Friday, June 22

gift idea

I forget birthdays. It always happens that I remember the birthday either a week earlier or a week later. The other day was my colleague's birthday. He turned 26. Other co-workers reminded me and were discussing what kind of gift would be good for him. Ah! Finally, One birthday I can make a difference. One of them was making a joke, "He is the kind of guy, who would drink Phenoyl for free! You can just gift him anything".

Well, technically there is no such thing as Phenoyl. Its an Indian spelling of this strong and pungent liquid with phenolic odor, typically used as a sanitizer and deodorant for toilets, drains, grease traps, septic run-off areas, kennels, poultry and animal pens. Some websites spell it as phenyle, but I am not so sure. If you know what it is exactly, Please let me know. Whatever it is, it is not edible, and this link[pdf] says it is "Irritating. Ingestion may cause nausea and abdominal pains. Severely irritating to eyes."

I said, "Why don't we gift him that ? A bottle of phenyle ?". She said, "No!!! I was just joking. He always said he wanted a photo album. We can buy a good photo album." She might have told it as a joke, but I can't get rid of the idea of buying a bottle of pungent, irritating liquid as a birthday gift. So, I bought them both - a photo album and a a bottle of pheyle (Its really cheap! Only Rs. 10/bottle). I gift wrapped the bottle of phenyle with this note stuck on the bottle.

Talk is that you would drink a bottle of phenyle, when its free.
I would say,
    There's no better day to clean your toilet, than your birthday.
Happy Birthday.

At the party, the un-wrapping of the photo album was un-eventful. I told him I have a special gift, that he should open. I gave him the bottle, wrapped with a really nice, light brown gift wrapper. He felt it was a bottle, and asked if it was some kind of champagne or wine. I said, "Not exactly. But, you are on the right track. Its something you would drink!"

He was surprised, of course. I encouraged him to open and smell it, so he could be sure. And, what you know, he did smell. He said this gift would be most unforgettable one in his life. Yeah! Sure. I can't forget giving it either. Well, it takes just 13 rupees(bottle+gift wrap) to make one of those moments of life, that you can laugh about. Now he has a story, that he can tell his grand children, later in his life. So do I.

Tuesday, June 19

contemplating glory

I was reading the blog Happiness Project today. I was reading this long quotation from Victor Frankl's book - "Man's Search For Meaning.". The quote is a great read. This line at the end of the post was thought provoking. I had read that book long ago, but didn't contemplate this much about these lines, then.

For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory."

Perpetual Contemplation of an Infinite Glory - Moments of glory can be infinite in the dimension of space, but it can not be perpetual. They can't perpetuate, can't last forever. Only thing that is left then is the contemplation about such moments. I think, that just means that memories of the past and hope for the future makes us happier than the moments themselves.

Happiness is what happens between. Because when those moments happen, we know very little about how good or bad they really are.

Monday, June 18

the rajini experience

There is a festival in India, predominantly celebrated in the north, called Holi. Well, the idea of the festival is to spend a whole day throwing color powder and water on each other. I don't know what that sounds like to you, but personally, I think that festival is a conspiracy by the laundry owners association of India. I don't buy this holi-thing at all. Making my clothes colorfully dirty isn't something I would be really happy about. They may be colorful, but Come on! It's still dirt. I think it has no logic to it. It seems bizarre that people fall for such a trick by those laundry owners. But people celebrate it anyway - and celebrate it in loud, muddy, mucky, and may be even in unhygienic ways. Funny how, they seem to be genuinely happy about it. So are hundreds of festivals around the world, that have absolutely no logic.

That is the only way to approach Rajinikanth's movie release. It is a film festival. No, not those film festivals, where these big shots of movie business get together and watch painfully sad movies, that are purported to be the exemplars of modern cinema. This is a celebration about an addition of this unclassified genre of colorful, stylish and enjoyable movies, and only way to call them, ah well,is Rajini's movies. (This is a post, that assumes a little knowledge about Tamil movies, especially Rajinikanth. Some information available here, here, and here. You can skip this post anytime, you don't like.)

So, a new Rajini's movie - Sivaji - was released on Friday. Anyone who hasn't been brushed by the Rajini's phenomena before, would ask, "I don't understand this kind of fan frenzy. Whats so great about this guy or this movie ?". You don't understand a Rajini's movie, you celebrate it. You are just happy that there is another Rajini's movie released today, you can go watch, and live the Rajini experience. If you still say,"I don't get it". Yeah, I don't get that holi-thing either. But, hey, it is a part of the culture, anyway.

I am in Hyderabad now, and so I would have to settle with a telugu-dubbed version of Sivaji. This makes it very difficult to imagine the equivalent dialogues in Tamil.(I am native of Tamil Nadu) But, Rajini could have spoken Japanese on screen, and it wouldn't have mattered anyway. Its impossible for the language to get in the way of Rajini's ultimate screen presence. The first scene in the flashback, where Rajini returns from USA, is just AWSUM. I remember, how I felt after a 17 hour flight back from the US. I could describe myself feeling like human feces, and probably smelling like that too.(Can I use the word SH*T?) But when Rajini arrives on flight from US, on screen with a white suit and an orange tie, I couldn't help looking him at awe. What shall I say ? I am a fan and was exited like a little girl with her pink new shoes.

Story line is a successful merge of the stereotypical Rajni's movie with stereotypical Shankar's plot. Rajini returns from the US, very rich, builds a university in India (and get a girl in the mean time), but loses everything building the university, thanks to a corrupt system. The rest of story is all about how he gets back at the system, by recruiting local rowdies(for his own law-enforcement) and then by money laundering. And thus, Rajini gets his revenge-of-a-wronged-man story line, inter wined with Shankar's usual screw-corrupt-system-literally plot.

Well, the story may be typical and dubious, but Rajini is no stereotype. It is impossible to look anyone but Rajini, when he is on the screen. Every frame, when Rajini is on, has been enhanced and worked upon meticulously with such a finesse, that, it is just magical. Ground breaking work on stunts, camera, special effects, art and direction. Flipping coins, swinging the coin back and forth with sleight of hands, catching the gum on the rebound - Rajni is so conscious on what he does on screen, he sure is super star. Man, I want to see the movie again (again, language doesn't matter!). And after a long time, I watched a movie with pieces of paper flying all over in every song! (It is customary to throw bits and pieces of paper overhead especially for movies with super stars, such that it glitters on the light from the projector and gives an illusion that Rajini is dancing in paper rain. It might actually annoy you, if you aren't used to it. But, its a lot of fun, if you are part of it!!!)

I don't think any actor is as frame-aware and fan-aware as Rajini. Kamalhassan is sure a better actor than Rajinikanth, but there is a difference. Kamal not only acts, but becomes the character, and doesn't give a damn about who is going to watch his movie. Rajini, on the other hand, talks to the camera and the fan, as the character/as himself, in way that doesn't insult the intelligence of the fan. (Many who try to emulate Rajini - Simbu, Danush etc. - end up offending the viewers, making them feeling stupid for paying for the ticket.)

Overall, Sivaji yet another Rajini experience. But if you aren't a fan of Rajini and still wonder how seemingly smart people would fall for cheap tricks for a man who, according to you, is just over-hyped crap, I would just say this - with a wink -

Coool!!! (You have to watch the movie to get this ;))