Thursday, December 12, 2013

Five Movies That Should Have Been Hits But Weren't

Today I'm going to talk about some Hindi movies that ought to have done better but didn't. These days, there's a trend amongst upper-middle class youth to pretend they don't watch Hindi movies. It's as if we're programed to believe our own film industry isn't good enough for us. It really makes me wonder how movies like Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Singham and Dabangg do so well. I men, most of the revenue made by the film industry is from multiplexes and with ticket prices going up to Rs. 500 /-, I think it's safe to assume that they are mostly purchased by affluent people who otherwise like to pretend they never watch something like Agent Vinod because nothing short of James Bond is good enough for them (okay, Agent Vinod isn't good enough for me either so maybe Bollywood should make a good spy movie real fast).

Here's the thing- I've always believed that films are a reflection of society. Okay, so having a size zero heroine and a colourful, coordinated dance routine on some beach somewhere has nothing to do with reality, but the ticket collections are definitely a reflection of something. They reflect what we want to see. They reflect what our fantasies are. But sometimes, a good movies fails to make it to Cannes or maybe it's runtime is too long for the impatient audience of today (trust me when I say Lagaan probably wouldn't be a hit today because it ran, like, ten hours). Or maybe, it didn't was too simple to compete with Karan Johar-style extravagance and yet too commercial to do rounds of the festival circuit. It happens more often than we think. So here's a few movies that could have been hits if we watched them with an open mind and honest heart-

1) Aaja Nachle

A small-town Indian girl, Dia (Madhuri Dixit), elopes with an American photographer, forcing her family to leave town in shame. A decade later, after divorcing her husband (with whom she has a daughter) and succesfully running a dance studio, Dia receives news that her dance guru is dying. That's when Dia returns to her town, only to discover that Ajanta, the dance pavillion her guru ran and she loved, is now to be demolished to make way for a shopping mall. Her best friend and fellow former dancer, Najma, is married to Farooque, a shrewd businessman who is in-charge of constructing the mall. Dia then seeks help from local MP, Raja Uday Singh, requesting him to make a drop plans of the shopping mall because Ajanta is a place of art, culture and dance. Uday Singh presents her with a deal- he will cancel the demolition if Dia can put up a spectacular dance performance at Ajanta. But there's a catch- she can only pick her dancers from the town, where people have long stopped dreaming and dancing.

Dia decides to hold auditions for her play 'Laila Majnu', only to discover the qirkiest people with hidden talent- the local gunda who'll play Majnu, the untidy uncouth who loves him and therefore wants to play Laila, a docile insurance agent for Laila's brother, and a man desperate to prove to his wife he's not boring. But like all noble endeavours, this one is challenged every step of the way, with greedy politicians and businessmen doing their best to bring the production down.

The movie runs 146 minutes and I think maybe it could have tightened down to 120. Other than that, the movie succeeds in highlighting some problems faced by Indian towns. I mean, what the hell are we doing with so many shopping malls anyways? Even the upper-middle class mostly can't afford to shop at stores like Marks and Spencers, unless there's a sale or something. So who do these malls service? They're just a product of our mentality which tell us that glossy, polished spaces with ample glazing are a must if we're ever going to be 'developed'. On the other hand, local art and culture is dead. These days, I see a lot of people forming bands and drama groups. The boys have a limited range of wardrobe- band-name inscribed T-shirts, baggy jeans and flashy Puma sneaker. Maybe there's a ponytail or a mop of long hair. The girls have a fixed wardrobe too- it's either the 'intellectual' look with chunk jewellery, jhola and kolhapuri sandals or the 'rockstar' look with torn T-shirts and skinny jeans. There's a lot being done with the wardrobe, but not much with the culture. That's because art doesn't need big platforms or college fests or televised programs, it needs local platforms where people can escape after a humdrum day.Small-town politics is rampant and that's why these towns remain just....well, small. Not charming, not homely, just small. Plus, this movie has some really nice songs.

One criticism I've heard from my friend, which seems irrelevant but isn't, is this- Madhuri Dixit is fat. Really? Seriously? Okay, so maybe some of her wardrobe choices could have been more flattering, but have we really reached that shallow place of mind where any woman over forty is rampantly criticized for her weight, even if she's not really fat? I mean, if I look like Madhuri Dixit when I'm forty, I'd probably put giant posters of myself all over the city. I'm not really a Madhuri fan, Madhuri Dixit was one of the few women we've had in the last twenty years. These days mostly we just have girls.

Here is the Laila-Majnu performance they put up in the film. Isn't it better that any shopping mall-

2) What's Your Rashee?

This movie's problem was that it had Priyanka Chopra playing 12 different characters, each with her own song-and-dance routine, which makes the movie run for as long as eternity. But other than that, it's not really that bad. I mean, some of the prospective brides are downright funny- be it the businessman's daughter who believes Yogesh was her love in her past life, the bossy business tycoon who sees marriage as a business contratct and the pretty astrologer who will go to any lengths to make the match perfect. Plus, it also shows some real problems faced by young men and women when they try to find their partners through arranged marriage, for example, the Indian doctor who is loving and caring and instantly attracted to Yogesh but refuses to marry him because she's adamant about not settling abroad. Thing is, if you watch this mvie as a whole, you might get tired of it, but if you watch a few parts at a time, you'll see it's a great story with some very good performances by Priyanka Chopra. And I don't know why people were so reluctant to believe the basic premise of Yogesh seeing the face of the woman he will love on every woman he meets. Yeah, that can't happen in real life, but that's what magical realism is about.

3) Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic

This was a children's movie about a businessman who accidentally kills off the parents of four children. In a strange turn of events, the judge decides he should care for the children. Now stuck with children who hate him, a demanding girlfriend and a monotonous life, he has only one saviour- the bubbly angel that's sent down from the heavens to be the children's governess. Yes, the movie takes from Mary Poppins. In fact, it was initially titles Meri Poppins. It was criticized for being saccharine sweet and overly long, but here's the thing- this movie was not for us. It was for the kids! And it had all the right elements for a children's movie. And when was the last time we had a good children's movie anyways? Movies like Stanley ka Dabba are more of crossover films which are laden with symbolism. In fact, they're actually enjoyed better by adults. But Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic  is an all and out children's movie with enough of gloss and candy to make it appealing to the target age group. And isn't it time we gave a shot to being young again?

4) Raju Chacha

A rich man is killed in an 'accident', leaving his children behind with their governess. Greedy relatives soon swoop down to claim his money and it's decided that they will now have the children's custody. It looks like all's lost, when the governess' conman comes to the rescue, claiming to be Raju Chacha, the real heir to the fortune. As children, my friends and I absolutely loved this film. We saw it several times and there was this song called Kahiin Se Aayi Rani Kahiin Se Aaya Raja which we always danced to all the time. then one fine day, an older girl in our group who was already pretty cool declared it was all too childish, and we too grew out of it. Raju Chacha is one of the best children's films I have ever seen. It has a storyline which can be devoured by children, a cast including four of the best actors of our time- Kajol, Ajay Devgan, Rishi Kapoor and Johnny Lever- coupled with three adorable child actors, it's got some great songs that can be enjoyed by all age groups, it has a wonderful fairytale air to it which makes us wonder where exactly the film is taking place and the most child-friendly sets of all time, with most of the movie being shot in a gigantic mansion with a staircase that doubles as a gigantic piano. It is one of the most expensive films of all time. Incidentally, it's also one of the biggest flops in the history of Indian cinema.

5) Nayak

When movies like Singham and Dabangg becme hits, I really wonder why this one didn't get as famous. I'm not insulting pulp movie culture- with its itm songs and dishum-dishum sequences and Herculean heroes- in any way. In fact, I think they appeal to the fantasy of the common man much more than a movie like The Lunchbox- which was amazing, by the way- ever would. Nayak is the story of a common Marathi man, Shivaji, who gets the chance to interview the Chief Minister of Maharashtra after the bravery and excellent journalism work he shows during a riot. The Chief Minister, who's obviously behind the riot, is troubled by Shivaji's straightforward questions and challenges him to be CM for a day. Shivaji accepts and in one day changes the state in unimaginable ways. What follows is a bittersweet, action-packed tale of corruption, revenge and justice, not to mention the sad romance between Shivaji and his girlfriend who ironically can never be with him because he's a man of the country now, not her man. This is every Indian's fantasy for justice. And yeah, there are some dishum-dishum sequences too, with Shivaji doing a Matrix on top of a bus. The item songs, the social message, the Herculean hero- they're all there. So yes, I don't understand how this movie never became a hit, especially since we all want a Shivaji more than we want a Chulbul Pandey.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Beauty and The Best Picture

Everybody wants to live like a celebrity. Anyone who says otherwise is probably lying. We'rein awe of the glamour, we admire the ability to look immaculate at all times, we wish we could be 'someone'. But who has time to work hard to achieve that? I mean, nobody really wants to be a model or actress, because that's too time-consuming and believe it or not, it actually requires talent. All people really want is to enjoy just a little bit of adulation, to be told they look beautiful, to appear as if they're living a glamorous life even if they aren't. And what better way to do this than to put up glamorous, ever so smiling pictures of yourself on social networking websites. Hands on hips, pouts in place, gorgeous dresses and dapper suits- yes, we've all learnt how to pose like a celebrity. And with Photoshop, anybody can be beautiful. Then, the 'Likes' start coming and we all know how they boost one's ego, right? Believe it or not, I'm not entirely against all this. I mean, it's superficial and all, but everybody deserves to feel beautiful sometimes, not just the people with good genes (oh how I hate those lucky few!) and it's all good entertainment.

However, I've noticed that what you look like in Facebook pictures is slowly becoming a deciding factor in how your looks are perceived in real life. People with the better pictures are automatically assumed more desirable. Some girls who are very popular on Facebook sometimes become campus celebrities. People know them before they even join a particular college. Are we slowly forgetting that the virtual world has nothing to do with reality, even when it's just about looks? It's quite possible, because we're slowly blurring the lines between virtual and real.

Now, despite it all being entertaining, I think it's important to remember it's very easy to be deceived. You could be chatting with someone simply because you think they're very attractive by looking at their Facebook pictures. Their attractiveness is the only thing that draws you, whether you admit it or not. Then you see them in person and at first, the image of them hovers in your head, so they look nice. But soon, the image goes away and you feel cheated. But the truth is you haven't been cheated at all. You deceived yourself by letting something virtual (and probably heavily edited) cloud reality.

Now, I would love to use someone as my guinea pig in this post. But that would be mean. So I'll be the guinea pig to demonstrate my point. I was never a very beautiful girl. Yes, it bothers me sometimes, but most of the time it's okay. That didn't mean I couldn't take a nice picture. Here are a few selfies that I have put up on FB:

Now here are some pics which better demonstarte what I really look like (in public. I drew the line at uploading pics taken in my sloppy moments):

Excuse me for not being a very good guinea pig because a) I suffer from natural un-photogenic face conditions 2) I can't show you the differences created by Photoshop, make-up and other cosmetic factors like hair type and color changes because all pictures here are without make-up, un-edited and shot in natural light. However, anybody can notice the difference between the first and second set. While the first set has me in more flattering light (see how in the very first picture the diffused evening sun's light obscures my gigantic nose) and better hair, the second set just has me as I am everyday, no tricks involved. So while the first set would be great for my profile pic collection, the second set may be better off in my computer's pictures folder.

With time everything changes. It's now time to change a saying. They say never fall in love with a person you met at a wedding, because everyone is always at their best at weddings and other social events. Update that to never fall in love with someone you found beautiful on Facebook. You might be in for a big disappointment.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Redeeming the Lost Decade

Some decades are best forgotten. Or at least that’s what they say about the 80s and 90s. This makes me realize one thing- appearances matter. I mean, these two decades were the cradles of some innovations and reforms that we completely take for granted, like satellite and wireless communication and globalization. I mean, if we didn’t have the 80s and 90s, we wouldn’t have cell phones or satellite television or McDonalds. But do we think about all that when we talk about these decades. Not at all. All we can talk about is how horrendous the fashion was, how cheesy the song-and-dance routines were and how unscrupulously Anu Malik ruined music.

That’s because the news clippings and Doordarshan infomercials regarding the good that was being done during the time have long been lost and forgotten. All that remains of the closing chapter of the last century are the movies and songs. And they remind us of not the good, but the bad and ugly (aka frighteningly unflattering and unfashionable).

So is entertainment really play that big a role in how we remember our past? And if it does, how do we redeem a decade that butchered its future reputation with bouffant hairstyles? Well, I don’t know if this is the answer, but I think maybe if we focus on the good parts of the entertainment, memories can be improved. So from today, I start my ‘Redeeming the Lost Decade’ Series. Since I wasn’t around for the 80s, I’ll primarily focus on the 90s. maybe I can get you to reconsider what those years meant to all of us, and why- even if it was for a small period of time- we really cared for them.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Advertising Innovation

What do you every time a commercial break interrupts your favorite movie? Most of us just skip to a different channel, hoping to find something more entertaining. But the fact is that TV commercials can never really be escaped. Think about it. Even though you've all tried it, you still know who the brand ambassador for Lux is and the catchy jingle of Airtel. I bet that ads are probably the most watched features on television. I mean, only a handful of people catch the episodes of The Big Bang Theory and Indian Idol, but the one thing commonly watched by all kinds of audiences is the television ads. Naturally, advertising agencies work very hard to develop all kinds of innovative ideas for the products they represent. It is only through these ideas that one product can stand out from the rest. There's definitely a competition as all the commercials try to be the most memorable. However, only a few succeed. Only a few have people talking about them. Actually, it's the same with print ads too, except that print ads are easier to ignore if they're not catchy. So today I'm discussing some of the best TV and print commercials I've ever seen.

1. Cadbury Dairy Milk

I think we all remember the first commercial from the Shubh Arambh series. A young girl and a boy wait at a bus stop. The boy turns to the girl and asks if he can have a bite of her chocolate. The girls snobbishly asks if she knows him and when he says no, she dismissively says "So?" Then comes the boy's clever reply that made the ad famous. He says: "My mother says you should always taste something sweet before you start something new." This makes the girl curious and she asks what his new endeavour will be. He shyly replies, "Well, I was thinking I could drop you home...."

The second ad of the series was shot in a college hostel.  A group of senior students rag on a bunch of freshmen. One of the freshmen- a pudgy, average-looking guy- offers packs of Dairy Milk to the seniors. The seniors are suspicious and think he's just acting smart. A girl even asks if he's trying to flirt. The freshmen- all polite and referring to his seniors as 'sir' and 'ma'am'- explains "My mummy says..." The word mummy is made fun of but the freshman remains unfazed and continues, "My mummy says you should always taste something sweet before you start something new". The seniors are now confused and ask him "Why?" He replies, "Kaam achchha hota hai (Your endeavour becomes successful)". At that moment, the walls between seniors and freshmen break down and the two groups approach each other as friends.

Another ad in the Shubh Arambh series- which is arguably my favorite- had a middle aged lady stepping out in jeans for the first time. She is apprehensive of what people will say, what her mother-in-law will say. Her husband then lovingly says that she would just say that you should taste something sweet before starting something new. The lady now steps out of her apartment, and is greeted by a friendly neighbour who praises her new look.

The reason these ads work so well with the audience is that even though chocolate is not a typically Indian treat like rasgulla or gulab jamun, these ads incorporate an essence of modern Indian culture within them. For example, in the first ad, the boy asks the girl out and it's implied they start dating. Now dating is still considered a Western concept by some, but the ad shows it in such a way that you won't believe it for a second to be something foreign. Another case in point is the third ad. Often we think middle-aged ladies should always dress traditionally, but that doesn't mean they always want to wear saris and salwar-kameezes. Here, the woman tries a new outfit for the first time and you can see her anxiousness, but her husband explains that it's okay. Nowhere do these ads get preachy or educational. Lastly, what makes them so special is the reaction they cause in the audience. When you watch them, you don't laugh out loud or gawk at the glamour of the celebrity endorser. Instead, you just smile to yourself. How many ads do that?

2. Airtel

The key word in any advert for a phone company is 'connection'. It doesn't always have to feature a phone conversation. Some admen know how to play with the word more innovatively. Just look at this ad, in which two boys play football at the border. You don't really understand the language the little boys speak in, but you know what they're saying. The ad ends with the voiceover "There's no wall, no boundary that can keep us apart, if only we talked to each other". And then come Rehman's classic jingle...

I request everyone to please see this ad just once, whether or not you subscribe to the network. Children sometimes say a lot without saying anything, and you can learn a lot from the two children featured in this video.

The second ad that I liked took real-life historical events and examples to depict the power of human expression. Somehow, there is something so unifying about this ad that any person in the whole world will feel a connection to it. And did I mention Rehman's classic jingle?

3. Amul

Amul is one of those thoroughly Indian companies. Even if you don't know anything about it's history or establishment, you can sense that it was born and bred in India. And who better to represent it than a little girl in a polka-dotted frock that gives social commentary with a winning smile. Every Amul ad has featured the Amul girl in a scene depicting a recent event of national importance, but never do the ads get serious. The girl is the best possible brand ambassador for this kind of campaign, as she is just a harmless observer in the events she's surrounded by. But you keep feeling there's something behind that smile that understands everything....

The Day The Telegram Said Goodbye 

Retirement of Ratan Tata

Fall of the Rupee
Rise of prices of Onions
Adarsh Scam
Fall of rupee

Financial Crisis of a Major Airline

4. Harvest Gold

Many of you might not be familiar with the Harvest Gold Bread ads. In fact, even I haven't seen one in the last few years because the brand is most popular in Delhi and I haven't been there in a while. But I cannot forget their straightforwardness, which is complimentary to the tagline 'No Bakwaas, Only Good Bread'. Unfortunately, the brand has been dragging along the same concept for several years now and it has lost it's surprise factor. This explains why we haven't been seeing (or paying much attention to) the ads for a while now. Nevertheless, the ad has it's share of loyal fans that will bite into its wittiness every time it's printed.

(Unfortunately, I couldn't find any of these ads online. If anybody has a picture or clipping of the ad, please send it to me so I can share it with everyone)

5. Flipkart

Flipkart has one of the most unique advertisements for online shopping. In fact, it has the most innovatinve, attention-grabbing ad-campaigns on air. While other portals advertise with hot models chasing after shoes while being tied down during a bank robbery, this portal maintains a universal appeal by casting children pretending to be adults. These ads are satirical in their own way. Take for example the ad with the little-boy-slash-busy-officer who orders a phone on Flipkart, feels lost as fears of the phone's delayed delivery begin haunting and finally says that Flipkart changed his life with it's perfectly timed delivery. Check it out:

6. Dove- When Did You Stop Believing You're Beautiful?

This ad wasn't released in our country, so we continue to watch ads with beautiful women smiling and giggling over soft skin. This ad campaign has a montage of women hiding their faces from the camera, something that we've all done in our lifetime. Then, another montage follows, one that shows the same women when they were children, happily smiling and posing for the video camera, not conscious of anything. SO here's the question- when do we stop believing we're beautiful? And how did that even happen, if we were so open to the camera as kids?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Kolkata Chronicles Part 4

We keep talking about borders- borders between states, borders between countries. The borders we forget to mention are the ones within cities. Yes, they do exist and even though all of us can feel them we can't define them. I sometimes wonder if they're the worst kind of borders because they separate people living in the closest proximity. I also wonder if we're in denial of their existence. To be honest, I never noticed them until I came to Kolkata. That could be because I was a kid when living in Delhi and in Navi Mumbai I barely went out or interacted with a lot of people. But you know what I think? I think it's because no division is as distinct as the one between North Kolkata and South Calcutta.

Yep. You read that right. The north is Kolkata and the south is Calcutta. Thats just how they're called. It's not that someone purposefully gave two different names to the city. It just so happens that people- perhaps without even realizing it- call it by two different names. Yes, that's how deep divisions between cities can be.

North Kolkata consists of the old parts of the city. If you take a bus to, say, Shyambazar (which according to me is the 'northest' of all), there's no way you can miss how the modern buildings slowly become sparse and the huge porticos, jalousie windows, big courtyards and red brick buildings make themselves dominant. North Kolkata smells like oily food, smoke and muddy water and I know I make it sound disgusting, but it really isn't a bad smell. In fact, it smells like, well, a typical Indian city. Sometimes, I imagine what this place must have been like a hundred years ago. Okay, so today it's the remnant of an era gone by, and it's fast being invaded by the new and advanced. But at some point, big joint families must have lived in those houses and the dozens of children must have played in those courtyards. Businesses must not have been in small kiosks under tarpaulin sheets, but in proper shops. Maybe Britishers walked through the lanes. Places like North Kolkata are reminders of what used to be, and it's nothing but a miracle that they still survive. Of course, there is scope for improvement. Maybe cleaner roads and better architectural conservation can make it even more scintillating. But there's no denying- especially if you're a old world charm fan like me- that North Kolkata has a certain vibe that you rarely see anymore.

South Calcutta is the newer part of the city. It looks like any other average Indian city, with multi-storied buildings and construction sites everywhere, a slightly cosmopolitan vibe and a certain Anglicized attitude that's missing in it's northern counterpart. It even smells different. It smells...neutral. This is probably what the city is today. Yes, it doesn't have the same charm, but it's the need of the hour.

You know what else is different in these cities? The people. I've been noticing for a while now, but people in my college group into tribes and mostly, the tribes are, well, North and South. Now you might ask me what are the characteristics and differences in these tribes. Now this is something I don't want to give my opinion about. So here's a little assignment for you- go find out how people differ in different parts of the city. Is one tribe an upholder of lightheartedness and tradition? Is another one too detached from the past to ever look back on the good things? Or is there one that's just stuck in time, the same for a century and probably never to change? These are questions you'll have to find answers to yourself. Till you do, keep thinking which part of Kolkata you'd like to be in  and maybe you'll discover what the people there are like.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Moment of Self Appreciation

My architectural installation for the proposed Kolkata Museum of Modern Arts. The concept- OUT OF THE BOX IDEAS.

The beautiful structure, symbolic of ideas, emerges 'out of the box' and is restrained by the strings (as new ideas are always opposed).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Reading List 1- 2013

(This article contains spoilers)

Summer is time to read. You finally get a bit of time and- this one is for students- you don't have to feel guilty about ignoring assignments and homework for reading. Plus you also don't get to use assignments and homework as an excuse to get out of reading.

This time, I tried to stick to a certain kind of books (which subsequently meant I read the same authors over and over again). Mostly, they had to do with coming-of-age and 'figuring things out'. I mostly stuck to YA fiction (a very underrated genre, I tell you) and here are the books I ended up reading.

1. All John Green Novels
John Green is an American author of young adult fiction who unfortunately hasn't achieved much fame in the subcontinent. One of the reasons for this is that his novels are leisurely-paced and very insightful, things that are not yet all that enjoyed in a market which mostly favor chick-lit and action-packed dramas. Had he been a Sidney Sheldon or a Paul Coelho or even a Chetan Bhagat, he probably would have achieved a lot more in terms of fame. Another reason is that his characters are mostly teenagers on the brink of adulthood, and the situations presented in his books might make adult readers undermine them as 'children's books'.

I actually got to know about John Green after reading Perks of Being a Wallflower. I was looking for something similar and I came across a book called Looking for Alaska. Unfortunately, John Green still hasn't had one huge advantage that Perks of Being a Wallflower author had- none of his books have been made into movies. I decided to check Looking for Alaska out and ended up falling in love. After that, I kept searching for John Green novels and ended up reading most of them

*The first book I read was Looking for Alaska.  Miles Halter, motivated by a search for 'the great beyond', leaves home and goes to Culver Creek Boarding School, where he meets Chip 'The Clonel' Martin and the beautiful, enigmatic but disturbingly unpredictable Alaska Young, with whom he falls in love almost instantly. Most of the novel focuses on life in Culver Creek, with a strict principal, frequent practical jokes and a distinct divide between the haves and the have-nots. But then a sudden, inexplicable tragedy changes everybody's life forever, and it's through this tragedy that Miles finally learns the most important life lessons.

I fell in love with this book for all it's believable characters and the unusual boarding school setting. Also, even though the plot doesn't have much events to drive the story forward, there is a remarkable insight about life (and afterlife), including some religious viewpoints that are seamlessly woven into the story. This book is not as much about turning the pages while biting your nails. It is better enjoyed if one is willing to learn and appreciate the understated beauty of the novel, something readers are slowly losing the patience to do.

*The second book was An Abundance of Katherines. Colin Singleton is an anagram-loving child prodigy who has a very special love life- he's dated nineteen girls, all of them named Katherine. Not Kate, Katie, Kat or God forbid, Catherine, but K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E. Those nine letters, spelled int hat very order. Colin's biggest frustration in life is he hasn't succeeded in evolving from 'prodigy' to 'genius', and it is this frustration that makes him insecure and subsequently makes the nineteenth Katherine dump him. Heartbroken and aimless in life, Colin embarks on a road trip with his best friend Hassan to recover. A coincidence reaches the small town of Gutshot, Tennessee. A veteran of breakups, it is in this nowhere place that Colin starts the project that will alleviate him to the status of 'genius'- to develop a mathematical formula that will predict to length, strength and who's-more-likely-to-dump-whom of any relationship.

This is a little different from other John Green novels in the sense that the protagonist is not as understated or passive as all the other protagonists. In fact, he's sulky, messed-up and really has no idea what he wants to do in life. I admit such characters can be a little annoying at times because they're stuck up and not very likeable. But I liked seeing things from his viewpoint because if he wasn't imperfect to begin with he'd never have gone through the beautiful, believable, often comical journey towards realizing what he truly needs in life. The best part is the theorem. It actually works within the context of the book and there is an index explaining the math that went into formulating it. However, the theorem stops working at just the right time to make us believe in hope. A quirky novel with more innovation than most of it's contemporaries.

*The third book was Paper Towns. It starts with nine-year-olds Quentin Jacobsen and his childhood crush, Margo Roth Spiegelman, discovering a dead man in the woods. A few pages down the line it is revealed that the man committed suicide, the motivations behind which remain unknown. Margo is fascinated by the death as opposed to Quentin, who would much rather forget the incident and move on like any other normal child of his age. Cut to several years later. Margo and Quentin are now in their senior year of high school, both looking at good enough futures. However, they have grown apart, with Margo becoming the enigmatic, and mysterious It-Girl and Quentin fading to the background. One night, Margo comes over to Quentin's and asks for a ride so she can play revengeful pranks on those who have wronged her. Quentin finds the request strange at first but then agrees, only to embark on what is arguably the most memorable night of his life. But the following day, Margo disappears, leaving behind clues to her location that only Quentin can decode.

Paper Towns deals with several themes that can be very hard to put in words. The first one is the 'joy of leaving'. Quentin says that it's tempting to hold on to present circumstances. For example, when we're in school, we're sad about the prospect of leaving it to go to college. But leaving is just a natural progression of events and so, once you have left it's the easiest thing in the world. And the strangest thing is that going backwards becomes the hardest thing to do.

The second theme is 'belief in the future'. Margo Roth Spiegelman, is happy leaving her home to embark on something which assures her no future but a constant present that will never change. And it's something that makes her happy, so who cares about college, jobs and relationships? But when Quentin is presented with an opportunity to live this present with her, he realizes that he 'believes in the future', which is strange because the future is something which technically does not exist. There are lots of young people in this world who talk about 'living in the moment' and 'carpe diem', but these are the young people that eventually transform to become old people, as if at every stage of their life they've only been working up to the inevitable future. The author doesn't comment on which way of life is right- living in the present or working towards he future- but says that these are two ways so conflicting that a believer of one can never truly be with a believer of the other.

A note about the title of the book- At first it seems 'paper towns' is a reference to something Margo says in the very beginning about the world being a superficial place with paper people and paper houses and paper towns. However, it is later revealed that 'paper towns' refer to an abandoned subdivision, that is, a piece of land that was seperated for development but the projects were abandoned later on. This is one of the best book titles I have come across in a long time, simple because it's got everything to do with the story. Also, of all the John Green book, this is the one I just couldn't put down because even though it's an insightful coming-of-age story, it remains a mystery from the beginning to the very end.

* The last book was The Fault In Our Stars. By the time I got to this one, I already knew about John Green. After reading the blurb on the Internet, I initially dismissed it as a sappy, melodramatic teen book which borrows heavily from My Sister's Keeper. I was wrong. This book is at par with the rest of them, if not better. It tells the story of sixteen-year-old cancer patient Hazel who meets one-legged osteosarcoma survivor Augustus Waters through a common friend while attending a session of her support group for cancer survivors. Hazel and Augustus are worlds apart- he's a survivor and she's never been anything but terminal since her diagnosis, he believes that your life is worthwhile only if you have people remember you after you die while she believes in 'doing no harm' even if that ends up meaning you can do no good. After the initial dating period of innocent flirting and phone-calls, Hazel recommends her favourite book, An Imperial Infliction by Peter Van Houten, to Augustus. To their frustration, An Imperial Infliction ends vaguely with an unfinished sentence, with the ultimate fate of all its characters unmentioned. Augustus (having battled cancer himself) asks the Genie Foundation (probably based on the real-life Make A Wish Foundation) for a trip to Amsterdam so that he and Hazel can ask the reclusive author of An Imperial Infliction about the ending of the book and maybe find out what happens to the characters. The inclusion of the book and the leads' efforts to determine the ending are what give this novel a John Green touch, because any other novelist would probably have gone on and on about the suffering of cancer patients while treating them like diseased individuals who are somehow inadequate. That is a very condescending view of patients, as we forget there's a reason they still live on after diagnosis- it's because a part of them wants to survive like any other person on the planet. I can't tell you more about the novel without adding spoilers, so I'll tell you this- every direction you possibly thought the book was heading just disappears when the characters go to Amsterdam and you will be in for some very sensitive twists. Read this book just to get a glimpse of the shallow perception of people towards patient, the inanity of glorified cancer battles, the truth behind all the suffering and the glorification of the dead. John Green is one of the rare writers who can weave such serious themes seamlessly into a novel without losing the young adult appeal.

There are some additional things in John Green novels that need to be mentioned. Every novel has an afterword written by the author himself, telling his reader how he conceived the idea of the novel and these afterwords are not to be missed as they are just about as much fun to read as the story itself. All the protagonists have some quirky interest or obsession that make them unique- Miles Halter collects and remembers the last words of famous people, Colin Singleton is an obsessive-compulsive anagrammer and Quentin Jacobsen is a closet detective which comes out only after Margo presents him with a mystery. The supporting characters get their share of the spotlight and they are well-rounded characters who don't fit into any stereotype. The best example is Hassan from An Abundance of Katherines, an overweight, Judge Judy obsessed Muslim who has his own ways of living life. Also, it seems John Green remembers his school crushes very well- how they looked, what they made him feel and so on. All the boys in the novels fall in love with mysterious girls who are very popular simply because they have the ability to become what people want them to. This is what makes these girls mysterious and frustrating, but also makes them addictive and hard to let go off, even when it's clear there's no chance of having a relationship with them. Isn't this what all immature crushes are about? However, these novels require a little getting used to as they can tend to be a bit slow and are an acquired taste.

2. Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
This is a John Green novel too, but he co-wrote it with David Levithan. Two boys, both named Will Grayson, live worlds apart. The first one is a regular (maybe too regular) boy whose only rules in life are 1) Shut Up and 2) Do Nothing. His homosexual, big-boned best friend, the ironically named Tiny is his complete opposite, always thrusting himself into the spotlight and taking Will along for the ride.

The second Will Grayson is a gay introvert with nothing good in his life except an online relationship with someone named Issac. When this relationship comes to a shocking, devastating end, Will is left with nothing to hold on to.

Just when the two Wills are giving up hope, a chance meeting with, well, each other, changes their lives forever. And it all ends with a grand musical based on the real and amazing life of Tiny Cooper...

This book took me a relatively longer time to read. However, by the end of it I was satisfied. This is one of those books where the supporting character, Tiny Cooper, is actually the one driving the story forward. Although I wouldn't classify this as a must-read, it is a good read and is worthy of your time.

3. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
This book, co-written by David Levithan (who also co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson) and Rachel Cohn, is one of the few books that is very good, but the movie is way better. Nick is a down-and-out queercore band bass player who has just been dumped be his manipulative girlfriend Tris. Norah is a good-girl high-school valedictorian with no fun in her life who's confused about her unpredictable, devout Jew boyfriend Tal and jealous yet loving towards her best friend Caroline. It just so happens that Tris and Norah go to the same school and hold grudges against one another. They all come together on the night of a concert where Norah asks Nick to kiss her for five seconds, just to make Tris jealous. Thus begins a night of searching for true love, for the pub where underground band 'Where's Fluffy?" is performing and for a missing and drunk Caroline. And the whole story is linked by one strip of chewing gum!

Even though this is a quirky book in which both authors, David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, have distinctive voices that may or may not be your cup of tea. However, I suggest you ditch the book and head straight for the movie because the even though it has some differences from the novel, all the major plot points remain intact and it's actually easier to understand as a movie. Plus the movie has a great soundtrack.

4. Shadow of the Wind

Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, is magnum-opus with all the right ingredients for a memorable melodrama- authoritative fathers, a backdrop of turmoil and war, an omnipresent (and arguably psychotic) villain, starcrossed lovers and doomed love. Daniel Smepere is take to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library with old, forgotten titles that is taken care of by few enthusiasts. There he finds the book Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. Daniel soon realizes that not only the book, but also Julian Carax's other titles, are extremely rare to find, not to mention the fact that Julian Carax himself is a mysterious figure of sorts, with very little known about him. After a man with a burnt face threatens him to surrender his copy of Shadow of the Wind to him, Daniel sets out to discover the truth about Julian Carax, only to realize that there are uncanny similarities between Julian Carax and himself. This book could have been one of those boring volumes that aspire to be the latest Les miserables and fail miserably (no pun intended). In fact, there are several parts of the book where I started to think that maybe the author got his inspiration from some 80s Hindi movie like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. But the authors superb control over his often rigid language is what gets the book through, even making it a page-turner. I suggest you give this book a try, but can't promise it will please the cynic in you. There were some parts of the book that didn't agree with me. For example, Clara Barcelo, an older woman who's also Daniel's first love, is shown to slowly deteriorate into a bitter old woman and it seems this plotline was adopted just because she never fell in love with Daniel. It is a literary punishment of sorts given to Clara for something that can hardly be called a crime. I guess this is just a fantasy that all men (and women) harbour- to see the person who rejected them burn in hell- but it does not constitute fair or even good writing. Another aspect that may not go down well with many readers is that in this love story, people decide they're soul mates within days of meeting each other and yes, I wish things really were that simple, but they're not. The best thing about the book is the supporting characters- Daniel's docile and aging father, Clara Barcelo's caring governess Bernarda, Fermin who happens to be an intelligence officer turned convict turned beggar turned bookseller turned Daniel's sidekick, the gay Don Federico who enters a marriage of convenience and so on. Read this book for a taste of Barcelona under Franco's dictatorship.

5. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Think X-Men: First Class meets Harry Potter. Jacob Portman goes to Wales hoping to solve the 'murder' of his grandfather, who believed in supernatural creatures. There he discovers the existence of an alternate universe in which children with strange powers live under the care of the loving Miss Peregrine. There are monsters to slay, old lovers to be reunited, choices to be made- all the right ingredients for a good children's book. I think I'm a bit old for this book, so if you're sixteen or above you might want to rethink the decision to read this, because you may unfairly write it off as children's fantasy fair. There are plans for a movie adaptation, with Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows) set to direct. The most special thing about this book is the collection of eccentric pictures that the author uses as a guide to the story. Here are few:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

WeChat with Whom?

Have you seen those ads on TV with Parineeti Chopra and Varun Dhawan in hich they talk to each other using this new app called WeChat? The ads good and the app looks interesting. You see, some of my friends have been nagging me to download an app of this sort for quite a while and finally, I'm considering. I mean, it would be fun to be connected to people 24/7 through a mobile app. So maybe I'll download it. But here's the next question, if I do download the app, who am I going to chat with? Or more specifically, who am I going to chat with the most?

This question really had me thinking and so I came up with a list of five people I'd have on a WeChat group. Here are my top five:

5. Hermione Granger

For those of you who don't know who this lovely lady is, here's a short introduction.

Hermione Granger is one of the lead characters in the Harry Potter series of books. She's the brain of the gang and despite being a rational person in general, she's not afraid to do the wildest of things (and cast the most extreme of spells) for the well-being of her friends. See, this is the kind of girlfriend you'd want if you need to talk at two in the morning- someone who's loyal, brave and not afraid to give a good talking to when you're about to make a mistake. The more I thought about it, the more Hermione seemed like the perfect go-to girl for a happy, free, confused, frustrated architecture student/ writer like me. I can totally imagine our conversation going like this-

CrazyBlogger1994: U kno what, Herms? I cud totaly b off dis stress if by some *MAGIC* I cud come up wid a dezyn for a new Hogwarts building..

HogwartsWiZ: Ummm, ok...but IMposibl. Magical intervention is unethical, not to mention stricly against the RULZZZ!!!!

CrazyBlogger1994: Bt Ld. Voldemort is coming! Nd I had to redesign Hogwarts so all entries wud lead to confusing mazes wid magical traps at just the ryt turns. 

HogwartsWiZ: Professor McGonagall has spells to seal off Hogwarts.

CrazyBlogger1994: Yeah, but this how effective r dos speels against the Dark Lord, the most powerful dark wizard of all time? A redesigned Hogwarts on the other hand....

HogwartsWiz: Good point.

(a few minutes of pause)

CrazyBlogger1994: Sooooo?

HogwartsWiz: I reckon I could give you a vial of Felix Felicis.

CrazyBlogger1994: Wat??

HogwartsWiz: The luck potion. If you're lucky, you'll be able to think of some design.

CrazyBlogger1994: Yay!!!!

4. Katniss Everdeen

My second option for number five is Katniss Everdeen. She's the protagonist of the Hunger Games series. She's a brave girl who lives in the impoverished District 12, hunts wild animals to feed her family and wins in the annual Hunger Games wherein teenagers are forced to fight until death until a lone victor emerges. This girl is fantastic, and that's why her nickname is 'Girl On Fire'. This is the kind of person you need to be chatting with 24/7 just to stay grounded. The conversation would go like this-

CrazyBlogger1994: God, 'm hungry! Landlady's late wid dinner. Have wild animals jumping up n' down in stomach.

GirlOnFire: Lissen up, yung lady! After my father died in a mine explosion, I was hungry for weeks!!! Nd d wild animals u just mentioned? They must b the ones I HUNTED DOWN to feed my family!! So suck it up and wait till your landlady serves you dinner.

Who knew fictional character could make such great WeChat buddies?

3. The guy/ girl in class who has all the notes

This is purely utilitarian, my friends. In every class, there is one boy or girl who attends all the classes, takes down all the notes and has every book/ xerox a student needs. You MUST have this person in ANY group? I mean, what would the rest of us do if people like them did not exist! Anybody who's ever been to college knows what I'm saying. So even if you have nobody else, have this person in your group so that regardless of what time of the day it is, you can say something like 'Hey, I luved ur shoes 2day!!! And btw, can you give me ur Maths notebook tomorrow. Need to xerox a few pages!!' After that u have to sit and hope the reply is 'Yeah, sure!'

2. My Best Friend
This must be on everyone's top 5 list, because when all else fails, this is the person you turn to. This is the person you confide in because best friends are supposed to support you, not judge you. I have a great relationship with my best friend. Whenever I'm in trouble, I call her up and she can do the same. It's like we use each other for venting all our frustrations, and that' proof of a good friendship because acquaintances don't really want to hear you whine for hours. Maybe we could take the whining to a different platform by downloading WeChat. Then we'd be connected all the time.

1. My parents
A lot of kids these days want to keep their parents out of the loop of things. They don't want to tell their parents anything. For them, 'parents' and 'chatting' just don't go together. But when thing go way bad and the best friend fails, this is who you turn to because these people are supposed to be there for you no matter what.

Lastly, I'd just like to say that WeChat is a cool way to stay connected to the people you can't live without. Imagine having them in your phone all the time. So download WeChat and make your list of people you want in a WeChat group. Believe me, it's the new way to connect.

(This entry is for "WeChat with Anyone, Anywhere!" contest. WeChat is a mobile app that lets you connect with friends and family across platforms. For more, go to

WeChat's Youtube Channel:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Thin Line Between Fat and Fit

I used to be fat. Not the pudgy, cute kind. More of the hefty, weirdly over-developed kind of fat. It was a long time ago, maybe when I was thirteen or so. But I went to the kind of school where looks were important. Some of the other girls were growing up to look like models and here I was, going down the hippopotamus lane. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of that time, but you can go ask any of my friends! Then- even though it had nothing to do with me wanting to lose weight- I started working out. Running, yoga, jump rope- I tried a lot of things. it became a discipline and after a while, I lost weight.

But here's the thing- when I say 'after a while', it means ABOUT SIX YEARS. Yes, it really can take that long to get down to a healthy weight. And it's not like I'm stick thin now, either, so you know how long somebody's weight loss can take.

Here's another thing- even though I'm healthy now, somewhere inside me, the fat kid lives on.

So there are some things that I have observed regarding people's perceptions towards weight (or the loss of it) and looks. Let me tell you one thing- former fat girls are the best advocates in terms of weight. We know what it's like to be at all kinds of weight. So here are some things I know-

1. First of all, thin people are very happy being thin. If you comment on their weight or tell them they're too skinny, they pretend to be offended because that's the expected reaction. They even pretend that they want to put on weight. Don't fall for any of this. Have you noticed how skinny people are first to comment about fat people (and yes, this is especially true for girls).

Let me explain this to you with an anecdote. I know a girl who's extremely beautiful but also very thin. A lot of people keep telling her that. She has her share of Endura Mass and skims the fat from our milk glasses so she can eat it. Then, a slightly overweight girl joined our group. Guess what? Our Miss Skinny & Pretty was the first to make jokes about her. For example, when Miss Overweight-but-Cute joined a weight-loss program to lose five kilos, Miss Skinny-&-Pretty was the first to joke, "She's just going to lose, like, an inch off her leg or something. How's that even going to make a difference?" There were a lot of such jokes and comments, which is a little surprising because Miss Pretty-&-Skinny is always considered a very sweet girl and nobody expects her to go Mean Girls on anyone.

2. People think that just because someone's fat, you get to have an opinion on their body. Admit it. It's true for anybody. As long as you look okay, nobody gives you a nickname like 'Water Tank' or 'Rhino'. But the moment you're round, it's like every everybody has the right to talk about you and your looks.

3. People love giving advice to their overweight friends. Go to the gym. Eat healthy food. Sleep fewer hours.

Now this one can get a bit dangerous sometimes. I used to know a girl in my old school who (once agai) very beautiful and also quite slim. She had a friend (okay, so it was less 'friend' and more 'minion') who was beginning to put on a bit of weight because she was growing up. So this girl started giving all sorts of really disturbing advice to her friend. She advised her to stop eating lunch! How can you even do that to somebody you call your friend? You're not only risking her health but also making her feel really bad about herself by implying that her weight is a 'problem' that can only be 'solved' by taking extreme measures like skipping lunch.

It can also work the opposite way. Remember Miss Overweight-but-Cute I mentioned before. Her weight loss program included a diet chart which dictated her daily food consumption and also required her to consume only 250g of rice per meal. It was a good diet chart which didn't reduce her daily intake of food as much as it diversified the kinds of food she's consume. The strange thing is that all our typically Bengali friends were accustomed to having buckets of rice for every meal, so they discouraged our pudgy friend and kept telling her to eat more or she'd faint. Okay, first of all, having heaps of rice is unnecessary. You need to have other things (like fruits) in your diet. The surprising part is that I've spent my life ating 250g of rice per meal, and I'm the tallest in the group, so obviously it hasn't affected my growth.

Now listen to me all you Agony Aunts! Nobody has the right to give advice on weight. TO know why, read point 4.

4. People who're thin aren't necessarily living the healthiest lifestyles. It's true. Just because you're thing, doesn't mean the credit for that goes to you. A lot of people don't even know what a healthy lifestyle is and they're still thin. So next time you're giving health advice to anyone, just make sure you know your facts.

5. A lot of people who look thin, aren't actually thin. This is probably the funniest one. People these days dress to look slim, so you never really know who's got a protruding tummy. Plus a lot of people who look great can't run up a flight of stairs, so beauty has nothing to do with fitness either.

7. A model's job is to make you feel bad about yourself. I follow a lot of modeling shows. It doesn't make sense because I'm all feminist and I don't believe in luxury brands or high fashion. But these shows are snappy and dramatic and appropriately un-intellectual. Perfect when you're tired and incapable of intelligent stuff. I'm following Australia's Next Top Model right now. But I'm never going to look the girls on these shows. Seriously, who in the real world looks like this-

See, I'm never going to be this pretty or this thin. A lot of people don't get this. They think it's possible to look like fashion models. The truth models are actually hired to make products look classy and expensive. it's like they're trying to send the message that if you don't look or act a certain way, you don't get to buy the product. This is especially true for luxury goods. So don't fee bad you don't have the body of a celebrity.

I know this comes across as a very girlie post, but a lot of people are actually struggling with their weights right now. So try to be nice to them. And it's not so much about looking great as it is about being fit. So be healthy even if you're not skinny.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Forgotten Little Old Things-1

Remember typewriters? If you're less than fifteen years old, you're probably not even sure about what typewriters look like. But people didn't always have laptops and iPads. There was a time when if you wanted to have a 'typed' document, you had to use a typewriter. Typing on a typewriter took considerably more time than on laptops, was cumbersome, didn't give a variety of fonts and even getting used to or even training. But it served the purpose. But now you rarely even see them anymore. It's like old things go away and new things come about, and nobody even pays attention to the change. Thinking about this made me think about a lot of things that were indispensable less than twenty years ago, but are pretty much forgotten about now. So, I started taking photographs of such things as a way of remembering them. Who knows? By the time I'm thirty, these things may not even be around to take pictures of.

Following are some photographs from my collection. All the pictures were taken by me and are not downloaded from any website. I really had to look for some of these things, because they are just so hard to find these days. I'll upload more pictures when I have more.

The Letterbox
Remember when we wrote on postcards to tell our grandparents we're fine? And then we'd walk to the closest letterbox and put our letter through the slot. And now? Letterboxes like these can still be seen, but nobody ever pays any attention to them because letter-writing is now a lost art (hey, even emails are losing out to Facebook, so what do you expect?) When I was a kid, I'd beg for permission to put the letter through the slot, kind of like a lot of kids beg for permission to push elevator buttons. It seemed like such a big deal at the time. I always got confused about the what the colors of the boxes stood for. These pictures were taken in front of Jadavpur Police Station (near Jadavpur University, Kolkata which I attend). Look at the picture on the right. The writing says 'Kolkata 700032, For All Letters In Kolkata City'. Can you imagine that? There was a time not too long ago when people used to write letters to send messages to people living within their own cities!

The picture below shows the four different colors of letterboxes in India:

Manually Pulled Rickshaws and Ambassadors
I took this picture in Maniktala, Kolkata. Manually pulled rickshaws are slowly disappearing from the city, despite being extensively common in the past. Some people support this decision as these rickshaws put a lot of strain on the puller's body and may cause lung problems to them. It's time to start documenting these rickshaws as they may soon disappear altogether.

The Ambassador (see the white car in background) is a car we've all seen. They're bulky, bulbous and exude an old world charm that is uniquely Indian despite the British origin of the car. I mean, when yopu think about Indian politics, you have to think about the Ambassador because it's the car in which all politicians drive around inThey're most common in and around Kolkata as they are manufactured in Uttarpara. This is one car that just won't die because it's been around since the 50s, but they are becoming a rarer sight day by day. In fact, Sale of Ambassador taxis had been banned since April 1, 2011. In an age where sleekness, noiseless interiors and dark colors are the 'in' things, Ambassadors are losing out to competition and I wonder if we're saying goodbye to the big white car that's fondly called 'The King of Indian Roads'.

The Black-and-White TV
We had a black-and-white TV when I was a kid. It was tiny and needed to be 'tuned' by rotating knobs placed just under the screen. There was no remote and since I was the youngest, I was often asked to get up and change the channel/ turn the volume up or down. We only got two channels- DD1 and DD2. Black-and-white TVs are symbolic of entertainment in the later half of the last century. It is extremely hard to find one today! That's why I was so surprised when I came across one in a small tea shop in Jadavpur, Kolkata. The owner was kind enough to let me take pictures (even though I ordered nothing and don't even drink tea). He even posed while 'tuning' the TV and said he only uses this TV to watch cricket matches and has a color TV at home.

Okay, so these are a bit before our time and that's exactly why they're such a novelty. I took this picture of my grandfather's record collection. There's just one song on each record. My grandfather's house even has a gramophone we could play these records on, be we lost the pin. See, one of the problems with keeping old things is that it's very hard to get parts for them, so if you lose or damage just one part, the whole device becomes useless.
Compare these records to the mp3 files we download to our phones and computers these days. We can have thousands of songs stored in a tiny chip. To think there was a time when you could have just one song on one record that was played on a huge gramophone!

There are still some things that I want to take pictures of, so I'll be back with a part 2 for this post. Meanwhile, if you have any interesting forgotten things to talk about, tell me about them in the comments.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mumbai Architecture

A lot of people who read my blog don't know that I'm an architecture student. Being an architecture student changes your life, I think, because all of a sudden you start looking at things differently. For example, I've lived in Mumbai for five years but there were a lot of buildings and structures I never noticed before. So, this time (since I'm back home for summer vacation), I decided to take some pictures of some things I had seen before but never really noticed because I wasn't into architecture.

This picture was taken at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, one of the busiest stations in the country. It's an example of Indo-Saracenic architecture.

 This is the ceiling of the ticket counter of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Most people don't know that this part of the station is called Star Chamber. If you notice, the ceiling has a pattern of stars on a blue background and hence the name. This picture shows the ribbed vault, which is actually a characteristic of Gothic Architecture, but is also seen in other forms of architecture.

 These photose were taken at a Parsi fire temple in Fort. The winged bull seen in these pictures is a characteristic of Mesopotamian architecture and is often seen guarding entrances of Parsi temples.


An Indo-Saracenic building in Colaba. Indo Saracenic architecture has the following characteristics-
most of which can be seen in the picture above. This building now serves as a supermarket (like Big Bazaar or Walmart).