Friday, June 30, 2006

A tribute to the Chennai autos?

This post is about an interesting article I read about a movie that's about to be made featuring auto drivers in Chennai as a part of the culture.

And I was like... are you sure?

I mean, have you ever tried speaking about Chennai to a non-Southie, one who doesn't know the language? The first response you get is almost always the way auto guys behave. Chennai might not be the rudest city around (when compared to the bigger brothers Delhi and Mumbai) but if there is a rudeness survey covering Chennai among global cities, I'm sure it's going to rank high up there, and auto drivers alone might contribute to half of it. People from the North might think that knowing the language alone would help, but I disagree. I pretty much get swindled every time I’ve used an auto in Chennai. Every time.

While the article acknowledges this,
Autorickshaw drivers won't win any popularity contests. Especially in Chennai. The average citizen has zillions of complaints about their attitude, tampered-with meters, fleecing and crass language. And we don't even want get into a discussion of their driving skills.
The directors apparently think otherwise…
But Pushkar and Gayatri don't think so. "The auto drivers in Chennai are very different from those in Mumbai or Delhi. They have a cool attitude. Even though they work under trying circumstances, they have a keen sense of humor."
I personally am forced to think there is no shortage of cool people around. I mean, what all activities are we going to add to the ‘cool’ list? Cigarettes are cool. Swearing is cool. Even pan chewing and spitting is cool in cities like Mumbai. And with this movie, fleecing hapless customers are also cool. Somebody do something!

I agree that Chennai is certainly very different from other Indian cities and a movie based on the city would be a good idea, but the hero being an auto-wallah because auto-wallahs are ‘cool’ and are a part of the city culture certainly doesn't appeal. Atleast to me. But ofcourse, it's might work. Simply because the other auto-wallah theme based movies like the Rajni-starrer 'Baadsha' worked wonders on the box office. But is it a proper representation of the city? It remains to be seen. I think Chennai would be far better represented through Madras Baashai, cofees, temples, lungis and maamis.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The journey into the mighty

Somebody told me like a year ago that there are lots of advantages living in a city like Mumbai. Of course, he was mum about the disadvantages, which is a long story too, but I recently got to purchase to a beautiful book that I was searching for some time now and that was certainly something good about Mumbai. There are just thousands of all sorts of esoteric books.

I've always been an ardent fan of Mount Everest and people who climb it. Not that I am a big-time mountaineer or anything, but the fact that there is something so challenging and people tirelessly try to scale up despite all the odds gives me goose-bumps. I mean, how could you not respect that mountain and the people who climb it? Looking at the technical details, you HAVE to believe in a superpower, atleast for this one time. Mount Everest, at about 8,850m is a marvel. With oxygen levels at 33% of the normal above the dangerous 'Death Zone', it is a mighty challenge. What makes it special is: had it been 300m taller, nobody would be able to climb without supplemental oxygen. Had it been 300m shorter, it wouldn't have been something that evaded people till around 1950's when people finally surmounted it.

My love for mountains started, arguably, during my Engineering College days when I got a chance to go to Ooty and Kodaikanal for the chill weather. There was always something very fascinating about the mountains. It was first love when I went to Manali a couple of years back. And I simply had to go to the Led-Ladakh (Jammu & Kashmir) trip that still stays as one of my bestest-ever. Life on the mountains is so unbelievably good. The chill that passes through the bones, the ragged woolen clothes sticking ominously around the body, the fumes flying out of the tea-cup, the people who don't know how to stop their smiles, and the ice clad setting. A paradise alright!

Coming back to the point, I got lucky during one of my regular sorties to the Crossword bookstore. The book 'Making of the Imax movie called Everest' was for sale. At a discount at that. The story-cum-photography book was available for around $11 instead of the usual $24. $11 is not cheap by any stretch of imagination, but I figured this book could be my once chance of motivation to somehow sometime make it atleast to the Base Camp of Mount Everest. With prices hovering around Rs. 15 lacs to Rs. 25 lacs, climbing the mountain itself would be impossible, even if I were physically trained and prepared to take the onslaught. But with just about Rs. 50,000 or Rs. 75,000 and a 15-day break from routine, I could make it to Base Camp sometime. Doesn’t matter when. All I need is time and motivation, and this book could probably be my only chance. This book has to be within my eyesight for years to come I don't aspire to be a Reinhold Messner, the guy who climbed all the 8000 m plus tall mountains without oxygen, but Base Camp is one of my dreams all right. Thank you Mumbai.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

30 secs on CNBC TV18

It was a fine weekend all right. After waking up on a Saturday morning with no so amusing prospects throughout the day, I was pleasantly surprised to get a call from IIMI's alumni association to be a part of audience in CNBV TV18's "Reservation Riddle" program that was telecast thrice last Sunday. The whole program was about Four IIM professors (Two from IIM-Indore, and one each from IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore) presenting their 'solutions' to the reservation riddle and we, present and past students of IIMs as audience, along with 2 more professors who were video conferenced, were supposed to drill down their solutions and find out if the solutions provide answer all types of concerns.

I figured it isn't an experience that get you everyday and decided to participate, skipping all my other not-so-important plans. I was more interested to see how all these debates/programs are organized and if there were any instructions to the participating audience to take a specific stand.

The CNBC office was, well, as good as you'd expect it to be. Lots of plush decors, TVs and projectors all over, and bright colors and digital projections everywhere you turn. And of course, lot of attractive people too. :) We were initially made to sit in a discussion room before getting into the studio. Most of them turned out to be alumni of IIMA, and there were some from IIMI. No other IIM was represented. You could say that the proportion was skewed.

What was actually surprising was how we were never really told what to expect and what stance to take. We were just made to sit in the studio and the program started in 10 mins after very basic instructions - who's going to speak and what's our purpose being there. To be honest, I was a little surprised because I was always of the impression that the host (Media and the host person) pours a lot of instructions on what to speak and what not to, effectively biasing the discussion. It was great to know that that isn't the case. The professors started giving their solution in no time, and we got very brief windows of time to make a point or two. I just took the opportunity to squeeze in a point towards the end.

So much for being on the TV! I can't believe I wasn't exploiting that opportunity, after being an ardent fan of the movie 'Requiem for a Dream', if you know what I mean.

In all, it was really nice experience being in the studio. More so to know first hand that these programs are not 'programmed' to be in a certain way.