Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Che to a Tee

Does Che Guevara sell more Tees than David Beckham then?
I have always been fascinated by how much influence Che, who has been better marketed than a Japanese car, has had on pirated Tees in faraway democracies like India. I remember asking a friend in college about his Che Tee. He thought Che was some Latin American Robin Hood. Yeah, the Cubans reckon he was a Commie thug who slaughtered thousands so what. Many years later I find myself sitting next to a teenager in a Che Tee on a London bus. "Why do you like him," I ask. "Just so cool man, i think he was some old Latino singer or sumthin."

Friday, September 25, 2009

When Imran rolled us over

Circa 1982. I was still a good Hindu, hadn't converted to cricket yet. But I vividly remember Imran Khan cleaning out India in under four days. It was mesmerising to watch him operate -- all pace, hostility and flying locks. We were tethered goats at the feast but you couldn't help but admire the butcher.
I remember listening in on the elders gloomily dissect the game after we had been buried in the Karachi turf. Predictably, they moaned the spineless Indian batting and the toothless Indian bowling and how we made Imran look better than he was. But you could tell if they had a chance they would claim him to be their own. Damn that partition.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On a leg and a prayer

I watch him negotiate the stairs on one leg and a prayer. He is too drunk to realise he has two. It's 9 am and he gleefully raises a middle finger salute to civilization.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Faces on a carousel

Today, I surface for fresh air and perspective. Faces pause for a moment before speeding past on a carousel. And more faces. So many. Flickering memories ride a flashing carousel.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Four eat, four pay

Scene at Chinese restaurant. A family of four fairly abundant Eastern Europeans descend on the next table, three make their way to the lousy buffet. One holds fort and scowls menancingly at the Wine list and us. Three come back with plates laden with greasy meat and assorted Chinese arsenal. Four eat. Smart Chinese waiter glides in. "Four people eat, four people pay ... yeah."
I turn my seat for a better view of some good old kung fu fighting. Scowl dismisses waiter .."I am not eating, can you count four plates here?" Waiter is confused for about 7 minutes and then does an agile recovery, "no no no no ... four eat three plate, four pay." I can slice the tension with a chop stick. Scowlie scratches his beard, "get me another plate then." Waiter breaks into smile, "you try Chinese beer? Is a very good."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So long Patrick

A dead movie star is everybody's favourite movie star no Patrick?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Scene from the street

He looks at the snotty, wailing kid tugging at his jacket. I can't tell if it's pity or disgust. I can't even tell if they are related. He shrugs and holds out the sandwich. The soot breaks on the kid's face as he smiles that happy smile. Little hands reach for the sandwich and drop it. Meat and potatoes on the sidewalk. They walk away in hunger, hand in little hand. It's another day in the city.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I listened to the radio

Have you known what it feels like when the crackle of the radio interferes with your hearbeat? And Sunil Gavaskar is gone ...
I discovered cricket on the radio. And to date I haven't found anything more evocative in cricket than the fever pitch of the radio commentator.
And there was more ... Ameen Sayani and the Binaca (or was it Cibaca) Geet Mala .. Vivid Bharti on sleepy Sunday afternoons .... the joy of escaping into a world created by sonorous voices on the tinny transy.

Us and them

We buy fairness creams to be like them, they buy UV tans to look like us .... never the tan shall meet.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blood Diamond

"He who owns this diamond will own the world but will know all its misfortunes. Only God or a woman can wear it, with impunity."

Only something so beautiful could have been so cursed. As I stand before this rather intimidating sparkling stone I can only imagine how many worthy men must have killed, betrayed or died for the Kohinoor. And in the end it is nothing but a treacherous allotrope of Carbon.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

In Rome do as Indians do

Gujarati film crew has descended in the neighborhood adding dollops of colour to a forlon English autumn. They have been spreading the love and the samosas freely. Walk by for sweet tea or a bit part. They welcome anything including rude stares. And they always smile back. The leading man with highlights in his hair and the finest Dharavi leather, the leading lady freezes in her sequined Ghagra. It's been a total and bloodless conquest of the suburb. Priceless.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A mango shade of summer

I am reminded of raw mangoes. Summers spent under granny's tutelage honing mango-picking into the rarest of fruit art. You needed to establish their credentials -- age, colour and potential -- pick them and gently coax them into canvas bags for a tryst with their destiny. The ordained weren't to hit the earth, if they did they would be guillotined at once. The good ones were always hiding in the harshest nooks and the juices stung. They had to be wooed and conquered. The brightest were set aside for ripening, the rogues were pickled and the corrupt donated. We would alight from our perch like warriors surveying the spoils in canvas baskets.

Bastard with a T

Movie Alert: Inglorious Basterds

Tarantino messes with history, your head, makes you curse the ticket price and yet leaves you smiling. It's a huge exercise in self indulgence but it is still Tarantino. Basterds has all the not-so-secret Tarantino ingredients -- dark humour, dark banter, dramatic stand-offs and bright ketchupy violence. And it has Christopher Waltz doing a star turn as the self-annointed Jew Hunter.
Tarantino has done better but Basterds is still worth a look. A little thin around the script and gloriously infuriating.