Monday, November 26, 2007

Three Men on a Wooden Floor

(Part 2 of BM and Buddhi in London.)

Saturday morning. Bill and I pack off the sistahs to the Abbey and set out on another of our flat hunting expeditions. These things usually start with viewing perhaps one flat. And then we walk around the neighborhood, chill at the Park for an hour, go find some nice cafe and bookstores, maybe catch a movie at the local theater, eat some street food etc etc. Yes, I know. The most inefficient of things but who said the point of this is to find an apartment? First of all, we haven't really decided whether we are moving or not.

So anyway, a couple of hours later we find ourselves not very far from the Camden Lock and so we decide to go say hello to our prints guy. Man runs this narrow, little prints store on Camden High, sells everything from movie posters to Michelangelo. Pretentious me wanted to pick up a couple of Degas prints as gifts for some people. Also wanted to see whether he had any new Banksy stuff (if Banksy is your man, please go see this guy in Camden next time you are in London) so it all made sense.

"Didn't BM say she was looking for something?"

"Yeah. Now that we are here, maybe we should call her and check"

So Bill steps out and calls while I picked up The Tub and Before the Mirror.

"Yeah, she wants something but its a little strange"

"Are you looking for anything specific?"

"Yes. This may sound weird but a friend was in Paris recently..."


"At d'Orsay I think and she wants this print. The problem is she doesn't know the artist or the name of the painting"

"This is a test!"

"I guess. So this is am impressionist painting. The artist's name starts with C-A-I-L, she thinks"



"And the painting?"

"Its three men working on a wooden floor. These are workers. So..well, so they are all able bodied and stuff"

"I think I know exactly what you are talking about"


Man disappears for a second. Comes back with painting.

"Is this it?"

"Yes, this is surely how she described it"

"What's my next test? You want me to do this blindfolded?"

"Not for now!"

"You said this is for you?"

"No no no, this is for a friend. She saw this in Paris"

"If you say so. Here!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BM and Buddhi come to London (Part 1)

BM and Buddhi (BM's sibling) have gone off to Paris for a couple of days, so good time to malign BM on blog!

Trafalgar Square. BM happily climbs on top on one of the lions. Pictures duly shot.

Me: "Enough. If you want to spend some decent time at the National Gallery, you have to get down now"

BM: "Ok ok. Hmm, it seems a little scary"

Buddhi: "What's scary?"

BM: "Getting down this thing"

Me: "Who asked you to climb up?"

BM: "Thats not the point"

Bill: "Its alright. We will stand below. I will catch you if you fall"

Me: "That's supposed to make her feel better?"

Bill: "Nobody asked you. BM, I am here. So is Buddhi. You come down"

I start laughing. Buddhi takes out the camera she just packed up.

BM: "What are you people doing?"

Me: "What does it look like? Bill will save you. And we will capture this rescue on camera"

BM: "People are staring at me"

Me: "They just want the space. Its prime photo point. Get down"

BM: "Its all stone"

Me: "Don't think we can change that now. For God's sake, its hardly your height. Turn around and scramble down"

BM: "I know. I don't know why I am behaving like this"

Bill: "Its the sun"

BM: "What?"

Bill: "This is the first straight 48 hour period you haven't seen the sun, right? This happens all the time. Just get down"

Yeah yeah, she did. Finally. There were quite a few spectators. They clapped promptly.


So we are all at Tesco picking up milk and stuff on our way back home. Bill talks to his friends at the till as usual.

"That's what I was telling you about. They think he's from Lahore"

BM: "Yeah man. He doesn't seem to want to correct that impression. And where did he learn to speak such good Hindi?"

Me: "Kanpur. He tries to hide his UP past but we know alright"

Bill: "UP? Did you say UP darling? But isn't Kanpur in Maharashtra? And Nagpur in UP?"

Me: "Only during my X boards did I think that. Lost 0.5 marks in Geography because of stupid N Indian towns that I shouldn't have to care about anyway"

BM: "See, this is what I call convent school behaviour. Every other minute they will be cribbing about the 0.25 marks they lost somewhere"

Me: "Hello, Bill went to convent too"

BM: "Not boys convent. Just girls convent. Where all the nuns are abusive"

Buddhi: "Look. Someone is teaching Math"


Bulletin board post-it says: Maths tuition available from Cambridge graduate. Get you back on track. Call XXXXX

Me: "Nice. Good way to make money. You think we should let Bill do this?"

Buddhi: "Yes, we can let Bill teach bankers Math"

Me: "Wait, bankers already know that"

BM: "Says who? This is real Math we are talking about here. Not banker Math. I can so see this. We will put up posters saying "discover the Ramaujan in you". This will work. Bill, did you see this?"

Bill: "Yeah, its not a bad idea, is it? Lets go. We are late"

Me: "Wait, I know that number"

We all turn to look at Bill.

Bill: "What? I am not a Cambridge graduate"

Me: "We know but why does it have your number?"

Bill: "How do I know?"


BM: "You do know that your blog readership is all psycho?"

Me: "Including you?"

BM: "No, not me, everyone else is psycho"

Me: "So you just hang out with psychos?"

BM: "Not really. I am just this childhood friend type person. I don't have a choice"

Me: "I see. My blog you do not have a choice. But why do you read all the other psychos' blogs? Surely there's a choice there"

BM: "Yeah, well. Its like a learning experience"

Me: "Learning about how psychos write?"

BM: "Yeah. So that I know how to spot them easily"

Me: "Why would you want to spot them?"

BM: "So that I don't have to hang out with them"

Me: "So you hang out with psychos now because sometime in the future, once you have learnt all about them, you do not want to hang out with them? That sounds very psycho behaviour to me"

BM: "You are just turning this around for no reason. What I mean is normal people do not read your blog. So you have to appeal to normal people"

Me: "How do I appeal to normal people?"

BM: "Number of things you can do. For instance, you can start writing about how Bill and you met"

Me: "Yeah, thats an interesting story actually. Anoop carries poor broken-leg-me inside his apartment and Bill is parked on couch being all pretentious. And A had made vattha kozhambu. I remember that. Awesome food we had that day"

BM: "No dumbo. Not like that. Like how all feelings happened when you saw Bill"

Me: "Feelings happened? Oh, I get it now. This is the sort of post that people will go Awwww..over. I hate that. That's my second most hated type of posts"

BM: "What's the first?"

Me: "Posts that people come and empathize with blogger and say things like Hugs. Those posts should be banned. As for the commenters, well, lets not go there"

(Now please go back to previous post and see BM's comment.
BM: Two more H-word comments and you are out. All comments will be deleted

Thursday, November 15, 2007

You know BM is in town....

When you come back home and find your living room turned into a sea of pink...

And the sky (atleast the one above Abbey Road) turns pink too!

Yeah okay, the flowers were Bill's idea. But as he said as he walked in the door yesterday with these pink flowers "Don't look at me like that. When BM turns up it will all be matching - matching".

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Frank, you ain't (W)right

MIT sues Gehry. Here.

"The school asserts that the center, completed in spring 2004, has persistent leaks, drainage problems and mold growing on its brick exterior. It says accumulations of snow and ice have fallen dangerously from window boxes and other areas of its roofs, blocking emergency exits and causing damage"

Obviously, MIT doesn't believe getting a bucket is a good option.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Scenes from a Marriage: Bill's weekend junket

Friday night. I am dividing up weekend chores.

"So you have to go pick up clothes from the cleaners tomorrow..."

"I can't"

"You can't?"


"I am assuming there's a reason why you can't"

"Oh, didn't I tell you? I am going to be out over the weekend"

"You are?"


"You have to go to work?"

"Sort of"

"So you are going to Cambridge tomorrow?"


"Where are you going then?"

"To Malmo"

"I see"

"Yeah, I leave tomorrow morning and I should be back Sunday night"

"So you are flying?"

"I don't see how else I would get past the North Sea"

"This is work?"


"In Malmo? On a weekend?"

"Its bloody November. Why else will I go to Sweden in November if its not for work?"

"How do I know? Isn't Malmo the tropical part of Sweden?"

"Hello, its still Sweden. Way North of where you are"

"Whatever. Who is paying for this trip?"

"Not you"

"You can say that once we have settled accounts"

"It isn't going out of my bank account either"


"No. The firm is paying"

"What firm?"

"Emil's firm"

"I see. Where did Emil's firm get the money from?"

"From Bamse"


"He got some sort of seed funding. From one of the govt agencies"

"The Swedish government has nothing better to do than fund random startups?"

"Bamse knows best. He knows who to fund and who not to"

"Of course. But why is Bamse flying you?"

"Its a company meeting"

"A company meeting? How many people are in the company?"

"There's Emil and J. And then there's S~ and yours truly"

"S~ is in Europe?"

"Some conference in Brussels. He will fly back to India next week after this meeting"


"He's going to run the India operations"

"India operations? Like how many people are there?"

"As of now, none. But once S~ gets back, that will change"

"I see. What are you going to do?"


"I asked what were you going to do"

"I don't understand"

"Emil and J are running this thing in Sweden. Working like crazy. Hacking. Evangelizing. Building a brand. S~ is going to start dev ops in India. What are you going to do?"

"Oh, that way"

"Yeah, that way. Why are they flying you then? What is your contribution to this company? To this meeting you are going to go tomorrow?"

"I haven't thought about it"

"I should have known"

"Its not that bad. I am sure I can find something to do"

"Like what?"

"Do I have to tell you?"


"If you have to know, I am the academic advisor"

Two minute silence. Followed by howls of laughter.

"You are what?"

"I knew you would laugh. I am academic advisor"

"What does that mean?"

"That doesn't have to mean anything"

"Well, lets try it this way. What do you have to do?"

"Nothing much really. Once in a while, I email some kid who's doing research on this product about what to do next"

"Have you found a kid?"


"I see"


"I feel a little better now"

"Because I am doing something useful?"

"No, and you are not doing anything useful"


"Because I am not alone in the world. There's people like S~ and Emil. Who make exactly the same mistake I make. Idiots"

"Well, what can I say?"

"Nothing at all darling. Just go have a good trip. I will go pick up clothes from the cleaners"

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thillu Mullu / Persepolis

(Note to non-Tams: Think Golmaal. Though must say (in my completely biased worldview) that Thillu Mullu is way ahead of Golmaal. Something to do with how the language lends itself to a certain kind of humor. That and KB and well, Rajinikanth[1])

Remember when Ayyampettai Aruvudainambi Kaliyaperumal Indran goes to the football match? And his boss Sri Ramachandramurthy sees him there? Me, I went to the game too. Well, not the game but sort of similar. Persepolis, as part of the London film festival. At Leicester Square on Wednesday afternoon at 3 PM. So I tell people at work that I have thousands of chores to do (like going to the bank, post office etc.) which I haven't been able to do because I was in Chicago for a long, long time and this country, oh in this country, everything is closed on weekends, how inconvenient. At about 2.45m I promptly sneak out and walk to the Odeon.

Thillu mullu Thillu mullu

There is a long line of people standing outside the theater. Me, I have reserved my tickets. Silly people. Not booking in advance. I walk up to the door.

"I have tickets already. I am just here to pick them up"

"That's the line for pick-up ma'am"


Ullamelam kallu mullu

The line stretches all the way to the middle of the square. Anyone in the office who's out for their afternoon coffee is going to see me. Fuck. I go stand in line. Maybe its not that bad. There are a lot of people here. Why would someone see me unless they are looking for me? And no one is looking for me.

Thillu mullu Thillu mullu Ullamelam kallu mullu

You idiot! Look around you. Now look at yourself. And tell me why you stand out. You are the only person in the whole square who is wearing a suit. The rest are either random tourists or film festival types who are here to see the movie. Shoot. The line is moving reasonably fast though. I am just being paranoid.

La la la La la la La la la Laa la la


I turn around. Its the bloody MD. The bloody MD out for his afternoon tea.


"Enjoying a nice afternoon movie, are we?"

"Uhh..I wish. I am actually here to get tickets. For the movie tomorrow evening"

"I see. What movie is it?"

"Its called Four Women. Its an Indian movie that's showing as part of the film festival"

"I didn't know you were into films. Did I tell you that I am an amateur actor?"

"You are?"

"Yes, I am acting in a Stoppard play at my neighborhood theater"

"That sounds lovely. You should send me the date and the venue. I will get the whole office to come, this could be our team event for the month"

"No, no, I am not sure people will be interested. Anyway, I've got to run now. I will see you at the office"


I debated for about two minutes. Until I got to the box office. I picked up my ticket and went in.

Thillu mullu thillu mullu ullamellam kallu mullu

Vincent Parannoud and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis based on the latter's popular graphic novel of the same name, is the story of young Marjane growing up in Iran in the turbulent years after the Islamic Revolution. She spends her teenage years in exile in the streets of Vienna, a disoriented Persian teenager in a world of make-believe anarchists. Marjane comes back to Iran, finishes college, gets married, gets divorced and finally leaves for Paris. Persepolis is also the story of Iran under the Revolution - a relatively free country going under the veil and fighting a mindless war with Iraq. Its the story of Uncle Anoush, the Marxist revolutionary and Nilafour, the young communist, and Uncle Tahr and his parties. The bigger political statements that the movie makes aren't exactly new, and it seems a little too geared towards the Western audience. The life and times of the Westernised upper classes pre and post Revolution makes for interesting viewing but well, its just that. The movie doesn't go much beyond that.

So I didn't like it like it? No, no, I loved it. Forget the big picture here. This movie is about the details. This movie is about little Marjane. Drawn in straight, mostly black and white lines which (at least for me) brought out the character without any funky distractions. Marjane takes off her veil while driving through the streets of Tehran and asks the men at college to stop sporting punky hairstyles as that could have a detrimental effect on the girls. She spends her pocket money on pirated Iron Maiden tapes, and doesn't hesitate to kill off her Mom to escape the moral police. Her Dad cries when she leaves for Austria while her mother remains as composed as ever. She shifts her loyalties from the Shah to whoever Uncle Anoush believes in in a matter of seconds and carries the placard from then on. She is the leader of the street gang, and convinces the other kids that they should take revenge of the kid with the bicycle because his Dad is a mass murderer. Little Marjane wants to be a Prophet and she looks forward to the day she can shave her legs and get this, when she was five, Bruce Lee is her hero. Yes, Bruce Lee. How can you not love this girl? Especially when you realize that she is exactly the sort of person who would grow up one day, get a job in London and sneak away from work to see a matinee.

[1] No one who's seen the man in Mullum Malarum, Aval Appadithan, Aaril Irundhu Aruvathu Varai, Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri or Johnny will question his acting skills. Thillu Mullu was all about timing and delivery. And he had it spot on. I'd actually go out on a limb here and say that what Mr He-is-just-a-superstar-I-am-the-real-Actor-and-I-am-the-Best tried to perfect in the next twenty years in movie after movie of Crazy Mohan dialogues, Rajini had it back in 1981. The fair question, of course, is what has he done with the last 25 years of his life. There, I must say, I am utterly lost.