Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rajnikant's French Act

Believe me - one of the biggest French blockbusters this year features Tamil superstar Rajnikant - in kung-fu mode. Read more here

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Is it just me or are there too many blogs closing down recently? Jay's shutting down. So is Codelust. AB is mulling a break. War for News is a no-show. What's happening guys?

My Dad the Murderer

There he goes again. Killing hundreds of innocent beings with that new electronic insect killer he just bought. This something-that-looks-like-a-badminton-racket is hell on earth for poor defenceless bugs.

Those metal bars in the middle send tiny volts of electricity into the insects it comes into contact with and the poor creatures - literally - drop like flies.

Dad's thinking he's Prakash Padukone reincarnated - playing, zapping, torturing - deriving sadistic pleasure. And why am I so concerned. Well, Maneka Gandhi might just get a heart attack.

Was Daddy-Long-Legs the first blog?

I am ashamed to admit this but I had never read Daddy-Long-Legs. Until now, that is (Thanks to Daily Lit, a website which sends books bit by bit into your email inbox)

Daddy-Long-Legs is a 1912 novel by an American writer Jean Webster, written in the form of letters. It follows the protagonist, a young girl named Jerusha "Judy" Abbott, through her college years. She writes the letters to her benefactor, a rich man whom she has never seen. (from
I loved Daddy-Long-Legs. It is so much like a blog - the world's first ever blog. Imagine this girl writing letters to someone she doesn't know. She discusses everything with him - her life at college, philosophy, politics, etc. - knowing she will never receive an answer. And yet she knows that the letters are being read.

So much like a modern-day blogger venting his feelings into cyberspace unsure if anyone will read it and comment. Okay, forgive me - it's a far-fetched comparison but do read Daddy-Long-Legs (if you haven't already) and you might just understand what I'm talking about.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What Baabul? Call me Buddy

I can't believe this movie wasn't titled 'Buddy' - that's how father-and-son Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan keep referring to each other throughout this predictable film with a widow-remarriage theme. Ravi Chopra suffers from a Baghban hangover and tries to replicate its success here. And fails.

The first half is the syrupy-sweet half of a Karan Johar flick - with its loving family and designer parties and you keep wondering why you weren't born into a family like that.

America-returned Salman (he returns after 7 years, a possible take on the saat janam ka saath theme) woos golf-enthusiast Rani. A few cups of tea and golf lessons later, the couple receive the blessings of Bachchan and Hema Malini and settle down to a lifetime of family life.


Salman gets run down by a car while coming back to his young son's birthday party (apparently he was never taught in school to look left-right-left while crossing roads).

Enter Rani weeping. She's been doing that for ages now (Black, KANK) and we're tired of those tears streaming down her eyes. The widowed daughter-in-law bothers Big B and he strives for ways to make the roses in her garden bloom again. He turns to John Abraham, Rani's childhood friend who still cherishes a secret love for her.

From then on, the film trudges on towards its destined end. Throw in a few villains (Read extended family of tauji Om Puri, Aman Varma and Parmeet Sethi) to preach about how bringing widows to a wedding and getting them married brings bad luck. Sarika frowns and weeps in her guest appearance as Bachchan's long-widowed sis-in-law. She's not alone - Hema weeps, Rani weeps, John weeps, Big B weeps and in the end even Om Puri (when he suddenly decides he has sinned by berating widows) can't help shedding a few tears.

On second thoughts, this film is still worth a watch despite its storyline. Music by Aadesh Shrivastav is surprisingly of the non-grating variety. Big B turns playback singer with his sterling rendition of Kehta hai Baabul. Salman is his usual effervescent self, Hema Malini is as regal as ever, even John impresses in downcast-lover mode.

On the flipside, we have some shoddy costume designing. Rani looks like a parrot in some scenes while the very sight of John in white trousers and white shoes would send shivers down Jeetendra's spine. Thank God Ravi Chopra is now directing a comedy - I am just about sick of didactic movies trying to change society.

As for audience reactions, the usual suspects - middle-aged aunties - waxed eloquent about the movie while a couple of youngsters left midway. Take your pick.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy Birthday Rajinikant

Southern superstar Rajinikant turned 57 today. NDTV's Sam Daniel and the Ticker got that right but Sreenivasan Jain seemed hell-bent on letting viewers know that Rajni was only 54. Some hidden agenda there? Wotsay?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What happens when you have a webcam with a motion detector, bread, boredom and way too much free time? This

Aishwarya PJs - Don't kill me!

The Dhoom 2 chartbuster Crazy Kiya Re set me thinking -

What if Aishwarya was trapped in Delhi's smog - Hazy Kiya Re

What if Aishwarya set out to buy vegetables - Kaise Diya Re

What if Aishwarya became too arrogant - Main hoon Diva Re

I coined a few others as well but I am concerned abut your mental health and won't torture you further.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Copycat Rahman???

Another music composer bites the dust. I was listening to a rendition of Bert Kaempfert's Moon Over Naples (better known as Spanish Eyes) performed by operatic tenor Plácido Domingo and the music was weirdly familiar.

And then it struck me - it sounded almost exactly the same as A R Rahman'sTu bin bataye number from Rang de Basanti (2005). I suppose Rahman will now claim he was "inspired" by Kaempfert's mid-20th century creation. Wotsay?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Why Dhoom 2 fails to impress

Well, one of the things I did in Ahmedabad last Friday was watch Dhoom 2 the same day as its worldwide release. My cousin Philo and brother Jose whisked me off to the city's CitiPulse multiplex to watch Hrithik and Aishwarya in action. And what of Abhishek you ask - well, he and Uday 'Ali' Chopra seem to have somewhat of a guest appearance in this flick - playing second fiddle to master thief Aryan (Hrithik).

The ending does redeem Abhishek to some extent but this chor-police story leaves you wondering why you didn't leave your brains at home. Both Dhoom movies are action movies with lots of style and attitude but certainly weak on substance.

Both flicks hinge on spectacular special effects and the glamour quotient of its starcast. Pritam's compositions in Dhoom 2 are funky too (especially Crazy Kiya Re) but the bhangra mix song Dil Laga Na in the second half set me yawning. And I thought the Hrithik-Aishwarya liplock was way over-rated. Also, what finally happens to Abhishek's wife, baby and Bipasha (Shonali) Basu? Any guesses?

Trivia from
- This is the first pairing of Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai after many close tries. They were supposed to be in a movie directed by Tanuja Chandra but it didn't materialise

- The shooting of this movie was delayed because of a flood that damaged the new Yash Raj studio

- Aishwarya Rai was told to lose weight by Aditya Chopra after gaining it for Bride & Prejudice (2004)

- It's the first Bollywood movie to be filmed in Brazil

- 1,200 prints of this movie were released in Indian cinemas, the biggest for any Bollywood movie

- Priyanka Chopra was originally offered the part played by Bipasha Basu, but she declined

Hell has no fury like a woman scorned

A former strip club waitress in Boston mailed flammable material, including condoms filled with a potentially explosive mixture, to a television station, strip clubs where she had worked and other places, coz she was apparently tired of being mistreated by men. Ouch!!! Read full story here

Illegal aliens murder 12 Americans daily

Well, the story is true enough. In fact the death toll in 2006 far overshadows the total number of US soldiers killed in Iraq, Afghanistan. Bad headline though. Coz ninety per cent of us have fond memories of E.T.

Read full story here.

Look b4 U post on YouTube

Young Norwegian posts a video 'Driving in Norway' on The clip shows his car's speedometer crossing 150 miles (240 kilometres) per hour on a public highway near Oslo. Police viewing video online not pleased since the country's speed limit is only 62 miles per hour. Police trace youth and present him with $1,300 fine. Hope you got the moral of the story - Double check your videos for any incriminating evidence before you post on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My new mobile phone

Actually, it's already a month since I bought the Sony Ericsson W550i handset. But I hadn't told you guys about it so for all practical purposes, it's still my new mobile phone. I didn't quite like its bright orange hue much and immediately changed it to the more decent blue you can see below. The phone's been called a lot of things - kiddo phone, candy floss... but its Walkman and other features easily stand out from others in the market. Given its popularity in India, it's easily the best phone in the Rs 10K category. I've been a Nokia fan till now but the W550i really impressed me with its complete entertainment package. Now my hour-long bus journeys are pure bliss. Wotsay?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Snippets from Ahmedabad

Yup, we took a break and travelled down to Ahmedabad to visit my mom's side of the family. My last visit was around six years ago. The city is dirty, dirtier than Delhi and yet - isn't there always something magical about the place where you were born? My mom had been born here too. But we never spent any time here. I was spirited away to Pune when I was a year old and then to the national capital at the age of five. Which basically means I hardly remember anything from the city of my birth. Even the nursing home at Gomtipur where I was welcomed into this world no longer exists (am told it was burnt down during communal riots). Well, here are some images from my five-day stay in Ahmedabad.

Something that my young cousin Philo created. Isn't she wonderful?

She made these things too. Now, isn't she talented?

Philo's favourite teddy

A visit to the cemetery to visit my grandparents and uncle. I just wish I knew them better.

Philo (also known as Dolly) engages in a kung-fu contest with my brother Jose

And lastly, the cat which waltzed in through the gate as I was fiddling with my camera phone

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Lola Kutty concert

Well, this is why I say Lola Kutty rocks.

Barking Cat

The BIG question is - is the cat imitating a dog or is it a dog in cat's clothing?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Couch Potato

I have been a couch potato this week and am not proud of it. Have been more loyal than any other fan of HBO/Star Movies/Zee Studio. Watched Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda, Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and Mona Lisa Smile and Runaway Bride. Add to this list the musical Little Shop of Horrors, the whimsical *batteries not included and the relatively unknown yet interesting The Best Man. And that's not all, have also been catching up on all my favourite sitcoms on Star World/Zee Cafe. Wonder if I've to sign up for a TV de-addiction seminar.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cute Kiwi

Found this animated clip on YouTube and thought - what's wrong with spreading some cheer.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Head-Banging Question

So the next time some guy in the U.S. loses his job to outsourcing, has he been Bangalored or Bengalurud?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Diwali Blues

There's something really depressing about going to office on Diwali. More so when you're the only guy in office barring the security guard snoring outside. But as the saying goes, you gotta do what you gotta do. Hope you guys had more fun. Happy Diwali anyway.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Track your Pics

Came across this website called Tracking Shot that automates interesting montages with photos and music. Upload your favourite still pics and music and Voila! - an instant movie is ready.

Check out my first creation (that of my IIMC days) here. It took me just 5 minutes after the painstaking task of uploading selected pics.

It's not problem free - you cannot completely control the slideshow - and mine is obviously too fast. But then it's the thought that counts. Right?

As one classmate put it, the montage brought "tears into her eyes". I presume they were tears of joy at this blast from the past. Go ahead and try making your own movies with photos and music.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Indian football gets a canine twist

Perhaps the only highlight of last evening's Asian Cup qualifying match in Bangalore was the mangy mutt who rushed to provide succour to the losing Indian side.

Play was held up for some minutes as the friendly canine gambolled around the field giving some respite to our beleaguered football players.

But the dog offered its four paws in vain. Bob Houghton's boys put up a brave front, especially in the second half, but Ryuji Bando struck twice to give holders Japan a well-deserved 3-0 victory.

Bhaichung Bhutia had even more reason to be unhappy. On Wednesday, the Indian Football Association suspended him for the remaining three matches of the Kolkata Premier League. The former skipper is also being fined Rs 50,000. His crime - showing dissent during a domestic league match in September.

Moral: Every dog has its day but Indian football's only canine fan would be better off watching cricket.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My first podcast - finally!

Yes, today I officially became a podcaster. Check out this podcast link for the previous post.

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You can subscribe to the Tony Tharakan podcast here

Thursday, September 28, 2006

This Way, That Way

The other day I was waiting for someone to pick me up from Statesman House. It wasn't too long a wait - only 30 minutes or so - but six persons came and asked me for directions.

Of course, my knowledge of the capital city is famous for its limitations and these people had the misfortune to bump into me. But I guess in this case it wasn't entirely my fault.

They didn't want to go to Greater Kailash, India Gate or Noida. In fact, one of them wanted directions to go to 'Jheel' wherever that is. When I pleaded ignorance to knowing where Jheel or Jawahar Nagar or Anand Vihar was or how to get there, I was given some pretty (or rather un-pretty) withering looks.

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Just when I was about to give up and commit suicide, the sixth country bumpkin showed up and asked for directions to the British Council.

Finally! A place that I know like the back of my hand. I gave the perplexed stranger precise instructions to get there, secure in the knowledge that I was not useless after all - that I had been stationed there by Destiny for this precise purpose. To guide this hapless creature to his destination.

I looked up to the sky and smiled - a pretty big smile. And wished fervently that no more country bumpkins may cross my path again.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Delhi swings to the 95 FM beat

It's been only a month since 95 FM was test-launched in Delhi by a firm called Clear Media. And this new radio station has already created a buzz for its non-stop hits sans pesky ads and tiresome RJs. You heard that right - no ads for XYZ home loans, no RJs who just don't know when to stop jabbering. Just plain ol' music.

Have no idea how long this state of bliss will last. Et tu will have to succumb to the pressures of commercialism. Till then, am making the best of the situation and answering that inevitable query - "Are you 95ing tonite?"

Btw, this is not the first blog post on 95 FM. On August 7, blog diva eM had this to say about the new Mirchi for Delhiites -

Ooh, a brand new radio station that I love (95 fm, whose is it? what is it? why are they playing such excellent music?) is doing wonders for my ego. Wonders.
A couple or more of similar radio stations and I will give up my cassettes and CDs. Wotsay?

Aren't you addicted to Hit 95 FM yet?


Bloggers have trashed Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and Jabberwock's review especially says it all.

But I actually liked KANK. So kill me.

Maybe I am partial to the Karan Johar genre of escapist NRI cinema. Maybe I just love three hours of big stars, fabulous songs and designer outfits. Er...maybe I just have a teeny-weeny crush on Preity Zinta.

Abhishek Bachchan was particularly impressive as Rani's charming boy-husband and also effortlessly matched Daddy Bachchan's charisma in the Rock and Roll song sequence. Watch out SRK, the Junior B might just steal your thunder.

Preity had a similar amount of screen time but pales in comparison to the Bachchan duo and Chandigarh (l)ass Kirron Kher.

But the film could have done with some better editing in the second half. It was a tad too long with little comic relief. Who wants to watch a cynical SRK and Rani cry their heart out when they could have more of happy-go-lucky Abhishek and pretty Preity instead.

(Warning: Spoilers follow)

However, KANK's ending made up for all its shortcomings. Audiences had a sneaking suspicion Johar would play safe and make the love-struck couple return to their spouses. But as the 200-minute epic draws to a close, the director boldly flings aside the dictates of conventional cinema.

Lovers SRK and Rani finally end up together albeit after a three-year "punishment" for their "original sin" - making merry in bed while their spouses Abhishek and Preity are dancing away to Where's the party.

KANK (pronounced like BANK not SKUNK) has even forced Chidanand Rajghatta to sit up and take notice in his TOI column(though for NRI-related reasons)

Word from box-office gurus in America is that KANK raked in USD 1.4 million over the weekend, beating the previous record of USD 1 million set in 2001 by Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, a similarly syrupy, low-brow, KJo effort
Which means Karan Johar is doing something right. Let me just tell audiences and critics alike - KANK may not be a Schindler's List but it's certainly no KA(LA)NK either.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Osian's Cinefan: Some afterthoughts

There's something to be said for officially reporting on a film festival. You can shush the pesky security guard with your snazzy media card and flash your Nokia 8210 in a no-mobile zone. Not to speak of the umpteen opportunities to get up, close and personal with the likes of Konkona Sen Sharma.

But I would rather be a 'regular' guy. The kind of person who waits patiently in line for a chance to get acquainted with the best of cinema. The kind of person who spends hours lounging in the hallowed interiors of Siri Fort Auditorium. The kind of person who...well, you get the idea.

The 8th Osian's-Cinefan film festival in New Delhi last month was no different. But with the added attraction of a plethora of premieres this time around.

I would have loved to laze around on the steps, taking in a surfeit of Asian cinema from dawn to dusk. But since I was 'covering' the film festival, I spent time balancing office shifts with press conferences and one-on-ones with the glitterati (or should I say the arty).

And lost out on the film-watching marathon.

But it wasn't a total loss. I did manage to catch 4.5 films in between. Among them was Naseer's directorial debut Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota - a film that managed to pack the auditorium like never before.

The others were NRI director Varun Khanna's American Blend, newbie filmmaker Ben Rekhi's LA thriller Waterborne and the Bangladeshi film Ontarjatra (Homeland).

And what of the film that I left midway? The festival's closing film - Jafar Panahi's much-feted Offside. No, I wasn't bored. I had to file the closing ceremony and awards story in record time. Sigh! The travails of a news agency journalist.

Among other highlights - Rituparno Ghosh speaking on why making a black-n-white Dosar was an experiment he was loath to repeat and of course Saudi Arabia's first ever feature film. Director Izidore Musallam was optimistic that Keif Alhal would be a trendsetter in the conservative Kingdom.

Guys I would like to switch places with

Jai Arjun aka Jabberwock and Nikhil Pahwa aka Mixed Bag. They seem to have spent forever at the film fest.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

But Head-Butt Kyon Kiya?

Well, we solved the mystery.

Matterazi asked Zidane -

"Hum Chlormint Kyu Khaate Hai?"

Update Some Chinese guy has gone and registered Zidane's notorious headbutt as a trademark. More here

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Aliens watched World Cup too

At least that's what The Times of India wants you to believe. Its July 11 editorial says that 32 billion people watched the 2006 World Cup.

Now, since the earth's population is only around six billion, I assume the daily conducted a survey in nearby galaxies and found that the 26 billion aliens on planets Zzor, Bimbor and Galifa were also ardent fans of the game.

That's not all. The editorial also talks about the record four red cards in the England-Portugal tie. Mr Know-nothing-about-the-World-Cup-and-still-writing-TOI-editorial should kindly take note that the four red cards were issued in the infamous Portugal-Netherlands match.

There might have been more bloopers in the piece but I was so disgusted I didn't bother to finish it. Wotsay?

Monday, July 10, 2006

My experiments with Orkut

You know you are obsessed with Orkut when you check it even before you check your email. Yes, I have become one of those orkutting weirdos.

The internet community website seems to be making a strong comeback with several people I know making a beeline for Orkut last month.

I first joined it a couple of years ago at a time when few in India had heard about it. In fact, I remember telling a friend about it and him thinking Orkut was some kind of fish.

Those were pioneering days for Orkut in India. Disheartened by the lack of enthusiasm for what was obviously such a brilliant idea, I quit. I soon forgot my username-password and Orkut became just a distant memory.

In February this year, persuaded by a friend, I rejoined Orkut. Things didn't work out again. Friends and acquaintances did not respond to my invites to join, thinking it would be a waste of time. The Orkut search did not turn up any long-lost schoolmates. I quit.

Things perked up only in June when a friend forced to me give Orkut a third and final try. I logged in with my Gmail id and Voila! It worked. Almost everyone I knew was finally online and I was actually getting scrapped.

Orkut in India was inundated with users in June, a fact which remains inexplicable. But I am not complaining. Go ahead, give Orkut a try. It really does work.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Am tagged again - Help!

Thanks for nothing SIB

I am thinking about how long it's been since I had a cup of coffee at Barista

I said... I think therefore I'm online

I want to... write a novel before I die. Seriously

I wish... Tumblers of Hot Chocolate Fudge were a dime a dozen

I miss... carefree days at IIMC, Delhi

I hear... John and Bipasha are breaking up over Mallika

I wonder... if girls are attracted to hunks or geniuses or a combo of both

I regret... not being a Hrithik Roshan lookalike

I am... going to kill SIB for tagging me

I dance... when no one's looking

I sing... in your dreams

I am not always... the nice guy I'm made out to be

I make with my hands... well, nothing. I can't lie too much, can I?

I write... a lot of stuff I shouldn't be writing

I confuse... Confucius and Confucianism

I should try... spending more time with my pet fish Oliver

I finish... packets of biscuits in 60 seconds

Now I punish Friendly Ghost, Jhansi ki Rani and One Fine Day by bestowing upon them this tag.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Paternal Instinct

I have inspired several friends and acquaintances over the past few years to try their hand at blogging. Some gave it up almost instantly while others have diligently stuck to it.

But my biggest achievement was getting somebody from my own family to take up this pastime. Yes, ladies and gentleman, please welcome my sixty-something just retired Dad to the blogosphere.

It's too early to say whether his blogging mania will last a day, a month or all eternity - which is why I am not allowed to publish his blog address here.

But be that as it may, I am proud of you, Dad. Which brings me to my next question - when are you getting Mom into the blogger fold?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Most embarrASSing moment

It's funny how school-leaving 'slam books' would invariably have a column on Most Embarrassing Moment.

Since we were on the verge of bidding farewell to people we might never see again, my classmates left it blank - some because they hadn't gone through an embarrassing moment and others (like me) because it would have been much more embarrassing to reveal it.

But were the same question asked of me today, I would answer it without hesitation. And since no one has bothered to quiz me yet, I decided to blog about my most embarrassing moment till date.

Which is -

Brushing my teeth with shaving cream

Now don't smile and shrug it off. This actually happened. And it wasn't even my tube of shaving cream.

The incident took place some years ago while I was doing my Masters in English from Hindu College. Some of us had gone down south for a leadership training camp in Kazipet (Andhra Pradesh) and clumsy nitwit that I was, I forgot to pack my toothpaste.

My roomie gave me permission to use his stuff and I proceeded to brush my teeth. Then almost puked.

T: What the hell is this stuff?
Roomie: You stupid ass! It's shaving cream
T: But...Bluh...Bluuuhhhhh
Roomie: It's written in big bold letters. How can anyone mistake shaving cream for toothpaste?
T: (grimace) The pack's the same colour as my toothpaste

Being the bosom friend he was, Roomie promptly went and informed everybody in camp. And for the remaining two days in Kazipet, I had to endure being called 'Shaving Cream' and listen to animated discussions on my unusual dietary habits.

I know what you are thinking - "This is nothing, there was a rip in my wedding dress" and of course Carol Gracias must be saying "I wish I had made that slippery buckle a bit more secure" but what can I do?

Nothing more embarrassing than the shaving cream incident has happened to me. And I will certainly tell you if anything happens in the future.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The dangers of being tech-challenged

Am in a very bad mood. Had been tinkering with my blog template two days ago when something happened - either the Blogger server went down or God knows what - but when it ended I found that half my template had disappeared.

Although I managed to salvage my posts and archives using what html stuff I could decipher from other blog templates, I lost all the links to my articles online that I had painstakingly collected over the past year to put up on the blog. That too after ranting about the lives of deskpersons in a media office.

I tried Google cache and web archives too but to no avail. I realised I have been relying on technology quite a great deal and how a small glitch can bring Toe Knee literally down to his knees.

Update: Things seem to be a bit okay now. I managed to painstakingly salvage a dozen individual links to my articles. Thank God for Google. As for the rest of the links, they are out there in the world wide web. Just you wait.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Canine Angel

Did I tell you about the army war exercises in Punjab that I covered last month? Anyway, after a hectic two-day interaction with tanks and troops and most importantly dirt and dust of every hue, our group of journalists reached Delhi at around 3 am.

In a scary no-taxi no-car scenario, I managed to get a lift from an NDTV reporter (Thank you - Randeep Singh Nandal) and he dropped me off at Khanpur crossing about 1.5 km from my pad. I started doing the best thing I could do to reach home - Walking.

It was at this point that a mangy dog with a limp appeared from nowhere and started trotting by my side. It wasn't as if this thin ragged-looking specimen, which looked nothing like the Hound of the Baskervilles, could pose any threat to my six-foot frame, but I started walking faster all the same. It was 4 am on a lonely stretch of road, so I guess you will understand.

(To deviate from the story, I had been bitten by a monkey at the age of ten and got a gazillion painful anti-rabies shots, including one in the bum, and have been morbidly scared of rabid canines and simians ever since)

But the dog managed to somehow keep up with me. I didn't have the heart to throw stones at it so I just crossed the road, divider and all, and resumed walking. To my surprise, pretty soon I heard it trotting beside me and a dreadful wheezing sound emanating from its mouth.

"Man, this dog is sick," I thought to myself and redoubled my efforts to outpace the dog. I tried crossing the road twice more but each time the dog successfully manouevred its way over the divider and crossed over to my side.

The funny thing is each stray dog has its territory marked out and this specimen by my side seemed like a newcomer in the area. Which explains why every 200 metres or so, a group of stray dogs would start barking and howling away at my canine companion, which would cringe and give off a few pitiful barks of its own before following in my footsteps.

I was just about to reach home and wondering how to get rid of the menace when stray dog group no 16 launched a fresh onslaught on my unwanted friend. Mangy Dog cowered under a nearby car before escaping on the other side.

At this point, I managed to give it the slip and rush inside my apartment gates. I watched as the dog, which had lost its bearings by then, tried to locate me and then trotted off in the wrong direction. I never saw it again.

Good riddance to unwanted companion, I thought. But when I reflect on the incident, I am kind of grateful to the dumb dog. Walking 1.5 km when you are dead tired and sleepy and carrying a heavy handbag is no fun. But I had been so engrossed in trying to escape Mangy Dog that I had covered the distance without even realising it.

Was the dog an angel in disguise? To make sure I reached my house safely. Maybe. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Conversation between Watt and William Knott

Someone emailed me the following conversation. I think it starts off fine but gets too contrived in the end. Wotsay?

The telephone rings. William Knott picks it up

"Who's calling?"


"What is your name, please?"

"Watt's my name"

"That's what I asked you. What's your name?"

"That's what I told you. Watt's my name"

A long pause - and then Watt tries again

"Is this James Brown?"

"No, this is Knott"

"Please tell me your name."

"Will Knott"

"Why not?"

"Huh? What do you mean why not?"

"Yeah! Why won't you tell me your name?"

"But I told you my name!"

"Didn't you say you will not?"

"Not not, knott, Will Knott!"

"That's what I mean"

"So you know my name"

"Of course not!"

"Good. So now, what is yours?"

"Watt. Yours?"

"Your name!"

"Watt's my name"

"How the hell do I know? I am asking you!"

"Look I have been very patient and I have told you my name and you have not even told me yours yet"

"You have been patient, what about me?"

"I have told you my name so many times and it is you who have not told me yours yet"

"Of course not!"

"See, you even know my name!"

"Of course not!"

"Then why do you keep saying of course Knott?"

"Because I don't"


"What is your name?"

"See, you know my name!"

"Of course not!"

"Then why do you keep saying Watt is your name"

"To find out your name!"

"But you already know it!"


"See, but you know mine!"

"Of course not!"


"Listen, listen, wait - if I asked you what your name is, what will be
your answer?"

"Watt's my name"

"No, no, give me only one word"


"Your name!"


Pause before it hits William Knott

"Oh, Wright!"


"So why didn't you say it before?"

"I told you so many times!"

"You never said Wright before"

"Of course I did"

"Ok I won't argue any more. Do you know my name?"

"I do not"

"Well, there you go, now we know each other's name"

"I do not!"


Pause before it hits Mr Watt

"Oh, Guud!"


"No wonder, it took me so long, is that Dutch?"

"No, it's Knott!"

"Oh, okay. At least the names are clear now Guud"

"Yes, Wright"

Any scope for continuing the conversation?

Monday, June 05, 2006

About girls who push their dads

My brother stunned me today with this absolutely disgusting specimen of a riddle (at least that's what he called it).

The Question: What do you call a girl who pushes her dad off a cliff?
The Answer: Pushpa

Ya, I know you guys want to murder me. Will let you know when I'm available.

Suicide Blues

Please, please don't take me seriously. Or at least too seriously. My post on being a disgruntled deskperson led to a lot of frantic calls. Guys, I am okay. Am not about to give up journalism or do something equally drastic.

I remember how one of my first blog posts also led to phone calls from worried friends and relatives. The topic - 'Ways to commit suicide'.

The post got me a phenomenal response from total strangers. Half of them tried to tell me how life is a beautiful gift and I should think happy thoughts while the other half - weirder still - wanted my advice on how to die and whether I could actually provide them some cyanide tablets. Excusez-moi but I do not wish to die. It was just a stupid blog post. See for yourself -

How do you want to die? Please, no morbid fascination with eschatology here, just insatiable curiosity. Which do you prefer - hanging, drowning, burning, cyanide... or the thousands of options of snuffing out God's gift of life?

Personally think burning to death is the worst possible way to die. All that skin flaking off and virtually boiling to death. Ugh! Being crushed to death in a torture chamber does come a close second. Watching the ceiling coming slowly but inexorably down to crush your cranium and bones to bits would take a lot of courage.

Drowning is bad too but only just - think of the discomfort as water wends its weary way down your lungs. Hanging - whenever our venerable Bollywood directors want to show somebody committing suicide, they invariably take recourse to the lethal noose. Is it easy? Or are you trying to emulate our martyrs?

Would you hire someone to batter you with an axe? You would have to, you know. It's never the same thing when you stab yourself with a knife or attempt to scrape your head off with an axe. Most likely you'll be left with a horrendous scar and the pain of living with it.

Or do you want to jump from one of the Nehru Place skyscrapers? You will know what it feels like to be free as a bird in the sky. For a few thrilling seconds, before you land with a thud on the concrete, splattering your entrails all along the sidewalk and bloodying the immaculate trousers of an innocent bystander.

On the flipside, taking potassium cyanide must surely be the easiest way to die. At least, you will be doing a service to mankind if you can just convey what it tastes like. Even qualify for a posthumous Nobel Prize.

Hey, I am no harassed docent explaining the concept of danse macabre. Just wanted to know how you would wanna die 'If' you had to?

They say, curiosity killed the cat. But in my case, I just don't care. What do you say?
The same thing happened with another of my blog posts two years ago. Why, why do people take me seriously? Can someone contemplating suicide actually write the following post -

I wonder how a proper suicide note should be written. Is it something people rehearse for hours on end or something they whip up on the spur of the moment?

Is it written like an Oscar award acceptance speech (I thank my wife, children and so forth) or like a post-it note on a refrigerator (I am tired of life. I quit).

How about a Booker Prize for suicide notes? Obviously, the recipients would all get it posthumously. Or we'll make sure attempted-and-unsuccessful-suicides are excluded from qualifying.

Should it be typed, handwritten or embossed in ink with a calligrapher's panache?

Should it be indited on paper, ancient parchment or the back of a used napkin?

Should it be a word (Death) or a ream or a 375-page novel?

What about style - dramatic, staid, artistic, modern, Shakespearian (To be or not to be - I have decided on the latter) or SMS.

Choices - why are there so many choices. And until I can figure out how to write my perfect little suicide note - I refuse to take my life.

The height of stupidity???

Illusionist David Copperfield is planning to go one better than rival David Blaine by impregnating a woman live onstage.

The magician will carry out the stunt in Germany, without - he insists - even touching the volunteer. Read more here

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A deskperson speaks

Being a deskperson sucks. We are the ones who toil away at the uncut stone of 'bad writing' and nurture it into the diamond of good newpaper reportage. We are the ones who deserve the byline, not Mr I-got-the-news who just gave us a couple of flashes from his news sources. After all, we are the ones who fashioned his crap into a full-fledged story.

I know you think this is the grouse of a deskperson who's just had a bad day at work. Maybe you are right. But don't you agree we should at least get some credit. And not remain some faceless entities in the background while Mr and Ms I-got-the-news soak up the adulation and adrenalin rush involved in hands-on news gathering.

I have a compromise formula. How about a double byline for news stories? Maybe Mr I-got-the-news and Mr I-made-it-into-a-story could share the limelight together. Isn't that a reasonable demand? But then who listens to a deskperson.

I am not complaining. I have had my share of reporting (the once-in-two-months-go-on-a-junket kinds) and the results are what you see on the right-hand side of this blog.

People often accuse me of looking for publicity by putting up stuff I have written on my blog. That may be true. But then, these 30-something stories are all that I have achieved in three years of journalism. Reporters notch up 300 bylines in the same timeframe apart from all the 'unbylined' stories they dish out.

Don't you agree? Anybody buying that 'double-byline' theory of mine?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Why it's okay to rape Indira Ishwarlal Thakur?

Fellow blogger Vulturo has quite a different take on the reservation issue -

Let me tell you a little story. It is a bit gruesome, but quite interesting nevertheless. And there is a moral too, in the end. If reading about the illtreatment of women and violence against them makes you feel funny in your intestines, then this post is definitely not for you.

There was this unbelievably beautiful girl, Indira Ishwardas Thakur (You could call her Ms IIT for the sake of convenience), who used to live in this pretty interesting locality called Indrakumar-Natwarlal-Durgadas International Avenue (you could call it INDIA, for the sake of convenience). INDIA was interesting because it was full of diversity. Read more here

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The ghost who likes music

Finally! One good reason why you shouldn't listen to Himesh Reshammiya songs. Read more here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Me a Pawnshop?

My spammer name is Robust I Pawnshop
Enter your name to get yours:

Sunday, May 28, 2006

'Poomphet' has me stumped

Journalist Chidanand Rajghatta's 'Indiaspora' column in the Sunday Times is usually a good place to find and learn new words. But this week's column had me stumped.

Elaborating on the scarcity of Indian nurses in the US, Chiddu writes that Indians do not hold nurses in high regard.

"While we poomphet endlessly about our emigrating geek army and doctors fantastic, I have never heard hosannas for the nursing brigade..."
Hello? What is 'poomphet'? Intrigued by this funny sounding word, I checked the Oxford English dictionary, I checked the Net, scoured Google and online dictionaries - in short, wasted precious minutes of my time. But 'poomphet' was nowhere to be found.

Perhaps it's a misprint. Or maybe Chiddu is just trying his hand at inventing new words a la Salman Rushdie. Perhaps the readers of this impromptu post about this one funny word might be able to suggest a solution. Any answers?

Friday, May 26, 2006

My choice the new American Idol

Yes! Taylor Hicks is the new American Idol. And why am I so happy? Coz he was my choice from Day 1.

In scores of talent hunts and similar programmes over the years, I invariably backed the loser but I hit the bulls eye this time around.

From the moment the mop-haired guy from Birmingham, Alabama walked into the American Idol audition room some months ago - I knew he was the one. And last night, the Soul singer won a closely fought finale with the very beautiful Katherine McPhee. Whooppee!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tony Tattle

What is so inscrutable about the name Tony? Why do people invariably roll their eyes in disbelief when I introduce myself. Is your real name Antony, they ask. No, it's not! It's plain and simple Tony. Nothing more, nothing less.

Haven't they ever heard of British PM Tony Blair, cricketer Tony Greig, television character Tony Soprano and the like. What about the Tony awards, eh?

For God's sake, even the new White House Press Secretary is a certain Tony Snow. Our desi Jassi was the brainchild of television producer Tony Singh. Not to mention the innumerable other Tony Singhs wandering around in the wheat fields of Punjab. And don't you dare forget that the gun used in the Jessica Lall murder case was found in the house of a certain Tony in Chandigarh.

Granted that Christians are a minority in India but I have never heard of anyone getting flabbergasted by the presence of a Michael or a George in the workplace. Then why this fixation with Tony.

And it's not even a rare moniker. In school, there was another Tony in the same class and teachers usually got flummoxed when both Tonys responded to their bidding.

But somehow when I moved on to college and the workplace, people didn't take too kindly to my name. They would inevitably cup their ears to make sure they heard it right. Tony? It was almost as if they felt they could deal better with a Sony, Ronny or even a Dony.

Their next question - what does Tony mean? In the great Indian tradition, every name has to mean something and I am usually ashamed to admit mine doesn't stand for anything. But I never fail to point out that in the English lexicon, tony as an adjective stands for someone stylish, fashionable or elegant.

Not that I am claiming anything by that but Tony is certainly a better appellation than my dad's name John which has various unpleasant connotations - a toilet, a prostitute's customer and an elongated piece of underwear.

Now that you have patiently listened to or rather read my harangue, let me clarify that Tony is indeed derived from the name Anthony or Antony. And that my parents named me after my maternal grandfather.

Why maternal? Well, it seems that to do his bit for India's population crisis, my dad wanted to limit the number of his offspring to ONE. When I was born, Dad gave Mom the privilege of naming me after her father.

But three years later, when my obnoxious brother appeared on the planet, Dad gave the new born babe the moniker Jose to honour my paternal grandfather Joseph.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Dad had stuck to hierarchy when it came to naming unsuspecting babies after their grandfathers. I would have been named Jose and my brother would be Tony instead.

Nah! I like Tony much better. Jose is such a common name in South India. In fact, if you throw a stone in Kerala, you can be pretty certain about it landing on a person named Jose, or someone having a friend or a sibling named Jose. Now just don't start throwing stones at me.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Laptop-wanna Blues

As I continue harping on the need to get myself a snazzy new laptop, I must tell you what one my distant cousins Robins Tharakan went through. Better still, go read it yourself. He's posted all about his traumatic experience (with a new Dell machine) on his blog here.

Looks like I would need to do a lot of soul-searching before I get hoist by my own laptop.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Of siblings with football injuries

My brother has gone right ahead and destroyed his toe nail. Well, not deliberately. It seems he was playing football with no boots on when the incident occurred.

Being the blockhead that he is, he didn't pay much attention to it till this morning - by which time the semi-detached nail had assumed the proportions of a lightbulb, what with all the pus accumulated under it.

The poor dude had to endure what he termed "the worst ever experience of his life" when the doctor literally tweezered out the toe nail and all the attached pus. Now, he walks around with a bandaged toe and a wistful expression.

I bet he's having second thoughts about playing football without appropriate footwear. Wotsay?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Whew! Indian Idol 2 is over

Indian Idol 2 is finally over with Sandeep Acharya crowned the country's latest pop star. Anchors Aman Verma and Mini Mathur hemmed and hawed and stretched the finale to two whole hours, and announced the winner just when I had decided to beat them into a pulp the next time I meet them (which is never, I hope).

I feel bad for runner-up N C Karunya though - he's still said to be the more talented of the two.

The contest also brought out the SMS-devil in my parents. Believe it or not! More than 25 of the votes that went Karunya's way came in from my Dad. Karunya also has to thank my Mom for supporting him, although for far lesser SMSes.

Now, if only more of my kin had been SMS-friendly or simply cared about talent contests, Sandeep wouldn't have stood a chance.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Google Romance

The day even Google turned matchmaker. Check it out.

And sorry for the hideous amount of white space.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In case you were wondering...

In case you were wondering whether Toe Knee had left this planet after his last post, you are half right. Yours truly is having major computer problems at home and very rarely am I able to blog surreptitiously from the office.

In case you are also wondering why I keep whining about my ancient computer and how it's high time I got myself a laptop, Yes! I totally agree with you.

In fact, my Dad's promised me a laptop, and although I am trying to speed up the process, I am confident of wheedling it out from him by June 2006.

Till then, please bear with me and although I sometimes wonder whether I have more than 2 assorted readers, let me remind each of them personally that blogging remains a priority for me and I will be posting something on some mundane subject as soon as possible.

By the way, I finally read C S Lewis' first Narnia adventure - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I had never attempted any of his books as a child but when the flick was released in India recently, I thought it was time I read the classic. To my surprise, found lots of Biblical references as well.

Friday, March 24, 2006

American vs Indian Idol Part 2

Young Kevin Covais is out of American Idol. Not that he was one of my favourites, but I kind of admired his confidence at such a young age.

Thank God! Taylor Hicks is still in competition. But Lisa Tucker may have to do something now - she's figured in the Bottom 3 for the second show in a row. Is this a sign?

As for Indian Idol, organisers are doing all that they can to generate even higher TRP ratings. Now the three that are left in the race to succeed whatshisname Sawant - N C Karunya, Sandeep Acharya and Anuj Sharma - will be enthralling audiences at concerts in New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Lucknow. Looks like it's going to be a long, long affair.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

How to get Men to Shoot Straight

Here comes the klokicker: the football-urinal-sieve. What's that, you ask? It's a green plastic inset for a urinal, with a football goal installed on top.

A football dangles in front of the goal. The accuracy the male guests are capable of is now on the line and they have to kick the ball into the goal.

Bull's eye! And the ball changes colour. A lot of fun for top goal scorers!

Ideal for:
Football clubs, Stadiums, Bars, Beer gardens and many others.

Courtesy: Zigzackly

Saturday, March 18, 2006

American vs Indian Idol

Yup! People are surprised to know that I prefer watching American Idol rather than the more popular Indian Idol series.

Unfortunately, the popularity of Indian Idol hinges on melodrama and thrills, rather than actual singing. In a recent episode, the judges walked out after the people of India allegedly committed a crime by voting out a much more talented singer.

Chaos prevailed for some time - helping to jazz up TV ratings - before the singer himself refused to allow a rematch, declaring that he had "accepted" the verdict of the people and destiny. Talk about TV magic.

On the much more staid American Idol show, I am kinda rooting for Taylor Hicks. If he's voted out, my next best bet would probably be Katherine McPhee and Paris Bennett.

I even started a blog on its official website although I haven't updated it. You can read it here.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Mother, son and hair

Conversation between mother and son at mealtime -

Me: Why don't you try Garnier Multi-Lights for your hair?
Mom: At least, I have hair. Even if it's grey.

Ouch! Mom sure got back at me with that one. References to my receding hairline do not find me in the best of moods. And in case, you were wondering - I was just telling Mom to try out something new for her birthday.

Happy Birthday Mom. That barb is forgiven...for today.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Inside the President's bachelor pad

Well, one can certainly visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan if one has the right connections. My mom knows one of the President's men and last Friday we (mom, dad, moi) ended up visiting Dr Kalam's residence.

The scientist-president was in Myanmar at the time - a blessing in disguise as security personnel didn't pay too much attention to us except for the usual metal detector rigmarole.

A man took us on a guided tour of a few of the 350 rooms the gigantic mansion contains - statues galore, carpeted walkways - making sure we appreciated every inch of its regal splendour.

"Someone broke the original chandelier in the Durbar Hall. This one's a replacement," our guide tells us in an aside.

The museum, full of marble busts and portraits and gifts, was a special delight and so was the view of the Mughal Gardens from inside the President's dining hall.

Our docent even demonstrated the system of three buttons used for ceremonial dinners - to signal the end of a course, time to clear up and ...I forget what the third one was for.

We visit the Children's Gallery (a new addition mooted by Kalam himself) and get a 3D sketch of ourselves. We even stopped for tea in a room in the Guest Wing (I am a tea-hater myself but even I couldn't resist drinking some Presidential Tea)

I wish I could be President - if only to be master of Rashtrapati Bhavan, a mini-city in itself. For God's sake! The place even has its own cinema theatre. Knowing Kalam, I wouldn't be too surprised if he's hiding a laboratory somewhere in the basement.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Cesar Y Zain

Surprise! Surprise! I drop in at the ongoing Spanish Film Festival in New Delhi today and find an India-centric film being screened. Can't believe my luck.

Larry Levene's 2003 masterpiece Cesar Y Zain (Cesar and Zain) is not a feature film in the conventional sense - it has running commentary and video clips of Bush, the war on Iraq and how Islam is being perceived as a threat by the West.

But it is also a film documenting a poignant cultural and religious exchange. Two young men - Cesar from Madrid and Zain from Delhi - become internet pals thanks to a common love for chess. The two friends evince interest in each other's cultures and decide to switch families for six weeks.

The Roman Catholic (although not practising) Cesar settles in with Zain's Muslim family in the backlanes of Chandni Chowk while Zain travels to Madrid to meet Cesar's kin. Interestingly, the two young protagonists never meet in person before the exchange.

The documentary - Yes! It is one...Although never for a second as boring as conventional documentaries - goes on to record the youths' experiences in their respective milieux.

Cesar records on his camcorder a harrowing picture of life in Old Delhi - a dead cow blocking traffic, lepers at the Nizamuddin shrine, abject poverty and over- population. Director Levene, who was also present at the screening, came in for criticism from one disgruntled viewer.

"India has progressed so much. And yet you chose to depict its poverty. Why wasn't Cesar exposed to other parts of Delhi?" the lady said.

Indeed, there were pleasant images too. An insight into the Muslim way of life, of kids flying kites on rooftops, of street children breaking out into smiles on sighting the camera (prompting Cesar to comment they are the happiest people he has ever met), of Kirori Mal students waxing forth on politics and Iraq.

Meanwhile in Madrid, Zain is shocked by life in Spain. Pre-marital sex, marijuana at club parties and gay pride parades come as a huge culture shock for the 23-year-old Muslim. He is particularly disgusted by the way "loving" parents are soon relegated to old-age homes in Spain.

He questions Cesar's friends on these issues and they in turn debate the practice of arranged marriage in India. It's not as if Zain is uncomfortable - he learns to love the freedom enjoyed by young people in Spain.

Other topics discussed by Cesar and Zain - spicy food, Indian-style toilets, how Muslims can't eat certain varieties of meat, education of women, couples holding hands inside protected monuments, oil crisis in the West. Indeed, director Levene has a humourous take on every conceivable issue.

The six weeks fly by quickly and soon it's time for the two friends to return to their respective homes. It's an emotional farewell for both Cesar and Zain - who find it hard to leave their second homes.
Dealing as it did with a politically incorrect subject, the film did raise some hackles at the post-film Q and A session. Some members of the audience did not take too kindly to the fact that the "heart of India" - Old Delhi - is described as a Muslim area.

"India is a Hindu country," one vociferous woman proclaimed, only to be booed by other members of the audience.

"Why couldn't have Zain been from Pakistan instead?" one viewer - a filmmaker himself - queried. "The movie is biased."

Fat chance - considering the movie is based on real-life incidents and real-life protagonists.

Before Levene, who was clearly uncomfortable by now, could answer - the session degenerated into a debate between sections of the audience.

Guys, it's only a film. It's an interpretation - not Gospel truth. I leave. Disgusted.

P.S. But even I couldn't forgive Levene this. The narrator in Cesar Y Zane describes Bollywood films as being made in Hindustani - a mixture of Hindu and Urdu.

Librarian Liberated

Am currently reading The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken - the story of a spinster librarian falling in love with an eight-foot tall teenager suffering from congenital gigantism. The novel is a scintillating read on this unusual romance, as seen from the perspective of protagonist Peggy Cort.

But for some reason, it set me thinking about my visits to the library. I wonder if I have ever spoken to the person at the desk other than for paying late fines (inevitably!) or asking permission to cut out articles from the newspaper.

I am sure librarians are 'normal' people too - with similar thoughts, wishes, desires. What goes on in their minds as they go about their daily tasks - almost always with a stack of books in hand. When patrons check out with books, does the librarian form a mental picture of him depending on the kind of novels he reads. Hmmm. Interesting...

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