Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Red Day

Or Three of Them

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Today is the second day of a three day long Chinese New Year festival. This entire island has shut itself down, shops are closed, the streets are deserted and the march of commerce and hustle and bustle that always characterised Singapore for me just came to a halt. The natives stay at home, I am told, sit with their families and eat large quantities of food. Anyone still young enough to not be earning on their own recieve "Ang Pao", or money packets from hordes of relatives each looking to outdo each other. Basically, one is about to have a lot of very rich Chinese Singaporean Friends to pawn off, in a couple of days time.
Seeing as how shops have shut, eating places closed and even the supermarket bare to our needs for provisions there's little to do except try to have a little fun. Towards the same, I went and saw a movie yesterday, at the Jade Theatre. When you go see a hindi movie in foren, it's like being right back home. The same large Punjabi aunties, the same uncles, the same bunch of lukhas walking out of the movie saying "Behenchod, kya picture thi". Wait, that might have been us. No, it wasn't. The point still remains. For a while, the whole theatre, not just the movie, transported me back home. I shall now proceed to review it. This is my first film review in a while, for various reasons. So forgive me for being a bit rusty.

Rang De Basanti

I enjoyed this film very much. It's been shot beautifully, and although I have a few grouses with it(such as the strange and unending depiction of India Habitat Center as Delhi University) I enjoyed it a great deal. It has some simply breathtaking shots of Delhi, my home, and characters that have been well fleshed out, representing a microsm of the variety of decadent young youth you'll find back home. Some of the scenes are spectacular, and make me want to explore Delhi all over again, there's enough places I should visit again. It's a huge wonderful charming place that I call home, and the movie did serve to remind me of that.

The storyline intertwines seamlessly between present day and events starting from the Kakori Conspiracy Case. How each character starts to fit into his role, how each of them find the right words and expressions is wonderfully done, uncharacteristic of Holly or Bollywood when it comes to college crowd movies. The characters also have wonderful lines, with a familiar mix of Hindi Punjabi and English which you will come to expect in Delhi. The one liners are also taut and well written, as is the comaraderie you see between the college mates. Again, it's something you can easily identify with. Props to whoever wrote the dialogue for the film, at no instance could I fault it for being innapropriate or overly cliched. It all flowed quite naturally.
While many have panned the ending, calling it unrealistic or overdone, I found it appropriate. This is a film, after all. It relies on metaphor, not on reality. It was a part of the deux ex machina for the protagonists to go through with what they do towards the end(no spoilers here) to sync with their revolutionary counterparts 70 odd years ago, and while I did not agree of their actions, I understood their nessecity. This wasn't a film that ended telling you what they did was right or wrong, just why they did it. In the eyes of their actions, you can gain a better understanding of revolutionaries themselves. How young they were, just two three years older than I am. In that regard, the film succeeds admirably, you can easily place yourself in the protagonist's shoes.

All said and done, the ending is disturbing, and makes you think about how unnesecary it all was. But then, maybe that's just what you're supposed to think about. Who knows, I can't say for sure.
Worth a watch? Most definitely.

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."
Salman Rushdie

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Republic Day

Being away from your own country, if you happen to identify with it, really makes you crave for identity. You suddenly feel the need to reassert yourself as an Indian, differentiate yourself as a Delhiite, and even occasionally make fun of Bengali's a little less. The point is, you miss home and suddenly realise the identity that comes along with it.
A lot of us wore Kurtas this republic day, a lot of us discussed it with our respective classes. Some event went down to the Indian Embassy to watch the unfurling of the Flag. I was in a crocin induced deep sleep, and wasn't about to get up early enough for that.
But most importantly, it has again made me think out of what I want from my country. What the republic, what the constitution mean to me. Being in Singapore gives you a great perspective, in terms of what freedoms can be denied to citizens, constitutionally or otherwise. Let me elaborate.
There's fundamentally a denial of free speech in Singapore, a right granted and enshrined to each and every Indian citizen in the constitution. Yet, it disturbs me to see parallels between status quo here, and that back home. I may be out of country, but I still read a lot of what's going on. Over the last year, cases such as Kushboo, cases as pointless as society vs Sania Mirza, cases in Meerut over the beating of couples enjoying a moment, it makes me fear. It's all the fault of this wonderful little clause in our laws, which sadly we're not capable of interpreting correctly or justly. It's called Public Indecency, and any of our rights to freedom of speech or expression can be stripped away with the justification that it's Publicly Indecent. Immoral. I question this, and I shall continue questioning this past this day. This isn't what I want a republic to be. Under free speech and individual rights, I have the right to decide what is moral and immoral for myself, I am not bound by a government's diktats, nor must I obey any societal understanding.

There's fundamentally an acceptance in Singapore that the government is in Charge of things, because that's just the way things are. Back home, we call it Mai Baap. This, however, I am happy to say I can see changing, and have seen changing over the past six seven years that I have had the will to observe it. There's less reliance on the Goremeint to bail you out of your misery, there's a greater will towards working for it yourself.

These are two grouses I have, and two parallels I see. Both point to the same thing, a Sham of a democracy in two countries, one recognised as a Sham, and one merrily playing along as the World's Largest Democratic Government. It's the same thing at the end of the day.

I love my country, and it's my duty to criticise this part of it. If this seems repetitive to a similiar entry last year, I care not. It's important that this be seen in the light it is. It's important that I continue to voice myself. Its Republic Day, and free speech is all I'm asking for.
Really free.
Feel free to comment, for once. There's no censorship on this post.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Winter of My Discontent

Winter is horrid. Just plain horrid. Its the evil invention of someone with ridiculous plans of world domination.* You have to wear layers in winters- and if you're in Delhi, and the peak season has Already passed, you STILL have to wear layers. Which is bad, because not only do you have to coordinate your upper and lower halves, in terms of colour, along with shoes, but also your layers.(Anyone leaving a comment to the effect of Onions have layers, can go stick their head in a pig. Yes, a green glowing one). Theres the corollarical(is that a word? I doubt it) problem of nothing that looks good being warm, and vice versa. Theres the intertia of rest of staying inside a blanket, and the inability of the world to deal with that simple wish of yours. The water droplets make you feel like the Yeti, in the time gap of getting out of the shower and drying yourself. Your digits feel frigid, making it impossible to type with as much grace and elan as you would like to conjure up. Add to that the frigging problem of the bleddy temperature.

I can't wait for spring.

* The world, while being miserable and shivering with the cold, will be taken over by a well covered and/or fat dictator.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Back to Good

A week after afore decribed incidents, I'm landed on my feet again. All things that were once lost are now regained, and I wish I could make this sound more like a lord of the rings storyline, but I just lost a phone and wallet, not a ring of power or precious sword. It has however, been a harrowing experience.

From the Monday onwards, I've been running around various locations to recover very important pieces of plastic. Plastic cards have, I now realise, aquirred a large amount of significance in my life. There is my student card, without which access to SMU premises becomes difficult, nay a chore. It functions as my library card, my gym card, and as an access card to Group Study Rooms. I thank my lucky stars I didn't lose it during midterm/project submission/finals time. It was, as a result, one of my topmost priorities. The application for that dealt with, one needed to get around to getting back that which one cannot do without. Money. I needed to get a new ATM card.
At this point, I am thankful beyond belief that I study in Singapore, for this is a country where you can get an ATM card in all of five minutes from a bank. Not only that, but the service is polite, efficient, and helpful. Contrast this with the three weeks it took me to recieve my ATM/Debit card from Centurion Bank of Punjab in Delhi, and it leaves me feeling not thrilled, but generally a bit better about life. I had cash, my own cash, in my wallet nary 12 hours after afore mentioned incident.

The next major thing to be taken care of was my Student Pass, the nice little Visa that allows me to exist in this place. That required me to go to the Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority, a painful place where you must queue in line to get a queue number that allows you to queue while sitting down. I love this concept. I hate the place with a purple passion. You could ask, what Visa/Passport place could possibly be worse than the grime and heat of Bhikaji Cama Place, Delhi. Try ICA Singapore, where the Air Conditioning is kept at 10 degrees celcius, so that you freeze your privates off, and get one mother of a headache while you wait. And wait you will, because the highly efficient numberised queue is still going to take an hour and a half before it's your turn to go in. What is worse is that I had to go back again, a couple of days later, to pick the damn thing up. Yet another queue, yet another headache.

With that dealt with, I could finally purchase a new phone from my Mobile Company, M1. I am now the proud owner of a Sony Ericsson K300i. What this is supposed to mean, I'm still trying to figure out, all I know is all I had to do was pay a refundable deposit for the damn thing, and that makes me happy. Paying in effect nothing for something that has a camera, bluetooth, and a lot of other fancy mobile features is definitely not a bad thing.

That said and done, my life finally gets back to usual levels of abnormalcy. In betweeen all the brouhaha, debating restarted, assignments were finished, more flowed in, deadlines have begun, and college life, in general, has begun. Three cheers to that.

Random Thing for the Day

If you thought the Pigs were cool, check out the latest in animal antics. Cows With Guns.

The College Goer's Resolution

There comes a time in every college going youth's life where he or she realises that the laptop is a great and infinite tool for the passage of time, as TV is now a far memory. The youth then promises, after sufficient prodding, to undertake what I am about to.
I shall watch the entire IMDB top 100 before I graduate. Even the arbit foreign ones. I've watched 40 so far, got a good few more to go. But oh yes, I shall finish it.
Cheers to piracy, what.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I would have posted this earlier, except it has been a crazy wild last four days for me. Things have been going remarkably wrong, and I've just about finished dealing with all of them. Strangely enough, this story starts off rather well.

It was Harneja's birthday on a nice lazy Sunday, and I had just finished off a decent amount of studying that had to be done for the following week. I return to hostel to find out that the plan for the birthday is a party at the Beach at East Coast Park, Singapore, complete with Pizza and Coke. In short, it was everything your teetotalling drug free college goer wants from a good night of fun. At about Nine at night, we turn up there and head off towards the beach. Now, especially if you are from a city in the middle of a bleddy subcontinent, a beach is quite a fun and novel experience for you and seldom tires. I love the sand, the smell and the general wish wash of the waves and make no bones about it. I'm sure most of the Delhi crowd shared quite the same opinion. For the mumbaikars, it was probably a novel experience to see a beach in a city without a thick coating of plastic bags and assorted junk piled up. All in all, a good time. A few rugby tackles into the water later and we were soaked through and through, with sand in most unpleasant crevices imaginable. To ensure that I didn't lose my wallet and mobile to the drink, I placed it in a friend's bag, along with another chap. More on this later.
Soon after this, one headed off to indulge in some pizza(which by now was frigid cold, but pizza nonetheless) and coke(which by now was pushing room temprature, but coke nonetheless). That settled with, the majority returned to the beach, and I took off for a bit of a stroll with Malay and Dhruv. When we returned, I was accosted, thrown to the ground and buried in Sand. Then, shady sculptors proceeded to craft curves and organs upon me that do not belong. I also, for some odd reason, was made pregnant.

The two enlightened souls in the piture next to me then proceeded to indulge in an orgy which is far too graphic to display on this blog. There are quite clearly misguided kids reading it, and they don't need their brains damaged more than they already are.

Well, after all the hurly burly was done, we decided to call it a night and leave. At which point was discovered that the bag which contained my valuables, someone's laptop, and another wallet and cellphone was missing.
A bit of searching and prodding around later, we discover that it has been nicked, stolen you might say. Our cellphones refuse to be picked up, and the dastardly criminal mastermind to toy with us has not even switched them off.
After a few minutes of freaking out, the police were called and thus began a series of unfortunate events.
More on this later, with rants of how I've spent the last few days scrambling to get things back into order.


Or, It Is Good To Be Home

Happiness, apart from being a warm gun at most time, is also very relative. You can find it in eating cake, sleeping, reading a book and whatnot. As for me, today I found, in the words of a beloved professor, what you may call as a semi-Nirvana state in a Bath At Home.

A bath at home, to those lucky sods not staying at a hostel, is special in many ways. It is clean. It is not filled with the remains and reminders of half a dozen girls before you. It is not in a depressing shade of stone, but is White(more accurately, Off White). It is YOURS. You can do what you want in the bathroom, you can sing, you can take hours, you can spend as much time as you want. It has hot water. (Don't get me wrong. Thankfully, my hostel is pretty decent, and has hot water everyday. But a hotwater bath sort of loses its charm when the outer temperature is 30 degrees celsius. A hot water bath is only fun when it is around 10 degrees celsius outside. Its true). The hot water is present in a Shower.Which is deeeeelllliggghhhttful.(for a kanjoos like me, especially when it comes to water-or money-thats a sinful indulgence). Did I mention the loofah? I meant to mention it. And the steam. One loves the steam. The bath allows you to get rid of your mother's oversized suit which you were wearing because you temporarily misplaced the keys to your suitcase in the night. Its a joy certain big,fat,dark men I could name will never appreciate. It leaves you delightfully clean and pink and fresh to paint the town red. Oh all right. To paint the house off-white. Whatever.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Best Price

I sold a book yesterday. My Financial Accounts textbook.

For Thirty Five Dowlah.


The Wonderful World of Genetic Engineering

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that This would make a really amazing valentines day present? For the girl who has everything...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


One of the greatest criticisms(that I know of!) of me has always been my rigidity. My sheer unwillingness to stray from paths that I have unwittingly set for myself. I've been well aware of it for a good while now, but till recently never had incentive or ability to do anything about it. I've always used it as a defence, to make sure I've stayed on a track that's suited me, that's kept me happy. That's what everyone wants in the end, now, isn't it?
But slowly, things have changed. Over the last week, things have in fact cannonballed and I can see myself growing more flexible, more open to ideas and experiences. I still have an uncanny ability to overthink things, and thus haven't been getting an incredible amount of sleep off late, but I guess there's a price you pay for everything.

It makes me happy, however, that this is starting to change about me. There comes a point when you realise that something has outlived it's purpose, that it's time to grow up. There are a few things responsible for this, and I'd love to offer my thanks. There's my college, SMU, whose profs have finally got through to me, that there are no right answers(except in the final exams). There's the Debating Society, that's taught me to see things from a lot more angles than I'm used to. In a sense, it has also functioned to strengthen my own views, without making them dogmatic. There's Vrinda, who has served as a link between my sometimes warped reality and the real world for some time now, and more often than not navigated me through. There's my father, who taught me the importance of Also, rather than Only. There's Me, of course. I'm this thouroughly (I may even have spelled that right for a change) brilliant chap who while slow at times does eventually figure things out.

I've been scared about it for a while. Life's a lot easier when you're rigid. Desicions are simpler, there's less things that can go wrong. Or even if things do go wrong, you can always very easily justify them. I've always prided myself on my principles, and those are truly going to be tested now. Things aren't going to be easy anymore, I don't think. I'll have to call into question the very principles I stand by more often. Sometimes, they'll stand steadfast, but I do imagine that occasionally they won't.

Whatever happens, it'll be fun to see how things work out. It always is.
Forever, and always, a working progress.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Things I learnt this Weekend

  • Political Science is boring. I mean, Really, incredibly dull at times. Especially discourses on Jurgen(with an umlaut) Habermas. He rambled rather a lot. And rather painfully, too.
  • Babies are OK sometimes. They are incredibly soft, too. And as long as you don't squish them or sit on them or drop them, they sort of like you too.
  • Chicks-nay, frustrated with life chicks- in a Girls Hostel come up with some rather incredible theories. Here's one which I am proud to say, I was partlyresponsible for. God is a Male. This is logically consistent. Left to themselves, All women would go for other women, since women are, compared to men(in the words of my lovely floormate) "nicer, more sensitive, more intelligent, listen better, and are Way softer". With a world full of lesbians(yeah, the mental pictures can stop now), the world would soon move on to Dolly-like procreation, and Men, as a species, would die out. God doesnt want his species to die out.Ergo, women go for men. Ergo, God is a male.
  • If you start convinceing enough people that its Person X's birthday, enough people Get convinced, and then you end up sharing cake with a lot of people. Often, though, you get into trouble for taking out a lot of cake from the mess.
  • The closer to going back home you get, the greater your disinclination for washing the increasingly dirty pile of clothes. Simplest expedient: beg, borrow, steal new clothes.
  • All my shoes are with different people in hostel, and I am now in possession of merely one pair of slippers.
  • It is more than possible to last more than a month(in fact, one month and 7 days to be precise) on Rs. 4500. This is living including splurging on (ahem) dates, book shopping, AND phone recharges. Hah. Leader of Cheapskates Anonymous, thats me.
  • Proximity of exams makes you write weird stuff.
  • Dating is economically inefficient, since the opportunity cost is often too high, a Big Push is often required to get you out a situation, and resources are not distributed according to needs. Long Live Somu!

Saturday, January 07, 2006


I may have forgotten to mention that I've changed hostel at Singapore, to Sophia Lodgings, the closest one to college, just a breeze of a ten minute walk. As a result, it is full of SMU furrin students, and has thus quite a fun environment. The residing motto of the place is "Anything", which pretty much accurately describes things that are said and done around this place. Anything happens. Cakes randomly make their way into hostel, they are randomly half-eaten by hungry buggers, who are again randomly video recorded by even more random buggers. To cut a long story short, there is, for some reason, a rather decently long video of me demolishing a cake. I look very pleased. I am.

Thus, I've moved on from not just a completely random life in and around the wonderful confines of the internet, where I learn remarkably random things like injury rates of Cheerleaders in America(it's a dangerous job) including but not limited to sudden and immediate death caused due to rupturing of spleen(damn that sounds cool) and that the World Bank has cut loans to the country Chad.
I wholly support that. It's dangerous giving loans to a country stupid enough to call itself Chad.
Oh, and they also indulge in horrific human rights violations/poverty/blah blah blah. Your general bad african government, basically.

All said and done, it's time to move on to a couple of short reviews.

The Corpse Bride

The funny thing is that this is a Tim Burton film, with all they stylings of Tim Burton, the dark backgrounds, the gothic settings and characters, but all in animated form. The story, sadly, is shockingly bad and no amount of Tim Burton beautiful direction can give any credence to this most pedestrian of plots(please notice the alliteration. Have I ever mentioned my love for alliteration?) The whole premise is that this victorian age chap named Victor(woah, I didn't see that coming), is to be married to...Victoria so that her family can exunt penury. Enter disdain at arranged marrige, enter Victor meets Victoria, and love at first sight. If at any point this sounds like Dil Chahta Hai, give it up. Both of them fall for each other in a matter of seconds. Of course, the wedding is doomed, because Victor goes off into the jungle, while practicing his vows, and puts his wedding ring on a corpse with a curse, who takes him to be her husband.
If you think it can't get much worse from here on end, you'd be wrong. It gets worse, much much worse.

I would go on, but a timely alarm tells me that I must go pop my laundry into the drier for another spin. The sad realities of a domesticated life.

Pip pip, children.

PS: Can the comments on my blog please maintain some levels of decency? It's not too much to ask, you know.

Monday, January 02, 2006


College starts tomorrow, and till then I have what I shall politely term as my last gulp of air, from the wonderfully rich atmosphere of having nothing to do.

I landed back on Singapore on New Years, to be greeted by that recurring phenomenon that characterises this place. Rain. Since then, it has rained again, and again, and well a few times after that as well.

A Colonial hangover still exists with Indians to this day, and it's one of the lesser known ones. It is a preoccupation with the discussion of the weather, in particular, the rainfall. I got thinking about the number of conversations, sound bites, and rants I must have had because of Rain, or the lack thereof. I am, in addition, a self proclaimed God Of Unseasonal Rainfall and thus it does seem that this ubiquitous(yes, I did really want to use that word) precipitation(and that one too) seems to have an undue influence on my life.

You grow up in Delhi, and you learn to both love and hate rain, depending on when and how it choses to come down. Come the summer, and every drop seems like manna from heaven. A freak thunderstorm that happens on a hot sunny day has the same effect on you as, say, one of those blinders of a knock the Virender Sehwag will come up with once in a blue moon. Much like the knock, it's over before you knew it began, and if you were in and busy you probably missed it. Then come the premonsoons, when Delhi Rainfall gets particularly sadistic. The air now is at 90% humidity, it's burning hot you're sweating like a pig and there's no chance of any of it drying off. Spatterings, light and gentle drops that resemble half a drizzle start; the gods give you hope. False hope. This is premonsoon, there is no dark grey cloud hanging over you, and all that shower achieved was making it slightly more humid and more uncomfortable for you. But this is a prelude, a cruel and sadistic prelude but one nonetheless.

Next come the delight of the monsoons, where you literally get out of your house and dance at the onset of rain. You get soaked, and enjoy every moment of it, for this is respite, this is the cool and wonderful breeze you have been waiting for. This is the storm you were meant to be in.

Then comes the dreaded Winter Rainfall, which thankfully did not grace it's prescence during my own back in Home Town. A bitter cold rain, that serves only to make the weather chillier than it already is. Curses abound on it's onset, an unwelcome guest more despised and loathed than Krishnamachari Srikanth.

Contrast all these emotions to the dullness of Singapore Rainfall. The predictability.
I look outside, it's cloudy, it's going to rain. It's inevitable. And it's turning me into a fatalist.

How can you disagree with the inevitability of all things when even the daily weather is predictable?