Mar 31, 2011

Direction sense of random Puneites

Today, I went on a road trip for a gig at the Pune Hard Rock Café with one of my bands (Overhung).

Getting to the Mumbai-Pune Express highway was easy. But getting off it and heading to Koregaon park in Pune, where Hard Rock was located, proved to be much tougher. We tried to use GPS but Vodafone’s GPRS was crappy enough to not let us do that.Whomever we tried asking for directions asked us to go straight to the left, straight ahead from the signal, straight from the Railway station, straight after turning right.

One guy said this: head straight until the signal. Then you go straight until the intersection, from where you go straight. After that go straight for another couple of kilometers until you reach the Pune Railway station, from where you go straight.

We got very tired and frustrated of this ‘straight’ business. I mean what's wrong with Puneites?

Mar 29, 2011

Anti-Pakistani sentiment

Yesterday was the big India-Pakistan semi-final. I was working full day and had a rehearsal at my friend’s place in the evening. So I decided to watch the second half of the Pakistan innings there. Out of the six people out there, three were very biased anti-Pakistani people. They would swear at each move made by a Pakistani player and despite having cricket-oriented brains, would comment negatively on everything. Apparently, they were totally enjoying this.

For me, however, such behavior takes the fun totally out of watching an interesting, high-octane match. Even I wanted India to win, but I don’t hate the Pakistanis. I love them like everyone else. Later, when I tweeted about it, I got a response from a Pakistani tweeter that he felt the same when he hangs out with people with a strong anti-India sentiment. Soon, more users were complaining about people more interested in swearing at Pakistan than celebrating the Indian victory. Such behavior should be condemned and discouraged.

On the positive note, I was encouraged by Shahid Afridi's responses in the post-match ceremony. He said he was proud of his team's effort and was happy for the support that he got in India. Here's a snippet.

Later on, when he reached Pakistan, he gave another brilliant reply to some of the anti-India questions he was asked.

I have full respect for Shahid Afridi and the way he reacted. More Indians should be acting like him and accept Pakistan, its sport, culture, people with smiles and respect.

Mar 25, 2011

ODIs are back

The Quarter Finals of the World Cup cricket are on. After the horrible mismatch in the first Quarter Final between Pakistan and West Indies, the India vs. Australia match and the New Zealand vs. South Africa matches have proved something that even I had stopped believing - that the good old ODI had life left in its legs.

Four years ago, when India won the first T20 World Cup, I had given up hope on the ODI. Every time I tried watching an ODI, I would feel that each innings was at least 20 overs too long. But this World Cup has proven me and many others wrong. I think there are two reasons why this World Cup has rejuvenated the ODI.

- The England cricket team, which consistently provided close finishes.
- The not-so-batting-friendly pitches, which have brought the gap between the bat and the ball down, albeit slightly.

I hope the ICC goes and makes things better by arranging for longer bilateral series and scrapping the Champion's Trophy.

Mar 24, 2011

These lovely words

We all have friends. Friends always need us, especially when they are feeling a little low. Words like these can help make a friend's day.
"Wear a smile today. You look gorgeous in one!"
Be generous and compliment your friends.

Mar 23, 2011

Jar of Flies

Two years back, Jar Of Flies, a tribute band to Alice In Chains (more specifically Layne Staley) was formed. They performed in front of a packed house in Musician's Mall on the anniversary of Layne Staley's death. They were well received!

Last year, they didn't play a gig for the same occasion. However, this year, they are performing at a tribute gig for Layne Staley and Kurt Cobain on the 6th of April at B69 (Bajaao) in Andheri (E). More importantly, I'm joining them on bass and backing vocals.

The line up consists of the following:Link
  • Nicky Chorwadi (ex-Metakix, Bad Influence): vocals
  • Sheldon Dixon (ex-Metakix, ex-Dream Out Loud, Overhung): drums
  • Michael Lee (ex-Aftertaste, Bad Influence): guitars
  • Howard Pereira (Depth, Dischordian, Overhung): guitars, backing vocals
  • Kris Bass (Shor Bazaar, Cirkles, Ideat Savant, Bad Influence, Overhung): bass, backing vocals
Another band will be performing a Nirvana tribute set. Don't miss it! It's free entry!

Mar 22, 2011

That day

That day I made a promise
That I'd write a song for him
One month later, I'm far from keeping it

That day was the end of winter
In a noisy old hotel in Delhi
And now, I'm sweating in summer heat of Mumbai

That day, I wasn't lying
To a very dear friend of mine
And now, I'm waiting for him online

That day seems so far away
When I will see him again
And now, I'm waiting for that day again

Mar 21, 2011

What does #embee Twitter tag mean?

I have been wondering about this particular hashtag (#embee) for quite some time now. I couldn't find the answer for the question even on a Google search. Finally, I asked Twitter and it came up with immediate answers. Apparently, a clever, innovative Indian is the person behind it. His name is Mihir S. Bijur. Here's the post on his blog explaining what it stands for.

Mar 20, 2011

Their last World Cup, I hope

I most of my Sunday watching the final match of the World Cup group stage between India and West Indies. I was happy to note that Sehwag and Nehra were being replaced by Raina and Ashwin. A few might wonder why I was happy why Rain's inclusion at the absence of Sehwag would make me happy. It's simple. I think the present Indian World Cup team is too batting heavy, bowling light, and fielding feather weight.

I personally believe that the Indian team which played ODIs against the Kiwis, Aussies, and South Africans in the last few months before the World Cup (which excluded Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gambhir and a few other big names) was a much more balanced side. Indian batting, even without the top three 'big guns' is good enough to put up a good total on the board (or for chasing down one).

But when it comes to bowling/fielding, it's much better to have the Rainas, Ashwins, Vijais, Rohit Sharmas around. That way you would save an extra 15 or 20 runs - the same amount of runs that a Sehwag or Tendulkar might bring you extra that he had played. But because the young legs create more pressure in the field, the bowling would become more capable and probably provide us with more wickets than otherwise. This gives a clear advantage to a younger side.

Back to the match - anyway, despite Sehwag's absence, India did well with the bat. If only the fielding was better, we would have felt more assured after our relatively easy win of the Windies. This victory, despite it's comparatively large margin (80 runs), would not give the Indian team some reliability when it takes on the Aussies at Motera. This, despite the Aussies not performing at their best.

Come what may, even if India goes on to win this World Cup, I hope this is the last World Cup in which India will have to field such a lethargic team. I hope most of these big guns retire from the shorter formats of the game so that we can have a young energetic fielding unit to back our bowling. Oh, I forgot about some more genuine allrounders. When are India going to start finding them?

Mar 19, 2011

Policies that don't make sense

I love my job. I love my office. But I disagree with most of the HR policies. About leaves, about the dress code, about not getting compensated for working extra etc.

Today, for example, I needed to work 3 hours extra just because a translator did a shoddy job. Most of the translated text (from Japanese to English) didn't make much sense and I had to make sure that the final output, which involves my efforts, has some semblance of quality. So I had to spend my Saturday night at the office working.

I don't mind working extra. But I do think that such extra work should credited and acknowledge by paying for the extra hours that I had to spend at the office. Currently, my superiors tell me that it eventually gets evened out - one day you have to work extra, and another day you work less. But I'm sure the "working less" part happens very rarely.

The leave situation is altogether another issue. On one hand, the company policy wants to ensure that the workers are adequately rested, the company says no to increasing the leave quota for seniors. This year, 4 of the 10 recognized national holidays fall on Sunday. That's almost half of the extra leaves other than what we are allowed to take per year. When asked about it, the answer is the same - it evens out. No it wouldn't. It will never even out. We won't get more than 10 holidays any year.

And about the dress code policy - well, they have a strange sexist policy. They allow kurtas/kurtis and sandals for women. These are not allowed for men. They allow round-necked t-shirts for women and not for men. Isn't that strange?

I wish there were more people to protest against such indifferent policies.

Mar 17, 2011

Sports Entertainment

This is a wonderful time for a spectator-sport admirer. The World Cup is going great guns with the English cricket team doing every bit to make life more exciting. The Irish are show grit outside the pubs, the Bangladeshi Tigers have surprised a few with their spunk, and teams like Pakistan, India, and West Indies are showing tremendous inconsistency to even things up.

It's not just the cricket which is grabbing the attention. WWE is pulling out all their trump cards out. The Rock, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, - all legends, pulled out from from hibernation and thrown into programmed television. Today, I saw the RAW episode which featured the return of Stone Cold. And what at return it was! Honestly, I fell in love with him again!

It's not just WWE. Even TNA is trying to get their act together by bringing icons like Sting back and holding their title. Alas, Jeff Hardy fucked up again, falling prey to substance abuse (yet again!), bringing the whole industry down when it was really on the way up. I hope TNA finds its way out of this slight mess that Hardy has pulled them into and competes head on with WWE.

Whatever, it's compelling viewing for the sports entertainment lover! And guess what, IPL is just around the corner! Long live sports of television!

Mar 16, 2011

Split-personality disorder

I have two of everything. Well, almost. I have two e-mail accounts, to FB accounts, and two Twitter accounts. On FaceBook, especially, I have a little game going on between the two accounts (Krishna Kumar Venkitachalam and Kris Bass, who are in complicated relationship). Yesterday, I had this idea of tweeting two contrasting, almost contradictory, versions of the same tweet.

I had three such tweets:
  • Krishna: So many people to love and so little time to do it...
  • Kris: So many people to make love to and so little time to do it...

  • Krishna: Playfulness is so much more fun when some romance is involved.
  • Kris: Romance is so much more fun when some playfulness is involved.

  • Krishna: I wish I could feel attracted to men as much as they feel attracted to me.
  • Kris: I wish men would feel attracted to me as much as I feel attracted to them.
I enjoyed doing this and hope to do more in the future.

Mar 15, 2011

13 months more

The wave of depression seems to have coincided with the Japanese tsunami. But unlike Japan, I was ravaged by it for about 3 days.

The good news is that I think I'm about to bounce back. I felt good almost throughout the day today. I was more talkative at work and was as usual cracking jokes and making a fool out of myself.

It's good that I started feeling better around the time I'm being asked to renew my membership at the gym. I had my doubts as to whether I should invest in something that I was not being able to put at 100% at.

Of course, when I am in my depressive spiral, everything that I should ideally do feels avoidable. But now that I am out of it, I think I'm going to do it.

So it's the same apartment and the same gym for another 13 months!

Mar 14, 2011

To my friends: I love you!

My life, despite all its ups and downs, has been characterized by the presence of quality friends. Friends from every facet and phase of my life, and friends from every corner of the world. I'm truly indebted to those friends who care for me deeply and worry about my well being.

To all of you, I thank you, and I love you.

Mar 13, 2011

Trigger hippie

For the first time in many months, I'm feeling the pinch of the blues. A feeling of worthlessness is drowning me in and my life suddenly seems pointless. What was the trigger? Well, I'm not quite sure yet. Everything was alright until yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, a routine "off day" on which I chose to work for some extra money via my paycheck at the end of the month, when I had a conversation with my colleague about what I was doing with my life.

She asked me why would I work on an off day instead of relaxing or doing something else. The only answer that I had is that I was desperate for money. I suddenly realized that I am being so desperate to save money that I have censored out pleasure from my life again. I wait for unacceptable periods of time at the bus stops to save some measly rupees. I walk about 2 km up and down (on my way to work and back) to save 2 rupees (for each walk). I divide my lunch into two so that I can eat one portion as dinner. I have stopped watching movies because of the expenses. I have curtailed my party-going and eating out/drinking instincts to save up.

What do I need the money for? I don't quite know. Maybe for the future. The most ironic thing is that I think I'm going to need the money to be in a position to father a kid or two. That's what I have always wanted - to be in a live-in relationship and to be a loving father. But this goal seems to be so far beyond my reach now that there seems to be no point in saving all this money. But I can't help but traumatize myself because that is part of my normal process of coming to terms with the reality.

The rate at which I'm earning right now (in my editing career as well as with music) is definitely not enough for my plans for the unforseeable future. Even if I don't achieve my goals of becoming a parent, with this stream of income, I wouldn't probably have enough to fall back on once I retire. This makes me want to seriously reconsider practicing surgery for a living. But that would mean giving up on music almost altogether, and that is something that I don't want.

I have been brooding over these thoughts and a solution seems to be far from the offing. The one thing that I am glad about is the multitude of well-meaning friends that I have who worry about me and care for how I am. I love them for that. But at the end of it all, I'm here alone having to take care of myself alone. I hope this downspiral does not lead me to another phase of clinical depression where I start contemplating suicide. Honestly, I don't think this is going to happen. But I'll keep you posted on this.

Mar 12, 2011

Help the quake victims

Yesterday, a 9.0 magnitude earth quake and a resultant Tsunami struck Japan. It has been termed as the worst disaster in Japan after WWII. Over 10,000 people are estimated to have died and many more have been deprived of food, home, and shelter.

We are all saddened by the turn of events. Instead of mourning and posting messages of hopes and prayers on social networking sites, I urge you to donate what you can to the Red Cross. The details of the ways you can donate are given in this page. This is the page for donations for the tsunami/earthquake at the American Red Cross site.

The simplest among the options is to send a text message to 75772. For every message, $50 will be donated to the fund. Each SMS carries a charge of 30 cents. However, I'm not sure if this is only applicable to Singapore.

On another Twitter search, I found this link which seems to be applicable throughout the world. It says "Text message REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 immediately. You can do it multiple times, but wait for a request to confirm each $10 before sending more."

Please do as much as you can to help the needy.

*UPDATE: I tried sending an SMS to the second number. I still haven't got a response to that message*

Mar 11, 2011

A crazy dinner date

It was another Friday evening. But unlike the last time, I was out on a dinner date. A dinner date with a new friend that I had acquired from the GB mailing list. Humor was the inciting factor that led us to communicating with each other in the first place - humor as a response to an e-mail from a very funny Parsee with whom people have been trying to compete in vain to be funny.

Anyway, I didn't know what to expect. All I knew that I was going to be treated to dinner by a fun-loving Gujju man. As I was getting myself out of the office after sprinkling myself with perfume, my colleagues were all curious as to who this date was with. I told them all that it was nothing special. Just a dinner date. To someone else, I had already shared a little bit of this interesting man's history - of having two committed relationships at the same time.

When we met at the Charni Road station, I was a little surprised. Not quite what I was expecting, but not something unpleasant at all. My friend showed traits of being a half heterosexual by being rather uncaring of how he presents himself to the world. The conversation was interesting enough until we reached his favorite adda - a veg bar/restaurant.

The idea of a veg bar/restaurant was itself quite unsettling. Then came the stories about his relationships. They were so incredibly exotic - many people from GB have campaigned against the nature of these relationships - that they did leave a unsavory aftertaste. That came with the overdose of vegetarian cuisine over Kingfisher lager beer. Quite unlike what I'm used to, to say the least.

As a respite however, I watched the Bangladeshi Tigers give a gem of a performance against the English Lions on the lone television in the restaurant. All in all, a crazy dinner date.

Mar 10, 2011

Blog censorship?

I was involved in a FaceBook status message thread about the Chinese Government imposing sanctions on journalists, when my friend linked me up to this article on Economic Times.
Bloggers call content regulation a gag on freedom

BANGALORE: A proposed government move to regulate content on blogs has ignited a firestorm of protest from the blogging community which is accusing the government of restricting free speech and acting like the guardians of a police state.

At the heart of the issue is the Indian IT Act which was amended in 2008 to incorporate the much-needed changes to clarify the legal position of intermediaries or those who provide web-hosting services, internet service providers and online auction sites.

However, the term intermediaries, for some reason, was also broadened to include blogs, though they neither provide the same kind of services like the ISPs nor have large-scale commercial interests. The law stated that the government should clarify the rules under which the intermediaries should function and the list of prohibitions applicable to them.

The list was published sometime last month and comments were invited from members of the public, bloggers and other members of the intermediaries group. 'Intermediaries' include web hosting providers which would include companies like Amazon , cyber-cafes, payment sites like Paypal , online auction sites, internet service providers like BSNL , Airtel etc.

Blogs also fall in this category as networked service providers. The due diligence specifies that the intermediaries should not display, upload, modify or publish any information that is 'harmful', 'threatening', 'abusive', 'harassing', 'blasphemous', 'objectionable', 'defamatory', 'vulgar', 'obscene', 'pornographic', 'paedophilic', 'libellous', 'invasive of another's privacy', 'hateful', 'disparaging', 'racially , ethnically or otherwise objectionable, 'relating to money laundering or gambling'.

"It's a fundamentally flawed exercise. One has to keep in mind the nuanced role of bloggers. The government needs to understand the power of the blogging community," said Pavan Duggal , senior advocate, Supreme Court and cyber law expert. "The blogosphere has to align themselves to the changes in the norm," he said. "But since the term 'intermediaries' is vaguely and loosely used, the bloggers are right when they express agitation," he added.

A senior government official defended the government's response. "We are in the process of finalising it. We welcome positive feedback and constructive criticism. We might have made a mistake in understanding the public aspect. The public could have a different view point," said a senior government official.

Bloggers fear that the government will use these omnibus terms to charge the writers with almost anything. On Twitter , online users expressed their anger and frustration in equal measure.

"We cannot let the government to play the judge, jury and the executioner in this. Our entire audience is Indian. If our site is blocked, we are gone. I am a small player, everything we have built goes away in one shot," said Nikhil Pahwa, founder and editor of Medianama, a digital business news site.

The penalty under this law are of two kinds. Under the civil penalty, the intermediary could be sued for damage by compensation up to Rs 5 crore per contravention. The criminal penalty is imprisonment for three years to life imprisonment for the top management of the intermediary if it is a company. There are no exceptions to the due diligence.
I'm furious. Since when has India started aping China? And considering what I posted yesterday, will my blog be banned?

Mar 9, 2011

Incredible !rony

First it was 9/11 in 2001. Then it was 7/11 in 2006. Then it was 26/11 in 2008. I can't remember the others. Sooner than you know, THEY start propagating messages saying that people should show spunk and walk around as if nothing has changed. This is branded as the resilience of the city/nation. THEY claim that the terrorists have not managed to do anything. And THEY say that we have won.


Are you kidding us? Not in India at least. THEY have so much of security everywhere these days. Near important buildings, in railway stations, at malls - everywhere there are security men/women with loaded guns behind sacks of sand. And trust me, these barricades et al. don't exactly fit in well with the 'Incredible !ndia' theme! For heaven's sake, it doesn't feel like a free country anymore.

Two days with Danny have taught me how unreasonable these apparent security upgrades are. A terrorist can still walk in to a station with a gun under his jacket and shoot at people. However, a well-meaning photographer who wants to show the face of modern developing India, or 'Incredible !ndia' is denied access to photograph good things about our country.

The explanations are the same everywhere. Photographs can be used to plan more attacks. Give me a break! No terrorist or an accomplice would walk around sporting a Canon with a gigantic lens and take pictures of buildings and 'key-security areas' in broad daylight. Terrorists aren't that stupid. That's why they achieved all this mass hysteria in the first place.

The truth is that THEY and we have fallen into the trap set for us. The terrorists have succeeded not in wiping democracy off from the face of planet and not by instilling religious fanaticism in our lives. They have managed to drain out, little by little, the fun and freedom that we have. THEY are playing into the terrorists hands by ushering in all these restrictions!

Doesn't anybody feel like protesting? Don't we want our freedom back. From the terrorist and THEM?

Mar 8, 2011

Danny Lehmann visit - Day 2

Today, Danny I went up further North to the suburbs. We first hung around Bandra and then at the Bandra Kurla complex. We had our lunch at the McDonald’s at the Linking Road in Bandra. On our way out of the restaurant, we asked a couple of ladies clad in churidar if they would be willing to pose next to Ronald McDonald for some photos. They agreed and we took a few pictures. We tried to ask a burkha-clad woman if she would be willing to do the same, but she refused.

Then we went to the Bandra Kurla complex where Danny tried to take pictures of some of the buildings. Eventually, we were shooed away by the security. We tried to explain to them using a letter that Danny’s company had sent out which clearly stated that Danny was on a photographic project trying to capture India’s economic boom. But the security people, albeit with politeness, flatly refused any photography due to security reasons.

Then we went to Dharavi and hung out there for quite a while. I actually wanted Danny to take a picture of a skyscraper in the background with the Dharavi slums in front. But we couldn’t find any decent location for the same. Then we headed back downtown where Danny wanted to capture the Prince of Wales Museum and the Gandhi Statue in Fort in evening light. He was able to take some good photos.

At sunset, with the tripod in hand, we went to capture the Gateway of India and the Taj hotel. The evening was beautiful and he was able to capture a few good snaps of both of the famous landmarks. After that, like the routine on Sunday, we ended up the the pub at Marine Plaza Hotel, where we watched the ending of a wonderful World Cup cricket match over beer and burgers.
I must reiterate how comfortable I felt with Danny through the whole two days of our travel around Mumbai. And I got to know a lot more about Vinokur’s dark secrets through Danny! ;-) Yeah, we ended up bitching about Vinokur for sometime. What do you expect when two close friends meet, eh? We parted after a bear hug, hoping that we would get another chance to enjoy some more time together!

Mar 7, 2011

Keep your friends close and your gays closer

Danny Lehmann, Vinokur’s friend, and his wife Laurie Lehmann are both amazed at the incredible network of gay friends that they have around the world. This includes Vinokur, Yours Truly, and Renato. Each of us have helped Danny in one way or the other to capture wonderful picture of the world around us. Danny himself admits that gay people tend to have more important social contacts that can take you to places.

That’s very true in my life. If someone asks me for a favor, and I can’t personally provide him any help, all I have to do is to look up the necessary number(s) or numbers from my gang of gay friends and send a text message. More often than not, I get an almost instant reply. The end result is usually positive and I would have got the necessary information that I needed.

For helping Danny to shoot prime locations in Mumbai, all I did was ask around half a dozen of my gay friends regarding permissions and logistics of things to do and almost all of them were helpful. Some, of course, said that they would require some time to get things moving and sorted.

The point that I want to make to readers of this blog is this: keep your gays close! More often than not, your gay social network will end up being more resourceful and capable of helping you out in a variety of ways.

Mar 6, 2011

Danny Lehmann visit - Day 1

Something quite incredible happened today. A truly extraordinary circle of life was completed! I met Vinokur’s best friend Danny Lehmann, a master photographer and a wonderful human being, and hung out with him all through the afternoon and evening. I still remember Vinokur introducing me and Danny to each other three years ago on Skype. Little did we know that such a thing would happen! That’s the mystery of life.

Danny was in Mumbai as part of a photographic assignment to India. He's trying to capture images that symbolize the rise of India as a financial and information technology superpower. He had already been to Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur and had captured the some iconic images from there. Vinokur had let me known that Danny was in India but I hadn’t a clue that he was visiting Mumbai until yesterday when Vinokur asked me if I could help Danny by finding some guide/friend kinda person who would help Danny get around the city taking photos.

Even though I asked around, I wasn’t able to find anyone to accompany Danny. For starters, I arranged for Danny to visit the Bandra-Worli sealink and take pictures of it through my contacts. Then, I promised him that I would meet him Sunday afternoon and take him around town to see if he could find some interesting things to catch on camera. I had rehearsal in the morning and I rushed down to Churchgate on my way to the Trident where Danny was staying.

It was incredible to run into him at the lobby where he was waiting for me. I couldn’t quite believe what was happening when we exchanged greetings. We felt an instant connect – through our common, dear friend Vinokur – and felt comfortable with each other immediately. We went up to his room, looked at the map, and planned our outing for the night. We rented a cab and went to the BSE (which was cordoned off for photography), Girgaum Chowpatty, Haji Ali, Phoenix Mills, and Atria mall (both malls were off-limits for photographers too).

Danny finally ended up choosing Girgaum Chowpatty as the location for shooting some prolonged-exposure shots of the skyline just after sunset. After he set the tripod up and his adjusted his camera to take pictures, we had a 15-strong crowd of locals as audience. One young man, who seemed to be extremely interested in photography, almost acted like a bouncer for us shooing off random people from straying across the camera’s field and around the tripod.

After Danny’s got his share of pics, we went back to the room and deposited the camera and the tripod, freshened ourselves up and headed out for a dinner at a pub at the Marine Plaza hotel. I can’t quite remember the name of the pub, but the ambiance was excellent. We had draft beer and a hamburger each. The conversation was brilliant and funny and ranged from Libya to photography to women.

My next date with Danny seems to be on Tuesday afternoon because I couldn’t get leave from work on Monday and I have to work half-day on Tuesday. Hoping for another masterclass in human company and photography!

Saturday night with Cirkles

Saturday nights are meant to be for partying. Well, yesterday it was a party of a different flavor. I performed with Cirkles at the KJ Somaiya College of Engineering at Sion, Mumbai. It was for their annual festival Surge ’11. I was skeptical about how the gig might turn out because we didn’t have a proper sound check – I had gotten to the venue much later than my band mates.

We had about an hour on stage and we had a blast. The lights and pyros were excellent and in sync with our music. I must thank our friendly neighborhood sound and light guy who makes it all possible. The crowd was very encouraging and cheered us all along. What was funny is that there were young men in the crowd who were pointing at me and making provocative gestures at me – they seemed to be gay and enjoying themselves. Now, that’s pretty cool!

Here are a couple of pictures from the gig – courtesy our band groupie! As you can see, L'Oreal is not doing much to my hair!

Mar 5, 2011

A kind landlord

Continuing on with yesterday’s post...

Yesterday evening, my landlord, a wonderful Keralaite man, who has become a good friend of me now, called me. He wanted to know if I wanted to extend my contract. I had decided by then that I had to. Once I agreed, he asked me if I would be willing to consider a hike in the rent.

I had to think twice – I shouldn’t offend this friend of mine, and I had to try and avoid an avoidable raise in my expenses. I told him my situation. I was honest with him. And guess what, he agreed to my proposition of letting me stay another year without increasing the rent.

I’m very thankful to this wonderful man who is playing a major part in my life by offering me his apartment at a relatively cheap rent. I hope people like me who are struggling financially find such kind landlords!

Mar 4, 2011

Apartments, careers, and more

It’s that time of the year – time to renew the lease to my apartment. Last year this time, I had decided that I had to move out from my studio apartment to something better. Of course, I wasn’t earning anything near what I needed to do that. The most ironic thing is that I still am not.

Yes, my editing job and music put together don’t give me enough to justify a decision to rent out something more comfortable. I want to make one thing clear - I am not whining about my career choices. Well, not yet. Although I am scared of the prospect of getting back to surgery one day – I have regular nightmares about the same - I am still not ruling it out.

So, I think I’ll stay back in my apartment one more year. Maybe, next year this time, I would be earning enough to make me confident of moving into a bigger, more comfortable apartment. And maybe, I’ll have someone – a lover – to share it with. As someone told me the other day, the main reason why society is built on partnerships is because two incomes make life much easier.

Mar 3, 2011

Homophobia in WWE?

I was watching the episode of WWE's Raw (21st February, 2011) on Ten Sports tonight. John Cena was responding to the Rock's monologue during which he made fun of Cena's "You can't see me" catchphrase and his boyish antics. Cena started out well. But I thought he went into a phase where he sounded extremely homophobic. Here's an excerpt of the monologue from and other sources.
Cena continues to rap and knocks Rock for wearing makeup and a dress in his movies. Cena says he's like a big purple pinwheel and tells Rock to "blow me." Cena goes on, saying Rock spends his next movie in a bowling alley, polishing Cena's balls. Then he makes a jibe at the Rock: “Don’t go racing to Witch Mountain Rock, because your mountain is Brokeback!”.
Here's a video of the excerpt from YouTube:

Now, I don't consider that the writers and the management staff of WWE are doing great by promoting angles with clear homophobic tendencies. After all, the mass they cater to is the kids and adolescents more than any one else. The only way to justify this is they WWE is plotting Cena to turn a heel soon. In that case, maybe this would be alright.

More links to read:

Mar 2, 2011

Animal instinct

This is one of the most random rants on my blog.

I have been good with pets (animals) for a very long time now. In my childhood days, back in Kerala, I used to go to my neighbor friend's place to hang out and to play cricket and badminton. My friend, who was much older than me, lived in a big traditional house, and his family, since the time even they remember, have had cats as pets.

My grandmother used to tell me stories of how dozens of cats would line up on a parapet wall that which separated our compounds waiting to get fed. There was at least one litter of kittens at his place always, and I used to play with them for hours every evening. Kittens are always a bundle of joy and soon I started having a desire for petting a cat.

One of my friend's cats, an old she-cat, started to hang around my house around late 1992. She was trying to find a new place to deliver and nurse her new litter. I pleaded with my parents to allow me to have her as a pet. My parents finally agreed. She was my first pet. Since then, her progeny and their progeny have been a constant company to my family - well until my parents moved out of our old house to a new one in the middle of the city. By 1996, I had another she-cat in my apartment. She also produced a couple of litters, and one time, there were 11 cats in my home.

In 1997, my one and only dog came into my life. I had adopted Julie from the People For Animals shelter. Actually, I was not very comfortable with dogs until I became used to Julie. Mannerisms and behavior of dogs are probably harder to judge and accept compared to those of cats - in my case at least.

Since then, my knack for being with animals in general, and especially with dogs, has increased. Street dogs love me like crazy. I usually am greeted by friendly street dogs wherever I spend time in the city - at the bus stops, near a tea shop that I frequent etc. The same street dogs who start going crazy at beggars, people with sacks or turbans, and those riding in two-wheelers forget about the rest of the world when I'm around. They climb on me and chew on all parts of the body and clothing that I offer to them, thus making absolute fools of themselves.

That's very similar to what I am when it comes to being with people who I like - playful, friendly, and an absolute clown. Thus, I think I mirror street dogs. :-s

How I wish I could have a pair of cats and a dog at my apartment! I hope I start living my dream soon enough!

Mar 1, 2011

Dostana's negative influence

Yesterday, my colleague MVP and I, both doctors and out gay persons, were doing some work together at the office. As usual, we were teasing and and taunting our colleagues. Then, MVP answered a call during which he talked about meeting 'someone' at Malad station at 7.15 pm. I started pulling his leg by announcing to my other colleagues that MVP was going out on a date tonight and how we should all feel happy for him. We all joined in and started teasing him.

As soon as he hung up, he turned around and told another female colleague of ours 'You are just jealous because you are going to meet your mother-in-law'! Of course, the female colleague denied it saying that she wasn't going to meet her mother-in-law that evening. Apparently, she had other plans. Soon she was on her way out for the day and continuing with our playful banter, we both conveyed our regards to her mother-in-law. She said 'Sure, I'll tell her that two of my gay colleagues said hi to her!'

After she left, MVP told the rest of the colleagues about the story of my colleague's mother-in-law and her concept of homosexuality. Apparently, she had seen the movie 'Dostana', which had led her to believe that homosexuality was just a pretense to take advantage of innocent girls and to grab their attention. We all had a hearty laugh at the end of it all.

However, it struck me as amazing how such Bollywood slapstick comedies featuring stereotypical gay characters can negatively influence people and lead them to having delusions about homosexuality. This is one of the many reasons why gay movies that portray gay/lesbians/transgenders in positive roles should be made in Bollywood. Bollywood's impact is so huge that this is a must to help change the mindset of urban, middle-class India.

So Bollywood, can you please insill some serious sense into these Gujju mother-in-laws please?