Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In between flights...

On my way from Pune back to Bangalore, as I waited for my turn to be frisked at the security check, I saw before me a bearded gentleman who was politely giving way and chatting to someone who did not know where the queue was. I could not help overhearing him say he was American, but ‘is desh mera desh hai’. I suppressed an urge to correct him ‘Yeh desh’. It is not often that a foreigner strikes up conversation with a local in Hindi, especially when two Indians themselves greet in English.

So off he went before me, and as we waited for our planes in the lounge, I happened to be within earshot of him. He was obviously catching up on some business and I could not help admiring how confidently he spoke. I continued to listen as discreetly as I could. The crux of the conversation was that he was called upon to share pearls of his wisdom at some event, but he was looking for some kind of remuneration. He was very matter-of-fact in advising the lady on the other side of the phone that his time cost money, and if he were to prepare for and spend some time with them, then they would have to arrange for an honorarium.

Now, the mental picture I get for this kind of situation is a pot-bellied gentleman, scratching his head and saying ‘kuch kharcha pani mil jata toh …’. For some reason, when he spoke the way he did, it did not sound very awkward. Blame it on whatever you want to, but there I was, wondering what this person did that enabled him to speak the way he did and get away with it. Shortly, he was speaking to someone else who made the mistake of asking him his email ID. This gentleman chastised him for asking an email ID on a phone call, but eventually gave it in terms of his first name, last name and then his company name. I was totally hooked and made a mental note to look him up, having heard his name when he introduced himself on the phone call. He was David Wittenberg.

Well, you never know who you run into. On a separate note, here’s (who I think was) Syed Kirmani napping in the Jet Lounge at Mumbai.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What's Your Raashee?

A yuppie NRI in the US of A is called home to wed, in the hope that his dowry can be used to repay some bad debts. He chances upon the novel idea (pun unintended) of meeting one girl of each 'rashi' to see with whom he hits it off.

In making the movie a comedy, Ashutosh Gowariker makes heavy use of the stereotypes associated with each 'rashi'. In some characters, these get overdone to an extent that it is hardly believable. After a few 'rashis', it begins to feel as if the hero is looking for reasons not to marry, rather, to move on to the next 'rashi'.

Harman Hurman hardly has any scope in the movie. He seems to be strutting around for all of the three and a half hours, asking the same questions to every 'rashi'. There are a couple of songs to showcase his dancing talents, but largely he comes across as a poor man's Hrithik Roshan. Priyanka Chopra on the other hand, can walk away from this movie with her head held high. She has put in effort to research each character and give it a distinct trait in speech or gait. Be it a pretending 'dehaat', or a polished corporate, or a carefree collegian, she does justice to each character. In the title track video, which has all her characters on-screen together, you can see that each character does the same steps differently - while the collegian prances around oblivious to others, the doctor sways a bit reservedly, the corporate moves are 'propah', and the dehaat character has two left feet, which she pulls up together right after the song stops. I thought that the attention to detail given in this particular piece of choreography was fantastic. Music is not extraordinary, save a couple of numbers which have catchy sequences.

My reco:
It's worth a watch to see Priyanka Chopra's histrionics, she's been on a marathon run to the dressing room since Fashion, but her apart, there's nothing really strong about the movie to pull you into the theater. The title track tells you all about the movie - visually and musically too! Wait for it if you can, it will hit the TV soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nano: The New Auto?

The Nano has hit the roads. And as you can see, it is very close to the Auto. :)

The similarity does not stop at size alone. The costs are comparable; in fact the Nano might even be cheaper to own than an auto-rickshaw. The cheapest Nano costs around Rs. 1,30,000 on road and the auto is not very distant from that figure. So, it might in fact be a better option that a prospective auto wala buys a Nano and runs the Nano as an auto.

On the one hand, you have more comfort; one can sit beside the driver rather than squeezing in "cattle-class" at the back. You have more safety, as there are no open sides or soft tops. More value, as you are protected from rain and paan (and may even have AC if the driver is enterprising enough). Roads where two/three-wheelers are prohibited are no longer a constraint.

On the other hand, they may not be as easy to flag down. Typical auto-navigation (read sudden U-turns) may not be possible because of the larger turning radius, which may be a good thing after all. Carriage of goods/luggage can also be a problem, as autos have a reputation of being able to carry a lot of things which cannot/may not be accommodated into a 'car'.

I do not know about CNG/LPG, but I do not see a significant difference in the fuel efficiency in the two when using normal fuel. The auto is known to give anywhere near 30 kmpl of petrol, while the Nano is said to return around 25 kmpl. A little math is required, perhaps, to work out a pricing model, where the Nano can be a little pricier than the auto, but still cheaper than a regular taxi. In fact, I think if LPG is considered, or for that matter, even diesel, the Nano can still be profitably used with the existing auto tariffs.

If it clicks, we may well see the Nano inherit the traditional black and yellow, hitherto worn proudly by the Auto and the Premier Padmini.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Years Gone By

Old photographs make for a fun filled post-lunch session. Recently when I was home, I went through our regular routine of cupboard re-organisation. A bagful of old albums are taken out, spread on the double bed, and the flashback begins, often not ending until dinner is served.

This time was no exception, I found a small paper sachet with a few additions to my Dad's collection of passport size photographs. Dad has this habit of retaining one photograph everytime he takes a fresh set of eight photographs. So, the cover had about 10-12 photos of Dad at various stages of life - resulting in this panorama.

It is amazing how time wears a face out, how you can look back year on year and see how faces change. Some lines are welcome, some take a little sheen off the personality. Hairlines recede, the skin puffs up, the different hairstyles symbolic of the era all leaving you with memories of each phase.