Saturday, March 18, 2006

Its finally happening

India is finally catching up with Amrikaa. And before all you nationalists start boycotting my blog for this blasphemous statement, et me clarify. It happened somewhat like this. Sometime last year, the Adlabs company decided to adopt the C-grade theatre of Huma outside the Kanjur Marg station in Mumbai. Now Huma's claim to fame till then was that it was a theatre for the masses. It was the place where auto-drivers and taxi-wallahs used to throng, to spit paan on the walls and relax on the crumbling chairs. The place of the ubiquitous "morning show".

Now Adlabs literally took the hall apart and replaced it with a shiny 4-screen multiplex. So far so good. Apparently they wanted to cater to the crowd from the nearby suburbs of Vikhroli, Hiranandani and the spill-over crowd from the various malls at Mulund. Not to mention the thousands of students from the nearby IIT.

Now I like to waste 150 bucks or so on a mediocre movie now and then whenever I find time, so I am a regular visitor at Huma. But for some reason, I have never found the halls sold out or even 3/4th full at any screening. Not even a weekend night. Apart from "why am I still single?", the mystery of an empty Huma has kept me awake on many nights.

Well, tonight's experience was so mindblowing that I had to waste 20 minutes describing it you and in turn waste your time too. I had gone there to watch some random movie, and saw that there was a decent queue (>2 people). So I thought that finally I would not have to face my fear of "large empty spaces". After buying the tickets, I got a first warning sign when the usher asked me twice if I wanted to go to Screen 1. Really? Let me see your ticket. He opened the doors (we were the first of the audience) and Vikram and I were the only ones in the empty hall, standing in deference to the anthem being played. After some nervous foot-tapping, we were joined by a young couple, who were making a movie on their own on the backseat.

There it was. Four people in a hall meant to seat 200. On a Friday night. In Mumbai. And I have had movie experiences like these only in the US. Hence the title of the post.

By the way, all four of us left in the interval because the movie sucked bigtime. I wonder if they kept playing the movie in an empty theatre. I wonder how they make any profits with attendances like these. With the huge AC, the housekeeping, electricity bills and everything. Sure they charge exorbitantly, but only, like 10 people, actually buy tickets.

I am sure this will keep me awake tonight.

Friday, March 17, 2006

I am back

Woohoo! Finally the back-breaking drudgery of incessant work is over. For all of my readers, who were anxious about my long absence, the wait is finally over. Yes, I meant both of you.

A lot seems to have happened in the weeks gone by: Blasts in Varanasi, a record smashing cricket match, a test victory for India, and the moving on of a good friend. He finally decided that reading my inane blogposts was a waste of his precious student time. So to make it worthwhile, he took a job in Delhi so that he can waste company time doing the same thing, rather than his own. As a reward I got his throne [his lab desk actually] and his 21" monitor to watch Mithunda's movies on. But although I may occupy his chair, it will be more like Denethor guarding the throne for Aragorn, except that there isn't an Arwen in his sight right now.

Enough said about moving on. Some things, thankfully, haven't changed. Like the general studdappa (called "Ptushun" in Delhi lingo) of Bombay, my iron-grip on my single status, and Ganguly's ouster from the Indian team.

Thank god for small mercies.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Those were the days

Read this nostalgic and at the same time mildly naughty post. Reminded me of the days gone by when porn was an openly integral part of everybody's life. Termed as pondi, pondz, pr0n and wotnot, the essence remains the same. Rose by any other name.....

Although it has been more than 13 years, but it seems like yesterday. At the tender age of 13 years, I was introduced to the world of porn. It was the early nineties, and internet wasn't even born, CDs weren't popular enough, so printed media was pretty much our saviour. A school senior had managed to procure an 'educational' magazine named BodyTalk. Like first love, I vividly remember my emotions at that time. I was very curious about the number of Xs on the front page (there were 3, as I clearly recall in hindsight), and there were two German female models that looked very anxious to teach us sex education. Now being the class geek and all, I was at the front of the queue to receive gyan, and boy! did I receive gyan or what! However, the seniors were not always so generous with the supply and I was not aggressive enough to persist, so such devi-darshans were few and far between.

And then came 1997. The magical year. When I entered the hallowed halls of my college hostel. Having done the hard part of clearing the entrance exams, the priorities underwent a slight change. Applied Mechanics gave way to Playboy and Quantum Physics lost to Basic Instinct without scoring. Yes, it was a booming time. When friendships were forged and broken on the basis of porn and it was porn that kept us together in our darkest times. It was our dreamland where the bombshell girl would not judge us by our semester grades or our week old beard. Where everyone was loved and no one left empty-handed (ahem!). Where fantasies became reality and reality became a distant dream. Where the 9 pointers and 4 pointers were equal. And jocks and nerds were indistinguishable. Yes, those were happy times my friend!

The transition from printed porn to digital porn was smoother than Tendulkar's cover drive. It felt like a natural progression, the survial of the fittest. Darwin was never truer. It was also the start of the digital revolution in India. And the half a dozen CD shops around the campus were always ready to pander to the basic needs of the teeming thousands inside the campus. A trip to the CD shop had a clear agenda - one Jackie Chan CD, one Hollywood CD and one CD for the night. On second thoughts, make that 2 CDs for the night - you never know if the first CD is scratched. KLPD ho jayega na?

The CD shop was another marvelous entity in itself. The shop owner used to memorize each and every CD that passed his shop.

Student: Bhaiyya woh swimming pool waali hai kya?
ShopOwner: Pool..hmm...oh woh hotel ke pool waali..haan hai...
Student: Nahin aap shayad kuch aur samajh rahein hain.
ShopOwner: Bhai wohi na jisme woh Brazilian ladki hai?
Student (sheepishly): Haan wohi...bahut suna hai uske baare main.
ShopOwner (triumphantly): Maine kaha tha na wohi hai. Ye rakhi hai. Sasura naam bhi nahin hota hai in picturon par. Bahut dikkat hoti hai yaad karne mein.

The movie night was spent fast-forwarding the Jackie Chan movie and move on to the real maal. In that era, when computer count was 0.1 per capita, hordes of curious souls would gather together in that ceremony to see Lena the Warrior Princess or Sex-Files. The owner of the computer was like the high priest, who had veto power over deciding which scene had repeat value and which babe wasn't worth a dekho. He also had one more power. To ask the horde to vacate his room because usko abhi sona hai. The most pathetic codeword. The poor souls, deprived of seeing the thrilling climax of the story, would take their revenge by peering over the ventilator and banging on the door just when the dude was about to 'fall asleep'. Whats that you ask? What about the Hollywood movie? That used to be unopened most of the time. Harrison Ford would lose out to the vily charms of Candy and Holly. Sigh! the good old days.

The hostel was a home to all and sundry. And there were those, who were not impressed by the appealing graphics. Flash a page/scene to them and nothing. Nada. Zook. They were the ones who got their kicks from reading the same stuff. And the internet was their messiah. Spending unearthly hours ogling at the internet sites, gleaning amongst the candidates, and in a final swoop of victory, finding that one story that would make their day (or night). The one story which they would forward to the entire junta the next morning and bask in the glory. "Abey kya sahi kahani thi baap!".

And then there were the pseudos. Who would tirelessly mention how they liked the story in a particular XX movie. The same kind of sickos who read Deb for the articles.

Yes, its true, the hostel was home to all kinds of people.

After a gap of so many years, when I finally return to hostel life, I find lots of things have changed. Firstly porn is now completely free. No more pooling money to buy the Penthouse annual edition. No more asking the friends for 20 bucks to rent that CD. Free Porn. Free as in free beer.

However, I find that while the essence is there, the purpose is lost. Gone are the days when finding porn was as important as enjoying it. When the journey was as exhilirating as the destination. Hunting the hostel wing, going door to door. "Yaar PlayBoy hai kya? Nahin? Chal theek hai......sun sun, kuch khane ko hai kya?". And then one would find his friend in the corridor, wearing that naughty DevAnand grin, waving that CD in his hand and shouting "oye! mil gayi re!". And you would know that all the search time was time well spent.

Finally, I would like to end my homage to the old school of pondigiri by a quote:
Porn: It is what you enjoy between the times you study.


[Disclaimer: 1. If the article portrays me as a depraved lunatic, then there is nothing I can do about it. The article is already public. In reality, I am a happy, well adjusted grad student. 2. If you were googling for porn and this article turned up because of the frequency of the usage of the word 'p*rn', then I sincerely apologize for wasting your time. I do not host such material. Please go to the next search result, and chances are high that you will be amply rewarded.]

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Which phobe are you ?

Was going through a list of phobias to see if I had anything (yes, thats right, I have nothing better to do at 9 on a weekday morning). As it turns out, I am a walking psychotic timebomb, a prime candidate for the luxury suite at Agra's most famous landmark - the mental institution. Some of my endearing qualities are:

(List courtesy this website)

Ablutophobia - Fear of washing or bathing. (More like laziness than a phobia actually)
Agrizoophobia - Fear of wild animals. (If I see a lion from up close, it is time to change my pants)
Altophobia - Fear of heights (hmmm..still on phobias beginning with 'A')
Arachnophobia - Fear of spiders (stomp stomp stomp!)
Automatonophobia - Fear of ventriloquist's dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues-anything that falsely represents a sentient being. (was sh*t scared of mannequins when I was 7)
Claustrophobia/Cleisiophobia - Fear of confined spaces (When I die, I would like to be burnt, not buried, thanks very much)
Ergasiophobia - Fear of work or functioning (sigh! thats true, you got me. I fear and hate working)
Gamophobia - Fear of marriage (this one is shared by all men)
Medomalacuphobia - Fear of losing an erection (again, this is every man's nightmare)
Phronemophobia - Fear of thinking (yeah baby! thinking is for losers. I am more of an action guy. Kaaaching!)
Stygiophobia - Fear of hell (with deeds like mine, where else am I gonna go)
Taphephobia - Fear of being buried alive or of cemeteries (this one keeps me awake at night. Can never forget that scene in Kill Bill 2)

And now some of the funny ones. Can't help thinking who would have these phobias.

Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth (no comments.)
Coprastasophobia - Fear of constipation (such dudes have a tough life for sure)
Dishabiliophobia - Fear of undressing in front of someone (who won't have this phobia!! streakers I guess.)
Coitophobia/Genophobia - Fear of coitus (poof! there goes the bloodline)
Eurotophobia - Fear of female genitalia (combine this with coitophobia and you have a rockin life!)
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia - Fear of long words (need I say more)
Phobophobia - Fear of phobias (At last, a metaphobia!)
Pteronophobia - Fear of being tickled by feathers (Obelix's nightmare)
Venustraphobia - Fear of beautiful women (perfect phobia to couple with coitophobia and eurotophobia).
Urophobia - Fear of urine or urinating (how do urophobes discharge bodily fluids then? On second thoughts, don't answer that.)

Asterix the phobia guy.