression on you for some strange reason. My list of awards(from the top of my head) is below…feel free to add in yours:

1)Chitti Chitti Bang Bang – For the most infectious title song
2)In Pursuit of Happyness, Cinderella Man and Life is Beautiful - For examples of how people of exceptional character tide over insurmountable difficulties
3)Sound Of Music – For its sound track
4)Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge – The perfect love story….
5)Khuda Ke Liye – For the other side of the Pak story that gets lost in Indian media
6)My Fair Lady – For the line “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain”
7)Dil Chahta Hai – For a refreshing new genre when Bollywood was stagnating
8)My Best Friend’s Wedding – For giving me my favorite phrase; “This too shall pass”
9)Jaane Bhi Do Yaron – For the unbeatable Mahabharat performance
10)Scent of a Woman – For a tango so graceful that I wanted to learn the dance
11)Shrek 1 – For the cutest ogre ever
12)The Ring – For freaking me out beyond repair.
13)Raat – My first horror and one that did not allow me to sleep for years

Monday 3 November 2008

Lazy Weekends

Of all addictions available to man (and woman), sleeping is probably the most satisfying and most infectious! This weekend, I almost never left the sanctuary of my bed. A soft pillow, curtains drawn and afternoon slumber...what more could a person ask for!?! Which is why, I am struggling with the urge to run home as I remind myself that a Monday morning may seem like the end of the world, but this too shall pass. Actually that is one of my favourite sayings. Spoken by the wise one...actually spoken by a waiter who finds Julia Roberts outside her best friend's room in the Movie - My Best Friend's Wedding. She's sitting there, desolate and alone, wondering why she took so long to tell him that she loved him....and how could he ever marry someone else....when this housekeeping guy comes up to her and tells her what his grandmother always told him - That this too shall pass. Simple words, but give courage!!

Coming back from my rambling, I did manage to squeeze in some time for some random reading. There is this book written by our batchmate from school - Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan called This is about me. N, one of my best friends bought it in the enthusiasm of we-know-the-author-lets-see-how-she-writes...and instantly regretted it. She couldn't get past the first 10 pages and thus, I took over the task. This post is not a book reveiew, because frankly there wasnt much in it to review. Typical chick-lit....use of slangs, abusive language and sexuality....do these cliches still sell?? Did not create much of an impression on me, be it the story line, the use of language, the characterisation or even the structure. All in all, quite forgetable.

What it did do though, is to get me to think. What was it that helped her get a 3 book contract from Penguin? Her being a journalist would have helped...definitely in getting the contacts....but there really wasnt much more that I could see. So, what stops me from writing fiction? I may not be very good, but the competition apparently is not path breaking either!

And that, my friend, is the next project. To write a book of fiction and to get it published. Not as easy as I thought...the story idea itself has still not formed, when when I get there (and I will get there), I promise it will be a darn good one....