ramblings of a whiny viewer

I am a self confession movie buff. Ok, I should rephrase it - I am a connoisseur of movies - for 1) I don’t watch any and everything that gets screened on screen 2) I don’t go to the extreme of risking my life to catch the fist day first show of a new release 3) I don’t have the posters or clippings of my favorite actor/actress on my walls.

Watching movies is one of my favorite past times, but I do make sure that on most of the occasions, I have atleast a vague idea about what I am getting into before really getting into the theatre.

I have somewhat of a high standard set on the quality of movies I like. The hind side of this is that most of the times I come of the theatre not completely happy or satisfied by what was offered. I tend to over analyze what is shown on the screen and as one would know, majority of the movies releasing in a year, irrespective of the language they are made in, are at best average to mediocre, with just a few really good ones to a lot of abysmal ones. I clearly remember, when at Cincinnati, of all the movies I saw at AMC (which is pretty much every other weekend), the movies which I was happy with are so less that I can actually recollect the names of each of them.

To contrast this, my colleague at work is the other extreme of mine. He, by his own admission, can watch any movie and invariably comes out of the theatre happy with what he saw. His justification is that I don’t go in with high expectations and once you know exactly what you are going to get, it’s not that bad. Hence he is happy with a movie like Last Airbender, whereas just the thought of watching that movie itself is sacrilegious for me.

How I wish I could think like him, for most of the times I feel my money was wasted, its time well spent for him. Blame it on my upbringing in Kerala, where the quality of Malayalam movies made in the 80s when I was growing up were extremely good. Even the so called movies made for the masses had some really good direction and/or screenplay associated with it. Unfortunately it’s no longer the case, with the quality of movies deteriorating alarmingly that I have almost given up watching Malayalam movies completely and been hooked to Hollywood movies.


fried oreos

I am not sure how many out there has heard about a snack called Fried Ores. Yes, you read it right and it’s exactly what it sounds like - Oreo cookie which is fried! I heard about it first from a co-worker from work who was from Louisiana. She was telling me it was a very popular delicacy in New Orleans and how she hated it. It was also mentioned in one of the Jay Leno Show episodes I happened to watch around the same time. They are prepared like any other fried snack- dip the cookies in the batter and deep fry it.

I am not a fan of Oreo cookies in the first place. but, being a sucker for any fried snacks, when you add a ‘fried’ to it, even fried cookies sound enticing to me. I had been wanting to try it out just out of the curiosity to know about how two contrasting items would add up or how bad can it be. In my defense, other items which you would expect to be the last item to be fried, tasted awesome – fried ice cream, fried vazhapazam etc.

Recently, I got the opportunity to try it out at Houston Rodeo. It was not just Oreo they were frying, but fried brownies and fried snickers, fried M&M, fried cheesecake etc. I think they fry pretty much anything one can think of to be NOT fried. We tried out Oreo, brownies and snickers and all sucked equally bad! Infact, friend brownie and snicker were so bad that fried Oreo was the least offensive of them all. Maybe it got something to do with the oil in which they fry it at the Rodeo; I couldn’t take more than 2 bites of it. It baffles me how can someone even like it!

I am one who always gives a second chance to any food item; before making a conclusion on how good or bad something is (I have even tried Dr. Pepper more than once!). So, I might try it again sometime in the future, but I think I am certain I have made up my mind on this one.


what's god?

A poem, called The Blindmen and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe, so beautifully written that I was compelled to post it. Thanks to RSK for introducing this to me

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he,
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!


kerala born confused polyglot

I think I am an Indian equivalent of an ABCD - to be born in one culture and been brought up in a place of another culture. I am, by birth, a Tamilian and belong to that clad who have come to be known as ‘Palakkad Iyers” whose ancestors migrated to Kerala and settled there many generations ago.

However, I consider myself to be a Keralite since I have always lived there. Moreover, though I speak Tamil at home, I am more comfortable and fluent in Malayalam than any other language. Inspite of some serious canvassing and cajoling from one of my dear friends to convince me that I am a Tamilian, I stand adamant on my mallu stand much to her annoyance. She had to settle with the truce that she would consider me to be a Tamil and doesn’t give a damn about what I consider myself to be (It’s a miracle I still get invited for dinner at her place!)

However the bigger issue was when it came to what is my mother tongue. Much before I had to confront this question of picking an identity, I have always been conflicted by the same issue whenever I had to specify my ‘mother tongue’ in application forms. I have used both Malayalam and Tamil for that particular column depending on how I felt about what my mother tongue is at that particular moment, though I never could convince myself which one was it for me. I don’t buy the explanation that mother tongue is the one your mother speaks (which is just the literal translation of the word and not I am certain that’s not what it was meant to be when the word was coined).

Sometime back a friend of mine wrote about the language one thinks in. I thought it was a good way to figure out the mother tongue for polyglots like me (I know 4 languages and working on the 5th one ;). A person’s mother tongue should be the language in which he/she thinks. It doesn’t matter where you live or what you speak. The language in which you have thoughts has to be considered your mother tongue since that is the one which comes involuntarily to you and by that theory; my mother tongue has to be Tamil. I have always had my silent thoughts in Tamil, the one which I have used and still use to communicate with my family even since I can think of. So, does that make me a Tamilian? Maybe it does, when I put it that way (my above mentioned friend would be delighted to read my confession :)

I know there would be people who refuse to accept this argument of mine. In fact, a very close friend of mine vouches that he thinks in English though he hails from Chennai and speaks Tamil at home (well, at least most of the times!). For him, English is the language in which his thoughts flow. In my defense, he doesn’t have confusion as to what his mother tongue is and is certain that its Tamil. This hypothesis stands true only for confused souls like me.

Spare a thought for a friend of mine from Mumbai; she has lived her whole life there and can just manage Marathi but converses in Malayalam Tamil at home since her parents are Tamil speaking Keralites like me!


worst ARR album

I got hold of an extensive mp3 collection of ARR songs from a friend of mine sometime back and ever since it has been playing on a loop in my music player – starting with the genesis ROJA and other majestic creations from the 90s like Thiruda Thiruda (90s, being the decade in which I grew, brings back all those nostalgia too). It put me in a really hard situation of picking the best from the list which was impossible for me. Hence I thought it would be easier to find the worst ARR album of all time. I had shortlisted on few of the in consequential hindi track and those tamil songs which he made for Prasanth (Jodi or something), Manoj (Alli Arjuna?) etc. But even in those there was atleast one track which was good, since ARR had rehashed them from hindi to tamil or vice versa (The criteria I used to gauge the album was it should not have even a single track worthy). A quick inquiry in facebook and couple of my friends unanimously suggested a real gem (!) which I hadn’t even heard of. An Arjun starrer tamil movie – PARASURAM. I was told it has the least noteworthy songs Rahman has ever composed.

I managed to hear the songs of the album last day and yes it is the least spectacular album of the Maestro. However there was one song in that which Rahman had used in the hindi film Zubeida. But I can confidently say, if not for that track, it is by far the poorest album by ARR’s standard (which would still rate better than some other so called ‘music composers’. Hence, my wait for the utter rubbish from Rahman continues. I have to add that I will be more than happy to be disappointed in this one.