Thursday, May 26, 2005

Un Gotha Neeb Nick!

Last week I finally achieved something I've been dreaming of doing since the day I turned two and a half years old. I finally watched a Hungarian movie. And not just one. Now that I was doing it, I decided to go the whole way and watched two of them!

A large percentage of my rapidly dwindling readership is probably squinting at the screen in almost comic bewilderment and perplexity. "A Hungarian movie?!" you ask. "Why on earth would you want to do that?" And I counter with a rather clever (if I do say so myself) "Why not?" thereby leaving you stumped and gasping for breath at the sheer wit and perspicacity of the thrust. Not unlike the proverbial fish out of water, although you are unlikely to die as a result of my stunning counter (which, at the moment this goes to press (or the blog equivalent), stands at 8031). If you are new to this blog and don't get it, just take a deep breath and go read a complex passage on Advaitha. Then come back to this and life will seem a lot simpler. I seem to be rambling, and can't seem to stop. It's like some weird crazy demonic dude has taken control of my mind and fingers and is leading them on a merry little dance along my keyboard. Unceasing and unrelenting, indestructible and indigestible. Dead but not yet. Undead, actually. Wow. Advaitha.

Back to the Hungarian movies. The South Indian Film Chamber is a body that screens a wide variety of movies on a regular basis in Chennai. For just 450 Indian Rupees a year, you get a pass to all their film fests and special premiere screenings in Chennai. Last week was a Hungarian Film Festival. Not being able to watch the widely acclaimed tragicomedy Dad Goes Nuts, Anjana and I decided we'd watch a couple of movies that were played the day after the widely acclaimed tragicomedy Dad Goes Nuts which we were unable to watch during the Hungarian Film Festival organized by The South Indian Film Chamber. Am I repeating myself repeating myself?

The first movie was a really old one, of somewhat poor print. It began rather suddenly and went along at a blazing (and rather ununderstandable) pace for the first forty-five minutes. And then, just as I was beginning to get the hang of it, it ended. The movie was all about a group of farmers who believe in Communism, and challenge their landlord and the local authorities. Several levels of officialdom come to reason with them or threaten them but all fail. Potential imprisonment, mutilation of their limbs and the burning of their harvest does not deter the farmers. One batch of officials is bribed, another seduced and a third simply killed. And, in between each of these, they break into song and dance, usually with their arms across each others shoulders. Other activities include a certain harvest ritual which requires three nubile young girls to be stripped to the waist, and later dunked in a tub. Good fun. Also, they keep saying something like "Un Gotha Neeb Nick!" which means "Rights to the people!" I must say the music was actually very nice, as was the traditional dance... The ending was very well done - lots of symbolism. In the last few minutes, there is a mass massacre, and the last surviving communist shoots the commanding officer with a gun with a red ribbon tied around it. Actually, a pretty nice movie. Will try to find out what it's called.

The second, titled 'Forbidden Relationship' is a far more recent movie. Also, it's in color. Also, it was nowhere near as enjoyable as the first one. It deals wth the incestuous relationship between a woman and her half brother. When she first makes loves to the guy (he's a total stranger to the village; she's known him for about half an hour), she doesn't have a clue who she is. But when she later realises they're related, her love only grows stronger. She's a widow and he's a divorcee (with a slightly shady past to boot), and they find great warmth and understanding in each other. And quite a bit of physical love. They defy social mores and the law to get married. When they have a child however, the courts deem it illegal because the child may be born deformed and they are sent to prison. Separate ones. A year later, they meet again and presto, the second kid's on it's way. Prison again. And back for the next kid. They try to run away from the village, but are forced to return... it's a rather slow movie, but moving in parts. (I mean emotionally moving. Don't give me some crap about it being a moving picture.) Apparently, the movie's based on a true story...

So that was that. Two Hungarian movies in the space of three hours. Kinda fun actually, and decent air conditioned theater. My online research (read Google) hasn't really helped me understand their customs (especially in the first movie), but maybe, just maybe, a native Hungarian stopping by this site will help me out. Believe it or not, this site has actually received eleven visits from Hungary in the last six months! (StatCounter rocks!)

Next dream, an African movie, preferably from East Africa...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

H and C

I'm in a kinda weird mood nowadays. Very unnaturally quiet and reflective, pondering deep ponderations and thinking philosophiocal thoughts... Here's something that really struck me hard today.

People pay thousands, perhaps millions of dollars, to find happiness and contentment. In designer heels and flashy cars. In sulphur springs and yoga. In monasteries and Baskin Robbins. And when they've got whatever it was was that they arrogantly and misguidedly threw their money at, they wonder if it was worth it, whether they really have attained happiness. Happiness is not always about material acquisitions or spiritual awakenings. Or even achievements - winning an award, clearing an exam. These are but fleeting, not rooted in true emotion but merely a means of loosening the knots of tension in our bodies and minds or reassuring oneself that one is still capable of something or the other.

Picture this.

I return home after a four day trip, at half past six in the morning. My brother is curled up on the bed, on his side, his face pressed against the pillow. He's had a haircut just the previous evening, which accentuates his cheeks and makes him look very cuddly-cute. I kiss him lightly on his forehead. He wakes up and stares at me while his vision focusses, then smiles sleepily. "Hi Anna," he murmurs, and pats the bed next to him. I lie down, and he kisses me, puts his arm across my chest and snuggles up to me. In another 30 seconds, he's fast asleep, making little baby noises.

Now that is the closest I've come to true happiness and contentment in a very very long time.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

B.E. positive

My exams are over. My undergraduate courses are complete. If I pass these two papers I've written, I'll be Arvind Chandrasekhar, B.E. Four years, 60 courses and about 1110 bus journeys to get two letters after my name. Cool.

People tend to be very disparaging about an engineering education. "What's the big deal?" says a student of literature. "Herd mentality, I say. Herd mentality," proclaims a professor of commerce with a sorrowful shake of his head. "Far too many engineers. B.E. has no value at all!" puts forth a maami at a vegetable market.

Crap. An engineering education has given me far more than I ever expected. Read on. Please.

What has been the purpose of my college education, as charted out by good old Anna University? To make me a responsible citizen, an ethical human being and a qualified technical engineer who can contribute to the growth and development of my society and the human race at large. WRe nwlsmg;s shdslk hgn dslfg. I'm sorry, I couldn't see what I was typing through my tears of laughter. (I'm sure my co-Anna U mates will be rolling on the floor, clutching their sides and beating on the ground, laughing hysterically.)

OK, seriously, what have I learnt? Have the past four years been of any use? I say a clear, resounding (turn up your speaker volume), unambiguous, unmistakable, running-out-of-applicable-adjectives YES! I am now trained to pursue not just a career in a technical field, but any of the following...

1. Xerox operator
A wise Chinese philosopher once said, "To stroke an elephant's forehead, you must first stroke its trunk." His son later said, "My dad was right." That, however, is of no relevance here. A wise Japanese Xtreme skateboarding champion once said, "Watching is learning." Having closely watched more papers being photocopied than girls doing anything (hard to believe, but true!) over the last four years, I am a master of the xerox game. All I need is a machine and confusing Anna U textbook guidelines, and the money will pour in... Clever marketing (All paper types xeroxed! Give one paper, get two!) and pricing (28 paise per side. 25 if you bring your own paper.) will make me a millionaire. I hope to learn all these things at IIMA.

2. Professional athlete/biker
So I've watched the photocopying process. Why was I there in the first place, you ask? Well, taking a photocopy of portions you didn't know existed until the very last minute (read the day before the exam) is a well documented aspect of B.E. lore. Running, cycling, biking or driving in the sweltering heat or pouring rain, battling heavy winds and suicidal/homicidal auto drivers and pedestrians, on all types of roads (tarred roads, mud roads, no roads) has elevated my skill levels to that of a pro. Factor in running about for ODs and no-due certificates (Aside: What certificate would be issued by the Coca Cola company? No Dew!) and I'm Maurice Green and Haile Gebreselassie rolled in one.

3. Bus driver
Again, watching is learning. And what have I learnt? That the primary qualification to drive buses for an engineering college is that you have to be above 55, hard of hearing and must have a rich vocabulary of abusive words to hurl at errant students, bewildered pedestrians and the omnipresent auto drivers. Pension funds be damned, I'm gonna work in my old age. Vroom!

4. Secret agent
What's so secret about a secret agent? I can't tell you! (Bowing, drinking in the applause and reveling in the shower of roses) A large part of a secret agent's job (apart from blowing things up and bedding every alternate women he comes across) is to do things while ensuring that he's not being watched. Skulking around and all that. Shadowing, even. He/ she may also have to send coded messages back to base, investigate, eavesdrop, read private letters, and try to get as much info as possible from limited resources. B.E. to the rescue! Sneaking around the campus, hoping one won't be caught by a righteous and unbending prof. Charting plans to get out of class unnoticed. Sending Secret Messages and Stuff (SMS) in the middle of class. Passing chits. Using ones ocular skills to the utmost during 'test'ing times. And, of course, slyly pumping the lecturer for the test questions. Last heard, MI6 is recruiting people from my college.

5. Adventure sports dude
The experience gained out of repeatedly climbing long flights of stairs for the silliest of reasons is unbelievable. I still don't believe it. One can't find better hiking in the Himalayas. Also, trekking across the burning sands under an unforgiving sun to get to the bus stop is ideal training for anyone intending to embark on a trans-Saharan journey. For those who get their thrills from near-death experiences, try footboard travel on buses plying on National Highway 4. The wind in your hair, sand in your eyes, grit in your mouth and Yama tapping your shoulder... Your walk on the wild and adventurous side of life begins at an engineering college.

6. Negotiator
Squeezing just one mark more out of a sadistic examiner. Convincing the forbidding class counselor to grant one just another coupla days of OD. Trying to get out of having to pay a fine of a thousand bucks at the library. Inducing the office staff to get off their backsides and actually do some constructive work. Again, pumping lecturers for questions... all this makes one such an awesome negotiator and tactician, you'll have terrorists eating out of your hand.

7. Torture machine tester
Having sat through what seems like gazillions of classes over the course of the last four years, I can confidently say this - Nothing gets worse than it. Chinese torture? I laugh at it. Breaking my knuckles? Pooh! Tying me up and tickling me with a peacock feather? Huh, child's play to resist it... It's no laughing matter (unless one is laughing at Chinese torture) that I've survived so many hours of boring classes and sickening tests. An engineering education hardens you from within. Recent studies show that during the recent India-Pak matches, those running about on the streets pulling their hair out in large tufts and babbling wildly as a result of listening to Kris Srikkanth's Hindi (Kar lo duniya mutthi mein hai!) were almost exclusively non-engineers. The clever B.E. chaps, fortified by education, met the linguistic and aural abuse face-on, and did not succumb. A later report by a commission headed by a retired High Court judge claims this was because their advanced technical training helped them find and press the 'mute' button on the remote. More news on this is expected shortly.

Please don't mob me, presspersons. I have time for just one more question. Yes, you in the green bowtie and fluorescent pink pants.

Press chap: AC, what is the one thing you think you have learnt the most from the entire experience?

Well, the most important thing I have learnt in the last four years has to be the value and beauty of friendship. (Come on people, all together now... AWWWWW!). I've met some awesome people... sniff... Had some great times, super fun, lots of memories. Read this very nice piece by Vetri, my classmate.

I'm looking forward to the future... it looks bright coz the sun's behind me.