Towel Day

If you inspired the name of my blog, the least I could do is acknowledge Towel Day here on 42. Whether it is to wipe dry the ol’ wet, or the forethought of a young wise owlet, or der Anhalter singing O Welt, carry a towel we all shall.

Now if you will, I have a deadline to meet. No, I do not like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. A translation awaits. And the only way the Babel fish can help is by being up for grilling. So here I disappear, with a puff of logic.

R.I.P., Sir. You are missed. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

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W-T-F Q Person Are You?

First there was the Farcebook hype. Then there was Farcebook, which plateaued after the initial high of having rediscovered kindergarten classmates and high-school crushes. After that came an attempt to rekindle the FB charm with an insane influx of quizzes. Ask any random question – chances are it’s likely to be a Farcebook quiz.

Farcebook certainly has been imaginative in creating random quizzes to guess your personality.  Where they lack imagination, however, is to tell you your personality based on the kind of quiz you take. For now, let’s pretend you have answered subtle questions like What is your favorite color?, and multiple-choice ones like Do you prefer to travel or watch a soap?. It’s not your answers, but the quiz you took that reveals the person that you are. At least according to the “What Type of Farcebook Quiz Person Are You? Quiz.

1. LIVID (Likes Ideal Vacations to Imaginary Destinations)

Adventurous, Exotic and Itinerant may well be your favorite words in the dictionary. Your favorite pastime happens to be browsing the dictionary. You love traveling the world, but only through the Face of Books – and you completely trust their decision on where you want to travel, since they know you better than you know yourself. The less enlightened may call you a loser, miser, or a couch potato. But that simply isn’t you. You are a content, frugal settee-spud stud. You love the idea of ogling basking on the warm Caribbean Beaches one minute, and experiencing the freezing beautiful snow-capped Bavarian Alps the next. Adventure means a lot to you. In other words, you will take a game of  Atlantis over Tetris, anyday.

#Your favorite quiz is What Is Your Ideal Vacation Destination?

2. PLOP (The Previous Life Opportunity Ponderer)

You are charmed by the arcane. You delve into the depths of your past life and ponder over opportunities lost. If you were still the Shakespeare that FB said you used to be, all your blog posts would have been books by now. Or, the jokes your friends do not laugh at would have been “Kafkaesque,” instead of just plain flat. You could have been Liszt or Chopin in your previous life, not because of your musical genius, but the sheer number of women at your fingertips today. You like to question, and you even question science with your psycho psychic noitingocerp*. Who you are today, or what you can do with your future isn’t very important. We’re all going to be dead at the end of it. But what you really look forward to is the futuristic future – the next life, where you can take a quiz and find out what you were in your previous life.

#Your favorite quiz is Who Were You In Your Past Life?

3. SCAGS (Side-kick Character in A Giggly Soap)

You are compassionate. You always identify with the unnoticed, giggling best friends of central characters in soaps. In fact, that is the very reason you would rather do justice to this obscure lame quiz (as opposed to a mainstream lame one) like What Beer Are You?, or Are you an Alfa Romeo or a Ferrari?. Given the opportunity, you will never choose to be Seinfeld in Seinfeld, nor Fraiser in Fraiser, or Raymond in Everybody loves Raymond. You identify with the fake fanciful people on screen rather than the wicked ones in the harsh world. Your personality alone is too monotonous for you. You want to give it character (no pun intended) and adorn it with numerous peripheral personas.

#Your favorite quiz is Which [N.A.M.E.O.F.S.O.A.P.] Character Are You?

4. MMCP (The Mean Machine Car Personality)

Let’s Face it. Cars often have more personality than people. Has a Corvette ever given you a dense, lost smile any time? Never. It has always looked back at you with attitude. You like to see yourself as the mean machine. Flashy. Full of gloss. Smokin’. Raving Revving. Why, with fiber like that, you could even fly! Alas, those four conspicuous tires – add to that balding with time – is what keeps you rooted to the ground.

#Your favorite quiz is What Car Are You?

5. PWNER (Paranoid of the Wicked, Nasty, Exploitive Repercussions)

You are the paradox of all Farcebook quiz personalities. If you ever took a Farcebook quiz, it would tell you you are a person who will never take Farcebook quizzes. You are paranoid about the repercussions that might entail. What if Farcebook makes it look like some “fun quiz” but is actually profiling me? What if it sells my data to some third party? If I suddenly find some brochures to exotic getaways in my mailbox, would it be because of that harmless quiz I took? What if it picks some vague answers I give just for kicks, and labels them as my personality flaws traits? And what if they sell these traits to some insurance company who will then hike my premium and co-pay? What if….?

Perhaps this is how you think. Or perhaps you have a spouse, who may or may not be reading this, thinks like this and has got you thinking on similar lines as well. You will most likely not take a quiz on Farcebook. Instead, you will turn to your whining personal web-space and blog about it.

# If you had a favorite Farcebook Quiz, it would be Why would people want to take those Farcebook Quizzes and volunteer their privacy?

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*If seeing far in the future is precognition, seeing far in the past must be noitingocerp.

Edited 110409

Share a Tune: Inspired Music in Indian Films

Till about half a decade ago, I would think of Anu Malik as the black sheep of the Indian film music industry – for unapologetically lifting tunes off any source he could lay his hands on, and passing them off as his own. Old westerns numbers, ethnic tunes, even older numbers from our very own Bollywood films. That’s not to say I now believe he doesn’t do it anymore. But today, I’m wise to the fact that he has not been the only one in the industry guilty of imitation. What worked against him, is that he happened to achieve fame in an age where information is very easily accessible to laymen and the elite alike. People are more aware of tunes from around the world, and can easily look up information on an original composition as soon as they hear a Bollywood number even remotely resembling it.

And while I do grant Anu Malik his share of talent for original music, this post is not in his defense, nor is it about him. This post is about his forefathers in the industry. About the stalwarts of Indian film music, who, in addition to rendering brilliant originals, borrowed liberally from sources around the world. Fortunately for them, people like you and me did not have the resources to figure out who borrowed, and from what source. Moreover, the layman had limited access to music, unlike the gentry in the profession. So it was very unlikely that the common man would have heard any music from another part of the world.

One way of looking at it is, everybody stole, but only a few got caught. But before we write anyone off, let us think about this – some of the best world melodies known to us today have been introduced to us through these people. Today, I’m happy that I’m able to hum a melody so haunting as Salil Chaudhry’s Dil Tadap Tadap (Madhumati). Had he not been inspired by a Polish folk song in 1958, I would be completely oblivious to its existence. And hold your breath – even R.D. Burman’s Chura Liya. If it weren’t Tuesday, and had that not been Belgium, Indian music would be one short of a magnificent number. Wouldn’t you be willing to forgive a few inspired lines, if they promised to transcend into an ingenious original composition that would create history?

The dynamics of copyright law, technology and culture were different then than they are today. What is copyright, but a bargain between the creators and the public at large? No doubt, it would be optimal if the source were credited. But we are talking of a time when the musical archives were not readily accessible. One may have heard a tune anywhere, from a street musician abroad, to a jukebox in a coffee shop, to a concert one was fortunate to attend. Few were blessed with access to good world music, and they were kind to bring it to the masses. I, for one, am thankful that they did.

I have given below links to some of the more popular Bollywood tunes that were inspired. You will find a comprehensive list on the Itwofs (Inspired Indian Film Music) website. Be in for a surprise!

 

S.D. Burman:

Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhagisi (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi) – 16 Tons (Tennessee Ernie Ford)

Hum The Woh Thi (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi) – The Watermelon Song (Tennessee Ernie Ford)

R.D. Burman:

Tumse Milke (Parinda) – When I need you (Leo Sayer)

Mehbooba Mehbooba (Sholay) – Say You Love Me (Demis Roussos)

Tera Mujhse Hai Pehle (Aa Gale Lag Jaa) – The Yellow Rose of Texas (made popular by Elvis)

Phir Wohi Raat Hai (Ghar) – Sing a Song (Carpenters)

Kahin Kart Hogi (Phir Kab Milogi) – The Lonely Bull (Herb Albert)

O.P. Nayyar:

Babuji Dheere (Aar Paar) – Perhaps (Doris Day – but originally a Mexican song)

Laakhon Hai Yahan Dilwaale (Kismat) – Red River Valley (Gene Autrey)

Yeh Hai Bombay (CID) – Clementine

Laxmikant-Pyarelal:

Om Shanti Om (Karz) – Om Shanti Om (Lord Shorty) Yes!

Ek Rasta Do Rahi (Ram Balram) – That’s the Way (KC and the Sunshine Band)

Shankar-Jaikishan:

Kaun Hai Jo Sapnon Mein (Jhuk Gaya Aasman) – Marguerita (Elvis Presley)

Gumnaam Hai Koi (Gumnam) – Charade Theme

Aaja Sanam (Chori Chori) – Tarantella (Italian folk)

Sayonara (Love in Tokyo) – In a Persian Market

Panchhi Banoon (Chori Chori) – Coming through the Rye (Robert Burns – the one here is by the Baysiders, though)

Edited to add: How would you like the irony of this write-up? Looks like a similar post was written a couple years ago. Of course, I had no idea about it until Shefaly mentioned it. But since neither ‘pot’ nor ‘kettle’ have a nice ring to it, I’d gladly give it a mention and continue being called ‘g’ :) !

March Past

march-past /mɑrtʃˌpæst, -pɑst/ n. A wake-up call to stalling tax-filers that April is almost here.

Usage: The amateur procrastinator files his taxes at March-past. The seasoned one still has the luxury of a couple weeks before parading to the post office.

Root: march-past

To the Express(ive)ly Challenged

Dear Unspecified-designation Middle Manager with an MBA,

This post is dedicated to you. I hope you’re up for some object-oriented knowledge transfermy two cents on the phrases you overuse and abuse. I have no doubt that you have the bandwidth to process it.

There was a time your ludicrous flowery language brightened my day. But at the end of the day, there’s only so much Jargon Lotto (nee Buzzword Bingo) one can enjoy. Needless to say, this calls for a paradigm shift. Going forward, we need an action plan to revisit these phrases and downsize them.

From your side, you will have to be a bit proactive and push the envelope. Perhaps you should start thinking outside the box. But on second thoughts – if you want to be original, the best practice is to just stay put and think inside the box. Every other manager, his team and their mothers-in-law are busy thinking outside it.

Let me help you understand – originality is no rocket science. For that matter, even rocket science is not really rocket science – it’s aerospace engineering. But more on that another day. At this point, we need to remain goal-oriented and result-focused. For now, I’m even willing to pretend the two are not redundant.

If you leverage your skill-set smartly, you could actually come up with a grade-A synergy. And why, if we ever find ourselves on the same page, you could even explain to me what the hell that means.

While we are at it, there’s another thing we need to transition into – we need to stop verbing nouns. Especially nouns which don’t exist. For instance, you do not incent people. You pay them. It’s extremely annoying. Let me translation that for you – it really annoyances me.

You could use any method you deem best. You could parachute in with fellow managers, do some blue sky thinking, or even resort to old-fashioned brainstorming. Be informed that the lattermost might require a brain. I do not recommend thought showers, however. It might set our readers thinking on lines that have nothing to do with the real sense of the term. Too late, looks like they already are.

I’m certain you have noticed by now how ridiculous I’ve been sounding. Well, that’s how you sound 24/7. Don’t think any more. Just go ahead and pull the trigger. Else I will. The aftermath could be discussed during post-mortem.

We’ll touch base soon for a performance measurement. Don’t ping me, I’ll ping you. If you have anything to say about this, I’ll take it offline.

Edited 031609

AM WAY-TING TO AMBUSH YA (Part I of II)

There must be very few of us who are not quite familiar with Hamway and its antics. The h in Hamway is silent – just like the h in honest. Ha! Hamway and honest in one sentence, how about that? But I digress. Enough has been blogged about the Hamway dogs and their devious approach, about how they will skillfully sneak up to an unsuspecting you in a grocery aisle and ask the most imbecile question, bearing the most innocent countenance. Ironically, the more imbecile their question, more seasoned is the player in the game. Because if they ask something even a degree more intelligent, your possible response of “I have no idea” will stop the conversation right there and defeat their purpose.

One typical question that should set off the Hamway-alarm is, “Could you recommend one to me?” One here refers to whatever it is that you’re looking up, be it a fascinating Swiss-knife or the usual gallon-jug of 2% milk. But the shrewd imbecile will say something like “Oh that’s a wonderful car-seat! Where did you find one like that?” or “Wow, you’ve strapped your baby so beautifully in that seat! How did you do it?” The “wonderful” car seat is a standard navy infant seat almost every baby-owner blindly picks from the most obvious store first-time parents shop in. And anyone who has strapped a baby in a seat knows that she’s either strapped, or she isn’t. There’s nothing even remotely beautiful about the process, other than perhaps the baby itself. But no, let me still praise the very mundane things to make the cretin in you feel like Superman.

The rest is just a matter of steps in the Hamway manual – Mrs. Hamway joins in, praises the gooey bib or your plain grey sweatshirt, pleasantries are exchanged, camaraderie established, an e-business sneakily mentioned, phone numbers given with promises to ‘catch up’. Hamway and the missus walk away with the casual triumph of having totally taken in a clueless retard. Little do they know that you were just indulging them with some basic face-saving courtesy.

So my point is – why let them have all the fun? You’re humoring them anyway, go ahead and humor yourself while at it. This, I think calls for a Part II. Long alert – come back later, and/or read it in bits and pieces, if you suffer from ADD. Skip it altogether if you suffer from laziness.

AM WAY TOO SMART FOR YA (Part II of II)

So there was a time the husband and I were hounded by Hamwayites. We must have a default Hamway-suckers look on our face. Either that, or we likely lived in Hamwayville back then. In the beginning, we’d hurriedly head in another direction as soon as we smelt an Hamway rat a few meters away. Or, we’d keep conversing nonsense with each other so there was no scope for any interruption. But the more we observed their cookie-cutter technique, the devil in us begged to be unleashed. (Who would put a Devil on leash anyway? Maybe Phantom, but I digress again).

If Mr. and Mrs. Hamway do RTFM, they split before they approach you. We decided we’d follow suit. So as soon as we get the whiff of Mr. Hamway, I walk to another aisle – with an eye out for Mrs. Hamway. The husband would look up some gadget or a relatively complicated product; I’d look up – and scrutinize, mind you – a no-brainer like disposable plastic spoons. Sure enough, she will come with a candied sweet smile and ask, “which ones are good?” (Eh? There’s only one kind here, no options). But I’ll still glance at the brand and say I prefered these. “Thank God the store has them!” Artificial conversation continues, and we establish a “connection” as we’re both from India. (Seriously – how many Indians do you come across in the US? Isn’t it nice to finally see someone from your motherland?) We become best pals in just a few seconds, and walk together to the husbands. The only thing we don’t do is hold hands.

Back in the aisle, H1 is going ga-ga over H2’s choice of gadget, while W1 still can’t stop praising W2’s choice of picnic spoons. Introductions happen. Everyone shows surprise at the coincidence of how the spouses met separately. Everybody goes “Yeah, right – idiots!” in their respective minds. We decide to meet for coffee sometime. Surely you see that if we like the same gadgets and picnic spoons, there is no way our political views and ideologies could differ? Mr. Hamway decides this is the right time to casually mention his e-commerce business he’d like to tell us about.

Scenario 1: We’re simply delighted that he brought the topic up, and the husband mentions he’d like to talk about our business himelf. Gropes in his pocket for a card, realizes he’s out of them. “Oh, but you could look us up on xxx.bww.com.” The key word here, my friends, is bww.com –  a probable domain of any BWW “business-owner”, and Hamway’s retarded cousin. The look on their face – priceless!

Scenario 2: We go home, he calls as expected, on a Sunday evening. That’s when they always call. It can’t be a coincidence – perhaps some marketing psychology juju. I take the call, keep rambling and giving useless input when the conversation is about the weather or something half-witted. Every time the poor thing tries to mention his e-business, I either pick another word from that sentence and go totally off topic, or pretend to be interrupted, mutter a sorry, pick up a different thread and continue rambling.

But I must admit it was disheartening to realize that the person who was so excited about my baby’s gooey bib did not have much patience for my views on Masala films, or the French Onion soup in the local bistro. What did make up for it, however, was the amusement of detecting a steady increase in his impatience. He made no effort to hide it either. Finally, of course, I had to hang up, since “the baby was crying”, but I didn’t forget to tell him how wonderful it was to chat with him nevertheless. Nice of him to call and say hello, really. I can bet I’ve been the object of Ampletives (ample Hamway expletives).

Scenraio 3: This is a rarer scenario, in case the Mr. Hamway in question seemed to have just landed from India and was brainwashed before he could say “Quixtar!” We almost felt bad for him. So – the husband agrees to meet Mr. Hamway for coffee. Mr. Hamway, who was quite looking forward to being the Speaker of the Day ends up being the Speakee instead. Husband transmogrifies himself into a Math. lecturer, complete with a pencil, the Scarbucks paper napkin, a ready formula to rattle out. With super-confident schemas and annotations – well, the coffee-shop equivalent of those – tells Mr. Hamway how they are all being taken in by a few holding the strings. It would take eons for any riches to reach his level in the pyramid.  Even if the pyramid scheme did really work, they would soon run out of people in the world within just a couple levels. In other words, you’re duped yourself, what’s the point in duping others? Checkmate.

It’s been a long time since we did any of this, though. We’re getting old, and there are other useless things demanding our time and attention. These days, if we smell an Hamway rat a few meters away, we hurriedly head in another direction. Or, we keep conversing nonsense with each other so there is no scope for any interruption.

Present Tense

present tense /prěz’ənt tɛns/ adj. Anxious about whether the gift you plan to give your sweetheart would be appreciated enough.

Usage: Crap. It’s that You-don’t-love-me-enough Day again. Always makes me present tense; I must love her at least $100 more this year.

Root: present tense


I put this up on Twitter the other day, and Naren came up with a very nice rejoinder. I’ve added Usage, Root and the IPA pronunciation:

gift rapping /gɪft ræpɪŋ/ n. Delivering a sharp blow with the knuckles to one’s beloved’s head for a pathetic present.

Usage: Crap, it’s the usual cheap fake diamond ring again. Honey, could you come here when you have a minute? There’s some gift rapping to do and I’d like you to be present.

Root: gift wrapping