Friday, September 26, 2008

Think out of the shoe

We all scoff at those German and Korean backpackers who tie their shoes to their bags with their shoelaces. We look at them, sometimes with disgust and at times, just smirk at their stupidity. No Indian - no matter how poor - would do that. Shoes are for the feet, that's it. That explains my bewilderment when I saw a man tucking his Lee Cooper shoes under the pillow before going to sleep.

Now, you don't see that often in the first class AC sleeper compartments of trains. I would have pardoned our man had he reasoned that he did not have place to tuck his shoes between two giants suitcases that were chained to his lower side berth. But what I saw next left me speechless. He started emptying the shoes.
I was scared - 'drugs, cigarettes...bombs?'. What fell out were pens - mostly ball point and one parker - toffees, tablets, chits and even a small diary. He caught me looking at him curiously and hastily put them all into his shirt pocket and the shoes on his feet. Can't blame me for thinking if I actually saw what I saw.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Talk, don't speak

Journalism makes philophers out of ordinary beings. After a whole day of frantic news gathering, page making and nearly succumbing to deadline pressure, I often wonder how people manage to still exercise their grey cells. But my colleague does. Yesterday, he told me, "We don't live, we just exist." That set me thinking...

A week back I had taken one of my friends to Shivaji Park. It was my friend's first trip there. You guessed it right. He's not from Mumbai though he has lived here for two years. My friend was too taken in by the beauty of the place - yes, it does look good after two months of rain, with its overgrown grass and few peddlars of chana. But more than that, he was surprised to see people idling around on the parapet, chatting mindlessly till the sun went down and 'the day melted into the night'. It was something he hadn't experienced before in this city. And he was amazed that he could do something like this in the heart of Mumbai.
I didn't even know my friend could talk. Now, people say I can make even a rock talk, but my friend was a tough nut to crack. At work, he rarely spoke. And when he did - he freakishly spoke more about others than he did about himself. But strangely, that Saturday evening at Shivaji Park, my friend displayed his communication skills to the fullest. This was the first real conversation I had with him and I can't really get over the fact that I had earlier dismissed him as a poor talker. By the end of the day, I asked him why a person like him wouldn't talk much. He said, "I don't feel the need to."
Later, another friend told me the same thing. He was known as one of the quiet ones in college and most people were surprised that somebody like him could befriend a chatterbox like me. Little did they know about El's fabulous sense of humour and the art of maaroing PJs. When one of the bosses in the organisation called him 'quiet', I couldn't really digest it. But then again, El talks only to some people. And I am among the privileged few.
Most of us in the city (yes, it's an urban trait) spend our waking hours chasing all the things that we think would make us happy when all we need is a simple conversation. Deep - isn't it? But think of it. With all the technology we have at our disposal - cellphones, communicators, emails, voicemails, etc but all we do is speak. We don't talk anymore. Talking requires more interpersonal interaction than speaking does. And somewhere in the midst of this so call media and communications boom, we have lost the basic art of conversation. We all speak but rarely do we talk.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Credit card anyone?

We are all familiar with pesky customer service calls that we would simply love to avoid. But this one really stumped me. I got a call on my landline from my 'personal account manager' from HDFC (they do come up with innovative designations, I must say).

Anyways, my self-proclaimed manager politely introduced himself as Sai and asked me if I needed any assistance. I said, "No." He didn't budge.

He went on, "There are lots of things we have to offer to you as you are a special client (I don't really know what that means). That's great because you can avail of a credit card - all free of cost."

I feigned interest, "So what do you have there?" He responded, "Ma'am, you can avail of a platinum or gold card depending on your salary. I am sure you can avail of the gold, but platimun I'll have to check. Actually, our servers are down so I can't figure which card you can avail of but I'll let you know as soon as the system is in place. I'm so sorry I can't tell you if it's gold or platinum, but I'm hoping it's platinum."

Go figure.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Farhan Rocks


I must confess at the very outset that I like Farhan Akhtar. I think I watched Dil Chahta Hai because I had a crush on him - yes, the other three dudes in the film were cool too - but Farhan had a special place in my heart. It was for him and Shah Rukh Khan that I watched Don, though I never really liked the original. And it's for him, I watched Rock On. And once again, I wasn't disappointed.

Farhan simply stole the show with his constipated voice (much like Bryan Adams) that served as the medium to convey peppy lyrics (I can't believed Javed Akhtar dished that out himself) and his acting. Farhan's acting reminded me of Shah Rukh's in Swades. Farhan doesn't act. He simply reacts.

It's never over-the-top. In portions, he almost seems immune to what's happening around - but his eyes do the talking. They convey a hint of jealousy when Arjun Rampal writes the lyrics for a song. They twinkle with glee - at the sight of a lake - and they convey a deep-rooted sadness that can't be replaced even by acquiring the best things in life.

In an author-backed role, I must say Farhan has made a smashing acting debut and he's been man enough to produce a film like this himself. I hope other directors sit up and take notice too. And I think they should consider him for a lead in some projects.