Thursday, November 30, 2006


Last Sunday night, after a long time, I was feeling extremely non-thrilled about returning to work on Monday. I guess four days of major chilling out where the maximum exertion at any point involved getting out of the house to meet friends or go shopping can do that to you. Anyways, I was chatting with my mom on Yahoo voice chat (it is pretty good, btw) on Sunday night and I whined "I SO don't want to work tomorrow. I want some more vacation. Sob!" "Tomorrow is Monday and I have to work. Not fair." and on and on I went. Mom tried putting in some cheering up words. But I drowned it all out with my incessant whining. Finally, mom said "Go to work like a good girl and I will ping you over chat tomorrow morning after you reach work".

All at once I burst into laughter. It threw me back to my childhood, when I first started going to school. I was one of those clingy last-born kids and back then, going to school was the ultimate tragedy for me every morning. So when leaving in the morning, through my tearful farewell, mom would sometimes say "Go to school like a good girl and I will come and meet you during lunch time."

Some things never change, do they?


After the ultrashort pre-thanksgiving work-week which went past, this work-week has been insufferably long. And for some strange reason, I have been extremely lacking in sleep too.

So last night, I decided to force myself to go to bed early. I think I finally went to sleep at 11.40p (my original plan had been for me to go to sleep at 9.00p sharp). I was happy in slumberland and was having a dream involving an argument with my sister. Suddenly an annoying sound got added as background music to the scene.

Even in my sleep, I was wondering how come such horrible music had been added. Then, it struck me that the the "music" was kind of familiar to me. I woke up with a start as I realized that it was the fire alarm of my apartment. I checked my cell phone clock - what the heck, it was 4.34a in the morning :-(!

Mechanically I pulled on my shoes, jacket, thrust cellphone into my handbag and went outside the apt. A neighbor outside kindly said that it was probably just a false alarm and I should just wait inside. But even my groggy head though of self-preservation. What if I went back inside and fell asleep and by some chance this alarm actually turned out to be real - the scenario did not sound good.

Apparently, only seven other ppl in the entire apt had thoughts similar to mine. Everybody else stayed put in their apts (or did not wake up to the sound, don't know). The bunch of the seven of us stood outside the building, watching the fire-truck arrive. After spending another ten minutes in the chilly November air, we were given the all-clear to go back home.

Of course, nothing works as good as bracing 33 degree Farenheit (close to 0 degree centigrade) air in clearing your head off sleep. As I reset my alarm to make up for the lost time, the last vestiges of sleep were deserting me.

Needless to say, I had horrible trouble getting back to sleep. First, my fingers felt cold, then my toes followed suit and finally my head felt cold too. This scenario repeated itself for a long time. Then my fingers started feeling too warm, followed by too warm toes and then by too warm head. Ugh, ugh, ugh! I don't know when I fell asleep but when my reset alarm rang at 7.45a, I felt like I hadn't slept the whole night.

If it is possible, I am even sleepier today than I was in the past two days. Best laid plans - hmph! I don't think I can really be blamed for being irritable, grumpy, moody and cross today. I have been trying my best to needle anyone unfortunate enough to communicate with me :-(.

This week has gone on forever. I want my weekend right now!

When I whine, I whine in style.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Breaking glass

CRASH! The harsh sound of glass breaking into a million pieces stunned the chattering holiday shoppers into shocked silence for a moment. Even the annoying holiday music piped through the store seemed to have lost its edge for that split second.

In the midst of the broken pieces sparkling like tiny diamonds, stood a little girl, fear, guilt and horror written all over her face. Her mother stood beside her, a glow of disbelief and then anger, slowly suffusing her face. All the nearby shoppers stood staring at this tableau. The ones with kids no doubt silently shooting up thankful prayers that it wasn't theirs. The ones without kids glad at that particular moment to have had the good sense to not have any.

Then, the scene unfroze. The chattering of the shoppers started again, slowly but surely. The holiday music began to grate once more. One of the store assistants approached the mother- daughter pair. The sound of broken glass being swept away mingled with the general din. Everything was back to normal.

And I realized all over again how difficult it is to be a kid at times. Anyone could have broken the decorative glass piece. But only kids get the, "How can you be so careless?", "How many times have I told you not to touch anything?", "Do you realize how expensive this is?", "That’s it, no more TV for you for a week". When adults do it, mostly it is just, "That was an accident - it could have happened to anyone."

Wonder why rosy nostalgia about childhood often conveniently forgets these glitches!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dhoom 2 - the review

Whenever I see movies like Dil ka Rishta, Sillunu Oru Kadhal etc. I feel an inexplicable urge to write "reviews". I guess it's my subconscious mind telling me that such masterpieces should not go unnoticed. Or more truthfully, I wish to spread the pain ('A burden shared is a burden reduced' goes the old jungle saying). And thus, I present to you: Dhoom-2.

I have not seen Dhoom-1 and the friends who invited me to watch Dhoom-2 assured me that Dhoom-1 had been total timepass and had had good entertainment value. Hence, they reasoned, the sequel couldn't be too bad. The first warning sign should have been the good review from Rediff, yeah, the very same website which gave a oh-so-good review for the oh-so-terrible Jaan-e-mann. However I ignored the warning sign.

Dhoom 2 should have been more appropriately titled as "A Series of Unrelated and Unbelievable Stunt Sequences". The movie kicks off with a train in the Namibian desert. A queen (who suspiciously looks like what Hrithik Roshan(HR) would look if he is made up as a grandma) is travelling on the train with a precious crown. Our man of the moment, HR, is an internationally wanted thief who steals precious things from various parts of the world but manages to never get caught.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, HR lands on the train with a parachute. Then he gets into the train, disguises himself as the queen (easy, since the queen looks like HR as I said earlier) and steals the crown. Then jumps back onto the roof. At this point, the bumbling (but of course) security guards accost him. HR easily dodges the bullets with a foldable snowboard (I kid you not) and evades them . Anyways, then he mysteriously disappears with the crown.

Tada - the beginning credits began to roll to the background of HR dancing to the remixed "dhoom machale" song. My jaw which had hit the ground and rested there for the entire beginning sequence began to get back to my face. The train sequence had been one of the most logicless, brainless and unbelievable heist sequences I have seen in a long time. But as I watched HR gracefully doing his dance moves (boy, he CAN dance) I thought maybe the movie would get back to planet earth after that "spectacular" opening sequence. Hahaha, nice hopes!

Abhishek Bachchan (AB) and Uday Chopra (UC) as the cops get introduced into the scene next. Rimi Sen (RS) plays AB's pregnant wife. She has exactly 2 minutes in the entire movie - all of which are spent sitting on a rocking chair and shrieking. Bipasha Basu (BB) gets introduced as the hot cop who is on HR's case. Aishwarya Rai (AR) is an erstwhile thief who is assigned to befriend HR to help nab him - her freedom in case of HR's successful capture being the carrot. I guess that covers the main cast of characters - phew!

Anyways, the whole story is about how AB/UC/AR try to capture HR. BB gets a double role - she plays her own twin when the scene shifts to Brazil. Since both roles just require her to show off her well toned arms and body, I could not spot the difference.

There, I am not going to tell you the story scene by scene as I usually do in my "reviews". Actually, that is because there is no story to tell. This movie relies very heavily on star power and this shows in every scene where the actors are more intent on striking a pose which is most flattering to them in the frame instead of emoting. Of the guys, HR and AB look good (what about UC you ask? Hahahahaha - you got to be kidding me). Both BB and AR seem to have worked out a lot for this movie and show off their "hard work" with the aid of skimpy costumes (really, instead of being called actors, they can be called Fashion TV mannequins).

We all actually thought AR looked nice - until she opened her mouth. Even normally, AR has got an extremely annoying voice. In this movie, as if adding the cherry to the cake, she speaks in a weird way which involves using the word "like" in every other sentence and referring to herself in third person. Her character, named Sunehri, says things like "Sunehri is very good. Sunehri like trusts you." etc. A couple of scenes of AR and her whiny voice is enough to drive anyone up the wall - I was surprised when HR did not murder her due to extreme aggravation!

Anyways, the movie jumps from one unbelievable stunt sequence to the next. My eyes, which had popped out sometime in the first 30 minutes remained hanging out till the movie ended. As the movie wound towards its end, I wouldn't have been surprised if a "stunt" sequence had involved HR sprouting wings and flying.

But then came the classic scene: AB is chasing HR and HR jumps into an abyss. I was like "there, HR is going to start flying now". But no, instead, a parachute balloons open over him - our man obviously carries parachutes, ropes, snowboards and the like with him when on the run for exactly such emergencies. But what about AB? As the cop, would he also be running around with an in-case-of-emergency parachute? As we watched, AB too jumped right into the abyss - but no parachute ballooned open over him.

Ah - so maybe AB would sprout wings and start to fly I thought. But no - instead, AB expertly steers himself mid-air to where HR is falling and then catches hold of him. Then, in a spirit of neighborliness which was touching to watch, AB and HR share the same parachute and land safely on the ground and resume fighting. Wah, wah, wah!

I have just described two of the wonderful "stunt" scenes. The movie has many more such gems. But please don't take this as a recommendation to go watch the movie in the theatre. The only reason the seven of us who went to watch Dhoom-2 sat in the theatre for the whole movie was because each of us had paid $9.50 of our hard-earned money to suffer through it.

One thing I have to say for the movie - the cinematography is excellent. The places are shot beautifully. The stunt scenes look quite professional. Too bad that the director spent so much time on the movie's looks and the stars' looks that he did not find time to actually write a story. The supposed twists are ultra lame and can be guessed from light years away. Whole sets of characters disappear from the narration to never appear again. As I said before, logic is something which is totally left behind.

Leaving your brains at home or coming to the theatre with sackloads of credulity will help you sit through the movie. Unfortunately, we did neither - and we paid for it :-(!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The day before thanksgiving

Thanksgiving and Christmas in the USA is like Diwali in India. I realized that all over again last week when, at the end of my fitness class, the instructor wished us all a very happy thanksgiving, a wonderful appetite and lots of nice food.

All at once, out of the blue, I was hit by a huge wave of homesickness. No matter how much I enjoy the holiday season here, it will never be the same as celebrating festivals at home in India. For the simple reason, I have not celebrated thanksgiving or x'mas since childhood and for me they do not hold any major significance other than getting a few days off from work! That day, I sorely missed celebrating a Indian festival in the traditional (read, celebrating in India) way for five whole years (is it really that long?). I just wanted to exchange thanksgiving for Diwali with my family in India.

Don't get me wrong here - I am not one of those morose party-poopers. As I said, I love the festive spirit anywhere. Add the cheerful crowds, the lovely lights, the decorations and you can't help but feel happy. I also try to take part in the celebrations as much as I can. Just that it never affects me quite the same way as seeing twinkling lamps and hearing the loud crackers and stuffing my face with lot-more-than-good-for-me sweets and snacks.

*Excuse me while I contemplate a bit.*

Okay, that's done. And I realize all over again that most of what happens to me is a direct result of conscious choices I have made and so I should not whine too much.

Actually, though the post does not sound that way, I am currently in a wonderful mood :-). I think the thought of four days off from a recently kinda hectic work schedule has a lot to do with it :-D!

To add to it, everyone around me is in a cheerful mood today and smiling. My manager treated me to a wonderful lunch and then encouraged me to go home early. "Don't work too hard today - you can just sit and surf the net after lunch if you want to"!

Me being very duty-conscious and everything decided to take him right at his word :-P! And then, to take it to the next level, I decided to sit and write a blog-post at work (not that I have not done that before, I have - but this post is written with a super clear, surf-excel-clean kind of conscience) :-D!

Ah, don't I love the holiday season!

Happy thanksgiving, folks :-D!

Update: Okay, doesn't look like I am going to spend the rest of my afternoon surfing :-(. There are 'issues' to be resolved. Oh well, you don't get paid to surf the net or to write blog posts :-)!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Interview tips

I know this is too heavy a post for a Friday. But whimsical me writes about whimsical topics at whimsical times :-).

During my job search process, a couple of years ago, I came to know definitely that I was pretty bad at attending interviews. Extreme shyness and lack of confidence is not a good combination when speaking to strangers who don't know you at all and have to get to know you based on what you tell them.

Anyways, I managed to screw up quite frequently - acceptable when I knew I had tried my best but totally painful when I knew I was capable of much better and yet had messed it up.

That was a few years back. Now I sometimes get to be on the other side i.e. be the interviewer. And guess what, I realized that I am equally nervous about being an interviewer too! I guess the word "interview" is enough to start off cold feet, cold hands and butterflies in my stomach :-(.

Anyways, what I realized from being on the other side is this:

1. I couldn't care less if the resume is printed on ivory colored bond paper or has an amazing font or an awesome format. I am only interested in knowing whether the necessary qualifications are present or not. Even if they are well-hidden, I take the time to find it. So the key is having the right words and phrases in the resume and not having the best looking resume. BTW, this does not mean that typos and other shodiness is okay - it is not.

2. When I interview a person, I always start with an open mind. In fact, start positively with the hope that the person will be "the one". As I said, I am not fond of interviewing people and my ideal scenario would be one where I can find someone meeting the requirements with the minimum number of interviews.

3. I don't ask "trap" questions. Usually I ask questions which test how well the person will meet the requirements. The objective is to find reasons to hire the person rather than find reasons to show them the door.

4. Besides the above, I rely heavily upon what was said in the resume. When a resume says "expert in C++" and the person does not know what an abstract class is, I begin to doubt everything else the person has said in the resume too. Lying on the resume gets a person in may be but then gets them out even faster if it is found out.

5. It helps if an interviewee has a good personality. It leaves a good impression and plays a big role in the final decision when there is another candidate with similar qualifications.

6. Appearance - in my job line, formal clothes are not necessary. All I care about appearance is that the person is neatly groomed and dressed and not whether the blazers and black socks are in attendance. Of course, this factor is something that is highly dependant on the position.

7. Most of the times, when someone is rejected, it is not because their personality was bad or their qualifications were awful or they are useless. It is just that their profile does not suit what we are looking for and they probably won't be able to contribute their best to that particular role (I think knowing this for sure would have helped me when I used to take rejections rather personally - stupid, I know).

8. Even when an interviewee is only 60-70% qualified for a position, if s/he shows enthusiasm to learn, it makes a favorable impression. In fact, enthusiasm and passion are qualities which can make up to some extent for technical shortcomings.

I am by no means an interviewing expert (in fact the very opposite, I would say) and interviewing is not even a part of my basic job description (I am a software engineer, in case you are wondering). So I really couldn't say how much of the above applies to other interviewers or interviews. Or maybe all this is blindingly obvious. At any rate, hopefully it will help someone else.

Most importantly, I do think it will do me good to dig up and remember this the next time I have to sit on the interviewee hot seat :-D.

Update: Read the comments section to get some more tips.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


1. (Diwali sweets from family + Diwali sweets from friends + Indian sweets from India-returned colleague + Scrumptious snacks from TJ's + Delicious homemade food made by others) = Jeans which are getting harder by the day to get into.

Evidently, bi-weekly fitness classes and after-dinner walks can combat gluttony only to a certain extent :-(! Is there anyway to make people love eating less?

2. (A cup of strong coffee + A willing listener) = A very garrulous me.

Can people get talkative on coffee :-(?

3. (Need to find a "good" nature photograph + Going through my collection of digital pictures) = Stumbling upon some long-forgotten but very interesting pictures.

Really, some pictures were so funny, I *had* to forward them or send comments about them to the concerned people. Below is an excellent picture of some of the attendees at my birthday party from last year. I have a whole series of them by my brilliant photographer friend, all (unintentionally) covering people's feet from various angles :-D! However, S was pretty thrilled that her cute footwear had gotten way more attention than she had bargained for :-)!

4. (Obsession with hair + Determination to make it soft and smooth and silky (just like the models on TV))= Applying almond oil and honey to hair following a wikihow article which appeared on my google homepage.

I kid you not - I did that this morning. After that, I had nightmares about the honey never coming out of my hair ever and me being stuck with shocked spikes for the rest of my life. Surprise, surprise, the honey did wash right out and my hair actually feels softer (heheheheh, when you sit for an hour with sticky honey on your head, you are wont to believe almost *anything* afterwards).

5. (Screwed up body clock due to DST change + Nightly tossing and turning) = A very-sleepy-during-most-times me.


Enjoy the rest of the weekend folks!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pricey P

This story is fresh off the press and I found it so funny that I wanted to spread the joy. Fortunately, I got P's consent to do so and hence I am posting this with a clear conscience O:-)!

Anyways, my dear friend P was feeling rather blue over the weekend. In order to cheer herself up, she decided to go to a posh book store in her city and spend sometime there. Dressed up well and everything, P set off. Once she reached the store, she started walking briskly towards the elevator.

All of a sudden, she heard someone behind her calling "Madam, madam...". A quick glance behind her revealed that it was the watchman. Why ever on earth would he want to stop her? P decided that he must be calling someone else. And, acting all pricey, she ignored him and continued to stride forward confidently.

Which was when one of her legs sank into the ground with a splash sound! Basically, she had just walked into a pool of water on the ground meant for decoration purposes. P turned around sheepishly and just managed to catch the watchman slapping his forehead with his palm and saying,"That's what I wanted to warn you about!"

At this point, P burst out laughing, all her blues chased right away. Apparently she decided to continue her day at the posh bookstore with one side of her jeans completely soaked :-)).

P told me all this over chat. I imagined the whole scene and was literally rolling on the floor with laughter :-D. My great regret is that I wasn't around to witness the entire episode live. Oh well, one can't always have everything that they want - I shall be content with this!

BTW, this is post number 150 :-D! And yet again, I bring out my non-dancing "dancing" numbers.

In case you are wondering, yes, I do plan to have markers for every fifty posts :-D! For the curious, post number 50 is here and post number 100 is here.

p.s. this post is titled Pricey P because P specifically asked me to not use the word 'pricey' with regard to her. However, what are friends for if you cannot not grant even such simple requests :-P! That said, P, thank you girl and you rock as always :-D!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rants and raves

Disclaimer: I have not become a misanthrope (yet :-P) - I still love my fellow humans :-D.
* How many of you find cars sporting white headlights instead of yellow headlights painful at night? While I totally appreciate floodlights as a tool for illuminating games played at night, night-time concerts and the like, I totally object to it being fitted to the front of cars. When such cars follow me, all I can see is a blinding flash in my car's rearview and sideview mirrors. When they are on cars in the opposite direction, I can barely see the road in front of me. I would like to strangle the idiot who first came up with the idea.

* How do you politely tell people you have known for little more than a month "Thank you very much for choosing me as your confidante but I am really not interested in your personal life?" Some people are genuinely interested when being told such stories or can at least gracefully handle such situations. I fall into neither category and I am scared that someday I might go from painfully smiling and nodding to actually shouting "Shut up, shut up, shut UP" a la Chandler in Friends (see this clip to refresh your memory) :-(. I need to have some level of comfort and familiarity with a person before listening to (or telling) personal stories and feel very uncomfortable otherwise *sigh*!

Er..actually, I just have two rants for now - not that much of a misanthrope, huh!?! Cool :-D!

On a totally unrelated note, I recently rediscovered the joys of the famous Dil Se (or Uyire) song all over again. The beats, obviously, are great! However, I have never closely followed the lyrics before and recently did so. They are beautiful (btw, the Hindi lyrics are way better than the Tamil ones) .

Hehehe - and thus I created the opportunity to try out embedding a youtube clip on my blog :-D!

And in case you did not know about it, this song was used as a background for the opening credits in the movie Inside Man. Go ARR :-D