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daily blunder Fun Narration Personal

Daily Blunder | ‘Brutally’ Honest

I know it’s been over a year and a half (or rather, a year and three quarters) since I wrote a proper ‘daily blunder’. Well, there wasn’t exactly a paucity of blunders in my life to go on a ‘blunder-break’, so to speak. I’ve a database of infinitely-huge blunders that I could well publish a book on it (which is actually in the pipeline as we speak). As you might’ve guessed by noticing the frequency of posts (or sheer lack of it) in this blog, I was on a major writer’s block. It was on the compulsion (read: death threat) of a very close friend, that I chose to come out of my cocoon. Read on, if you still haven’t left this page out of boredom. 😉

If there’s one city in India which I love (second only to my hometown, Trivandrum), it is Kochi. For those who haven’t heard about the city, it is the commercial capital of the state where I reside – Kerala (India). Well, in a narrow minded mallu point-of-view, there’s nothing to like about both Kochi and Trivandrum either, but somehow, I fell in love with the city, which has been my home for the past one month. Oh btw, I got a job in this busiest city of Kerala. It’s been a month since I joined, and I’m all the more thrilled at the prospect of getting paid to use Facebook (yes, you guessed that right, I’m the Social Media Manager. At this small but growing company called NT Global).

Oh, I digress. More on the job on yet another post. 😉

So, this happened about a couple of weeks before I joined NTG. I had come to Kochi on a leisure trip with a friend of mine, Vishnu. Kochi wasn’t a part of our original itinerary. Vishnu was in search of a proper meningitis vaccination, so that his admission to a major US university would be through. We searched every single hospital in each nook and corner of Trivandrum and Kochi for the vaccine, but to no avail. Finally, we zeroed in on the elusive vaccine at a leading hospital in Thrissur. Jobless back then, I too set forth on an unplanned trip to Thrissur with Vishnu to get his vaccination done. After nearly a month of harrowing search for the mysterious vaccine, Vishnu got vaccinated in merely 20 minutes, at this hospital. Glad that our job on hand got over unexpectedly-early, we decided to halt at Kochi, stay there that night, go mall-surfing (read: window-shopping) the very next day and then return.

The very next day, we geared up for some serious ‘mouth-looking’ (translate that to malluspeak, or ask your friendly neighbourhood mallu if you didn’t get that 😛 ). Both Vishnu and I are serious literary- aficionados. We read, or rather, consume, virtually every book under the sun (provided it is captivating enough to satisfy our momentary vicissitudes). So that fateful morning, we decided to hop into a decent book store to start our sojourn.

We walked into the nearest mall, and located its sole, medium-sized book store. Like predators munching on their prey, we consummately started feeding on our staple diet of books. We didn’t notice time flying, as we carefully selected authors of our choice, browsing eagerly through books, both famous and obscure, satiating ourselves. Before we knew it, our tummies started rumbling – it was lunch time. We picked a couple of moderately-priced books and proceeded to the counter. The man at the sales counter seemed glad that we had finally decided to purchase books – he thought we’d sit there for the entire day, browsing (not that we didn’t intend to do that, but our tummies protested!). Vishnu was short of money, so I offered to pay. I fished out my purse from my pocket  to pay for our books; the cost of both would come down to around Rs 450. I fished a 500 rupee note from my purse and placed it at the counter.

 

Suddenly, the phone at the counter rang. The salesman at the counter picked it up and started talking. It seemed that the person at the other end was his wife or girlfriend or something. Unmindful of our presence, he started a very cheesy tete-a-tete with his lady love. We were exasperated. We didn’t have all day to wait. We could virtually hear our tummies which were about to burst. Vishnu gave the counter-guy one of his typical glares, magnified through his high-power glasses. The man seemed to take note of the stare, and quickly interrupted his motormouth girlfriend and cut the call. He took the books from our hand, checked the price and announced:

“450 rupa aayi, sir.” (Please pay Rs 450, sir)

I gestured at the 500 rupee note I had placed on the counter. The counter-guy looked at me, puzzled.

“Sir?”

I frowned and looked at the counter. My note was missing. Er… did I take that note from my purse and kept it on the counter, in the first place? I quickly rechecked my purse. At a quick glance, I notice that It had only one 500 rupee note and a few notes of 100. I had originally taken two 500 rupee notes from the ATM, or so I remembered, and one among them was missing. So obviously I had kept it on the counter. The counter guy had probably taken the note and shoved it to his safe.

“Njaan daa ippo paisa eduthu vachathe ullu. Kandille?”, I said. (“I’d just placed the money on the counter, didn’t you see?)

“Illa sir. Enikku… enikkormayilla…”, he replied. (Er…. No. I don’t remember, sir)

Vishnu came to my support:

“Alla, avan paisa eduthu vaykkunnathu njaanum kandathaa. Ningal eduthu counter il vachathaayirikkum,” (I saw him place the money on the counter. You must have absent-mindedly placed the note in the safe, accidentally)

The sales guy was scratching his head with the back of his pen. He opened the counter, checked the notes inside for a moment, thought for a while, and said:

“Ayyo, enikku orma illallo!” (Er… I don’t remember)

By now, I was sure that the counter guy was trying to con us. I politely convinced him that I did place the note on the table. Vishnu also went on to support me. After a few minutes of give and take, the counter guy finally agreed that I had indeed paid him. He apologized profusely for his mistake and gave me the balance amount of Rs 50. He neatly placed the books into a cover and handed it over to us, with a smile. We smiled back, and scooted from the place.

We decided to have lunch from the mall’s food court itself. It didn’t take a long time for us to finalize on our choice of food – noodles. The food court had a pre-paid system. You had to pay initially, and the food would be delivered within a short while. As I was opened my purse to pay, I had the shock of my life.

There, inside my purse, rested TWO 500 rupeee notes.

We had conned the book store. I didn’t pay them ANYTHING. We got the books for free!

If there’s one attribute I value more than anything else, it is honesty. I can’t say that I’m not a liar, but I try my level best not to lie/cheat. Pangs of guilt started attacking me. I had made a huge mistake – severe enough that the counter guy might even lose his job! 500 rupees was a huge amount in bookstore-lingo. I immediately shared my situation with Vishnu. He smiled.

“Buddy, I seriously think you need to give this a miss. We got a great deal man! We saved 500 bucks and got couple of good books for free. And we were paid 50 rupees too (the change) for accepting them. Cheers to us!”

I didn’t buy Vishnu’s reasoning. No sooner did we finish eating our lunch, I rode the escalator back to the first floor, and went to the book store. The counter guy saw me and smiled. He still didn’t realize that he was conned.

I gingerly walked up to him, and slowly made him aware of the situation, with apologies, weakly trying to conjure a smile. Surprisingly enough, the counter guy smiled. He said that such mistakes happen to everybody, and I was indeed a noble person to accept my mistake and promptly correct it. I paid him the 500 rupee note, profusely apologized once more and left the place with a lighter heart and a smile on my face. I had done a good deed, that day. God will reward me.

I reached home, late that night, by train.

The very next morning, I was rudely woken up by my mom. She was grumbling something. I drowsily opened my eyes, and vaguely tried to listen to what she was trying to say. Apparently, she had fished out an ATM receipt from my jeans pocket and was complaining about something related to that.

“… Mone, nee ingane paazhchelavu cheyyaruthu. 1500 rupa nee ATM il ninnum edutho? Ithream cash enthina eduthath? Ninakku paisa undennu karuthi ingane chelavakkaruthu. Save cheyyaan padikkanam…” (Son, don’t spend too much like this. You took a whopping 1500 bucks from the ATM? Why did you take so much money and splurge it? Don’t have the impression that you can spend like crazy cause you have money with you. You should start saving…)

My heart skipped a beat. Slumber left my eyes in a moment’s time. I grabbed the ATM receipt and looked at it again. It seems I had withdrawn 1500 rupees the day before. I had THREE 500 rupee notes with me, not two. I failed to notice the third note, which was kept in another chamber of my purse!! I didn’t make a mistake the other day, and I’d given an extra 500 rupee note to the book stall.

To cut a long story short, 500 rupees gone down the drain.

“Amma paranjathu shariyaa. Paisa sookshichu chelavakkanam”, I sighed. (Mom, what you said is true. I should start spending judiciously).

P.S. True story.

Categories
Story

Lies

A good movie is intellectually stimulating. Especially, a Mani Ratnam flick. Fresh from watching ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’, I stifled a yawn and flopped onto the bed, thinking about the Tamil refugees of Sri Lanka, on which the award-winning movie was based on.

It was about 11PM. On a normal day, I’d be sleeping like a log by this time. I closed my eyes, with the soothing notes of ARR’s ‘Vellai pookkal’ giving me company. It was a long day. 3 movies at a stretch isn’t exactly good for your eyes. They were literally pleading for some much-needed rest. So was my body. My running nose, thanks to the cold I’d caught wasn’t helping either. It was time to embrace morpheus’s arms…

But, I didn’t.

The standard edition android clock silently proclaimed the time – 3.22 A.M. Nearly four and a half hours had passed since I hit the bed and the god of sleep was yet to bless me. Now, this is queer, for, I’ve never lost sleep in the past few years. Whatever be the day, sleep would be setting in by 10.30 and I’d be flat by 11. Today, something went wrong somewhere. Hmmm.

I went by all the rules in the book to get some sleep. Yes everything, from counting non-existent sheep to reciting the many names of Lord Arjun. Virtually all of them fell flat. Within a couple of hours, I’d see daybreak. I was bored and tired, but not sleepy.

How in the world would I sleep?

I groped in the dark and picked up my phone and started doing something which was my last ditch effort at getting some sleep – browsing through my phone’s contacts and messages. Now, I’ve over a thousand contacts in my phone, thanks to Sony Ericsson’s facebook sync. I usually filter out the FB contacts and just opt for the few 100 ones in the phonebook, but for some reason, FB sync was enabled.

Now, that’s odd. I clearly remembered disabling sync. Mainly cause I keep contacts with only a few close friends and I didn’t want my phone to be cluttered with numbers and emails of random acquaintances whose number stood at a whopping 2k.

Anyway, I gestured my thumb and the long list of contacts flowed down, name by name. Most of them were acquaintances, some were old friends. Each name brought in many memories – some worth cherishing, some forgettable. I gestured faster and the contacts scrolled down at a higher rate. I was barely noticing the contact names now, I just kept on flicking my finger. It went on and on, never seeming to end.

Soon, my thumb started paining from repeated exertion. I pressed my finger obliquely on the screen and the scrolling stopped. I lazily scanned the names of the 7 odd people who populated the display. There, I saw an image which took my breath away.

It was her.

The contact image showed a tall girl wearing a pink dress, sitting by a rock. It was a different image of the same girl which haunted me, 7 years ago. I used to be mad about her. I must have written umpteen letters to her, but ended up destroying all of them. Worse, I never had the guts to speak to her, despite having got the opportunity to see her every other day. Fate split us into separate ways and I never thought I’d get to see her again. I vaguely remember sending her a friend request, but had forgotten all about it. Apparently, she had accepted my friendship.

I was on cloud 9!

Eagerly, I pressed my thumb on her photo just to have a closer look at that face which used to haunt my dreams. I had the surprise of my life when her contact details became available.

She had listed her phone number in FB!!

Memories started trickling in… I clearly remembered requesting, nay, begging our mutual friends for her number. I never got yes for an answer. Now there it was, right in my mobile, saved in my phone’s contacts. I made a mental note to thank Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s dubious privacy settings, (which made her phone number public, albeit unknowingly).

Wasting no more time, I dialled her number!

It was 4.23 AM, and she’d probably be snoring off. Not that I cared. Something told me that she’d pick up. Within ten seconds after dialling, the phone started ringing. My heart beat seemed to be in sync with the soft whirring ringback tone. If she picked up, would she get to hear my heartbeat, I wondered. As each second passed, I waited with bated breath for the sound which, for me, was sweeter than M.S. Subbulakshmi’s mellifluous cadence…

The phone rang, and rang, and rang. Exactly 47 seconds later, the whirring sound stopped. A clipped voice announced in Tamil something which was self explanatory, the customer I was trying to reach wasn’t answering.

My heart sank. I should’ve known better. Nobody but me would be awake at this time, on a Monday morning. She’s to go to work and probably her shift starts at 11, a useful piece of info shared by my friend who used to be her co-worker.

Dejected, I pushed my phone away and closed my eyes. I suddenly felt tired, my eyes felt heavy. Morpheus seemed pleased with my giant leap of faith and blessed me finally. Within ten minutes, I was fast asleep.

I woke up to the sound of the famous Sony Ericsson jingle. I drowsily fished for my phone, unlocked it and placed it by my ear.

“Hari?” an unusually-sweet female voice queried.
“Yes?” I replied, still half asleep.
“I felt so happy to see your call.”
“Uh. Huh,” I was still groggy. Part of my mind was trying to place the voice while part of me was coaxing me to get back to sleep.
“In fact, in fact, I have been
expecting this call for over seven years. ”
That sentence jolted me back to reality.
“Only if you’d called me a month back…”
My heart skipped a beat. Shaking off my sleep, I quickly asked:
“Who is this?”
“I’m sorry, I should’ve told you about it before…


“Hello?”

Bloody hell. My phone got switched off! But I didn’t need any more guesses to know that it was her. I quickly fetched the charger from my bag, and somehow managed to switch the phone on. What was she saying? Why did she say that I should have called her earlier?  I called her back. To make things worse, her phone too was switched off…

What was all that? Was it a dream? No the call was real. It was from her number alright; at least the number that FB said was hers. I tried calling that number all day. I even sent her a few texts, to no avail. Her phone remained switched off. I couldn’t focus on anything that day. What was she trying to convey to me?

Later that day, I logged into FB and checked her profile. The familiar pink clad display pic greeted me with a smile. My heart melted at that smile. I took a closer look at her photos. She wasn’t as pretty as she was, back then. But still she was beautiful, even ravishing. I scrolled down to see more of her photos. Suddenly, my heart stopped.

She was sitting along with a guy on a stage. She looked really pretty, and happy too. The guy was also beaming.

Her engagement photos.

I quietly clicked the back button and opened her timeline. “Good to see that you’re getting hitched. Congrats. Really happy for you both!”, I posted.

A blatant lie.

I slept soundly that night.

P.S. Based on a true story, reported live.

Categories
Movies Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Review

The world’s coolest pirate has arrived yet again, sporting his off-red bandana and hoop earrings. With that distinctive gait of his, Jack Sparrow embarks on a quest for the ‘Fountain of Youth’ in the latest installment of the ‘Pirates’ series – On Stranger Tides.

The movie’s plot is inspired from Tim Powers’ novel of the same name. The story entails a three-chariot race to the legendary ‘Fountain of Youth’. Sparrow sets foot in London upon hearing that an impostor has conjured up a journey to the fountain. He is captured by the King’s forces, and meets Captain Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush), now a privateer, who asks him to join their journey to the fountain before the Spanish, who are already chasing the fountain, make it. Sparrow manages a spectacular escape, and meets his original impostor, who in reality was Angelica (Penelope Cruz) – his former love interest. Angelica drugs Sparrow and takes him aboard ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’ – her father, legendary pirate, Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane) ship – which is on also on a quest for the Fountain of Youth. Meanwhile, Barbosa is hot in their heels, duly assisted by Sparrow’s first mate – Gibbs.

Gore Verbinsky has stepped aside for Rob Marshall, who wields the megaphone. The director of flicks like ‘Chicago’, and ‘Nine’, Marshall has given a signature style to this edition of Pirates – especially the action choreography. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are noted by their absence — the onus is entirely on Depp to take the plot forward, and he does it with elan. ‘On Stranger Tides’ is an out and out Jack Sparrow movie. His mannerisms and his endearing camp-gait impresses the viewer. Depp does everything from swinging from a chandelier to scaling palm trees while being tied to it. The best sequence is the initial ‘carriage-hopping’ sequence; the crowd in the theatre applauded wildly to the exquisite stunts, astonishingly, shot on a single-take! Cruz looks just great as the female lead. McShane is menacing evil Blackbeard while Rush ably reprises his role as Barbosa.

Full marks for the action sequences – they’re way ahead of the previous installments in the series. The CGI, coupled with 3D is indeed spectacular. Special mention goes to the mermaids – yes, there are loads of them in the movie. Unlike stereotypes, mermaids in this movie are vindictive and bloodthirsty – even vampire-like (the Twilight effect?), which makes them all the more attractive (Psst, their boobs are up for the grabs, pun intended. 😉 ). 3D is icing in the movie’s cake. Through my viewing experience was hampered by an inferior-quality theatre, I’m sure other viewers might have a better tale to tell.

That said, the film is lengthy, at 136 minutes. The story, in all its tedium, is average, and the meandering script only makes things worse. The plot is, at its best, chaotic. POTC has become a franchise of sorts, in the model of Harry Potter – and the plot for this movie seems tailor-made just to keep the franchise afloat. It hasn’t helped the the story is based on a novel. A lion’s share of action sequences are filmed at night, bringing in a visual tedium of sorts. Yes, your eyes tend to droop for brief spells. (A friend of mine actually slept through half of the movie).  The first half, despite the cart-hopping action sequences, drags.

Despite all its shortcomings, ‘On Stranger Tides’ manages to satisfy the average ‘Pirates’ fan, albeit marginally. If you’re a Jack Sparrow fan, the flick is worth a watch. Else, gear yourself for a mishmash of action sequences, amidst a chaotic plot.

My Rating: 5.5/10.

 

Categories
Movies Review

Urumi – Review: Style and substance

Santosh Shivan is one of the best cinematographers in the countryAs a director, he has sparkled in the past with movies as diverse as ‘Tahaan’ and ‘Navarasa’. As the ace cinematographer returns to direction once more, one expects some mind-blowing visuals in a power-packed movie. And that’s precisely what ‘Urumi’ has to offer.

Urumi is the story of Chirakkal Kelu Nayanar – a warrior in 15th century Kerala. The story, being told in flashback, has Krishna Raj (Prithviraj), a struggler based in Goa, who gets to know of his vast ancestral property in Kerala by a mining company which wants his land. All set to sell it off to the company, he comes back to Kerala where he gets to know the story of his ancestors from a tribal. Thus unveils the story of Kelu Nayanar, who wants to take revenge for his father’s death by killing Vasco Da Gama. Ably supported by childhood-buddy Vavvali (Prabhu Deva) and Arackal Ayesha (Genelia) – a warrior princess, he sets off to get Vasco’s blood.

This is not Santosh’s first period film – he has done ‘Asoka’ before. The experience has held him in good stead – Urumi defines perfection. The film has Santosh Shivan written all over it. The visuals are spectacular. Shot mostly in Malshej, Maharashtra, the locals are exquisite and look stunning in Shivan’s frame. Even the mist, most of which is natural, looks quite striking. All stops have been pulled to underscore even the last detail. Shankar Ramakrishnan’s script is quite straightforward, and helps the viewer focus into the nuances of the story perfectly. The connection between the flash-back and present is quite ironic and deserves applause.

Acting by Prithviraj is quite commendable. Prithvi excels as the angst-filled hero, living by his father’s ideals. His dialogue delivery and body-language is quite impressive. Genelia has shed her bubbly girl-next-door image to become the warrior princess – Ayesha. She does a good job, playing the menacing princess. Prabhu Deva effortlessly fits himself to the role of Prithvi’s sidekick, providing for the occasional laughter. Surprisingly, he even speaks decent Malayalam. Nithya Menon, who plays Bala, the ‘Chirackal’ princess, sparkles with her childish gait. Jagathy Sreekumar’s Machiavellian Chencheri Kurup is outstanding. He displays a Shakuni-like brilliance, drawing many accolades. The foreign cast, Robin Pratt and Alex O’ Neill – who play Vasco Da Gama and his son Estavio Da Gama respectively, are decent. Vidya Balan, however, is excess-baggage. Her item number is disappointing, with the actor exposing her not-so-perfect figure.

The highlight of the movie is its stunts. Internationally-acclaimed stunt-masters have been roped in to do martial arts for the movie. The movie justifies its title; the ‘urumi’ a.k.a. ‘Curling Blade’ depicts itself in every single stunt scene, so much to the fact that you become a fan of the potent weapon. The fact that the movie doesn’t employ CGI comes across as a high-point. Actors like Prithviraj and Genelia have in fact, acted in the stunt scenes themselves. The final clash between Prithviraj’s soldiers and Vasco Da Gama’s army is amazing. Most of the slow-mo stunts are breathtaking. They leave you glued to the seat, open-mouthed in adoration.

Not everything about this flick is rosy though. At 170 minutes, the film drags. The editing should have been a bit more taut; at least thirty minutes of the story could be easily cut out. Apart from ‘Aaro Nee Aaro’, music by Deepak Dev is disappointing. So are the music videos, most of which are quite unnecessary.

Overall, the 20-crore movie is watchable and worth the effort. Kudos to Prithviraj and Santosh Shivan for producing coming up with such an epic extravaganza.

My Rating: 6/10.