Tuesday, December 16, 2008

SF bound, iA

So I am excited. I am leaving for San Francisco iA in two days, and not only will it be a break from the grey days here, we plan to head to other cities further south as well. I also plan to meet up with Baraka, iA.

Speaking of Baraka, she messaged me the other day, "SF is now cold and rainy!" Well, cold I can handle (Canadian), but rainy I don't want to (even if I am Bengali!).

I love visiting new places. I feel if people visited other places they would gain an appreciating for each other and know each other and perhaps that would lead to world peace.

As long as they understand their accent! I am booking a car and I called this car rental company and I guess their call center is somewhere in the South.

"Sow, you would like to reeaaant an ow-tow?" The girl goes in this extreme Southern drawl.

"Er, yes, I would like to rent an auto." (Pardon me, but I DID call the car rental company!)

Moreover, it made no difference what I said to her, she would just extract the information she needed for the particular question and then ask her next, even if I already said it.

"I would like to rent a standard auto from Dec 18th to Dec 23rd at this location," I said.

"Okay!" She was very cheerful. "What size auto?"

I thought I said it, so I repeated, "I would like to rent a standard auto from Dec 18th to Dec 23rd at your SF location."

"OK. Standard auto. Now when would you like to rent it from?"

I answered, "I thought I just said it. From Dec 18th to Dec 23rd at your SF office."

"Good," She typed and then, "and when would you return it?"

*I shake my head*

At least she had a nice voice!

On another note, I was envying my British cousin the other day.

"You guys are so lucky. Two hours and you are not only in another country, but another culture! Another hour, another country! So much to see!"

And she goes, "And you guys are so lucky. So many great cities to see! New York. Montreal! Toronto! Las Vegas! Boston! I mean, what do we have?"

Truly the grass being greener on the other side of the pond!


I noticed my blog friends Baraka (Rickshaw Diaries), Haleem (Captain Chaos) and Suroor (Achelois) are up for the Brass Crescent Awards this year. I won this award two years ago, and I am glad they chose these three worthwhile bloggers this year. So if you have the time, please go here and vote for Baraka, Haleem and Suroor (last date Dec 18). Good luck to them!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rab Ne ... Sucks

Dear Shah Rukh Khan,

Why? Why? Oh, why?

For nearly 15 years, you have given us movies that while wasn’t good all the time, was entertaining. And then you gave us those true masterpieces, the movies that never age, the movies that became the big blockbusters and the movies through which I remember my childhood. And then you do this.

I remember watching an old print of DDLJ, finally released in the Arab country I lived in. I cheered for you when you said you wanted to marry your love, but with her parents’ blessings. I cheered when you beat up those baddies. And finally, as Simran clutched your hand and leapt on the train, I cheered for the general goodness that a great love story brings on the cinematic curtain.

I am a writer. I love emotions. I love movies that tug at emotions. I loved most of your movies. I remember the scene in KKHH when, years after graduation, Rahul (or Raj, can’t remember) returns to the campus, plays with the basketball, and remembers with fondness the frivolity of youth. Every frame of that movie is brilliant with context, rich with emotions and superfluous at tugging at your heartstrings. And then you do this.

For eight years, we waited. Aditya Chopra, for eight years. Great directors almost never follow a truly epic movie. James Cameron waited nearly 10 years to release Avatar following Titanic. He knew it was hard to match expectations, again. Mr Chopra, you waited just two years after DDLJ and released Mohabbatein. We said, oh, well, ok, fine. He’ll get it next time. And so, eight years we wait. And then you do this.

I mean, how *splutter* is this even believable. A guy shaves off his moustache and the wife doesn’t recognize him? In one second the character turns from geek to hero? And then? Suri becomes a sadistic person willing to take into weird corners his experiment in testing the wife’s fidelity? Is this even believable? What a horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE, movie.

I am truly disappointed. It’s been years since I have seen a truly Bollywood love story. C’mon, Bollywood, we love you for what you are. Goofy love stories, choreographed dances in the middle of the desert and dense forest (in the same song!). We like the stereotypes. But overall, we like the emotions. We like the love story. We love the hero being a hero and the heroine being the quintessential heroine. I hate Bollywood when they try to churn out “English-like” movies. But you know, a general believability would be nice! You made *splutter* a story that is so ridiculous it is beyond logic. It is … an insult to logic.

Rab Ne Bana Di Waste Of Time indeed!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Simple Inspiring Story From South Africa

Every so often, as a minority Muslim living in a non-Muslim land, we are tempted to take the easy way out. I was surfing my regular feed of cricket news this morning when I read about an inspiring story from some unexpected quarters.

I was reading about South African batsman Hashim Amla. He is a Muslim and a Test cricketer for South Africa, and one of their rising stars. This year his performance for the national team has been outstanding.

In a story where he condemned the Mumbai attacks, I also read this:
More so because while his teammates have a beer sponsor blazed across their clothing, Amla does not.

"It's nothing new. Since I made my debut in 2004 it was an issue then but fortunately South Africa is a country that is very understanding," he said before training this week. "We do come from a difficult past with racial prejudices.

"So our country is very much accepting to differences. I put in the request to the United Cricket Board at the time. They accepted and the sponsors were very accommodating as well. For me the issue is dead and buried with the team and the South African people."
[Source: Fox Sports | Rediff]
Now this is truly inspiring, if only in a simple way.

I know most people, myself included, if offered a position on the national team of your country for the sport you love, would not have objected to a beer's name on your T-shirt.

It's just a name, right?

I mean, we are not drinking the beer?

Amla, however, had stuck to his ideals, and Allah made the rest easy. He did not shy from taking the difficult first step and writing that request to abstain. Maybe the South African cricket board could have refused his request. But he tried. And so he succeeded.

I salute Hashim Amla for this.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Eid, Er, Moooobarak?

Monday is Eid, iA. I have to admit I am feeling a bit like Scrooge - I am finding it tough to get myself hyped up for this Eid.

It's called the Bigger Eid, but I don't know why. I enjoy Eid-ul-Fitr more. A lot more. There's so many traditions with that Eid. A whole month you are in another world, and suddenly you are back. Gifts. Clothes. Visits. So much.

What about this Eid?

Someone told me there is of course the slaughtering of the cow. Er, I can almost hear the song:

Jingle Bells
The slaughterhouse smells,
Cow has had its day ....
In comes the butcher,
And the cow is dead .. hey!

Too bad we don't have any real Eid songs that are popular, eh? I am not even considering some of the childish Nasheeds like A is for Allah ... (c'mon, get more imaginative man!)

My dad does his sacrifice at a farm with another family friend, so in the morning after prayers they head off north for that. I have outsourced my sacrifice to our local butcher, he calls me when it's done and I just go and pick up the meat. My mother has further outsourced it to Bangladesh.

I wish Eid ul Adha could be more .. fun.

Oh well, Eid Moobarak.

Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Go forth and attend Qurbani
Fa la la la la, la la la la