Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dhoom 2 proves the sequel theory

Well first of all let me tell you that the sequel theory is. As per the sequel theory (just gave a name to a universally known fact), the sequel cannot be as good as the first part and infact in most cases, is quite useless.

Dhoom 2 falls in the latter category (for the lesser brained mortals (LBMs) or DUHs, if you will...the 'useless' category).

My reco...wait for the cd/dvd...and go watch THE DEPARTED if you still havent and if its still on somewhere...If you still want to read about Dhoom ...go ahead...

You pick up an okay sort of storyline with some twists (which dont fool anyone mind you, and are easily guessed even by the LBMs mentioned above), pick up some of the hottest/biggest names in the industry, add some foreign locations, fancy bikes (which seem to be there just to continue the legacy of Dhoom whilst not serving much purpose), and throw out all the laws of gravity and you have DHOOM 2.

So when you go for such a movie, its a given that you leave your thinking caps behind (no offence to the LBMs). What you expect is some decent timepass along with some typical bollywood masala thrown in, which is supposed to keep you engaged...However it fails even in doing that especially in the second half (in the first half you are still making up your mind about how the movie is gonna turn out).

Ok with all those criticisms let me add a positive too. The stunts and special effects are quite decent (ofcourse you will have to forget that you ever studied physics or that newton ever saw that apple fall).

But there is a serious lack of continuation or of the most basic explanation of how something happened.
One minute the thiefs (Hrithik and Aish) have escaped and the police have no clue where they went, the next minute our thieves are on a bike with the police helicoptor following. This was just there to add in a fancy bike chase sequence. Doesnt help the movie at all.

The second half, as I mentioned earlier, is quite boring (atleast the first half has a decent pace) and is filled with some unremarkable, situation-less songs. The ending fairly predictable (and they thought they were adding a brilliant twist).

Uday Chopra seems to be getting into a habit of doing roles where he has to drool like a dog everytime he sees a woman (Neil & Nikki)...however, he does add some comic relief to the movie.

BTW if someone does figure out the pattern of dates that AB discovers quite brilliantly do leave a comment (I definitely did not get it)...and also how u get to retain ur job as ACP mumbai police when u have just spent the last six months somewhere in fiji islands (its not like you are an undercover FBI agent -which reminds me again...if you have reached till here...go watch 'THE DEPARTED')..

I could go on and on about numerous other things in the movie which make no sense, but you already got the idea I guess.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My first (and probably only) short story...

The Toll Collector

It was one of those cloudy nights with a biting chill in the air. Pitch dark. Walking to work at 1 am might be considered odd, but for the toll collector it is the time when his shift starts. He has been doing this for 3 years and despite being given the option of switching to a sane hour, he chooses the night shift because of the insomnia.

He hasn’t been able to sleep at night ever since he came back to an empty house that fateful Friday night. No it wasn’t Friday the thirteenth, yet it was the strangest night of his life. They never did find his wife and his daughter. Not a thing was touched in the house; the door was locked from inside, all windows closed, no sign of forced entry or theft, and no note saying goodbye. Yet they were gone. Vanished. So he had decided he never wanted to come back home at night. There was something so scary about the eerie silence of that empty house that night, that he had booked himself into a motel for 4 days. And even then he could only come back, because he was out of money and there was no other place to go.

He still hadn’t gotten used to the emptiness, but had somehow accepted its presence like an entity that’s always with him even in a crowded street or the toll booth filled with four people when it’s meant for only two. But he goes on living his life. A life with no purpose, except that of being alive; for what reason, he cannot fathom. He only knows he can’t end it, not because he is afraid to die, but because he unconsciously still believes that they will come back. And then the silence, the emptiness will go away.

Now, walking towards the highway, through the dark empty streets, he could almost hear the silence breathing on his neck. And then he heard it. In the middle of the murky gloom, “Frank…..Frank”. He didn’t feel scared; he had nothing left to fear. Yet it was strange for two reasons; first, the voice, which was almost a child-like whisper, seemed to be coming from nowhere and everywhere at the same time, and second, his name wasn’t even Frank. Had the spirits of darkness, as he pictured them, mistaken him for someone else. Because, there was no one else in the streets as far as he could see, to whom this voice could be calling out to. And it definitely was calling out to someone. Maybe it was some supernal conversation he was hearing. Maybe the silence was getting to him. But he was sure he had heard it and not imagined it. Since there was nothing else to do, he didn’t even know which direction to call out and ask who it is this voice was looking for, so he decided to continue on his way.

On reaching the highway, he waited for someone to give him a ride till the toll booth as was his usual practice. It usually was a truck that he managed to get a ride in at this time of the night. And so he waited. It was taking longer than usual for any vehicle to come along. He must have drifted off somewhere in his mind, because the next thing he knew was that a truck had stopped in front of him with the passenger door open. It was a guy he knew. Used to pass his toll booth every other week and provided those couple of minutes of interesting conversation and gossip during an otherwise mundane shift.

“You okay man? You looked completely out of it standing there on the curb. One suggestion though; wave, if you are looking for a ride. Now get in, it’s chilly out there tonight.”

“Thanks. Don’t know what happened. Sure is a strange night this.”

He tried to recollect, what it was that he had been thinking standing there. Nothing at all came to mind. Not even a recollection of how long had he been standing there. It must have been close to 15 minutes, he guessed looking at the time, and yet it felt like he had just reached there.

And so his shift started. Another night in the toll booth; atleast he wouldn’t be home. A few cars and trucks passed through within the next two hours. Some he had seen before, while others he hadn’t. The new ones always gave him a breath of fresh air. A new face to say hello to. He liked to guess what these people were doing on the road at this time of the night.

The young musician coming from some club where he performs to stay afloat, the doctor who got late yet again because of some emergency, the undertaker coming from the morgue after embalming someone for the early morning funeral, the old man going to some cheesy motel room with the hooker he picked up on the way back from work, the two patrolmen doing their rounds.

No one drove through for the next half an hour, and he started thinking. About the whisper on the street, the lost fifteen minutes which he couldn’t recall. His reverie was broken by a knocking on his booth window. It jolted him into consciousness because it wasn’t supposed to be happening. No one ever knocked on the window. There never was anyone to knock on it. Yet there he was; tall, extremely thin, a shallow complexion and steely grey eyes, which pierced right through him. He was wearing a cream colour blazer and looked to be in his late thirties, probably touching forty.

The man knocked again because the toll collector was still staring at him with an incredulous expression. It took the toll collector a few seconds to realise why he was so shocked. There he was, this man, standing outside his booth, without a vehicle in the vicinity. And there was nothing for miles on either side of the toll booth. He seemed to have come from nowhere and looked to be in a frantic state of despair and stress.

The toll collector finally realised he should say something. “Hello….er…..can I help you?”

“I’ve had an accident a couple of miles down the road, and my daughter is still stuck in the car. I think she is unconscious. Can you call for help? I don’t know how I could do this to her. Please…please help us.” He was almost choking on his tears, but tried to maintain his composure.

“Yes yes, I got a radio here. I will call for an ambulance. Now it will probably take some time for them to get here, so I will go and try to help your daughter. You wait here for the ambulance and bring them to your car, soon as they arrive here. And try to relax, you don’t look so good. It’s going to be okay.”

The toll collector rushed out of his booth leaving the man behind. He ran like he had run that night from his to house to his garage, to the basement, to the garden and to every neighbour’s house to look for them.

He finally spotted the broken railing on the curb. The car had driven off somewhere in the bushes. He was just looking for it when the cloud cover broke for a split second, and he spotted the red sedan in the pre dawn twilight. The car’s bonnet had smashed into a tree and almost every window was shattered, the chassis completely out of shape. He rushed over, expecting the worst. But what he saw chilled him to the bone. There he was, the man in the cream blazer, his head an ugly shape, slumped forward in his seat. The toll keeper didn’t need to check whether he was alive. He already knew the answer to that.

He finally saw the baby girl, still strapped in her car seat in the back. He opened the rear door, and carefully checked the girls pulse and breathing. Yes, she would live. He saw the dead man's wallet on the passenger seat. His name was Frank Goodman.

He could hear the ambulance approaching.

The sun came up as he carried her back to the highway. It was going to be a new daylight.

"Use dipper"

I am sure most of you must have seen the road sign, "Use dipper at night".
Now lets analyse this a little. First of all, I hope everyone here understands the fact that dipper can only be used if you have your headlights on. With that fact in place, the question is, why does it have to specified that dipper is to be used at night?
Unless you are in a Scandinevian country (where its compulsory to keep your headlights on even during the day because of the fog), or theres a solar eclipse, we can safely assume that most of us, who have the tiniest bit of common sense would not be driving around with our headlights on during the day.
Hence, wouldnt just "Use dipper" serve the purpose. Just think of the economic implications if this was how it had been written in the first place.
Half the paint, half the no. of manhours, smaller board. All this saving multiplied by the number of such boards in the country. Got to amount to something. Like one meal for someone?
Comments welcome.
PS: btw I hate people who drive with high beam even if theres oncoming traffic.

The biking adventure to Leh...

Had written this travel log as a mail to my friends before I started this blog. Posting it here now. Dont think half of them read this humongous mail, but do go through if you want to know about biking to Leh.

  • 2nd june 8 PM ....bus from ISBT to manali...the gang comprised of 8 ppl (me, khera, pb and ankit mahajan from mdi and 4 frenz of khera)they were quite thoughtful to bring some premixed rum and coke....3-4 swigs each helped us sleep quite nicely on the otherwise very long journey (16 hrs)...had dinner at some dhaba on the way...

  • - 3rd June: 12 PMlanded in pleasantly cold....took a sumo and searched for a hotel...and on the way stopped at a shop to arrange for BIKES (BULLLLLLEETTSS) ...hogged at the hotel...discussed the route and possible distances we could cover in a day (total of 485 kms to leh) ...khera had printouts of an excel sheet he had sent us earlier which contained places on the way and distances etc....:)) ....went shopping for gloves etc...found a nice rooftop cafe and had coffee about 7 went to get the bikes...which we eventually got at 12 at nite (thats wen we should've realised that this guy is not reliable but well he was the only one who had bikes available)..inbetween shopped for stuff we would need on the way...ropes, waterproof sacks etc...and CONDOMS...before u presume anything...someone had come up with the brilliant idea of using them to keep our cameras, mobiles and ipods in case of pb and khera went and bought some....and PB goes and asks large ones (not knowing that there are no sizes :))...but the best part was when in the middle of the market we are having this discussion whether they are lubricated or not coz then they wouldnt be quite as handy to store then pb went and asked if there are any non lubricated ones available... .and they werent.....this was by far the wackiest moment of the trip i think....tired of reading yet?? 7 more days to go:))

  • 4th June: early morning (very early)woke up at 6 and had tea coffee etc....packed up...tied our stuff on the bikes (4 bullets and 2 yamahas)...finally started by around 8....had covered barely 10 kms when the signs of first trouble appeared.... one bike refused to start...called the mechanic who fixed the bike .....another 10 odd kms and we decided that atleast a couple of these bikes wont be getting to leh....went back to the shop replaced a yamaha with another others checked up....finally managed to start by 130 pm types with 5 bullets and a yamaha....reached rohtang pass (51kms) and an altitude of 13050 feet...which is quite high compared to ur regular hill stations but nothing compared to where we are gng....theres quite a lot of snow here but because of the commercialisation is quite dirty as now then the bikes add to the adventure and two of them are giving trouble of them stuck about 2 kms we had lots of group discussions about what to do....finally khera and another guy went back to manali in a sumo...after calling the bikewala to pick up his bikes from there and arrange for another bike...the rest of us had to move on to the next village of any consequence and where we could find a place to was almost was getting bad....with moments when the clouds covered the entire terrain with 0 visibility.. ..but the clouds disappeared as soon as we left rohtang..... covered the 30 odd kilometers of really really bad terrain ...with water streams flowing on the road (if u can call it that) with our headlights showing us the way....thankfully it was all downhill.... ... reached this village called khoksar and found hp tourism guest house.....but only a dorm was available at 15 rs per bed......the sheets and pillows were so dirty we kept on our jackets with hoods while sleeping.... and there were two other ppl in the dorm who were some drivers so we kept our mobiles, wallets and cameras close enough to lead to a very uncomfortable sleeping posture..... there were no PCOs in the place and only bsnl mobile signal....which none of us had to use the mobile of the shopkeeper where we had dinner...(dont ask what was for from hereon is of no consequence coz after an entire day of riding a bike everything tastes really good...but u still dont eat too much coz u dont know where u'll be able to find a decent enough loo :)))

  • 5th June: early morning again...started off without a shower or even changing clothes (u dont use the loos in a dorm in a village which starts and finishes within 50 meters of a straght road)....... .we didnt take a shower so nature decided to give us one with some mild rain as we is when we started noticing the far theres greenery and some water bodies down below from the road we are on.....our target is to cover some 170 odd kms today and hit Sarchu....on the way we cross one of the worst passes of the journey - baralachala. the road is bad but the scenery is amazing....with quite a bit of snow and infact we even encountered a very mild snowfall.... on the way we found a couple of really pretty lakes (one which is surrounded by snow covered mountains being reflected in the water) and needless to say i stopped and clicked wallpapers at every concievable opportunity. ...on the way we also got to the last petrol pump before leh (still 350 kms away) u have to carry extra petrol in cans otherwise even full tanks wouldnt get u there....just b4 our target for the day - sarchu.....we encounter our first plains and decent roads where we could actually take our bikes to the fourth gear..:)) and ofcourse i made the most of it......sarchu lies in this valley (i think part of the lahaul spiti valley) which is actually at a height more than the rohtang pass....but no snow here......just really beautiful mountains on each side and a plain road in the our acco for the night is tents (good ones with beds and all and even a loo) . the water being provided to us for drinking or any other purpose was from a crystal clear stream flowing around the camp.....the food here was pretty decent.....we were the only ones eating in the buffet tho there were a couple of other ppl staying there....

  • 6th June: time ofcourse is around 630 for today Leh ...still 250 kms the morning....a couple of ppl decided to get some water on their own from the stream....but lo and behold was frozen into wht else but....absolutely crystal clear ice....:)... .now the temperature (which must have been sub zero at nite) was close to freezing but yet the sun was so strong that u could easily get sunburns (most ppl had noses that looked like a monkeys ass by the time they reached leh).....and our socks and shoes dried within half an hour....haan by now we had learnt the importance of polythenes which were not available anywhere.... these we wore over our socks because the shoes were very likely to get wet along the way....water streams on the road are a common phenomenon.. ..another thing we were getting used to by now was waving and cheering on by various road construction workers and local children trying to give high fives on the way....(this treatment is only reserved for bikers :)))....we manage to start off by 830 after breakfast... .the next checkpoint is a place called pang about 77 kms from where we started and the roads are decent...o btw....all these places have no sign of electricity as this road is only open for four months and so everything here is temporary... .from the tents to various military transit camps....its a place completely untouched by civilization. ..the only sign of that being a road and the occasional truck or taxi passing us...pang is where we enter jammu and kashmir and leave himachal pradesh....after pang we have about 40 odd kms of plains.....its a ride thru a desert valley with very minimal vegetation, absolutely clear blue skies and really really strong winds. quite an experience that..the next pass of consequence is tanglangla which incidentally is the second highest motorable pass in the world at 17582 ft.....this pass is almost dry with little snow...but ofcourse just look around and you can see everything from snow covered peaks to absolutely dry mountains ...all with a backdrop of a very very blue sky.......the last leg of the journey after a town called rumtse uptil upshi which is 50 kms from leh is absolutely amazing..... .the road is very good with the usual mountaineous curves and u are surrounded by mountains of various shades of red, brown and pink......and again all with a backdrop of the clearest blue skies u will ever see....this by far was the best part of the journey..... here u find some really interesting road signs which keep u amused along the way...sample a few..."be gentle on my curves""dont gossip, let him drive""i like u honey, but not so fast""let your insurance policy mature before you""dont be gama in the land of lama" (didnt get this one)finally reached leh at around 6 pm...found a hotel and finally took a bath after 2 days on the bike.....the restaurant we ate at is run by a guy from goa...and was 100 odd mts from our hotel....but it was like walking 2 kms because of the lack of oxygen....and leh isnt even that high at just under 10k ft.....

  • 7th June: Mission Khardungla.. ..yep thats what all this was go to khardungla pass ....the highest motorable road in the world.....its about 41 kms from leh and the road is ok sorts compared to what we'd travelled on so far.....i took about 1.5 hrs to get there....finally a place where u hardly see any peak above you (atleast none that can be reached).... feels like you are on top of the world.....there is a snow covered peak there which we decided to climb....big mistake..... u see if it was difficult to walk 100 mts in leh....this place is 18380 ft above sea level or over 5.6 kms (thats more than half the height of mt. everest).... we were panting like we'd just run a 50 km marathon by the time we reached the topmost we could....had to eat the snow to avoid passing out......wrote MML in the snow and clicked photos with it :)))...finally decided to slide down ...bought a couple of beer mugs from the souvenier shop and headed my bike refused to start....and it really tires u out trying to start it.....coz 4 kicks and u are completely exhausted... .(infact on the way back from morning it tired out 6 ppl b4 it started)....reached back at the hotel and khera and the other guy had reached by then....(btw used rolly as our inbetween messenger... as we figured whereever theres a phone..khera would contact we left messages with her :)) So these two went to khardungla the next morning....we got our bikes checked up and managed to start back by late afternoon despite our target of 12.....hence had to do some night driving that day......but thankfully that part was mainly in the plains....the journey back was pretty much the same with two night stops (one of them at a really really cold tent in pang) Inbetween had some trouble with the bikes (like a flat tyre, no engine oil) which tho had us gng back a few kms here and there .....looking back...only added to the adventure... .Reached back manali on the 10th at about 4 after some rough weather during the last part of the journey and took the last bus out to delhi at 8 PM.....and yes


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sing along

This ones going to be about some of my favourite
  • Bono (U2) - a very strong versatile voice, which suits both
    soft and hard rock songs....from songs like all i want is
    you or the hands that built america to songs like elevation
    or vertigo....and ofcourse the all time classic..with or without you.
  • KK and Palash Sen - Have clubbed both together, coz the
    reason I like them is the same....a huge vocal can they go high!!
  • Shaan - not the greatest of range, but sings with a smile
    in his voice, if you know what i mean (if not....well
  • Bon Jovi - Again.. love him for that big range....makes
    those screams also sound very melodious
  • Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) - Just love the timber in that
    voice!! sounds great in the lower range....
  • Bryan Adams - Sounds like has a permanent bad that effect in his voice...and boy he can sing
    real high too...
  • Chad Kroeger (Nickleback) - Like him for that hoarse
    effect his voice has...
  • Darren Hayes (of the savage garden fame) - More a ballad
    voice.....but kinda like the way he sings...fav
    songs..'affirmation' and 'two beds and a coffee machine'...

There are lots more, but thats all I feel like writing as of until my next post....