Saturday, July 31, 2010

Half-Day Workshop for Young Cricketers

(St) Younus, Srikanth, Imran, Shreyan, Baig Saab, Raju, Furuan, Rayan, Harsha,  (Si) Abrar, Sai, Rohan, Parvez
Baig saab asked me to take a small workshop to work on the minds of his young wards. He has finally got a team of boys who are the same age and with good promise, and he makes them play for Vijay Hanuman, his team. They are a talented bunch and most have also made a guest appearance in the movie based on 'The Men Within' but they lost two close matches early on in this season.
We decided to tune them to the winning frequency by sharing some basic ideas about the champion mindset. I condensed my workshop to 6 worksheets and took them along to the Jaisimha Academy. We started the session at 845 am and finally wound up at 1130 am. The boys were made aware of the mindset of the champion, to analyse their strengths, to set clear goals, to plan to achieve the broken down goals, the importance of preparation and the ways of winners. We could only do about 5 sheets and had to hurry by the end because we were already late.
It was a good session with Rayan, Harsha, Karthik, Rohit, Imran, Sangram, Venkatesh, Aman, Deepak, Vikram, Srikkant Raju and Divjyot. Now to see whether the session has had any effect on the boys performance this week!

Well Done Abba! - Movie Review

Watched 'Well Done Abba' on video the other day. It's pretty watchable (there is no moment when you want to go away for even the shortest break). I read some nice reviews of the movie and its by Shyam Benegal so I was pretty keen to watch it in the theatre. But as with so many movies, by the time I got my act together the movies gone from the theatres and I am waiting for the Videos to arrive.

'Well Done Abba' is the story of Armaan Ali (Boman Irani) a chaffeur in Mumbai who originally hails from a village near Hyderabad. (So all characters speak Hyderabadi and there are several Telugu speaking characters with all the characteristics that the people in these parts display.) Anyway the movie opens with Boman Irani being fired for being away for a long period without informing the boss and by the end of the conversation Boman has convinced his young boss that he'd drive him to Pune (where boss has some work) and tell him the reason why he got delayed. So begins the story of his well which is told while the boss and chaffeur drive along to Pune.

Boman has a daughter, Minissha Lamba (who fits her part well) who goes to school with her friend Sakina and flies kites the rest of the time. She has a sharp tongue, is outspoken and well, educated. She lives with Boman's black sheep brother and his wife (Boman again with red hair and Ila Arun, a delightful pair of villains who steal chicken, chappals and are perpetually running from someone or the other). Boman goes to his village to check some marriage proposals for his daughter, finds out that the village has no water (his brother and his sis-in-law are being locked up by the cops for stealing water from a neighbours well and selling it off) and decides to get a well dug.

Now, there's a government scheme for digging of wells where the government gives loans to dig wells. Boman starts his journey for his well and visits the sarpanch Balamma and her husband Salim Ghouse (the real sarpanch), several government officers, which include a newly wed Ravi Kissen and the object of his passions, a 28-28-38 Sonali Kulkarni who he wants to attain a 38-28-38 dimension, the government photographer and so on. Each has a code for his share of the commission in the loan amount of Rs. 1.35 lakhs and pretty soon the loan is sanctioned, disbursed taken and exhausted, with pictures and all sorts of proof and documentation in place.

Only, the well is not there!

Boman and daughter file a police complaint that their well is missing. The police inspector, Rajat Kapoor, is driven up the wall with the antics of the villagers from Chikatpally, but is forced to take action because there is proof of the well being dug. Many such well owners join the strike and they complain to the Minister. Of course there is some help from Minissha Lamba's love angle, Arif Khan, a mechanic (Sameer Dattani), who apart from his work as a mechanic also tries to recover money for his father from Boman's brother. As things heat up, the Minister decides to act and gets the government machinery to really dig up the wells. Tears well up in the eyes of the villagers. Boman agrees to accept Arif Ali as his son-in-law and all's well, and that ends well.

I saw a Telugu movie called 'Raja Vari Chepala Cheruvu' which has the same theme of a fish tank that is reported lost. Someone told me that the original idea is from a Kannada film. But the movie 'Well Done Abba' has a whole lot of really loveable characters, a nice, easy plot that shows up the system for what it is, has no real villains since we actually find them all very likeable anyway, and its good fun in the end. Very very watchable in my opinion!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chandu Borde - A Class Act

Borde saab launching the book watched by me, CP Surendran and Suhita

Borde saab speaking as I look on

Borde saab signing autographs
Padmabhushan Chandu Borde is a well-known cricketer and administrator who has done great service to the game and the nation. So when I planned a book launch of my cricket novel 'The Men Within' in Pune in December 2007, I could think of no other person who would be more appropriate to be my Chief Guest. He is a busy man and after much to and fro we decided on a date after Christmas. I invited C.P Surendran as the Guest of Honor and well known actress and Shobha's cousin Suhita Thattte as my special guest as well. Malay, Shobha's nephew, picked up Borde saab and we were all set for the program at Crossword.

Borde saab came well prepared for the launch and spoke very entertainingly about the book's content, some important lessons that it taught and about his own experiences as a player and manager. He dressed up formally for the occasion as well, wearing a nice tie, a blue shirt and dark trousers - another wonderful feature of our old timers which I shall try and emulate form now on. Many in the audience interacted with him and crowded him for autographs. After the launch he big good bye warmly and left with a small token gift of some books I picked for him that I had arranged.

After that event I have called him on a few occasions but never got to speak to him as he was busy in some function or the other. I decided to meet him when I went to Pune next.

When I published my second novel 'If You Love Someone...' in February this year, the least I thought I could do to all my guests who came over at book launches was to send them all a copy of the book as a token gift. So I sent a copy across to Sanjay Manjrekar, Ayaz Memon, Chandu Borde, K. Srikkanth, R. Mohan, V.B. Chandrasekhar, Anita Nair, Charu Sharma among others for their warm gesture in taking time off from their busy schedules and being my guests. Some knew me, most did not but they all showed a great heart to support an unknown writer. Thank you all once again from the bottom of my heart!

Imagine my surprise when a day later I got three missed calls while I was on the line on a business call. After the call I checked the missed calls and was delighted to find that they were from Mr. Borde. I called back immediately and he spoke warmly in that very affectionate way that he calls me "Hari" - about receiving the book and thanked me for it. He enquired after me, about the first novel 'The Men Within' and was very happy to hear that it was being made into a movie. I thanked him for calling me and said I would meet him when I visited Pune next and show him the movie as well when it permitted.

This incident, stands out as something that only people of the old school do. Some part of their culture, of niceness, of greatness makes them take the responsibility of making people of far lesser calibre feel good about themselves. I truly believe that this is the one quality that truly great people possess. To take time out and call me to thank me for something as routine as the sending of a book was amazing. Thank you for the fine lesson Borde saab, and I shall always do the same thing that you have done with me. Acknowledge and thank every small gesture that has been sent my way from any and every person that I know or do not.

Here's wishing you good health, joy and happiness as you influence so many more lives in this world!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rought Cut of 'Jaago Re' at Cricket Practice

Noel liked the version of 'Jaago Re', the inspirational song composed by well-known music director Kalyani Maulik for the movie based on 'The Men Within' so much, that he called me and asked if he could use it to inspire his wards - the Hyderabad team headed for the KSCA torunament. I checked with Ram and he said it was okay for Noel to use it at practice and so the CD made a small entry at the HCA nets. Since it was raining, they had the nets in the Jaisimha indoor academy. Venkatpathy, former Test cricketer and my old friend and younger brother, now the coach of the Hyderabad cricket team, liked the idea and it was fun to be at the nets while Mallik and his crew shot some footage.
Venkat was all game for a few sound bytes and was very vocal about liking the song as an inspirational one. Not just cricketers but even others will like it he said and it surely will be played in all street corners soon since it was so catchy. Noel said it was very inspirational to listen to it and decided to use it during practice sessions. Gajanand was equally vocal about his praise for the song. I noticed T. Suman, the popular Hyderabad and Deccan Chargers player enjoying the music. I asked him if he would like to give a couple of sound bytes and he said he was game. He said he liked the song and that it might be a good song to play in the dressing room before a match.
Watched the boys practice at the nets. They really looked good. I wondered how this team could go to the Plate in Ranji. Lots of work for Venkat and company. Maybe if they invite me for motivational talk, for me as well.
Anyway thanks Lachi (Venkatpathy), Noel, Gaz and Suman. I really think it sounds better than the Chak De song. Can't wait to see it on screen.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Article in the Indian Express - July 25, 2010

This article appeared in the New Indian Express on July 25, 2010.

The world is a violent place and getting worse each day. Bombings, kidnappings, beheadings are everyday news and several experts have debated this issue of growing violence in great detail. Some believe that we are inherently violent, some that violence is learnt from films made by RGV, and others declare that violence results from repressed sexual desires. But I made a startling discovery while reading nursery rhymes to my two and a half year old. Nursery rhymes sow seeds for crimes.
For instance, the poor kids start off with a section of rhymes dedicated to bullying. Pussy Cat went all the way to London merely to frighten a mouse. Just as Hickory Dickory did. Frighten small people? No problem! The perplexed kids are then introduced to good old Bonnie who lives faraway. Just as they start visualizing a jolly, bonny lass, comes the killer - we don’t know if Bonny ji is alive or dead kids. Kids start weeping at this news. And before recovering fully they get the news that Bo peep lost her fluffy sheep. The knave of hearts stole all the tarts the queen made, Doctor Foster almost drowned, haha and good old Solomon Grundy took ill and died in one week ho ho. By now, all the kids are bawling their heads off in fright.
Now, now, kids, here is that nice old lady who cut off the tails of three blind mice with a knife. And meet Tom the piper’s son who stole a pig and ate it and Tommy Green here who just drowned a kitten in a well. Want to eat a pie made of twenty four cute blackbirds; and there’s the bird that snipped off the maids nose. See, no nose! Usually by this time, the nursery kids are hardened and can strangle a small rabbit or a bird without a second thought.
In the babies section, we begin with Hush-a-Bye Baby. Kids are excited, imagining a cute, gurgling baby listening to a lullaby. Imagine their shock when the bough breaks and baby falls, cradle and all. Isn’t that funny or what kids? And Miss Lucy’s baby is drinking up the bath water, eating the soap and choking on the bath tub – she is being starved heh heh. And you must meet the old woman in a shoe who starved her many children (that she begat from God knows who), and whipped them daily to keep them quiet. By now, the kids are either fainting or getting ready to join a concentration camp as guards.
At the concentration camp, Jack (of Jill fame) will have a broken skull if he climbs hills and Humpty Dumpty will be blown to small bits so no one can put him together again. Future wife beaters learn from Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater how to tie their wives in pumpkin shells.
If someone were to do research, they would find that all serial killers, torture chamber specialists, wife beaters, kidnappers and the ilk, recite nursery rhymes like daily prayers. I am sure Bush loved his rhymes and Osama might have got ideas of bringing down big structures when he first he heard of London bridge. All you need to train terrorists is to grow them up on a staple diet of these rhymes and you have little hard boiled terrorists growing up in your backyard. From rhymes they graduate to fairy tales, and by the time they are done with cartoons they know of every pain that can be inflicted on man. Good God, what’s that child doing with that knife?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

DVD buying spree

We planned to buy a retirement gift for my brother-in-law and I could think of nothing better than a few good movies - preferably funny. So, after along hiatus, we trudged along to Music World to check out their collection. The truth is that Landmark has a better collection but it is badly displayed and I normally tend to get put off by it so I headed to Music World at Road No 1, Banjara Hills.

The picks for Bavagaru were rather easy. I picked up six Telugu ones - Paramananda Sishyula Katha, Kanyasulkam, Kulagothralu, Manchi Manasulu, Mooga Manusulu and Maya Bazaar (in colour), six Hindi ones - Angoor, Andaz Apna Apna,Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Bombay to Goa, Pyaasa and a 3-in-1 comedy DVD with Golmaal, Chupke Chupke and Chasme Buddoor. I hope this little collection will keep him amused and happy for a while as he adjusts to a new rhythm after 34 years of service.

For our viewing we picked Well Done Abba, Road, Movie, Ned Kelly (Heath Ledger),One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Life as a house, Taxi Driver (Robert De Niro), To Sir With Love, Sabrina and Aam Ras (Marathi). Anjali got herself a Snoopy and a Tom and Jerry and I slipped in a couple more Tom and Jerry's without her knowing.

Now for some serious movie watching!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Article in the Indian Express - July 18, 2010

Ever since Paul the Octopus predicted the result of the soccer final correctly, all of India is abuzz. Obviously octopuses (whatever they are), can predict things that humans cannot. And thus, a great future full of opportunities beckons us Indians.
Firstly, demand for octopuses will rise sharply in India. A billion octopuses will be needed, since everyone will want to own one. Even though most of us in India have never seen an octopus (the closest we’ve been was Octopussy, the James Bond film with Roger Moore), a mega ‘Octopus farming' industry would begin. Andhra Pradesh will take the lead (as usual, in things no one knows about), by building the largest capacity octopus farms in the world with “imported technology”. New companies would go public with octopus prospectuses replacing red herring prospectuses. Not surprisingly, several million investors would sell their houses to invest in these issues, making them successful many times over. Investors will take home pictures of octopuses (which look strangely like jellyfish), along with information on their expensive eating habits.
Initially, octopus prices would be exorbitant. Only the elite would own octopuses. Page 3 parties would be held with people unveiling Peter, Polly, John, Jane and other Oracle-type octopuses caressing boxes seductively (to choose between Men, Women and Boys). Indian octopuses would be available for export only, at prices equivalent to a spaceship. The Department of Octopus Development and Organization (DODO), one of the eighty arms of the Ministry of Octopus, would dictate policy, size, octopus seller’s size etc.
The octopus industry would spawn many millionaires called the Mollusc Millionaires. Spurred by this growth MLM schemes would start selling mini octopuses, Chinese octopuses, holy octopuses and so on. There would be a mad rush to possess octopuses along with T shirts, chains and idols of octopuses. In South India there will be an octopus temple (a unisex god because we can’t make out). At least one unheard-of sect will ban eating of octopuses. A steady stream of celebrities will flood the octopus temple to get into the good books of the Octopus god as well. Octopus pujas and octopus yoga will start soon.
Octopus consultants will become a rage. Several universities will offer ‘Octopusology’, a new course, and people will rush their children to specialize in this new course, at the cost of selling their house (the other one). Flats will be built with in-built aquariums. Political parties will rush to register the octopus as their party symbol – and “spineless” their motto. Some demand that octopuses be made available at subsidized rates to weaker sections. Some parties will request a regional name for the Octopus. Some others will claim all rights to octopuses with proper documentation.
Movies will be made with eight skimpily clad women vying for the love of Raj the Octopus’s eight limbs. Heroes will grow eight limbs to supplement their six packs. Octopus games will be a hit amongst youth with octopuses carrying eight weapons of mass destruction that kill at least 5000 people per minute. Wow! Toddlers will reel of all kinds of octopus information - by name, scientific name and fingerprint.
India will be the first of the Octopus economies. And as with all our rosy schemes, we will soon come upon a scam. We will find out rather belatedly that what has been sold as Octopus to us by a foreign hand is not really an octopus but a jelly fish (thanks to a sting operation called ‘Testy tentacles’). And we will set up a CBI investigation. Which will summon Roger Moore as its prime suspect.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Things I Did By Design In My Life

Alright this list may not be comprehensive because I realize the mind is either too chaalu or too selective. But I'll start with my childhood onwards.
1) Searching for my little Willys jeep toy and finding it - Age 5 (man I searched the heavens and the earth for it)
2) Age 7, Vying for the attentions of Sister Mercy who was a very good looking teacher and scoring over that skunk Pradeep son of an IPS officer on the last day in Nellore (she gave me ten lovely stickers and gave the others only one and that too on the last day, Yeahhhh)
3) Age 10 - Got myself a football despite my Dad being his stubborn best, no money, no transport - easy I broke into my Kiddys bank and blackmailed my mom by suitable crying so she made Dad drive - foot ball achieved for Rs. 27 (never thougth Dad would be so tough an opponent)
4) Cracking the Kiddys bank was a great job in itself, needed money to buy chikki in the petrol bunk near Dad's office (figured it out by carefully observing the movement of the dials and noticed the little grooves which helped it open)
5) Age 11 - Walked into the cricket team in St. Gabriel's - wanted to badly
6) Age 12 - Traveled from Hyderabad to Warangal by evening train all by myself and took the bus home. Mom was surprised and shocked. What if I got lost! (But I had a strong motive - I wanted to play with Ajay who was a cute little baby then)
7) Age 12 - Made it to the state table tennis double team almost (broke table tennis racket and stayed put, too scared to ask for a replacement)
8) Age 14 - Cracked the school cricket team in my tenth which I had been hoping to for the past three years (completely by design)
9) Age 14 - Match against Sanjeeva Reddy Nagar and chasing 65 or so against a fearsome bowling attack led by Sudheer. I had decided that I will not get out come what may and stuck it out defending stoutly. Was not out 31 and we won. Most satisfying batting performance.
10) Age 14 - Put in my all to pass the SSC exam studying by myself into the late hours of the night. Did a good job considering I missed most classes due to two tours to Bangalore and Calcutta, both 15 days each. (Passed with 70% yeaahhh)
11) Age 16 - Bowled Mallesh of Syndicate bank by bowling him an inswinger on his pads - he played on - as he did innumerable times in the nets. he was one of the five victims of mine in my famous five wicket haul against Syndicate Bank which we won
12) Age 16 - Got Khurshid caught off a short ball outside the off stump (designed by MLJ) and then Khalid caught off another against SBI (designed by Vicky)
13) 5 wicket haul against Allwyn (actually turned into 6 but I had targeted 5 that day) and a 5 wicket haul against Arts and Science (as planned)
14) Age 18 - Got 158 against VST after vowing to my team I shall get the 128 runs that I conceded while bowling. Easily the best performance by design.
15) Age 18 - Got a 100 for OUCE as planned (168 against VV College), won the Endeavour for OUCE, got a 100 for Civil versus Electronics as planned, 100 against VST in a lost cause but I had decided to get a hundred that day, 109 against Nizam College after deciding to just hang in there with the last wicket
16) Passed all exams in the second year (18 papers and 4 practicals) at one go (I had aimed for 14). Slogged by myself for more than a month getting hold of experts in each area - Krishna Reddy for GD, Vinod for Physics, Ram for Maths
17) Planned the Inter varsity win with my skipper Vijay and others and played to win. We won after 12 years and I returned the highest wicket taker. We won the Vizzy as well. This was a period when I was competitive and was enjoying the spirit of winning. And as you can see we were winning several things by design. There were more things that I cannot attribute to design but they we won and we were brilliant
18) Planned to win the league championship for MCC and we won in 1994. We won again in 1998. The first win was a well planned, executed campaign that lasted six months
19) Carried the spirit of ownership into work. At ITW Signode I was the star salesman for the year for my product after selling exactly what I had committed (I was blasted in the sales meeting for my low projections)
20) Got married as planned. There was no doubt in my mind though I think there was some skepticism all round.
21) In IDBI Hyderabad I got new (and star rated) business worth Rs.300 crores all by my own effort
22) In IDBI Hyderabad I vowed to outperform previous issues after one issue went for a six. What we did was turn it around by a concerted action where we left nothing to chance - we reactivated 600 agents who were to be removed, brought all previous investors into our ambit and contact almost every single person who might want to invest - we did one of the best issues for our centre beating Chennai and Bangalore. And with the momentum we built, we kept increasing our amounts raised for the next few issues.
23) Bought car as planned for Mom who was sick and needed constant support to move to doctor and back
24) Decided to write and get published and wrote four books. Before the first got published after almost 4 years after the decision to turn writer (The Men Within)
25) Became workshop facilitator. motivational speaker by design. Hugely satisfying.

I am sure I missed out a few which I shall add as I remember. Next, a list of YES factors where I stretched myself beyond my limits.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Column in the New Indian Express - July 11, 2010

The following article came in the New Indian Express on July 11, 2010 in my Sunday column Un Intended.

A Chop At The Roots Of Democracy
In a true democracy, people must protest freely to express their views. And we know how to protest, don’t we? Ask the British and they will give us a glowing recommendation. But those days have long disappeared. The commoner is not protesting. Democracy is in danger, I felt.
I met this chap checking newspaper headlines at an Irani café a few days ago. “See,” he said gleefully. “The Bharat bandh was a huge success. Everyone got together.” “Really,” I exulted, at this rare unity amongst our countrymen. “Yes,” he said. “To keep democracy alive, protests are essential. Not essential goods!” But why this bandh, I asked innocently. “Prices are rising baba,” he said, shaking his head at my ignorance. So how is the bandh going to tackle rising prices, I asked. “Close down everything!” he shouted wildly. “Rs. 13000 crore loss for the country in one day.” But won’t that effect the economy and push up prices further. I mean, a candle lit protest is fine, but Rs. 13000 crore loss? We must repair the damage caused by the bandh, I said, getting up. “You are right,” he muttered. “Our prices have gone up.” Your prices? What are they now, I asked.
“Anyway, you cannot go anywhere now,’ he said, checking his notebook and changing the topic. “The radicals have called for a 48 hour bandh.” A 48 hour bandh? Why? Isn’t that a bit too much? “In a democracy everyone has a right to protest,” he said firmly. “Dissent is good.” But we cannot have bandhs everyday and by everyone, I said. Why not, he countered angrily. The more the better.
He consulted his book again. “We have a 56 hour bandh by politicians, judges and beaurocrats to protest against corruption and criminal cases filed against them. Some want exclusive rights for top posts in sports bodies, specially female ones. And the education sector wants to organize a bandh to bribe the Council authorities freely and to collect money from students without interruptions.” But what kind of protests are these, I spluttered.
I tried to peek into his book. He shielded it and looked at me darkly. “A 24 hour bandh by communal organizations wanting permission to kill people of other communities without interference. A hoochwala bandh to make drinking compulsory, taxi drivers bandh to dispense with meters …” he reeled off. “Producers bandh for casting couch rights, students for cheating, rapists, kidnappers ….” My jaw dropped.
“Muh bandh,” he said, wagging his finger at me. “Close your shutter. I want more protests. The spirit of democracy must live on.” The café closed its shutters. I asked him why he was doing so much for democracy. He thrust his card at me. Bandh Consultant, said the card. Always open to shut, was his tagline.
“There is one marginalized section that approached me. You see, mafia gangs based abroad are not able to protest. Even they have a right to protest, no,” he pondered. “I am considering an international bandh.” I told him I would stay at home on that day surely. He smiled brightly at this unexpected support. “Anything I can shut for you? Any bandh?” No thanks, I said, my constitution was working quite fine. He consulted his diary. “No, no, you must. There is one bandh for you. Some parties had booked dates for a bandh, but they don’t know what to protest against. So I am organizing a small protest against bandhs. Bandh Bandh. Social service yaar. It’s a useless, peaceful bandh that no media will cover. Come join it.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Column in the New Indian Express - July 4, 2010

This article appeared in my column "Un Intended" in the New Indian Express on July 4, 2010.

I was protesting the fuel price hike by squatting on the highway when I met this evolved friend of mine. ‘Why are you protesting?’ he asked, concerned.
‘Because, the government is messing up our good life,’ I replied angrily, throwing stones at buses to reduce prices.
‘A good life?’ he smiled. ‘Happy relationships, good health, prudent financial planning, a thriving career and a spiritual bent of mind, right? This fuel price hike will give you everything.’ ‘What?’ I spluttered, stopping mid-throw. He drew me aside. ‘Come, stop burning effigies with expensive fuel,’ he said. ‘Here’s how.’ I listened intently.
‘Firstly, you’ll lose weight. This is because you will forget about driving vehicles when you see the new prices. Instead you’ll walk, cycle, even run mindlessly, like Forrest Gump. Food craving? Forget it. Since you may not be able to afford even basic food, you must satisfy yourself by looking at it. Lots of exercise, good food habits and restraint, the mantra for weight loss and good health.’ I blinked.
‘Secondly,’ he said, ‘financial planning. Since the price hike impacts everything, from vegetables to condoms, you will be always calculating, trying to match fixed income to fluctuating costs and your rising desires. To choose between food, education or a vacation – you need razor sharp financial planning. Most choose food. Some, education. The race for survival my friend.’ I started sweating.
‘And professionally you will rise. Primarily due to company transport - an attractive option to you and other financially strapped employees. This togetherness will foster great team spirit. You will talk, live and breathe work-related stuff always, to erase memories of other rapidly disintegrating areas of your life. With improved work orientation, you start performing better at the job. You will do well.’ I gulped.
‘Happy relationships have a strong connection to fuel prices. With no money to spend, thanks to the hike, you head home directly. You will have no option but to spend time with your family. You will be surprised to know that your children have grown so big; some are elated to know that they have children. But the more you see of your family, the more the chances of your liking it. A bit like in jail where inmates like each other because of the time spent with one another. A few serials with the spouse, dinners with family, a couple of fights and soon things turn out well. Family connections are more important than LPG connections my friend,’ he smiled. I grimaced.
‘And now, spirituality,’ he said. ‘With free market pricing, fuel prices may fluctuate between Rs. 51 to Rs. 5 million per litre for all we know. Other prices will follow suit. With this maddening chaos you will soon start to smile at no one in particular, nod incessantly and throw up your hands every now and then. Clear signs of spiritual growth! And you realize that everything goes up, one day or another‘. I realized that I had chewed up the effigy. ‘Yes, yes ,’ I nodded.
‘Now do you understand the great paradox! The much maligned fuel price hike is actually what we need for eternal happiness and contentment. And err, big families.’ ‘Big families?’ I asked, surprised. ‘Where did they come from?’ For the first time my friend appeared doubtful. ‘We cannot avoid the last possibility. You see with couples spending so much more time together and all that. It’s not just the prices that rise my friend, the intimacy index of the nation will rise as well.’

Column in the New Indian Express - June 27, 2010

This article appeared in my column "Un Intended" in the New Indian Express on June 27, 2010. The article was titled "If Romeo and Juliet were on Twitter"

Ask any romantic, and he or she will, after blushing and hawing and hemming, vouch fervently that good communication is the bedrock of any thriving romance. Which throws open a case for us to examine the relationship between communication modes and romance, especially since the olden days. Clearly, if the movies I’ve seen are to be believed, Romeo and Juliet (the father and mother of romance) had poor communication between them, leading to the grave situation they eventually found themselves in. Apparently they used messengers, who were either shot at or, who, frequently wandered off to sell the hot story to tabloids. Promising affairs thus got nicked in the bud – the letters reaching too late or never at all. Naturally most romances in the old days died in early stages. A cry rose for advanced communication modes.
Postal services, for example, would have helped romances much better. Letters laden with long prose, poems, perfumes and heart shaped diagrams could have caused much joy and cheer to Juliet and Romeo (long as they did not fall into the wrong hands). There is one problem with letters though. They always outlive the romance, and pop up in tattered conditions at fragile moments in matrimonial life, causing distress, bad words and divorce. Romeo and Juliet divorced? Not a good advertisement for any service that is promoting romance.
To avoid these tattered letters, Romeo and Juliet could have used the ubiquitous STD/ISD booths. They could have spoken for as long as their hearts and pockets allowed them to, planned better, and run off into the sunset without the complicated poison business. Or, if they had waited longer, emails would have averted all tragedy. Romeo and Juliet could have easily created mail ids such as Crazy Lover 2001 and Tender Rose 2003 and maintained secret liaisons without anyone knowing. With the exception of sever not responding, messages could have been sent and received, for quick and clear action on either side. A well worded email, bcc’d to all, and they would have remained happily married ever after in Greenland or Iceland. Subject matter ‘Come tonight’ and ‘Got married’ would suffice.
Cell phones? Even better. Why send mails that can be stored forever and brought up at inconvenient times? Also, they could sit next to each another and speak sweetly into the phone instead of cursing one another face to face. SMSes can be used only for forceful messages. And since all villains would be busy fidgeting with their cell phones, there wouldn’t have been any problems of any sort.
But no communication mode can beat Romeo and Juliet being on facebook or Orkut or Twitter. Connect, propose, marry, upload pictures and videos on both accounts, and everyone in the world knows right then. Broken hearts, happy families, friends - many birds with one post! A more efficient method is yet to be found.
Apart from benefiting the cause of romance, my big theory is that Romeo and Juliet would have lived much longer if they had been on Facebook or Orkut or Twitter. Juliet could have tweeted, a second before consuming the potion, and Romeo and his 93 friends (and their 2500 friends) and 40 followers, would have known instantly. That would have set everything right. The downside is that Romeo and Juliet (868 friends) might not have attained their cult status – if one of them were to post their status as single after a small tiff, we’d all know that Juliet is single, and by default, Romeo, and that’d be the end of it all!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Couple of reader reviews of 'If You Love Someone' on the web

It was very nice to read a couple of reviews of 'If You Love Someone' on the net. One from a young reader, Shreyas, from Bangalore (who appears to be a friend of my niece, Prarthana). The other is from Rashmi, on asianfanfics. I shall reproduce an extract of what Shreyas wrote on his blog first.
Books that I read
This is probably the twentieth that I have attempted to write something on this blog. The nineteen previous times, I spent looking at the monitor with a complete blank expression waiting for something to miraculously appear on the screen. No luck so far.

One cn say I have made some use of the holidays so far. That makes a few extra hours spent at home even more tiresome to spend. Read quite a lot of novels since the exams, most of them begged, borrowed and stolen (then duly returned back of course!) Will try and summarize the few that were good.

1) The Palace of Illusions - Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni...

Heard of "The Mistress of Spices"? the Aishwarya Rai starring English movie? The book was authored by this lady.
The Palace of Illusions is the Mahabharatha itself. The only change is this time, the story is being narrated by Draupadi. The narration is beautiful. Though somewhat blasphemous, it captures the more humane parts of the epic which I'm sure our grandparents conveniently forgot to tell us. Not a book recommended if you are a staunch believer of the devoutness of Draupadi. Truly, the Mahabharatha revolves around Draupadi. A book worth reading.

2) The Jeeves Omnibus - Pelham Grenville Wodehouse...

Amazing writer! Looking at his face you will never imagine that he is the kind who can make you execute a proper ROFL. His witticism coupled with an amazing sense of timing makes him one of a kind. Go read his books for a true feel of comic writing.

3)If you love someone... - Harimohan Paruvu...

The second book of the author. The first being "The Men Within". A short novel which is a love story with a difference. It is not the stereotypical teenage boy meets teenage girl - they fall in love - get married - lose interest in each other- finally love conquers all kind of story. A very refreshing take on love, life and sacrifice. A must read is you are a die hard romantic. (have always been amused by this phrase "die hard romantic", it sounds ironic)

The other review (more a lovely testimonial if I can call it that) is from Rashmi, Maine, India who can be found at the following link:
Personal Message
Well,hello friends my name is rashmi well my friends call me sunshine and i like to called by this name.i have completed my schooling this year and now i am in university. i am doing law,i have spend quiet a long period reading winglin and asianfanfics and now i am starting to write my stories.i hope you all will support me.thank you,love you all
About Me
about me hmm let me think
well i am 18 years old i am from india,and i love to read novels my favourite novel is if you love someone by harimohan paruvu and i love to paint, i am also quiet a good singer and i am a music hobbies are singing,reading,writing,driving,sleeping,shopping etc.

Thanks a ton Shreyas and Rashmi for the mention in your blogs. I hope you guys don't mind me using content from your pages. Good luck with your writing, education and all other passions you are pursuing.

Writing the weekly column

My weekly column in the New Indian Express - Un Intended - is keeping me on my toes. Its quite challenging since I chose to write humour and that is something I have not done for a long time. It has been two weeks since and I am getting better at identifying the core idea and presenting it, hopefully funnily enough to bring a smile. Nothing is worse than an article trying to be funny and nothing happens. Writing humour I always found was a lot more tedious job because new ideas keep cropping up every once in a while and drag you away from the one you started on. The new string always appears to be much better than the original one and soon the version 1 and version 2 are made. And then it has to be brought together, the core identified and then refined. To me it is a 3 or 4 draft job. But that is the way I write - it never is perfect the first time. get the idea and the whole in, get it closer, get it closer and then identify the best way to put the idea across. I normally get the one funny line or idea just before the last edit. A case for being with the idea long enough I guess. It is hard work in a way, but it is something I enjoy.
I think its a great challenge to make a person smile if not laugh. Even better if the article is so stark that it takes the pain away of the actual happenings.
The first two articles have made their appearance on the web. Follow this link:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rajneeti - Movie Review

Watched Rajneeti last week. I was looking out for the Mahabharath angles in this contemporary political thriller so I got along fine. But a couple of my friends who are not too clued into Mahabharath left the theatre before the movie ended. Personally I liked the movie - my one big compliant was that it failed to leave any moments with me after the movie was done. Not one!

Also I felt that there was a bit of Godfather meets Mahabharath in Rajneeti with atleast three scenes that I can identify out of the Godfather. The cop slapping Ranbir Kapoor is reminiscent of  Michael Corleone getting slapped by a cop in the hospital, the car bomb going off killing Arjun Rampal and the phirang girl was reminiscent of the Sicilian gun men running off before Micheal Corleone's girlfriend Appolonio dies in a car blast and the most obvious one is of Babulal walking up to the discomfort of slimy blood in his bed which runs from the neck of his gay partner just like the producer in the Godfather wakes up to find the head of his race horse in his bed. Or for that matter even Arjun Rampal's torrid fling with a ticket aspirant (I can't get her name but she did a good job) reminds one of Sonny Corleone's brief affair with one lady with a peculiar gynaec problem during his sister's wedding. Frankly I did not really expect this from someone of Prakash Jha's calibre. I mean, those scenes could have been constructed differently to the same effect. Lazy? Bored? Taking the audience for granted?

Bhaskar Sanyal (Naseeruddin Shah) is the Sun God as the name suggests, Bharti is Kunti, Suraj (Ajay Devgan) is Karna, Virendra (Manoj Bajpai - he is brilliant) is Duryodhan, Prithvi (Arjun Rampal) is a mixture of Yudhishtir, Bheema, Nakul, Sahadeva and Sonny Corleone, Brij Gopal (Nana Patekar) as the name suggests is Krishna, Katrina Kaif is Draupadi (in love with Ranbir and married to Arjun Rampal) and a host of such Mahabharathian characters getting into such situations. For example why Krishna had to leave the baby Karna in a boat on the ghat I did not understand when there are several orphanages around.

What did not work for me most was that the desire or the reason to gain the CMs post or of being wronged by their cousins did not appear strong enough for Arjun Rampal and Ranbir Kapoor (not their fault though - they did a good job). In fact Manoj Bajpai leaves a bigger impression of having greater desire for the CMs post and of being wronged than Arjun Rampal.does. Ranbir seems to conjure all his tricks out of the laptop and some of his actions don't really make sense. Like rejecting Katrina Kaif and then wanting to marry her and getting her finally married to his older brother (if Katrina's father was such a power hungry industralist, he'd be pretty clear anyway without all this). Kunti's offer to Karna made no sense to me considering that Karna had already killed off her husband and her older son and nothing was to be gained by having him on their side anyway. Karna throwing off his revolver to save his friend also made no sense since he could have killed Arjun and Krishna both and then gone ahead specially since he knows that Arjun knows he  killed off his father and brother and wife and unborn kid as well- unless he had no bullets in his revolver but nothing indicated that.

Despite my personal issues, I would still go and watch it at least once for the scale and the attempt. All performances were good with Manoj Bajpai, Ajay Devgan, Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Nana Patekar bringing on stellar performances. A *** star rating from me. Maybe half a star more for the attempt.