Sunday, November 26, 2006

radio ga ga...

this had been on my mind for quite some time now. cnn-ibn's (another of my fav channels) "southern verdict" was much like the vigorous shake of a bottle of soda.

there's fm radio in chennai (yes, its time it started behaving like a city if it wants to be called one.) with more channels coming up of late. am told theres radio city as well as radio mirchi. i jumped with joy and clapped my hands with glee when i heard the news... strained my ears with childlike expectation to hear something other than tamil in the airwaves. i have nothing against tamil or tamil radio... but public demand seems to have everything against what is not tamil. radio city as i knew it to be never got to be so here in ammaland... in the days of yore it did have a mix of hindi, english and tamil for about a month; until it wised up and started playing only tamil... its ad revenue probably hit new highs after it learnt the rule of the land :)

makes me wonder if the local populace loves the language truly, madly, deeply or mere hypocritic hatred for something else - am tempted to use the word "foreign" in context of hindi. as a show of hands, i would vote for the latter. hypocrisy? yes, that too. why? heres where we go on air :)

theres this channel whose name i couldnt care to note, where its jingle starts with the schummacher song and proceeds into a hindi intro... it lights up my face... but what follows is a barrage of tamil movie pieces (my understanding of music refuses to let me call what they air songs) its just the jingle... i dont understand this. if all they play is tamil songs, why resort to hindi and english as a crowd puller? seems like the listener is aware of this music but still wants only tamil. a couple of RJs get into what seems like a warzone. i sit tensed. but the crowd seems to be laughing in tandem with the chaos... oh! so thats how their jokes sound!? ok :)

then there is this song which has adnan sami's voice (i think). probably the movie demands it or its this guy's style, the tune had to have a northy feel in it. there seems a desparate desire to ride the populist wave, but also an insecure yearning to look beyond the moat. but this doesnt last for long... what follows resembles a masai hunting song. am sure they have one, if not they might as well borrow it from here. but my fellow passenger seems to be having a gala time lip-singing it... wow! this guy actually likes this!? he even affords me the horror of a jig. michael jackson is put to shame...

this is where cnn-ibn fits right in. it seems the southern states had a golden jubilee month celebrating their "southernhood". i wouldnt comment on the skewed manner in which the research was carried out... nor will i attempt at understanding why rajdeep sardesai felt jolly glad about 36% southies polled wanting hindi made compulsory in schools while "only" 45% wanting it to be a voluntary subject. what i would like to understand is the need for such a program in the first place :P do programs like these hold any water when basic demand for seclusion and exclusivity glare at you in the face?

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Naa Peru Bond... James Bond (My name is Bond, James Bond)

yup, good 'ol double-o-seven gets the vernacular tongue :) personally i couldnt care less about the tongue he speaks... what tickles the funny bone is how these news channels target it...

casino royale hits theatres in andhra dubbed in telugu (well before the english version makes its way there)... so our news reporter gets first hand reviews from our telugu speaking fraternity as they step out of movie halls. the audience is only too glad to pitch in and tell us how good it is to hear bondgaru... ironically, audience responds in er... english :)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

of cabs and AC coaches...

it was one of those futile attempts at traveling light. grossly futile one must say... what with one that warranted me to hail a cab to get me to the city station.

well, here i was waiting for my 10:15 cab and as soon as i notice the vehicle at my doorstep, out i jump and board it. "ramesh sir? central station?" - me says, "not ramesh. central station, yes." and off we go. for a place like chennai, i was mighty impressed by this chap's punctuality! now these cab guys need to keep informing their control room of their pickups and drops... so while our man kept bellowing into his wireless "saar 411, on drip! number 411, on drip!" (took me a while to realise he meant we were on our trip!) though all we heard was the control room howling into the radio set that his customer was pretty pissed that he wasnt picked up... about 20mins into our trip i get a frantic call informing me that the chap on the other end was at my residence waiting to pick me up... now what are the chances that two individuals call the same cab service, from the same area, at the same time and head to the same destination? :)

that settled, i finally make it to chennai central. i must also add this trip truly deserved being labeled unusual. its not always i book my tickets in 3rd AC, but the times i do, my co-passengers ensure am not left unamused :) we always have a crowd that has this glaring misconception that as one shells out that extra money for that extra bit of comfort, one is obligated to talk in english - which may well be a verbatim translation of one's native tongue. in steps our protagonist huffing and puffing the hot madras air...

bloke: (looks up at the coach ceiling) "AC ij not on?"
lady: (not to be left behind) "it has just been on-ed. it will take some time to get cold."

mind you, we are in an AC compartment. boasting expensive gadgetry is second nature. so out comes our bloke's cellphone. now it is imperative he lets us know it can play songs and more than proves it to us with his hits of kumar sanu...! i had to burst that bubble - my ego was being called names here! so out come my iPod and PDA phone... there! :P and as the journey proceeds into the night, its time for all to hit the sack... we have the best saved for last...

bloke: uich ij your borth?
lady: (pointing at two of them) thich and thich

Thursday, November 02, 2006

happy diwali

a long overdue post. but looks like things have reduced to but monthly entries. wanted to put in something about the Diwali celebrations (if one may call it that) here in the US. got a glimpse of it in pretty much 'desi' San Jose. was rather curious to find out how junta here observe the fest of lights. would there be crackers? fireworks?

well, there was nothing of that sort. v in raleigh mentioned a community celebration at a local park where the indian community organised more like a fair. fireworks? nope. stalls with goodies to eat. why no crackers here? well, i guess they are allowed only on the 4th of july. fire trucks take positions before the crackers.

Sunnyvale Temple, Sunnyvale CAdid something i hadnt done ever before in my life. something that would make folks happy. went to two (not one but two) temples on Diwali! well, the first one (in sunnyvale) was more of an aberration to the definition. looked more like a garage or warehouse converted into a make-shift holy dwelling. seemed like every conceivable Hindu deity was brought together and cramped under one roof. immensely sacred or claustrophobic, i couldnt gather. arrangements and puja seeming more of a matter of convenience than anything else. took a while for the girl to realise that the holy water is given first and then the prasadam. yup, thats the purist in me talking. then again, its also common sense. giving them the benefit of doubt, probably they are doing the best they can.

Shiva-Vishnu Temple, Livermore CA
off to livermore - and i was in for a pleasant surprise. shiva-vishnu temple, supposed to be quite popular, and a comforting sight too. place to wash your hands and feet before you enter, elegantly attired priests, sricharanam et al, the calming smell of incense/camphor all around. felt at home. the place did keep pace with the times. brochures and banners replaced by snazzy LCD screens. tirupatiesque laddoos at $5 a piece. irresistable :) and this one just couldnt escape my eye... archana tickets starting $51... was used to seeing Rs. 51 onwards... are desis in US rich enough to shell out $51 per archana!? no wonder this place looked all decked up! dwarfs the sunnyvale experience hands down.

but a pleasant place this. leavng me with happy thoughts :) an hour and a half long drive each way, well worth the effort! happy diwali to everybody and a great year ahead :)