Friday, May 26, 2006

Hotel Kerala-fonia

On the road to Trivandrum
Coconut oil in my hair
Warm smell of avial
Rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance
I saw a bright pink tube-light
My tummy rumbled, I felt weak and thin
I had to stop for a bite
There he stood in the doorway
Flicked his mundu in style
And I was thinking to myself
I don't like the look of his sinister smile
Then he lit up a petromax
Muttering "No power today"
More Mallus down the corridor
I thought I heard them say

Welcome to the Hotel Kerala-fonia
Such a lousy place,
Such a lousy place (background)
Such a sad disgrace,
Plenty of bugs at the Hotel Kerala-fonia
Any time of year
Any time of year (background)
It's infested here
It's infested here

His finger's stuck up his nostril
He's got a big, thick mustache
He makes an ugly, ugly noise
But that's just his laugh
Buxom girls clad in pavada
Eating banana chips
Some roll their eyes, and
Some roll their hips
I said to the manager
My room's full of mice
He said,
Don't worry, saar,I sending you
meen karri, brandy and ice
And still those voices were crying from far away
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them pray

Save us from the Hotel Kerala-fonia
Such a lousy place,
Such a lousy place (background)
Such a sad disgrace
Trying to live at the Hotel Kerala-fonia
It is no surprise
It is no surprise (background)
That it swarms with flies

The blind man was pouring
Stale sambar on rice
And he said
We are all just actors here
In Silk Smitha-disguise
And in the dining chamber
We gathered for the feast
We stab it with our steely knives
But we just can't cut that beef
Last thing I remember
I was writhing on the floor
That cockroach in my appam-stew was the culprit,
I am sure
Relax, said the watchman
This enema will make you well
And his friends laughed as they held me down
God's Own Country? Oh, Hell! *

Thanks to Vivek who forwarded this to me.
Disclaimer: I found this funny and irreverent and absolutely do not intend to hurt anyone's feelings. In this era of idiotic lawsuits and multi-million dollar payouts for "causing mental trauma", who knows?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Agneepath, among other things

Blogspot springs unpleasant surprises on me every now and then. Like now, for example. I was browsing through blogs, and came to my blog in the hope that someone had commented anew, or someone new had commented and my blog continued to show a depressing "2 comments" below my post despite a refresh. On clicking the link, however, I found I had had 3 visitors. I happily replied to their comments and found it a bit strange that my blog was unable to recognize its owner from the hordes who make up the traffic, and prompted me for my password too. Then I decided to blog about something and found to my alarm that I was ushered straight to my dashboard, the assumption being that the user who had logged in as "robertfrust" a few minutes ago was the same as the user who now wanted to go to blogspot.
I see a security issue here. What if I go to several blogs, comment on one after signing in, and then go to another blog and then move away and let someone else use my computer for a while and that someone happens to be a blogger and he decides to blog about his day and opens blogspot and voila! my blog innocently offers itself? Not that that's particularly scary and all, but it shouldn't happen, should it?

You see how I use certain words or phrases in my posts - I didn't need to end the previous paragraph with a question but I did. Then I began this paragraph with an address to an imagined audience. The question might have been rhetorical and the 'you' might simply indicate that I imagine I'm talking with someone (as opposed to to someone?) or it might be indicative of some greater effort to involve the reader of the post. I know if I ever write a book or a play (lately I've read a number of enjoyable plays), I'm going to be very conscious of whether it involves the audience or not. I have read and sometimes abandoned books that have bored me to distraction. And these include mostly 'famous' and high-brow fiction and only very rarely pulp fiction of the bestseller kind. Readability and brevity were issues that the great often couldn't care less about, and that bothers me.

I did go to Legends of Rock a few hours after I wrote my previous post and I found it every bit as satisfactory an experience as I had come to anticipate from its reputation. It's such a pleasure when you build up to something and then find the end result justifying the build-up. LoR has three floors, with the last floor being a roof-top bar, and the two lower floors having music memorabilia on the walls besides huge LCD televisions showing concert videos of great songs, one after the other. It's also a great pleasure to be listening to great and familiar music when you are drinking alcohol. My friend and I consumed what must have been more than three pints of beer between us and that coupled with the huge dinner that followed tested my digestive system a little bit, but the experience was totally worth the mild ache.
LoR also displays some cool T-shirts with Clapton, Morrison, Hendrix and a fourth bespectacled chap (not Lennon, we concurred) on the ground floor near the entrance and I immediately wanted to buy a couple for my brother, but deferred it till later because I figured I'd come here again. I even dreamt about those shirts at night, among other things. Somehow alcohol gives me a dreamful sleep.

I read a few chapters of Three Men in a Boat and found it not as dated as I thought it would be, but dated enough to not completely take to it. I'm debating whether to attempt to finish it or not. This morning I started a new book, one that I first came to know something besides the title about through a quiz question in IIT, and that I've been meaning to read ever since. The entire conception is nothing short of brilliant, and if the start is anything to go by, so is the book itself. I hope I like it enough to recommend soon.

Saw bits of Agneepath yesterday. I try to remain as unprejudiced as possible when I watch movies and I tried to like this movie when I last saw parts of it but I really couldn't help feeling irritation at Amitabh Bachchan's affected dialogue delivery and exaggerated mannerisms. It seemed to me almost as if he was playing a caricature of himself, much like I felt genuinely surprised when I saw a scene from one of Dharmendra's several movies done in the twilight of his career, with a nostril-flaring Dharmendra vowing to drink the villain's blood etc. I thought he was trying to fit the Dharmendra caricature in our popular culture. The caricature had come before the man himself for me, but of course in reality he had given birth to the caricature and not it to him.
Coming back to Agneepath, maybe I've evolved a little as a movie-watcher since some years back because I could appreciate some aspects of Agneepath that had been earlier obscured by my inability to digest an exaggerated AB, like its deliberate larger-than-life treatment of its protagonist, its use of many of Hindi cinema's enduring images and icons - the Mother, the Masterji, the child boot-polishwalla (evoking Deewar, among others) - and its focus on style and treatment over logic and plotline.
I also have to admit my interest in the movie, which was initially limited to observing why it was this performance and no other that fetched Amitabh Bachchan the National Award and did it truly better his performance in Deewar, perked up after the voiceover (Siddharth Kak's, I think) on Extraaa Shots (Sony Max, obviously) said the character of Vijay Deenanath Chauhan ("poora naam") was based on Al Pacino's Scarface. I guess it appealed to the trivia-junkie in me. Also, Scarface is never very far from my mind because the floor below where I work (and type this) in my office has an imperious Pacino reclining in his sofa on the lobby wall. The subscription says "Make Way For The Bad Guy". How's that for a tagline, hain?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I'm Back!

I just spent close to 4 hrs looking for a bank which would send a demand draft against cash, and travelled across half of Bangalore only to find one that charged 60 rupees fora 67 rs. draft.

But I don't mind because:
a) I haven't travelled through much of Bangalore and this way was able to
b) I saw at least two places I wanted to go to, and therefore now the way to
c) I had a good meal in Pizza Hut, a lot better than the Oracle sponsored meals here, though hostel meals remain incomparably bad
d) I saw this amazing movie rental place called, what else but Cinema Paradiso which has a truly awesome collection of movies. I saw movies like Krysztof Kieslowski's (apologies if the spelling is incorrect) Decalogue, and Godard's and other assosrted exoticities, and of course the complete collections of the likes of Kurosawa and Hitchcock and Polanski. Also saw more Guru Dutt than have ever seen before ina single place.
Above that wonderful world of movies is reputedly the must-visit pub of Bangalore - Legends of Rock.
I intend to spend some good quality time in the very near future browsing through those movie titles at leisure (the membership fee is 3000 bucks, so won't be seeing any, but on the upside I'm reading a bit these days), and then spend the evening in la-la land above.
Life's been worse.

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