Friday, December 26, 2008

Can’t get there from here

Indian roads are more fatal than bomb blasts and AK47s. They are disorderly and chaotic. The red signal is just a fucking joke – that’s what most of us feel…
Whoever tells you that India is ‘shinning’, that it’ll be a superpower by 2030 or whatever year is a fucking liar.

How can it be a superpower? On what basis? The bloody GDP and FDI? I don’t care about them, no sir! Give me a good road to walk on and some public transportation first. Fuck the Indian cricket. I don’t care if we loose every single match henceforth or Sachin gets out on 99 till he retires, I simply don’t give a fuck! Those are the least important things in our country’s context.

We need real growth. We need mobilization of funds and people, of minds and acts, to put the people first. The one billion people are expecting some basics in their lives from the government. And those expectations have been there for ages now. Don’t sell us the story of a shinning India for there exists none. The multi-millions of poor have always been in the rear view, much closer than they appear. But we have been ignoring all of them…I say we since it is not some alien superpower or our very ‘friendly’ neighbors that have caused the exploitation of our masses. It’s been us all along the way. We have shunted our own growth. We, who don’t pay taxes, we who break the signal everyday, we who bribe as per our convenience and then close our eyes and shout in protest, we who realize only after a dozen and more cops die from the 7.62 mm Kalashnikov bullets that ‘OH! They did not have good enough bullet proof vests’. You fucking morons, it took you a bunch of brave hearts cops’ death to realize that???

And in argument, some fuckhead will tell me – why don’t you do something then?? Go join the Army. I’ll say this – Firstly, I’m doing what I want to do, and then, I do what is expected of me – I pay my taxes, I stop at the red light (before the zebra crossing), I don’t bribe. I expect or rather DEMAND, that the government I have elected do its job. And more than that, I expect the fellow Indians to do their duty. Don’t be a filthy hypocrite bunch, yelling abuses at the traffic cop while your million rupee vehicle mows down people on the road. Change. Change yourself.

We have reached here without any planning. This country is an accident. The causalities have been low, but they are increasing. We are growing, but that’s inflation. The cities have no roads, but the fucking builders are producing bastard malls by raping the earth. Where are the roads? The road that was 10m wide 10 years back is still 10m wide – the traffic- that’s 10 folds…and now there is a five story mall by the roadside, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Which country worth its soil has this??

The list is endless – millions without sanitation, electricity, EDUCATION! I sound like an everyday chest beater who cries his country’s follies and then snuggles up in his warm bed and blanket at night, forgetting everything. But lately, it’s been tough having a sound sleep. It’s a point blanc life we live these days. It better get settled down and WE need to ensure it does so.

Change is very important. Even a promise of it made someone the President and an election campaign probably the most successful in that country’s history. Well, I don’t see an Obama in India’s future. What we do have is us – a billion Obamas. We are everywhere. We are the ones who run the civil services, the hospitals, the courts, the schools, the farms, the buses - everywhere, everything. We need to change. No other way will do.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wes Anderson’s characters

Wes Anderson’s movies are about people who are almost total nutcases.

His world is full of people who want to be loved but don’t care about others, who have lost someone even before he or she is dead, who are not sure if the person they love loves them back, who try suicide but not enough so that they’ll die….nutcases, in a way.

The characters all are a bit cartoon-like. They wear the same cloths and same hairstyle when they are 12 and when they are 30 – the jumpsuits worn by Ben Stiller and his sons’ characters in The Tenenbaums is a prime example. I think he uses it primarily to show that these people have not grown up – but then isn’t it a too literal representation? The humour in his movies is quite subtle (and the dialogues work on multitude of levels), but because of the humour, the audience may not be really emphatic about the plight of the characters. So it is not a full blown comedy, and it is not a drama, it is something in between – it is becomes quite lukewarm in the process.

Probably there is sarcasm that I can’t read and a lot irony as well. There is the portrayal of a slice of personalities that if you met otherwise if real life, you will certainly be wary of, for they will stand out in a crowd and their presence around you will make you quite uncomfortable. His movies are not about regular folks, they are about folks who want to be regular, want a regular, normal (in their own definition) life.

The last movie I watched was Rushmore. It is a good movie – acting is fine, the story isn’t too bad (a little dragging at times); the same thing could be said about The Darjeeling Limited, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life aquatic….but I fail to really care for the characters – they are all hurt in some way, their family is broken (most of the times), they fall for women whom they can’t have etc….but still, by the end of the movie, I really don’t care which way the fate swings for them.

The movie that stands out is Bottle Rocket. First few minutes into the movie and I was totally engrossed into the lives of the two lead characters, played by the Wilson brothers (Owen Wilson’s debut role). This is the most moving film Anderson has ever made. The movie revolves around two friends who are small time thieves with big dreams; one of them just out of a rehab for breakdown, played by Luke Wilson. He is the more sensitive one, and you wonder why did he have to go the rehab in the first place.

You do wonder Dignan, played by Owen Wilson, needs some help! He is spot on as the bumbling, hyper active type who has big dreams…no matter if they involve robbing book stores and cold storage units! He plays a similar character in The Royal Tenenbaums, who ultimately needs some psychiatric help to get over his troubles. His character reminds me of some kids in my school. These were the boys that got into trouble with teachers all the time. They were friends with some kids who were way older and weirder. These were the kids who bunked school mid-day to go play or did it just for the heck of it. When you talked with them, they were a little less coherent in their thoughts but not dumb. They were the unpredictables.

Owen Wilson plays it to perfection. He is almost adorable in that role.

The more subdued part of the group is Luke Wilson’s character –his character symbolizes the directionlessness in life, and the effort to find that missing direction; he falls in love with a room service girl at a motel, and that is when he realizes he has found something to hold on to.

Unlike the other Anderson movies, I cared for what happens to these guys in the end, partly because unlike his other movies, the cast is smaller. There isn’t an ensemble of characters like in the Tenenbaums or Life Aquatic. Which also means the story is more focused compared to other movie, and you are not made to watch through a microscope the slide show of clashing personalities in great numbers.

The quest for spirituality in The Darjeeling Ltd was too lame. Being an Indian, I really don’t get that impressed when someone from outside tries to make it a theme in his movie. But it worked well in the US. It did move people (I guess). I failed to understand why someone would come to India, when they need to look within. There is a lot of symbolism in this movie, although not everyone is going to get it. I did not. I was left with this half empty, half full feeling after watched the move. While I enjoyed the train journey with the three brothers across my country, it failed to move me.

His movies are interesting, and he has his own unique style (with all those slow-motions – almost Bollywoodisque!). They put me in a kind of confused mode – I liked The Royal Tenenbaums, but I’m not sure if I give a damn about any of them? Why so?

When a movie does make you think – ‘why are you not thinking about the fate of the characters?’ ,does it mean that the movie is working??

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There is no Sun here!

After you take a right turn in front of the Bishop’s Co Ed in Kalyani nagar, you enter a very narrow lane. This is the beginning of the ‘mega’ road that leads you to the so called ‘Sun City’ by the Bramha Builders in Pune.

There are about 3 blind turns (90 degrees sharp) along the way…oh and it gets better…this is also the PMT route. So when the bus, which is wider than the paved tar road, enters this stretch, it sends a cold shiver down the spine of every biker and car-wala (more so in the later case)…say goodbye to atleast 45 minutes if you are at the far opposite end of road, either on left or right!

So you somehow manage to reach the place (by the way there is another way in, from Nagar road, but it is only convenient if you are NOT coming from Kalyani nagar or KP; and to use it, you have to get to Nagar road first, a travesty in itself), you come inside and go park and go to the entrance lobby.

Wait wait wait…let me go back to the entrance again…supposedly Asia’s largest gate…so you enter after feeling like your life’s goal has been achieved, you will be greeted by some well landscaped greenery, which is quite well done.

You get to the desired building and to the lobby. You see two KONE lifts, but only one is active. You wonder why:

If you stay on the 7th or 8th floor, then do not dare leave for office between 9 and 9:30 in the morning. Why, the only available lift is being used by the garbage collectors! Yes, and they will keep it busy for atleast 30-45 minutes, everyday.

That’s not all that’s phony about this place. There is one security guard in two buildings. So your security is really compromised. The area is open to one side due to ongoing construction from which anyone can enter.
There are heavy vehicles which use the same internal roads used buy all the residents and children as well. It’s a pain to be awakened by noisy trucks on Sunday mornings.

There is no space between two buildings. You can’t tell where one building starts and where it merges into the next one (this is the layout of choice for an increasing number of housing projects in Pune. A modern chawl system…it is disgusting I tell you!).
All the buildings are atleast 8-9 stories high. So when you are standing on the tarmac below, it’s am imposing concreter jungle.

Since the buildings are built like Siamese twins, there is no privacy left – sounds, smells, light – everything is free flowing. Unless you have a corner flat, your apartment is only open on one side, that too only enough open in one balcony - so very meager sun light and wind in you room.

This was one of the most hyped projects when it was launched in Pune, with Katrina Kaif as brand ambassador. It fails to deliver on a lot of points. Having stayed in Magarpatta City before moving here, I felt even more strongly against the short comings. Magarpatta is so well managed in all the regards. It is the only township in Pune which should be allowed to add ‘City’ in the name. Here, the garbage collectors just dump all the litter from the buildings right in the parking lot! So it’s a feast for the stray dogs. (I dare not call them stray, for they live here more than I do, if you count the hours!) . In Magarpatta, the garbage was directly put in a tractor that arrived at the same time as the garbage collectors, so all the garbage was out of the building within half an hour.

The lifts are ill maintained, apart from only one being active, as I’ve already mentioned:

Instead of using bolts and screws, we see insulation tape - What an idea!

And it does…oops!

No one should buy or rent out (like I am) a place here. Even if one overlooks all these things, the major drawback is the approach road, there is none that’s big enough – a road from Adlabs was to be ready last year which would have directly come till the entrance – there are no signs of that happening anytime soon…So find a better place to enjoy the Sun!