Sunday, January 31, 2010

and some dream of flying

My last post had me taking the Lord’s name in vain a lot. This post is about how some people in particular have me calling and invoking His mighty name rather in desperation. Autorickshaw drivers. If they aren’t driving like they’ve been possessed by the ghost of Evel Knievel, they’re acting like they’re possessed by the ghost of a 12th century tax collector (over-charge till it hurts is our motto!)

Some of them BELIEVE with all the sincerity of their well-greased hearts that they HAVE to speed over every gutter, hump and what-have-you on the road. They simply have to zoom dangerously across curves and bends, and swerve narrowly missing (and sometimes not missing) everything in sight. Oooh the adrenaline rush it must give them! Well, one man’s adrenaline rush is another’s piety surge. (Dear God, I have a presentation next week, I don’t want to die today. And yes. I do have my priorities sorted out) Along with all this, some of them are adventurous enough to make CONVERSATION and they turn around to do so. “I know you’re scared, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. Cos now I’m going to turn around, like take my eyes off the road, and ask you where you’re from or some irrelevant question. And I know you’ll answer cos you’re terrified and you’re anxious for me to get my attention back to the road.” It brings out a whole new meaning to being made to talk AND it makes the Joker look like a straightforward guy in comparison. Obviously you’ll invoke the divine name here!

These people do bring a whole new meaning to auto racing.

And if it happens to be those horrid, bumpy things that are the autorickshaw equivalent to monster trucks, it’s an assault on every part of your anatomy. Cos then you have speed and you brute strength. And both of that together is HARDLY good news. One hand you’re desperately trying not to end up on the road, and on the other hand you’re just desperately trying not to end up on the road. Right then, gravity is one mean bitch, if you know what I mean! Making you go, “Good God! What is this?”

Then there are those who talk to you in English. If you think that linguistic skills come at no extra cost, you are mistaken. They charge a frikkin premium that can put the business class to shame. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, some of them are convinced that they are the light, and offer you advice and friendship. If they do, you’re screwed. You’re screwed anyway, so why should an auto ride be any different. In addition to being at their mercy, you are also responsible for every traffic jam, every gutter and every railway block. So… Yup. Screwed again. And thus, when you take your wallet and shell out twice the fare, you can’t help but ask, “Why god, WHY?”

But let’s not get all general and stereotypical here. Some of them take so much pride in their ride that they get the whole vehicle upholstered that at 9 pm after a long day at work, it’s a veritable chariot just because you can lean back and rest your head, without your neck testing its obtuse angle abilities. And that my friends, is God’s divine mercy in itself. Quite the moment when anyone would say, “Thank God”!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

things that made me go hmmm during Twilight

• How do men sit through this? (Baby you love me? Yes i do. Then come watch twilight with me? Uh-oh)
• How much compact slash concealer slash several-shades-lighter foundation did they use on these guys and didn’t they object?
• Boy, most men act like vampires. Men. Vampires. Same difference.
• Edward, the main-romantic-boy-vampire, he does all the following – he’s everywhere she is – the parking lot, the cafeteria, heck even in her bedroom. And HE asks her to stay away. God, really! How typical.
• My boyfriend behaves like a vampire
• My boyfriend has the manners of a vampire
• My boyfriend is a vampire. I think! Yikes!
• Such a lot of makeup. Makes Paa look au naturel
• Why does the girl speak like as if every single word is torn from her frikkin guts? Does she HAVE to be this frikkin intense?
• He’s supposed to be dazzlingly beautiful according to the story-gist on the jacket. He’s just dazzlingly white. Like an ad for Tide detergent.
• Stupid SOB is just playing so hard to get. “Oh I’m going to tell you to stay away. Cos I know that’s exactly how I get you to stalk me. Oh stay away. Oh I’m such a sad lion. Oh I’m such a typical male. If you think I’m playing hard to get, you should see me when you bring up the commitment word.”
• The misleading story-gist on the jacket (again) says she’s not popular and that she’s like an outcast. WHAT THE HELL! She’s like the queen bee in the movie. “Hey Bella, come sit next to me” “Hey Bella you wanna come sit next to me” “Hey Bella you really wanna come sit next to me” “Hey Bella I’m going to kill myself if you don’t come sit next to me”
• Fancy car and a fancy growl that can scare men away AND he creeps the competition out. Man, this guy is a catch. And he’s there when you need him. (Attention: 26 year-old seeks hot 90-year-old-but-looks-32-year-old DEVASTATINGLY BEAUTIFUL vampire)
• He drives like a lunatic. Well if you’re immortal, accident isn’t something you’d worry about.
• God Almighty! Even saying “See you tomorrow”, makes this woman wince with some deep, deep pain. Look at the way she gasps it out with such trauma and all going on her face!
• This woman must be into psychos. Or maybe she is psycho and she loves vampires. Either way I see the resemblance between the two. Whoever said opposites attract, apparently didn’t see this coming.
• This guy is full of shit and she’s buying it. God, we girls are dumb
• He can’t get into her mind, he says! Pfft….he sees nothing cos there IS nothing in there!
• He’s just oversexed. “ I don’t have the strength anymore to stay away from you” ( dude we all get that way. It’s called FEELING HORNY”
• This,? THIS? THIS? Is supposed to be some kind of “darn good hunk of pop moviemaking”? Yeah right! Then I don’t even want to know what makes a “Darn horrible hunk of pop moviemaking”.
• “Oh noooooooooooooo! What have I done!!?!! I’ve gone and fallen in love with a monster!!” Get over it girl. We all have. Not the first. Not the last. But our kind of monsters drink blood only metaphorically and they go by the title of either husband or boyfriend. But they’re hot, aren’t they!!
• Good God, this movie reminds me of when I was a kid and loved lions and tigers so much that there were ONLY vegetarian lions and tigers in the stories I wrote. Vampires on a special diet! My foot!
• He glows in the light! Heavens! What will they think of next!!? By, God, he glows in the light. And I thought vampires roasted in the sunlight. Now THAT’S why they avoid the sunlight – cos they would glow and awe-strike everyone with their dazzling (HEEEEEEEEYYYY!) personality. This ought to teach me not to be judgmental. MY BAD!
• Even vampires can’t stop themselves from showing off.
• Talk about a relationship with NO future!
• Whenever my boyfriend comes like REAL close to me, my only thoughts are “OH goody! He’s going to kiss me!” But poor child, her thoughts would be like an objective question.
o A. Oh goody he’s going to kiss me
o B. Waitaminute! He’s probably got to bite me. Uh-oh
o C. Shittyshit..the SOB’s going to eat me

Sigh!! Must be so stressful.

• This movie is just oversexed. And 14-year-olds love it. Are we programmed for the stuff, or what!
• Are we so running out of stuff to believe in that we need vampires?
• She asks him to make her like him, you know, like a vampire and stuff. So then they go around for two years and then they break-up and then what? Most guys would only have to deal with “I lost my virginity to you for nothing” But what would she accuse him of, “I lost my humanity to you”? Whoa! That’s some heavy duty shit!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

And the Farmviller saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. ...

I have known for sometime that farmville is a clever ploy by the agent smiths of the world to get us obsessed with the other dimension they advocate. This so-called application on facebook had most of my friends occupied, preoccupied and bloodyoccupied up to their noses in virtual reality compost, mud and chicken feed. Everyone was a farmer and everyone was sowing and reaping and harvesting and prospering and becoming neighbours and winning yellow ribbons and finding lost black sheep (I thought that’s why they were black sheep in the first place, cos they were lost) and ugly bulls and all. The competitive got even more competitive in the guise of friendship. So-and-so has invited you to join Farmville, an innocuous little notification would, er.., notify. It kinda goes like this

“Howdy friend! Come be my friend in FarmVille, where you can grow delicious fruits and vegetables on your very own farm!”

Sounds warm and friendly and all that jazz enough. But ha-ha it’s actually someone who wants to win more yellow ribbons than you can tie around an old oak tree. Have you ever heard of a Friendly Farmers Association? In all probability you haven’t, cos they’re all trying to grow the biggest potatoes or tomatoes or egos. soon enough you start to get invites that sound a lot like “You scratch my back, I scratch yours”

“Here is an Apricot Tree for your farm in FarmVille. Could you help me by sending a gift back?”

“Here is a Reindeer for your farm in FarmVille. Could you help me by sending a gift back?”

“Here is a Red Present for your farm in FarmVille. Could you help me by sending a gift back?”

“Here is a Chicken for your farm in FarmVille. Could you help me by sending a gift back?”

“Here is a Cherry Tree for your farm in FarmVille. Could you help me by sending a gift back?”

And everyone’s still furiously sowing and reaping and harvesting and exchanging and prospering and wasting time and obsessing and becoming neighbours and winning yellow ribbons and finding lost black sheep (Again, isn't that why they are black sheep, in the first place) and ugly bulls and all. Why, one of my friends even shared her password with a lot of people so that they all could log in and play Farmville for her, when her net connection at home was facing technical difficulties (possibly fatigue from all the farming) Talk about dedication! But still I had no idea how strong this invasion into our reality was until this conversation happened between two of my friends, whom I’d call “A-life-less-ordinary” and “A-little-Extraordinary” here because the characters in here are not fictitious and resemblance is not coincidental and in all probability, one, or worse, both of them could come and bop me.

11:02am A-life-less-ordinary: Hey A-little-Extraordinary

11:02am A-little-Extraordinary: hey A- life-less-ordinary
how r u ??/

11:02am A-life-less-ordinary: i am ok
i need a small help

11:03am A-little-Extraordinary: yeah tel me

11:03am A-life-less-ordinary: I have sent u a farmville neighbour request, can u please add me as ur neighbour?

11:04am A-little-Extraordinary: lol!! ok ..i thot its a real thing

11:04am A-life-less-ordinary: hmm

11:04am A-little-Extraordinary: i don't use farmville anynore
but i can restart. i have enuf pending gifts

11:05am A-life-less-ordinary: issues..i am running out of neighbours
but how then do u spend ur time?
i mean do u go for work?

11:06am A-little-Extraordinary: if i am not on farmville??? i don't work
but i do loads of things

So there you have it people. "No farmville. No life." If you aren’t on Farmville, WHAT do you do? This question can go down history as a rhetoric of our times. Like the “to be is to do” and other famous words, “As you sow, sow sow and reap” will end up on tee-shirts. Farmville is redemption. Everybody and anybody ought to be on Farmville or else the curse of the children of the corn will be upon them. All of Neo’s and Morpheus’ attempts at realizing the real world were in vain. The agent smiths have won. At least on Facebook.

Monday, January 18, 2010

the infiniteness of talent

I’m in an exciting enough industry. Advertising has a lot of talent flowing freely through its creative veins. But sometimes you can take all the fantastic people and opportunity for granted and let ennui slip between your coffee breaks. And when you have done that, a day of sheer hard work with your nose pressed against the grind stone works for you like a fix works for a desperate druggie.

Today I had the privilege of working with some extremely talented people. People who are so married to their talent, and work on their passion like a person would work on a fragile marriage. People who are made of such potential and people who have every right to be pompous but don’t, they rather have their feet placed firmly on the good ol’ earth. People who are grateful for the opportunity that life and circumstance brings their way. Right from a make-up artist who is so married to her art, that she doesn’t think it beneath her to address you as ma’am though you are obviously so much younger and less experienced than her to a coordinator le extraordinaire who has all the right to strut around like the crane in the pond, but chooses to be humble and available, they have a way of putting things back into perspective.

After ages and ages, I finally got to work on a shoot. Shoots are great. A shoot means that the sweat and blood you put into a campaign is one step closer to seeing the light of day. Shoots are great because you get to meet a lot of talented individuals. Shoots are great because you get to touch base with the industry. But shoots can really test your patience and your limits of endurance. It means long hours of standing, diplomacy that can really start to fray within 2 hours, heat, temperamental people and don’t even get me started about that voice in your head that believes that it’s the only one with ideas in the room! But these are just the natural perils of every good thing that comes with a price.
So in an environment as volatile as this, that I could come out at the end of the day feeling extremely grateful for this long and exhausting Sunday, in a veritable state of high sort of reminded me that I was privileged. Because I have a place in this universe where my talent can find a voice. Now only if I could persuade myself to let it sing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Will the real KFC please stand up?

After nearly a decade of waiting on tenterhooks and smacking its lips in anticipation, Kochi finally walked into the open doors of its first ever KFC. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for Kochi’s much-awaited, first, original Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. After several KFC imposters that deabbreviated into Kerala Fried Chicken, Krispy Fried Chicken, Kerala FOOD Centre and the likes, the Real McCoy is finally here. And phew for Kochites. Or so I thought.

Not to say that the KFC falls short in any way as my friend’s adventures at the place would tell you so. He got into the long line uncomplainingly as, the already initiated would testify, KFC etiquette requires you to. Well, wasn’t he the regular at the Forum KFC at Bangalore, so much so that he’s almost a pilgrim, and knew the hows and ways of KFC decorum. And so he gets in line which predictably happens to be a very long line and Kerala DOESNOT like nor understand long lines, except outside alcohol shops. (which in turn, is a brilliant and extremely rare case study on human behaviour and how empathy can make them co-exist peacefully and turn even malayalee men into patron saints of patience - but that’s a story for another time) And so he’s waiting patiently in the long line with only chicken on his mind and that’s when he encounters his first surprise. Midway, someone decides to ask him what he’s like to order. “Huh? So what does it look like I’m doing in this line? Waiting to meet Elvis?” My friend, caught totally off-guard is as confused as Brer Rabbit would be on being equidistant from Brer Wolf, Brer Fox and his rabbit hole. If he trusts this man with dubious credentials, (what if he is an imposter wearing a KFC badge and uniform which he stole from some poor unsuspecting employee with the sole intention of coming between him and his Kentucky Fried Chicken; what if he’s deployed by his very annoyed girl friend who was very annoyed (obviously) at not being taken along? Huh? Huh? Huh? What then?) It could mean losing his coveted place in the line (he was half-way through, remember?) so he gives his order but refuses to give up his place in the queue. He stands his ground, and it’s a proud moment for all of us listening to him narrating the incident. (Annoyed girl friend, included)

Just then another man beckons to him with a “Sir” that has a curious yet sinister quality not unlike the shady man with sweets who hangs around schools. He beckons and invites my friend to take a seat. By now another man, this time a customer, is making the beginnings of a scene that looks like it could get ugly. Really ugly.

Man: (looks with dismay at his order and says with near horror) “But there’s no bun?”
KFC-ian: (With the forced patience of a guy in a white coat to a harmless mental patient) “No sir, there is no bun”.

He says there is no bun but what he means is “Duh, did you see any bun?” The aforesaid man must have keen abilities of voice and tone discernment. For he quickly gets over his initial dismay and takes on the tone of a scornful cynic and looks to my friend and says “Imagine! No bun!” in a way that implied “Maybe you can’t handle how low our world has stooped, but I have long-reconciled myself to a bun-less world”.
So my friend finally gives his order and then has to deal with more confused KFC-ians who all want him to sit where they direct him to. Much to his, quite obviously, confusion. Where, how, what-the, how-the, would he wait for his precious Kentucky Fried Chicken? He didn’t trust any of these jokers to give him his long awaited KFC-in-Cochin-Kentucky-Fried-Chicken. Could he sit? Would that project him to be weak? Would they use that as an opportunity to hoodwink him and give his order off to the closest annoyed customer, who was also taking quarterback positions? And then again the very distractive “Sir, sit here, sir” “Sir, please take your seat here”. With enough vigilance and shrewdness my friend managed to get his hands and his incisors into the much-longed for KFC-in-Cochin-Kentucky-Fried-Chicken. After much pain and agony, Kochi finally got its very own KFC. I don’t know what you think, but to me, it sort of sounds a lot like a newly-beheaded chicken running around in silent squawking, doesn’t it? And a lot of terrible service.