Na ... Is baar SUR nahin MIL paya !

Posted by Praveen राठी in , , ,

I understand that this is an era of remixes and sequels and someone who came up with the idea of remixing / refilming / remaking THE ""Mile Sur" as "Phir Mile Sur" might be a genius in his own terms, but the end product is not at all appealing. Good that they did not come up with a new title and caption, something like "Phir Mile Sur - Chords strike again!"

Just look at the original version. It's so wonderful, melodious and it fills you with patriotism. While the older version (No, I won't call it OLD, I would prefer to call it ORIGINAL) ...

While the ORIGINAL version gives you a feel that you are a part of a great united nation INDIA, the new version left me thinking, "Oh, how much money they must have paid to these STARS?"

My fellow colleagues and friends had been asking me for a long time to watch this, but today only I got a chance to put my head into it. Here is the statement of account for this song.

1) It is always a good idea to come up with something which instills the feeling of nationalism in society. So, some marks definitely for the idea.
2) OK, the beginning is great. I really love this part. AR Rahman (on the fingerboard) has given a beautiful push start to the song along with Big B.
3) Anoushka Shankar is awesome and no doubt that all the musicians are par excellence. They have done a wonderful job.
4) I really liked the fact that it features Sudarshan Patnaik.

1) Having Shilpa Sheety or Priyanka Chopra is still understandable, but Deepika Padukone? And atleast they could have given her some better costumes. Disappointing!
2) When they could have Sonali Kulkarni to represent Maharashtra, why couldn't they have Lata Mangeshkar? No Javed Akhtar, no Gulzaar? Very sad!
3) And is that Shaimak Dawar in Blue Jeans who is dancing between those traditional dancers? Ha Ha ... they could have represented him in a much better way.
4) The people around Sonu Nigam are so confused and expressionless; they are just unable to understand what to do and the guy exactly behind him is actually angry on Sonu, can't he stand still and sing, why the hell is he blocking my view?
5) Though they have tried to keep Salman as SOBER as possible, he manages to do a typical Salman action before fading out of the scene.
6) I guess the makers of this video liked Shahid Kapoor too much in Kismat Konnection. They made him do the ditto.
7) Ranbir Kapoor is fast catching up with SRK with his "arm spreading" step. He must have seen SRK teliing on Farhan Akhtar's "Oye! It's Friday", this "arm spreading" step is a "universal" step and you can fix it anywhere you want.
8) I am not able to decide if it's a good or bad sign, and I am equally surprised too, "No Cricketers"? Or did I miss some part? I think they could have had someone of Kapil, Sunil, Sachin.
9) And on top of everything, it is an overdoze; it is too long to handle.

All in all, its more filmy than natural and the soul is very much missing.

While I am trying to be as less rude on this one as possible, let me admit that this NEW video has helped me understand the beauty of the ORIGINAL one even better. I am loving the ORIGINAL even more now. So, I would still like to thank ZOOM for coming up with this "apparently authentic parody".

One month in US * * * Merry Christmas * * *

Posted by Praveen राठी in ,

First day in office, it was "Thanksgiving Potluck". What a nice way to start my assignment here! At the end of the treat, my client managers were left with a question mark on their face: "Praveen eats so much, then how come he is not fat?". I convinced them that they'll come to know the answer in the coming days :)

2 Project Parties, 2 birthday treats, 2 Fungama celebrations, 3 movies: Rocket Singh, Avataar, 3 Idiots.
Never before this in my life have I watched any movie within the first week of its release. And look, here I am watching movies back-to-back every weekend. Am I turning into a spoilt kid?

Apart from the parties, treats, celebrations and fun I am having, life has really been topsy-turvy since I have landed here. I have changed from an Indian to a "conversion machine".

Here in US, right is actually "right" while on road or anywhere else walking. If I am walking in office, being an Indian I always have a tendency to restrict myself to the left side, so as to give way to the person coming from front. After getting too many gazes in the first week, I realized that I have to be on the RIGHT to give way to the person coming in front. So, I started practising. I started telling myself "Be on Right", "Be on Right". My mind used to shift on right but my body still on the left and I again bump into the person coming from the front. "Oops! I am so sorry" is what I am left with. After this happened many times, should I practise "How to stay on the right?" or "How to say SORRY?" Anyways, I am getting comfortable to the US ways of walking. They say "Old habits die hard", so how can they expect me to starting walking on the "right" one fine morning when I have been on the "left" all these 25 years?

It is a general tendency to start calculating the conversions into "units" that we are comfortable with when we are put into a completely different metric system. It's hard to come out of the comfort zone, you see.

What's the temperature today?
Around 42.
अब्बे दिमाग घूम गया है क्या? बहार दाँत कट-कटा रहे हैं, तू बोलता है 42?
It is Fahrenheit dear.
Ah! couldn't you tell earlier?
Convert to centigrades!

I got onto a weighing machine. It displayed 171. What?
"Aye, this machine is crap, इससे अच्छी machines तो हमारे यहाँ railway station पर लगी होती हैं| एक तो आपका वजन बताती हैं और ऊपर से आपका भविष्य भी, मुफ्त! Do I look like 170 from any angle? Hunh!".
Its in pounds buddy.
Convert to kg!

So, I am put to test every now and then that reminds me of "Kya aap paanchvi paas se tez hain?" I realized that I am not :(
Ha! I am revising the basic mathematics now ...
Converting Fahrenheit to Celcius: C = (F - 32) X 5 / 9
Converting miles to kilometeres: 1 mile = 1.6 km (approx)
Converting feet and inches to metres and centimetres: 1m = 3.3 ft (approx)
Converting pounds and ounces to kilograms and grams: 1 kg = 2.2 lb (approx)
Converting gallons into litres: 1 gallon = 1.8 litres (approx)
And above all, Dollars (USD) to Rupees (INR) :)

Grr... can't they use SI units everywhere?

The dates are written in "MM/DD/YYYY" format as against our Indian format "DD/MM/YYYY". To avoid the confusions, I prefer "DD-Mon-YYYY".

Not to forget, before calling home, I need to convert the local time according to the time zone to make sure I am not waking up someone sleeping. But this one is simplest. Straight addition/subtraction because it is quite strange that people here tell time in terms of hours:minutes:seconds only.

Strange are the ways of life!
किसने सोचा था कि यहाँ आकर मुझे ये सब सीखना पड़ेगा?


Posted by Praveen राठी in , ,

I have landed here ... in the U S of A. After a long (terribly long) wait, I somehow made it.

And I have arrived here in a festive season. Thanksgiving just passed and Christmas and New Year are round the corner. Very very very less project work till the first week of January.

We did some shopping on the "Black Friday" and went for trekking the next day:

Only one week here (including a 4 day long weekend) and I have realized it loud that I become very sluggish and get irritated if I don't involve myself in any kind of outdoor activities. So, I have decided to join a swimming pool here soon.

Priyanshu took this photograph of mine as soon as realised that I am in US.

Go-Goa to No-Goa

Posted by Praveen राठी in , , , , , ,

It was decided on a phone call on Tuesday that we are going to Goa on the coming long weekend (Oct 2 – Oct 4). Some of us will go from Bangalore and others will join us there from Pune.
I booked the Bangalore-Goa bus tickets (return too) through Sea-Bird (which was a pathetic service in itself).
Scheduled departure from Bangalore: 8:15 PM
Scheduled arrival at Goa: 9:15AM
While I was booking tickets, Pranali cross-checked multiple times to make sure it is an AC bus. Though I was not so much in favor of taking an AC bus thinking that the weather anyways is cool and the night would be cooler.

Thursday evening, the bus started 15 minutes late. We didn’t get time to have dinner. AC, DVD-coach, semi-sleeper, partial luxury bus. The bus keepers (2 drivers for the night driving + 1 helper boy) had only one DVD, with only one movie – Shaadi No. 1 (horrible movie, because we were fearing they might put some Kannada movie, so the only relief was the movie being Hindi).

The bus stopped at a road-side restaurant at 12 midnight where I and Shambhu ordered for 2 plates Chhole Masala. Never did we know that it is a “Chhole Masala” prepared out of putting (not even properly mixed) Chhole into the curry of Egg-curry. Disgusting that was! And how much did it cost? 45 Rs. What a waste of money? Feared of having a stomach upset after eating the rubbish, I had a glass of juice and a 500 ml bottle of Slice. Thankfully, now I can sleep with a good taste in mouth.

The road was such a mess; the bus was swinging left-right-left because it was a narrow road and the ditches were making it shut-up-and-bounce because it was a broken road too. It was not easy to sleep (rather stick inside your seat), and scarier were the thoughts of coming back on the same route when our seat numbers were 34, 35, 36 (the last row of seats).

Savita calls me at around 7 in the morning (Pune group has already reached), “Where have you reached?”
Me (unaware of what lies ahead): I think we are a bit late but we should be there by 10 or 10:30.

After facing some traffic-jams on the way, we knew that we are at least 1.5 hour behind the schedule; the bus reached Ankola at 9 AM and stopped at Kamat Hotel. It had started raining by then. After some time we were told that the road to Goa is blocked due to rain. There is plenty of water on the connecting bridge and the news coming in was that the water level is still rising.

After waiting for around 1.5 hour, the passengers of the bus decided to take the train route. Because we were just 120 km from Goa, no one wanted to turn back. The bus took us to Ankola Railway Station. We got to know that there is a train Ankola-Madgaon at 11:30. Hardly had we started believing that we’ll reach Goa, it was announced that the 11:30 train is cancelled because of heavy rains. Damn! So, when is the next train? 5:30 PM. We were still deciding within ourselves whether we should wait for another 6 hrs at the platform, is it worth a wait; comes the next announcement: 5:30 train to Madgaon stands cancelled too because of the submerged railway track. Great! So this news put an end to all the discussions leaving us with no other option than to wait for the rain to stop and the roads to clear.

Though we tried for other options like taking interstate buses, buses through Hubli, attempts to book cabs (even at higher proces) but all in vain. Everyone was just too scared to go that way.

Finally the bus took us back to Kamat (where all buses for that route were halted) and we waited there till 4 PM when we heard that the Sea-bird buses have started leaving for Goa. We felt a sense of excitement again. The buses had really started and we had hardly moved 5 km when the bus was stopped by some cops. They were turning all the heavy vehicles back saying that the road is still not open.

Back to Kamat and it is still raining. The only option left now is to head back to Bangalore. We didn’t have time to waste. The day was setting (there was no sun by the way) and it was getting darker. The later we go, the lesser were the chances of getting a bus to Bangalore.

6:15 PM – Hired an auto from Kamat to Ankola bus stand only to realize that we have just missed one bus to Bangalore and the other buses left are full. No Vacant Seats! We were advised by some local people to catch a bus from Ankola to Kumta and from there we would be able to get buses to Bangalore. Did we an option not to believe them and think of our own?

Boarded a bus to Kumta – 40 km. Luckily got a seat in the otherwise packed bus and unluckily got the worst possible seat in that bus. Of the two windows by my side, one window pane was broken (read missing) and the other was so loosely fit that it was roaring into my ears. So cacophonous it was that I felt like breaking that one too. We got down at Kumta in even heavier rain at 7:30 PM. Rushed straight to the ticket counter and I was the happiest person on earth to know that a KSRTC bus will leave for Bangalore at 8 PM.

The rain was just not stopping and mind you, it was not drizzling, it was pouring; but who cares, we have a bus now. We loaded ourselves into the bus and parked ourselves into the best possible coordinates as if we are the owners of the bus. Yeah, the bus was more or less empty. I teased Pranali, “Won’t you like to board an AC bus?” We were hungry, we were drenched and we were tired, but this bus took all our worries at once.

I recalled the “Jab We Met” Kareena Kapoor dialog, “बस भगवान् जी, अब और excitement नहीं चाहिए बोरिंग बना दो जी अब इस रात को ”.
The bus started. We were now on our way back to Bangalore after converting a supposed-to-be-exciting Bangalore-Goa-Bangalore trip into a more-adventurous Bangalore-Ankola-Kumta-Bangalore trip.

But, I pictured: “पिक्चर अभी बाकी है मेरे दोस्त” when our loving bus had a flat tyre at NT Road, Shimoga. 2 AM in the morning. Could I ask for a better night-out for myself? I walked out of the bus till the driver-conductor duo replaces it with the spare tyre they had. Sometime later, I observed that the driver-conductor duo is not doing anything and just waiting for something and discussing. Out of curiosity, I just asked them, “अंकल जी, अब क्या हुआ?” And to my amusement, they replied, “सर, ये जो स्टेपनी है, ये फिट नहीं हो रही ये टायर इसके साइज़ का नहीं है ”

I mean, how is that possible? It was like “carrying a cycle tyre as a stepny to your scooter”.

“तो अब क्या करोगे?”
“कुछ नहीं सर, वेट करते हैं, KSRTC का कोई और बस आएगा, तो passengers को उसमे बैठा देंगे ”
“^%%^$&%*%!#” अब क्या बोलूँ मैं?
The other passengers were also out by now.
Even after a wait of around half an hour, no sign of any KSRTC bus. A bus came in the opposite direction. They lent the spare tyre. The tyre was replaced and we were on wheels again. Anything else is in store for us?

The bus stopped at another Kamat restaurant, but we were relaxed that we are very near to Bangalore now. So, we freshened ourselves and had good breakfast. We had a mini photo shoot inside the bus only to save as a witness to our miseries. Finally! We reached Majestic at 11 AM.

But to take things again to the negative side, cancelling the Sea-bird return tickets was another nightmare that we faced. We had to spend almost 3 hrs in and around Sea-Bird office to get it done and I reached home at 4 PM completely drained, no energy left.

That was the end of our pain but I must admit that the 2 girls: Priyanka and Pranali, were too calm all this time. Girls generally are expected to cry/crib in such a chain of failures. But these two were way too energetic to walk all along without giving any negative vibes. But I must say, the long weekend was completely utilized :P

Next morning I got up with the newspapers filled with the news of floods rightly mentioning some of the areas where we had been just a night back.

Spot me if you can…

Posted by Praveen राठी in , ,

Let me first tell the reason of my high unavailability on the blogs in past one-and-a-half month. I was on internet but most of my time was eaten up by the “Tours and Travels”, “Hotel Bookings”, “Bus and Train Schedules” sites. I was apparently on India tour and was travelling most of the time covering all modes of transport (by road, rails and air):

Aug 22: Pune – Bangalore: Infy Transfer
Aug 29: Bangalore – Delhi: Indigo Flight (One rupee ticket :P). At Pravesh’s home
Aug 29: Delhi – Rohtak: To my home
Sep 2: Rohtak – Chandigarh: With mom
Sep 6: Chandigarh – Delhi: For Delhi Airport.
Sep 6: Delhi – Bangalore: Indigo Flight (One rupee ticket :P).
Sep 20: Bangalore – Kochuveli: With Parents. Charge with Nithanand.
Sep 22: Trivandrum – Kanyakumari: Parents saw the giant ocean waves for the first time.
Sep 23: Kanyakumari – Bangalore: The train saw around 30 UNO games we played on the way for 9 hours continuously.
Oct 1: Bangalore – Goa: A failure!
Oct 2: Goa – Bangalore: A success!

And on the cards is: Bangalore – Trivandrum: Sometime in October end.

In all these movements across state borders, I have even forgotten to give my new phone number to some of my friends. Let me finish this one quickly!

If things continue to be like this, I am afraid I need to put a “Where is Rathee?” gadget on this blog (inspired by “Where is Tom?” of “Ask Tom” fame).

Though most of these tours and trips were nice experiences in their own sweet ways, but the last one: “Bangalore – Goa” deserves a special mention here because of its link to a much bigger picture. Let me try to write separately on this in my next entry.

"Majha" Pune to "Namma" Bengaluru

Posted by Praveen राठी in , , , , , , ,

I had already finished my packing the earlier day with some minor leftovers for the last minute. Dad’s got office. Prepared breakfast and had it too. My train (to Bangalore) is at 11:45 AM and his (to Delhi) at 5:30 PM. Army Chief “Deepak Kapoor” was visiting AFMC. Dad left. I rushed back and forth in the rooms recollecting if I’ve missed something to put in my bags. Dad came back early (got me a bottle of hand sanitiser) and we prepared meals for the travel.

As it happens with most of the parents, they load their child with almost everything in their capacity without realising that their kid needs to carry all this. Ditto situation and the same question. How do I carry this stuff now? But my dad is never short of ideas – ideas driven by common sense. Why not? Being in Army, he has been doing all this packing, packaging and pulling for around 35 years now. Result -> I had the heaviest of luggages and I was the most confortable carrying it.

Left the house.
We are sitting on the back seat of the auto to railway station but not talking much. But we are looking at each other in between through the rear-view mirror. We’d be departing in opposite directions today.

Reach station. Enter train.
I was thinking that I am the first one to enter the compartment until I noticed a 50-something uncle sitting on the upper berth holding his undergarments in front of the AC. Gosh! What’s he doing? Is he putting a filter for the air to come out? Nah! he is trying to dry these. After a struggle of some 10-15 mins (how long could he hold these in hands?), he tied his lingerie stuff to the pegs around him. Better than before, but still! Others have entered in but might not have noticed (busy in setting their luggage) the display of his stuff. I got up and suggested him that it’ll take more time for these to dry under AC, better take it outside and spread your “Andar ki Baat” things under the fan outside the compartment. Perhaps he liked the idea, unpegged them and moved out. Good!

Start the train and the phone calls. Grrr… everyone is talking about swine flu. “Put on a mask”, “Take Tamiflu”, “Cover your nose”, “Don’t touch your face” etc. etc.
The longest phone calls since… I don’t know when. But never had I talked for so long that my hand set heats up. This time I could feel the warmth of the phone as well as of the ‘S’ and ‘P’ on the other side. Yeah, a conference call. Signal was coming and going, but the call went on, battery dying but the call went on. For around 2 hrs.

Dinner time. Sleep time.

After 2-3 rounds of increasing the temperature of the AC, the people were still feeling cold. The oldies asked for the AC to be switched off. Damn! Why are they travelling in AC coach if they can’t live with it? I couldn’t sleep the whole night and managed to catch some sleep only in the morning hours.

Reached Bangalore half asleep. Got surrounded by the auto-wallahs and coolies as I got down but I was in no mood to let them carry. As I am walking out of platform 1, 3-4 auto-wallahs are following me. A routine talk with these guys:

Auto Driver: Where sir?
Me: Electronic City.
Auto Driver: [Almost holding my luggage] हाँ, जायेगा ना. चलो बैठो.
Me: कितना?
Auto Driver: ज्यादा नहीं लगेगा सर.
Me: [मेरे पास ज्यादा हैं ही नहीं देने के लिए…] फिर भी कितना?
Auto Driver: 300 दे दो सर.
Me: [Ha Ha! I have only 250 in my purse!] बहुत ज्यादा है.
Auto Driver: ज्यादा कहाँ सर! बहुत दूर है. अच्छा चलो 270.
Me: [पर अंकल इतने पैसे ही नहीं हैं, बाकि क्या कपडे उतार लोगे?] 200.
Auto Driver: क्या सर. इतना दूर है और वहां से खाली रिटर्न आना है. कोई सवारी नहीं मिलेगी. 250 दे दो. [Got hold of one of my bags]
Me: [एक तो ये सामान वैसे ही काफी भारी है, ऊपर से तू भी लटक जा!] 200 से ज्यादा नहीं हैं मेरे पास. प्रीपेड ऑटो स्टैंड किधर है?
Auto Driver: सर, मीटर से चलो. Meter one-and-half.
Me: मैं बस में चला जाऊंगा. सिर्फ 20 रुपये लगेंगे और बस को रिटर्न खाली नहीं आना पड़ेगा.
Auto Driver: बस नहीं मिलेगी यहाँ से.
Me: [बेटा मैं पहली बार नहीं आया हूँ यहाँ!] [I start walking. He is left behind.] ओह! नहीं मिलेगी? कोई नहीं अंकल जी, Thank You. मैं पैदल ही चला जाऊंगा. :)

Dragged my luggage from railway station to bus station (Majestic) via an under road subway. Got the AC volvo (could not get AC in the train, atleast here). 45 Rs and I am there. Wohoo! I am thinking – Good that the auto driver didn’t agree to my offer of 200 Rs. :)

Adieu Pune !

Posted by Praveen राठी in , , , , , ,

"अबे तुझे तीन हफ्ते हो गए ये कहते कहते कि इस हफ्ते जाऊँगा, इस हफ्ते जाऊँगा अब जायेगा भी कि यहीं डेरा डाल के बैठा रहेगा "

"हाँ, इस बार पक्का "

"अगर अगले हफ्ते यहाँ दिखा तो खैर नहीं तेरी "
"हाँ भई, मुझसे इतना घबराने कि ज़रुरत नहीं, अगली मुलाकात ऑनलाइन ही होगी "

ये आखिरी हफ्ता कुछ इस तरह कि बातों में गुज़रा

The train has started. Pune wonders are fast leaving behind.
Na! I am not writing this while in train, otherwise I would have definitely mentioned about this beautiful girl sitting in the same train compartment as me diagonally across, doing something on her laptop and looking at me in between from over her laptop. :)

Mar 9, 2008 morning 2 AM (night rather), when I first stepped on this land, very little did I know that I’ll fall in love with the city so soon.

As I pack my bags, I am trying to relive the time spent here and recalling each of these moments is making my luggage heavier with its bit.
[1] First and foremost, for the first time in my short life of 25 years, I stayed with my dad for such a long time. Found a new roommate in him – caring and loving. :) आहा क्या राजसी खाना खता था मैं - दही में केसर डाल के, रोज़ आधा लीटर बनाना शेक, घर के खाने कि बात ही अलग है

[2] Stay at AFMC: Students strive hard to get into the Armed Forces Medical College – go through various rounds of tests, counseling etc. And here I was without the slightest of struggle and enjoying every facility provided – from library to canteen to swimming pool. Army personnel all around, I got to have a closer look into their lives.

[3] Cricket, TT, Swimming on weekends. My weekends were never so active since I joined Infosys. AFMC life was full of sports. I had always wanted to do more-and-more swimming. Swimming, diving, cycling, somersaults – I learnt them all.

[4] You go to any Infosys campus; it will leave the imprints on your mind. And Pune DC was no lesser. But I was more attracted towards the food here. It was more home-sick making. I loved it.

[5] Trips to Lonavla, Shivneri, Alibagh, Sinhgarh, Bheemashankar and Lonavla again.

[6] Of all the cities (not many though) I have roamed around, Pune was different. It is greener than any other city I have seen. The outbreak of swine flu was the only sad part; otherwise Pune air is very healthy.

Pune embraced me so tightly, if given a choice, I would love to come back and settle here for the rest of my life. I have always been telling people that Pune gives you the pleasure of both worlds: a Bangalore like weather (or maybe better) and a Mumbai like lifestyle (or maybe better).

Note: Wrote this on Friday, but set the time to be published on Saturday. Last post from Pune.