Sunday, September 22, 2013

Achievement? Being of Indian Origin!

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In India, we have a very simple approach. We wait for people who have Indian roots to achieve something good in life, like going to space, designing overpriced speakers, winning Nobel prizes or beauty contests. Once they do that, we declare them Indian citizens in one fell swoop. No visas, no red tape and absolutely no care for whether their Indianness had anything to do with their achievements.

-- Krish Ashok ('The browning version' in The Hindu)

According to the Indian media, even achieving something of their own isn't needed for someone of Indian origin to be hailed for 'placing India on the global map'... being within a 50 meter radius while Kate Middleton gave birth is enough!

*Rolls eyes*

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Speech Impediment


Image Courtesy Google Images

I recently started a form of self-prescribed and self-developed form of speech therapy. I do not have a speech impediment or disorder of any known sort… but, I do have a small issue with the way I talk to people. The issue has been bothering me for a long while, and I worry that at times someone might even take offense about it.

The issue is that I am an involuntary speech mimic. When I am talking to a person in English (it might be happening with my other languages too, but I haven’t noticed it), I tend to mirror their speech patterns and intonations and to an extent, even their accent. It is almost a reflex action and I am honestly embarrassed by it. For someone who has heard me speak in my normal manner (which I have been told is neutral English with the slightest of British emphasis on certain words), this sudden change in my speech pattern while talking with them could be offensive… it would appear to them that I am mocking their speech. I would like to assure them that it isn't the case… this synchronous behavior on my part is purely involuntary.

The other issue which hampers me is that the previous pattern of my speech continues until I am in conversation with someone with a different pattern of speech/accent. It takes me a few lines of conversation to synchronize with the new accent and intonation. So,  if I have been talking to someone with a heavy South Indian accent for a while, my English is tinged with the accent and when I start talking to someone with a very pronounced Punjabi accent, after the first few lines of conversation where I sound South Indian, I start sounding all Punjabi. I do not realize the switch being thrown in my brain… though I have now started to try and monitor my speech to catch it and try and rectify it…which is why the therapy.

It is a simple way I have devised to try and cure myself of this disorder… I talk to myself! I talk to my reflection and get rid of the last accent on my tongue and then I talk some more to get my normal speech back. It also seems to help my imagination (which, by the way, is out of control)… I weave conversations with my id and ego. Sometimes in my mind I switch to a person with a good hold over the language and someone whose speech and way of talking and whose mind I am well acquainted with and then I debate with my imaginary, real friend.  

I hope that I get rid of my problem soon. 

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Weighing On My Mind


I have a weighty issue... It's my weight. It has been almost an exponential progression in the last few years. In college when almost all my friends were underweight I was the perfect weight for my height... Not a kilo more. Yet, I was referred to jokingly as 'moti'. With a waist of 28" the playful jibes didn't matter to me... I knew I was tall enough to balance those 'extra' inches.

After college, happened a job in Gaming... In spite of it sounding exciting, it was actually a sedentary job that required endless hours in front of the PC with rarely a stretch of any muscles other than those in my fingers. Combined with a lack of exercise, my haphazard timings of meals played havoc with my body. Naturally, the waistline now measured 32"... That's a four inch increase in 2 years. 
My sedentary lifestyle continued with my later jobs. Food habits were equally bad... though there was no binging on unhealthy food. My body's metabolism rate took a beating and since then it refuses to breakdown what little quantity of food I eat. That quantity has often been described as 'chidiya ka khaana' (roughly translates to feeding portion of a sparrow)... But, it has not stopped my body from storing up all that as fat just in case it has to face a decade long famine.

Well, now I am on my 6th job that involves sitting on my bum all day and have completed roughly a decade of wheeling my office chair around a maximum of 180°... And NO... I am definitely not gonna tell you what my waist measures now! What really bothers me is that I have to lose over 30 kilos to be considered fit.

My fitness issue is complicated further by my tendency to spiral into depression for long periods of time... Sometimes spanning a year. These phases make me lethargic, more sluggish than I'd care to be. Add to that my general lazy demeanour and I have carved out for myself the perfect route to obesity. This becomes a vicious cycle... Every time I look in the mirror I find I hate what I see and that makes me sad. The only saving grace is, until now, depression hasn't caused me to over-eat... But, it makes me sleep. Sleep a lot. And then there are hormone problems... That's as tiresome as it gets!

Anyway, I have decided to take matters into my own hands... Be my own inspiration, my own motivator and crack the whip on my own bum! I may have found help coming from totally unexpected quarters... But, that's another story... for another day.

So today I charted a diet plan for myself, nothing fancy, no flash, no miracles expected... A simple light diet that avoids heavy carbs like rice and potatoes and yet satisfies hunger. Now, motivating myself to exercise... That is an uphill task indeed. I am trying to find interesting alternatives to the gym which frankly, I abhor. Maybe Zumba! I haven't figured out how yet but I know I have to sweat some of my weight off!

In the pursuit of that satisfying meal which is healthy and nutritious but does not insult my taste buds, I tried out something that came highly recommended by a health conscious friend (and by some magazines). It is this 'supergrain' quinoa. I tried it and it is easy to prepare and suits Indian cooking styles... So, I have replaced rice in my mostly South Indian menu with quinoa. I am liking it so far... But, the stuff is a little on the expensive side. 

I made my first quinoa dish yesterday... Quinoa Pulao. The recipe is same as any simple pulao where the rice is substituted by quinoa.

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Monday, September 02, 2013

Satyagraha - A Review

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** Spoilers ahead (if it is possible that this can be spoiled any further)** 

I happened to watch the movie in a theater here in Kuwait; I don’t usually watch movies in the theater. I wait long enough for them to be out as DVDs and then watch it from the comfort of an armchair at home.

It so happened that considering I haven’t had much reason to complain against the movies Prakash Jha makes and that the star cast seemed decent (barring Kareena who can’t act and Amrita Rao, who I haven’t really had a chance to see in a role where she needs to act) I gladly went along for the movie.

My badI :(

As soon as the movie started and I saw that there was a special thanks to Rupa Undergarments, I got the feeling that things are on the brink of a downhill tumble. I wasn’t disappointed at all. Not one bit.

Apart from the shameless plug for everything from undergarments, tea and atta to ‘superior quality’ cement to ABP news channel (which I did not know even existed), the movie is a study in superficiality.

It had the ubiquitous item number… a babe in ethnic clothes, low on the waist line and lower on the neck line, gyrating to a folksy tune set to a contemporary dance beat. Some earthy sounding lyrics and lots of latkas and matkas and dead-pan expressions were passed off as seduction. That very important requirement of a Hindi movie being catered to the viewer is thrown into the ‘plot’.  There is this old masterji (Amitabh Bachchan), respected by the townspeople and a strong upholder of the truth, of what is right and what is just and his son who diligently tries to follow in his footsteps… then there is his wayward friend (Ajay Devgn) for whom the end justifies the means and who is fine with succeeding by unscrupulous means. There is the ‘sensible’ reporter (Kareena Kapoor Khan, making faces again) and this peppy girl-next-door (Amrita Rao, desperately trying to make any face that might register as an expression) is the upright son’s love interest. Add Manoj Bajpai in yet another variety role of corrupt politician and the stage is ready for some socio-political action. Oh, I forgot to mention Arjun Rampal in his very ‘different’ portrayal of a hot headed youth who hopes to make it big in politics… a la Rajneeti, maybe Chakravyuh or I dunno… they are all different after all!

Dadu Bachchanji pays homage to AnnaHazare with his aamaran annshan (fast unto death) and is bumped off anyway for his efforts! The Aam Aadmi Party is similarly represented by ‘Jan Satyagraha Party’. The characters are all farcical caricatures of some thread or the other of the current political fabric of India. None of the characters command any empathy from the audience and nothing onscreen can be related to with any sort of depth. It is like badly written fan-fiction about the Anna Hazare movement.

The otherwise good actors struggle to make sense of the half-baked roles they have been given and the bad actors (the girls and the dude with long hair) are in no position to redeem themselves in anyway. Amrita Rao, in most scenes, appears to wonder what set of which movie she has walked into! Kareena tries to be strong and pull off something way beyond her acting skills. Gorgeous she is, emote she cannot. Period.

Ajay Devgn has never been so weak with his performance in any movie of his I have ever seen. Manoj Bajpai has his moments but there is far too little in the movie for someone his caliber. He gets repetitive. Arjun Rampal rocks the screen with his good looks and I didn’t notice much of his ‘acting’… and I know I couldn’t have missed anything there.  :)

I would say, Prakash Jha needs to wake up and smell the coffee… dig through the stories he has to say, make that sequel to Rajneeti he plans to do and erase this Atyagrah from his own and the public’s collective memory as soon as possible.

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