Sunday, June 24, 2012

New Found Love

Just when the routine was getting sedate and I was desperately looking to find something exciting in life, the 'The Dream Merchants' gifted me a brand new Canon EOS11 DSLR, ushering in, what would be my new found interest - photography. Ever since I got my hands on that machine, I look at everything around me with a singular approach - how can I capture the frame in such a way that the image speaks about itself. I know, I know, its early days yet, but this new love for photography is addictive and is turning me crazy.

What kind of photography interests me ? Well, for now, lets just say, its street photography that's most intriguing and captivating. That said, I have clicked a few good ones of the natural elements. As I got closer to the man on the street and the nature through my pictures during the past few weeks, my wife kept complaining that she never featured in any of my, yet ! And so, realising the consequences of the grave 'mistake', I instantly added a new 'sub-interest' to my principal interest i.e, portraits..mostly involving the missus.

I picked up a good tripod, bought a professional account on flickr and have already started searching for an addition to my existing portfolio of a kit lens and a zoom lens - in the form of a prime lens. My birthday is just around the corner and so, those of you who are desperately scratching your heads thinking about what to buy me for my birthday, you know what to get me as a gift.

I have been getting some good words and a lot of encouragement from the gang, especially, Lamba, Sheetal, Savy, Suppy, as well as some of Missus' friends. To all of you folks, atleast a part of my art would surely be influenced by your positive push. Thank you and I promise to come out with stuff that you'll perhaps love.

Everything that I talk, that I do these days, I try to compliment with pictures, and therefore, here are some of the images of what I spoke a short while ago.

The newly acquired Sony tripod:

Natural Elements:

The Missus:

Until next time,
Doks !

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Curious Case of Sania & Shoaib !

The past 10 days have been very hectic for most of the news [read: entertainment] channels in the country what with the Sania-Shoaib-Ayesha saga swinging everyday like the recently concluded DC v/s RCB IPL T-20 match.

Ok, so whats the big deal about this affair/wedding/relationship that our journos are losing sleep over..

1. For starters, Sania wants to marry Shoaib Malik because she saw that "X-factor" in him. Ever since this news broke out, renowned mathematicians, nuclear physicists and atronomers have been trying to find this "X-factor" that only Sania could spot. Last I heard, they were still trying. The journos, like always, wanted to stay one step ahead of the action, and that explains their curiosity and purported privacy invasion.

2. Most of the journos are men, and while they wouldnt admit it on record, they see Sania as India's answer to Pakistan's Jemima Khan - the only other contemporary [read: steamy] muslim woman that mankind knows, and the fear of losing their steamy idol's identity was real and looming large given the tolerance levels of most pakistani cricketers [a li'l bird tells me, Inzy's wife wasnt allowed to watch bollywood movies ever since John Abraham showed up in his now-famous "peeli-chaddi"]

3. Although the TRPs soar when Sania plays [a tennis match that is !], most letchy men [there's actually no other tribe of men !] watch her [and not the match !] with expectant eyes, ears, mouths and you get the drift ! In a popular poll [where only men participated], She was voted as the tennis star with the best rack on the WTA circuit, and all of this was possible only because of the massive support from the media-men. What else would explain her popularity with Indian men despite continuous 1st round exits in every season. Given this sudden announcement of her marriage to Shoaib, the journos are totally pissed and have together floated a conspiracy to de-rail her wedding plans.

4. Shoaib Malik is popularly known by different [different doesnt necessarily translate into "good" this case, read it as strange/weird !]names which include schmuck, dumbass, moron, di**h**d etc. Their worry [actually, its my worry too !] is that we may never be able to see Sania again in all her glory on a tennis court, and this may severely dent the growing popularity of women's tennis in India, and more so with the men in the country.

Hours of primetime footage and reams of newspaper have been used up to let the common man in India know the latest twists in this melo-drama as and when they unfolded. Following the latest saga, Shoab Malik is now the 2nd most famous pakistani in India - after Ajmal Kasab in Arthur Road jail. Such is the relevance posted to this triangular love story that we missed many of seemingly-inconsequential developments in the past week like -

1. 76 para military forces were massacred in dantewada
2. The U.S Treasury Secy, Timothy Geithner is in India for discussions on economic exchange.
3. Deccan Chargers have royally rogered the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
4. Cheryl Cole has a new man in her life
5. Hema has bought a new Ford Fiesta
6. I have a really bad cold etc..

[dont bother if you dont understand the last two points !]

Lets not have any righteous nonsense here..Sania has every right to screw up her life, and if she wants to do it this way, then we should support her, for we should not forget her contribution to Indian tennis, the internet industry, and the revival of "Aaj Tak" as an entertainment channel. We should instead be spending time speculating if Shoaib would don an Armani on the big day, the brand of perfume that Asif Ali Zardari would wear when he makes an appearance at the wedding etc.

Enough of this for now, lets get our focus back on the latest development - Uma Bharati is back with BJP.

Jai Sania..Jai Telangana...although I have no idea why I am hailing either !

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Movie Review - 3 Idiots

Three weeks after the entire world watched the movie, I had the opportunity and time to watch "3 Idiots" which was touted as a block buster even before it hit the cinemas. It is no brainer for any Indian to figure out the reasons for so much of hype which surrounded the pre-release of this movie. For some, they wanted to catch up on their fav stars, watching kareena lock lips with Aamir was perhaps a pull for many others, but for blokes like me, it was more to check out the story-line difference between the book and the movie, and ofcourse to have a nice time with friends. And boy, wasnt I glad to have watched the movie even if it meant, losing sleep - which by the way is a pretty precious commodity given my lifestyle of late. "Nostalgic" would be the apt description of the movie if you were to ask anyone walking out of the cinema after the movie. Images flashed across my mental screen of all those wonderful times of college/hostel years, of all those times which, despite being tough, are cherished by many, even years after passing out of college. The movie is a melange of the friendship-bond, power of originality and poetic justice. Besides the lighter aspects, the movie throws a lot of light on the desperate need for Indian parents to think differently and move away from the herd mentality. Every family in my colony boasts of an engineer son or a daughter, for, their belief is that anyone who is not either an engineer or a doctor is not "highly educated". No one ever cared what their son/daughter wanted to become, all they knew was that a B.Tech degree and a scholarship in some god-forsaken university in Uncle Sam's land was the easiest visa to the Big Apple. How I wish this movie had released about a decade would have helped many of my friends avoid the harrowing time that they had during their B.Tech days. On a more thoughtful note, this movie gets everyone to think about their inner calling ? I, for one, havent figured it even after 28 summers. I am as clueless today as I was in my 5th grade. Vinod tells me that there are many like me who have no idea of their reason for existence, but chug along to flip calenders. They marry someone - like what their parents did, manufacture children - again like what their parents did, and fade into darkness without adding much value to the planet. Coming back to the movie, everything about it is awesome - from the first frame to the last, from the soulful songs to the catchy one-liners, from Rancho to Chatur to Virus to MM [milli-metre]. I cant imagine how this movie could have been made any better. Every frame of the movie had Raj Kumar Hirani's touch to it - rib tickling humor, real-life situations and soulful music ! After watching the movie, I couldnt quite understand Chetan Bhagat's claims of this being an adaptation of FPS, for, the objective of his book and this movie are like chalk and cheese. The similarily between the book and the movie ends at the ragging scene in the first 10 minutes. On a higher note, 3I aims to usher in the progressive thinking ideology whereas FPS looks more at things one shouldnt do at the IITs which would screw-up or more politely - jeopardise one's career. Verdict: 3 Idiots is a laugh-riot, a cult movie and a must watch for people of all ages ! I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the movie and I still hum the song - give me some sunshine, give me some rain, give me another chance, I wanna grow up once again !! Adios...V !

Friday, December 25, 2009

How much is too much ?

Circa September 2009, I switched over to ALICO to join a band of ex-Citibankers who, in the quest of fire, action and glory moved to this company en-masse. Each of these ex-Citibankers was a star in their own right. Like all Citibankers starved of action, I was desperately trying to find that "action" within the bank. However, I realised that I had to move out of my comfort-zone if I wanted action. That prompted me to look outside of Citi, and so, to cut the long story short, I joined ALICO towards the fag end of 3Q '09.

The first thing that prompted me to join ALICO was the role on offer...exciting, scary & one that was made for the not-so-weak hearted. Coupled with this was the fact that the men who were above me on the ladder were all ex-Citibankers, and so, I for some profound-yet-unexplicable reason, decided to take up the job.

Before I took up the job, I was mentally prepared to face the grind. I knew that I would be heading a branch which for all practical purposes did not exist as far as the top-line was concerned, let alone functioning like one. I got my first taste of this in my first briefing with my reviewer [in case you don't understand the corp lingo, reviewer is supposed to be your boss' boss !] when he told me with a smirk that I was about to get into a stormy chair. That little 'smirk' in the guise of a metaphor whispered a lot of unfolded-horror tales about what was in store for me. I was curious, excited and a bit apprehensive..curious to know as to how the other guys managed to screw up..excited about the sea of opportunity that lay in front of me, and apprehensive about my decision to quit Citi when every soul worth his dime raised an eyebrow at my decision to switch from an upmarket bank to a masses' product.

The past 90 days have been action packed, exhilarating, hectic and everything that will make a moron of a sane man. No matter how hard I tried to take this as a passing phase, I couldn't help but notice the stark contrast to what I was doing at Citi. Here, despite giving in my best for close to 13-14 hours a day, I still don't hit the bed at night with a satisfied feeling about the way my day went by. There is a vacuum which seems more like a black hole 'coz no matter how many productive hours one puts in, the vacuum never fills.

3 months into the job, I feel I work in an assembly line with a bunch of morons, who just cannot think straight. I usually am not very critical of the people around me, but there is nobody who I can look-up to, nobody who I think I would want to emulate. This job is moronic and is turning me into a maniac with each passing day, and the more I talk about it, the more I hate this industry. But, ladies and gentlemen, this is what I do for a living, and so, good or bad, sweet or bitter, gotta take this in my stride, at least for now ! that I've given a vent to what I am going through, I feel a lot better !

More on this, very soon !

Saturday, November 28, 2009

26/11...a year on..

Another reason for me to think that 2009 is moving like there's no tomorrow. 12 months have gone by since that frightening wednesday when a bunch of thugs entered the city of dreams to create mayhem, and ended up accomplishing their task successfully, and yet, the 3-day saga comes back to haunt us of the extremely dangerous times that we are living in.

Last thursday was the first anniversary of the fateful "26/11" terrorist attack on some of the signature properties of the Mumbai landscape. This terrorist attack was not significantly different from the earlier ones, for, the ultras have been repeatedly training their guns on the financial nerve centre - Mumbai for a variety of reasons, be it the resultant panic that such an attack creates globally, or the fact that a brazen attack on the most popular & powerful city in the country demonstrates the audacity of the terrorists - they have not fired from across the border, they have entered our home and created havoc !

Every news channel worth its salt was repeatedly flashing images of that dastardly siege...some on the pretext of demanding justice, some on fixing accountability, while some to capitalise on the opportunity to ring in their cash registers. Yes, our hearts go out for all those innocent & brave brethren who lost their near and dear, but would hosting a few talk shows or holding some candle light vigils get us a solution to ensure that another "26/11" does not repeat ! A year on, we still dont seem to have learnt our lessons. The territorial waters still do not have "water-tight" coverage[pun very much intended !], absence of information flow amongst various intelligence agencies continues to date, the same old story of the affected running around for compensation, and most importantly - the same political party winning elections and forming a government with the same bunch of jokers at the helm.

A popular celebrity spoke on a talk-show about the role of citizens in coming up with solutions to safegaurd ourselves...then what is the government there to do? We elect governments, pay taxes and do "our" designated roles...then why cant the government do its own job of protecting its people ! Why do the citizens have to take on this rather complex problem of finding solutions to terrorist attacks ?

Is there no solution in sight for this global mania..perhaps, there are solutions galore...for a lay-man, simplistic solutions to this problem seem something like these -
[a] Secure the territorial borders in water-tight fashion.
[b] Equip the security agencies with modern arms & world-class training to combat various situations
[c] Provide immunity to people who come up to speak against suspects.
[d] Fast track all cases of terrorist-acts/suspects.
[e] Increase diplomatic pressure on the 1st world countries to end this menace, for they are facing greater risks of the effects of terrorism.
[f] Re-create anti-terrorism law on the lines of POTA, even if it seems barbaric..!

All of this and much more is possible...what we need is political will & urgency, and this has to come from the complete political spectrum. The quantum of time that politicians from all parties spend on petty issues can be better used to get these solutions acted upon....or perhaps the solutions are'nt so simplistic !

Immediately after the siege, every self-proclaimed security-expert spoke about the government's lacklustre attitude towards interal security of the country despite RAW & IB reports hinting at possible fidayeen attacks on Mumbai. But, the government was in a denial mode, and evidently, hasnt acted in adequate fashion. Isnt the government of Maharashtra responsible for this carnage ? The answer is an emphatic yes, but have we fixed the responsibility - sadly, the answer is no, for, we do not care about these issues beyond the spotlight, and the politicos know it too well.

How else would you explain the dismal voter turnout in the Maharashtra assembly
elections barely 8 months after a horrendous attack on this country's marvel. The intelligentsia of our country is caught up in beaming with fancy anecdotes on television, for what else can explain their hypocrisy in not adhering to security standards set for everyone.

Some times I feel, the more things change, the more they remain the same. 26/11 has run shivers down our spines despite being miles away from the attack-zone, it has changed the way terror is looked at, the attack has compelled the United States to step-up pressure on Pakistan to burst the sleeper cells, has inspired many Indians to take up NSG as a serious career option, and has re-affirmed our natural nationalism, but we refuse to change into responsible citizens of a great democracy.

Any takers, countrymen ?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sachin at 20 !

“If cricket is religion, Sachin is god”. We have heard of this quote at least a gazillion times and every single time you listen to it, it couldn’t sound truer. The name – “Sachin Tendulkar” is synonymous with Indian Cricket today. The year 1989 played host to some of the landmark events in world history – The fall of the Berlin Wall, Tiananmen Square protests, Billy Joel’s song “We didn’t Start the fire” and most importantly as far as the cricketing world is concerned, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’s baptism to international cricket.

A whole generation to which I belong has grown up watching Sachin propel the game to a level that all of us feel privileged to have witnessed. As fiercely patriotic as we are, for the bulk of us, sub-consciously, the game revolved around Sachin, and not around the team. The best part about Sachin’s exploits is that every sport-loving Indian feels that he has a birth-right over Sachin Tendulkar and all those thousands of runs that he scored. Such is the belongingness and attachment that we have for this god of cricket that the nation comes to a screeching halt when he goes out to play, and shuts off television sets the moment he gets out. To us, he is the reason for our ecstasy as well as our despair.

In a country of a billion people, it is quite astonishing to have starved for a real super-star role model for such a long time. India, where cricket is not a mere sport, Sachin fulfilled that vacuum with his persona, both on and off the cricketing arena. Each of us has portrayed a picture of Sachin in our own special way. To me, there are two sides to him - Sachin:the athlete, and Sachin:the super-human.

Sachin:the athlete -
With a mountain of pressure and a billion expectations that he carries with him every single time he walks in the Indian colors on to a cricket park, there’s a billion prayers doing the rounds, for, Sachin is our only hope. It is a divine co-incidence that live cricket had come to the fore during the initial years of the master’s international career. This dose of watching Sachin demolish attacks brought life to a stand-still for most of us. As a nation, we believe that we are as successful or unsuccessful as Sachin is on a given day.

From Sachin’s first ton at Old Trafford to his magnificent century at the WACA in ‘91, to the heart-breaker of an innings against Pakistan in Chepauk in ‘99, to the desert-storm that he brought about with those twin-sensations in Sharjah, to the disciplined 241 against Australia at the SCG, one thing that personifies the great man is his determination. For an ardent worshipper of Sachin like me, each of these innings is etched in rock.

A notable quote that one of Sachin’s fans made during the famous Sharjah knock goes like this – “I will see god when I die, until then, I will see Sachin bat”. The best compliment that any athlete can get is from his opponents. And Sachin has admirers galore in the enemy camps too. Opponents no less than some of the other legends of the game - Shane Warne, Brian Lara and Viv Richards rate the maestro ahead of the rest. They lament appreciably on the daylight of stroke-play gap that exists between Sachin and other players. A cricketing immortal no less than the Don himself has spoken highly about Sachin’s game. It isn't just the brutality and finesse with which the master butchers the opponents, there was sweet poetry in his batting. Shane Warne once said that Sachin gave him nightmares after the 1998 tour to India.

Sachin, the super-human:
A billion self-proclaimed cricket experts dissecting every single stroke that the master has ever played, is reason enough for a mortal to buckle under pressure. Sachin translated these huge expectations into positive energy and gave us reason to joy. For a country ravaged with problems ranging from poverty to terrorism, Sachin gave us a ray of joy, the only hope to bring a smile on an otherwise frustrated billion Indians. I am not sure if I am in awe or admiration for this icon! Throughout his career, Sachin has erroneously been on the wrong-side of many an umpiring decision and on every single such occasion, his poise in accepting the verdict with dignity is mind-boggling. A picture of composure, Sachin has gained remarkable respect from every sport-lover on the face of the planet. Every single time when questions are raised about his utility to the team, he quietly lets his bat do the talking.

Twenty glorious years of international cricket and Sachin virtually has every conceivable batting record in his name. However, the passion and enthusiasm of a school-boy that he displays even today is what epitomizes his stature. Ever since I can remember Sachin give interviews, there is one common line that he makes, and I feel, something he truly believes in, is the pride that he carries in representing India. The fact that this pride was, and still continues to remain as one of the prime motivating factors, speaks volumes about the strength of natural nationalism. The tagline of Adidas – “Impossible is nothing” exemplifies Sachin’s character and will to succeed. His humility despite all the fame, glory and adulation is unthinkable for a mortal like you or me.

For most Indians of my generation, Sachin is boss, Sachin is god. Sachin is the reason I followed the game…Sachin is the reason that a whole generation of Indians have taken up the sport and Sachin is the reason that unites a country cutting across all barriers. I dread to imagine the day Sachin bids adieu to the game, for according to me, an Indian cricket team cannot exist without the legend.

I am blessed to be born in the same era as Sachin and privileged to have witnessed his master play.

Jai Ho Sachin !