Now if there was one movie I was asked to recreate, it’d be 2012. I’ve been working on the Google Earth API for some time now, and all the stuff I’ve come across – zoom ins to historical spots, topographical maps, skies, day-night effects, sunlight-on-surfaces effects – is majorly the essence of this movie.
I have no excuse for watching this movie apart from acute boredom.
So the movie opens in a copper mine in India. Everyone in India wears turbans, including taxi drivers, everyone has a manservant, the women are all pretty and the men are either servile or nerdy. And everyone speaks English in an Apu-from-Simpsons-esque accent, with the phrase ‘my friend’ liberally littering their speech. And the names and places are imaginary… never in history have more nonsense words been invented in relation to India since Herge talked of the Maharaja of Gaipajama.
Jimmy Mistry is the Indian geologist who has discovered that solar flares are causing neutrinos or something like that, due to which the core will collapse and the crust caves in. He looks like a dad in an Asian Paints ad, with a wife and son to match. He also has very bad Hindi.
So black guy listens to this brown guy and gets freaked like crazy. Next person shocked is random white guy, who in turn shocks random black guy, who turns out to be President of the United States. Who freaks out other Heads of State.Who all jointly decide not to freak out the rest of the world.
And so random people end up getting killed, including the curator of the Louvre.
Nah, the story is getting too much into detail here. There isn’t that much of it to merit that. I’ll quickly summarize the rest of it.
As usual, there’s this broken-ish American home at the centre of the whole thing. Next time there’s a problem in my relationship, I’ll just pray hard for an earthquake/tsunami/terroristAttack/shootout/hostageCrisis which will magically make everything alright by killing off irritant sideRomanticInterests who might be direct competition for one or both of the main characters.
Oh, and how many people miraculously die when their part in the movie gets over. How many miraculously appear when you need them. You need a plane. Magically, there’s a pilot with a plane there. But you don’t want the pilot in the movie. So he dies in the earthquake. And they all suddenly remember “Gordon’s a pilot!”. And then you need a bigger plane to fly to China. Magically a rich Russian materializes with a big plane and experienced pilot to fly to China with. And he needs a co-pilot, so Gordon and gang are on. Then they hit China, and Sasha, the Russian pilot with the awfully exotic accent dies. Needless to mention, I was most sorry to see him go. Gordon the boyfriend becomes a thorn in the side once Hero and his ex-wife realize they still want to be together, so he dies in a freak accident.Hand of God? This God can only be a multi-limbed Hindu God.
But no, they have to be politically correct, and the teachings of the Booda (that’s what they call him in this country anyway) are in vogue, so you have a Tibetan monk explaining things by means of tea and teacups.
And then the movie gets more preachy, moralistic and stereotyped than a movie with Nirupa Roy. Family matters. Family. Family. Mother-father-kids. Family. Togetherness. Black-White Bhai-Bhai. Why don’t we listen to our hearts? And so on and so forth. Everyone ends up with a family or dead. Just like we have the whole mangalsutra sentiment, the wedding ring sentiment is coming up in Hollywood. Soon.
And a million subplots all ending by death of one or all of the parties concerned. The rate of death ending stories was so much, it reminded me of this post of Arjun’s.
What I was mildly irritated with was that they went through all the trouble of inventing names of Indian places, and when they showed an AngelaMerkel-esque German Head-of-State, and Queen Elizabeth and her dogs, couldn’t they, couldn’t they just show some random guy in a sherwani and say or atleast hint that he’s the Indian Head-of-State? One-sixth of humanity, folks, one-sixth of humanity. (One of my friends theorized that the Italian PM chooses to stay back in the Vatican and not join in the whole Noah’s Ark business because the Indian HoS was sufficient to represent both countries).
What I would have also preferred was that the who’s who of the world was supposed to be in the Ark, so couldn’t they have spent four minutes parodying, say, Bill Gates, Murdoch, Stephen Hawking, Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, Paul McCartney, Al Gore?
All in all, a Bollywood movie masquerading as a Hollywood one. Nice SFX, though. I’d like some posters of the movie.
And… I finally solved the mystery of why Hollywood movies are rather short, just over an hour – they don’t have the concept of ‘interval’. This movie was two and a half hours long, and no interval. Pretty evil, evil on the bladders of the audience.
I was a fresh-out-of-high-school kid when I saw a notice at NITK for the Crrescendo Creative Writing Contest. One of the topics was “The Nerd”.
I fail to remember the motivations behind this piece of work, apart from the promise of a prize and eternal fame, and also the aabb rhyme scheme… it was five years ago… (Omigod, half a decade? I’m ancient!). I refrained from publishing this for various reasons, and then forgot all about it. I remembered it recently, and it was thankfully saved in my inbox. So here goes nothing. Remember, this is the teenaged Priya writing not the jaded worldly-wise girl in her twenties. If some phrases make no sense to you, you’re not alone… I don’t understand it totally, either.
Read on for a healthy dose of romance, violence and books.
Deep down ’round dark tomes
In a building of glass and chrome
I don’t know how he looks
For his face forever faces books
But I did catch a glimpse
Of long and lissome limbs
And erect gait and five-foot-eight
How the hell does he breathe?
His nose is covered by sheaths
And sheaths of printed pulp
Which he absorbs in a single gulp.
I wondered some more
As I made towards the door
What could be his name?
He was not new to fame,
Some called him geek, some called him punt
He answered these aliases with a funny comic grunt.
But he said not a word
When I called him ‘weird nerd’.
The notice screamed ‘Silence Please!”
My heart thumped hard, ill at ease.
I asked him out on a date
He replied, “Today’s the twenty-eighth,”
He sat there alone, looking dazed
Into plain blank space he gazed
‘Twas then that I had enough of nerdiness
And proceeded to knock His Weirdliness
Off his seat, face red as a beet.
“Crash!” went his extra eyes
I pulled him up in a trice
I saw the look upon his face
Shouldn’t have done that, what disgrace.
Nerdie was playing hard-to-get
And refused to fall into my net.
But now the ice [eyes] was broken
Sorries said, words were spoken.
I cried, “What are you doing in this lib[rary]?
You deserve to be up there in the sky!
Greek God, what a fine face
You hid behind tomes all these days!”
Said he, ” ‘Tis all part of the image,
Survival instinct in this day and age.
Wormy geeks get better deals
Than playboy types and other stereotypes.”
“Yea,” I agreed and did proceed
To bury my nose in voluminous tomes.
I had been maintaining a rather quiet existence when all of a sudden, on Thursday, people were pinging me asking what I did this time to violate the WordPress.com Terms of Service. This very neatly escaped my notice as I was away assaulting the tastebuds of my roommates with some concoction that resulted from a cooker, some vegetables and some rice. To top it, Windows had installed updates and thus autorestarted my system. I never got to see those pings.
And then there was this offliner from my mother asking me to buck up and not just lose it and go offline, I can always create a new blog, can’t I?
I tried accessing my blog. And was informed that This blog has been archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service.
And not only that. My WordPress.com account had been suspended. So all my blogs had been ‘archived or suspended for a violation of Terms of Service”.
I tried to remember what exactly I might have done that might result in something like this. Surely I had not done anything like last time. I tried going through the Terms of Service. Apparently I was responsible for my account not being compromised. Suddenly I had grand delusions of my eighty-four-character specially-chosen password being cracked by a spammer and this page being used as a spam location.
A couple of hours later, I got a reply from WordPress saying
Sorry for the mixup. I’ve restored your blogs.
All my blogs were back, save this one. Oh Hell!! I went back to the form. Some more time later, I got another reply saying
My apologies – the system should not have done that.
I have removed the warning and I am sorry for the concern it caused.
And then just as I was thinking of posting this entire story, my WordPress account was suspended Yet Again. Back to the forms.
This time it was
I am really really sorry. Some new code has caused this, it was not someone reporting or looking at the blog. It was automated and completely wrong.
It cannot happen again now, it really can’t.
I am very sorry for the problem and for annoying you so much – that’s the last thing we would want.
And this time, only NITK Numbskulls was back. The others weren’t. Forms, again.
I am really sorry for that happening – I cannot see why yet but I can assure you it will not happen again.
The blogs are back just as you left them and I very much apologise for the trouble we caused you.
Oh God. Finally, everything is back as it was. Thanks everyone for pinging, for bearing with me.
I wonder what bit of code caused that. How do you automate suspension of blogs for violation of terms of service other than those related to spam?
For those of you who don’t know, I trip on Google Reader.
Multiple reasons. To start with, there were a lot of things I missed out on by virtue of ignorance, while at NITK. So I subscribe left right and center to anything that aggregates together information about opportunities. And then there was this time when I wanted to improve my domain knowledge on things like Knowledge Discovery and Text Mining and Machine Learning and Data Mining and Image Processing and Software Engineering and… you get the picture, so I subscribed indiscriminately to a lot of blogs that write extensively on these topics. There was also a time during the holidays when I stumbled on a gazillion blogs, found them all wonderful, and subscribed to them all. And I feel I don’t follow movies and music fervently enough, so there are some entertainment blogs that keep me informed of things in that arena. There was a time during my professional life when I would reach office absurdly early, and there began my subscribing to quizzing blogs, so that I could get my daily dose of trivia before I began work, or during my lunch break. And political blogs. What would life be without them. There are also photoblogs and photography blogs which I subscribed to in an initial enthu, and starmark various posts to implement them whenever I can. Then there are those zillion-feeds-a-day blogs like Freakonomics or MentalFloss.
And initially, the Recommended Feeds section was a huuuuge hit with me. It gave me access to so many good feeds I might have otherwise skipped.
And shared items. Some or the other person who I follow is always jobless. And finds time to discover a million new blogs and share all the (mostly good) things they find there.
I never felt the need to prune my reading list over the past year. I had atleast an hour-long commute to work every day and found that catching up on my feeds from my mobile was the best way to spend that hour. I routinely found myself craving for more, during those times in traffic jams.
But now, I don’t obsessively compulsively refresh my Reader every few minutes… there is hardly any time for that. Right now. I find it quite a burden to bring my Unread count to zero. And the number of feeds that pile up if I don’t log in for a day or two is really, really scary. It’s only in three figures, though.
I don’t particularly like marking things as Read. Especially because the things I subscribe to are interesting, worthy of respect, even.
“Unsubscribe. Easy!”, you might say. No, it is not that easy. Now I mightn’t have time to read all that I ask for, but there will definitely come a time, say winter break, or some point in time, I KNOW, when I’ll look woefully at my empty account and wonder what used to take so much of my time. It has happened in the past.
And I did try unsubscribing from some feeds. But most of those were feeds from blogs whose owners had long quit updating, feeds from blogs of events which happened rather long back, and feeds which I generally do not find very useful.
But there’s this seemingly irrational reasoning in my head that I should read feed X because it’s good for me, it’ll help me grow as a person. And that makes me avoid unsubscribing based on like/don’t like or goodWriting/badWriting.
So what do I want? An application that magically transfers all the information data I subscribe to and transmits it to my head. While I’m sleeping.
More (or less) realisitically, I just want some sort of a recommender system that tells me which of the two-hundred unread feeds right now do I absolutely have to read, and which ones I can safely mark as hell.Or atleast some sort of a ranking system.
And I came across this article which voiced all the concerns I had! (Through Reader, of course ). Great, people are already on the job.
Till Google listens to that and comes up with some system like that, or until someone attempts to come up with such a system, I’m stuck with 135 feeds most of which post regularly. So what do I do?
Logik suggested crowdsourcing once. I’ll-share-good-stuff-from-TechCrunch-you-share-from-mentalFloss-and-greatBong. But is it really reliable? And how do we evolve some similar system? Any thoughts?
And I really don’t want to trim down this part of my life. Fact remains that these nice reads do definitely keep me on my toes, keep me informed, give me good fodder for conversation, are useful in many ways…. and heck, it’s convenient. It’s also nice to have something good to fall back on when you don’t have anything else to do. All I ask is for more convenience.
PS: There might be some to whom my concerns might seem alien. “You’re a computer addict”, they might say. Heck, do I call you an ‘air addict’ or ‘water addict’, or… ‘rice addict’…. or ‘Sunday Mass addict’? If I’m on my laptop the whole day, it doesn’t mean I’m a computer ‘addict’. While I’m logged on, I’m also networking, keeping in touch with friends, reading novels, going through tutorials, looking up recipes, watching movies, making jokes, reading the news. I don’t ask you “Why are you alwaaaaaayyys standing up or sitting down?”, do I?
And no, I don’t wear glasses.
I was watching some Youtube clip of Ocean’s Eleven, and the next one on the playlist was A Little Less Conversation with clips from the movie. And the next related one was the Elvis vs JXL version of A Little Less Conversation.
And sadly, the next one wasn’t the MTV India version of the same thing.
Yes, there was one.
I think this came out in 2001 or 2002. MTV used to make their own videos of popular international hits. I don’t distinctly remember any others apart from this one, though. It had a shadow of Jailhouse Rock in it… the setting was a prison with the cells arranged like it was in the original video. Cyrus Broacha was the jailor, and there were several inmates. All with their own dance styles.
One I remember was Kareena (lookalike, obviously) in her red You are my Sonia costume [Oh What The Hell, all I can find is a low-quality Youtube video of the song, and NO shots whatsoever on Google Image Search for Kareena in that costume. Was it really from some other era or what?]. Another was a pair of Chandramukhis doing a mujra just like Madhuri in Devdas, only, twice as fast. I think there was a Hrithik too, doing his famous step from Ek Pal Ka Jeena.
I think this video was more vivid and colourful than the original. Maybe it was the rather in-your-face popcul references that did it… the original showed dance styles, not personalities or caricatures.
Thing is, I’m not able to find a video of that. I haven’t tried really hard, though. If you’re able to locate it somewhere, please, pretty please share it with me. And it’s really worth the hunt… it’s a damn fine video, one of the best to come out of MTV. It’s pretty cool and slick for a parody.
So what are you waiting for? Go memory-lane tripping! And get back to me.
I entered the United States mentally prepared for things that would surprise me. But oh well, I still end up shocked, surprised, all that jazz.
First, about Americans. All I knew of them was that Indians worked rather hard in American companies. If something had to be done, it HAD to be done, even if it was 2 am on a Saturday morning. I don’t yet know if that’s a misconception, but here’s what I know: Everyone, EVERYONE without fail just clears off the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology building at 5 pm sharp. And the place wears a deserted look on weekends. DESERTED. Yeah, there might be exceptions, but the place is tombish as the evening wears on.
And then about geekdom. I thought they were the bottom rung of society, etc. But then, I see Tshirts that say “Talk nerdy to me”, and “I Love My Geek”. And a few other things besides… geeks are the cool guys here, or so it seems to me in gradschool. But not that much geeky joking around. Not here, atleast. I thought I cracked the least geekiest jokes, while I was at NITK, atleast when you compare me to a SaiO or folks from Tronix ’08, but a post-doc with a double PhD from two continents and several other geek qualifications besides told me of late that I crack the nerdiest jokes he’s ever heard. ‘Plenty more where I come from’, I said.
And mad scientists. I attend classes taught by one of them. Contrary to popular perception, they are the most sociable people, some of the funniest I’ve met. And they have the best sort of communication skills I’ve ever come across. Even the most complicated equations take on a pleasing face when they are teaching you about those. They’ll talk to you for ages about their research and it won’t be boring in the least. Even if it has nothing to do with what you’re interested in.And if you don’t understand something, you can ask a million times. Oh, their awesome patience.
And the utter lack of hierarchical barriers. Getting back to the aforementioned Institute which is deserted at 5 PM… I found that out the hard way. On my second day in the place, I had been staring at my monitor for two hours and stepped out for a breather at 4:55 PM. I came back at 5:02, to find everyone gone, and the lab locked up. My things were inside, inclusive of wallet, mobile, laptop, keys…. and the whole place seemed to be deserted. I was told by someone to go up to the top floors, where the folks with keys were. And they were the only ones with keys, apparently….. this place was out of reach of Campus Security too. And hurry, because everyone leaves at five. I did so. I barged into the first open door and disturbed a man having a no doubt well-deserved peaceful cupcake. I blabbed something about my situation and he cross-checked whether I really did belong there. And then came down three floors to open the door for me. And waited till I had cleaned out my stuff. “Thanks!”, I said, “What do you do ’round here?”
“Oh, just Assistant Director”.
But then, the overwhelming social equality or whatever gets to me. We’ve come a long, long way since John and Yoko sang “A very Merry Christmas / For Black and for White / For Yellow and Red Ones / Let’s stop all the fight”. No allusions to perceived skin colours. No shortforms of people’s countries of origin – those have already been used during WWII and hence been given rather negative connotations. And lighter shades are more common than darker ones. And all you Dalit Leaders who talk about affirmative action and social justice…. just live here for ten days and then talk.
And for some strange reason, all the evangelists are South Korean. All the churches I’ve seen are, too.
And there’s this one-toothed old black lady at the same spot on campus every day getting people to sign petitions to make weed legal and taxable.
Did someone say the Nano would increase pollution? Hell, they haven’t done a comparative study of the USA and India. It naturally comes to me to hoard every single scrap of paper I find, and at the end of six months, parcel them off to the raddiwalla. Here, you shred and throw. And what’s with the leaf-blowers? This post sums it all up for me. Oh, and how many eucalyptus trees! In the middle of the desert! Isn’t it common knowledge that eucalyptus depletes the water table?
And the houses don’t optimize on sunlight.. it’s the way they are constructed. If I want to use my walk-in closet or the bathroom, I need to turn on the light. Even if it is blindingly bright outside. And all the doors/windows face only one way. No cross-ventilation whatsoever. Oh man….
Every single building, device and vehicle here seems to be built for an emergency. The first thing that hit me were the doors (literally). You pull the door to go into a building. So that when there’s a disaster, you can push the door (which is more natural) to get out. Every single time I approached a door initially, my head would fill with images of a hundred screaming people pushing Bren Hall’s main door and spilling out.
I mentioned my blog in passing to one of my non-Indian friends, and he asked for the URL. I gave it to him… but couldn’t help thinking WHAT he would understand from this page. All the lingo I use, all the references I give on this blog…. they seem so localized. That’s just a realization… I’m not complaining.
A Happy Kannada Rajyotsava to everyone.
And something I’ve been wanting to embed on a blogpost from a long time.. here you go: