Sunday, November 20, 2005

Battle Ahoy!!

Written 3 weeks ago, Posted today

Getting ready for and going to office is a daily ritual that many of us perform. I too go through this ritual every workday morning. After having a sufficiently nutritious breakfast prepared by my mother, I leave for office. I pack the water, ask the Gods for blessings, get blessed and wished good luck by my parents, and then set off. If my timing is correct, I get the office car. Otherwise, I go the full distance by 'shuttle-taxi' (or 'share-taxi', depending on what one calls it). This particular mode of transport is usually co-habited by others of my species. By this, I denote the young people working in software, hardware and other '-ware’ offices in Sector 5, Salt Lake of Kolkata. Most of us Sectorus Fivus people are doing similar jobs. Almost always, we are similarly dressed. It’s almost as if we belong to different regiments going to the same battle. But even in this uniform setting, which could have been a perfect stimulant for conversation, there is usually a pregnant silence in the car. If we find someone from our own office, we instantly start talking to fill this void.

Speaking of battle, the phrase "getting ready for battle" might seem a little bit out of place today. But a thousand years ago, what with all the wars that littered our history texts, it would have been a commonplace thing. I can imagine the soldier setting off for battle. He would have shined his armour, much as we shine our shoes today. Then after having his morning meal, he would have been wished goodbye by his mother or wife. Their main concern would be his safe return. If the country won, it was good. For that increased the chances of the soldier returning home.

The soldier then would have set off towards the battlefield. On some days, he would be fortunate to catch his battalion's procession. After that, it would be a fun walk or ride, bantering along with his friends. On other days, he would be forced to travel along with soldiers of other regiments. And for some strange reason, the mood would not be as jovial. The cavalry would not talk with the archers, and the archers would smirk at the pikemen. And the pikemen would crack ‘arrow-bearer’ jokes within themselves, highlighting the imagined oddities of the archers. In the end, no one would talk with each other.

Coming back to my case, recently Kolkata received a lot of rain. As usual, our area was completely waterlogged. This resulted in my going to office wearing bermudas and chappals. Of course, once I was in office, I changed into the official 'armour'. People living in areas, where the drainage system is not up to the 'standards' of our locality, could not boast of similar exploits. And my voyages on land and water became the talking point among colleagues and relatives.

On such days, comparing myself with a common soldier of yore would not be appropriate. On those days, I felt like Arjuna, the main hero of the battle. It was feeling very similar to being "on top of the world".

PS : Between the time I wrote this piece and posted it here (a good 3 weeks), I have had quite a few interesting conversations on board the shuttle. So I should not complain anymore. If only all things got solved so easily!!!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

'Baa, Bahoo Aur Baby'

A large number if Indians watch "Kaun Banega Crorepati" from 9 - 10 pm over the weekend on Star Plus. The slot just following KBC is thus an important slot for Star Plus as they would like to keep most of these KBC watchers hooked to their channel.

When KBC-1 was launched around 5 years back, "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" occupied the hallowed 10 o' clock slot. Those were my IIT preparation days, so I managed to see only bits and pieces of it. However, as my Mom followed the soap religiously, I was usually updated on the plot.

Initially, I found "Kyunki" quite likeable. Especially Tulsi Bhabhi , Baa and the starting song-and-video sequence. But ever since Mihir started dying pseudo-deaths and the jovial theme song turned into a lachrymose weepie, I started regarding it with severe contempt.

Recently, KBC-2 ('dwitiya') has started. This time, a serial of a completely different genre occupies the 10 pm slot. It's called "Baa, Bahoo Aur Baby". Hopefully, the 'Baa' is the only common link with its' predecessor.

The serial depicts the day-to-day issues of a Gujrati joint family. It is usually very hilarious. But it would be unfair to term it as a comedy as it also portrays the remaining gamut of emotions equally well. I'll relate two episodes of the serial here.

In one, a guy and his family had come to see Baby. Baby is a girl of marriageable age and arguably the main protagonist. Here I mean 'see' as in "ladki dekhne jaana". Now, according to me, and many Indians will agree with me, Baby is very sweet. We seem to like the "khaate peete ghar ki" type of girls and not the bulimic sort. Of course, Baby has a physical disability - she uses crutches.

The boy who had come to see Baby was more seriously disadvantaged - he stuttered. Finally, it was Baby who refused the guy. The striking part about the episode was the way the situation was treated. Unlike the usual Bollywood practise, the guy's stutter was not mocked at. I think he even deserves a prize for enacting the role so realistically.

Another episode recreated the settings of the Mumbai rains. A member of the family, Praveen, was feared to have died in the deluge. His wife, Praveena (usually great fun - watching 'Praveen and Praveena' together) was in tears, and was constantly being given support by the rest of the family. Nothing extraordinary about the plot; except the maturity with which all actors acted.

Overall, I think it is an absolutely wonderful serial. It is attractive mainly because it portrays Indian family values so well. Many serials become stale with time. Hope this one continues its' likeable streak for a long time.

Finally I think 'The Bold and The Beautiful' was good only for U.S. 'Baa, Bahoo Aur Baby' is good enough for us.

PS : Speaking of US and 'us' reminds me of something. In today's world, where many offices in India do the work of U.S. by outsourcing etc., the following motivational poster spotted at an office struck me as highly conspicuous -

"May this year be very prosperous
for US"
 Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 07, 2005

In relation with my work, I have lately had to do a lot of 'cutting-shutting' on images of people's faces.

What I want to mention over here is with reference to the picture above. (Sorry that it is so small.) I got both these faces from one of the umpteen face databases that exist in the world. And thus I know little more about these people than the Godforsaken names of their pix (BioID001212.bmp).

Anyway, that is besides the point. The point I want to raise is this : If you had to see one of these faces a thousand times every day, which one would you choose?

My answer : Jai Eve!!! Posted by Picasa