Monday, June 18, 2012

Santa Claus is red and bearded; Mickey Mouse is a fascist!! (Sic)

"La Faut a Fidel" / "Blame it on Fidel" (2006), set in the France of the wonderfully tumultuous 70s, is essentially a story of change and adaptation, from the point of view of a feisty and determined nine-year-old girl, Anna, whose household changes from one of idyllic bourgeois dreams to a hub of politically-radical aspirations. Her attempts to hold on to her cherished but irreversibly bygone lifestyle, and her chagrin alternated with a desperate need to make sense of the changes forced upon her world, make up for the decidedly ironic and amusing tone of the film.

The arrival of Anna's widowed paternal aunt and cousin from Spain, after the death of her uncle at the hands of pro-Franco forces, foment the latent activist propensity of Anna's father. He ditches his career in favor of aiding pro-Marxist Chilean activists working to bring Salvador Allende to power. Her mother's work transitions from writing for the popular Marie Claire magazine to documenting stories of women and their access, or the lack there of, to abortions. The family moves from a beautiful house with a lovely garden to a little cramped apartment. Money is tight. But Anna plays her part, with a wee bit of over-enthusiasm, by turning off the lights and the heat to help her family. She is also is distrustful of and distant from her cousin, who seems to symbolize these changes.

Her fascination with etiquette and parties of her former lifestyle gives way to unsuppressed annoyance and disdain for the long-haired, bearded, chain-smoking, noisy revolutionaries who hound her parent's living room all the time. A slew of immigrant nannies alters diet and children's stories. Moussaka and pho replace proper French food and dining manners which include peeling, slicing and eating oranges and peaches with a fork and knife. Genesis learns to coexist with Greek mythology, Asian tales with Divinity.

The flawed idealism, irrationality and chaos of the world of adults trickle through the cracks that appear in the fragile veneer of wisdom and infallibility when subjected to the innocent questions of a child, questions so simple that they are profound. Anna is at the cusp of age where one begins to the shed absolute faith in what is told, and starts to question in order to understand, especially when something conflicts with what was hitherto assumed to be right. When subjected to the notions of socialism and group solidarity, she tries to test her understanding of the concept in her classroom. And when it backfires, she tells her parents that she would never trust groups again. Rather amused and proud, they tell her about differentiating it from herd mentality. To which, she asks, "Can you tell sheep from group solidarity? Are you never mistaken?"

Her little brother is a foil to her character. She tries to allay his concerns by telling to him that policeman ticketing their father's car would not through Napalm at them, since it was only used in wars, and nor would he start a Nuclear War. No, that would be job for the Barbudos, the Commies, who by the way were "red and bearded". Francois retorts, "Well, you got that wrong. Santa Claus is red and bearded!" Wisdom knows no age.

As the movie explores these themes of ideology and culture through Anna's eyes, she begins to understand and sometimes just make peace with her new life. While Anna learns to like the new foods, accept her new home, and befriend her cousin, she also gets a taste of the notion of our right to choose to believe in something from amongst a multiplicity of "right" ideas, and stand by it. So when your father forbids you from watching cartoons because Mickey Mouse is a fascist, you would know whether you want to express group solidarity, be one among the sheep or stand out.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Of Muses and Musings

"An artist should only know beautiful people". Or something to that effect had read my English Literature text book on a humdrum afternoon of the sultry Mumbai autumn. Over the din of the rotating dusty fans in the classroom, the faraway shouts of the students in the playground, and the dull drone of my teacher's voice, cutting through the unbridled wanderings of the adolescent mind, this statement registered with me.

It was simple yet profound. Beauty appeals to our basic instincts, it causes joy and inspiration. The artist inspired by the beauty he perceives, turns it into another form of beauty. Almost like the first law of thermodynamics.

History is abundant with the examples of beautiful people who captured the imagination, and the hearts, of many a great artists leading to such lasting works. Thus, it barely comes as a surprise that Pattie Boyd allegedly led Harrison and Clapton to pen some of their most famous works, such as Something and Layla, respectively. Or that Edie Sedgwick notably influenced Warhol, the Velvet Underground, and Dylan. And Gala Dali, Salvador Dali's wife and lifelong model, also took on the double role of muse and benefactor of other painters and musicians including her ex-husband, poet Paul Eluard. Of course, no mention of muses can ever be complete without Yoko Ono, credited amongst other things with the break-up of the Fab Four, Lennon's solo career as a musician, and his much vocal political activism. Although how effective lying in bed for weeks with your muse was in bringing about world peace is anyone's guess, and besides the point here.

It is fascinating how something as capricious and mercurial as an affair can inspire such lasting works. Or was it that the act of creation from artistic interpretation that led to the great passion it inspired? Nevertheless, many of these artist-muse associations were rather transitory and ever-evolving. The talent and intellect of these creators was so immense that they would exhaust their fascination quickly, constantly seeking perhaps the next source of inspiration. But then again, the human mind is limited in its ability to perceive depth contiguously. The need for something fresh, something new, for change, is in our DNA. Even though it often inspires fear and resistance, evolution and reinvention is a basic attribute, it is a cause and an effect.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's Business As Usual

Well, here goes. Another day of watching people go chest-beating, ra-ra-rah, building grandiose plans with ridiculous names. Of course, we conveniently missed even an outline on how we will attain the goals, no roadmap, no metrics, hence no sense for course correction. Some people here call this the Xanadu train, others call it the Good Idea Fairy. I was reminded of a South Park episode where the boys try to learn about how to run a business from gnomes who steal underpants to make profits. How? Exactly.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aug 24, 2011 - Jobs Quits as Apple CEO

This is arguably going to be the most prominent and significant news of the day, for the tech industry to say the least.

It's the end of an era when the man, the logo and the product(s) were viewed as a singularity. CEOs resign every now and then but this one is significant because not every leader can claim to have dramatically shaped, and not just once, entire industries, standards and lives across the world. Not every leader is a living legend.

Mr. Steve Jobs will serve as the Chairman of the board while handing over the reigns of his iconic company to current COO, Tim Cook.

Here are some of the noteworthy articles from this date paying a tribute to Mr. Jobs and his contribution to-date to the world of hi-fi gadgetry and human interaction-


So long, farewell, RIP.... Oct 05, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


The human mind is delightful. It turns inspiration to art, perception to reality, emotions to rationale, faith to truth, and truth to cliche.

The memories of the trip to Spain (chronicled to perfection by Rush in Spain Vignettes) still fresh and abound, I had been working on The Gift,  reminiscing the wonders of Museu Picasso de Barcelona. Then on one weekend in the Burgh with Rush, I happened to see Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. And there she was. The Muse. La Salchichona. Adriana.

I was convinced that Adriana, portrayed with such delicate sensibility by the gorgeous Marion Cotillard, was the name of an actual muse, and a lover, of Picasso, the one who had inspired the Woman in the Mantilla. I was certain for quite a while that the lady who had described the paintings in the Picasso Museum to the blind man, had said that the lovely lass in La Salchichona was named Adriana, and she was, perhaps, one of Picasso's lovers.

With effervescing with joy felt at the discovery of an uncanny coincidence, I mentioned to Rush, and at another time to Arj, that Adriana from the movie was the same girl from the painting. While polite enough to indulge me in my recounting of how it all lined up, they pointed to the lack of chronicled evidence that Adriana was inspired from a known muse of Picasso's. But to me it was indubitable. Marion greatly resembled the woman in La Salchichona, both of such spectacular beauty. The character in the movie was the muse and a lover in Picasso's. The girl in the painting was speculated to be a muse and a lover of the real man. And the lady in the museum (ref: The Gift) had said that the subject's name was Adriana. Or had she?

After Googling for hours, realization dawned upon me that my mind had played a fancy little trick fusing facts, fiction and wishful thinking into a beautiful, warped reality. The human mind is delightful.

I still call her Adriana.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Gift

I love museums. Absolutely do. I feel a squealing joy within especially at the sight of man-made creations- the inventions, the ingenuity, the resourcefulness, the translation of perception or imagination into art. Needless to say that when I visited Spain a day trip to Museu Picasso de Barcelona meant sheer bliss.

It's not the passion and the prowess of the prolific Pablo that I wish to propound on here but rather an unexpected incident that brought forward the very ability of mankind to overcome limiting circumstances and create inspiring beauty that I bow to.

As I walked through the hallowed halls dedicated to the greatest artist of modern times I noticed a blind man. Yes, in a museum! I am certain it wasn't a first but it still is positively incredible.

It was apparent that he had been blind for many a years if not born that way. Two reasons behind my assumption, one his listless, light-less half-shut eyes were sunken deep into their sockets. Second, he moved with more than a fair deal of ease, acquired through years of practice by my guess. He was accompanied by a woman who was helping him "see" the museum. With an earnest attempt to be discreet, I trailed behind them to quench my curiosity on how this was supposed to work. And in the process I experienced something I can only call magical.

I heard her use a most florid language to vivify the paintings to the man. I wanted to see what my blind friend was seeing. So I closed my eyes a few times to hear and visualize her descriptions of some of the paintings. Now I do not for one moment believe that my visualization of her words would even come close to what our friend experienced. But I thought that the man had been very fortunate to have a chance to enjoy art in its most visual form, something that nature had made its business to deny him.

As I stalked the couple, I kept my vision low in order to see the paintings after the kind lady was done describing them. There were two sessions that were most memorable and I will relate them as best as my memory serves.

Scene A:
In a room after the one dedicated to his Rose Period
Lady: "....This painting is of a very beautiful woman with an elaborate head dress with cape behind her... She has big, beautiful eyes with a far-off gaze...very pretty oval face with full, red lips...tuft of dark hair curl over her forehead trough under the head dress..Picasso focuses on the face, her head dress and the ruffles on the front of dress..she is sitting, drawn waist up..her hands held together on her lap are hastily sketched on the off-white's said to be a work of practice because of the unfinished look...there's is an elaborate use of bright colors..oranges and reds with some green..painted in large pigments on the head dress, the dress ruffles and the background..uses pastel colors for face..captures her radiance through intense coloration... some experts believe that she was one of his lovers.." As I opened my eyes, my imagination and vision collided. There she was the exquisitely beautiful...Adriana. But that's what I call her. The painting is actually called La Salchichona or Woman in a Mantilla.

Scene B:
In a room dedicated to his later works in Cubism
Lady: " a Cubist work...geometric patterns...dark shades....inspired from a performer that Picasso appears as a single figure but a careful look at the composition shows a couple dancing..for example if you look at the feet the colors and lines defining the shapes show two pairs of can see a skirt..the girl is also holding a fan...well-defined, sharp shapes...but has soft, graceful fluidity to show movement.."

Presentarles la Blanquita Suarez

I am not sure what a blind person would perceive when told that the background was composed of orange pigments or the woman's bodice and man's vest were superimposed. But I wish that the hope and endeavor of this karmic poetry showed him the kaleidoscope of life.

Friday, March 25, 2011

An Ode to Peggy

Parking lot shenanigans, over-zealous logistics department, neurotic coworkers and other work-inappropriate capers- all in a day's work

What are you trying to say??

I am saving a spot for my friend

Shrink-wrapped popcorn shipped 1500 miles

We forgot to get you a gift, so we wrapped your truck

Fun is a company value! (While working at a trade show)

You are a great team player!

Wrap people too....

After a day long negotiation

If this is in the fridge, where is your food? Wait, don't tell me

So tired....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

NM-2: Back to the roots- Burning Man 2010

The seed of an idea planted a few years ago finally sprouted last weekend in the open wastelands of the Black Rock desert. Now it grows, reaching for the sky, nourished by fluids of creativity, winds of possibilities, protected from predatory biases and hatred by tolerance and acceptance.

When Sau told me about it in the summer of 2008, I had a vague understanding of it, but nonetheless I was bubbling with excitement to be at the Burning Man one day. The concept stimulated my ceaseless yearning to experience boundless energy that lies latent within any and all of us. And perhaps participate in the creation of something remarkable and joyous.

Earlier this year when Bubula and I decided to make it happen, I embarked on learning more about it. So I read more about it, talked to Burn alumni, saw pictures archiving the past years. The excitement grew. And still the nebulousness of my understanding of it persisted. One old Burner summed it up on the eve of my journey to the playa, "Go with no expectations and an open mind". Best advice ever.

It was everything I had imagined, everything I wanted it to be but hadn't realized. It was one big celebration- Of Freedom. Of Art. Of Engineering. Of Nature. Of Creativity. Of Perspectives. Of Diversity. Of Sexuality. Of Individuality. Of Society. Of Life.

The theme was Metropolis. There were the usual elements of urban life- buildings, transportation, sanitation, clothing, streets, homes, recreation centers and of course crowds of people. But the nature of all of this was so unusual. It interpolated and then fused with human behavior. Outside of this microcosm, the things we saw, did, or just plain observed would be weird, in simplistic of all terms. It seemed entropic at first. But a quick second look revealed a most coordinated, nearly symphonic system of a quasi-government and law-abiding citizens that kept this temporal city in order. It was feral and primal. At the same time it was pure and refined. It was like a New World Order. Derived from the collective history of human civilization, it was functional, disciplined and liberating. There was equilibrium and peace.

Never before had I experienced something so startlingly raw and intense. It was all around me, absorbing me into itself. But it felt like it came from within.

***************************************************************************** This piece by my gifted little psycho-bubble vividly articulates my whole experience. I read it every time I want to relive Burning Man 2010.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gloat and Sigh

In the past week or so, during all the brouhaha over the leaking of the classified military documents on the war in Afghanistan on the aptly named whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, we Indians were simultaneously gloating and stoically sighing. We have cried ourselves hoarse about Pak's chaddi-buddy relationship with the terror pods and pouted at the aid showered on Pak by the States, instead of a rightly deserved tight rap on the knuckles. So when the documents pointed out how one of the sources of Taliban's funds was the redirected aid, we couldn't help but do the "I-told-you-so! I-told-you-so!" routine.
Warning: The dance must only been performed under under the professional guidance of Goupa. Please don't try this at home. Or in public. It can be very embarrassing for those with you and annoying for the onlookers. Though, you might have fun.

Monday, June 28, 2010

PD vs. Aging

A tribute to my gal pals who have serious issues with aging, especially dedicated to one lovely lady, PD

5 Stages of Grief caused by aging:

Denial- “I look really young for my age.” “People still think I look like I am in college!” Big whoopieee!

Anger- “WTF?! Die wrinkle die!” “ Yeah right 'insert name of pretty friend here' looks young, have you seen all those products on her dressing table?” “I am sure she went under the knife”

Bargaining- “Maybe if I alter my diet to only 'insert name of gross healthy food here'. I believe it works wonders for your skin” “Maybe I should try neti (Ugghhhh!) It purifies your system and keeps you healthier and younger”

Depression- “Since when were celebrities and pop sensations younger than us?” sniff :’(

Acceptance- “Apoorva, you can call me auntie R@$#~! now”

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Murder On Any Given Balmy Summer Night

A wave of heat rises, undulating the street
On which rises the mansion of deception, lies and greed
Why may that be worthy of our attention now
An ode to pulp fiction this is, that’s how

As the moon waxes, a mouse with a fidgety snout
Explores for treasure, treading with doubt
In the kitchen, a pot of soup boils to the brim
A family gathers around for supper, stiff and prim

They say grace and exchange pleasantries
Over stew, turnips, turkey and other savories
The night sky likens to the dried ink on little Sue’s essay
The men puff cigars, to the parlor the ladies sashay

Derby bets and stocks and bonds make the din of the chatter
A sole nimbus cries, rain drops fall pitter patter
Shrieking with joy, little Sue and cousin Boo rush into the house
Drowning the last sighs of two souls, one them a mouse

In the attic, by the shattered window pane
In the dark, dusty shadows there lay slain
The very mouse that had run amok
But that’s not the murder of which we talk

An act of sinister unfolds on another floor
Many flights above, a maid steps through the attic door
As the clock strikes another hour of a game of cards
She cries at the vision among the glassy shards

For that was Winky, her pet so sweet
Now there it was lifeless and limp, like a piece of meat
But while, for her dear departed companion she wept
The attic floor awash with dirt must be cleaned and swept

So she bawled and scrubbed the floor of hard wood
“No more s’mores dear Sue, it is no good”,
Said Jen, her mother, elegant in a dress of teal and white
As the poor maid came down and saw another terrible sight

The mistress, an old maid, not the kind who clean and labor
Was found by the other, who was now in a stupor
A shriek that never left her quivering mouth
Brought the rest of the family out and about

“It is too sudden”, said Joey, the eldest nephew, twice removed
Even though her face had been, for so long, lined and grooved
“She had just settled on the porch in her favored nook”
And now her frail neck was twisted, eyes off her book

Uncle Bill bellowed, “Yes Joe boy, I agree with you
For I smell foul play in this affair too”
A semi-retired detective, he was man of wit and skill
Also the keeper of old and now dead Tammy’s will

Wealthy, powerful and pretty she had been all her life
But no nice fellow took Tammy to be his wife
For it was her bitter, conniving manner towards all
That kept her circle of allies awfully small

And those who stood by her were leeches and crooks
People of social standing but dangling morals by the hooks
All of them now on and around the porch, beside the deceased
Each trying to look sad and shaken, though they felt pleased

“Murder! Murder!” screamed the tabloids and headlines
The wealthy witch’s death covered and parodied many times
The tale of intrigue and mal-intent entertained the bourgeoisie
While Tammy’s heirs silently thanked their unknown angel of mercy

For a year or so the investigators interrogated them all
“They all are suspects, the stinking parasites” said officer Kroll,
Rather contemptuously, “They all stand to amass a fortune”
But none seemed bothered by his ceaseless importune

Perfect alibis they had, no incriminating weapon ever found
Everybody got a share of the wealth, split down to the last pound
The legends of family deceit and the elusive malefactor continue
The beneficiaries know not who made their wishes come true

Happily ever after for all but the pale, frightened, no more little Sue
Never the same for she could never tell the truth, her only rue
Had it not been the baseball that she and Boo hit that balmy night
That is not how their dear Tammy would have died

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hallowed Be Thy Name

At 2 Minutes to Midnight, a Man on the Edge of the Darkness
watches the Children of the Damned do the Dance of the Death.
The Number of the Beast has the land in Total Eclipse,
Invaders and Prowlers are Running Free in this Strange World.
He has been the Prisoner of the Lord of the Flies,
a Powerslave to the Evil That Men Do.
The Clairvoyant makes the Revelations of the Futureal,
"'O Moonchild, To Tame a Land you must Die with Your Boots On"
After Wasted Years in the Fear of the Dark,
he Runs to the Hills, to face the Gangland.
A Purgatory or a Sanctuary Where Eagles Dare,
he knows not how to Remember Tomorrow.
Now a Stranger in a Strange Land,
he awaits the Judgement day,
a Wickerman to go up in Holy Smoke.