Monday, December 24, 2007

making 6 - part III

And then the next day ..... oh well, that's a story for another day ....

Today's another day and so the story continues.

Now that the dust has settled on the chaos in my life the past month, I can enlighten you all. There shouldn't be a part III to my story. Some stories have a twist, some don't. Fortunately or unfortunately, this one does.

So the next day, I get to work and I was laid off. Yep, laid off! Seinfeld has a theory about breaking up : "You should just do it like a Band-Aid. One motion! Right off!" And that's pretty much how they chose to break up with my colleagues and me. I was out of the place in an hour. This includes clearing my desk and stuffing all my so-called valuables in a plastic bag. You know how you find junk while packing when you have to move to a new place. It felt the same. I found so much junk and I only worked there for a year. Imagine the number of bags I would need if I had gotten laid off after 10 years or something! So in principle, all I lost was some storage space ... In principle, I've also lost my head a little ... But that's not the reason I didn't have a job then - I was laid off. It's like a UFO - no one can explain the science of it, it just is. UFO's are real because! I was laid off because! .....

On the way back home, it was snowing, the first snow of the winter ahead. It wasn't snow actually, it was like little, solid dots of ice, just pelting down - very odd. This could be a very long winter ....

I didn't know how to react to it all. I certainly didn't see it coming, it was a surprise. Despite that, I was pretty cool about it, unlike some of my other colleagues who were also let go. I'm good at being calm. I pride myself for it. I remember, a few months back, my friend Deepti was visiting the US and she forgot her passport at a Dunkin Donuts. She realized a couple of hours after and she freaked out. I guess, rightly so. I mean, who am I to say you can't freak out if you misplaced your passport. Just because I wouldn't doesn't mean you can't. So my other friend Saurabh, who in normal circumstances can make anybody laugh, gets all serious and starts reassuring her that we'll find the passport. I, on the other hand, want to turn up the volume on the car radio because I like the song (I think we were listening to Dodgy - Oddly enough, it pisses them off. But it's all forgotten because we did find the passport. Why wouldn't we??!! The Dunkin Donut employee was kind enough to keep the passport she found lying around. Who wouldn't do that?!! I would!

Anyways, this feeling of getting laid off is one of those that sinks in real slowly. Little by little, day by day, you grow into this idleness of unemployemnt. I've been through this before actually. Not the lay-off, the unemployment. I didn't feel an iota of shame then. So why now? In times of idleness, one does a lot of thinking. One must. It struck me that I could actually make a profit out of this lay-off. If I found a job quick enough, say in a month, I'd actually have more money than while being employed. Amazing innit? See? This is what idleness does to a man. So I thought what the hell - let's be positive! And as luck would have it, I do have another job now.

This is supposed to be part III of making 6, my first short film. I couldn't quite stop thinking about the irony of it all. The day after I submit my short film I get laid off from my job. Is this a sign? It's like I was waiting in line at Mcdonald's and someone pulled me out of the queue and said "sorry, you can't be doing this." Somebody tell me it's a sign!

I had all the time in the world to follow the reactions to my first short film. Refreshing the page every minute of my waking hours, I'm waiting for the next comment. But alas - there aren't any comments. Nothing good, nothing bad, nothing. It wasn't like it was trashed. It just didn't seem to get any reactions, which was a little disappointing. One guy found it "wacky but underdeveloped", with which I agree. My friends liked it - what are friends for anyways? Well, it's not like the end of the world. It never is.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

making 6 - part II

Things seem to be going on the right track, that is until our first obstacle. Our actress is late (I thought such things only take place in big showbiz, not little showbiz). There's talk of postponing the shooting to the next day; Manan has a 1pm appointment with his cable guy and Atilla can't stay for too long. Yeh kya ? Shuru hone se pehle hi The End .... ??

Manan receives a call from Karina; she'll be there in 15 minutes. We give ourselves another chance and wait some more. I'm a little anxious myself, for other reasons. The first time Manan told me about Karina, he mentioned the word 'melancholic.' Since I didn't know what the word meant, I presumed it was a good thing; 'melancholic' has a very musical sound to it. The day before our shoot I'm a little bored and I look up the defintion; says 'gloomy' and 'expressing sadness.' I'm having doubts if Manan has actually understood my story; I was hoping he'd know that we didn't want a melancholic face. I'm pleasantly surprised when she walks in through the doors. Manan's done a good job at casting, much better than his 'definitive' abilities.

We get straight to work. I'm explaining the elevator to Sujit. There's nothing to it really : the elevator stays at the same floor and he just needs to hit the DOOR OPEN and DOOR CLOSE buttons at the cue. Initially, he doesn't open the elevators at the cue. Once it's too early, another time too late. And yet another time, the elevator's gone off to some floor! This is driving me nuts! This is supposed to be a very simple shot! So I say screw the elevator doors - I'll just cut them out of the shot.

Then, we have to take the shots from inside the elevator. One thing about elelvators : they are cramped as hell. Apparently, it can fit 8-10 people. I'm not so sure about that. We need some different camera angles from inside the elevator so I try taking some shots while standing on a (rather shaky) chair. They turned out really well. Finally something to be happy about.

We're getting close to our deadline for the elevator. On top of that, the camcorder battery is running low. So while I leave the camcorder for charging at my place, I'm asking Manan and Karina to throw off some ideas for an alternate ending. Manan's totally barren with ideas. Karina's suggestion has a good feel about it so we decide to try it out. The office receptionist comes up to remind us that we better finish up with our 'moving.' I think she's a little perplexed to see just a chair and a man with a camcorder in hand. We pretend to move the solitary chair and assure her that we'll be done in no time. I think she's about to call our bluff, maybe even complain to higher management, but I'm not so sure. We have a couple of shots left and we hurry through them. I think Manan's a little unsure about how to portray his character in the last scene. I'm trying to explain 'dazed' but I'm not completely happy with the final take. It's all happening in a hurry. I wish we had more time but I guess that's the way it's going to be.

After all that shooting, we're off to Panera Bread for lunch, discussing a little bit of foreign film and bitching about our colleagues at work. Manan insists that he pay for lunch since he's the producer. "Producer and you? Who said so?" So he enlightens me about how his ancestors had a film studio in pre-Partition Lahore and distributed films India-wide. It makes for great reading in a newspaper : "grandson revives family-owned film studios with phenomenal success of short film". But I'm afraid this film can't, in fact shouldn't, have a producer. Maybe our next feature .... :-) On the way back home, Manan's feeling a tad apologetic because I felt his performance was below par. I meant to say it as subtly as possible, but I'm not a good actor! Or maybe I'm just too honest. Manan saw through my disappointment. I had a feeling that he'd make a good actor and he would. The whole atmosphere that day was chaotic. It's not like I did a great job at handling everything either. So shit happens. Despite all that, everything's cool. All said and done, it's time for a few days' break and get cracking on the editing.

I'm giving myself around 15 days to make the final edit. We don't have so much footage, just over 15 minutes. More than half of that is just footage of stairs and elevator doors opening and closing. My first cut, where I'm trying to be as stingy as possible with the shots, turns out to be 90 seconds long! Screwed! My earlier doubts have been realized : this is not 60-second material. So I'm stingier still the second time round. I'm having to remove shots which add to the build-up, making the climax less effective. The story is basically taking place on 3 days; in my final draft, the first day alone is taking up nearly half of the film. It's very hard to set up the end. I'm having to fight for half a second of footage - that's how miserly I had to be.

The most fun part of editing was picking out the background music. Now I can't just pick any of the few 1000 mp3's I have. The competition rules state that we have to buy rights for copyright music so the only option is royalty free music and sounds, of which there are plenty of sites on the net. If I had the money for it, I would've bought the rights for the theme of In the Mood for Love ( - listen to it with your eyes closed and the violin just melts you within. The funny thing about background music is that everything works. The music will create the mood. I'm especially conscious of background music whenever I watch a film. I can instantly feel it when the music adds to the impact of images displayed on the screen. So selecting the right track should be a piece of cake - I knew what I wanted .... apparently. All I had to do was sample as many different tracks as possible. So as I'm sampling each, I'm thinking "this is good, this one fits beautifully." This goes on for almost every track I sample. So I stick to my old policy and pick out a classical music track. I'm looking for something like the In the Mood for Love theme, but not quite like it. Something with a violin. Had I used the theme, it would've created a melancholic (!!) mood, which I didn't want to. So thank god for royalty free music. I stumble upon "Concerto for Violin and Oboe" and "Symphony in C Major 30"; I have no idea what all these names and numbers mean - but hey, it fits my short film and that's all that matters for now! The background music elevates the film to another level altogether. It's not perfect, but it's a huge improvement.

The best part - I have a final edit and it's surpisingly better than I had earlier anticipated! I wasn't completely convinced with the footage we shot. But I think it's turned out pretty OK during the editing process.

Phew ..... So here it is finally. Presenting 6 (trumpets, drum rolls et. al) -

Give me feedback people. I want feedback! Good, bad, everything.

And then the next day ..... oh well, that's a story for another day ....

Friday, November 23, 2007

making 6 - part I

I didn't expect to say this a couple of months back, but here I am saying it anyways : I have written and directed my first film, a short film of 60 seconds (70 if you include the start and end credits). I'm not sure what I feel. At one level, it's good to get it off my chest, to finally make one. At another level, I feel I could've done better; yet, there are a few things I'm quite impressed with. But more than anything else, I've enjoyed it and learned a lot. I know what to look out for the next time I make one. And I will make another one !

Making a film is tough. Even more so when it's supposed to be just 60 seconds. It's like making a commercial; them ad film-makers don't have it easy. Why only 60 seconds, you ask ? Because those are the competition rules. PFC is hosting an online short film festival in December. Honestly, it's nothing fancy. But it's an opportunity for me to get up off my ass and make something worthwhile.

Coming up with a story for my short wasn't as tough as it seems. Part of the concept is borrowed from my own experience. I think one just needs to observe and take note of all the little incidents that one experiences; every unique incident is a short film in itself. Every time I come across one of these incidents, I'm intrigued by its on-screen possibilities.

Once I had a couple of story ideas finalized, I needed to look for a cast. There was no way I could've done this on my own. Also, I never saw myself playing any character in my short film; I wanted to take the reigns of the camera. So I pitched the ideas to my very good friend Manan; he's a cinema connoisseur, just like me, and we're always exchanging ideas about alternative movie endings. One of the stories seemed to appeal to him and I thought he fit the main character's look and more imortantly, he was game for it. He provided invaluable creative feedback, including the perfect ending I was looking for; he also suggested the title for my short : 6. In addition, he volunteered to be the casting director : the other principle character is a pretty (and) young woman. I only see such species in my every-day life and have no acquaintance with any of them; luckily, Manan knows a few and promises he'll find one. Initially, I planned to shoot the film with my digital camera; the videos aren't so bad. But then, I started getting greedy and realized it would be awesome if we had a camcorder. I nudge Manan to ask his contacts and soon enough, we have a Sony miniDV camcorder (courtesy : Vickram) - beautiful, the wheels are in motion!. Manan, I only have one thing to say : you da maan !

Even though I was clear about the story idea, I still had no script. I mean it's a one-minute short - script ki kya zaroorat hai ? It turns out I needed one. My actors needed to know what I had in mind; Manan knew the story, but Karina (the female lead) had no idea what she was in for. So I sit down and start putting it all on paper. I have all the action in place but I'm not sure about how much dialgoue to incorporate. My first visualization had little or no dialogue at all; the actions and expressions of the characters spoke louder than words. But suddenly, the time constraint of 60 seconds is nagging me and leaves me in a spot of bother. This whole script-writing idea isn't such a good one after all - it's bloody tough ! So I add a few more dialogues. While writing the script, I find myslef stuck at the end. I know what the end is but I don't know how to get there. I ask my friend Rahul for possible ideas and I realize that the ending needs to be very direct. In addition, I also have doubts if I can fit the whole film in 60 seconds. I'm playing the short film in my head and it runs for 75 seconds - dammit ! This whole film-making idea isn't such a good one after all - it's bloody tough !

I've added a third character and ask my casting director to look for an actor for a bit role. One of his work colleagues, Atilla, is willing to help us out. I mail Karina and Atilla the final script - I still hadn't met them in person so I have no idea what they think of it. My short film also requires an elevator so I reserve one in my apartment building on a Saturday morning. I inform the management that I need to 'move some furniture' and will require the elevator for 3 hours. We try to be as tactful as possible but I get the feeling it's no use : there's a security camera perched in a corner of the elevator - there is video evidence of us shooting a film !

The morning of the shoot, I'm a little nervous. I don't know what to expect. Rather, I don't know if I can realize my own expectations. I'm trying to be as active as possible, running around getting the props ready. I'm roaming around without any footware to make myself comfortable (also for some odd reason, I thought the chappy sounds of footwear would cause unwanted sound effects). I haven't made any notes about shot division, what camera angles I'm going to use. This means we have to improvize. And that means you have to be in that frame of mind in which you try out crazy things, in which the circumstances enthuse you. Usually, such energy is contagious. That morning, I didn't have it; I was nervous.

We're shooting on the 6th floor and since it's Saturday morning, there's hardly any crowd around - exactly what we need. I had asked Manan to come to my place a little earlier (9 am) than the rest so that I could shoot some of his individual portions. We're testing our elevator and find that there's a problem : we need someone to stand inside the elevator and control the doors. On such short notice, we had to get someondy living in the same building. Luckily, Sujt had a day off from his MBA duties and was available.

Things seem to be going on the right track, that is until our first obstacle. Our actress is an hour late (I thought such things only take place in big showbiz, not little showbiz). There's talk of postponing the shooting to the next day; Manan has a 1pm appointment with his cable guy and Atilla can't stay for too long. Yeh kya ? Shuru hone se pehle hi The End .... ??

to be continued ....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

1 year and where it's brought me

It's been a year (and 4 days) since I started my first full-time job. Thankfully, I still have it. Thanks to the powers up above, at the corporate that is. A year and 4 days ago, I wasn't nervous about the prospect of my first job (not that I'm nervous even now). I wasn't having any nightmares about my boss-to-be or the kinda work I would be doing. I was pretty cool about it. In fact, the night before, I was busy watching Khosla Ka Ghosla till probably 3 or 4 am. The movie was so good I couldn't help stopping it mid-way. I looked at it as a good omen - a great movie preceding an important milestone in my life. You know how Hindus worship Lord Ganesh before embarking on a new venture? Something like that. Of course, in a very different, and most possibly incomprehensible, manner.

So what has transpired in this one year? How has Pratik Patel changed? Hmmm, where should we begin ....

- I've been to New York twice this year. The second time round, I fell so much in love with it that I dedicated my work-related password to my love for the city. Weird, but true (the truest things are always weird, no wonder we're so afraid to face it). But seriously - NY rocks !

- On last count, I have watched around 80 movies in a theater hall in the last year (I must have watched as many, if not more, on my computer). In the space of 10 days in March, I watched 19 movies at the Cleveland Film Festival - by the end of it, I had impressed myself. I never knew I could love cinema so much. I have even incorporated the terms 'film' and 'cinema' in my vocabulary - signs of a budding film buff. Now I'm excited at the prospect of learning how to make one.

- I never knew I could control my sleep as well as I have for the last year. I used to dread two things : sleeping early and waking up early. Now logically, in order to wake up early you have to sleep early - double whammy, right? .... Wrong! People who know my sleeping patterns know that the patterns can be very long. I proved them all wrong - I shocked the hell out of some! Heck, I proved myself wrong! I somehow managed to sleep at 1 am (some nights a little later) and get up by 7 am (some days a little later).

- I went to my first (rock?) concert. I knew only 2 of the 10 or so songs that they performed. But it was fun - I had a few beers. So when is Pink Floyd having their reunion concert?

- I've learned that I'm not cut out for this 9-to-5 routine. I've done it for a year and I'm already sick of it. I need the unplanned, the unpredictable; at times, I crave it. I need a sense of being unsettled in life, I feel restless without it.

- I've seen that people my age are moving on to bigger things in life now, or at least they have the big ideas in their head. Sometimes, I think I'm doing something wrong. But then, I'm so good at self-confidence that I tell me to be myself. Thank god for letting me be myself - amen to that ! :-)

- I've also failed to keep in touch with my close friends. It's not that they don't call; I don't return their calls. If you are reading this, I'm sorry.

- I've learnt that no amount of money is enough in life. If you have enough money for it, you will buy that new mp3 / video player, that Seinfeld box set, that book, that .....

Some of these don't even count as a form of change. Well ..... at least, it happened.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

confessions of a(n irregular) blogger

No more. No more apologies. No more high-handedness. No more excuses. No this. And no that. And definitely, no more promises or resolutions to keep this blog thing a regular affair (I mean come on! Who am I kidding??!! )

So here I am.

Let me just delve into why this whole maintain-your-blog-regularly can be tough. I'm not trying to buy any sympathy here or defending myself (what do I need to defend myself for anyway??!!). I'm just .... trying to tell it like it is ...

Apparently, people who write go through this thing called writer's block, an inability to write , to take the idea further. Not that it applies to me; I'm hardly a writer. Yet, here I am, going through my own writer's block, a complete anti-thesis of it really. Imagine if you will, a horde of mad, over-obese idiots making a run for the last free McDonald's lunch hamper, strategically placed right across the entrance. They all try to get in at the same time. And eventually who gets through? ... No one. So that's the deal with me : I have tons of these starved, crazy, over-obese idiots in the form of ideas and opinions, just dying to be heard, dying to be expressed, dying to be let go off. But none of them are able to make it to this blog because they all want to get in at the same time .... This is just one of the reasons. God knows how many more there are!

In short, there's a whole lot of stuff to write about, but I'm just not able to get my lazy ass to it. I remind myself to update my blog and then I'm reminded of being myself, being lazy. It frustrates me no end. I mean, imagine that - my own laziness is frustrating me and I'm not doing anything about it ! It's right there, harrassing the wits out of me and I'm not doing a thing about it. Height of laziness.

I've had at least 3 other decent drafts that I saved over the last few months; I'll be posting them (When? I don't know). I just haven't had the conviction to finish it in one sitting. I mean, just take this entry for example. I started this one at w**k, at my of***e (yes, I fear Big Brother over there) and ended up finishing it two (make that three, no four) days later at home!

In a way, this blog resembles me in one way or another. This is me : lazy, unsatisfied with what-I-can-do-but-don't-do, irregular, unpredictable ..... instinctive maybe ... Oh well, whatever ... I've made it this far, so I'm happy.

Recommended movie (English) :

Eagle VS. Shark ( &

I saw this movie at the Cleveland Film Festival earlier this year. It was screened on the last day; usually, the good movies are saved for the last day of a film festival. So naturally, I was looking forward to it. Eagle Vs. Shark is a very different, weird comedy. It's about two rather confused people. Jarrod's aim in life is to get back at the fat kid who bullied him in high school. Lily's aim in life is to find a nice guy. More than anything else, it was fun just to listen to the Kiwi (Kiwii refers to New Zealand btw) accent - it's groooovaaay! You want to know something about the Kiwi accent? They pronounce the 'i' as 'e' - so 'puppy' becomes 'puppay'. 3 times 2? .... Sex (this is how their trans-Tasman rivals - the Aussies - love to tease the Kiwis) !

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"... yeah ..."

Once in a while, TV will teach you something, inspire you to become someone new. Game shows inspire you to be more knowledgable : knowing that Smirnoff Vodka has 40% alcohol could save somebody's life. Reality TV inspires you to be real, a real good actor. But nonetheless, the point remains : they teach, they inspire. It's ironic that Seinfeld, the best comedy series ever created, inspired me to be .... (I want to say) ... a rebel. By the looks of it, you won't believe me. So I'll say anti-social - believe it or not, it's a more socially acceptable term (this has nothing to do with not socializing with people. I love having a drink, usually more than four, with friends). But sometimes it's not as easy as portrayed on that little TV screen. Because when push comes to shove, you can expose yourself to some serious embarrassment, not to mention fighting a lone battle.

(Jerry Seinfeld & Co. are off to attend a dinner party)

ELAINE: Maybe we should stop off on the way and get a bottle of wine or something.
GEORGE: What for?
ELAINE: These people invited us for dinner. We have to bring something.

ELAINE: Because it's rude, otherwise.
GEORGE: You mean just going there because I'm invited, that's rude?
GEORGE: So you're telling me instead of being happy to see me they're going to be upset because I didn't bring anything. You see what I'm saying?
JERRY: The fabric of society is very complex George.

I love this Seinfeld episode (I love pretty much every single one of them!). But I will always remember Jerry's profound statement about the current society we live in - it is very complex. Here's a social riddle : if someone died on their birthday, would you sing the "happy birthday" song at their funeral?? (let's override technicalities like having a funeral a few days after the person dies. And anyways, in the future, funerals will take place moments after the last breath. People won't have that much time to spare.)

So anyways, Seinfeld made me think about social rules; it made me conscious about them. While people around me were busy focusing on their academics and career, these were the dillemmas I was going through. You're right, I was crazy. On the surface, everything looked normal. But let me tell you a secret about us crazy people : we are adept at acting normal.

During such a phase, I went through a personal pop quiz of social rules endurance. I will not mention names here - you know who you are. I was about to go out for dinner with my friends. On that particular day, one of my friends' sister was visiting for the Thanksgiving weekend. So before leaving for the restaurant, we are formally introduced. This is all happening while I'm putting on my shoes. I say hi and smile and she does the same, except she says "nice to meet you." Blackout. Everything around me disappears into a blur. Voices in my head. "Be a good boy and just say''nice to meet you too'" I opt for ignorance, look down and (re-)tie my shoelaces. There was silence, I could clearly hear it. "Ummmmm ...... she said 'nice to meet you'", points out my friend. Damn! Now I have to say something. Those voices again. "Nice to meet you too." And then, with as much as nonchalance as I could muster, I blurt out "... yeah ...", and add in a nod or two for good effect.

"... yeah ..."???? Yeah what?
A) Yeah, it's nice to meet me?
B) Yeah, I heard you?
C) Yeah, we're getting late?
D) Yeah, Happy Thanksgiving?
E) Yeah, I have nothing else to say?

The answer : F) All of the above. F is also for "failed". Moral of the story : when in doubt, say "... yeah ..."; it's a sure-shot way of getting yourself into trouble.

So why didn't you just pick the easy option and say "nice to meet you too" and get it all done with?? You know what? I'm sick and tired of saying it if I don't mean it. This doesn't mean it wasn't nice to meet her, but it doesn't quite qualify for 'nice' either (let's give the word the respect it deserves). And there's nothing wrong with it. Most first encounters aren't special (if you can manage to find something amusing about every person you meet for the first time, all the power to you). When you really get to know the person better, then you can truly say "nice to meet you" (or not!) because then you'll mean it and not say it because it's the most 'appropriate' reply. On second thoughts, Jerry, it's not so complex really. But we lead such simple lives that we can't bear to have it so easy.

Until next time, ...... "... yeah ..."

P.S. I'm not able to recall if I really said "... yeah ...". But who cares? It makes for a great story! :)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

excerpts from "A Man without a Country" - II

I'm still working on some older blog entries that I was supposed to finish. So in the meanwhile, it's back to excerpts from "A Man without a Country". By the end of this excerpt series, you'll probably have read the whole book, or atleast the best parts!!

I am, of course, notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.

And my car back then was powered, as are almost all means of transportation and other machinery today, and electric power plants and furnaces, by the most abused, addictive, and destructive drugs of all : fossil fuels. . . When you got here, even when I got here, the industrialized world was hopelessly hooked on fossil fuels, and very soon now there won't be any left. Cold turkey. . . Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn't the TV news is it? Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face a cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on.

Our close cousins the gorillas and orangs and chimps and gibbon apes have gotten along just fine all this time while eating raw vegetable matter, whereas we not only prepare hot meals but have now all but destroyed this once salubrious planet as a life-support system in fewer than two hundred years, mainly by making thermodyanimic whoopee with fossil fuels. The Englishman Michael Faraday built the first electric generator only a hundred and seventy-two years ago (this was written in 2005). The German Karl Benz built the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine only a hundred and nineteen years ago. The first oil well in the USA, now a dry hole, was drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania, by Edwin L. Drake only a hundred and forty-five years ago. The American Wright brothers, of course, built and flew the first airplane only a hundred and one years ago. It was powered by gasoline. . . You want to talk about irrestible whoopee? A booby trap. Fossil fuels, so easily set alight! Yes, and we are presently touching off nearly the very last whiffs and drops and chunks of them. All lights are about to go out. No more electricity. All forms of transportation are about to stop, and the planet Earth will soon have a crust of skulls and bones and dead machinery. And nobody can do a thing about it. It's too late in the game. Don't spoil the party, but here the truth: We have squandered our planet's resources, including air and water, as though there were no tomorrow, so now there isn't going to be one.

I know what women want: a whole lot of people to talk to. What do they want to talk about? They want to talk about everything. What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish people wouldn't get so mad at them. Why are so many people getting divorced today? It's because most of us don't have extended families anymore. It used to be that when a man and a woman got married, the bride got a lot more people to talk to about everything. The groom got a lot more pals to tell dumb jokes to. But most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it's a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it's a man. When a couple has an argument nowadays, they may think it's about money or power or sex or how to raise the kids or whatever. What they're really saying to each other, though without realizing it, is this: "You are not enough people!" A husband, a wife and some kids is not a family. It's a terribly vulnerable survival unit. . . I sure wish I could wave a wand, and give every one of you an extended family. Now, you take George and Laura Bush, who imagine themselves as a brave, clean-cut little couple. They are surrounded by an enormous extended family, what we should all have - I mean judges, senators, newspaper editors, lawyers and bankers. They are not alone. That they are members of an extended family is one reason they are so comfortable. And I would really, over the long run, hope America would find some way to provide all of our citizens with extended families - a large group of people they could call on for help.

© Kurt Vonnegut


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Present > Past

Sachin Tendulkar's go-slow in the 2nd innings of the 3rd test spoke more of his stark present than his illustrious past. Numerous analysts blamed him for the loss, none defended his approach to batting. We all know how his performances infect the team. On that particular day, the team caught hold of his virus. I did not watch the inning, but I only had to picture it in my mind. Watching Tendulkar 'accumulate' runs in the past few seasons is a common, albeit frustrating, sight. A batsman who can't stretch enough to touch the pinnacle of his capabilities appears confused, both as batsman and team player, and half-hearted in his efforts. International sportsmen often encounter mid-career crises, when the fight between phasing out as a has-been and pushing on for greatness reaches its climax. But for Tendulkar to go through such a phase near the end of his career spells more cause for concern than is visible on the surface.

Tendulkar will be 34 in April, his 18th year in international cricket. Statistically, he has achieved all batting greatness there is. But the real story doesn't match that greatness, it speaks of something unaccomplished, incomplete. He must decide what he wants to do with the rest of his career, how he wants to sign off. And needs to do it now.

There seems little reason to Tendulkar playing the role of the anchor batsman. As has been suggested by analysts and cricket enthusiasts over and over again, he must play his natural game, unless it means 'accumulating' runs. Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid seem to posses enough cricket brain and guts to let such a suggestion pass; they might even have offered the role to Tendulkar. There are others in the team who can fill in for that role. He needs to let go of his expectations, let go of his past achievements, let go of himself. Go out on that pitch and just bat!

There is work to be done, Mr. Tendulkar. A career to be replenished.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The name is Pratik

I don't know why I'm doing this. I have to be crazy, which funnily enough I am, and very stupid, which again I could be. All those who know me are aware that I hate being called any name that is not Pratik (yes, this includes Jack, don't ask why, sometimes, it really ticks me off) And yet here I am, about to give you a pretty comprehensive list of all the names I've been called. Relax, don't get excited. This definitely doesn't mean you can pick out a name from the list and use one of them on me next time. Of course, this doesn't mean you start calling me Pratik, just because it annoys me sometimes (you'd probably laugh your ass off calling me Pratik, and I'll laugh my ass off in return) Stick to the old name. Just don't give me any more nicknames!! .... Bas ho gaya yaar ab ... :)

I have a lot of nicknames, no exaggeration. My (exaggerated) theory is that if I had my back to all the people I know and they called out my name, I could recognize who it was just by the name they use to call me (you can look at it two ways : either I don't know enough people or I have too many nicknames).

I know, I know - you all are probably wondering why is this guy so expasperated over his nicknames and will evetually quote Shakespeare : "What's in a name?" (some of you probably don't even know that it's Shakespeare, shame on you guys!!) It's a pain living a life of multiple nicknames. It's come to a point where nobody knows who Pratik is. Take the following phone conversation for example :

Caller : Hello.
Pratik : Hello.
Caller : Who is this?
Pratik : Pratik.
Caller : Kaun?
Pratik : Pratik!!
Caller : Pratik? .... Kaun Pratik?
Pratik : ........... Abbe, Jack bol raha hoon!!!
Caller : Toh aisa bol naa!

Precursory warning : Do not apply reason to any of the following nicknames. Just take it on face value, or word value rather.
  • Pratik (or simply Patel) - this is the best one!
  • Patrick - pretty obvious why
  • Jack (the most popular one, variations : Jackkkkkk - ek dum intensity ke saath, Jackie, Whacko Jacko) - "Why Jack?" If I had a dollar for every instance I've had to (reluctantly) answer that one. So here's the story : Once upon a time, a few desi Florida Tech freshmen became friends. As happens with a group of people who start hanging out with each other, they started having nicknames for each other. The first person to get a nickname was Manoj, a Tamil guy from Singapore. Now, Arjun derived a nickname for Manoj : Daaku; he probably thought Manoj looked like one (FYI, I didn't think he looked like one) Up until then, I was the only one who wasn't christened with a nickname. Now, Daaku didn't like the attention he was getting (that's what I think - but hey, I'm the one telling the story here, so that's the way it's going to be :D), so he had to divert it towards someone else. Enter yours truly. So on a sunny day with clear, blue skies, he calls me Jack in front of the whole gang. "Huh? What?" Now, Manoj saw a movie called Aa Ab Laut Chale and he was amazed by this one character. The character is a Gujju NYC cop. He is Jaikishan Patel by night and (lo and behold) Jack Patel by day. So I was named after a lame character in a pathetic Bollywood movie. I hate that movie!! You know what, nobody remembers who Daaku was, but Jack ....
  • McDD (or MDD) - amusing to the inventor because it rhymes with JackDD
  • Jake the Snake (or simply Jake, some people don't like it so they use Snake!!) - named after the famous WWF wrestler Jake the Snake Roberts
  • JackBuster (or just Buster, which is annoying to no limit) - derived from BlockBuster, the movie rental store (if 200 people wanted to watch 200 different movies, on their own, the same night, then I could probably open my own BlockBuster, I mean JackBuster)
  • Jackpa Tel (rhymes with AlcaTel - btw, you're 'supposed' to say it simultaneously : Jackpa (pause) Tel (pause) Alca (pause) Tel) - don't ask why because even I don't know
  • Jack Black Quack Quack (or just Quack Quack - One crazy idiot has left me voicemail messages that consisted of just two words : quack, quack. If this isn't ridiculous, then what is?) - again, do not ask
  • JP of TPI - Jack Patel of a certain industry. Let's just say a friend wanted to use my brand name (quite literally!!) for business purposes. I will say no more.
  • Black Jack - apparently, I'm black!! :)
  • PDD
  • KK Patel - named after the not-so-famous Kitchen King Masala, apparently I cook well
  • Hanuman Patel - devised when I had swollen lips due to a cricket pitch mishap. In times of such an injury, you treat the guy with an ice pack. What did I get treated with? An ice pack .... and yet another nickname!!
  • Put-put Patel
  • Pumping Patel - What was I doing at that point of time? Filling in air in my bike's deflated tyres. I probably reached such a stage wherein I didn't have to do anything to get a nickname, it just happened ... just like that.
  • Nanak Patel - I will not delve into this one, horrendously ridiculous!! (Saurabh, you bastard ... :D)
  • PJP (Pratik Jack Patel) - amusing to the inventor because it rhymes with BJP
So there you have it, stupidity, franchise outlets, animals and even religious figures!! You've heard of 'master of all trades'? Now you know who I am .....

I've probably missed some, for good reason of course. For e.g. I didn't reveal my first nickname, the nickname my parents gave me. None of you, except my sister, know that one (and you better keep it that way). I'm one nickname lesser. Phew!

P.S. This isn't official, but my New Year resolution is to update my blog more frequently, a lot more frequently since I have more free time on hand. If I live upto it, it's official, or else ...... you've been warned about how lazy I can be.