Sunday, April 20, 2008

In the name of Art

I happened to watch a couple of movies recently. I imagine both of them, in their own respective right, deserve all of their critical acclaim. Including whatever came from The Academy, no surprise. Somehow, I beg to differ in the way I'd like to reconcile my views...

No Country for Old Men - by the Coen Brothers.

A cold-hearted zombie-like toss of the coin, followed by "Call It", seems more like a punch dialogue from a typical Tamil film.

Otherwise, arbitness personified.

Fight Club - starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton

Two words - Mindless Violence!
For everything else in the movie, the protagonist could have been characterized as a Rules Ramanujam. It could've atleast scored on humour.

I think I better trust my own instincts, than be affected by reviews.
God save those who fell for Pitt or the Brothers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


இனிய தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு நல் வாழ்த்துக்கள்!

Today's urge to post is all due to an indispensable element of man's modern day urbane lifestyle. Once again, a casual conversation with my wise uncle on the grand occasion drifted into cars. My cousin (his nephew) has just been gifted a sporty hatchback and in the process, they may have to pull the plug on the Accord. Albeit it does appear that my aunt is finding it hard to let go of a machine which has served well and borne them for may a joy ride. My uncle just quipped- that he finds it hard to believe that a modern luxurious automobile depreciates more than fifty percent in just a matter of four years. I couldn't keep my wits about myself and burst out laughing with this comment- ".. that cannot come from somebody who owns the grand fifteen year old Premier Padmini!" I guess he found it hard to resist the sarcasm in my humour and laughed it off. Beyond that, the conversation drifted into the finer details and a few interesting notes, which I've excerpted suitably in the remainder of this post. While this conversation got me sort of interested, I got reminded of a few distinct things...

Two of my friends here in Champaign are on the prowl for stealing a deal on a couple of cars. They've browsed through all possible categories... hatchbacks to SUVs, two doors to sedans, convertibles to trucks and more! Failing to find one that would sate their likes, they've eased their preferences and have progressed to looking up CARFAX records for a few candidates. It sure does seem like for a second hand car, the choice of a vehicle that can commute, that is not very old, that has a few thousand miles under its belt, that is suave, and that comes at an unbeatable price is perhaps an open problem in optimization. I can immediately draw a parallel with the Indian way of buying cars. Nowadays, I guess there are hardly any that would care to consider seriously the prospect of going in for used automobiles. Unless of course out of diffidence of not having owned or driven a car before, and the fear of even the smallest mishap resulting in that heartbreaking tell-tale scratch. Only for your neighbour to cash in on the sight next morning to knock on your doors, enquire your sadness and offer their condolences, with their characteristic "Yenna iyere vandikki nalla adipattudthu pola irukkae. Ungalukku onnum illiyono? Sowkiyama thaane irukkael? Aparom, oru cup soodana kaapi kidaikkuma maami?"

Since time immemorial "the car" has served as the ubiquitous status symbol. For why else would people in those days rave about their landlords cruising in the Mercedes-Benz, or for that matter the innocent maamis, who were resigned to their households perpetually, refer to the car as Pleasure?! As I continued my conversation with my uncle, he owned off the moment with one of his typical one-liners- "Ah the Fiats... they are timeless, vintage machines", much to my amusement. I visited memory lane for a second time... on how my father had once made the glorious purchase of his Padmini, how we'd anoint her (not with oil ofcourse) during every Ayudha Puja, the thrilling joy rides she'd given us even at low speeds... the countless times the battery had died and I had to lug it on the back of our Yezdi (the timeless one among bikes and still my favourite till date) to the servicing guy.. the smoking-out of the radiator, the second-gear jumpstarts... its a pity that new cars are such touch-me-nots for self-maintenance! No wonder the heavy heart with which he had to give her away for a song, after much and not just any coaxing from the three of us at home, before settling for a new Indica V2. And despite our remarkable experience with the Padmini, I was amazed when my uncle followed suit. My father still maintains high regard for his Padmini and hopes that one fine day Honda, out of god knows what misfortune, would come up with the offer of overhauling these oldies with retro-fitted MPFI engines and synchromesh gearboxes for him to "usefully" invest a lakh on.

On to a different perspective on Cars and their place in our lives, I can relate to a movie a watched with my aunt, uncle and little cousins. Disney-Pixars' CARS was expected to be a funny, loony, cartoon movie, but the architects wonderfully narrated and contrasted the modern American attitude towards cars (and also life). McQueen learning lessons from Hudson, and the neglect of the countryside towns and their laidback, easy go lifestyle touched a few "grown-up" hearts. Speaks volumes, for how what was universally considered a luxury transformed seamlessly into a pleasurable utility for every household, and of course in the extreme the gas guzzling, rubber smoking monsters that some lavish wastefully on. Speaking of the American attitude towards cars, their freeways, motoring and the concept of travelling, I can reminisce a conversation I had with my good friend Hemant here, over fine red wine, and he brought up this classic example from a Kannada movie on how they have captured perfectly the essence of both the desi culture and the american attitude.

Being the mechanical engineer I am, I find it hard to write off these fine timeless beauties, mechanical engineering marvels. After all they deserve their place in the evolutionary ladder of their own kind. At the same time it is hard not to give in, to all that modern day cars have to offer... sadly in some cases, it is all about engineering them to pander to their master's likes. To conclude, I'd like to top it off with a quote that my uncle so aptly mentioned in analogue during the Padmini v/s Accord debate- "Pitt is to Addington, as London is to Paddington".

Friday, April 11, 2008


Landmark judgement, eagerly awaited. Has certainly tipped the scales and triggered off some ripples in the dynamics of the system. Got to wait and watch whether the greater good prevails over vested interests.

As for comments/opinions/ramblings, to whomsoever it may concern- sorry duh, ain't no expertise here. I've endlessly debated this among may social issues with a well-read, wise and elderly gentleman with a few decades of Civil Service under his belt. But as he aptly put it, the "social objectives" of the policy have some merit. Beyond that, thanks to my own "reservations", things are best left to the so-called experts. I Pass.

hasta la vista

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Shanno se shaadi

Yesterday was something... hard to describe, especially because in a year long wait it wasn't hard getting drained out to the point of being lost for words.

~2:45pm.. 'You must be bold enough to make mistakes...'

most inspirational sir, truly!

Shall spend the better part of a few good years to come discovering exactly how, why and wherefore...