Saturday, December 26, 2009


The only thing wrong with Avatar was the Pandora horse. What are the chances that in a distant planet, evolution would have thrown up another equine beast of burden that looked exactly like our own horses but had two bonus appendages? There was some shoddy lack of creativity there.

I start my review of Avatar with that nitpicking because I want to deliberately temper my absolute infatuation for this movie. With most good movies I walk out of the hall and get rudely jolted back to real life when I walk out of the exits (which for some reason, are universally grimy and non-slick) . With Avatar, however, a full three days have elapsed and I've still not been jolted out. I wanted to gush over how brilliant an allegory it is for harmonious living and for current state of international politics, the wars in particular, but most of what I wanted to say are covered by three other commentators/reviewers that I happened to read; Ebert, Berardinelli and Kunstler. I won't repeat them. What does merit repetition is my strongest recommendation to go watch it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fuzzy Logic

Fuzzy is the god of spontaneity. Here are just a few things he did in one calendar day. He invited random people on the street to N's sister's wedding because, well, he thought they looked like good neighbours. At the wedding hall, he got up and danced when the nadaswaram band started playing. He stood right in the middle of traffic on dispensary road and performed an elaborate arm-waving ritual just to gather my attention.

In the past he's done crazier things. He's crossed Cubbon road in an exaggerated slow-motion action just to make a point to a driver who honked unnecessarily. He stood in the middle of the Westside store in Forum mall and shouted out, at the top of his voice, the names of his friends because he didn't like them dispersed so much. I could go on, but right now I'm thinking about why he does these things. It can't be attention deficit syndrome because he grew up as the youngest kid in an enormously affectionate family. It can't be because of his confused lineage; he's got afghani, pakistani, Indian and english blood flowing in him. It can't be that he's trying to make us aware of intangible social rules by deliberately breaking them, because he's never been guilty of such intellectual pretensions.

Frankly I don't know what makes him tick. I do know that when he's around the texture of all our lives are a little different. It's a shame that he lives in a distant island called Maldives and is probably not likely to return until the sea has completely claimed that country. Come to think of that, Global Warming doesn't seem so bad after all!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Koramangala Smartvotes

If you live in Koramangala and/or want to be part of a remarkable political experiment, read on. Inspired by the example of Adolf D'Souza's election as an independent citizen councilor, Smartvote is attempting to bubble up a citizen candidate for the upcoming BBMP election in Koramangala. I've explained the process in my post on praja. This movement requires a lot of help in co-ordination and campaigning. Please do reach out to the folks mentioned in the poster if you want to help out.

I happened to go on the door-to-door campaigning once and it was eye opening. Firstly it was very uplifting to watch how active resident associations are in Koramangala. While each of these groups have done very good work in their own isolated turfs, this campaign is networking them, and making them huge pressure groups that politicians can't afford to ignore. In places like the 3rd block, everybody seems to know everybody else, something that you hardly see in Bengaluru these days. Surprisingly, everybody is informed about and geared up for the local elections too. I'm convinced that there are models in play here that can solve the upper middle class apathy and resignation that plague most other constituencies. While every educated person is talking about how useless it is to vote, it's a pleasure to meet all those passionate people putting in that much effort and time to solve a problem that, by most people's estimation, is unsolva

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Stick no bills!

A few weeks ago, BBMP came up with an idea to prevent public walls from being used as a place to stick all sorts of publicity material. They hired a bunch of painters, gave them enough of their wares and let them loose on the city. Suddenly wherever you look, you see garish paintings. Some are not-so-bad but most of them are grotesque. Aesthetic judgement aside, are the paintings having the desired effect? Apparently, yes!

This particular wall is very close to the Kempegowda Bus stand and is usually littered with Kannada movie posters. The lower portion of the wall is almost always covered by paan stains. However, now I've been watching this wall for more than two weeks and nobody seems to have touched it. I can't really tell why it works, but I'm glad it does. I'm even getting used to the tastelessness. I'd rather see kitsch on my wall than have a sweaty angry Emran Hashmi or Duniya Vijay stare out of it. Besides, there's some innocent charm about the whole scheme. I had a friend who used to be fascinated by examples of such color overload. She used to say "This is so INDIAN" with an affectionate familiarity. I kinda relate to that now

Mural relativism

Rank these in descending order of inappropriateness
a. Sculpture of a topless dancer
b. Painting of a sculpture of a topless dancer
c. Photograph of a painting of a sculpture of a topless dancer
d. Talking about a photograph of a painting of a sculpture of a topless dancer.

My answer would be d, c, a, b. But I really can't explain why that is so. And watch how if you replace "12th century sculpture of a 12th century dancer" with "21st century sculpture of a 21st century dancer" the order would undergo some more reshuffling.