Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tag time

Joy has tagged me. Since she explicitly expressed belief that I would be a prompt and responsible tag-doer, I am doing it now (okay, Vishesh and Binaryfootprints, please to not burn hole on computer monitor - I have not forgotten your tags yet, I swear).

BTW, is it just me or does everyone think that everyone in the blog world seems to be doing this tag? Anyways, on to the question and answer session.

Last Movie You Saw In A Theater:
U, me aur Hum. As I already said, ugh.

What Book Are You Reading:
Very Good Jeeves, for the n+1th time. Ideally, with my current Jane Austen obsession, it should have been Northanger Abbey. But current status of affairs does not permit me to indulge myself in reading to the exclusion of everything else. And Northanger Abbey would have been too much temptation...

Favorite Board Game:
Cluedo. For some reason, I was quite good at this and always managed to detect the murderer before anyone else everytime we played. Scrabble is a close second (I am not that great there though).

Favorite Magazine:
Reader's Digest, though these days it is more a comfort magazine (like comfort food). I like reading Time.

Favorite Smells:
Love the smell of rain on dusty ground, the smell of fresh ground coffee, the smell of mom's cooking as I enter the house.

Favorite Sound:
Sound of waves crashing on the seashore.

Worst Feeling In The World:
Self-loathing, helplessness

What Is The First Thing You Think Of When You Wake? :
Mostly it is: do I really have to wake up right now?

Favorite Fast Food Place:
No place in particular.

Future Child's Name:
Archana 2.0 (if it is a girl) and Archie 2.0 (if it is a boy)

Finish This Statement. "If I Had A Lot Of Money I'd...”:, travel, travel.

Do You Drive Fast? :
Not on local roads. On freeways I usually find myself doing around 10mph above speed limit.

Do You Sleep With A Stuffed Animal?:
Yup - have a collection both on bed and bedside table.

Storms-Cool Or Scary? :

What Was Your First Car?:
Is a Honda Civic.

Favourite drink:
Hot masala chai.

Finish This Statement, "If I Had The Time I Would .....” : even more of nothing.

Do You Eat The Stems On Broccoli?:
Yup. Love broccoli either raw or lightly cooked.

If You Could Dye Your Hair Any Color, What Would Be Your Choice? :
Coppery-brown. Yeah, I tried this shade once on my hair. Only time you could actually spot it was if you looked really hard when I stood under direct sunlight or a bright yellow lamp.

Name All The Different Cities/Towns You Have Lived In
Pune, Thanjavur, Chennai, Calcutta, Karur, Madurai, Mumbai, Davis and now Bay Area.

Favorite Sports To Watch:
Used to watch cricket a lot. This later dwindled to watching World Cup cricket matches when India played. Now nothing. I love watching events like figure-skating, diving, gymnastics etc... though I start getting bored around the time contestant #3 makes an appearance.

One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You:
Have never met Joy but I feel like I know her well. We seem to think similarly about many things. Would absolutely love to meet up with you someday (coming to the Bay, anytime :-)?)

What's Under Your Bed?:
A box full of CDs and a disassembled shelf.

Would You Like To Be Born As Yourself Again?
Definitely. Good or bad, I like me!

Morning Person Or Night Owl?:
Night owl to the core. I have no difficulty seeing 6am by keeping awake through the night. Waking up at 6am though usually qualifies for a spot in the "tough things I have done in my life" list.

Over Easy Or Sunny Side Up?:
Sunny side up with lots of fresh ground pepper. Eat with toast. Yumm! (screw salmonella).

Favorite Place To Relax:
By the beach with a book, listening to the waves.

Favorite Pie:
Chocolate cream pie.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:
Not much of an ice cream person. But will not say no to Baskin Robbin's Pralines 'n Cream ice cream. And oh, the fudge topping from Ghirardelli - yum, yum, yum!

Of All The People You Tagged This To, Who's Most Likely To Respond First?
Hopefully, Shilpa.

Tag award ceremony:
Shilpa (keep up my trust, no?) and Pratap (pliss to do at least this one!).

That's all folks!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Reader's Digest

My earliest memories of Reader's Digest date back to the time I was in kindergarten. Contrary to what you may have concluded, I was not a child prodigy, able to read the magazine from cover to cover at the ripe old age of 3. Rather, I used to find in the magazine's pages, a pretty convenient place to write "check" marks with a red pen, finally giving "scores" at the end of each article with flourish, just like Sandhya miss in my LKG class did in my notebooks. Of course, as soon my parents discovered this new hobby, it died a premature death.

Reader's Digest(RD) has been a part of my household for as long as I remember. Dad started subscribing to it from the time he started working, much to my mom's delight. It meant that she would not have to give up reading RD (which my grandfather used to subscribe to) after marriage. Little wonder then, when sis and me came into existence, this family interest got passed on to us too.

Starting around age 7, I was able to read the simpler page fillers and the simpler jokes in the various features like "Life is like that", "Laughter the best medicine" and so on. As I grew older, I started reading pretty much the entire magazine. I also had fun reading interesting old RD article collections (which mom had patiently clipped out and bound) as well as the collections published by RD itself (I still have fond memories of a book of short stories which had stories like "Lamb to the slaughter", "The selfish giant" and "The wedding gift").

Irrespective of the number of transfers my dad went through, RD subscriptions always followed. When a new issue of RD arrived, there would be a tussle as to who would read it first. Mom was soon relegated to late mornings and noon as the only time when she could get her hands on it (when the rest of us were at work/school). Sis and me would fight over it when we got back from school - soon, a reading schedule was brought into existence to restore peace in the household. Dad of course, could choose anytime he wanted (ah, the perks of being head of household :-)).

During exam time, while cable TV connection got disconnected at friends' and cousins' houses, it stayed untouched in my house. Instead, mom would hide new issues of RD! Of course, we subscribed to other magazines too but somehow RD had a special pride of place.

To my dismay, around the time I was finishing my undergraduate education, I started noticing a deterioration in the quality of the RD articles. But hey, it was by no means poor quality and besides, it was still The Reader's Digest!

Once I got to the US, RD was sporadically subscribed to by roomies. But it was no longer a constant, unchanging part of my life. Then, a couple of years ago, my manager gifted me a with subscription to RD. Yippee!

I started receiving RD regularly and continued subscribing to it. Good or bad, RD was a source of comfort, a sign of being at "home" - home being defined by as a place always having the latest issue of RD. Of course, I enjoyed reading it too. And so it has been since then.

Last week, I got into a fever of house-cleaning. I found that, true to my hoarding tendencies, I had stored *every* issue of RD I had ever got from the time I started subscription. In a way, I guess this was a legacy from my childhood days when RD magazines alone were not thrown away easily (you really did not think that I would miss an opportunity to squarely place the hoarding blame elsewhere, did you).

Anyway, hardening my heart, I gathered them all into a big plastic bag, to be taken to the dumpster. Then, I felt bad. Nice magazines - why throw them away? Maybe I could donate them to someone who wanted them. The local library seemed like a bad option. Google to the rescue! I discovered that apparently there were places to give away stuff. Then it struck me, Craigslist!

Late on Friday night, I placed an ad on Craigslist - "Free old issues of Reader's Digest magazine", it proclaimed - with little hope of response. My main aim was to assuage my guilty conscience by proving to myself that I had tried *not* throwing those magazines away.

To my pleasant surprise, within the next 10 minutes, I had a response from a lady saying that she wanted to pick them up the very next day. Before morning came, I had two more positive responses. The next day noon, the lady stopped by my house and picked up the RDs. Resolutely shaking off my last bit of possessiveness I handed over the bag of old RDs to her, just managing to not add in a choked voice, "Please take good care of them".

Vive la Reader's Digest!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

U, Me aur Hum and general ranting

U, Me aur Hum is playing in the AMC theatres near my house. Man, Indian movies are fast becoming mainstream! So we decided to go watch it in the comfort of a nice theatre, happy at the prospect of giving the dabba, rundown desi theatre a miss.

Given that U, Me aur Hum deals with the serious theme of exploring difficulties in the life of an Alzheimer's patient, I should not be panning it so badly. But really, by the time they got to the Alzheimer's dealing parts, I was already ready to run screaming from the theatre.

I think actors who direct/produce their own movies must first get a course in how, while their faces, their voices and their everything must be the dearest possible thing in the whole world to them, it is not so for the rest of the whole world. The umpteen closeup shots of Kajol and Ajay in their intro scenes, so clearly shown on the huge screen were quite headache inducing. As were the so called cutesy romance bits (dear Lord!).

Anyways, I thought the last 45 minutes or so were the parts which redeemed the movie. But for me, it was a case of too little, too late. A pair of huge editing scissors would have been a help.

I definitely would not recommend the movie to anyone without a remote control.

*unrelated rant begin*

I have officially taken a vow to stay away from chick flicks. After watching the super cute One Fine Day sometime beginning last year, I got drawn back into watching the much-maligned category of chick flicks. Thus began my hunt for another nice chick flick.

A hunt which took me through the likes of:
Princess Diaries-2 (why did anyone bother making this terrible sequel to the fun Princess Diaries?)
A Cinderella Story (ugh - don't ask)
Mickey Blue Eyes (totally to be blamed for slightly reviving my fast flagging chick flick interest - you know kinda like how the casino penny slot machine lets you earn a few dollars just when you are ready to quit and go)
Because I said so (nominee and winner of the worst chick flick of all times)
Hanging Up (really, Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, what were you smoking when you signed up for this)
Notting Hill (maybe because I could not stop wondering how Julia Roberts' ears have not yet split from all that non-stop ear-to-ear grinning)
Failure to Launch (a really serious contender for toppling 'Because I said so' from the worst chick flick movie slot).

The last mentioned movie was the straw which broke my poor chick flick movie-watching back. Ladies and gentlemen, as the ending credits rolled, I decided to not watch any more chick flick movies. Even if Keanu Reeves has starred in them (background: A walk in the clouds is a movie I sat through with the sole intention of, ahem, watching Keanu Reeves).

Of course, Archana proposes, God laughs.

Friday night, we went to Blockbuster to pick out a movie. With four people, obviously, there were forty different opinions. Finally, an uneasy consensus was reached with Dan in Real Life - a family comedy, the jacket blurbs said. Movie started off well. Only to dissolve completely, irretrievably and absolutely into unbearable chick-flicky lala land. Bollywood would have been put to shame.

Maybe I should just stop watching movies altogether.

*rant over*