Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Status Update

Been a hectic last few days here at Pittsburgh. Came here on the pretext of attending a Machine Learning conference, but my achievements have been elsewhere. Be it a visit to Lake Erie to meet a friend, or to Niagara Falls (like a true desi) at the drop of a hat, or eating tuna dishes (3 meals in 3 days) - which is a mean achievement for a veggie like me.

The conference has been good, a little more down to earth than I expected, but thats ok. Got to meet some of the famous names in this area, whose papers I had read for years now. My blog backlog is huge now, with bloglines showing a list of more than 100 blogposts to be read. So I guess I will put the wireless internet to good use, while nodding and pretending to appreciate all the talks.

And I will answer this one question all of you may have -- I expect myself to take around 7-10 days to undo the effects of the conference and refill my cynicism tank. Postings on completely inane topics are expected around early to mid-July.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The case of the stolen kiss

In American Beauty, the character of Ricky Fitts had said - "Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in". But it took me almost six years to realize the meaning behind this dialogue. Well not so much about the beauty as about the "heart caving in" part.

A few days back I was hanging out at my home with a friend and generally flipping through channels when I stopped at IndiaTV's announcement of its latest exposé. The anchor, visibly excited to the extent of hyperventilating, shouted about IndiaTV's hottest news of the hour. And yes, you guessed it right, it was about the issue that had rocked the entire nation that day - Mika kissing Rakhi Sawant in front of the cameras.

Now, maybe it was the carpal-tunnel in my hands from playing so much video games that I couldn't change the channel, or maybe it was the beer that enhanced my judgement abilities, but I knew that I had struck gold.

Although I was shocked at knowing that this was THE "breaking news" of the hour, but I like low grade gossip as much as the next person, so I was hooked. To our joy and amusement, that breaking news was discussed at length for around thirty minutes and less important things like the FIFA World Cup had to wait. I will refrain from saying anything about this, but probably Rakhi Sawant's beauty was too much to handle for a simple Punjabi boy like Mika, so his heart probably caved in. Rather than missing the kiss, he decided to kiss the Miss. Little did he know that one smooch (and that too lousily done) would leave such a bad taste in the mouth, cheap pun intended. One small smooch for Mika but one giant lawsuit in his, uhh, you know where. Word on the street is that he has gone underground to evade any arrest (much on the footsteps of his elder bro Daler Mehendi). I can almost imagine the conversation between Mika and his fellow subterranean dwellers:

Mika: Paaji, whom are you hiding from?
Javed: I committed a triple murder a week back. The police of two states are trying to hunt me down. Why are you hiding?
Mika: O koi nahin, main Rakhi Sawant nu ek chummi de ditti. (Oh nothing! I kissed Rakhi Sawant)
Javed: Really!!! Oye Shukat, Arun, sab suno, this man kissed Rakhi Sawant. Wow man! you are like our hero and everything!!

When the chips are down, its high-quality news and low-grade actions like these that help cheer me up. That prod me to see that indeed, there is so much beauty in this world. Although I had found the world to be pretty, but not heart-caving beautiful yet. But little did I know that I was an impatient fool. That the last half-hour was only a build-up to bigger and better things to come. Much like "Fellowship of the Ring" was a trailer for "Return of the King", but I digress.

So after extensive coverage of the unholy smooch, IndiaTV tried to play mediator between the warring parties. The 29" screen of my TV was split in three parts - occupied by Rakhi, news anchor and Mika respectively. For those who play video games, this felt like Mortal Kombat except that in the game, the only thing the mediator says is "Round One, FIGHT!"

After much mud-slinging, colorful usage of vocabulary by either parties, and an exemplary display of impromptu thinking (mostly by Mika), the anchor realized that he is supposed to mediate and not laugh his ass off. So when Mika said that he has "full support from his true fans, who believe him", Rakhi was asked the same question in the most hilarious way:

Anchor (spoken with a straight face): "Rakhi, aapke bhi kaafi fans hain. Jo aapke item songs pasand karte hain, jo aapka.....(long pause).....kaam pasand karte hain, woh bhi to aapke saath honge?"

Needless to say, my day was made. This outstanding show of journalism had egged the total amount of beauty to beyond what my heart could handle. The cave-in was complete.