Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Where have all the good toys gone?

Big in Japan. There used to be a time when every toy out there was manufactured in Japan or Taiwan or Hong Kong. Be it Matchbox, Mattel or even your Lego blocks – these countries were the usual suspects. The quality was good, the blocks were harmlessly edible and the wheels never left scratches on the floor. And of course Hong Kong was very much a part of cool Britannia. The toy guns fired bullets that neither blinded nor left angry red bullet marks on your body. Kids were safe.

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A scene from ted

And then came the Chinese invasion. High quality metal gave way to cheap quality plastic. Your Lego or Duplo blocks now tasted funny, probably a result of the smoggy weather and the weird coloured water in Xinjiang province. Hong Kong was ‘liberated’ by China. Your toys now cost hardly anything. And so we bought and bought and broke and broke and babies laughed at weird Chinese lullabies cackling out of their crib hangings. Daisy guns were no longer safe, maybe relics from the People’s Liberation Army. Your clothes now smelt funny and left angry welts on your body. It itched like a insect infested tropical rain forest. Everything looked so tacky.

Japan and Taiwan faded to return to their Zaibatsu’s and the uncertainty of the Formosa strait respectively. It’s hard when you see quality degenerate as you grow up.

I look at the toys lined up in Landmark and they scream out saying “So this is how it feels like to be cheap.” A sad reality if there was any.

My Favourites

As the sun goes down on another day at the start of the weekend, I reminisce on the past week that included my birthday and try and reach out for some of the favourite things in my life. I am a man of few wants. This does not in any way qualify Leonardo Di Caprio’s on-screen statement in ‘The Aviator’, “You say that you don’t care about money because you have it.” Definitely a highlight statement in an otherwise straightforward biopic, but I value that statement specially when I come across vacuous material infatuations.

My few wants are defined by things I feel strongly about – they make me emotional… extremely emotional, possessive to the point of being devious… well these strike me right now. I have decided to keep track of what has inspired me and what I have loved over the years. These are mainly restricted to the arts and entertainment…  fields that provide the greatest laughs and tears within the confines of my ‘fortress’ in Bangalore.

My favourite movies, series, music… it’s coming.

Day 2 & 3 – Mallandur

Labour is a huge problem in this coffee growing area, but thanks to helpful neighbours, work somehow gets done in the midst of all the chaos. The mines in Bellary had taken away a lot of the workforce that otherwise would be begging for work at the doorsteps of every coffee planter in the region. No more… The mining may have temporarily stopped but the labour problem persists.

Coffee in bloom

Coffee in bloom

Our meagre workforce of 18 is not enough to hasten the picking, however a neighbour, who still remains grateful to my grandparents for helping them out in their time of need, calls up dad and assures that he would share some of the labour coming his way. Whew! That takes a load off us and I then realise the saying that the virtues or the sins of the parents will always be passed down. In this case it is the virtue of my grandparents, who’s goodwill in earlier times was looked upon as an act of weakness, but is now paying rich dividends in the respect they have left behind for the family.

Meeting the neighbour (an old Setty family) at his place to discuss about the labour issue, we came across a photo of Grandpa prominently placed in their living room. Grandpa’s help that was rendered to their father, and in turn their estate and family, is still remembered and hence the strong sense of goodwill has been carried forward. Thank you Abba and Mai (grandpa and Grandma in Konkani for the uninitiated).

My vacation begins

I am well within the safe confines of my estate in Mallandur as I write this post, but there’s nothing like chronicling a well-deserved vacation… is there? BTW there is no network in the estate, hence all posts would have been up on the site a few days later.

Leaving Bangalore on December 16, was an experience by itself. Haggled with the auto-driver, a fiftyish looking man who talked to me in chaste Urdu before switching to Kannada when he realised it was a local hog he was talking to. After settling for 160 bucks (starting from 180) to take me to Majestic, we began chatting on the way about old Bangalore and our pasts and where we came from. Mutual exchanges helped us settle down in our respective seats and before we knew it we were in Majestic, even as the poor old man’s wife kept calling him to find out when he would be back home.

The rickshaw-driver was a lorry driver in his younger days and had made quite a few trips to Mangalore. He now plied his trade on the roads of the city but business was hardly profitable and with the metro coming up in Bangalore things looked even more bleak.

I got down at Majestic intending to tip the guy 10 bucks extra despite haggling with him at the start of the journey, but boy oh boy, he turns the tables on me by refusing to take anything extra and returns the 10 rupees from the initially decided amount. “You are a person with a good heart son. The day’s end was bearable because of you”, was his response.

A lovely start to a vacation. I jump into it with a ‘good’ heart.

Majestic brings out the best and the worst in people. Best – when people look all happy and zippy cause they are all going home. Worst – cause I saw a couple (dunno if they were married) fighting it out in front of the entrance of the bus stand and the girl just throws the bag and ticket on the ground as the guy sheepishly tries to soothe her nerves. A father haggles with his wife and pinches the kids cause they are sticking on to their mom and blames the wife for spoiling them. The father seems like a lout and drunkard and the rest of the family appear to be mortally afraid of him. Ha… life goes on.

I get into the Mercedes Benz bus. Doesn’t look well kept from out, but the inside turns out to be quite comfortable with lots of leg space. Get a VIP to sit in front of me – CT Ravi, who is the MLA from Chikmagalur district. He keeps to himself. A boy comes along with him… looks like his son.

Bus surprisingly has its share of PYTs. Surprising… cause it’s Chikmagalur… an old, dusty hick town that we always avoid when we go to the estate by taking a bypass via Aldur. I would expect these to drive down… but what the hell this is a Merc bus and I am definitely not complaining.

Off we go…

Dim glimmers of hope

I thought I believed in angels… until I saw this email telling me that my next week in office was gonna be screwed. Its not that my life hasnt been screwed enough, considering the fact that I haven’t hit the wordpress keys for more than six months… and thats gotta be a record of sorts for this blog.

Work. The four-letter word that I hate the most at the moment. At the moment I would do anything for a nice long drive, especially if it happens to be somewhere around Mangalore. Unfortunately I was gently reminded by my parents that I would be home alone if I was in this weekend and there’s definitely no fun in that especially when it comes to setting the dining table for me. With hotels taking away my sense of taste in bad new Bangalore, home food is all that I crave for.

Weekend does not look too promising. Same old, same old… cleaning, watching some dumb fuck getting beaten up for standing up to other dumb fucks and eating out of cheap talk show hosts hands who’s cheap comments and even cheaper sense permeate into the very atmosphere that belittles every cultured nuance that nature has given us.

What’s boredom without a little sleep? It’s well past midnight and I need to catch more than forty winks to wake up and smell that freshly brewed South Canara coffee and the pungent sambhar into which piping hot idlis with soft centres are dipped in… and the vada. Damn, I need to sleep, I need to clear the mind, the air and all the airheads destroying my piece of mind.

God grant me the serenity to do as I wish,

to break others limbs and ………zzzzzzzzz

My Mangalore weekend

Back in Bangalore this morning after a weekend of gorging on home food backed by ice cream from Pabba’s, Mangalore’s very own and in the eyes of every Mangalorean – the best ice cream in the world. As usual the days passed by pretty quickly.

Spent a part of the holiday shopping with my cousin for suit material for his wedding. As the best man, I too had to tag along to get a lighter shade of suit material from the Raymond’s showroom in the Empire Mall complex on Mangalore’s M.G. Road. A lot of thought seems to have gone into our suit selection and I just had to do as I was told, so it was sort of a peaceful experience as I am otherwise a pretty fidgety shopper with a penchant for blindly buying stuff to avoid the pain of searching or bargaining, though you could say this has changed a bit once I settled down in Bangalore. The Raymond’s showroom in Empire Mall does have a wonderful selection of formal and casual wear and another dekko at this place would help my shopping pangs. The Color Plus casual collection here was also pretty decent.

Following this, we went over to Star Wear tailors in Falnir, one of Mangalore’s landmark tailors who specialize in suits and formal wear. The Star Wear guy did remember suiting me up nearly seven years back, so it was pretty smooth going as I realized a lot had changed in styling since then. Suits now had two buttons and the pants had a flat front unlike earlier where suits had three buttons and pants had pleats.

Ran into some trouble with the vehicle on the way back from the tailors as in all probability the battery of our Scorpio died down and I got stuck in the rain bang in the middle of the crowded KS Rao road in Mangalore. Got down and managed to move the vehicle to the side. After many tries to crank up the engine, I waited for the Mahindra helpline to get back. After a few minutes, thought I will take another shot at starting the vehicle and voila, the engine roared back into action without a hitch. Weird! Now we got to ascertain if this is a battery problem or some electrical problem in the engine circuits which may be sucking the life out of the battery or may have screwed up some connections.

Six years and over 80,000 kms and I guess the Scorpio has run its life. Need to keep our options open at this stage.

Sunday Expresso (not a typo)

Shades of SanghviVir Sanghvi is one of the highlights of the New Sunday Express. His writings have led to a new-found respect for this veteran editor who makes realistic sense in an age where news features are relegated to pompous high-pitched, rabble rousing ‘insights’. Today’s feature from Sanghvi brings into clear picture a country whose only worthiness comes in the form of news.

I have just completed reading Vir Sanghvi’s feature in the Indian Express on Pakistan losing it’s sheen in the world’s eyes. No doubt, Pakistan was the darling of the West during the Cold War years and bent over backwards to accomodate every whim of the west, thus endearing them. The elite of Pakistan did create a pretty picture when it came to photo ops at the UN and were convincing enough to place their case when it came to facing off with India on the numerous border issues and skirmishes. Our dull and dour bureaucrats were no match for the sophisticated chic politics practised by the Pakistani’s.

However, the slickness with which Pakistan went about its diplomacy is now wearing thin or has almost worn itself out. Vir Sanghvi hits the nail on the head when he says, and I quote, “The  world just moved on. Flash can only get you so far. In the end it is substance that counts. And plodding, boring India came up with the substance.” Once regarded as a third world boring bureaucracy that would not get anywhere through its socialistic policies, India is now sitting pretty with the West bending over backwards to woo Indians and respecting the pace and growth we have achieved.

he  world just moved on. Flash can only get you so far. In the end it is substance that counts. And plodding, boring India came up with the substance.