The five-year-old in the picture smiled like only a child could. The smile had no reason and no rider.
Did he know what his future held? The joy, the heartbreaks, the insurance policies, the mortgage, the let-downs, the thrills, the world. Did he realise that his smile was being frozen to warm tougher times.
I looked at the picture of the smiling boy. He looked like me.
I am not precious about Inception. After sitting through six hours of the movie, I came away feeling a little daft. I don't like movies that do that to me. Inception is a bit like the bore at the bar who just can't stop trying to prove how clever he is while all you want is a barf bag. I am a big Nolan fan but he should be locked up in Gotham. You let him loose in the real world and he can tire you with his cleverness.
The two most annoying sounds from my youth had to be the alarm clock and Hotel California. Growing up in Bangalore pubs, you could almost set your watch by the good Hotel ... they played it every half hour. It got to a point where we carried a placard to the pub: Hotel California closed for renovation. Luckily, the bloke who manned the DJ console, when he wasn't serving beers or drinking them, had a sense of humour. He just swapped HC for Bon Jovi. That's when we poured beer into our ears and turned deaf.
The Tams went to the Valley, the Andhraites went half way, the Kannadigas tried to create their own Valley in Bengaluru (few of them on Hosur Road into which whole cars disappear). Us Mallus went to the Dubai branch of God's own country. Of all stereotypes that exist in the world, we rank right up there with our Gujarati and Sardar bretheren. We are generally good plumbers, tea sellers or toddy tappers who struggle with simple tasks like pronouncing simple. We have been accused of many sins but never of being good at cricket. It's tough to strap pads to lungis, so we never quite bothered with the gendleman's game. Of course, the occasional Mallu madman slips out of hospital and plays cricket and gets slapped by the occasional sardar but cricket doesn't really rock our houseboat. Didn't anyone explain that to you Shashi Tharoor?
Every morning when I step out into the London freeze to smoke my first cigarette, I see my neighbour jog into the mist. It should make me guilty except that I know that we will both die one day. Where is the justice, really.
As BA487 knifed through the Catalan sky for an emergency landing in Barcelona, I saw the face of absolute fear. In the midst of hysterical wailing and rabid anger, she sat across the aisle from me. She didn't look terrified, she wasn't fervent in prayer, she just sat back in shell-shocked resignation. We all survived BA 487 with not much lost than good humour. As we waited to be evacuated post touchdown, I looked across the aisle at her. In the midst of hysterical laughter and conspiracy theories, she sat there in absolute acceptance.
Please to ban the South African cricket team from India. Especially, that Dale Steyn fellow. Who does he think he is, bowling so fast to Wriddhiman Saha? Unlike the noble Bangladeshi bowlers he has no respect for our national heroes and what's more he doesn't speak Marathi.
Just like you banned Pakistan and Australia, please to ban South Africa and England and West Indies also. Please to ban any bowler who can bowl faster than Madan Lal from visiting this country and scaring our great batsmen.
I suggest that only Mongolia and Cambodia be allowed to play against our World Number 1 team.
Guy Ritchie takes Conan Doyle's gumshoe by the neck and scruffs him up a bit. If you have grown up watching Jeremy Brett's Brylcreemed turn in the BBC series, Ritchie's dark art can startle you. It's an unwashed, cage-fighting Holmes, all sharp tongued and bare knuckled. The brain still ticks like a metrnonome but there is an unmistakable edginess to Ritchie's Holmes. And England never looks a more dangerous shade of grey than in a Guy Ritchie frame. Go watch Sherlock Holmes and listen carefully ... you can hear Sir Arthur Conan Doyle roll below the floorboards.
PS: Robert Downey Jr. was born to play rogue. Can't wait for Downey as Moses in Ritchie's Ten Commandments.
I live far away from home. In a strange country, amidst strangers. I don't fit in and yet I fit in. Funnily enough, I am comfortable with strangers, it is the vaguely familiar that makes me nervous. Indians who have been here longer than me constantly remind me that I have just gotten off the boat ... just because I don't drink my water with ice and lemon like they do. "Oh, that's so Indian," someone remarked. After I stopped throwing up into my ice-less water, I smiled. "Funny how Indian I am, considering I am one." But yet I fit in. Because I am part of a cosmpolitan world. And I am cosmopolitan not because I bought myself an accent, it's largely because I had an education. And there is a difference, you see, ice in water lady.
Essaouiran legend has it that Jimi Hendrix wrote Castles in the Sand on the beaches of this gorgeous town. Ignore the fact that Hendrix wrote the song a few years before he visited Morocco and it's a great story to tell your grandkids. Essaouira considers Hendrix her own. And it's hard not to see why he fell in love with this Moroccan beauty. It breathes music and colour and there is an endless supply of weed. You can escape the steaming kettles in the souk but there is no running away from the pot. In recent times, Essaouira has found a new love. The Moroccans can't get enough of Shah Rukh Khan. They sing his songs, they know his lines, they even know Kajol. It's quite unsettling to be in a strange land many moons away from your own and be serenaded with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. It's so wrong, I tell you.
I am in love with Essaouira, totally and unconditionally. Anchored daintily on the Moroccan coast, this little town of winding alleys, sunshine smiles and Gnaoua music is a throwback to a lost era. A time when you didn't need to tell time, when you still had time to smile. Many have fought and died for the love of Essaouira ... the Dutch, the Spanish, the English. But she has repelled every advance and instead welcomed a legion of artistes and poets to embrace her riches. Essaouira is a joyous burst of colours and smells. Art galleries joust for space with cafes, Bob Marley with Jimi Hendrix. I would happily be a lotus eater in Essaouira, eh Odysseus.