Sunday, May 30, 2010

Banish BEN 10 !

      Last evening has been quite eventful. It’s that time of the year when the summer vacations come to a close and schools reopen again. My 4 year old nephew, Yash’s school begins this coming Monday. With our minds all set to make our kid the coolest kid in town, my sister, mom and I set out on shopping for his school stuff. Our first stop was at the school bag shop. Now, seriously, take my advice. If you have a kid at home, who watches Cartoon Network and Pogo all day, you definitely do not want to take her/ him along for shopping. This shop is like HEAVEN for all the kiddos. At the entrance of the shop was a red bag, with Spiderman sprawling all over it and his feet dangling at the bottom ! If I were a kid, and if I were made to carry that bag to school, I would rather stay illiterate and be at home than be seen in public with that bag! Yash’s eyes lit up and he exclaimed “ Look, look, Spiderman!!”. That was the first warning. I almost knew what was in store for us!
     It took just two minutes for me to spot ALL the cartoon characters on the school bags in that shop. A cute little Mickey Mouse bag caught my attention. When I looked around to show the bag to Yash, he was nowhere close. I saw him at the far end of the shop, clutching on to a hideous- looking florescent green bag. It did not take me more than a second to guess why my otherwise tasteful nephew would even hold a florescent green bag! It had to be BEN 10. I ran to where Yash stood and told him “ Listen, not this one please. It looks yuck. And look, the zip is gone.” I tried snatching that bag away from him. “This is what I want. Look, it has BEN 10 on it” he squealed happily, pointing at the nightmarish image of an angry BEN 10 squirting coin-like-things out of his watch.
“What about this one?” I enquired, holding up the cute little Mickey Mouse bag.
“ That is for pre-schoolers Mam”. This time it was the smartass shopkeeper :-|
         My sister joined in and tried to convince her son why this green Ben 10 bag was a bad idea. My mother was all for letting the kid choose what he wants. But I had made up my mind to use all my power to avoid carrying that bag home. Eager to find something that would take his attention off the Ben 10 bag, I went back to the place where I found the Mickey Mouse bag. Sitting in a corner, was a cute little pink school bag, with a picture of the adorable Dora The Explorer. The girl in me fell in love with that bag. I know it is cruel to inflict a pink school bag on a 4 year old boy, but not wanting to take any chances I turned towards Yash.
“ You liked this? It has Dora on it”
“ Dora is a girl. And that bag is for the girls, not for boys!”. I could sense the anger.
“ What about this then? “ This time it was a decent looking Pokemon bag.
        I heard no answer this time. I only got a very focussed look from him that seemed to say “Will you please shut up?!”
       After nearly twenty minutes of trying to convince him to let go off the BEN 10 bag and settle for the Pokemon one, we had nearly given up. Yash was now bawling aloud, refusing to buy anything other than the hideous green one. That’s when my sister came up with a deal that only mothers of young kids can come up with.
“ Ok, you can keep this bag. But you will not be allowed to buy a new pencil case and lunchbag. If you choose the Pokemon bag, you can choose your lunch bag and your pencil case. You decide” she announced.
The child is a thorough businessman. He sensed the pros and cons immediately and declared.
“ Alright, i will take the Pokemon bag. But you know what, you are not shopping for my school bag next year”. And he burst into a fresh stream of crocodile tears.
        I immediately sensed the opportunity to get into his good books again, and frisked him away from the shop and took him out with a promise to help him choose the best pencil case and lunch box. I turned back to see BEN 10 scowl at me from the shelf, while Pokemon made his way into our carry bag:-D
        By the time my mom and sister arrived at the shop where Yash and I were shopping for the pencil case and lunch bag, the shop owner was already pulling out ALL the Ben 10 pencil cases he had in his shop.
“ Uncle, show me the one that has buttons” Yash had told him, trying to narrow down his requirements for the perfect BEN 10 pencil case.
“What buttons?” I asked, eager to find out which pencil case was making the news these days.
“ Buttons for opening the boxes in which we can keep erasers and sharpeners” Yash informed.
“Oooh..ok!” I exclaimed. I got carried away to my own humble pencil case in school which had two double decker doors and plain insides. I just used to dump my pencils and pens on one side and erasers and sharpeners on the other side. Now there were buttons to open the cases!
“This one?” The shopkeeper held out a GREEN pencil case, and BEN 10 scowled at me again.
      On one corner of the box was a button and the shopkeeper deftly demonsatrted the sleek opening and closing of the case. Forget pencils, I could store nuclear ammunition in that box. It had sooo many compartments, people would go mad figuring out what holds what!
“ YES!! That’s the one” . Finally, we had a happy kid. After having denied him the pleasure of owning the glorious green bag, it would have been cruel to not let him have the pencil case either. “Pack this one please” . I gave one last look at the Winnie the Pooh pencil case I was hoping he would choose. How cute was that! :(

“ Uncle, BEN 10 water cans?”
Not AGAIN! With my super convincing skills, I managed to keep the child engaged with his new pencil case and its innumerous buttons, while his mother chose the water can and lunch bag. When the things were all packed and the bill handed over to us, I realized that the tech-savvy pencil box was actually the BMW of the pencil case department. I think all my pencil cases put together would not have cost so much. :P
     Once back home, I told Yash
“Your pencil case is so good that if I were you, I would keep it safe till I finish 10th grade”.
Sensing that the statement was actually a way of saying “You are not getting new pencil cases next year”, the kid put up a puppy face and refused to speak to me.
     Later that night, trying to win him back, I said
“ BEN 10, BEN 10, where are you? Come here and give me a kiss”.
“BEN 10 does not kiss” He growled .
“What does he do then?” I wanted to know.
“He fights bad people with his watch”.
     That brought back images of the BEN 10 watch that now lay broken in some corner of the house. The monstrous watch had disc-like bullets within it that could be released with a lever. Unsuspecting victims like me have been attacked by the flying BEN 10 discs! I had had enough of BEN 10 for a lifetime! I mentally made a note to sue the guys who created him. Not that I will, but what the heck. I can make mental notes whenever I want :P
      I also made a mental note to go pick the Dora the explorer school bag, the Barbie water can and the Winnie the Pooh pencil case. I want to join school , just so that I could show them off :D Any Kindergarten teacher who will take me as their student? Please let me know!
If you hate BEN 10 as much as I do, join the Anti-BEN 10 brigade! Let’s drive that kid out of our TV sets and bring in more of Dora instead ! Being a girl is so much fun :D

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Arvind Swamy - The Unconventional Hero

       It was sometime in August 1992. It was drizzling in Bangalore. The monsoons were long over, but we still received an occasional drizzle every now and then. I was in the second grade.That day, my school bus dropped us off at the regular Bharat Petroleum stop. My classmate Divya and I were walking back home, when we passed by THE wall. THE wall was the wall of a rickety old room by the road side, probably a shop at some point of time. There was no roof now and the walls of that old shop now served as a free movie poster wall for the nearby Murali tent. Yes, tent. The nearest movie hall, the Murali tent was an actual tent, very much like the ones that were put up by Gemini Circus when they were touring Bangalore. Very huge and spacious, but a tent nonetheless. There were very few air conditioned movie hall those days, and they were all in the main commercial city centres. For the residential areas, there was always a local movie tent that would make enough money by screening the latest flicks.Murali tent was very much a part of my childhood and I recall blissfully watching some of the best movies of my childhood there.
       I always passed by that wall while coming back from school. Usually I gave it a customary glance and walked away. But that day, as Divya and I walked by,I slowed down. There was a new movie poster , a Tamil movie. “ Tamil, Color” at the bottom right of the poster confirmed my guess.
“Roja” i read aloud. Divya stopped walking.
“Yes, Roja” she said.
“That movie is very good. My sister (her eldest cousin who used to sometimes pick us up) went to watch it yesterday” she said.
       I was not bothered how good the movie was. What held my attention was the face on the poster. This handsome, moustached, smiling, mole-on-the-face hero who looked straight into my eyes! I was too young at that time to experience anything even remotely close to a crush, but I swear, I just could not take my eyes off him. It was not the looks. That I am sure of ! I was a movie buff even then and I had seen my share of better looking heroes. But there was a certain earnestness in his eyes, I cant explain that feeling, but I was sure I would never forget that face. And I never did forget.
     That night, in the Doordarshan countdown program “ Ek se bad kar ek”, a song from Roja was on the number 1 slot. I remember watching the entire song without batting an eyelid. Even before watching the movie, I had fallen in love with it.
       Later that month, the next door Bal Bharati School screened Roja on the occasion of a delayed Independence Day celebration. That was when I watched Roja for the first time. I remember shedding a few tears and missing a few heartbeats when I watched the hero being tortured. I also remember taking a silent oath to roll on an Indian Flag if I ever saw one burning. Thankfully, I have never had to witness that scene in my life so far! But my first sense of patriotism and the first seed of love for my country was sown by that movie, Roja. My first feeling of extreme respect and adoration was for the hero of Roja. Though at that time, I did not entirely understand the husband-wife relation, I did understand that it was a special one, meant to be kept for a lifetime. Madhubala’s strife to unite back with her husband, the way she morphed from being a simple village girl to a strong wife who did not give up her search in spite of the million hurdles, inspired in me, a desire to be strong and face life.
      After that first screening at Bal Bharati, I have watched Roja roughly 15 times or so. The latest being somewhere in 2008. The brilliance of that movie still continues to amaze me. The movie, thanks to its excellent camerawork, still looks like it was shot yesterday. It has been 18 long years for Roja, but the spirit of that movie will simply never die!
       This post however is not about Roja. I dedicate this post to the forgotten man, the man whose face still holds the same charm for me, whose songs I still hunt down and watch a million times on YouTube, who played his role with such conviction and passion, that even to this day, he continues to be one of my favourite heroes! Number one in fact. Arvind Swamy!
       He was a far cry from the quintessential Indian Hero. He had no rippling biceps or six packs. His face was not chiselled to perfection, nor was he an action hero. Nor was he overtly mushy, like the overdose of chocolate boys these days. He was a chubby, normal, man- next-door. I have never seen a moustache looking so good on any other face. He simply personified the typical well educated, Tamil Brahmin look and managed to make it look so cool! I can’t remember seeing him dance, but I do remember how his role in Bombay made my heart go flutter flutter! He was understated, unique and highly talented. He made acting look effortless. Every movie he ever acted in, he made it look like he was just being himself. And his sense of dressing, though some would call it drab, was uniquely personal . It was what any normal Indian man would wear. But on him, the sweaters, the jeans and his loose formal shirts, made a different statement altogether.
     I have a deep sense of respect and admiration for Arvind Swamy . I know nothing about the man, except for his movies. But the man’s simplicity and his effortless charm have been outstandingly awe-inspiring for me. He vanished from the screen sometime in the late nineties and never returned. But in spite of his short stay in the Indian movie industry, he has given us some of best movies ever made in Indian history, the biggest of all being his Roja and Bombay. Today, watching his movie clips on YouTube, I realized how late I have been in writing about him. Though late, I would want this post to document the almost insane respect I have for this man. I cannot recall another person who has been my object of admiration right from 1992 till now! :)
      I cannot explain why I feel the immense “respect” for him. What I feel for him is too profound to be a momentary crush and too inappropriate to be love :) In fact, there is still no sense of romantic inclination attached to my liking towards Arvind Swamy. It is pure, unadulterated respect for the man who rolled on the burning Indian flag, who stood up for his inter-religious love, who dramatically cut his wrist and hers and announced their union, whose bleeding face on the bridge in the Roja climax scene made many a people cry. He may be a rogue in real life for all I care, but the man I know from the movies, deserves every praise I have showered on him today.
      Btw, I googled him to find out what the guy is up to these days. There is not much information, but I did find a picture of him. A far cry from the handsome Tam Brahm engineer in Roja ! :) He is now Arvind Swamy Uncle :D

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Grinning Issues !

    Out of the 8 GB worth pictures that I have of myself, I swear, I could not find even 10 pics where I am not smiling. That is how addicted to the camera I am! Even as a 7 months old infant I chose to expose my bare gums to the camera with a smile that took up the entire frame than to sit glum and not smile. People who know me well also know that I am absolutely ‘photo-positive’. I am programmed to grin automatically when I know that a lens is being focussed on me. It is good in a way. For one, there is never a ‘bad pic’ day. But it is quite boring in more ways than one! The biggest problem being the fact that all your pics tend to look the same. There is no variety of expression. So while I have more than enough pics of the ‘grinning me’ there are not many that capture my other moods. I am a sucker for nostalgia! I love looking back at old stuff and living through the old times. So you can imagine what an unrealistic image I get of my past life when I look at my old pictures. For a person who sees my photo collection for the first time, it might seem that I have had a very happy life. Which is not totally untrue, but there were also times when I was cranky, grumpy, hurt, sick, crazy etc. Sadly, thanks to my ‘grin’, every other expression is now drowned into oblivion!
       I am not totally to be blamed though. Because, seriously, what are the chances of someone pulling out a camera to click a picture when you are seething red in anger or acting like you just got the mad cow disease? Practically speaking, zero. So when I told my friend about the lack of variety of expressions in my pictures, he pushed it aside as another of my “ you-think-way-too-much” episodes. Anyway, having seen the overdose of grins and smiles and giggles, I have made a mental note to try and emote my other expressions as well. I am getting a kick-ass camera next month, so it is gonna be a lot of clicking for my kid sister, while I try and capture my various moods :P Yes I know it is absolutely silly to try and “act” angry or crazy or grumpy in front of camera, but what the heck, I am just gonna do it! I really need to find out ! :D Btw, when I am the one clicking the pics, I really do not encourage ‘posing’. I love candid shots where people are doing their own thing while I click. So yeah, I have been cursed quite a few times for not announcing ‘cheese’ before I clicked :P Especially this one time, when my friend was brushing away a strand of hair from her face and I clicked. When the pic came out, my friend’s finger was strategically positioned under her nose, making it look like she was digging her nose :D
      Btw, you know what? I think each time someone smiles when a pic is being taken, they are just trying to do their little something to try and look good in the picture. I am yet to see an ugly smiling face. A smile literally lights up even the most lifeless faces. So yeah, somewhere in our heads, we are all ‘photo-positive’ ;) we are all beautiful, grinning idiots in front of the camera :D It is easy to look beautiful with a smile, but seriously, I swear, I really admire the people who can look gorgeous with an angry face. You know what I mean? My grand dad for one, is such an handsome old man, that he looks stunning with his ‘serious’ face. He can just sit there showing no expression on his face and still look like a million bucks! Now THAT is what I am talking about here. I am sure I will look like a ghost if I make up an angry, serious face for a pic :P
      Considering my obsession with good-looking serious faces, it must come as no surprise to you that this is what my favourite men in the world look like. Check this out ;)

                                          STUDS GALORE !!

Al Pacino, Sachin Pilot,Johnny Depp,Robert De Niro, Nana Patekar, Mahesh Babu, Omar Abdullah, Naseeruddin Shah

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Divine Rendezvous !

I was taking a walk down Fantasy Street and guess who I bumped into? No, not Johnny Depp ( though I really would not mind if it were him ) Ok, I will tell you. But before you hear the answer, read the points below
1) If you are standing, please sit down.
2) If you are sitting, please hold on to something.
3) If you are sitting and holding on to something, just make sure that “something” is not a hot iron.
4) If “something” is not a hot iron, then it must be a live snake.Check, check!
5) Are you sure? Ok, Lets cut the crap..
     Hear it out people! I bumped into GOD himself. When i first noticed the halo around his head, I just walked past to check behind his head and make sure it was not a bulb burning from a portable socket. Of course it was not!
“Oh damn! It’s actually YOU?! Wow! Wait, I am not dead yet right?”
“Wishful thinking kid..You think you will see ME when you die? That’s for people like Mother Theresa”.
“ There! What a spoiler! I would have atleast fantasized for the rest of my life that some day i would end up in a happy heaven..Not anymore! Thank you very much.Huhh!”
“Woah, Woah..Poeple usually fall at my feet and lose consciousness when they see me. And you have the cheek to do a “huhh” on me? Behave kid!What happened to your manners?”
“ YOU tell me creator. You definitely must be knowing what happened to my manners”.
“ I am not going to reveal any secrets, if that is what you are looking for”.
“ Come on! Maybe one or two? Please!! What would I tell people when I go from here?”
“ Arrrggh..Ok, I’ ll think about it. For now, tell me this, how are you liking it here?”
“ Wait a minute. This sounds like one of those employee satisfaction surveys. Why do you ask? If I don’t like it here, will you make it any better? Eh?”
“ Seriously, the day I gave you that mouth, somewhere in 1985,I was in a particularly bad mood. Forgot to put in the nerve that urges you to shut up once in a while!”
“ Thanks to your mood swings, now I have to hear “Will you please shut up?” from mom almost everyday.”
“ I agree. Listen, I can make up for it. I really want to. What can I do for you ?”
“ No wonder you are GOD! Such a sweetheart ! Listen, I need to put up a real kick-ass interview on my blog. Can we begin?”
“ Sure. MORON. “
“ Ok whatever, can we start?”
“ Sure!”
     Here we go! Ladies and Gentlemen...Put your hands together, for the very bright ( because of the halo), the very charming ( the guy has a great sense of humour) and the most sought after (the pooja, bhajan etc.remember?) GOD himself!

    For convenience’s sake Pavithra will be Pavs and God will be..err..God.
Pavs : Welcome to my blog Sir. What’s new?
God : Hey Pavs, nice layout. Nothing much! Really! I have been busy of late.
Pavs : Doing what?
God : Seriously! Who says that to me?! I run the world remember?
Pavs : Duhh..You do that anyway. But you said “of late”!
God : Aah, well...You know how it is..There are not many people walking into heaven these days..So I kinda had some time for myself. So I am doing a lot of writing these days..A lot more than before.
Pavs: You write? Super! What’s your book called?
God : Not book child. Destiny. That’s what we write in Heaven.
Pavs : Oh yeah, of course! Stupid of me to expect you to write a book. I would not write a book, if I were God.
God : Exactly! Moving on...What else do you wanna know?
Pavs: Oh, I want to know a lot many things! But right now, tell me this. Remember that thing I keep praying for ? ( Cant put up the details on my blog...hush hush) Tell me, when is it coming?
God : Ha ha ha..Yeah, of course I remember! You remind me atleast thrice everyday..How can i forget. You will get it is all I can say right now.
Pavs : (grinning) There’s a reason why they call you benevolent...How nice of you!
God : Next!
Pavs : Ok, what do you think of the world right now? Its chaos, aint it?
God : Oh yeah! Dont even ask. It’s driving me crazy.
Pavs : Driving YOU crazy?! Are’nt you like all powerful?
God : Ever tried chasing a rat around the house? You are definitely stronger than the rat..But it still drives you crazy..Does’nt it?
Pavs : LOL...Being God and all that, I would expect you to come up with better analogies. Seriously! Ok, anyway, the rat chase reminds me of Tom and Jerry. Do you like Tom and Jerry as much as I do? Whom do you like better? Tom or Jerry?
God : Listen Pavs...As much as I want to sit here on your blog and talk cartoons, seriously, as much as I want to, I cant! I must get going in a minute or two.
Pavs : What?! You just came in. Where do you have to go?
God : I have to make an appearance in an old lady’s dream in exactly 5 minutes from now.
Pavs : And they call you omnipresent! Cant you sit here and talk to me and be there in the old lady’s dream at the same time?
God : Sorry, I cant reveal all that! You ask too many questions kid.
Pavs : That’s because you gave me a human brain that does not really know much!
God : I gave you all the same brain. See how Einstein’s worked? It’s just that you don’t use it well enough.
Pavs : Err...I dunno. But I think I somehow got a raw deal. I have neither the brains nor the riches! How do you expect me to prosper on planet Earth? A dumb chick like Paris Hilton has all that money and an innocent engineer like me gets nothing! Not fair!
God : Ok, listen, I can give you one of those. What do you want? Riches or brains?
Pavs : The brains that can bring in the riches.
God : You are greedy!
Pavs : No I am not. I am just making hay while the sun shines.
God : Damn. That reminds me..It’s almost morning in this side of the world. And, oh no, the old lady is already stirring in her sleep!
Pavs : Cant you make her sleep longer?
God : Ok, seriously, no more questions! I have to go now!
Pavs : No wait, wait. When can I see you again?
God : In exactly 30 years from now.
Pavs : What! How?
God : Heart Attack I think.
Pavs : NO!! NO!! Pleeeaassee!! Wait..Does that mean I will end up in heaven? God? Still there? Hullo?
        As God disappears from there, I hear a loud THUD and suddenly my head hurts like crazy.There is a ringing noise in my ear I hear someone shouting in the background.
“ Get up you buffalo! When will you grow up? You better sleep on the floor from now on! Falling off the bed at 25 years of age. Shameless!”
       Another blog post ends here.
       Happy weekend!
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