Monday, October 03, 2011

careful with that axe, eugene

if i could offer you one tip for the future, sunscreen wouldn't be it. i'd say "careful with that axe, eugene".

counterfeit deodorants is a rampant menace today. if you're going to buy a can of axe from a small local grocer, chances are, that can is a fake. the can in the above picture is from "landmark grocery", near legends of rock on 80ft Road, 6th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore. It gave me skin irritation and rashes. this has happened to me at least twice before and i don't seem to have learned my lesson. on the previous occasion, i made a complaint to hul and they collected my can and replaced it with a genuine one for free.

with retail prices above 150 bucks, a can of the shady stuff is a mouth-wateringly profitable proposition. not surprisingly a bunch of people seem to have jumped at the "refill" business. so be warned. buy only at a trusted retailer (someone who has a reputation to lose), keep additional stock (avoid an emergency purchase), and deface the can before you dispose of it (scratch the paint off, don't puncture the can).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

book review - the secret of the nagas

genre - mythology / fantasy / fiction
rating - not worth the bother

the sequel to the immortals of meluha lives up to the first book and in many ways surpasses it. in my review of the immortals.., i had said that it had the power to be solid page turner and was set in a massive world populated with incredible characters and twisty sub-plots. the secret... carries as much promise and potential, if not more. it also loses the plot when it comes to being an actually well written book.

amish tripathi has achieved quite a lot with this volume of the shiva trilogy and, judging by the buzz around the book, is enjoying quite a successful run. the book makes ramanand sagar and baldev raj chopra look like amateurs. it takes their misguided interpretations of hindu mythology to a logical extreme with both their myopic moral values and heightened sense of drama. it then throws the resulting uber-goo into a sumeet mixer-grinder along with a 6th grade history text book to create an unparalleled, unapologetic novel that spans the genres of romance, action, comedy and high-drama like any good prime-time soap opera would.

as the story delves deeper into the plot in the second book, amish unravels new secrets and shows us a clearer picture of the details of the lives of the characters. unfortunately the author's shortcomings show up even more starkly because of this. these include the previously mentioned lack of the research into harappan society, ancient vedic hinduism, the indian calendars and a whole host of such areas. amish seems to have learnt his "history" from his grandmother's bed-time stories, his english from the corner paan-wallah and got his religious ideas from one of the many telly-yoga-babas. not only are his mythological and historic references blatantly inaccurate (and i've delved into why this inaccuracy is a bad thing earlier), his direct translation from his received language to english, could leave the reader quite baffled. i can speak english comfortably but struglle with standard hindi a bit. this seems to be why i kept hitting road-blocks with the usage of words like "vegetables" in place of "vegetable curry" ( the common hindi word for both is sabzi ). similarly, the phrase "he must not raise his hand" threw me for a bit. i wondered if this was an obscure body-odour joke before realizing that the former banker had translated directly from the hindi haath uthaana which means "acting violently".

with this second installment, amish has successfully taken the reader from disappointment to irritation. he has gone far beyond the scope of his previous low-point by repeatedly butchering science, language and indian geography in addition to history, culture and calendars. i hope he hasn't quit his day job.

book review - the immortals of meluha

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


failed an airport security check for the first time. bangalore airport security made me take off my shoes and put them in the x-ray and still looked suspicious.
i don't know if it's the beard or the fact that the dr.martens 1640 boots and the vintage 501 jeans were making the metal detector go off all over.
i'd like to give the benefit of doubt to the cisf jawans, largely because the boots have 16 metal eyelets each and the jeans have all kinds of hardware on them ( 11 copper rivets including watch-pocket, crotch and back-pockets, 4 suspender buttons and cinch ).
but what do you think? have they started racial profiling at indian airports?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

movie review - unforgiven

genre - western, drama
rating - must watch

sublime. like every one of clint eastwood's projects. a simple story, but told powerfully. that's the genius of clint eastwood, he retains the essence of the script or the story he is borrowing from and let's that story impress you without getting his getting in the way. maybe stepping out of the way is a lot tougher than he makes it seem.

go get the dvd.

the national gallery of modern art - bangalore

i liked the gallery better than the art. you should visit.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

the tragedy of a democracy

majority politics works, but only for the majority. when a section of population has the opportunity to benefit, even slightly, from the subjugation or ill-treatment of another, their elected leaders will find a way to make it a political agenda. this in-turn leads to hate driven by a "vibrant" democracy.

the solution ? a cosmopolitan world. transplant more people, create more cross cultural confusion. drive the telugu people into delhi, tamil people into mumbai, haryanvis into chennai and the marathis into kolkata. drive them by giving large education and job reservations to applicants from outside the linguistic area. that's when democracy will yield real results. it might not be perfect, there will still be minorities. but at least, then, the only agendas that will have majority popularity will be the basic ones. like infrastructure or the economy or food security.

the next step ? global cross pollination. oriya labourers in sydney, libyan artisans in hamburg and marwari traders in shandong. so our national cricket teams will look more like the premier league ones. fifa world cup will look like the epl tournaments. no more kashmir, no more mumbai and no more australia. no crisis of identity, no politics of prejudice and no hate crime.

Friday, June 18, 2010

it's raining today

it's raining in bombay and my mind is wandering. to times and places far away, to ferns growing on compound walls, to numb fingertips, to wrinkled toes and freshly washed jungle breezes.

twisty hill roads with ridiculously bright green grass on either side, the grass almost overgrowing the little dirt-patch and spilling onto the tarmac. crumbling laterite walls which seem to snake about the hills and fields in lazily arbitrary loops. soaked to the bone and happy in a quiet group of people with whom you could, in a way, be all by yourself.

wild stormy nights, grey drizzly mornings and beautiful rain drenched evenings. i guess i'm going to carry them with me for some time.

Friday, April 30, 2010

book review - the immortals of meluha

genre - mythology / fantasy / fiction
rating - not worth the bother

an interesting mish-mash of a story, the immortals has the power to be a solid page turner but lacks the finesse and the attention to detail of an actually well-written book. amish tripathi has created a massive world, populated it with incredible characters and filled his script with twisty sub-plots. and that's all good.

it's what he's left out of this book that really makes this such a damp squib. he forgot to put in the research into harappan society, ancient vedic hinduism, the indian calendars and a whole host of such areas. the book seems to be written for ignorant western readers who would not know the difference between the aryan and the harappan cultures, who wouldn't know hindi from sanskrit or prakrit. this isn't a minor flaw. any piece of fiction is allowed to reference events, characters or phenomena from the real world but those references will need to be consistent with the reader's pre-existing knowledge of those phenomena, characters or events. so when r.k. narayan refers to every-day life in malgudi, while the town is entirely fictional, the environment feels realistically like something from a pre-independence town near mysore. when j.k. rowling refers to the muggle-london, it seems exactly like the london you and i know. the alternative is to go the j.r.r tolkien way and to create entirely new worlds, languages, races and even number systems. amish trivedi chooses to use hindu mythology, indian history and language so inconsistently that everything will seem fundamentally wrong to any reader familiar with these topics.

as if this weren't enough, this particular blend of science fiction and mythology lacks the subtlety of ramayan 3392 a.d. and the coherence of a subhash ghai film. this book has taken a magnificent setting, incredible characters and delivered such pointless nonsense, it makes you sad. all in all: badly researched, badly planned and badly written.

book review - the secret of the nagas