Saturday, August 22, 2009

Moving on... Wordpress! After getting frustrated with Blogger editing controls for the measly thirteen posts, I've had it! And so, I follow Spike Ace aka EISI into Wordpress.

The Giant has moved. Goodbye, Blogger.

Some kinks still being worked out there, but Do visit!

PS: How do I inform my dear followers?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lazy Sunday Brunch...Naah!

The general concept of a Lazy Sunday Brunch:
  1. Slog all week. Then you can tell yourself that you deserve this indulgence.
  2. Convince people (parents / wife / siblings / friends / colleagues etc) to make the effort.
  3. Find a suitably expensive place. (It's not a Lazy Sunday Brunch if you host it at your home, and worse, cook!)
  4. Arrive at the suitably expensive place, suitably dressed in pyjamas.
  5. Pretend to laze around, hog on sweet stuff, talk, ogle.
  6. Wait for the phones to start ringing, and watch people leave, giving lame excuses.
  7. Leave after an hour or two.
  8. Slog all week.
  9. Get invited to the next Lazy Sunday Brunch, rinse, repeat.
My concept of a Lazy Sunday Brunch:
  1. Get up.
  2. Try and remember whether there is a Badminton and / or brunch invitation.
  3. Read HT Brunch with morning tea.
  4. Check on the laptop, play a round or two of Unreal Tournament.
  5. See if stomach still has memories of the Lazy Saturday Brunch.
  6. Sleep some more.

Yes! I have Saturdays off! Ergo, no Sunday Brunch nonsense for me. The Lazy Saturday Brunch, unlike the aforementioned monstority, is much simpler:

  1. It must be on a Saturday.
  2. Since nobody does Saturday Brunch yet, it has to be at home.
  3. It must taste good.
  4. It must have that 'kick', to fire your memory all week.
  5. It must be simple.

So, here's what I had on a recent Saturday.

(Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes. Serves One. Not possible to translate name to English.)

One onion, diced into eight pieces. Half to three-fourths tomato, similarly diced. One or two green chillis. 6-7 garlic cloves. A little green coriander. Put all of the above in the grinder, in that order, and, well, grind. Put some water and grind some more to achieve consistency. Now, put a kadai on medium fire. Put some oil in it. And a little turmeric powder. Put in the masala from the grinder. Roast a bit. Put a bit of salt, and a bit of coriander powder (This is essential, it somehow counteracts any extra tanginess of the tomato, as well as any bitterness that may have crept in.) Put between three-fourths to one glass of water in it. Boil a bit. Check salt, put more if needed. Slide in a bread slice from the side so that it submerges. Slide in the next slice similarly but under the first one. This proportion will usually take three to four slices only. Move it around to break up the bread, help in absorption, and make a mess. Cook on slow (Actually, for a small portion like this, the entire process will happily work on slow) for a couple more minutes, till it looks like the disaster in the pic below. Done!

This thing also helped me get rid of the leftover bread from Friday! You can also make this with rotis or pav, only varying the quantity of water. I embellished it (the brunch, not the dish!) with half a papaya, a roasted papad, five desi ghee besan laddoos, and a tall glass of thandai in milk. Absolutely un-fine dining, but delicious!

Warning: True to the concept, this preparation is fiery, depending upon the quantity and class of chillies and garlic that are put in it, and the stomach will burn, even if the tongue does not. All the way into Monday. It is not recommended for people with tender tummies, or with stomach or acidity issues. Others, please keep chocolates / milk / water / sweets / fruits / all of it, nearby.

Might share more not-so-secret recipes after the next Lazy Saturday Brunch! Enjoy!


An instant image forms in my head, of little monsters running around in yellow jumpsuits, kimonos, and cowboy costumes, calling each other snake-names, and sparring with Hattori Hanzo swords (fake, of course); overseen by "Uncle Quentin". Weird!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Monsters vs Aliens vs Quality

It never ceases to amaze me how random (and not-so-random) people come up to me and tell me about their views on anything from a train time indicator (more on this someday), to the state of the nation, to, in this case, the Monsters vs Aliens movie. In 3-D, no less. Armed with the knowledge that the movie is quite enjoyable and the 3-D part of it is made really well; friend, family and I trooped to IMAX Wadala on voting day. (Not guilty, milord. I voted. See previous post.)

The first thing that struck me about the Audi was that it was dimly lit, and quite dull. Being the first non-educational 3-D movie I would ever watch (I am from the forgotten minority that haven't watched Chota Chetan. And never will. I know it points towards a childhood ill-spent, but.), I thought this was supposed to be the way it is supposed to be. Although, I suspected otherwise, given, also, the dimly lit and unfocussed screen giving me a headache just for attempting to read "Popcorn". After the mandatory Jana-Gana-Mana (stand!), the movie started with a glowing pink-n-golden Censor certificate. And then, I started to wonder about the hype. The movie looked very, very dull. The 3-D, specially looked a bit broken and patchy. The colours were faded, like in those detergent ads. And worst of all, those dim lights irritated me no end. And, oh yeah, the spectacles were smudged. At this point, if I were alone (which I wasn't), and weren't paying for it (which I wasn't, :D:D); I would've walked off. As it is, I sat through most of the movie. At the end of it, it leaves you crying, and with a headache. Totally pathetic, I say.

Not one to be deterred easily, I still 'travelled' and voted (er..that's totally unrelated, just following the sequence of events here). And cooked some delicious dinner. And watched IPL. And studied for my tests. And called up the fellow who recommended the 3-D version. And, well, he tells me (See P.S. also):

a> He thought it was really good animation. (Well, he's doing a course in animation, he should know.)

b> It was bright and very sharp. Colours were not faded.

c> His kid enjoyed it and sat through the entire movie. (that's rare!)

d> The movie, by itself, was very good. (No argument there!).

With renewed hope, and being flush with money (as I am, sometimes), I rushed to PVR Juhu this morning. Cuz that's where he'd watched it.

And Lo. And Behold.

The quality of the seats, the popcorn, the music (the movie hadn't started yet), the loo, and everything else in general, was way different. (Side Note: Not my first time here, but it does give you that impression, everytime. The place, I mean, not my writing. Cinemax Versova (The Red Lounge) is even better, and generally, even more unaffordable.) The glasses had two different shades, one for each eye. This wasn't the case, or wasn't apparent at Wadala. Post the mandatory Jana-Gana-Mana (stand, again!), the movie commenced. W O W! The experience of that Intru3D thingie, the ping-pong ball hitting you on the nose, those fingers reaching out .............and so on, was awesome! The sharpness and brightness of the 'screen' made the '3-D' really kickass! 150 bucks was totally paisa vasool!!! It still does leave you crying, and with a headache, though.

And how about the movie itself, you ask? Well, I never said it was a review! Never meant to write one. But, now that you ask: It's a normal, middle-of-the-planet movie; no industry-shaking, game-changing stuff here. It's a simple enough animation story, the kind you watch, enjoy and maybe, watch again on TV someday. Like Surf's Up, or Over the Hedge. It doesn't bore me, but it doesn't do anything (for me? to me? hmm... How do I put it?). So, the movie's well made, with an OK story, and has excellent animation and 3-D, and you'll laugh (a lot, if you're not feeling jaded). I really enjoyed the movie, catching every dialogue, every little nuance of the story and the animation (people, aliens, monsters, expressions, behaviour, skin tones, fur, shadows, depth, stereotypes, spoofs, semi-spoofs and slanted references etc etc etc). You'd forget most of it in an hour or so. What makes it worth watching is the 3-D. A few pointers:

a> It depends a lot on where you watch it. So ask somebody who already has, for a review of the multiplex. Or simply go to PVR Juhu! :P

b> Reach well in time. If you're late, and happen to step on my shoes (and there's no way you can't, I wear huge shoes), I swear I'll throw you into the next row!

c> Carry tissue paper. You need to clean those spectacles. Seriously.

d> Get a center seat about two-thirds of the way up from the screen. I was in the third row from the top (corner seat) the first time, and in the top row (center seat) the second time. This is where planning and advance booking really helps. From up there (the top, I mean), it plays as if it's 3-D in front of you, but is not immersive. You also notice the scene getting cut at the edges of the screen.

e> Blink often.

f> Don't miss the snippet at the end of the movie, after half the credits have rolled.

g> Take it lightly, and enjoy! It's a movie for kids.

PS: What's wrong with Blogger? Where have the underline, bullets, numbering, and Font options disappeared? In any case the fonts and line spacing always get messed up. (Noticed in earlier posts?) I really need a new blog editor, or a new 'blog-spot'. Any (free) suggestions?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

For everything else, there's...

Cost of transportation to reach the booth: Rs. 276

Price of two 'Nimbooz' to rehydrate: Rs. 30

Showing your middle finger to the World and feeling proud about it: Priceless!

For everything else, there's ample time and motivation; but for voting there are only excuses not to.

PS: Do you have any idea how difficult it is to photograph your own middle finger?? :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

I. Just. Don't.

[Warning: Very long post.]

I don't donate blood. I just don't. For years, I've told people that, and they've backed off. Oh, I'll help organise one, work like a dog; but no blood donations for me. (Scared of needles? infection? weakness? embarrassment (see below)? Dunno.) And then, one day, a friend added a new dimension to it. And something told me I had to. And I did!

How did it go? Let me tell you:

After having a royal Saturday, (Badminton, followed by some gardening and delicious food at parents', before leaving for parents' followed by more delicious food and lots of talking to. Confused?) , I decided to chuck the lazy Sunday morning, more good food, the F1 race in China, and bike-hunting, and decided to leave from the parents' and go join the parents' (More confusion?) who were leaving for the 'Drive'. I really, really wanted to give blood, you see.

Were it ever so simple. After a minor altercation with a couple of uncouth bike riders, we finally made it to the site. After the registration, we lined up at the entry of the converted blood-bank bus. And the fun started.

[The rest of the post has been suitably embellished and exaggerated to make it more interesting. :) ]

Cute Doctor (CD): "Lie down straight on this bed."
theFriendlyGiant (FG): "It's too small."
CD: "Lie down!"
FG: "ok." *lies down*
CD: "Other way round please. I need the right hand."
FG: "ok." *gets up, turns, lies down, almost knocks over a few doctors* "Sorry!"
Non Cute Doctor (NCD): "Let me find your vein." *tries, rubs wet cotton, tries,.....*
NCD: (loudly) "Nahi hai!"
NCD II: "Let me see." *try, try, try...* "Aapka vein nahi mil raha hai. "
FG: "hmm.."
NCD II: "Turn around, let me take a look at your left hand."
FG: *turns around, notices bemused expression of friend, mumbles.* "That's what I was doing in the first place!"
NCD: "Abhi dekhte hai." *tries, tries, tries, *
*gives up. Calls bearded doctor.*
Bearded Doctor (BD): "Mujhe dekhne do." *try, try, try... turn hand, try, try, try near the funny bone...* "yahaan hai!"

[This was quite embarrassing, and I used to face it every time I went for a blood test. Thank God for those new-fangled things they use to draw blood from the fingertips.]

BD: "Needle!"
FG: *flinch* "OW!" *open eyes to see smirking faces, go back to poker face.*
BD: "Blood aa raha hai?"
CD: "Nahi."
BD: *Adjusts needle.* "Abhi?"
FG: *flinch* "OW!"
NCD: "Nahi."
BD: *Pulls out needle partly.* "Ab?"
FG: *flinch* "OW!"
NCD II: "Haan. Abhi aaya!"
FG: (thinks) Chalo theek hai, let me watch the movie. *cranes neck.*
CD: "Sar neeche!"
FG: "ok." (thinks) *let me catch some sleep. closes eyes.*
CD: "Aap aankhen band mat keejiyey. Hame pata kaise lagega ki aap theek hai?"
FG: *opens eyes.* "ok. " * $%^^&* den mother* *mumble!* *mumble!* *England!*

[Now imagine this happening four more times with CD and NCD. Heh heh.]
[BTW, got my photo taken too. I'm famous!]

After a while, CD, NCD and NCD II discover what I've always suspected. My blood is damn possessive! It just doesn't want to leave the nice warm innards and get frozen in some "bank". Alas, it has no choice. (Maybe Unrelated: Why does this remind me of all those "Autobiography of blah-blah" essays I used to excel in, in school?). So 20 minutes and a small, red puddle in the pouch later, the cavalry (BD) is marched in. More adjustment follows, and blood starts to flow like water again. But, not for long.

[By this time, I had tried to up the flow by breathing hard and long, hard and short, hard,... pumped the smiley ball all I could (should I rephrase that?), flexed some muscles. I was starting to get frustrated, imagine what the doctors must be feeling.]

CD: "It has stopped again."
NCD: "How much blood has collected?"
NCD II: "400 ml." (Embarrassing, isn't it?)
BD: "Let's change sides."
FG: "Huh?"
BD: "Right hand please." *summarily pulls out the needle.*
FG: *flinch* "OW!"

[More smirks all around.]

BD: "Now let's see." *Pokes needle near funny bone.*
FG: * f l i n c h * "OW!" "OW!" "OW!" "OW!"
BD: *Hastily pulls out needle.* "Hurts too much?"
FG: (thinks: hell yes, @#$%ing moron!) *clenches teeth for effect.* "Yess! The pressure on the forarm is already too much. Can't feel my arm. "
BD: "Sorry, just bear for one more jab."
FG: *raises eyebrow* "ok."
BD: *Jabs closer home this time.* "Aha! Here it is!" *Pumps the armband even tighter. Blood flows. FG feigns a faint.*
CD: (all smiles) "It's done. Open your eyes now." *pulls out needle*
FG: "Thanks." *flinch* "OW!"
CD: *Blocks punctures with medicated cotton. Folds arms up.* "Hold them up there, [BD] has said you need to lie down for five more minutes." *Proceeds to call friend and joke about my "adventure". Mobiles should be banned in blood banks.*
FG: *Disinterested shrug.* "Whatever."

And so, I donated blood. But that's not all! (loooong post, I know.)

A little later, having been pinned with this,

and quietly having my coffee and biscuits, I thought I'd get my shoes and slink away. No such luck. As I got up and then bent over to pick up my shoes, the band-aid on the puncture on the left caught somewhere and ripped off. Not that I noticed it. Bending down to put on my socks, I suddenly notice blood on my trousers. Blood!

I instinctively raise my left hand and find it covered with blood. Just as I was wondering why it was in such a hurry after lazing around all day, I also noticed that I had, in raising my hand, nearly shoved the blood-soaked appendage into the mortifed face of an Aunty who had just finished, and was trying to have her beverage. I quickly mumbled an apology, lowered the arm, and hollered for the doctors. After all the cleaning and re-band-aiding, the CD admonished me for being in such a hurry to leave. (At this point I'd been in the bus for about 80 minutes!)

Well, all's well that ends well. Almost. After a delightful meal of rotis, daal, aloo subzi, dhokla and aamras, we left back for the friend's place. Just as I was thinking it was great fun and would be a pleasant memory, ta-da! The puncture develops a blood clot and looks like (as someone said) a love-bite! :D:D

And so it ends. It was a great experience, and I got to do a lot of nautanki along the way. (I wouldn't wish a hospital visit on anyone, but doing all kinds of nautanki when admitted in a hospital, knowing fully well neither the hospital guys nor your own relatives / friends can do anything about it, is, well, the kind of evil fun I enjoy! It also keeps you from getting bored.)

Thanks, EISI. Now, I'll go make a list of things that "I just don't".

PS: Here's another perspective of the Drive.

Update: I forgot! I also get a day off from office for doing this! *evil laughter*

Friday, April 17, 2009


About time. A whole month without a single post! But that's not the only disappointment. It's mostly this. The Watchmen, as those who know, know, is a cult graphic novel. This fine comic crossed paths with I in November '07 when I could barely stand, and totally knocked me off my heavily-bandaged foot.

****SPOILER ALERT! Don't read this if you haven't read the book.****
(On the other hand, don't read it even if you have. I am still learning how to review.)

It is a story of a world where America has won the war(s), disbanded its costumed superheroes, and is on the brink of war with Russia (or USSR? gotta check). The retired superheroes, most of them anyway, live with their own frustrations. Then, of course, plot and storyline get complex and complicated, the amazing artwork grows on you, all hell breaks loose, lots of people get killed or brutalized, and there is a grand scheme to take over the world, revealed in the end. Amazingly, it succeeds! And people move on! No payoffs, no retributions, no triumphant hero at the end, giving out feel-good, new-hope vibes (a la Superman-returns-from-the-dead, with a few million dead (in coast city, I think) in the background. Wonder if they'll make a movie out of it.). People just move on! Incredible! Given the length of the comic and its bleak nature, you are positively tired by the end of it, just begging for a huge happy ending for it all where everything is right with the world. Not to be. I've never seen so many shades of grey in writing, ever. As a bonus, the novel has a story within a story, which a guy sitting at a news stand reads out of a comic book. This comic (which is rumoured to be coming on the DVD) makes the Watchmen novel look light-hearted! On the flip side, the Watchmen novel does oversimplify a lot of things, is heavy on rhetoric, and, as usual, there's no world outside of the USA. The novel, however, is so good, it makes my rants seem childish.

****SPOILER ALERT Ends. Back to the movie!****

I get a call at 4:00 in the afternoon: Movie's On! 7:35 PM show! I look at the watch and wonder: Office finishes at 5:30 PM. Gotta go Nariman Point to Andheri - SEEPZ - pick up friend - Powai! Madness! After some lying and begging, boss relents, and the giant takes off! A quick bath, and off to fight the traffic, first through Andheri, and then Powai. Surprisingly, contrary to my luck (more on that some other time), we make it with time to spare. Post a hastily-gobbled frankie, we plonk ourselves on the tiny seats (I'm a giant, remember?). The movie starts off with the credits shot in the style of old films (Friend said it was Hitchcockian. Well, he's the expert; I have no idea.), which raises the sky-high expectations even higher. And then it starts off, almost panel-for-panel from the first page of the book. Panic! It's a huge book! 12 volumes, no less! If he's gonna do the panel-for-panel thing all the way, it's gonna take a week! The director, fortunately, understands my anxiety, and moves on. And it starts going downhill from there. The first half, unbelievably, goes on at a leisurely pace, just introducing the characters! I say as much to my other friend, who got dragged into the movie because of me, bought the tickets, and was giving me a strange look. I hoped for a better second-half, and it was, but not by much. By the time it ended, I was actually embarrassed to look at the screen, just wishing for it to end. Time for bullets!

The Good:

  • The sex. At one point, I actually asked aloud whether the censors had been shown some other print of the movie. Well, it doesn't have much 'action' per se, but the nudity is something which I have never seen before in any movie having a censor certificate, certainly not in a movie hall. I don't know how they did it, maybe there's a formula there similar to Anurag Kashyap films, to beat the censors. Anyway, it rocks!
  • The special effects. They were expected to be good, and they are.
  • The effort. The director, the actors, the technicians, everybody. It shows, and it seems like the story got too big on them. Which brings us to...

The Bad:

  • The director has tried to remain faithful to the story, and its depiction in the novel. Normally it is a good thing, but here it's worked against the movie. It needed to be 're-interpreted' maybe like the Bourne series.
  • The music, when I first heard it in a trailer, it was very good. In the movie, it gets disconcerting to hear it, and fails badly.
  • The dialogues, picked mostly from the book, are heavy on rhetoric and do not sound like a conversation. It is like a voice in your head reading them out of the book as you read. The dialogue delivery also falls prey to the same problem. In the comic, the frame is frozen, and one would mostly stay with the frame only as long as it takes you to understand the scene and read the speech bubble. Usually, this happens at considerable pace once one has crossed the first few pages, even for slow readers, because you are engrossed in the story and want to know what's coming next. Unfortunately, in his quest to replicate the frames from the novel, the director does the opposite. Suddenly in the middle of the movie, everything pauses and the actor delivers his or her dialogue. This totally destroys any pace the movie has picked up till then. In fact, in the time it takes them to deliver it and get back to the story, you would've read two pages' worth!
  • The book. Well, it is an excellent book, but as someone said once, it is un-filmable. The director has just proven him right. Some things are left well enough alone.

The Ugly:

There's nothing ugly about Watchmen. I'm still a fan. :)

So, read the book, and watch the movie when it comes on TV and you have the time. (How can I forget, it is almost three hours long!). Sad.