Playlist

  • Eyes on Fire - Blue Foundation
  • Rooster - Alice in Chains
  • Jigsaw Falling into Place - Radiohead
  • Quien Fuera - Silvio Rodriguez
  • La Tortura - Shakira

Friday, July 22, 2005

Pictures --July





Check out some of the latest pictures.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Visa Interview

I had an interview in the American consulate yesterday for my H1-b status validation. After two hours of watching nervous hopefuls wanting to enter the land of the free, I got an approval for my petition after a minute of questioning. While my experience was quite pleasant, I'm afraid it wasn't so for many people. Some of the interviewers (interrogators??) were openly hostile from the word go. Of course there was the occasional whole-hearted smile and genuine warmth that you get to see routinely in most american establishments but the not-so-pleasant ones stuck out. Let me explain.

Giri thought that some of the questions asked were very funny. In a perverted sense (sort of like a scene from a coen brothers movie), they were but I couldn't really see the humor. This sounds evil (precisely!) but each time the interviewers had something harsh/rude to say, like ..

"Ma'am, you are not listening to me. Please don't waste my time."
"Do you understand English? You made your appointment in English din't you, even though you cannot speak the language?"
"Sir, I am going to have to reject your visa application."

.. I felt the speakers went louder than usual drawing everyone's attention to the spectacle that was unfolding. Really, I mean I could barely hear any positive verdicts but I could hear a lot of rejection 'pronouncements'. As it is, when you are seated for two hours with nothing else to do, you just sit and watch the show. There were a couple of performers (bad cops?) for the day who questioned petitioners so rapidly interrogation style (i've never witnessed this style of questioning off-screen), the poor creatures hardly had time to complete their answers - if they understood the question in the first place. I felt sorry for a lot of them.

To be honest, they grant visas to most of the applicants but I din't know why they had to draw attention to the rejected cases. If any of you can support this claim of mine, speak out. I'm curious.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

AUTOcracy

Nope .. that ain't remotely political. I have developed a perverse desire to become an auto-rickshaw driver in Madras for a day in my life after my visit to the city yesterday for a U.S. consulate appointment. They rule Madras - I kid you not. I've never seen a more brazen bunch when it comes to demanding outrageous fares - and more or less getting them. Naidu calls them bashas - an allusion to rajni's role as an autodriver in the movie by the same name. I witnessed the truth to his fond sobriquet.

I knew that I'd have a tough time negotiating fares since I don't speak Tamil. Turns out it doesn't really matter whether you know the language or not. They refuse to budge from their initial quote. I still wonder why they have meters mounted on their vehicles. Worse still, apparently all the meters are rigged. Be very wary of one who wants to go by the meter. You end up paying double the fare you might have negotiated (as my friend found out).

What beats me is how they continue to do this in a fairly civilized and well managed city. Maybe the auto-lobby in TN has as much clout as the Jewish lobby in Washington. I hope they are reined in soon. Madras doesn't deserve them. It appeared clean, well-maintained and less congested than both Hyd and definitely bangalore.

Thanks to my very early arrival at 5:30am, I got to spend an hour or so at the beautiful beach near Thiruvanmiyur where Akha lives. We walked for a mile on the beach passing people of all ages exercising and or running. It reminds me so much of Tatayya when I see old men dressed in white walking briskly. There was also this amazing 60+ (maybe 70+) old lady dressed in a simple cotton saree effortlessly holding yoga poses facing the sun.

Some people just carry their age so well. They don't need botox or facelifts or any of the countless gimics people resort to and pay for through their noses. Their skin may be wrinkled .. hair substantially gray .. bags forming under their eyes and yet, there is an undeniable radiance in their appearance. A purity and simplicity that screams elegance and of contentment in life. I wonder if I can ever put a finger on that elusive and invaluable something that people of two generations past seem to have.

Considering how good I am with words, its better to have a picture of what I had in mind while writing the previous para. Here is a picture of MS Subbulakshmi.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

oops ..

It's mom's birthday today, so "Happy Birthday Mom!!!" From me and all my friends who come by.
Except, I totally forgot about it today morning. Mom called me and asked "so howz everything?". "ma, I'm in the bath .. can I call you back later?". "you sure you arent' forgetting anything?". "Doh!!!". :-(

I forgot for the first time in I don't know how long. Felt shitty but hey, she's ma .. forgiveness begins there :).

"Wish you many many more happy returns of the day!!!"


Update:

This is the smiling marine giri mentions in his comment. I changed it to the current one yesterday.


This one's the original.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Still lovin' it

It's been a while since my last post. This was partly because I was getting a bit lethargic and partly because blogspot's new photo upload feature wouldn't work properly. It seems to be working fine now.

My India trip has been going on great over the past couple of weeks. Still meeting up with friends/relatives, still gorging on great food (and telling folks back in the states about it - kya kare .. control nahi hota).

I've been wanting to write about my Sringeri trip for a while now. It was one of the more enjoyable trips I've made in recent times. I got to know my sister's in-laws-to-be better and also got to see some of the most beautiful tropical terrain during the drive. Not to mention the temple itself, the ambience and the asramam. I discovered the joy of walking barefoot on centuries old stone floors. The surface is naturally anti-skid and gently massages your feet as you walk. I'm not much of a devout Hindu but I couldn't deny the calm soothing effect of the vedic chants in and around the temple. And did I mention the food :) ? All these temples serve free food everyday to hundreds of devotees. Typically Kannada style cooking. I can't figure out how they manage to cook such delicious food on such a scale. If I ever cook for more than three people, my sense of proportion goes awry.



After Sringeri, on the way back to Bangalore, we stopped by the Balur and Halebidu temples. These are famous for their intricate and painstakingly detailed stone carvings. Apart from traditionally ornate sculptures of buxom beauties and Gods and Demons, I was blown away by the geometric precision of the pillars and other structures inside the temple. Sadly, preservation efforts undertaken by the government leave a lot to be desired. I couldn't help thinking how a similar structure would've been treated in the US. Like Eddie Izzard says in 'Dress to Kill' (which is btw, the funniest stand-up routine ever), "Massive restoration and preservation efforts were being undertaken for a building built *fifty years ago* in Florida."

Last week, I saw 'Sarkar' and 'War of the Worlds'. Both were OK, the latter more disappointing because I expected something more from Spielberg. In any case, it was quite an experience watching the movies in bangalore's multiplex. The sound was ridiculously loud. I had to block my ears many times. But there is one advantage though, you don't need to worry about cell-phones ringing.

Sarkar was more or less on expected lines. And a movie like this is always going to be compared to Godfather - and it's going to fall short. I don't think Varma can achieve the same effect he did in Siva. Now that was a cracker of a movie. He changed the landscape of telugu cinema (and unfortunately Nagarjuna's career .. for the better :-( ) with one shot - and gifted a whole generation of college students with the ultimate weapon, the cycle chain. Still Sarkar was a watchable movie and Abhishek B looks cool - though nowhere as commanding as his dad. And there was this absolutely gorgoeus dame who plays Amitabh's daughter-in-law. Heard she's called Rukhsar and she acted decent too. The other two female 'leads' were hopeless. If someone like RV picks such total duds, how can our industry ever find redemption?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

profile pic

The picture I had on my profile previously was the most polarizing one I've known in recent times. The feedback ranged from 'horrible!' to 'cool pic'. For the record, my mom thought it was horrible. Here's something more recent. What say you folks?