Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vaanam - the review (sort of)

Before you start judging me for watching Chimbu movies in the theatre, this is what happened:

S had wanted to watch the Tamil movie Ko. Last night, he said he had booked tickets for the movie. Late this morning, we went to the theatre. We were well in time for the pre-movie trailers. A couple of movie trailers later, the trailer for the Tamil movie Vaanam popped up. The theatre was filled with ear-piercing shrieks and whistles. Wow! I turned to S and whispered wonderingly, "I can't believe a Chimbu movie is getting so many whistles for the trailer itself!"

Which was when S turned to me and grinned broadly, "This is not the trailer, this is the movie. We are watching Vaanam. I booked tickets for Vaanam, not Ko."

I think my face became smaller by 3 sizes. For, a) I hate the gimmicky lyrics and consequently the song "Evandi unnai petthan" in Vaanam and had mentally made a note to never watch the movie even if it was featuring anyone other than b) Chimbu, whose movies I think are usually cheap (VTV being the exception). Furthermore, the movie featured c) Anushka, whom I fondly call Anushka maami coz I think she looks like a maami with those big-round kohled eyes.

And now, S had successfully managed to make me sit in the theatre to watch a movie featuring all of the above. Aaaaargh! S, how could you!!

Anyhoo, after some 10 minutes of bristling (and thus happily not paying much  attention to the totally gratuitous opening song and subsequent fight sequence), I decided that I might as well make the best of a bad thing and settled down to watch.

And wound up being pleasantly surprised. The movie has five parallel tracks and of course, one knew that all the twines would eventually meet but it was quite interesting to watch how events would unfold to make that happen.

The stories are multiplexed with one another and hence, before you get too bored with one track, the next track is on. There are some funny one-liners in between to keep you laughing when things become too serious.

But the thing which I found was a very refreshing change from typical Indian movies was that Anushka (one of the more popular heroines in Tamil cinema now) was cast as a prostitute. That was not the big deal. The big deal was that she was unapologetically cast as one.

Otherwise, all Indian movies I have seen, which dare to feature currently popular heroines as prostitutes invariably have a long flashback about how a dead/alcoholic father, a mother racking with whooping cough, a crippled brother, an unmarried sister and numerous other pathos-ridden family members were the reason why the virtuous heroine took it upon herself to become a prostitute. No such stories for Anushka. She just says "I have no education and I took this up as a profession." and that's all there is to it.

Finally, even commercial Indian cinema seems to be growing up! Actors (especially female ones) need not always have to maintain their "good" image - they are acting in a movie and what role they play in a movie has no reflection on their real life!

On the whole, the movie was fast-paced and decent entertainment. While I wouldn't urge you to run out and watch the movie ASAP, it is definitely not something to be avoided either. If you voluntarily go or if you are caught in the theatre like I was, be happy and enjoy the ride!

p.s. In case you are wondering, both Chimbu and Anushka acted fine and I was not irritated by either :-).

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Last year (gosh, it is soon going to be a year - it feels like a lot less), when we decided to move back to India from the US, one of the factors which helped me feel a little less odd-woman-out was knowing that a bunch of my peers were moving back around the same time too.

One of these movers-back was my close friend, A (who has been featured on this blog quite a few times, possibly under different pseudonyms). Though she was going to be in a different city, we would at least be in the same country again!

Then, a few days back, A gave me the awesome news that she and her husband are moving to Chennai soon. Yippeee!

Like my sister put it, "Man, I don't believe your luck. You move 10,000 miles and not only do you have a good friend moving back to the same country, you also have her moving back to the same city! And then you tell me that she is probably going to live close to your neighborhood too. No fair".

Yeah, me lucky, I know!

Welcome to Chennai, girl! I am busy arranging the red carpet, the flower-girls and the band! We sure are going to have a grand ol' time :-D!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Of patti and crochet

I have often been told that looks-wise, I take after my patti (paternal grandmother). As in, I have a similar face-cut and smile. Note I said similar and not same. I wish it was the same because patti is one of those lucky people who have naturally smiling faces. Thus, it is very pleasant and calming to look at her. Me, er, not so much. In fact, I have been told by people who had the misfortune of waking me up from deep sleep that I have looked like the dragon that St.George slayed. Sigh.

Anyhoo, patti is also super-energetic (again, unlike me. I think I will have checked myself into a retirement home by the time I turn 40). She would rather be doing something than simply sitting around. Thus, whenever she visits, my  mom specifically sets aside tasks for her so that she does not feel bored.

Recently, I heard that patti had taken up crocheting again (she used to be an avid crocheter when she was younger). When she came to visit a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to know that she had crocheted a napkin for me.

Guess what she had made it out of? Off-white cotton thread which had been used to string flowers together! Apparently she was unable to get hold of regular crochet thread and hence landed upon this improvisation.  Talk about recycling!

However, patti's inner artist rebelled at the idea of leaving the off-white napkin without a border - "It looks unfinished", she said. Thus, she and mom hunted the house till they found some old leftover woollen thread. Using that, patti happily crocheted a maroon border around the it and gave the lovely napkin to me.

I promptly decided that it was too pretty to be used as a napkin and decided to use it as a part of the centerpiece for the coffee table in our house. Here it is:
See how subtly I worked in the showing off?
S and me were both super impressed by patti's enthusiasm and thus set off on a hunt for regular crochet thread for patti. After some googling and calling around, we found a store and bought her several balls of colored woollen thread. Patti looked like a kid receiving candy when we gave it to her - she just couldn't stop grinning!

I hear that she is busy coming up with new things to crochet. I can't wait to see them!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Exercising my franchise

A violet-mark day in my life! I voted for a government election for the first time today. Yes!

The voting came with all the attendant Indian-voting tamasha. We waited for over an hour at the election-booth while voting-machine malfunction was corrected. This was of course accompanied with plenty of shouting, self-importanting and useless stand-bying. Some people walked away in frustration but the majority of voters stood their ground declaring that they were prepared to stand for however long it took for the malfunction to be corrected. I was rewarded for my patience with a violet mark on my finger and a chance to press a key on the voting machine. Yaay - I am now a part of the democratic process!

Marked finger! And no, I don't have dirty nails - it's just that they put too much ink which then spread around!

Other stuff:
1. Since the time I turned 18, it has been a long-standing desire of mine to get that mark on my finger. I remember how my cousin sat on election-day furiously painting her finger-nails. Her sister enquired why she was doing so instead of getting ready to go and vote for the first time. Cousin smartly said, "I want my nails to look pretty when they apply that mark".

2. This election's campaigning has been a whole lot of fun to watch. The various party-affliated television channels showed speeches from their own candidates - some of them were pretty entertaining. There were also plenty of party-ads and smear campaigning too. Of course, there was our truth, their truth and the real truth. Very interesting. Ever since the campaigning stopped, I have been missing this entertainment a lot.

3. I hear quite a lot of working professionals have treated the election-holiday as a vacation and have gone out of town since today is followed by a lot of public holidays. I wonder how educated people especially can be so irresponsible. These people are probably the same ones who will later complain long and hard about how the government is awful and does nothing for the welfare of the people. Even if you don't want to support any candidate, at least file the option to not choose any candidate! At least you will prevent bogus-voting! It is your duty as a citizen of a democracy.

4. Why on earth is it taking a whole long month to reveal the results of the election? Something does not sound right at all.

5. Some of the election-related SMS-es that have been floating around have been really witty. Sigh, I am going to miss the end of the elections!

Friday, April 08, 2011

How to survive Chennai summer when there is no electricity

The way electricity supply works in Chennai these days is, the hotter it gets, the lesser the electricity available. Thus, when the fans and ACs are working hard to cool you off, electricity to the said devices is shut off. I suppose this is the government's way of building our character. After all, if we can survive the Chennai heat without electricity, then we must be able to handle almost all types of adverse situations, no? See, our government does so much for our welfare. Does yours do that?

Anyways, back to the point. This morning I was busy working when all the lights and fans went out leaving an eerie silence behind. That is, till the generator at the bank next door started up. Yup, we had had a power shut down. I frantically rifled through the newspaper again. I had read that parts of our neighborhood was having "maintenance" shut down but not our specific area. Oh, by the way, what once used to be called as "power-cuts" or "load-shedding", now has a new fancy name: maintenance. Though one's mind keenly wonders how certain areas of Chennai need this maintenance shut down *every* week. Exactly what is being maintained? The body-heat level of the concerned citizens?

Anyhoo - a second glance at the paper revealed that our entire neighborhood had been snuck in under some other area's power-cut schedule. Great - so we were not going to have electricity at home till 6.00pm.

Due to various reasons, I had to stay put at home. I survived. How can you do the same?

1. Live in a house which has at least one floor above it (and hence whose roof does not get direct sunlight). If not this, the house should at least be surrounded by trees. If neither of the above conditions are true, tough luck. The rest of the points will not help you. On the brighter side, you will get a bird's eye view of chennai as you evaporate. (Alternately, hit one of the closed air-conditioned malls for the day.)

2. This is a no-brainer - be dressed in cool cotton clothes.

3. Do not move unless absolutely necessary. If at all you have to move, finish whatever you need to do and then come back and sit down quietly till you stop sweating. Permitted sweat-free activities include reading a book, listening to music and fanning yourself.

4. Under no circumstance should you go into the kitchen and light the stove. If this means surviving on water-melon and yogurt from the non-functioning refrigerator for lunch, so be it.

5. Do not make the mistake of bathing. Contrary to what you think, a bath will make you sweat even more profusely, rendering it an absolute waste of time and water.

6. Drink plenty of water. Follow the directions in step 3 to come back to sweat-free status once you have made the trip to fetch the water. Or, be smart and make one trip to get a few bottles of water to keep beside you.

7. If you need to talk on the phone, keep the conversation to neutral topics. Any kind of excitement increases your heart rate and thus your sweating tendencies.

8. Do not go outside the house even if it is only for a few minutes. Once you have gotten some sun on you, coming back to sweat-free status without a fan or AC is very hard.

9. Do not drink hot beverages of any kind. Even if a cup of tea is the only thing that will take you through the noon slump. Chew gum instead or if you have been doing all the things outlined in the above eight points, you can even be lucky enough to sneak in a quick nap (no blankets).

10. Most important of all, do not focus on the missing electricity. This will just cause anger and irritation and that will, you know, cause sweat.

Ta da, now you can grin about a job well done when the turning of the fan alerts you the return of electricity to your home!

Mercifully, thus far, my neighborhood has not had a lot of prolonged outages - this is the first one for the year. The comming summer months will see me keeping my fingers crossed tight. Amen!

* Picture courtesy here.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The ICC 2011 World Cup is ours!

We won and how! Congratulations Team India! Finally, we can stop looking back at 1983 and start looking at 2011. YES!!!!

Image courtesy