Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Amelie and In Praise of Good Movies

Originally written as a mail to my college egroups on July 12th...

I believe that good movies are also a way of vicarious living as are good books.
I saw "Amelie" which was I think the best foreign film in 2003. Fantastic
movie. The movie's about this French woman who is given to random acts to bring
happiness into other people's lives.
The movie kind of bears out my funda that life is one long series of "cheap
thrills", for want of better words in English.
The movie has a gentle pace like "Life is Beautiful(LIB)". This is noticeable as
old movies or movies with a retro theme tend to have a slow pace to recreate the
tempo of life in times gone by. See "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" starring George
Clooney to understand what I am saying, better. However I liked Amelie more. The
other common thing with LIB is the simplicity of the movie. You don't need to go
to the movie with some gyaan or having read the book to get it. For example, you
don't get all the funda about The Lord of the Rings if you see only the movie or
for that matter Harry Potter. No fault of the author, though. There's only about
2 hours to say so much. And I am an avowed fan of LOTR.

There are a couple of characters which touch your heart like that of Jack
Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, in Amelie.
There's the grocer's assistant Lucien, who handles artichokes like babies, and
says they have a heart too. There's the "glass man", a painter who keeps
painting a copy of the same Renoir painting for each of 20 years and never
leaves his house. And the actress playing Amelie is excellent in her portrayal.
And then there's Nina who's tries to judge Amelie's love in life by trying to
get him to complete proverbs (saying that her folks say that a man who knows a
lot of proverbs can't be bad). I love such old fashioned logic. One who delves
deeper into this can infer that anyone who knows proverbs (which paraphrase
uncommon wisdom) would also absorb wisdom from them and hence can't be bad.

And the style of narration in the movie is brilliant, with a touch of French
black humour. I think we should start watching the best movies in the foreign
category more frequently. The last movie of such a classification that I saw was
"No Man's Land" which is the most telling portrayal of war that I have seen and
remains to this day amongst my favourite movies.

I will stop raving here.

Please see the movie and tell me if you like it as much as I do. Also let me
know if you like my review. I am planning on doing this full time :)

And one final thing for French lovers, try and see how much French you can
understand without the subtitles.


Mumbai Half Marathon 2004

Originally posted as a mail to my college egroups in Feb...

This time my story is about how I completed the Mumbai half marathon.First of all thanx to onkhoo and maadu for being absolutely generous hosts inthe humid city. They literally made my trip and were superlatively cool (meaning they were just themselves).Now I planned to run the race 2 weeks ago when I actually read about it somewhere. When i finally found time to see the wesbite it was Feb 8th. The last date for registration was 7th Feb. I calledup the contact for international athletes, a nice surd from Delhi and requested him to help me. Like a typical Punjabi he said, "Aap venue pahuncho, main hoona!"Then came the turn of travel arrangements. I usually leave office at abt 9 pmand enter at 9 am. SO that leaves little scope for anything else. I called up an agent, who found an Air India ticket for my return trip and a Rajdhani ticket for my onward journey.Now the Rajdhani journey is another short story by itself where i met an engineer who works in the electrical design dept for Indian Navy Ships and submarines.Keeping this part of the story for another day, the last thing that happened was that my train reached Churchgate at the same time as the previous Rajdhani which had left Delhi an hour early!!!i got down at Churchgate and called maadu who met me at Santa Cruz later.But b4 that I had to go to the venue and register. I went and saw a few hundred ppl who had queued up to get free tshirts (yes i have another T in mycollection!) and all of them had registered on the web!I went to the info kiosk and told them that i had come all the way from delhi.then they said they were sorry but they were turning back even national athletes with reco letters!Then i remebered my surd's name and dropped it. One pretty female accompanied me and pointed him out to me.He just gave me my running no and took down my name and said " kal subah 5:30baje aa jaana. aur wahan se daudna shuru kar lena!"i said " what abt entry fee of Rs.50" He said" arre haan, dedo mujhe!"i paid him in front of some 300 ppl who were in the line in the sun at 11:30 inthe morn and it looked like i was paying him bakshish!anyways, i went and collected a Tshirt also and a timer chip which is entangled in ur laces to track you thru Radio Frequency.The same day maadu, onkhoo and me went to eat chaat and loads of other stuff from the streets of Mumbai. I plunged into the eating exercise with such fervour, eating bhel after pani, drinking coffee at barista, etc etc that byevening, my bowels decided to take a walk.hence i was already dehydrated by race day.but then aaj dhammo tera izzzat ka sawaal hai!chalo phir subha chaar baje, i was at santa cruz station. imagine my surprisewhen i saw 4 other ppl who were ready to go. i was clutching my abdomen and praying to God so that i didn't get embarassed in front of 20000 we talked in the train it became apparent that some junta in mumbai had been running for more than a month along the race route to practise. also some papers in mumbai had been printing running tips by the day for readers who lapped them up eagerly.all said and done, i got to the field and would you believe it. as i kept running across the field like a gleeful mutt with flies around it, trying to warm up, i saw stalls for fortune tellers, tattoo artists etc. saala subah subah kisko kismat dekhne ki zaroorat hai; pata nahin.there were so many beautiful women, cute kids, dogs all of whom had come to cheer up ppl.the race for junta began after the kenyans and some celebs like anil ambani had got a headstart. then i also began running what with cool plans and all for timing my run until the first 7 kms there was no hitch as we passed the lovely marine driveand reached peddar road where hajaar families had lined up to cheer runners. mumbai in general had turned up in lakhs to just cheer ppl like me. there were cheer leading girls in 2 places. boy, life me motivation ho to aise. and then there were hajaar pretty women all along the way who kept smiling enigmatically or just cheered you sportively while you passed them with a determined expression.mumbai's residents also displayed hajaar enthu. kingfisher who sponsored mineral water and electral had set up stalls every 2kms. i used this for the first time after 5 kms when i thot this was water.maine bottle uthaya daudte daudte, sar pe paani daala. thodi der baad jab sar chua pata chala saala electral tha. tab tak mere baal, "there's something abt mary " me jaise cameron diaz ke baal khade hote hain, aise the!then there were some residents who had brought plastic tumblers from home andwere offering fruit juices and water.then there were groups of girls who were giggling after cheering tired runners like me.i had to start walking on the way back after abt 15 kms as i could run no longer. i did this for abt 3-4 kms. then i was back on marine drive. then theresome aunties who were saying " hey 8955 ( that was my no), come on yaar run" and then literally blooming when i picked aise daudte daudte, chalte chalte i was abt 1.5 kms off. then the dream run(7 kms) began. btw, there was a blind runner also who also lapped me! in fact he was literally dragging his guide who had a connecting rope!by the time i started sprinting for the finish, i realised that there were some 20 k runners in the shortest race incl. school kids who literally ran amok. you had to watch for your life and avoid the rush of runners.anyways i crossed the finish line and sat down to stop my watch , which i haven't reset to this day. i shall do so after i get my cert with my timing.after that i sat on the footpath eating some biscuits and drinking some electral and drinking from a souvenir water bottle that Standard Chartered Bank gave.after reflecting on life for abt an hr on the footpath i returned to santa cruz to the comfort of onkhoo's home and then we went shopping in mumbai.but then that's another story!

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Random Musings

First I thought of writing about a few of my favourite cartoons like Calvin, Animal Crackers, Glasbergen, Art Mangosi's work, etc. Then I thought how people end up becoming friends discovering common interests and raving about them. For example, most people who did their college life through hostels always talk about the good old days.

Similarly people who quiz for ex, (yours truly being an ardent quizzer) bond like crazy in pubs and coffee bars.

In fact I have formed lots of friendships hinging on coffee alone.

Currently I am looking for people who swear by Absolut Vodka. My boss has a ready collection of about 6 different flavours at any point in time.

Nice man to know.

Similarly for a long time in life, I was hooked onto Catcher in the Rye and used to read it almost every week.

Then I discovered there are other good books like The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. although I
still carry my copy of TCITR.

Just like I have used the Oscar nominations (not just the winners) to pick my movies, I have, of late begun using the Man Booker prize winners to buy new books.

The last two I bought were the Life of Pi and Vernon God Little.

Both are excellent books

While on the subject of favourite things, I have always loved pure text web pages and hence love google for the sheer simplicity of presentations.

Even during my management course, while most people used fancy templates and got good marks for presentations, I stuck to white background with Comic Sans MS fon size 8 or the White on Black background sometimes.

I shall soon write something which is more well knit

I replaced my webpage reference on orkut. So here are my pics