Friday, October 21, 2011

Apni Dilli

Trips to India are always eventful even if you have nothing planned. It has been hardly a week in India and I am thoroughly entertained. 

1. It starts right from the movement when you leave the aircraft and enter your homeland. A huge gust of warm, suffocating air enters your nostrils and reminds you that you are there. The guys at the immigration are really funny. I guess their boring job takes their humor to strange levels and they never leave an opportunity to have some fun. Sample this: my new passport and the photo on it is only 2 years old yet the guy asks me .. 
officer: bhai saab .. yeh passport pe foto aap ki hi hai
me: haanji sir
officer: but lag nahin rahi 
It left me speechless for a second or two and then I had tough time controlling my laughter.

2. Driving home from the airport comes with its own pleasures. It is like playing a video game where you have to save yourself from all the mines on the road and where you are free to take any lane at your wish without even caring about using the indicators. Who cares ? The guys at the back will take care of saving himself. But I was amazed to observe that the pollution levels have come down drastically in Delhi and also the traffic has eased all thanks to the Delhi Metro. Really appreciable work.

3. I went to see the ODI between India and England at Feroz Shah Kotla grounds and it really overwhelmed me. It was not just warm weather but the warmth from the people sitting there and enjoying the atmosphere which made my day. It made me feel that staying in Germany has made me mind-my-own-business kind of a guy. Human interaction is pretty limited in Germany and seeing the complete contrast from people sitting around me moved me a bit. I have seen many Bundesliga matches at the stadiums but nothing comes to watching cricket live at the stadium in India. People around me were opening their life books so casually that I could not help noticing it. It was an awesome day and India won !

4. I hardly have any urge to switch on the TV since the local gossip is entertaining enough. Who is going with whom, who did what, who ran out with whom, who left whom. Just a cup of tea and there is you go. The Pandora's box opens up. A lot of that gossip is true but a lot is made more interesting by sprinkling in the spicy bits. Now, this is such a contrast from the place I have been living for so long where everyone is only concerned about themselves. Both sides have their pros and cons.

I am sure a lot of this is told before but I wanted to pen down my own experiences. More of the updates on the visit later.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Movie Confessions contd....

Sometimes when searching for a good movie to watch over the weekend, one gets lucky to pick the right one from the movie library. It is possible that the world might not have liked those movies but you feel satisfied after watching them. I would like to share two of such movies which I happened to watch just by chance. After writing some review here and here, I thought of writing two more reviews. Incidentally, both are French movies. It might be possible that these movies are not of everyone's taste.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon - France)
Consider yourself seeing the world only with your left eye. More so, consider yourself completely paralyzed from head to toe except your left eye but at the same time your brain is still working fine. I personally feel that this is the epitome of imprisonment. What could be more frustrating than this situation? I am not talking about a hypothetical situation but this is the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor of french fashion magazine ELLE. A man leading a flamboyant, self centered lifestyle suffers an attack while driving leaving his complete body paralyzed except his left eye.With not many options left to communicate, he starts communicating by blinking his left eye. The speech therapist sits besides him reciting the french alphabets by order of their frequency in the language and stopping when he blinks. This is how he had written his complete book by the same name and the movie is based on it. The director has done an incredible and impressive task of depicting the whole thing on screen. What captured me the most was the patience of the speech therapist to first teach the guy how and when to blink and then constantly repeating the alphabets again and again and then writing a complete book one alphabet at a time. The movie is beautifully made and a definite recommend from my side.

Little White Lies (Les petits mouchoirs - France)
If you like life and want to see a slice of it on screen then this is the movie for you. A group of friends and family go on a holiday away from the daily grind even though one of their group member is lying in the hospital battling his life after a severe motorcycle accident. This is not a real life story but the way it is made, I would say that life cannot be more close to it. The acting is very natural to me and the way the story goes on shedding light on different shades of human characteristics made me watch this relatively long movie with complete interest. The story never seemed to slag and always kept up the momentum. It might not be the best of the movies I have seen but it was worth watching it once. If you like watching human behavior very closely and always get amazed how human beings can be so selfish and forgiving at the same time then I am sure you would like this movie. I know another french movie with the same theme but somehow I am not able to recollect its name.

I don't know if anyone even read these reviews. In case there are any readers, do share some good ones which you would like to recommend.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My affair with Youtube

My affair with Youtube is an old one. It started with hate at first. Way back, in the beginning, the videos just did not streamed properly. There was always this drag and the need to buffer the video before actually playing it. Of course it was a big turnoff but still it fared much better than the other video sites of its time back then.

With time, Youtube kept improving itself. The buffering issues were solved and there was hardly any matching video sharing portal. It was proving far better than its contenders. After moving to Germany, I got close to it even further. It provided unadulterated entertainment at demand. It also became a means to keep in touch with the cultural changes ongoing in India. The latest trends in music, humor, sports etc were all available at the click of a mouse.

The most attractive thing I used to find about Youtube was its unbiased filtering. People could upload anything they want (excluding porn). It became a great tool to interact with people all over the world. It allowed social interaction at a level never seen or experienced before. Another interesting thing about it was the honesty and the rawness in the videos uploaded by people with no commercial intentions. It was pure unadulterated entertainment provided by normal everyday people for other similar people. It allowed true fan following without any marketing blindness. There were no advertisements involved by third parties etc. Its biggest asset was that it was non commercial to a large extent.

But further down the line with time, I felt things started changing and moving towards a more commercial domain. Google bought the whole thing and consolidated its holding on the internet market. Big money was involved. In addition to this, I feel that the people also got a bit greedy. The regular uploaders who were popular and had a big fan following because of their honest videos started receiving money from Youtube to keep the momentum going and to keep the viewers sticking to Youtube. From the uploaders perspective, it was fair. They were receiving rewards for their hard work and dedication in terms of money this time. But gradually, that money thing started making them stray away from their sincerity. Now, they kept trying to increase their subscriptions for the money and not for genuine fans. It has now become a number game. More followers or subscribers means more money.

Now Youtube has become totally commercial, with huge amount of advertisements before starting videos with no options to bypass them, the lower 20-30% of the screen is always covered with pop-up ads which sometimes have nothing to do with the viewer or the video he is watching. A lot of regular uploaders with big subscription numbers get lots of perks from Youtube and the uploaders also show off those perks to encourage more people in following them. A good piece of marketing and business strategy but diluting quality entertainment in the process. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Latest on the Playlist

Late last night I was returning from a friend's place after dinner. On the way, while listening songs on my iPod in the shuffle mode, this song started playing which I happened to hear after a long time. There was a time when I used to hear it n-number of times. The original song is pretty old but the two renditions which I like the most are:

The first one is a much more polished version which might have been perfected in a studio but what I like most about it is the fusion of music instruments with the vocals. The flute piece towards the end just melts me away. I think, I have a thing for flute. I feel it might be the only instrument which can make me go weak in my knees, when played. Another flute piece which I like a lot among new songs is the one in Tanhai from Dil Chahta Hai.

The second rendition when heard even without the video sounds more sincere and straight from the heart. That is what I like about it. Moreover the vocals in the second one are far better than the first.

I have listened both the renditions a million times but even today I cant decide which one is better. Sometimes I feel the power punch comes from the lyrics than anything else which just hits you! How about your opinions?