Wednesday, October 21, 2009


For the first time in this cluttered reading corner, I am going to let all of you in on a little secret. Before that let me brief you about my activities for the past 4 months. There is nothing much to boast about...I have been sitting jobless at home (as you would have surmised by the frequency of the blog posts!!). But, I have been carrying on one particular activity other than blogging quite constantly. It is writing these recruitment exams of PSU companies. I have given a shot at about 10 exams till now, of course none of it giving the desired result. But thats not what I am going to talk about...

I am writing the recruitment test of ONGC this Sunday (25th October). During all of my preceding tests, I was given a test center which was a clear 25-30 km away from my house ( I literally had to leave the previous night!!!). So, imagine my surprise when i saw the admit card and found out that the center this time was just 2 km away form my house. Had the Gods opened their eyes at last?? At least one of them must have opened one of his eyes, I thought. How wrong I was!!!

As I neatly placed the Admit Card (Don't get fooled by the term 'card' its just a lousy piece of paper) on my table, my father glanced at it and casually quipped "when did you change your gender?? that too without telling me!!" As I cast a glance at the Card again, specifically at the column 'gender' I was astonished to see the word 'Female' printed against it. Now that is God's way of kicking me into the river after rescuing me from the pond. Ten desperate phone calls to different ONGC offices, and none were able to help me. 'We are sorry Sir. That doesn't come under our department' was the invariable answer I received (Of course, how will my gender confusion come under their department, even though i had clearly stuck a photograph, a manly one at that, on the card and given my name as JAGANNATH...get it people..JAGANNATH!!!)

Now I have to hope that God doesn't spring an even bigger surprise and clears me in the test ( I am sure that I will need a lot of his assistance to do it, for my academic appraisal of knowledge has been washed down the drain for good measure), because if I do manage to clear the same, it will need a 'show' of something 'more' than my technical and communicational skills to clear the face to face interview!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Inter caste marriages have been a pet plot for numerous filmmakers in our country. It is one theme where the different requirements of commercial cinema fall in place unobtrusively, be it naturally happening comedy, Bgm backed Drama or the tear jerking mushy sentiments. So why take something well established in celluloid and reweave it as a printed work? So that it can once again be screen tested in the filmy version? That, apparently, is the reason for Chetan Bhagat’s latest attempt…2 STATES (he subtitles it as “the story of my marriage”).

Krish (IIM-A) falls for Ananya (IIM-A) and they decide to marry. So what is there in this one line to make a book out of? Well, how about this line…Krish MALHOTRA (IIM-A) falls for Ananya SWAMINATHAN (IIM-A) and they decide to marry. Sounds cheesy doesn’t it? And 100% Indian Commercial Movie Material. As you would have guessed it by now, the book deals with the success story of their love, along with their struggle to gain the consent of their parents’ for both of them and mutually as well. As the book gist goes…” Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy. They get married. But, in India a few extra steps follow. Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. Girl’s family has to love Boy. Boy’s family has to love Girl. Girl’s family has to love Boy’s family…”

First things first, the book has its fair share of niceties. The way humour is sprinkled all over the 260 odd pages is something which makes its publication worth the effort. Intelligence and wit is as palpable in this book as it was in Five point Someone. And one does not need to be reminded as to where the author developed this flair. Chetan Bhagat is also a very candid writer and warns us before itself that he is no literary stalwart to kindle our emotional senses. He writes to entertain. He has stated this on numerous occasions even before the release of this book, so we can spare him for going over the same old formula he adheres to…Flash back mode…some love…some pain…some sex…more sex…some emotion and a filmy ending. Chetan has also learnt from his previous mistake (titled “The Three Mistakes of My life”) and steered clear of over dramatization of the climax and unnecessary indulgence into unrealistic things (like a poor Indian becoming a budding Aussie cricketer.) The book is worth a read at least once, to savour a north Indian’s view of Tamilians and Chennai. Chetan, shrewdly, tries to win the average tamilian heart by resorting to the most saleable product in the state. The following lines from the book will exemplify my claim…

We passed a giant, fifty-feet-tall film poster as we entered Nungambakkam. The driver stopped the auto. He craned his neck out of his auto and folded his hands.

“What?” I gestured.

“Thalaivar”, he said, pointing to the poster.

I looked out. The poster was for a movie called PADAYAPPA. I saw the actors and recognized only one. “Rajnikant?” I asked.

The auto driver broke into a huge grin. I had recognized at least one landmark in this city.

The above lines brought an instant smile to my face, as it would to every existing Tamilian.

The author also cleverly takes a dig at both tamilian and Punjabi life styles and finally admits that each one should be respected for its uniqueness. The two page italicized mention of a huge spat between the protagonist and his father is written beautifully and strikes a chord.

Other than the above mentioned niceties, there is nothing very worthwhile in the book. It is a renewed attempt by Chetan to woo more filmmakers into copyrighting his work for filming. Its worth a read though, for it provides some fun, some laughs, some more fun and also acts as a sort of stress busting exercise.

Verdict: Go For It on a nice breezy Sunday.

Monday, October 5, 2009


From Dawn to Dusk it’s kept at bay…

Cometh the night and it’s in your way.

Dangerous dreams will have their say…

But fear them not, for Martha’s here to stay

I grew up listening to this rhyme. Dreams…people say they are the spice of life. It is important to dream. But what if these very dreams threaten your life?

A face…devoid of gender, emotion, colour or compassion. The same mystical smile pasted on it. It used to come near…dangerously near…till I stopped breathing. That was the exact moment I used to get up, gasping for breath. Not a single night went by without the face making its chilling presence in my subconscious. It gave me the only disease I have till now…Asthma.

I had a troubled childhood till Martha came along. What my mother couldn’t do for me, Martha could. She filled me with a sort of calmness. The rhyme she sang for me every night gave me a sense of security. Her voice, barely above a whisper, got deeply etched in my mind. Martha was there…she would protect me. Slowly, the dreams began to diminish. The face began to fade.

The bond between me and Martha grew stronger. We used to talk, talk and talk. I poured out all my fears to her. She had the knack of allaying them and putting me at ease. It was not long before she became indispensable. She was my doppelganger.

When Martha insisted that a governess’s job is as good as finished when the ward turns eighteen, I wouldn’t hear of it. I felt that a part of me would die if she goes away. So she stayed.

All was well, until I met Joanne. After Martha she was the woman who created a surge in me. If Martha filled my life with calmness, Joanne added colour to it. Her beauty was angelic and her smile was like a rainbow splattered across the dull blue sky. I felt that she was the sole purpose for my existence in this world.

A marriage, which I thought was inevitable, became inauspicious. I still remember the look on Martha’s face when I informed her of my intentions. Those gentle, grey eyes became cloudy and mist-filled. The beautiful smile which used to invariably light up her face on hearing such good news was absent. In its place was a frown…almost as nasty as a scowl. At that instant I felt a sudden grip of fear standing near Martha. She was no longer my Martha…she was someone else. I had lost my doppelganger.

The dreams returned that night…all the more spine-chilling than before. I woke up with a severe bout of Asthma. After a drink of water, I went in search of Martha. She was nowhere to be seen. Her room was bare…and so was a part of me.

My hopes of a contented marital life with Joanne received a blow because of the recurrence of my childhood fear. There wasn’t a single night when I didn’t wake her up because of my screams and fits of cough. No amount of therapy could cure me and my health condition worsened. I decided to confide in Joanne about Martha. She was nonplussed and at the same time relieved to hear my secret. At least now there was a chance for my recovery. Joanne decided to go in search of my old governess. Gathering pieces of information from some old letters which Martha had received while working here, she set off.

Two days went by and there was no contact from Joanne. On the third day since her departure, I received a phone call. It was from a downtown motel. Mrs. Joanne Parker had been found dead in her room. She had died in her sleep, due to lack of breath…

Time passed by in a daze. I didn’t know what was happening around me. People came and went by. There were hugs, pats on the back and lots of sympathy. But none of it reached me.

I fell asleep for the first time in three days. The face came back to torment me. It made its way towards me…those pallid lips parted in a sinister way…sucking the air out of my lungs until I felt dizzy. Its hideous presence sent me into choking spasms. I was forcefully pushed into arousal for the want of air. I groped at the bedside table for my inhaler. It was not there. With extreme difficulty I sputtered my way downstairs.

I reached the front of the drawing room. In the dimness of the candlelight I could see a figure sitting on the sofa, its back facing me. I made my way around the sofa to have a look at the person. It was Martha…Martha with that face. That colourless face and that terrifying smile…I couldn’t scream…I couldn’t even breathe.

Then I heard that whispered voice…

From Dawn to Dusk it’s kept at bay…

Cometh the night and it’s in your way.

Dangerous dreams will have their say…

But fear them not, for Martha’s here to stay.