Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chronicles of The Bachelor's Pad

So I've been living a bachelor's life for a little over 5-years now.. Different hostels, apartments, varied types and breeds of roommates and myriad of experiences. So what's so new? The neo-Indian generation has a majority of youth who will have a similar story. Hence, this is just a small attempt to catch what can only be seen in bachelor's-pads.

To begin with, let's just imagine a small, not-so-cramped room where the only purpose for chairs is to hold apparels and the only purpose of the shoe stand is to be empty and surrounded by shoes strewn here and there. Well, not a very untidy place mind you, and not out of neglect at all. It's just the way we like to keep it. Now there is a good theory in science called mutual co-existence and we strongly believe in it. We co-exist happily with cockroaches(to my dislike though), a couple of breeds of ants(namely red-&-black), the occasional lizards(those which scare the shit out of some people) and the regular pigeons and sparrows in the balcony.
Now mind it it's not our carelessness or we-don't-really care attitude. It's simply the love of nature and a belief in the theory of mutual co-existence that drives us to keep up and carry on this hard way.
On another note, there is a place in every bachelor's den we'd normally like to call a kitchen(though I admit at times it resembles more some nuclear-test-site). One of those places where we would spend a hell lot of time when home and make some of the most exquisite(at times so exotic that those can be called alien) recipes. And the kind of results we elicit out of our sheer sense of (mis)adventure. Some of the delicacies like Maggi-bolognese, omelets made in cooker pans, and many other seem to be innovations of such bachelor kitchens.
Well so just the other day, one of these experiments went in a not-so-intended-really fashion(still wont admit wrong). Well, we(as in me and my co-cook and the head chef-ala-carte) decided upon making Sago(also more popularly known as Sabudana). Not a complicated recipe at all if given sufficient time. After the purchase of necessary ingredients, the general procedure of soaking the stuff began. Of course, what we skipped to take into account was that it takes more than 3-4 hours to get soaked. We didn't have that kind of time. So, a smart suggestion was followed and we entered the water+sago mix in our very own cooker so that it gets soaked faster.
Now a little background and chemistry. I am a biology student and know that sago is full of starch. Also I know that starch, when boiled with water becomes gelatinous. Also I knew that heating water results in boiling of it. Well, too much data to be processed at a time when you are hungry. Hence, I didn't think of it.
The result. Well we opened the cooker to find a starchy, soggy, gelatinous mass of sago which could hardly ever be converted to any human-edible-dish. But indomitable are we, that we still decided to go ahead with our venture and started on with the tadka. The limited availability of utensils compel us usually to put the oil for tadka in our regular thin walled utensils and make the necessary additions to it. Turning the gas full flame, we for a little longer than usual went on to other cursory activities(cutting potatoes and peeling groundnuts) when it happened. And without warning.
The vessel, it turns out, was too thin to handle oil at a high flame. The oil erupted into flames. It was a disastrous sight to see. The flame was at least 6-8 feet high and the vessel was immediately, immaculately and heroically grounded and taken away from the gas (not by me). The sight was both, amazing and (won't have accepted if I was sure none of my friends would read this) a bit scary. It took 10 minutes (a really long time when you consider the situation) for the fire in d vessel to get extinguish. In the meanwhile, all doors were opened, exhaust fans were utilized and everything, combustible or not, was taken away from the kitchen.
At the end of the inferno, the vessel doesn't look in a reusable condition(though my roommate is optimistic enough we can, with some diligence make it good) and some part of the ceiling will keep reminding me of this small adventure of ours.
We had dinner in a nearby restaurant that night.
An amazing story, at least for me, of a bachelor's den. Many such incidences do happen and teach you things. I learnt, not in a very subtle way, that edible oil is super-combustible.
Anyways, as it would be etched on my memory for a long time, an advise for you to sim the gas always before going away. I hope you have experiences, but not as adventurous ones as this..
P.S. One of the regular visitors, the pigeon has laid a couple of eggs in a nest it clandestinely created in our gallery under a small shade. I guess this goes for an increase in the number of mouths to feed in the house in the near future. Hope they would find our hospitality solicitous enough.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Things-To-Do Before You Grow Old..

I am making a general assumption based on my perception of me and my close friends that everyone loves to travel. Also considering that India is the youth country of the world, this also has a hanging for the youth of India who's general idea of a vacation or a weekend outing is not going to a park or visiting a few relatives. On the contrary, we'd love to go and hit the road (or the rail-road) and do a few whacky things. So here are a few things you ought to do before you are termed as 'Not young anymore..'

1. A cross-country bike ride: I don't really know if there is some such term. I haven't had any such ride as yet. But from all I know about bikes, rides and me, I'd definitely take one soon. For all those who love bikes and riding them, I don't need to explain what I mean.
For the rest of the lot, if you've ever enjoyed a pillion ride, it's about time you go one step ahead and try your hand and you'll see what I mean by this. Select a duration of around a 2-3 days, select a route, have a decently serviced and reliable bike, have your protective gear (helmet, gloves, shins) and off you go. Take a few pals along and you'd remember it for the life.

2. Go Rafting: If you've ever seen a commercial or a movie featuring a bunch of youngsters hitting a rough river in an apparently rubbery looking raft and having a gala time while flirting with the dangerous tosses the river gives, you've just seen what is called white-water rafting.
Having been there, done that before, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that it is one of the most thrilling adventure. And what's more, there are loads of good rafting-stretches in our country with few of the best rapids. Have a look
What's more, a rafting stretch encompasses wonderful scenic locations, loads of calories burnt, a good tan, opportunity to trek and an experience to cherish and share.

3. Rock climbing and rappelling: Again something that looks awe-inspiring if you've seen movies like MI-2 or Lakshya. All the more lovelier and exciting if you do it. Having had a really light bit of stint with it, I'm left wanting for more. The feeling of having tried the cliffhanging experience for a very short time, I really look forward to more of it.
India again provides umpteen number of destinations for such endeavors. The Himalayas, the Eastern and the Western ghats and many other mountains provide rock climbing and rappelling opportunities with a flock of adventure sports companies giving you a great chance of getting a hang of it.
So put your best foot forward (although better get it clad in the best hikers you can lay your hands on).

4. A trip to Kashmir: Well, some poet or king, despite his greatness, whose name I forget, once said that if there is a heaven on this earth, it's right here in Kashmir..
I second him. One of the most scenic and enticing places on the face of this earth, there is hardly anyone who hasn't thought of going there. And what's more, there are even more reasons to be going there in winters when the cold is chilliest and yet the romanticism of the place is at its peak.
Going to Kashmir and getting enchanted by it's valleys, lakes, mountains, snow, people, gardens and all kind of beautiful things is even more a thing-to-do when you are pretty young because you'd be able to go a few meters ahead of everyone else and feel the bliss a few shades higher. You have to be there and do it to know what I mean.
Advice: If you've parents or family members back home who haven't been there, take them along. You'd not repent it.

5. Find out a marine sanctuary and visit it: A marine sanctuary would be something not many people in India would take as an exciting place to visit. With all due respect to all of them, I disagree.
Select a nice long weekend, ideally at the end of the monsoon and go give a two-day visit to some such marine-life reserve. It would ideally be a small island not very far from the land mass or an insular region with lesser access to human activities.
The visit would have a lot of marine life spotting. In addition to it, although, it would have experiences like living by the coast in a tent, living without electricity for a couple of days, being the first person to set your footsteps on the tide washed sand in the morning, no mobile network and no chance of spending your money (also termed by a few as shopping).. Some part of it sounds demotivating, doesn't it? It's not.. In fact ask anyone who's done it and they will be all raring to go again given the first chance.
Loads of things you could do at such places would surprise you. It would totally change you and leave you a refreshed person.

6, 7, 8, 9... And the list could continue and still never be comprehensive. Although this post has already started to look like some travel brochure, I hope the point is driven home.
It's lovely being at home, but it's blissful feeling at home with nature. Do it when you are still physically capable at your body and your mind to do it and enjoy it to the fullest.

P.S. Take your pals or family along, but try to have a few people of your age during such trips to multiply your fun-factor. Carrying a nice set of digicams and handycams would only add value to your experience. As they say, there truly is an Incredible India to be explored..

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Harry Potter and Murder of the Story

Why does Dumbledore have to die? Why does Snape have to turn good? Why does Hermione pick Ron over Harry? Why does the story end in the seventh part when there could be much more to write and so many readers just dying to gobble up more.. And many more questions were asked during and after the end of the Harry Potter book series. Little did the inquisitive fans know that even more will be left unanswered by the movies that would follow.

Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince was again one of the disappointing movies which was highly anticipated and went down the surge faster than a rock to the ocean floor.

Agreed and accepted that compressing a 600-1000 pager into a three-hour movie is a tough task and being loyal to the extent of fidelity is difficult. Agreed that some modifications are at times essential for the on screen success and no one knows this better than the director himself. But what's with the brutal murder of the story itself. It's like selling the soul of the story for getting a better box office collection. And to what avail? Disappointed fans, hard-hitting critic reviews and a totally dismal way of presenting something that was probably no way intended by the author. There is no point discussing where and at what points the story of the movie goes away from that of the book because those follies and flaws are glaring for ardent fans and available dime-a-dozen to others.

The point is, why at all, in the process of making the story of a book silver-screen-friendly do the film makers at times grow unfaithful of the original plot of the book. To say the least, there is gross violation of the storyline at many points. May it be a science-fiction-cum-drama by Dan Brown, a thriller series-made-to-movie by Robert Ludlum or our-very-loved- Rowling's Harry, the screen conversion has always been an arm's length away from the book. Much has been written, said and blogged about it. Still, it continues to be a trend.

Of course there have been authors who have also been in the business of writing screenplays directly for movies and the small screen. A few well known examples are Sydney Sheldon's creation "I dream of Jeanie" which went on to be one of the most popular television shows. Also a lesser known fact about Mario Puzo who did the same for earlier versions of Superman. So how do you expect they'd react in case of a creation of theirs badly mutilated to be shifted to the silver screen? Maybe it's far too late for these questions at least for the two mentioned stalwarts.

Let's at least hope for the best for the authors who are yet alive and kicking and expect that the further incarnations of books-turned-movies be a shade more loyal to the originals.
Hopefully, the future shall be bright. And closer to facts rather than a shoddy representation to mint the box office..

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Day I saw Aamir Khan..

One fine morning of August, when ideally Mumbai should be in midst of it's coveted monsoon-mania, the sun shone bright and the weather was impeccably built for a great day. I woke after three consecutive 'snooze-taps' on my poor alarm clock and proceeded to my daily routines which I needn't mention here. Little did I know what this day had in store for me.

Lets get a few facts straight. I am a research analyst and work for one of the respected research and consulting firms. Being based out in Mumbai, the financial capital of India, the role of the Mumbai office in the overall business of this firm is significant. Hence, as a part of business, our firm organizes events where various corporates are invited and given a knowledge sharing platform. It helps us to know our business, business of our clients and most importantly the client himself better.

So, back to the point, we are talking about one of such summits organized by us in a nice 5-star hotel in Mumbai. I reached the event on my prescribed time and got started with the regular coordination work, not much different from what would be in any other event of this scale. In a few moments only I noticed that there was a buzz around in the air. Not able to understand what the buzz was all about, I went on to ask one of my colleagues about it. He enlightened, "Arre, tujhko pata nahi kya.. Aamir Khan aanewala hai baaju wale banquet room mein (Translated: Arre don't you know? Aamir Khan's going to visit the banquet room next to ours)."
For those of you who don't know who Aamir Khan is, he happens to be one of India's leading actors, preferred to be called a superstars or perfectionist by some. He is also one of the best paid actors. Lets not forget to mention that he happens to be a highly talented artist of the large screen and a relatively new but established film-maker himself.

For those who reside in Mumbai, also known as the official Filmcity of India, witnessing a star is not a rare event. Though it still remains a memorable one. I, being one of the less-privileged ones, having come from a small-town, was going to see a star with Oscar prospect for the first time. Not bubbling with excitement, but anxious I was. And more so were the girls around me.
After a few hours of anticipation, and of course the event work which we were diligently doing ours being a really important event, Mr. Khan arrived. To say the least, he was accompanied by an entourage of security guards and assistants. Clad in a casual black shirt and a simple denim, Mr. A again made a mark of simplicity. He passed from the lobby of the hotel with a smile on his face, the kind of smile you have when you know that people around you expect you to be smiling. We witnessed a similar entourage of Mr. Khan for around three times in the span of 2-hours for which he adorned the hotel and whatever event was being held in there.

And he finally left, leaving the people happy who'd probably boast about it saying ,"Aaj maine Aamir ko dekha.. Baat bhi kiya.." Or maybe some others who might blog it up somewhere. Other's might go about twitting and shouting and mailing and calling and SMSing about it to the world.

The point of contention here is really not huge. It's simply about a miracle that is called 'being-celebrity'. Being a celebrity, your visit to a hotel, a simple come & go, could be blogged at a thousand places and be read by even more eyes. Being a celebrity, if you'd buy a dog, it would probably be a much more famous dog that it could ever have known. Being a celebrity, your fight with and anger towards someone would be known to many more people than you could ever rationally think possible. The gist of it is, no matter where you go, you live in a glass house with walls so thin people can actually hear you from miles away.

Disadvantages do come, but then there are so many benefits. As you read here on my blog, and as I am told Mr. Aamir Khan has his own blog too, it's hard to believe Mr. Khan writing a blog saying "The Day I saw Chetan.." Pretty unlikely I'd say.

The bottom line is, Celebrity is what Celebrity does.. That might just be news across the blogging community if he'd start writing about common people like me. And again he'd certainly gain a lot of (positive) publicity through it. And who knows, it might even gain him some browning points when he next gets nominated for the Oscars (which by the way I am sure he will, sooner or later).

Mr. Khan, I hope you are listening..