Friday, April 25, 2014

Steep curve

My father was telling me today about a talk he gave in 1995. He’d been asked to give an address at the Annual Convention of the Computer Society of India. He had talked on this subject before but it had been to smaller groups comprising more general audiences. But on this occasion he was talking about ‘Demystifying the Internet’ to people who worked in the field of computers. The talk went well – the packed hall was peopled by hundreds of curious specialists and it was, he says, quite the largest number of people he had addressed.

My father jumped on to the internet bandwagon fairly early. He was part of Shammi Kapoor’s ‘Internet Users Club of India’ in 1994-95. He would bring home dot matrix sheets full of lawyer jokes in font Lucida. On our first computer, I remember playing code games on DOS mode. He signed me up for my own hotmail account in 1998 (I think!).

And now in 2014, he sent me this infographic that tells us how far we’ve come, how rapidly the world has changed. 2.4 Billion people chattering away!


My father was born in 1941 – he has seen technologies come and he has seen them go: the VCR, the pager, floppy drives of various sizes...  “I’m blessed in many ways,” he said to me today, “and I feel so lucky to have ridden this wave.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Deewaron se milkar rona

I come to this blog when I'm feeling out of it.

The unease today has been particularly vague. Is it hormonal, psychological, or even physical? It can't be emotional because nothing has happened. The result of too much coffee, or the mixed breakfast I had? Or something subtler? A bio-rhythm that I haven't figured out the pattern of?
I don't know. And I don't know if I want to go hermit, or find a friend, grab their top-button and pour out my nebulous troubles.

But certainly, this yellow page should know about it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

First day, firrrrrrst show

For the many people who asked me how I liked 2 States.

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P and I were at Prasad’s at 8.30am today, fairly excited. Many young people sat on the steps outside – as we reached the entrance, the security man apologetically blocked our way: “Abhi entry nai hai, madam.” So early, the cinema hall hadn’t opened for the day’s business. This was a new record, even for us.

But the need was desperate. P is off to foreign shores this Monday – this may be the last movie on desi soil for a bit. Our movie plan was last-minute and Prasad’s’ 9am show had only a few lone tickets scattered here and there. “Never mind,” we told each other. So we bought the eats, waved cheerfully and made our way to our seats in separate rows. But such a long history of watching films together – our reactions were similar too. Which is:

There must be something about Chetan Bhagat’s books that make them very translatable into theatre and celluloid. A solid concept or plotline, perhaps, that others can clothe well? This must be the third such film? Three Idiots, Kai Po Che and now 2 States. Something about relatable milieus, relatable people.

I haven’t read him at all though I know, of course, that he is the bête noire of literacy critics. They can’t forgive him his mediocrity and they CANNOT forgive him his success. But I saw a few promos for this film before I saw it, and found a good number of the commenters talking familiarly of the characters, glad that particular passages in the book had made their way to the film... they seemed fond of the book they had read. Bhagat must be doing something right.

Lovely look they gave Alia Bhatt – kohl and light lip colour, fabulous street wear... there was something radiant about her in this film.


I found Arjun Kapoor’s droopy eyed portrayal of Krish just so – unobtrusive but just this teensy much blah. Great to see Amrita Singh and Revathy as well. I liked Ronit Roy, though P said he was stereotyped (on the lines of Udaan). Sau baat ki ek baat: a fresh, non-filmi film.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Teething troubles

So I succumbed and acquired a tablet.
I enjoyed Nishu's iPad tremendously when I visited her and she urged me to get one as well. I was very susceptible to that suggestion. I seriously considered an android - they said terrific things about the Nexus 7 - but then came down in favour of this solid 3:4 aspect ratio. And there was the matter of the retina display that spoilt me for the rest of the world.
I felt elitist, my middle-classness raised a din at having to pay more than I strictly should but I let instinct subdue my samskaras.



But what a lot of work this new gadget is! I'm unfamiliar with the Apple ecosystem, so suddenly Apple ID, iTunes and iCloud... it all hit me at once. Giving them my soul's deepest secrets was a mandatory step - they would need my credit card details to even let me over the threshold. And bummer, they charged me Rs 60 right away, confirming their dastardly intentions of charging me whatever they felt like, whenever they felt like it. Some frantic netsearch later, I am assured they just need to check I had been truthful - my 60 rupees (just one dollar, some superior First World person said) have not been snatched away, just held as surety. Yes, but they should have said.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Then and Now

For many years, when my sister was studying at NIFT and then working in Delhi, I was the only child at home, pampered and pandered to.

My grandfather would fast on certain days – ingest only fruit during the day and break the fast with something other than rice, something like a light meal of upma or avvalakki. All of it came under the name ‘phaLahara’. (Literally it means a fruit diet but loosely the word was used to indicate the whole day’s regimen.) I thought it made a nice change and announced to my parents that I was going to do this too. Oh, not fast, not that! But on Saturdays, I would not eat the regular rice-curry-sambhar-rasam-curd dinner. I would have ‘phaLahara’ too – but a treat of some sort. A burger or pizza from the local fast food outlet, or Chinese or Italian or pav bhaji... something exotic.

The burden of arranging this meal invariably fell to my dad. Early evening he would ask me what I wanted, I would enjoyably go over my options and put them down in a list, and he would set out to buy my dinner, or at least the ingredients. And my mother – who usually ruled us with a fairly tight hand – undersigned this arrangement. I remember Shweta clucking her tongue at this self-indulgence, and astonished at the fact that the parents were LETTING me do this, and helping me do it. But they did for years – amused and indulgent of my tweak of an old custom.

I remember this today, this Ekadasi day. Once I admitted to myself a few years ago that I was indeed on the spiritual path, there have been so many lifestyle changes. Some deliberate choices, some that I arrived at without quite knowing how. Some dictated by the energy system, some simply because they made sense. Among those changes is fasting on Ekadasi. I didn’t think I could do it, but given my disordered digestive system, it came to be a no-brainer. After years of indulging the stomach, I have come to the pleasure of resting it.