Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Another Birthday…

Today is Chechi’s birthday! And Chechi is my elder sister, whose life changed from the day I was born. She suffers from a multiple personality disorder – she thinks that I am her son! She has always treated me (and some of my friends) so. My life would’ve been so dull without her. And I haven’t thanked her for that…

She used to be a year up in school, and I had the constant pressure of being judged as her brother. Have no doubt – she was (and still is) brilliant! In academics, co-curricular, sports, everything. And with my li’l sister joining our school a few years down the line, the teachers thankfully figured that I was the exception and not the rule. Mom used to ask her to mind me when we used to go out to play too. So, in addition to the usual football, cricket, and other randomly violent sports or fights, I was quite adept at skipping, hopscotch and stuff. The boys and girls used to play in adjacent playgrounds, and neither of us could concentrate on our games. Chechi was always had one eye trained on me, lest I pick up the customary daily fight. And I used to feel watched and be helpless to try some of my patented maneuvers on-field. She used to always watch my back. And I haven’t thanked her for that…

Then came the high-school days. My classroom was at the ‘T’ where Chechi’s classroom’s corridor met the main one. And almost always, she could see me in/out the classroom in various poses of punishment. Kneeling down, hands up, on the bench, etc.. Her classmates never tired of teasing her and she, of twisting my ear. Whoa, those days, I remember, she used to dread going to school! Then one day, she broke down at home. That was the day that I was punished in front of the whole junior and senior assembly. I wish she had my perspective – now everyone knew me, and I didn’t bother telling her that because I knew she wouldn’t be amused. Oh no! And that was just the beginning of many such incidents to follow. However, she never gave up on me. And I haven’t thanked her for that…

But one thing never changed. Despite all this, her love for me grew stronger. Sure there were days she would have happily walked me to the guillotine, but love always won. And I’m glad. I still remember her taking leave from college to come and tutor me for my 12th standard boards. I also remember (with morbid amusement) the look on her face when I admitted to her that I have ‘left’ Integration and Differentiation for my finals. (For non-math students, this was a topic in the syllabus put by some sadist to solely torment poor souls like me. And these put together had 60% of the total marks!) That was the first night-out of my life and I got 75% in my boards the next day for math! And I haven’t thanked her for that…

She has sacrificed a lot for me. She gave up her dream of becoming an engineer thinking Dad would be stretched a bit when I went into engineering too. And I’ve always mocked her hopes for me, like not taking up engineering. And to this day, I fail to understand why she thinks I am the most brilliant human ever to walk this planet. She regularly reads my blogs and always has something good to say even about the crappiest post. I attribute that to her ‘Mother Syndrome’ towards me. Every time we meet, I see in her eyes a great man. I so wish I could be that man! And she has never lost that hope. And I haven’t thanked her for that…

So, I dedicate my post today to a dear friend, a loving sibling, an inspiring guide, and a great human being.
Chechi, you have always been my pillar of strength during school, college, and even for my marriage. I’ve told you you’re impatient, fat, inflexible, ugly, boring, and lots of other things. I lied (except for the boring part :). You are the most brilliant, beautiful, loving, understanding, and caring person I’ve met. And you’re a killer cook too! There’s nothing I would like to see changed about you. I’ve always prayed for you if not for anyone else, and Leeona and Paul are answers to that.

So, this is my confession. This is me saying ‘Thank You’. And though I’ve never admitted it, I love you, Chechi. More than Mamma and Dada. You’ve been my guardian angel, and nothing I will ever do can repay that.

Happy Birthday Chechi.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New and improved...

Another Monday, another week. But this week, I feel I’ve become a smarter man. Or should I say, "New and Improved"? I was at home from Friday evening till Monday morning, playing Need For Speed with a vengeance. I must confess here that I have a need to be constantly amused and/or entertained. So, the telly is on to help me tide over the times where the races load or when the police bust me :(

And, the only thing you end up watching on the telly are the advertisements. I have written posts on how dumb these could be, even had a category called ‘WTF award for advertising excellence’. I feel guilty now. I realized that in their own way, these ads teach us so much about the world around us, and life in general. Don’t believe me? Check this small list I complied over the weekend:

Jab baal ho jaaye dry, toh dikhtey hain rookhey-sookhey.’ Literal meaning: When hair becomes dry, it looks dull and dry. Wow! Did you know that? Thanks to Parachute for that gem…

Eat Gold and Silver to increase vigor and intelligence! That is because scientists discovered that the kings of India were smart and healthy because they ate in Gold and Silver plates. And when ShahRukh Khan tells you that, you better listen! This is courtesy Himani.

You don’t have to be perfect when you look smart in Duke.’ I shall remember that always. Somehow, is a very weird way, it’s comforting. This wisdom was discovered by (the) Duke of ‘Ludhiana – The fashion hub of Punjab’ (Quoted from their website).

‘Brand nahi toh style nahi’ meaning, no brand, no style. Damn! Now that means that I’ll have to wear logo tees and stuff. Or, probably stitch the tags on someplace more conspicuous on my clothing. This tip thanks to Zeiss – the ‘branded spectacle lens manufacturer’.

Daag achhey hain’ which means, stains are good. My mom better read this and apologize! I’d brought home so many good things and all she ever gave me in return were immobilizing stares and scolding. Why wasn’t Surf invented then?

Thinking is such a waste of time’, this from the Hero Honda CBZ Extreme ad. I can totally relate to this having stayed in Gurgaon for two (excruciating) months. The ad guys were probably impressed by the people around the plant (in Gurgaon), they waste no time at all. Ever!

Well, these are just a few of the things I’ve learnt and can immediately recollect. In addition to this, you also get to know a lot of other ways in which people live in the world around us. Like:

Pet crocs addicted to candy (Alpenliebe)
Choco-wafers that make you chase dogs (new Perk)
Sodas that offer levitation (Fanta)
Deos that bring hot, long dead mummies to life (Axe)
Mobile phones that may be used as weapons (Moto Razr 2)
Holidays that get you laid (White Mischief)
Solution to power-cuts (Happydent)
Mints to make you smarter (Minto Fresh)

The list is endless… So, the next time you are watching your favorite program on TV, don’t switch channels during the commercial breaks. You never know what you’ll be missing! So guys, keep watching and Keep Walking :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Is this how we treat LEGENDS?

There are some pieces of news we don’t need to know about. Like about the monkey who climbed atop the banyan tree near the congress HQ. Like I give a monkey’s @ss! Or what about the ‘breaking news’ that claims, “Himesh Reshammiya says he is the best”? I don’t give an eff… but, there is some sort of a feel good factor when these take the prime time news and loop for hours on end – Nothing worse has happened. And that’s a good feeling. No bombings, murders, suicide attacks… the world is a better place.

A similar “Breaking News” was aired on some national news channels this morning. “Manoj Kumar will file a defamation suit against Shah Rukh (SRK) and Farah Khan”. Hyper excited newscasters, breathless reporters on the field, viewers calling in… the usual. And all this for what? Well, you gotta believe me when I say this – Manoj Kumar (MK) hurt his soul while watching Om Shanti Om (OSO)! He said (verbatim), “Meri aatma ko ghaat pahunchi hai”, when he saw himself being imitated on screen.

Manoj who? Well… a long, long time ago, there was this actor who was renowned for his patriotic theme films. He was nicknamed Mr Bharat! His last hit was before I reached the age of reason, so you may read more about him here.

So, here’s the man, who has helped India define her values and culture, teach us something new. Respect. (Do not confuse this with the higher end r-e-s-t-e-c-p of Ali G.) MK was rather slow to react to his portrayal on OSO where his trademark style of covering his face is parodied, and the guard/usher at a movie theatre does not recognize him (in the movie). And… well that’s it, but HOW DARE THEY! SRK, what got into you? How could you even think that a caricature of MK? You might have been encouraged by parodies on heads of state, (B/H/T/K)ollywood legends, Even Gods. But MK? No effin way!

And Farah Khan what the FarahKhan were YOU thinking? That you could even in your dreams, imagine MK not being recognized even by a new-born? That too in a movie? Ha! So what if he’s not as popular as Big B, Rajnikanth, Mithunda, Chiranjeevi, Feroz Khan, Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Amjad Khan, Rajpal Yadav, Aditya Chopra, Himesh, Rakhee Sawant, etc.? He is the legend - MK. We didn’t expect this from you.

And to the rest of the Bollywood fraternity – Never ever use your hands to cover your face! Ever! Even though he has not patented it, it will not go unnoticed or unpunished. There are some people who are beyond ridicule and if you dare imitate, parody, caricature, whatever… them, woe betide you! Now our very own MK joins the revered group of people who do not accept any form of jokes, criticism, or comments about them or what they stand for.

Welcome, Mr Manoj Kumar, to the august company of Osama bin Laden, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, and the likes, against whom, free speech is punishable. And dear MK, thank you for setting the bar high for Bharat. Let the world know, we do not take any bullcrap about ourselves!

P.S.: I have not seen OSO nor do I intend seeing it till it probably comes on TV. But the graphic detail in which the reporters explained the scenes to me on the telly made my heart stop! Revolting I say… How could somebody cover his face when only Manoj Kumar could do it? And how dare they have a dupe for Manoj Kumar? And worst of all, how did the gap in the screenplay where the watchman refuses to acknowledge Manoj Kumar go unnoticed? I am appalled!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Virtual realities...

Have you ever been through a time when you were generally pre-occupied? Not something that you can lay your finger on, but still, just pre-occupied? Well, I was in one of those phases and I still am, I guess. But I’m still writing to celebrate God’s 11th gift to mankind.

Yes guys, the long wait is over… Need for Speed 11 – Pro Street will be launched today! Not that I’m rushing to the stores right now, but I’m still excited. Why? Because I trust EA - the developers of NFS. I’ve been hooked on to NFS and have played all their games released till date. Let me confess – I am a slave! And the only games I play are the NFS series.

By the time I could afford to buy one of these games, I was married. My wife was not exactly thrilled about my escapades in the NFS world. She used to draw parallels between my driving in the real and the virtual world. So, there were times, I used to sneak out to this place called Starbucks and race online. It didn’t discourage me a bit that I was beating 10-15 year olds in this game. Believe me – these guys can be mean when you make a mistake! When ‘Walker’ used to come online for a race, most racers started to chicken out. I kinda used to hold court and give free tips to budding online racers. I felt like a superhero… But like Superman, Batman, and all other superheroes, I had to keep this ‘Superhero’ identity a secret from the missus :)

But these were the Underground 1 and 2 series. Win races, challenge racers for outruns, earn money, pimp your ride… you were in car heaven!

Then, one day in Delhi, I bought NFS Most Wanted. I installed it on my notebook that had a 256 MB RAM, which meant that the game was forever in slo-mo. I was granted 30 minutes (max) a day to indulge in my dark (racing) fantasies. I guess the ladies will never understand the thrill and excitement of Most Wanted. The plot is simple! You drive into a city, you are picking up races and winning them, and then a local punk sabotages your ride and beats you. The rest of the game is spent trying to win your ride (and respect) back. To get your ride, you need to challenge the punk, who is No1 on the blacklist (that has 15 members). To challenge each member, you have to win some races, damage property, and engage the cops in pursuits, wreck cop cars, the works!

So, with the rationed 30 minutes a day and close to 20 hours on the days my wife was traveling, I finished the game and became the ‘Most Wanted’. I have been tempted to put that on my resume! The days I was alone at home, I used to hook it on to my sound system, crank up the volume, and soak in the sweet music! Dopey, our Lab initially was psyched, but got used to it. The maid used to me near tears! But I must also admit that I managed to do all this without pissing my wife off (or so I’d like to believe), and I even coaxed her to allow me some extra time. That will change if she came to know about the ‘crush’ I had on Mia, the animated character who guides you and watches your back in the game…

Later, when work kept us apart, she bought me a PlayStation. Yeah guys – A PLAYSTATION! Isn’t she cool or what? That keeps me pretty busy when I’m off work, and I rarely have time for anything else. Which is cool with me. And my friends too. NFS Carbon was nothing to write home about as far as the PlayStation version was concerned, and the system requirements for the PC platform are obscene. Same with ProStreet. Check it out:

OS: Windows XP/Vista (FAT16 and FAT32 File Systems are not supported by Digital Delivery)
Processor: 2.8GHz or faster (Windows Vista requires 3.0 GHz)
Memory: 512 MB RAM (Windows Vista requires 1 GB RAM)
Hard Drive: 8.1 GB (16 GB required for Digital Delivery)
DVD Drive: 8 SPEED (not required for Digital Delivery)
Video Card*: 128 MB with Pixel Shader 2.0 (AGP and PCIe only)
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatibleDirectX - Version 9.0cOnline
Multiplayer: 512 Kbps or faster; 2-8 Players
Input: Keyboard, Mouse
Optional: USB Steering Wheel / Dual Analogue Gamepad

*Supported chipsets: NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 greater (GeForce MX series not supported); ATI Radeon 9500 or greater. Laptop versions of these chipsets may work but are not supported. Updates to your video and sound card drivers may be required.

I would have to be a millionaire if I want to play the PC version. And I’m ready to wait. In the meantime, I keep dreaming about the races and hoping that my system magically upgrades itself… In the meantime, if any of you can afford the system configuration, I say – Go for it! This time, the races are legal, the damages stay, and there are bucket loads of aftermarket accessories and upgrades available from real tuners!

And, till I get my hands on such a machine, I guess I’ll just have to ‘Keep Walking’.

P.S: I am eternally grateful to EA Games for NFS.