Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Bay usque ad Mare

Of elvii, paris hiltons, beer-chuggers, bong-smokers, nekkid people (tastefully covered with monokuro boo here in this blog), potheads, very small people with haight-ashbery street markers, borat, google-recruiting and what not - 7 miles, 60,000 people - Bay to Breakers, SF 2007.

more pictures here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Louis Malle

laurent chevalier. 2007. pencil on paper. blackmamba

ok, so we spend insane amounts of time watching these films, but never write about them. (no, we really want to write about cinematography ... but never do ... anyway). So figured might as well post one iconic image from films that are close to our heart, every week. first in the series - Le Souffle au coeur (Murmur of the heart) - for no good reason.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 16, 2007

This post is not about the deadliest mass shooting in American History, the Virginia Tech Massacre. Instead this is about how we are affected by incidents like these and worse. Why some gain more importance in the media, while the others languish in the unseen corners of our psyche?

Most people I know were shocked by the allocation of real-estate on the front-pages of newspapers. How does one decide what is worthy of a larger font and photographs, interactive personal histories, and what is not?

There is more to this biased attention than meets the eye. It is not just that Americans were killed in VT. America does not mourn thousands of its fellow countrymen(though significantly less than the number of Iraqis) who die in Iraq the same way. All they get is mourning on the public radio, once a week, where their names are read out between two news segments.

One reason for the shock and empathy in the case of VT is the fear that it could have been me, my family, my son or daughter, my friends. This is a university classroom, people are struck by the fear that if it could happen here, it could happen at their workplace, grocery store or parking lot. I think, this motivates the interest people are taking in this tragedy, more than they are willing to admit. And case in point, some of the most popular desi blogs have posts that detail the Indians who were killed at VT, while making a respectful but brief mention of all the others who died. Why? Is this a bias? Or is it just that we have accepted that we are wired to be more concerned about our people?

As a child, when I watched movies set in Europe or America in the early 1900s I would always wonder, didn't these people know that India and so many other countries were struggling for their freedom, there were famines and people dying everyday. How could one explain the indifference these characters display? They just care about their shallow insecurities, parties and fishing. But now, when I look at Darfur or Iraq, what have we done?

But then again, I do agree, at least in some cases, indifference is the least/We have to dread from man or beast, especially after seeing the havoc uninformed, insensitive meddling can result in.

There are so many cynical ways to look at why this particular tragedy has gained more prominence over many others, but lets not even go there.

Also read - Indifference.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Hana (flower) + mi (see)

scent of plum blossoms
on the misty mountain path
a big rising sun

Matsuo Basho

Yes, it is that time of the year again ... when you drive out of your garage, tiny white petals get swept away from your path. And when the wind blows, a shower of white petals cover the path again.

And what is better than not having to even get out of bed to see such lovely mountains framed by these beautiful flowers.

[All images shot from my bedroom window.]

Other rooms with a view - [1] & [2].

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My Action Hero from the Land of the Rising Sun

Everybody needs an Action Hero and mine is from the other Land of the Rising Sun.

No place is safe and no person is trustworthy – for a woman. It isn't just the faceless man on a nameless street that is a threat, even a classmate in the confines of her own high school could be a harasser. It is at times like this that solutions like building a (physical and emotional) cocoon around women to protect themselves lose all meaning. There has to be a place where one can be free and open to new experiences – for that is where life unfolds and people grow.

This is the story of Sunanda, my Action Hero. Sunanda was a year ahead of me in high school (I was in 10th grade then). She was a tall, intelligent, beautiful girl with an infectious smile. I had bumped into her quite a few times in school. But it was fighting that brought us together. :) We went to the same Karate Dojo, twice a week. And over a year we had been sparring partners a lot of times and had gone through many a grueling (to us, then) long run, frog jump or pushup session. Those were times when I could only envy her toughness, and her ability to always leave me with more welts than I could ever manage to inflict on her.

The incident that made her my hero however occurred not at an evening session at the Dojo, but one sunny morning, about quarter to nine, at school. There were still 15 minutes before the entire school met in the quadrangle for the morning assembly. I was at my desk, wrapping up some homework problems (perhaps) or maybe chatting with friends. Since my seat was next to the window, I looked out and saw Sunanda standing at the far end of the corridor on the first floor [1], where both our classrooms were. She was looking over the playground, with kids running around, playing etc. Suddenly Rakesh (her classmate, who rode the same airforce shuttle – a school bus of sorts) appeared and tried to smooch her [2]. I am still in awe of her amazing reflex – she immediately swung her arm and gave him one tight slap – one so hard – that I could see blood splatter from his mouth though I was about 10 meters away. He was in so much pain and such shock, that all he could do was stand there stunned and unable to move.

There were very few witnesses to this event, a few of her classmates and a stray audience, liek me, who happened to be looking out the window, at that exact moment. But this did end pretty badly for the boy (suspension from the school etc). There were speculations as to why he did something this stupid and it turned out to be a dare, some petty bet with his friends, who had egged him on to go kiss her. This is in my mind a more serious problem - how women, even your own classmates are so easily objectified.)

She was an instant hero in our school, and to say the least - our Dojo [3]. But the rest of the world did not think so (or so we were told). We were asked to maintain her anonymity, for knowing who she was would (supposedly) only encourage other (hooligans) from trying to harass her on the streets!

She might not be Rosa Parks, but to all of us who saw her that day, she showed us the power of standing up and hitting hard at the hideous face of harassment wherever it loomed.

[1] The 2nd floor in the US

[2] Well, I need to explain that this was not a standard occurrence at our school. People might have held hands or kissed each other in some remote corner, where such “dark deeds” did take place, but there was no room in our school campus that allowed such behaviour,...

[3]All that our Sensei had to say was, “Why didn’t you use your perfect roundhouse kick, while you were at it?”

[4] On a slight tangent, here is David Unger's hilarious, informative (but ouch) report on a Krav Maga school in LA.

This story is part of the Blank Noise Project Action Heros Online.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

One Ring to rule them all

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul. (listen)

We have a new Ringbearer too!

And as with any new ringbearer, we are now at a loss, which ring shall the bearer bear?

All you wise ones, which one rings the bell, for you?

Narya Blondie

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly theme - Ennio Morricone

Nenya Waterboy
Evian Waterboy - Rock You - Queen (orig)

Vilya Austin
Austin Powers Theme - George S. Clinton

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dhyaan and the Art of Oxford* Maintenance

Did you know - Zen is Japanese for Chan (in Chinese), which is Dhyaan in Sanskrit?!

* While on Bael Gaadis(bullock carts) - could not resist this PJ from Munnabhai

MUNNA BHAI : Circuit, bole toh yeh Ford kya hai?
CIRCUIT : Bhai, gaadi hai.
MUNNA BHAI : Toh phir, yeh Oxford kya hai?
CIRCUIT : Bole toh, simple hai bhai, Ox mane Bael, Ford mane gaadi. Oxford bole toh Baelgaadi.