You know you are from Mumbai (Bombay) when
1. You say "town " and expect everyone to know that*this means south of Churchgate.
2 You speak in a dialect of Hindi called 'Bambaiya Hindi', which only Bombayites can understand.
3. Your door has more than three locks.
4. Rs 500 worth of groceries fit in one paper bag.
5. Train timings (9.27, 10.49 etc) are really important events of life.
6. You spend more time each month traveling than you spend at home.
7. You call an 8' x 10' clustered room a Hall.
8. You're paying Rs 10,000 for a 1 room flat, the size of walk-in closet and you think it's a "steal."
9. You have the following sets of friend: school friends, college friends, neighborhood friends, office friends and yes, train friends, a species unique only in Bombay.
10. Cabbies and bus conductors think you are from Mars if you call the roads by their Indian name, they are more familiar with Warden Road, Peddar � Road, Altamount Road.
11. Stock market quotes are the only other thing besides cricket which you follow passionately.
12. The first thing that you read in the Times of India is the "Bombay Times" supplement.
13. You take fashion seriously. You're suspicious of strangers who are actually nice to you.
14. Hookers, beggars and the homeless are invisible.
15. You compare Bombay to New York's Manhattan instead of any other cities of India.
16. The most frequently used part of your car is the horn.
17. You insist on calling CST as VT, and Sahar and Santacruz airports instead of Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
18. You consider eye contact an act of overt aggression.
19. Your idea of personal space is no one actually standing on your toes.
20. Being truly alone makes you nervous.
21. You love wading through knee deep mucky water in the monsoons, and actually call it ''romantic'.
22. Only in Bombay , you would get Chinese Dosa and Jain Chicken.
23. You always argue with Delhites than Mumbai is way better than Delhi
24. You still refer to the city as Bombay not Mumbai. (credit Opher Moses 24,25,26)
25. When you love bragging about the filmstars and cricketers you've seen
26. When most of your freinds have underworld connections
27. Every three months you look at your street and say "Why're the digging the road again?"(Credit Nandan Babla 27-32)
28. "Change" is "Chillar", "Ditching" is a "Kalti" and "Trouble" is "Jhol".
29. "Gheun Tak" is your life ideology.
30. You have been shoo'd away from Marine Drive at 3am by the cops because of an "Unlawful gathering of persons"
31. You actually pay for your rickshaws by the meter.
32. You actually think 30Rs for a Sada Dosa is pretty reasonable.
33. when you spent 6 hours of your day in school and another 3 hours in tuitions. ( Dipen sheth 33-36)
34. if you ever went to fashion street, got a pair of cheap jeans and had them tagged as a name brand.
35. if you played cricket matches against another building for 5 rupee bets.
36. if you lost tons of MRF rubber balls.
37. when u call cops ;kaka' and they let u go if u show of ur marathi speaking skills ( priyanka shenoy)
38. amitabh bachans house is a landmark
39. You have been to matheran or mahabaleshwar during the summer vacations
40. You see men (not gay apparently) holding hands and walking in the street. ( Prashant Parikh 40-49)
41. The note to coin changing machine at Churchgate station is idolized.
42. During cricket season all the roads are blocked because people in the streets are looking at television screens in display windows.
43. Automatic vending machines have a sales person sitting next to it just to help you.
44. There are more movie tickets being sold in black than at the ticket office.
45. It takes longer to get off from your house to the station than from one end of Mumbai to another by train.
46. Every cab and rickshaw driver makes small talk with you
47. You see Herd of people walking at four in the morning to Siddhi Vinayak temple.
48. ‘Bun Maska’ and ‘vada pav’ is the staple diet of most collegians.
49. HORN OK PLEASE is written on every truck, tempo and heavy motor vehicle.
50. You cant drive for more than 10 mins without abusing someone ( Rohini Tekchandaney)
51. "townies" think they need a visa to go past worli to the suburbs
52. When u use the word "yaar" in almost every sentence u speak. (valencia dmello)
53. You call onion as "kandha" and potato as "batata" (Kavya)
54. You think of a spicy tangy snack whenever you hear the work chat (Gila Ward)
55.You are back to work next day after the city is bombed - Truly the spirit of Bombay(Romit)
56. you call the cabbies n waiters BOSS (Aneesh Angadi)
57. abuses like chu**** . madar****. Bhen***... are the words whic u have to use in each sentence yyou speak
58. you prefer wada pav by jumbo king anyday on comparision wid Mc donalds burger
59. Each monday you go for either bowling or pool.
60. u enter mocha/ barista/ ccd lookin all posh but sit with one drink for 5 hrs till they politely ask u if u "need anythin else"(Sonali Kokra 60-62)
61. yr pricipal form of entertainment are all the aunties who scream obsceities at each other at the drop of a hat and threaten to pull the others hair/ push out of the train at 11 in the nyt!
62. yr idea of a full body massage is wat u get while trying to get off/ board a train at dadar!!!
63. At 3am in morning you can still get wadapav or butter pav bhaji(Aditya bengali)
64. When there's no place to breathe in the trains but there's place to play cards and sing bhajans!
65. when the traffic almost makes good frnds wid the person in the car next to you.(Aneesh angadi)
66. You know what the term "video coach" stands for in the local trains... (aditya bengali)
67. You snigger every time somebody says "Im going to Grant road!"
68. u call the policemen "MAMU" OR "PANDU" (ronak panani)
69. random strangers butt in wen u r discussing cricket o politics or even chicks 2 give their personal (unwanted) opinion (Harsh)
70. You say that Pani Puri is waayy better than Gol Gappa's even when they're the same thing(70-75 Dhavan Vora )
71. There is always one 'pan-wala' on the corner of street
72. You keep spare candles in the kitchen just in case there's a power surge.
73. To you, your watchman doesn't have a name - you just call him 'watchman'.
74. You aren't surprised when somebody throws a water balloon at you while you're walking on the streets during March.
75. You know of certain theaters where you can go for A-rated movies with your friends, even when you're under 18.
76. whn u r standing at a bus stop near juhu beach and sum random guy comes up to u and says " boss" short term, long term chahiye kya (saatvik)
77. When every rickshaw looks like a personal disco, with neon lights, loud music and pictures of film stars.(amrryn)
78. seeing "Mein Kampf" being sold openly on the streets in abundance seems like a perfectly normal thing to you.(Patrick Weyers)
79. you have to pay international roaming fees when you use your cell phone outside of Mumbai.
80. you can only smile forgivingly about the size of any other city in the world.
81. you consider the local train "empty" when you find a spot for your two feet to stand on.
82. when someone asks u "east" or "west" side of a particular station?
83. when there is a saffron rally every 3 months , n u just wonder , whats it all about , u jus went to vote , 3 months ago , n they r holding elections all again?
84. when "chalta hai" is the most commonly used word
85. when u see hijraas/eunuchs at street asking for u to lend them some money , with a very very catchy one liner : eeeee deeeeeeeee naaaaaa usually on fridays.sometimes men even get grooped when they dont pay 'em
86. when u can find hukkas for use at a coffee shop the equivalent of starbucks (Vishal prabhu)
87. when u never cross the road at a zebra crossing
88. when u can always find a car that has a dent or scratch on it
89. When u find cars on the Road even at 4 in the morning(Trish bose)
90. You never learnt how to stand in a queue
91. You have mastered the art of bargaining in shopping.
92. Every time you speak Hndi in front of a Delhitite they have the WTF expression on their face.
93. You have hung on to dear life at the local door.
94. You still refer to a car / vehicle full of girls as "Maal Gaadi" - left over from the "Ladies Special" days...
95. You take the "Weight and Your Future for Rs.1 only" machines at the stations seriously. ... At least the Future bit, it always exaggerates about the weight.
96. When while giving directions you say "Right/ Left MARO aur wahan pe ek bridge GIREGA"
97. when you actually see random people coming to help you when u have a problem
98. .when u can take a piss at the local shouchalaya for 50paise and a dump for 1 re
99. When you think everyone who lives to the south of you is a snob and to the north of you sucks
100. you behave like a foreigner in any other part of the country (hurray !!! 100)
101. u see couples cosying up in rickshaws in almost every small lane
102. u want to get into the train already that is already in motion & u have 5 hands taking u in..
103. When you instinctively say "pudhey challa" instead of saying agey badho or move ahead.
104. You meet Delhiites in a foreign country and feel no sense of kinship with them!
105. Chal, paka mat!" is an overused part of your vocabulary
Sunday, July 15, 2007
You know you are from Mumbai (Bombay) when
Posted by Sameer at 11:34:00 PM
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
They have funny accents, occasionally dress in strange outfits, and some wear turbans and grow beards, yet Indians have been able to overcome stereotypes to become the U.S.'s most successful immigrant group.
Not only are they leaving their mark in the field of technology, but also in real estate, journalism, literature, and entertainment. They run some of the most successful small businesses and lead a few of the largest corporations. Valuable lessons can be learned from their various successes.
According to the 2000 Census, the median household income of Indians was $70,708 -- far above the national median of $50,046.
An Asian-American hospitality industry advocacy group says that Indians own 50% of all economy lodging and 37% of all hotels in the U.S. AnnaLee Saxenian, a dean and professor at University of California, Berkeley, estimates that in the late 1990s, close to 10% of technology startups in Silicon Valley were headed by Indians.
You'll find Indian physicians working in almost every hospital as well as running small-town practices. Indian journalists hold senior positions at major publications, and Indian faculty have gained senior appointments at most universities. Last month, Indra Nooyi, an Indian woman, was named CEO of PepsiCo.
A modest explanation
Census data show that 81.8% of Indian immigrants arrived in the U.S. after 1980. They received no special treatment or support and faced the same discrimination and hardship that any immigrant group does. Yet, they learned to thrive in American society. Why are Indians such a model immigrant group?
In the absence of scientific research, I'll present my own reasons for why this group has achieved so much. As an Indian immigrant myself, I have had the chance to live the American dream. I started two successful technology companies and served on the boards of several others. To give back, I co-founded the Carolinas chapter of a networking group called The Indus Entrepreneurs and mentored dozens of entrepreneurs.
Last year, I joined Duke University as an executive-in-residence to share my business experience with students and research how the U.S. can maintain its global competitive advantage.
1. Education. The Census Bureau says that 63.9% of Indians over 25 hold at least a bachelor's degree, compared with the national average of 24.4%. Media reports routinely profile graduates from one Indian college -- the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
This is a great school, but most successful Indians I know aren't IIT graduates. Neither are the doctors, journalists, motel owners, or the majority of technology executives. Their education comes from a broad range of colleges in India and the U.S. They believe that education is the best way to rise above poverty and hardship.
2. Upbringing. For my generation, what was most socially acceptable was to become a doctor, engineer, or businessperson. Therefore, the emphasis was on either learning science or math or becoming an entrepreneur.
3. Hard work. With India's competitive and rote-based education system, children are forced to spend the majority of their time on their schooling. For better or for worse, it's work, work, and more work for anyone with access to education.
4. Determination to overcome obstacles. In a land of over a billion people with a corrupt government, weak infrastructure, and limited opportunities, it takes a lot to simply survive, let alone get ahead.
Indians learn to be resilient, battle endless obstacles, and make the most of what they have. In India, you're on your own and learn to work around the problems that the state and society create for you.
5. Entrepreneurial spirit. As corporate strategist C K Prahalad notes in his interview with BusinessWeek's Pete Engardio, amidst the poverty, hustle, and bustle of overcrowded India is a "beehive of entrepreneurialism and creativity." After observing street markets, Prahalad says that "every individual is engaged in a business of some kind -- whether it is selling single cloves of garlic, squeezing sugar cane juice for pennies a glass, or hauling TVs." This entrepreneurial sprit is something that most Indians grow up with.
6. Recognizing diversity. Indians hold many ethnic, racial, gender, and caste biases. But to succeed, they learn to overlook or adapt these biases when necessary. There are six major religions in India, and the Indian constitution recognizes 22 regional languages. Every region in the country has its own customs and character.
7. Humility. Talk to almost any immigrant, regardless of origin, and he will share stories about leaving social status behind in his home country and working his way up from the bottom of the ladder in his adopted land. It's a humbling process, but humility is an asset in entrepreneurship. You learn many valuable lessons when you start from scratch and work your way to success.
8. Family support/values. In the absence of a social safety net, the family takes on a very important role in Indian culture. Family members provide all kinds of support and guidance to those in need.
9. Financial management. Indians generally pride themselves on being fiscally conservative. Their businesses usually watch every penny and spend within their means.
10. Forming and leveraging networks. Indians immigrants found that one of the secrets to success was to learn from those who had paved the trails.
Some examples: Successful Indian technologists in Silicon Valley formed an organization called The Indus Entrepreneurs to mentor other entrepreneurs and provide a forum for networking. TiE is reputed to have helped launch hundreds of startups, some of which achieved billions in market capitalization. This was a group I turned to when I needed help.
Top Indian journalists and academics created the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) to provide networking and assistance to newcomers. SAJA runs journalism conferences and workshops, and provides scholarships to aspiring South-Asian student journalists.
In the entertainment industry, fledgling filmmakers formed the South Asian American Films and Arts Association (SAAFA). Their mission is the promotion of South Asian cinematic and artistic endeavors, and mentoring newcomers.
11. Giving back. The most successful entrepreneurs I know believe in giving back to the community and society that has given them so much opportunity. TiE founders invested great effort to ensure that their organization was open, inclusive, and integrated with mainstream American society. Their No. 1 rule was that their charter members would give without taking. SAJA officers work for top publications and universities, yet they volunteer their evenings and weekends to run an organization to assist newcomers.
12. Integration and acceptance. The Pew Global Attitudes Project, which conducts worldwide public opinion surveys, has shown that Indians predominantly hold favorable opinions of the U.S. When Indians immigrate to the U.S, they usually come to share the American dream and work hard to integrate.
Indians have achieved more overall business success in less time in the U.S. than any other recent immigrant group. They have shown what can be achieved by integrating themselves into U.S. society and taking advantage of all the opportunities the country offers.
Posted by Sameer at 10:14:00 AM
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Time was when nobody was willing to give me a credit card: no domestic bank, no foreign banker, nobody.
Cash had just about begun to be considered poor man's credit card, like the wit said. At that time, I thought I would be able to stretch my resources a bit if only I had a credit card.
But that plan was stillborn as the card issuers were just not willing to come to the aid of the party.
That was then, and not too long ago either: just over a decade or so ago.
Now I don't want any credit cards, sorry, any more credit cards. But woe is me. Everyone and his brother-in-law are offering me one.
Time was when I was ready to comply by all the rules and pay hefty annual fees for even a lousy low-limit card. I was ready not to roll over my credit, ready to make the payment on time, ready not to default ever. I was really ready.
But the card issuers weren't. They found it below their dignity to offer a credit card to the likes of me.
I filled in enough credit card forms and attached enough supporting documents to fill up a fair-sized truck. I made enough phone calls to banks and their direct selling agents to fill up the coffers of the telephone firm, but to no avail.
It was, like they used to say in my part of the woods, 'apply, apply, no reply.'
Today things have turned on their head. There are probably more credit card issuers now than there are credit cards. And it is they who are doing all the form-filling and telephoning. The telephone firm's coffers, meanwhile, are bursting at the seams.
That is only part of the story. Banks are also hell bent upon thrusting a loan down your throat, whether you can digest one or not. Personal loan, home loan, car loan, this loan, that loan... loan, loan, loan...
They also offer loans so that you can repay your credit card dues: in other words, they want to loan you money to get you out of debt!
These banks set up call centres and let loose a battalion of telemarketers, armed with a phone and a pitch. There's no escaping this gung-ho, phone-happy army. At all sorts of awkward hours, you get calls from unknown people tripping over themselves trying to offer you cards and loans.
And even when you emphatically -- and at time with some snobbery, I confess -- refuse the offer, these unknown callers drop their polite attitude in favour of an aggressive one. At times, they even adopt an offensive tone.
These days, I -- and I am sure so do you -- get so many similar calls that if even a single day goes by when no call centre turns its attention to me, I almost get an inferiority complex, as if my credit-worthiness is in jeopardy.
Add to this almost daily phone calls from telemarketers -- who are out to sell you insurance of all kinds, pension schemes, discounts on travel plans, club/hotel memberships, and now increasingly share brokers who offer to open demat accounts and manage your funds, and investment advisors offering portfolio management services -- and you are as busy as a mini-call centre yourself.
And if you wonder where they get your phone numbers from, well, banks and mobile operators share their 'databases.' Simply put, what this means is that your bank sells information about you -- at time, even your confidential account information -- to telemarketing firms.
So when that syrupy voice on the other side of the phone launches into its sales pitch, it already knows your name, age, and address... the bank might even have disclosed your bank account number, credit limit, your creditworthiness, the credit cards you have and what you owe on each of those.
Banks earn money on the sale of this database and also a commission on sales, when you buy something.
Anyway, so why is the world beating a path to my door -- and yours -- to offer a credit card/loan? What has happened in just a decade for banks to suddenly make you and me feel like a king? Especially me, as my 'creditworthiness' is no worse or better than it was then. Okay, maybe it's just slightly better, but not nearly good enough to make me a 'favoured customer.'
So what has changed? A lot really:
- The economy is booming (yawn!);
- The purchasing power of the ordinary Indian has risen (so they keep telling me);
- No longer is there any stigma attached to 'taking a loan;'
- A lot of Indians are slowly approaching something that resembles affluence;
- People are drawing bigger pay packets (would like to meet them);
- Everyone seems to be spending a lot (but me);
- The middle class -- since it is middle class -- is also entrapped in its own sense of rules, sensibilities and morality, and attaches a lot of importance to paying dues on time and not defaulting;
- Banks have slightly more confidence in their clients and are almost certain that defaults will be not assume unmanageable proportions;
- There is a consumerism boom sweeping through the nation, or at least in the cities...;
- The nation is one of the youngest in the world (and we all know how well a young person armed with a credit card can spend), on the brink of attaining superpower status with its enormous talent pool, blah, blah, blah...;
Yes, all these changes seem to have revolutionised India. Consumerism is at its peak, more and more products are being bought and even more produced... The economy has surged ahead on booster rockets with purchases going through the roof. And to keep this economic cycle going round and the country's financial system in a robust state, you and I have to be enticed into spending more and more.
This is where the banks come in: they offer newer ways to fill up your empty wallet and even more imaginative ways to help you empty your wallet.
By the way, if you are looking for some profound theorisation or a moral in this story, if you are looking for ways to help you save money or tips on how not to overspend on your credit card, let me warn you that you will be disappointed. For all of us know that if you spend at least 40 per cent less than what you earn, you won't ever be foundering in a financial quagmire.
The point of this unhinged nonsense is rather poignant: On the one hand you have banks incessantly calling up city people who do NOT want a loan and offering them large sums of money without a question asked. You can get a loan by just replying to an SMS, and the rest of the formalities will be taken care of by these helpful bank and their agents. Once you have taken a loan, the bank calls you again: this time to offer you a 'top-up loan.'
On the other hand, you have poor villagers and farmers committing suicide because banks don't want to extend credit to them... and these are the people who need money most. If some farmer is 'lucky' enough to get a loan, it is more than likely that on a loan request for Rs 25,000, he might be given not more than Rs 2,000! An amount so paltry that it cannot even being to help him revive his failed crop. Indeed, a bank is a place that will loan you money if you can prove you don't need it.
So is India the 'next superpower?'
You can ask the farmer, who has just left for the local moneylender's place to borrow funds and to get sucked deeper and deeper into the debt trap...
Posted by Sameer at 10:40:00 AM
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
A sixer, a sixer," I was shouting excitedly as the white ball soared high above the lights in the clear night sky and cleared the fence. I had stood up and was waving my arms. So were others all around me, standing, shouting, raising their arms. But some were turning to look at me, with a hint of incomprehension or irritation.
"Stop that, please stop that immediately and sit down," advised my American friend Paul, who had taken me to the stadium, no, let me get this right, to the ballpark. "You came to learn, not yet to participate, let alone use some strange lingo for a homerun. Cricket, I guess," he now said as I sat down somewhat shamefacedly.
I looked around. It was indeed a beautiful night and a beautiful sight. This was the ATT ballpark in San Francisco, a real zinger of a park, to use the American jargon, with tiers and tiers of seating all with a view of the Pacific Ocean.
There was a sea of humanity, a familiar and heartwarming sight to any Indian with all the imprinted cricket memories, but there was something unfamiliar as well. More than half the crowd seemed to be constantly eating or drinking: mouthwatering but mouth stink generating garlic fries, hot dogs, corn dogs, hamburgers, and gigantic Styrofoam cups of beer or coke.
There was a menu of options, not only in terms of food, but also as to how to get it- kiosks and stalls behind the seats, orders delivered to you, regular restaurants within the stadium, snacks brought from home and some more. True to the American spirit there were shops everywhere, even inside the stadium, all selling baseball caps, T-shirts, sweat shirts, refrigerator magnets and a hundred other trinkets with the logo of the Giants, the name of the baseball team of this city. Today they were playing the Pirates from Pittsburg.
Why had I gone to see this strange and incomprehensible ritual? Good question. To answer, I must go back a little in time.
"What do you think of Barry Bonds?" Paul had asked me one day when we had met during our morning walk.
"Barry Bonds. Don't you read the papers? He has hit 715 homeruns and equaled Baby Ruth's record."
"Baby Ruth? I don't follow this stuff. Baseball, I presume and not basketball?"
"You presume right, if I may be as British as you Indians are. But seriously you cannot be a diplomat in America, wanting to understand this country, without knowing baseball. We must remedy this." Paul epitomises the American speech-direct, frank and friendly.
This had eventually led to him making arrangements to take me to a game, a Giants game, and to educate me live on the field.
To be truthful, actually this was not the first time that I had been subjected to such treatment. My school day enthusiasm for cricket had gradually waned a long time back and after serving in many uncivilised European countries with no cricket, I was sent to Sri Lanka as deputy high commissioner, some years ago.
It was my early days as yet in Colombo and someone had asked me what I thought of Kaluvitharana's aggression. I was wondering as to which of the many Tamil outfits he belonged to. My interlocutor had said, "Mr Prakash, you cannot be an Indian diplomat in Sri Lanka and be ignorant of cricket."
It was a sound and strategic advice. Over time, in that difficult period in Sri Lanka, I had learnt that the one safe and happy topic to discuss with Sri Lankans was cricket, particularly as Sanath Jayasurya and Aravinda De Silva were trouncing us in the World Cup. Each time we lost, India became that much more popular and our job in the embassy that much easier! And I had become a cricket bhakta once again with some fervour and devotion.
But education is never complete, particularly for a diplomat as I was discovering. Cricket is one thing and baseball quite another. Today I was in this strange field, though recognisable from a hundred American movies. What I was recognising though were the peripherals, the food, the striped dress of the players, the round baseball bat, the noisy and festive announcements that filled the park from commercials, and above all the hot dogs, associated for us forever with America and the baseball game.
The rest of the game was a mystery with various comings and goings, sudden bursts of activity with a period of lulls and occasional sixes with plenty of balls being collected behind the invisible wicket, as there were no wickets.
"This beats me. I don't follow it at all," I complained to Paul.
"You can observe a lot just by watching. That is a direct quote from Yogi Berra," said Paul, chuckling. I had heard of the legendary Yogi Berra, a baseball player of yesteryears made immortal not for his play but for his most innovative ways of anguishing English.
"I actually want to understand."
"OK. Stop thinking of cricket. It is actually pretty simple. Come let me explain outside as we go for a beer," he said and this is what we did.
Seated again and with some enlightenment I wondered at baseball's similarities and differences with cricket. This is not the place to attempt a tutorial on baseball and I don't intend it. But a word or two on the philosophical and psychological distinctions between our national passion and that of America may be in order.
Historians of baseball do admit that it was brought to the new continent from England and thus owes its origin to cricket and some other English games. Why did it change so much and become this simpler, faster and shall we dare say cruder game-no disrespect for baseball or respect for cricket intended?
I would theorise and surmise that unlike the leisurely feudal classes of England who played by courtly rules, the men who had set out to win an untamed frontier wanted to just pitch and hit, not bowl with elaborate motions or bat with a 'straight bat'. 'Baseball is 90% physical, the other half is mental,' to quote the famed Yogi Berra.
The eminent sociologist Ashis Nandy has argued that cricket may have been invented in England, but is essentially Indian in temperament. It is a game when an individual is also battling fate apart from the opposite side. Hence a Tendulkar or a Sehwag getting out on the first ball and sitting out for the rest of the innings.
America's spirit is to reject fatalism, to get up if there is a failure and demand a second chance. And a third. Hence the practice that in baseball there are nine innings and in each one a batter (simply a batter, not a batsman) has to get out thrice to be truly 'out'. Many choices to prove your worth. And unlike the aristocratic English or the consensual Indian, there can be no 'draw', one side has to win, one side has to be vanquished.
I reflected on all this as the game proceeded and after nine innings ended in a climax with a score of 5-3, which to me looked suspiciously like a football score after the penalty knock out.
"Is that it? The game is over in three hours with five runs?" I asked Paul.
"What else? How long does cricket last, a whole day?" he asked ignorant of the irony of his question.
I did not answer him directly. Instead I told him a story well known in the foreign service of one of our ambassadors who had set out to organise a cricket match in Beijing some decades ago.
This ambassador was a great cricket fan and no mean cricketer himself. So was the British ambassador of that time in China. Both of them decided that it would be fun to have a friendly match between the British XI and a Commonwealth XI with Indians, Australians and some others. The task of fixing a stadium by talking to the Chinese authorities was given to the Indian ambassador, whose persuasive skills were superior.
He was received with the due courtesies and formalities in the Chinese foreign ministry who promised to help the diplomats with a ground.
"From what time to what time Your Excellency?" the Chinese official asked.
"Well, er... let us say the whole day."
"What? The whole day? Surely cannot be..."
Our ambassador, himself a great cricket purist, explained patiently that what they were planning to play was an abridged and corrupted version of the great game, which the classicists were not happy with. It was normally played for five days, he explained, with a rest day, but they were just playing a friendly match in this simple version.
The Chinese official thanked him and said a decision would be conveyed. The decision never came. It was hinted later that a game of this nature, so decadent, taking five days, if it permeates even by accident, would corrupt the Chinese system so totally that it could not be permitted.
Posted by Sameer at 1:11:00 PM
A superb piece of article on Omkara. Read on and I am sure if you havent seen the movie yet, after reading this article you would be in the theater watching this brilliant movie.
Omkara blew my mind.
I can't remember the last time I said that about Hindi cinema, something I am force-fed once a week, on average. Vishal Bhardwaj's film, however, is a superlative-exhausting work of passion and tribute, skill and style. Spellbinding stuff.
Here, in no particular order, are five reasons I love Omkara.
Language: The words, the words. Soiled with heartland grime, the dialogues come at you with a superb realism disarming to most of us used to synthetic (at best; usually just trite tripe) often-familiar Hindi screenplays. Vishal, insistent on writing his dialogues himself, has drawn massively into his Uttar Pradesh upbringing and scripted a masterpiece -- the words are raw yet poetic, abusive yet literate, mundane yet metaphoric.
Transferring the Bard into bhaiyya-speak (no offense, Bhardwaj bhai) is as uphill as tasks get, but Omkara manages with a flourish, displaying deft nuances while sticking extremely close to the source material. The metaphors and idioms are magical, and there's a consistent strain of wry humour running through the lines.
And I'm immensely, even selfishly grateful they haven't bowed down to market strains by toning the dialect down into more-comprehensible Hindi. Spending considerable time explaining dialogues to a bewildered Parsi buddy, I was glad to have been exposed to enough of the flavour and tone of the words up in Delhi. While the feel is as pure as it gets, a massive part of the country will not follow most of what is said, even listening intently.
Maybe the reason the film isn't doing too well here but efficiently abroad is due to subtitled prints. Honestly, even while relishing the lines in the theatre, I couldn't help but lip-smackingly think how great it would be to savour the words on a well-subtitled DVD.
Loyalty: So sue me, I'm a purist. A fervent Bard lover, I wasn't a huge fan of Maqbool. In my opinion, the director went too far out on a limb, and his denying the ghost and the witches muddled up the final act. The film was very well-crafted, Pankaj Kapur and Tabu were superb but that's about it. Anyway, I digress.
As plays go, Othello is my favourite among the Tragedies, largely because it features Shakespeare's finest character, Iago. Bhardwaj too seemed to find little wrong with the original, for even while he transposed it into a completely different time and setting, he's hardly wavered from the script.
Othello: Was not that Cassio parted from my wife?
Iago: Cassio, my lord! No, sure, I cannot think it,
that he would steal away so guilty-like,
seeing you coming.
The translations are almost literal, even as the characters bark into mobile phones and watch showgirls dazzle policemen. The changes are but superficial, as the telltale handkerchief takes on the avatar of a precious cummerbund handed down from generations past. Not finding much individual use for Duke, Antonio and members of the council, Bhardwaj rolls them all into his wily Bhaisaab.
Conversant with the play, it's a delight to watch Vishal take the familiar moments and play them his way, piling on scene after scene straight from the play, but each given his own quirky twists and styling. The challenge doesn't lie in the changes, but in staying true.
It's often audacious just how neatly the script references Shakespeare, and the film's end is ruthlessly, beautifully loyal.
The players, and their choosing: While on beauty, it is impossible to not be mesmerised by Kareena Kapoor, who looks her best as she fittingly plays Desdemona. 'That whiter skin of hers than snow and smooth as monumental alabaster,' as the dark Moor described his bride, is positively luminous in Kareena's Dolly Mishra. Her character is one of the hardest to essay, as she goes through love and awe, fear and bewilderment, defiance to her father and submission to her man.
Kareena doesn't have the lines, but she has moments demanding powerful use of expression, and she delivers. Conversely, even as she proves what difference a director makes, Vivek Oberoi's Cassio is tragically cardboard, as if daring someone to make him act. This results in an unexpected (I'm assuming) effect, as we lose sympathy completely for Kesu Firangi, beginning almost to root for the cripple.
And what a marvellous cripple he is. So much has been written about Saif Ali Khan's Langda Tyagi, and so much it inevitably falls short. Suffice it to say that it is a bravura performance, and he crucially achieves the rare fine line: he overwhelms yet utterly disgusts; we are incredulous in adulation of his detailing; we will him to die.
Omkara marks Saif's emergence into the very forefront of his acting peers, and we gleefully applaud. He's so, so wonderfully loathsome, right down to the tiniest detail. And he has the finest, finest lines, each worthy of being on a t-shirt. His only competition there is his wife. Konkona Sensharma, always a great actress, is steadily piling on the brilliance. She has but a few minutes, but they are glorious and vital.
Othello is a tricky role, a leading man eclipsed by the villain. Yet the Moor is a brooding and compelling character, and Ajay Devgan does valiantly with his material. Omkara strips Othello of the racism, exchanging his black skin for surprisingly inconsequential half-Brahminism. Ajay's best bits are when restrained, and while there is a bit of a seen-that feel to his character, by the time the film is over, you realise just how unflinchingly solid he's been.
Naseeruddin Shah has no histrionics as Bhaisaab, but tons of the quiet dignity his character demands. A warm hand must also be reserved for the excellent Deepak Dobriyal, whose Rodrigo (here Rajju) turn is precious and integral to the narrative. And finally, just where did Vishal find that terrific old lady?
Sights and sounds: Omkara is a slow film, a poetically drawn out work that mercifully doesn't try to rush itself. The violence, while rampant, remains atmospheric -- it is there for effect, as a backdrop, to pretend that the film has pace. Cinematographer Tassaduq Hussain -- whose short films made as a film student in the US thrilled Vishal -- has framed the film deliciously, each shot neatly boxing in light, shadows and high drama. Samir Chanda's art direction is masterful, the sets evocative and realistic, exaggerated enough to be theatrical while detailed enough to be convincing.
Enter Bhardwaj the composer. This is a fabulous soundtrack, as Vishal's irresistible folksy tunes fit tidily into the film, enhancing and never once interrupting the lazy narrative. The theme song is used unexpectedly, during the first fight scene -- and it is this maverick, almost slapdash fashion of filmmaking that makes Vishal thrilling to watch. Even the two full-blown dance numbers work well, Beedi serving almost as an interruption to Iago's devilish thoughts, and Namak often pacily interrupted, relegated to background score. Best used is the Jag jaa song, and Vishal's weaving it into the narrative is inspiringly good.
Creativity: For all his loyalty to the Bard, this is such an original take on Shakespeare. Lines from the original manifest themselves sporadically here, and not always in dialogue. Iago is the green-eyed monster, Saif's character is unmistakably shot with green-tinted light; Omkara plays the black Moor, emphasized by his shawl the colour of midnight. It's how perfectly the filmmaker decides to incorporate these touches that make this his film.
Oh, but then there's also so much all Vishal's own. Something that stood out for me was his take on good and evil. Bhaisaab, the kind of warlord who casually orders trains to turn around, bears more than a passing resemblance to Mahatma Gandhi; Iago, the articulate embodiment of all evil, is here called Ishwar.
Omkara is a very special film, the kind that comes around rarely, making you instantly long for a repeat viewing and the filmmaker's next project. One hopes it won't be long. Salutations, Vishal Bhardwaj, and thanks for the film.
Posted by Sameer at 10:54:00 AM
Friday, July 14, 2006
Today's Mid-Day edit begins by saying that you don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that the chain of events starting from the Bhiwandi riots to the desecration of Meenatai's statue and what happened as an aftermath, to the serial blasts on the trains yesterday, means somebody somewhere wants Mumbaikar's to spill out on the streets and grab each other by the throats.
Incidentally, these same somebody-- the faceless outcasts that they still are-- have at least succeeded in one part of their plan. Mumbaikars have actually spilled out on to the streets.
The catch here is that they have failed to succeed in the second and most important part of their plan: that of getting Mumbaikars to grab each otherby the throats. Mumbaikars spilled onto the streets-- in a collective show of the middle finger to those who proposed otherwise.
I know very well that you are already aware of how Mumbai stormed onto the streets to help the injured, the stranded and soothe the injuries that were still gaping along its life line.
There were capsules and capsules of streaming video that showed them offering water and refreshments to people stranded on SV Road and the Eastern and Western Express Highways.
There were captures of students of Sydenham and SNDT college, who camped at Churchgate station with the sole purpose of offering a bed to those stranded at the starting node of the life line.
And there was also that memorable grab of people standing patiently in front of KEM Hospital-- all in a serpentine queue, to donate blood. A result of which has been a no-shortage syndrome, when it comes to blood at all the hospitals where the injured are being treated or are recuperating.
But this is not about all that. And yet, it is about all that and more. It is about the sights I saw and the people I met with, while travelling along the Western Express Highway to Kandivali yesterday, between 7 in the evening and one in the morning.
It is about that little kid and his grandfather near Dadar, who, perhaps in the absence of anybody else in the household, took to the streets with bottles of water and packets of biscuits to contribute in whatever way possible in managing the crisis. "Uncle, you must be thirsty," the kid told me while offering the bottle. A parched me drank gratefully. And I saw in those eyes no fear. So what did those terrorists think while planting the bomb? That was at least the silent way of making one statement-- "Terror,my foot.!"
It is also about those housewives in front of a housing society near Santa Cruz, who were standing with pots of piping tea, water and God only knows what else to help those passing by. And they had this board beside them which read "Beyond Borivli, Can Stay'. I was lucky to get a cab, but there were people who were trying to make it on foot. And they needed succor. Rest. Shelter. It was raining.
It is about the autorickshaw driver, who finally reached me home in the interiors of Kandivali at 1 in the morning. And refused to take the night fare, despite being legally empowered to charge extra. "Nehi saab, aaj ki baat alag hai. Aap thik thak ghar pohuj gaye, yeh hi kafi hai," he bade me goodbye at my doorstep.
It is also about the dabbawala who provides me with my dinner everyday. His shop is near the Borivli station, where there was one of the biggest blasts at 6:34 in the evening. Yet, at one o clock in the morning, the dabba was there waiting at my doorstp to be picked up. It didn't need a note. The piping hot food at such an unearthly hour said it all.
The terrorists succeeded in synchronising a series of blasts that stopped the Mumbai lifeline for somewhere around seven hours. That was all that they achieved on 7/11. The trains were back on track by 1:30 in the morning and they plied all through the night. I wonder if the masterminds will consider this before planning their next attack. I would urge them to-- if this reaches any one of them-- to rethink. After all, what did a year of planning, six months of smuggling dangerous explosives, extensive networking and crores achieve at the end-- arond 200 lives and just seven hours of disruption? Bus! I won't budge for that. In the deal they united more than they dreamt to rip apart.
And by the way, I did not spot any member of the celebrated Readers' Digest survey team yesterday on the roads. Or perhaps they were there--reconsidering their statement.
Posted by Sameer at 9:20:00 AM
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Havent been adding much to my blog for a long time now. After thinking a lot about what to write on I couldnt come up with anything. Today morning while browsing through useless email I came across an email forwarded by a friend of mine. A pretty cool summarization about drivers of various types of vehicles on road in India. Enjoy
Truck Drivers: You usually don't get to see them directly because they sit somewhere at an altitude. You can however identify the cabin crew by a frantically waving hand on the non-driver side. This hand belongs to a crew-member called 'cleaner' and all scholastic efforts till date have failed to decipher the symbolic meaning of these waving. It is however Safe to assume that these waving mean 'stay away'. Fortunately the trucks are prohibited from the arterial roads. But you can see them racing each other at 30 kmph and 31 kmph on the highways. They successfully block the whole width of the road. It is advised that you take them over from left (yes, the wrong side) for, they wont let you pass from the right side anyway. The other advice is to keep away from them.
BEST Drivers: You can see them from a mile away from the distinguishing color and driving. It can be very dangerous and frustrating to follow a BEST bus. The bus follows Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and at any instance you can not predict the speed AND the position correctly. One observation that might help the reader is that they always keep right between bus stops and move to left (well, almost) at bus stops. This is the apt opportunity for you to take the bus over and go stuck behind the next one. The drivers can be seen although mostly through the bus's rear view mirror. If you happen to see them directly through their window, be prepared to listen to advice (varies from motherly, fatherly to ultra indecent) for having taken them over in a dangerous fashion. While a normal bus can easily create a road block on any given road, there are special capacity joint-buseswhich have an uncanny skill of blocking up to three roads at a time at a junction.
Cab Drivers: Characterized by red eyes, irritable nature, unkempt facial hair, constant honking even at stationary object! They always try to go at 80 kmph, assume the urgency of an ambulance and expect everyone else has less important job. Most of them do not sleep for days together and some of them are trying to compete with David Blain for stretching human limits. The author personally knows few cab drivers who do not have a habitat. They just keep a pair of spare uniform in the cab, eat sleep in the cab and use public bathrooms. Driving style of these indicates that many of them were auto rickshaw driver earlier. However, they still seem to carry the self image of an auto rickshaw and try to squeeze a MUV into the one meter gap between any two objects.
Car Drivers: characterized by creased foreheads. Having paid through their noses and fighting to pay the EMI, they are obsessive about their cars and want to make sure nobody bumps/scratches their car body. This sits on the mind perpetually and causes those creases on foreheads. Most pitiable class of drivers having the most to lose from the mistakes of other classes of drivers.
Auto Rickshaw Drivers: Having stood over years as undisputed symbol for rash driving, they are unfortunately losing grounds to cab drivers. (Unfortunate because a rashly driven MUV is more dangerous than a rashly driven auto rickshaw). Auto rickshaws are the vehicles with most diverse speed ranges. They travel at speeds approaching zero when they have no passengers aboard and travel at speed of unto 3x10^8 m/s when a passenger is aboard. Analogous to the belief that "a cat can pass through any hole that is bigger than its skull" auto rickshaws can "pass through any gap that is wider than the headlight". They defy all laws of Physics. A typical auto drive sits with a calm and indifferent attitude of a formula-1 driver just before the race.
Two Wheeler Drives: The class in the most advantageous position. They consist of a variety of sub-populations like office goers, salesmen, mothers dropping children to school, college students, neighborhood store owner transporting about 1 ton weight on a moped, whole families of 4-5 children going on an outing etc. They usually mind their own business and do not cause inconvenience to other types of vehicles. They use all possible space on and around the road, including footpaths, medians, drainages, staircases etc and thus enhance infrastructure utilization.
Posted by Sameer at 7:48:00 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Random Observations in my two years of stay here in the
Cars are driven on the wrong side (left) of the road
Automatics instead of manual transmissions
There are neither power cuts nor water cuts
Phones get busy and not engaged (people get engaged)
The floor numbering begins at 1 instead of G (there is no ground floor)
Schedule is pronounced ‘ske dule’ instead of ‘shedule’
Patent is pronounced ‘Paatent’ instead of ‘Petent’
Beta is pronounced ‘Beyta’ instead of ‘Beeta’
Lifts are elevators.
Chappals are flipflops
Petrol pumps are Gas stations (no cars don’t run on gas here)
Color instead of colour
Gray instead of grey
mm/dd/yy instead of dd/mm/yy
Pound instead of kilogram
Gallon instead of liter
A car’s trunk is a ‘boot’ instead of ‘dicky’
Shuttle instead of badminton
Ping Pong instead of table tennis
Eraser instead of rubber (rubber has a totally different connotation and application)
A flat is an apartment (flat is used for indicating lack of contours)
A highway is a freeway (doesn’t mean there are no toll stations)
A cold drink is a soda
A dustbin is a trash can
A footpath is a curb
A cycle is a bike
And finally its paper instead of water!
Posted by Sameer at 2:49:00 PM
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Thankfully sanity prevailed when the day dawned bright and clear (yeah! I can hear people yelling, Philadelphia weather bright and clear on a weekend, no way, you must have been drunk, trust me this was no hallucination on the author’s part. You might now be wondering who the author is? Another irrelevant detail), the trip to Chicago was hastily abandoned after the enormity of the task at hand became really enormous. Actually it was Sh, who started complaining (Yeah I can hear peels of laughter from Su and Ro). A week passed by without any discussions on the road trip. But exciting things can’t be kept under wraps for long. Soon all of us were itching for an adventurous outing.
Spring break heralded another round of aimless talks, rambling emails, leg pulling and trying to find ways to kill time. But then the things became serious and finally it was time for concrete planning and execution. After exchanging 100,000 emails within a span of 2 days the final plan was to go to Pittsburgh first and then check out neighboring Cleveland. Stuff to do in Pittsburgh was check out downtown, go to Mad4Mex and spend rest of the evening eating Mexican food and drinking Mexican liquor(oh no! not again and did I say Mad4Mex? Yes, the main restaurant in Pittsburgh! Why Mad4Mex? Still confused, then read para 1) and then go to the temple to cleanse ourselves of all the accumulated sins. Saimmediately looked into how much would it cost to rent out an SUV and forwarded the details via 100,001th email, which was promptly followed by 100,000 new emails. Sutook over from Sa and reserved a mammoth to haul 7 a**** to and fro. Meg looked into what to do in Cleveland and came up with some place called as “flats” (Is it something to do with the type of women roaming that place? This was Su’s prompt response to Meg’s email).
The date was fixed for Friday the 7th of April 2006. Another problem, a serious one I must say, cropped up. We were 7 of us, 5 guys and 2 gals. The problem was of accommodation for all of us. Sh knew a couple of guys and Meg knew one gal in pitt, but Shubham’s friends refused to accommodate 5 wild guys under the same roof. The girls had it better off (I guess they always have it better off). No accommodation in Pittsburgh and the time was fast running out. If at all anyone of you had lost faith in god then here is a chance to reaffirm your faith. God exists! Two days before the trip Sh’s friend Inspector R (well a character in a movie which were going to shoot on location in Ohio) in Cleveland offered his house as a resting place for our weary a****. His offer came as a bolt from the sky and I would say god helps us in many ways which go unnoticed by us mortals.
So at this point everything was set except for the music to be played on the way. This left a lot to be achieved in too short a time. The onus fell upon Sato burn as many audio cd’ possible. But Sa was notorious for listening to only soft songs. but he did his best to dig up some songs which all would like. But it was too much to expect from Sa. He knew before hand that half of his collection wouldn’t be played at all and the other half wud be played as the last option. Sigh! Thank god for small mercies! The rest of the details were taken care by others. So just a day to go and people were all raring to go zooming across to the west on one amazing, super charged and fun filled road trip.
As you know there are some things which are not in your hands, you may do what you want, you might plan all that comes to your mind but, but you can’t go against destiny. You might not believe, but trust me each moment in our life is governed by fate and you can’t rewrite fate as Meg would tell you. The most excited person, the one who suggested this trip and without whom we wouldn’t have even ventured for this sojourn had some supernatural power working against her. A post lunch time email from her higher ups (I am sure there was god’s hand in this too) assigned a strenuous task for the weekend we were supposed to be in Cleveland and dashed her hopes of accompanying us on the trip. This was shocking for all of us and left us in a lurch. There were ways of circumventing this and there was still hope that she would join us. In the meantime there were other forces (read the great big bad old weekend weather) conniving with the mighty hand high up above to stall our maiden expedition. The weather in Cleveland was predicted to be just above freezing the day we were supposed to reach and for the rest of the weekend. Then Megfinally confirmed that she was backing out. This double whammy depressed the rest of us with talks of either postponing or abandoning the trip taking shape. But enough was enough and come what may we decided to move on and face every obstacle that may come our way. Come rain wind or storm Cleveland here we come to rock!
Ps: this is the pre trip story….keep your eyes open for the details about what actually happened on the trip. The story continues………
Posted by Sameer at 11:36:00 AM
Sunday, January 15, 2006
11th Jan 2006, 12:15 am in the night at Mumbai International Airport’s departure lounge. I was at the gate to board the flight to London, departing at 2:30am………...
I had come back to Mumbai after a year and half. After a month long in Mumbai and thoroughly enjoying the break, it was, sad to say, time to pack my bags and leave for Philadelphia. After making sure I had everything I needed to complete the long journey and my further stay I bid adieu to friends and family. Having a very pessimistic attitude towards the unpredictable Mumbai traffic and not wanting to take any chances, I and my dad left for the airport 4 hours in advance. Surprisingly we found very sparse traffic all the way and you won’t believe we were there within 45 minutes. There were still three hours and 15 mins to go before I left my beloved motherland behind. Finally I said goodbye to my dad and went through the process of baggage check-in, immigration clearance, security clearance and god knows how many checks. I was all alone and here I was
11th Jan 2006, 12:30am in the night at Mumbai International Airport’s departure lounge. I was at the gate to board the flight to London, departing at 2:30am……..
I had to do something to spend two full hours before it was time to step aboard crash in my seat. What to do? What to do? I had a book to read, but wasn’t able to concentrate. I could have picked my nose, but was not in a mood and what would people say? Observe people around, but there was hardly anyone around. Ok yeah there were a bunch of security guards trying not to sleep. I could have listened to the announcements being made, but weren’t really entertaining and hardly audible. Talk to people waiting to board the same flight as mine but most of them were asleep. I called up home to say I am fine, cleared the security check and getting bored. I talked till they were bored and dozed off mid sentence. I had to wake them up to say I would call up once I reach and said bbye. Finally I decided to entertain myself by listening to songs on my iPod.
11th Jan 2006, 12:45am in the night at Mumbai International Airport’s departure lounge. I was at the gate to board the flight to London, departing at 2:30am……..
I reached for my cabin bag to take my iPod out? I couldn’t find it in any of the compartements. Where is my iPod, where did I keep it? Oh shit I lost my iPod, no it cannot be possible. I searched again. Almost emptied my cabin luggage. I looked in my laptop bag. Not there too. Damn, I must have packed it into my checked baggage. I started thinking backwards. The last thing I put in my bag was my laptop. The iPod was kept charging besides it. Oh! No, I kept it on the table and never bothered to check in my room again before leaving. Now it was too late. I called up home to confirm if my most beloved object was at home. Poor mom, at 12:50 in the night, half asleep was rummaging through my room, to find it. I was kicking myself in the shins, for being so forgetful. How could I forget my iPod? Half asleep, my mom confirmed it was at home. Phew! Atleast its safe and I didn’t lose it. Forlorn and nothing to do at the airport before I stepped on to the flight
11th Jan 2006, 1:00 am in the night at Mumbai International Airport’s departure lounge. I was at the gate to board the flight to London, departing at 2:30am……iWait, iPod iForgot.
Posted by Sameer at 12:17:00 PM