Saturday, December 19, 2009


Yes, I just saw the new James Cameron opus "Avatar".

Some quick thoughts on:

The visual experience:
in 3D, its visually stunning! Its magnificent! The boundaries of imagination of what an alien planet blessed with rich flora and fauna will look like have been challenged, no, have been assailed resulting in a world that has been painstakingly crafted in all its exquisite detail. I was impressed by the diversity of fictional biological life. Creatures, though very dinosaur and prehistoric Earth like, have wonderful design detail and flawless rendering. There is no doubt that Avatar is a visual tour de force!

The cast: (in order of my preference)
Zoe Saldana
Stephen Lang
Sam Worthington
Sigourney Weaver

Zoe Saldana or her character Neytiri, a princess of the Na'vi tribe, is my favorite character of the movie. She is feminine, beautiful (character wise), elegant, tender and at the same time is aggressive, loyal and trustworthy. Her emotions ring true and the manner of display, honest.

Stephen Lang, as always is the case, is a battled hardened commander whose dedication to the mission is so personal that there are no distinctions between failure and death, between success and life. His absolute apathy to the plight of the Na'vi serves as the face of unrelenting oppression. His character is designed to be so hard and unlikeable that the viewer's sensitivities swing the other way to associate and sympathize with the Na'vi.

Sam Worthington's character Jake Sully is the typical Hollywood character who dusts off bullets, plays a game of chicken with death and wins, one who walks on water and can eat fire. He, in the face of great adversity, overcomes tremendous internal conflict and saves the world just to uphold and save what is worth saving - truth, love, and loyalty. His character development is the most interesting though as we learn about him only through his avatar.

Sigourney Weaver is back as an all out, ballsy, 'I take no shit from nobody' researcher except this time her character is rather matronly. She oversees Jake's induction and continued interaction with the Na'vi. She is the resident expert on all things biological on Pandora and on the social mores of the Na'vi. Her conscience is a razor sharp knife - things fall on one side pretty quickly - her side or on Stephen Lang's.

Honorable mentions must be made of Michele Rodriguez as a marine pilot and Dileep as a lackey on Sigourney Weaver's team (except that his name is spelled wrong :))

Some viewer reactions:
Most people who watched Avatar focused on its pace - it is a rather long movie. The character development and the exploration of the visuals (mainly of the forest and of the creatures that inhabit Pandora) contributed to the pace and totally escaped many viewers. Its akin to Peter Jackson's "Return of the King" taking all the credit over "The Fellowship of the Ring" because it leverages all the elements of an excellent action fantasy movie but is based of an entire movie's worth of character development.

Even though it masquerades as an intelligent character driven movie, it suffers from annoying cliches. The dialogues, at most times, are frustrating. They are predictable, mundane and appear to have been written in a hurry while in the bathroom.

Overall this movie has many moments where cliches and banalities threaten to engulf and drown the experience but there is always something developing, be it characters, visuals or action sequences to redeem this movie.

My reactions:

Action and visualization - incredible stereo camera angles takes you into the skies to fly with the Na'vi warriors. The incredible detail in the jungle and the lush landscapes is worthy of the master Peter Jackson. The creatures on the other hand were a little simplistic and too earth like. They were not fundamentally different in any way from creatures we are familiar with. The attempt at being ever so different falls short by a mile and then some! All they could do was strap on two more legs to a horse? and give it a snout?

Symbolism - Jake Sully's avatar swatting away the seeds of the tree of life - he doesn't understand it so he fears it and thinks of destroying them. Once he is saved, his playfulness with the forest betrays an inquisitiveness, he is now very keen to open his eyes, ears and heart and let the sights, sounds and spirit of the forest get in.

Love - their love was simple and honest. I am thankful it wasn't more involved. Cameron sets up the stage with a few subtle clues in scenes leading up to the one in the tree of souls.

The larger human condition - Man is afraid of the dark, of things he doesn't understand and once this fear sets in - there is a high resistance to learn and understand and is replaced by a yearning to destroy this unknown, poorly understood horror.

Character development - Though an attempt is made to be patient and textured, the development of various characters was too simplistic and episodic with some characters reduced to mere statements. This is frustrating as I feel certain aspects of various characters could have been explored in a little more detail. Maybe the real issue I have here is the line between stating characters as fact and developing them consistently fell on the wrong side.

Dialogues - This department single-handedly ruined the experience with gems like "I see you", "You have a good heart". It really does seem that Cameron downloaded a Hollywood phrase generator, clicked on it a thousand times and paid someone minimum wage to stitch these together to form dialogues.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Some home truths

of the average human life.

Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree sings -

"And pride is just another way
Of trying to live with my mistakes
Denial is a better way
Of getting through another day
And silence is another way
Of saying what I wanna say
And lying is another way
Of hoping it will go away"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Response to a comment on "My mid life crisis"

Anonymous posted "You will feel alive when - you get out of your comfort zone ready to set new expectations and change."

I thought I addressed this in the post but let me elaborate a little -

Setting new expectations for yourself outside the norm and striving to meet it is, as I've pointed out, what will satisfy most people. Personally, being out of my comfort zone and challenging myself is currently in my comfort zone. So much so, that I fear that these challenges, in order to be satisfying and enriching, are going to have to get taller and come at intervals way more frequent than they are right now.

All this talk of setting new expectations and change usually refers to your personal life and your view of your personal self. I want to extend that to your professional life too. I see no point in attempting to re-define yourself in your non-professional life but go back to an existence where all you strive for is the corner window office, better pay, better benefits, aspire to become a manager or any equivalent of this whatever your domain maybe. Couple that with buying a house with a yard, getting a dog and raising a family then you get a life awash with the gray of mundanity. Think about everything that is the norm of your life - from going to the mall to check out the latest sale to drinking coffee from your favorite barrista - I hate the ordinariness of it all - it closets and stifles the possibilities of enriching life beyond keeping up with the joneses.

Following this pattern of life gets you what exactly? A facade of happiness? A facade of stability?

Not that there is anything wrong with this - this is exactly what floats many a boat. Just not mine.

I don't know what I want of and from life instead but the possibility of living this shell of a life just because I did not try to break out and redefine my life is positively terrifying. I feel trapped by this life - the only life I've known.

[Some other random thoughts]
Can I, at this stage of my life, be, say for example, a musician? *Maybe* Why exactly is it this hard? Because I've been following the harder/faster/better routine all my life (I haven't even gotten anywhere doing that). Staying in this rut has precluded so many possibilities, one of them being a life as a musician.

The point I make here is that the longer I stay in a lifestyle governed by these norms and accepted ways, the harder it becomes to break out and change your life in a fundamental way. You may compensate by launching onto themes that are finely nuanced to differentiate you from the rest of the herd but that is as far as you are going to get with this exclusivity. Even though this drive to be different and exclusive is not what drives the initial desire to be fundamentally different, this is the only resort available when you no longer are able to enrich your life in a fundamental way. This is why, I think, you see people in their 40s and 50s suddenly going berserk and going "out of their comfort zone" by going sky diving, buying a swanky new Porsche etc. What is the point of it all?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Category: IAmAlive

Following up on my last post, I am creating a new category of posts on this blog - "IAmAlive" - in this category, I plan to include posts on people that have seemingly broken out of their mold, turned their seemingly normal lives around and achieved something that is close to their heart.

Though I dislike self referential links, I present "The Torture Garden"

A bunch of Indian guys hook up with a few others online. Huh? where is the adventure in that you ask? Well, they are taking part in the 2009 edition of the Mongol Rally - 12,000 km, 16 countries, 6 weeks.

How about the Plymouth-Banjul challenge?

Feeling alive yet? More to follow.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

My mid life crisis

I wrote this post in a hurry. The sentences might seem rather long and my thought process rather choppy. Be warned. Proceed with low expectations on clarity of thought and expression.

I have, for some time now, been disillusioned with the road map of a normal life. You grow up doing the things most normal children do - you go to college with dreams of a successful career and comfortable life, you want to fulfill all your parental obligations and keep them happy. You try and reach higher for better colleges, better jobs, higher pay, better comforts etc. In my opinion, the ultimate worth of being a lead rat in this rat race is really nothing. Nada. Zip. You still, despite your best efforts, go through life much along the same lines as a lesser accomplished individual except that the degree of refinement in your life is higher.

Don't read this the wrong way - this is not to say that ambition is bad. In fact, I think it is the very essence of what makes us better individuals. People without any ambition are the worst offenders from the perspective of this post.

My point is that despite all the fruits of your ambition, your life is fundamentally no different and hence, no richer, texturally speaking, than a life confined and stifled by normalcy. Let me lay it out for y'all - this grand plan that governs just about everyone's life (including mine)

go to school-> (harder/faster/better routine) -> good college -> (continue to follow harder/faster/better routine) -> good high paying job -> higher studies (abroad) -> (you know the words - harder/faster/better) -> get into a job -> start worrying about immigration.

Meanwhile, your personal life follows this routine -
you hit 25 or something nearby -> you've already been dating or been in a few relationships -> look to get married -> get into this "save, save, save for your future" mentality -> get married (either because it's the right time or you've to fulfill parental obligations or your girlfriend/boyfriend is yanking your chain or maybe you really want to(!)) -> move into plush apartment -> furnish apartment with the latest and greatest that your combined salary can afford -> have elaborate parties, hob nob with sheeple and discuss politics and economics.

Aren't you already disgusted with the pointlessness of a life awash with the gray of boredom and accepted norms?

Depending on the green card situation, your job stability and the pressure from back home you (along with your spouse) decide to start a family. -> buy a house (this can take a long time and significant investment) -> deck up your house in the usual way - game room (with attendant giant screen TV), living room also with large flat screen TV, plush leather furniture etc etc -> pop babies -> green card approved (it could very well be that your green card is approved before you decide on a baby).

I hope you see where this is going - other individuals, whom you left on the wayside of accomplishment as you sped past them on wings of ambition, have, I'm sorry to say, a life that is darned similar to yours. In some cases, way better than yours.

Coming full circle, the ultimate worth of running this rat race? NOTHING. A life time of effort and sacrifice and yet, no sense of fulfillment, no real improvement in your sense of self worth.

Have you really thought of what makes you content in life? I am not talking about the happiness you get from taking that adventurous vacation or going sky diving or hand gliding or whatever is the current rage amongst sheeple trying to be different from the rest of the sheep and hence, exclusive. I am talking about happiness that can only come from being contented in and with life.

Most people over compensate for the abundance of boredom/discontentment/disillusionment that is a direct consequence of the stifling grip that a plain ol' vanilla life has on your life and future. I do too.

The following thoughts run quite tangentially to the point I was trying to make all this while.

Have you ever stopped and wondered what really separates you from a kid, any kid, growing up in a slum somewhere in the world? just pure chance. I'll repeat, just pure chance. I do not subscribe to the argument that one should be grateful for what one has and all that jazz. My point is more along the lines of what are you doing with it? Just living it as is? Just going through it with a mindlessness of a drone that wakes up periodically to the reality of its meaningless existence but by the sheer inertia of a lifetime of laziness, just sinks back to the torpor that has been the hallmark of its life?

The sheeple that most people are, end up pissing away their infinitely more valuable lives, one day at a time just by pursuing their fascination with self gratification through living life in the trenches of accepted norms. A normal life that guarantees them a secure, safe life peppered with episodes (often lengthy ones at that) of escapism when each tries to mold himself/herself into something exclusive in a vain attempt at being different from the herd. From what I've been told, being a normal sheep is highly over rated.

Some people are actually somewhat satisfied with their lives(!!!) and ever so often indulge themselves in some form of escapism to compensate for the boredom in their life. They feel renewed anew after an episode of escapism and feel like they can go through the drudgery they think is life for a little longer before they need another break. I think I am in this stage now. And if you are anything like me, this feels like exactly a drug habit - you need fixes faster than before and each with a bigger/better high than the last. You know where that story is going to end don't you?

Sigh! I sometimes find my cynicism too cynical.

But, my question is just this - What is the point of it all? Is there any? Is there meant to be any? Is terminal boredom a fact of life, a way of life even?

What does one have to do to BE alive? to FEEL alive?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The final bell....

Did you imagine the final sound as a gun?
Or the smashing windscreen of a car?
Did you ever imagine the last thing you'd hear as you're fading out...
Was a song? A lament?

All my designs, simplified
All my plans, compromised
All my dreams, sacrificed

Monday, June 15, 2009

Collapse the light......

I'll probably shiver in the cold
I'll probably let the shadows take their toll
I'll probably cover my head in the dark
But I won't forget you when we part

Collapse the Light Into Earth

I won't heal given time
I won't try to change your mind
I won't feel better in the cold light of day
but I wouldn't stop you if you wanted to leave

Collapse the Light Into Earth.......

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Miss Ida B

Hello world
Have you seen Miss Ida B?
Hello world, yeah
Have you seen Miss Ida B?

She's a coffee colored brown
And she looked something like an Indienne

I love you, Miss Ida B, yeah
And I just can't, I just can't hardly keep it in

I'm in love with you, Miss Ida B, baby
Ever since, ever since time stood still on the iron hill.

Baby, when I'm gone
Watcha goin to do?
When you're gone, baby yeah
Watcha man to do?

I hate to even think about it, yeah

Sunday, May 03, 2009


is alone well worth the price of admission.

Tonight I was in attendance in yet another Opeth concert - never has another band, apart from Iron Maiden, evoked such a string emotional response from me. I've seen them every year starting in Philadelphia from when I scrounged around for a few months to be able to afford the ticket. Their live shows are just pure destruction - they do not use any stage gimmicks, no eye candy, no lasers, no video shows on LCD screens etc but just on the strenght of their mighty music, they draw in the legions. Opeth is the fucking best!!!

Tonight's set was blistering!!! From the opening heavy (and I mean fucking heavy!) brooding "Heir Apparent" to the slower, softer "Hope Leaves" to the hypnotic, psychedelic "Closure" concluding in the staple "Deliverance", Opeth was absolutely the greatest! They played some old songs that I haven't heard them play before - "Godhead's Lament", "The Night and the Silent Water".

The mosh pits were insane - there were two roiling pits of hair, flesh and blood. I managed to survive 30 minutes in one of them but not without some collateral damage - a sore, swollen knee from when a behemoth tackled me, bringing me to the ground and a massive red purple bruise in the small of my back where someone headbutted me. I did some damage of my own too, as they always say at the end of a fight, "You should have seen the other guy!". As far as I could tell, 15 people succumbed to the insanity and intensity of the mosh pit. They were escorted away with bleeding noses and other injuries.

Opeth was absolute dynamite tonight and I was honored to have been part of this ritual.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ek Lau.....

I can't get this song out of my head. It's been a really long time since a hindi song has made itself home in my head and refuses to leave. Find it and download it!!

As far as I can gather, this is a song from the movie "Aamir" and Amit Trivedi is the music director.

Gardishon Mein Rehthi,
Rehthi Guzar Thi
Zindagi Aahein Kithni
In Mein Se Ek Hai,
Teri Meri Aakhari
Koi Ek Jaisi Apni..

Par Khuda Kheir Kar Aisaa Anjaam Kisi Rooh Ko Na De Kabi Yahaan..
Gujha Muskuratha Hai Kyun Waqth Se Pehle Kyun Chodd Chala Tera Ye Jahaan

Ek Lau Is Tharah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula
Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula

[ Ek Lau Is Tarah Kyun Song Lyrics @ ]

Ek Lau Is Tharah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula
Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula

Dhoop Ke Ujaale Si, Puns Ki Pyaale Si, Khushiyan Mile Humko..
Zyada Manga Hai Kahaan, Sarhadein Na Ho Jahaan, Duniya Mile Humko..
Par Khudha Kheir Kar, Uske Armaan Mein Kyun Bewaja Ho Koi Kurbaan..
Gujha Muskuratha Hai Kyun Waqth Se Pehle Kyun Chodd Chala Tera Ye Jahaan

Ek Lau Is Tharah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula
Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula

[ Ek Lau Is Tarah Kyun Song Lyrics @ ]

Ek Lau Is Tharah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula
Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula..

Ek Lau Is Tharah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula
Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula

Ek Lau Is Tharah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula
Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula

Ek Lau Is Tharah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula
Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula

Ek Lau Is Tharah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula
Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What do you do?

I still haven't figured out an answer to this question. The answer to life seems so much simpler.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Random thoughts for a snowy Sunday

  • No one is really free of the ideological inheritance which he carries within himself as a child of a given generation. This, in essence, is his conformal "world view". What are yours?
  • Do not equate unawareness with non-existence. Everyone is, at some point, guilty of this depending on the degree of their hubris on how well read they think they are on any given subject.
  • If all/most of your personal heroes are iconoclasts of this or past generations, does that make you one? Isn't this self-contradictory - that you have personal icons but still consider yourself an iconoclast?
  • When does 'belief' turn into 'faith'?
Feel free to answer any of these questions or post more of your own.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Headbanger's Paradise

I haven't gone to a concert in such a long time and have been longing, no, yearning for it off late. Each concert, for me, is a ritual - it cleanses me off all my earthly attachments for a few hours and gives me a fresh start at life's burdens for when I return. The energy of the pit can be rejuvenating, it is an out of body and mind experience for me. For a while now, the concert landscape has been a veritable desert. But, an oasis of shows have lined up for the year and have put a spring in my step.

January 16th: Cradle of Filth, Satyricon @ The Palladium, Worcester, MA
I haven't been excited about a Cradle of Filth album in a while (the last two were a little too Gothic/electronic for me) but the latest one "Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder" had me jumping on my feet all excited. It's an aural orgy of razor sharp melodies over a bed of blistering drums bound together with crunching rhythms. Harmonious guitar solos are an exciting addition to the Filth song structure. And what are Filth songs without the atmosphere and keyboards? Not to be worried, the atmosphere of haunting keys sets the tone for every song in this album. This album is not as hard edged as earlier opuses such as Dusk and Her Embrace, Midian, Cruelty and the Beast but is more than compensated for with melody.

I am a huge fan of Nordic black metal of which Satyricon are pioneers. I confess I haven't had time to listen to their latest album, The Age of Nero but their earlier albums have really struck a chord with my inner insanity. I intend to spin The Age of Nero a few times in my mp3 player before January 16th.

January 30th: AC/DC @ The FedEx Forum, Memphis
Second row floor tickets! For those about to rock, we salute you! I am so excited about this gig that words fail me.

February 22nd: B.B. King and Buddy Guy @ The House of Blues, Boston, MA
The giants of the blues together! What else can I say but "The thrill is.." ON.

March 6th: Destruction, Krisiun @ The Palladium, Worcester, MA
Thrash metal titans Destruction and fast, furious, blistering death metal maniacs Krisiun (is there something in the water down in Brazil?) are going to amp up the intensity till the insanity blows away the building rafter by rafter. I am re-considering being anywhere near the pit at this concert.

April 10th: Kreator, Exodus, Belphegor @ The Palladium, Worcester, MA
THRASH till death! That is the theme for this orgy of bone crunching riffs and supersonic solos destined to snap your neck. Whiplash is on the menu and is being force fed to everyone. You won't see me complaining!

Saturday, January 03, 2009


"When you go home it always looks the same, smells the same and feels the same. You realize that what's changed is you." -- I came across this poignant thought in the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". There are many wonderful situations, circumstances and people that I am sure you'll connect with on an emotional level in this movie.

About home, I always feel exactly like this when I go back home - everything is exactly where it was when I left. Sure, a few things have been moved around, some things have been added and some are missing but there all mostly there and where they've always been. Yet, I feel different - an eerie feeling of being a stranger in your own home. When I used to live there, my immediate habitat had an air of my individuality. Ever since I flew the coup, even though most of the things I left behind are still there I find the essence of my past habitation and the warmth of the comfort I had in my immediate surroundings missing. Every corner of the house, every thing in the house down to the towels and sheets evoke memories of my past. But even though I sleep in the same bed that I slept in for 22 years and use sheets and pillows that I recognize from 6 years ago, I essentially live out of a suitcase (symbolic of a guy just passing through) and don't spend enough time in the house (and in the country) to make it all my own again. And this, in my opinion, makes me feel strangely unfamiliar in my own home and why my past visits have not left me with memories that evoke the same emotional response as pillows and sheets from 6 years ago - I just don't have the time to make it all my own again, to stamp my individuality on the ways of the house.

And yes, I will always call it home. It is, as they say, where the heart is.

Friday, January 02, 2009


is here. I've a feeling that 2009 is going to be a big year for me. Top on the list of priorities that I just have to accomplish if I am to avoid spending time on a certain couch and paying exorbitantly, I might add, for it is for me to get peace - peace of mind and being, within and without, make peace with myself, my life (past and present) and with all the people in it.

The only other thing that is on this list concerns something I am guilty of and I must admit, quite ashamed of - not keeping in touch with people that matter to me. I pledge to them and to myself that I will do a better job this year.

May your God go with you and 2009 bring you what you desire.