Second in a lifetime movie update.

So, to cope with I’m-not-sure-what, I’ve been on a steady diet of caramel popcorn. Meaning, I have been haunting and making full use of PVR’s 100 bucks Wednesdays, or 160 bucks other days, and spending so much time (and money) ingesting celluloid that I have fine filmmaking leaking out of my ears.

If I may stretch that metaphor a little more, the following are my gleanings from my earbuds.

Since there has been fanboi jizz everywhere about John Carter, The Dark Knight Rises, Ice Age: Continental Drift (haha, gotcha!), I’ll start my rambling from October. Please note, this is standard box office fare, so hold on to your National Market DVDs, ye of Majid Majidi chest-tattoos.

This means I’ll have to skip the quite enjoyable Barfi!. Just stopping to note Ileana’s badly-concealed fake eyelashes. I suspect they were actually invented as forks to be used by war-serving soldiers, but the orders got mixed up. And her wig in her character’s twilight years was as offensive as her head-knocking imitation of the elderly. Actually, no, it wasn’t a wig, it was a whitener, Fevicol, turpentine, and talcum powder streaked tofun.

English Vinglish sent my barely-inner Francophile into a hormone tizzy. (I’m such an unbearable prat, I correct people who mistake macarons for macaroons.) I also loved the motichoor laddoos. And totally wanted to kick the my-wife-was-born-to-make-laddoos Adil Hussain in the nuts. My grouse as a nitpicking bitch was this: Sridevi’s character did not have to appear to be functionally challenged. She just didn’t know English. However, I am deeply in love with New York. I love the cellos in Gustakh Dil. And I will admit there were points in the film where I wanted to give Sridevi a gigantic hug, and follow up with a head-pop and an, “Uh-uh. Don’t let that jerk treatch you like that gurrl.”

Looper made me want to get my (ladies, I called dibs first) Joseph Gordon-Levitt a pair of glasses to cure him of his myopia. Bruce Willis does not squint that much. I have raved to everyone about the kickassness of this story. Full points for script that stuck firmly to the simplicity of the idea. Full points for slight-disturbia atypical of Sci-Fi movies. Full points to Willis playing one of the best assholes on the silver screen this year.

Minus points for Willis’ wifey (too lazy to consult IMDb) flipping the bird. There are few things more crass than featuring the bird, irrespective of how in or out of character it is. Future filmmakers, please remember, the bird is for characters that are incapable of wit and/or are preoccupied with something syphilis-infested in their mouths.

Also felt Emily Blunt’s sudden onset of wanting sexytime (and being indicated to audience as a tug at her dress’ hemline?!) was a laughable, blatant cop-out to explain history and context of her son. If you’re still reading this, it might not really sound like it, but I do recommend watching Looper.

Premium Rush is such awesome timepass. If there is a film this year that thankfully does not take itself seriously, it is this.

Villain cop that looks like a villain from the word go. Mandatory oh-so-fuc.. err.. unfortunate Chinese immigrants. Mandatory white guy superhero. Cyclists shouting lukewarm flirt things into Bluetooth dongles. Latino with no sense of dressing, sweating profusely into her electric blue tank. JGL’s character with a name like Wile E.. As in, Wile E. Coyote. Who is also a hotshot nerd who ditched a promising future as a suit, to, I quote, “get paid to ride. Without gears. Or brakes. Or insurance. Clearly I live in a Manhattan that has no application for reality. Like rent. Or food. Or savings. But hey, I am Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Watch me chicane the shit outta open cab doors and thank god for body doubles and Computer Graaaaaa-” THUD.

Argo is bloody brilliant. Ben Affleck apologizes three bajillion times over for his Daredevilry. Just go watch.

Ted. I was so looking forward to this film. A lot of its ka-pow was wasted on me, because Flash Gordon makes as much sense to me as foie gras. The script sort of galvanized my belief that the idea of a swearing, pot-smoking, who-gives-a-shit teddy is a fantastic idea for a comic strip. Like a truly messed up Calvin & Hobbes. Ted’s character was the exact opposite of what Family Guy’s Brian would have been as a teenage dog. Brian would’ve been a bespectacled social misfit, holed up in his room, listening to arcane Rock from Belarus, reading Freud. Ted, however, would’ve been, and continued to be, a smooth talking, sunglasses totting socialite, the center of the Pop scene, burning books, unhooking bras, mixed up with ‘shrooms and Norah Jones’ night clothes. Sadly, shallow character translated into shallow script. Strictly okay film.

Also, question, why does every film do Mila Kunis’ eye makeup like she came onto their set right after wrapping up at Black Swan?

Skyfall. What a dreary name for a beautiful piece of estate. Oops. That might be a spoiler.

Given most Bond films elaborately unveil the devious clue that is the title, “Skyfall” is an unforeseen delicious twist. A total gobsmack for Bond fans who’ve been weaned on conspiracy theories. Mr. Mendes has done a pretty decent job, giving an unusual, delicate theme to this chapter of Bond. For me, it was like a correction film, a setting of tone for the future film. Martini went cleverly unsaid. Sony’s gizmo product placement took precedence over Omega. Ben Whishaw as geek-guy Q came in to say some really lame things.

My attention flagged at points. Particularly when Daniel I Call Dibs Again Craig stands in a badass tux, at the prow of a boat floating amidst Chinese lanterns. And when he appears shirtless.

I think this has been the year of aging iconic heroes, TDKR setting the trend. Actually, the colours, mood, and feel of this film are all so TDK-trilogy. It does not help that bad-boy Javier Bardem gives a Heath Ledger Joker deja vu. 007 even cheekily throws in a “Storm’s coming”.

The Bond franchise has strictly been sexist about women, but this film’s a little more merciful to the ladies. Not saying they received exulted treatment, but surprisingly, the Bond girl of Skyfall was the one that’s always lurked in the shadows: M.

I did not really like Adele’s song, Skyfall. It felt like a mashup between Set Fire to the Rain and some other angsty I’ll fuckin’ cutchuu song. And I don’t think reproducing the tune every now and then really did much for the film. The title credits, as always, were beautiful. Skyfall is shot like a dream. When I grow up, I want to go on a Bond film recce.

Do watch. It’s a little hard to digest from the regular Bond fare. You actually might have to use your head and heart in this one.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is the best 100 bucks I have spent all year. ‘Nuff said.

Cloud Atlas, from the makers of the two-day-long Matrix Trilogy, (and Tom Tykwer,) is a beautiful mind-job. I’m sorry, I am the sort of person who thinks Source Code was a pretty damn awesome piece of awesome.

But Cloud Atlas. Do you know how brilliant the sound design and editing of this film is? My mind was blown when they transitioned from the beating of horse hooves, into a train chugging on tracks. Have you seen the gorgeous typography of the title? I insist you have a closer look at it, once you are done watching the film. My point of drawing to disparate things is this: the details in this film just neatly and repeatedly hammer in the idea the film’s exploring. I think the Wachowskis are fascinated with the role of coincidence, and by the connectivity of our lives. Remember what they said about deja vu, and how they toyed with Karma in The Matrix?

Trying to articulate what I so love about Cloud Atlas gives me the feeling the title itself captures. Such an evocative image. That to get there, I would need to consult an atlas of clouds.

I would’ve really liked for the penultimate montage of the film to have gone untouched by our scissor-happy censor board. The monologue was brutally maimed. And just why has none of this material surfaced on YouTube yet? Where are all the Wachowski fanbois? Where are the badly designed HTML websites of frog-level-dissections of this film? Or is that generation busy posting pictures of their babies on Facebook?

What movie am I going to torture next? I’m not sure. Thinking of watching Top Cat to compensate for missing out on Moonrise Kingdom. Maybe PVR itself is giving me a hint. Whenever I open their site on Chrome, hoping to check out showtimes, the Google Translate prompt reads, “This page is in Indonesian”. And emphatically adds, “Are you SURE you want to translate?”

A Hundred and Eight

In the season of presidential nominations,
I’m running for a few designations –

Writer. Poet. Photographer.
Professional describer of feelings.
High-intensity leer-evaporator.
Smasher of nonsense ceilings.

DF Wallace Quote Generator.
Multiple bell-jar defeatist.
The Antoinette of Drama Queenery.
The Nilgiri winds of eye-mist.

The atlas of all the right spots.
Perpetual leaver of aunties aghast.’s SEO Nightmare.
Wit like the Virar Fast.

Lethal sashayer of saree pleats.
Visual crime police.
Khadi-wearing activist
Of “thank you, hello, please?”

Part-time mood re-decorator.
Marmalade evangelist.
Slice of chilled watermelon.
Male-throat dehydrist.

Sr. Executive Puppy-face.
Tantric caller of cat.
Compliment-netting fisher-woman.
Serial thwarter of fat.

Zero-contact gut-puncher.
Saviour at the ninth-stitch.
Hidden memories detonator.
High priestess of bitch.

Little Bad Girl

The first thing that struck me about the Guetta concert was the sheer number of pretty, young, skinny things that had come, bravely totting numbers reserved for nightclubs far away from mothers’ concerns.

I was amazed. At all the gigs I’ve been to, I’ve never had this much girl company. The only thing that outshouted the speakers this time, was a chorus of squeals. I did not worry about leering creepy men. I did not worry about sweaty armpits and hard-stoned head-bobbers keeling over. I did not worry about my now-inferior smartphone getting whacked out of my back pocket. Why would I? When next to me, was a barely-sprouted-upper-lip boy taking shamefully crisp photographs on his Lumia. Yes, the 800.

This gig was bewildering from the word go.

My first brush was a tee we saw at the gates – an adequately censored phrasing of Guetta’s contribution to parlance with co-conspirators MoS, Fuck Me I’m Famous. Needless to say, sported by a suspect-looking uncle.

We’d arrived right in time. The LEDs lit up, screaming Guetta’s latest album title – and motto – NOTHING BUT THE BEAT. An unshaven, agreeably disheveled, and adorably dirty-straw blond Guetta made an entry. (cue squealing girls – and boys that did surprisingly accurate impressions of said squealing girls)

A few vague teases later, came a mashup of one of my favourite-of-all-time Guetta tracks, Love is Gone, and one of my latest shame-numbers, Little Bad Girl. It was delicious. And it didn’t last long enough. It didn’t even go anywhere. Before long, it trailed off into an unfortunately unyielding foreplay of Love Don’t Let Me Go.

The lineup that followed was pretty much a repeat of that sequence. Snatches of vocals from hit songs, blended beautifully with so-much-deja-vu riffs. Everything diffused before any serious boogie. It looked like Guetta had basically opened up all the channels of all his songs, and had gone apeshit with recurrent patterns in his discography.

Musically, mathematically, you were genius Guetta. But I’m sorry, I think nightclubs here have made me expect differently.

First, the sound setup was not noisy enough. I think the cheapest shortcut to being overwhelming, is to be loud. The setup just wasn’t. We tried three different positions in the crowd – center, off-center, even far back, and the acoustics weren’t hitting any spots.

Guetta, I know it was your first time here. But you should’ve done your homework. You should’ve first seen what your protégés here do with your music. They play you, your three minutes due. They play you, intro, crescendo, and cut apologetically out of your outro, into some undeserving Pitbull.

I don’t know if it’s a problem of song rights with the artists you collaborate with. But I was dying to hear what first got me hooked on to you – your 2004-dated dirty bit with JD Davis, The World is Mine. I’m astonished you picked your scream fest with Nicki Minaj (Turn Me On), over your feel-good bigger-hit with Rihanna (Who’s That Chick).

The strobe-lights and LED work was impressive. The console was mind-blowingly well-done for a space to be occupied by just one man. LED motifs paid a quick tribute to magnetic tapes (yay!) before moving eventually into Pokéball-looking turntables. The text work was beautiful. Guetta’s famous heart popped over and over (silhouetting barely-old oddly-necking couples). My favourite was the play in the “A” from the typography of his name on his album covers. Which, in hindsight, strongly resembles Free Mason symbolism on the Dollar (I’m not under influence, I promise). Every effort had gone into making Guetta look like an Electronica Messiah. And if you were watching, it probably worked.

For me, this was a coming-of-age concert as a Guetta fan – and as a Dance music nut. DJs are not meant to be experienced second-hand, at the scratches and whims of Ladies’ Nights specialists. Guetta, Live, outside the confines of his studio, someone else’s console, or even YouTube, actually has more personality. Something I’d like to witness in an amphitheater, not a Palace Grounds. I had no idea Guetta had touches of Trance in his fingers. Or inclinations towards quiet solos, until today. Even the way he faded in and out of bridges when his fans sang (horribly off-key), had an odd Guetta-fingerprint.

I suppose this is what a Guetta experience is like. Mostly an EDM jam-session. Not necessarily the House party that I’m used to crashing.

But I’m not writing him off. Not until I watch him at an MoS night.
For now, bring on Deadmau5.

Paging No. 7

You will come, one day,
Bright eyed, black haired,
Laughing and learned,
Scornful and sceptical
Of my own scepticism.

You will agree to go Dutch,
Crave an occasional puff,
And walk the right pace,
And stay to my right.
You will say all the right things,
And ask all the right questions,
And to the only answerable one, I will say “yes”.

And one evening,
You will find me seated with a book,
Or toiling over a photograph,
Or some odd distraction –
Hair tied up,
Skin vulnerable,
And you will wonder,
How much water can the cups of my collarbones hold,
When the droplets drip,
From the loose lobe of my ear.

You will one day
See the shadows my eyelashes cast
When I throw my head back, laughing
At an incredibly odd something
That only you could’ve said.

You will learn
To keep the bus, train and movie tickets,
You will learn
To hunt for the phone bills,
And the car’s registration papers,
You will learn
To put cheese in my noodles,
And save half the chocolate bar in the fridge.

You will know that I’m sorry
I won’t remember why I’m angry with you,
I may turn away in my sleep,
I won’t always be on time,
I won’t always know what to say.

And yet,

You will teach me the art
Of surprising myself.

But one day, you will come.
Funny, clear-headed, curly-haired.

Eighty Nine

Tell me things I don’t know.
Tell me things I haven’t heard.

Don’t tell me sins come in sevens,
Or that pain is a travesty called heartbreak.

Don’t tell me
I have hours to kill,
But only seconds to count,
Or that the early bird gets the worm,
And the second mouse gets the cheese.
And no,
You still can’t take my picture.

I know,
Skies are azure,
Sobs can be gut-wrenching,
Songs can be soulful,
Silence, deafening,
Prince Charming, a frog.

Tell me, instead,
That I may not, after all,
Have a befitting happily ever after,
Because of an ill-fitting glass slipper;
That when I wake from my slumber,
I will see what I saw last night –
And that it’s quite all right
for things to turn out like that.

Don’t tell me,
My boyfriend is bespectacled
because it hides his intelligent eyes,
But because he is quite myopic
(even about our future).
Don’t tell me,
My grandmother oiled my long hair.
Tell me, instead,
That she would knot peppermints and candies
in the edges of her sarees,
So she could bribe my love.

Don’t tell me a cat is non-commital,
Or cold,
Write me a word to call
that wordless call
that comes from its gut –
When I spoil it
with affection.
Please, a word
stronger than purr,
But softer than growl,
A word that probably runs like:

Tell me how to love differently,
And how the attempt
is not to show me how to love differently,
But how to love
as only I can.

Don’t tell me passion burns.
Actually, please don’t call it passion.
A crucifixion, a debate, lust, love and anger –
Cannot all be the same unit of language.

Don’t tell me skin is as smooth as silk,
Or hot as a furnace,
Or white as snow,
Or that I burst into insipid gooseflesh.
(can you imagine how repulsive that is for a vegetarian?)
I’m not chocolatey, dusky, or the colour of mocha,
I’m dark brown.
I’m not arithmetically challenged,
I’m awful at maths.

Tell me things no one has told me before.

Tell me new places to go with my mind,
That magic can be trapped
With just an old jam bottle,
And a wandering glow worm.
That on my post-it notes
Are things I don’t really want to do,
And things I’d rather forget.

Tell me what else to do with ketchup,
Other than draw smileys on plates for grumpy waiters,
What else to do with an idle pin,
than probe the thick skin around my thumb’s nail,
Tell me what to collect,
Apart from smooth stones, tickets, twigs, corks, crowns, coins,
Dots, debts, grudges, garbage, affairs, aphrodisiacs, addictions.

Tell me what rhymes with “month” and “rhythm”,
Tell me whether it’s good to be alive, or to be a celebrated fossil,
Tell me why it doesn’t matter why we’re here.

But first,
Tell me where to submit a few ideas I have
For a few new words
The vocabulary could do with.

Eighty Eight

If I were a boy,
I’d save the world like Superman,
My superpower would be
An actual attention span,
I’d start with a bath and clean underwear,
And I’d iron my own button downs –
For me to later tear.
I’d rescue leftovers
From eternal refrigeration,
And if not earn, I’d at least buy myself
A great reputation.

If I were a boy,
I’d spend time on my toenails,
Invest in a good deodorant,
And save me from myself.
I’d think before I talk,
About an ex, a fantasy, a fling,
My pinups, their push ups, her hang ups…
Well, just about everything.

If I were a boy,
I’d major in a language and learn communication,
I’d invent a chemical for my brotherhood –
An automatic injection
Of grace, empathy, profundity and kissing skills,
And the bestselling liquefied edition
Of How to Handle Tears.

If I were a boy,
I’d take the condescension out of my voice,
When I explain the difference between
Dot ball, no ball; soccer and football.
I wouldn’t probe my nose in public.
I’d keep my parts private,
And I’d wolf the whistles out of me.

If I were a boy,
I’d wear glasses
Just for the heck of it,
Write my own pickup lines,
Pull my pants up, a wee bit,
And I’d play a sport,
Not hard to get.
I’d learn, that life isn’t just my t-shirt’s black,
Or white,
But unfortunately, countless shades in between
(At last count, there were at least seventeen
Shades of green
Known to man.
Or was that woman?)

If I were a boy,
I’d snip off my sacred thread,
File a petition
Against circumcision,
And take a loan to clear my parents’ loans,
I’d buy all five of my iPhones.

If I were a boy,
I’d know size doesn’t matter,
The hair on my arms, underarms don’t matter,
My tactfully torn jeans don’t matter,
I’d know –
I don’t need a sixth sense,
I’m safe after seven,
(So what if the concert starts at eight?)

If I were a boy,
I would hitchhike across the galaxy
With just a towel,
Without the need for a sanitary napkin, Ibuprofen,
Hygiene or pepper spray,
I’d count to a billion stars,
Get lost countless times more,
And of course,
I’d never ask for the way.

In Shuffle Play We Trust.

Except, when it randomly throws in The Beatles.

Long ago, when puberty hit, I loved this band as the times asked me to. I too listened to their seemingly simple-minded lyrics laced with quantities LSD, and imagined just what these mega-huge-sunglass donning, funky-mic totting band must’ve been smoking to make sure every song of theirs tread that fine line between morose and manic ha-ha, desperate and devious, tripping and trapped.

There’s a tone to The Beatles that nobody has managed to copy-paste. It’s how they’ve managed to sum up adolescence so… correctly.

Their music is a whiny, skinny boy going on and on about how he’s happy and sad and not getting enough and still a maverick for getting lots, about how he doesn’t care about who you are, what you’re made of, but will still love you, about how you can never understand his pain, but hey, he doesn’t take life seriously. He’s charming. He’s talented. He can bend a guitar to any tune. He’s shameless about wanting attention. He’s a prick. He’s the misunderstood stud with an ear-piercing, malnutrition, occasional halitosis, messy hair. He’s lovable, selfish, a professional navel-gazer.

He’s the boyfriend I warn my friends against. He’s the clown at the party. He’s the one thing that stands out in your memory of teenage-hood. He’s the boy that got away with blue murder.

He’s exactly the kind of person I feel like slapping.

I think that’s what irritates me the most about The Beatles. That they’ve got the discomfort of growing up so right, that other musicians on shuffle-play seem abstract and useless like a painting you cannot relate with. Next to them, my favorite boo-hoo bands, Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains sound exactly like how my grandfather would describe them. Noisy.

At this point in time, there is exactly one Beatles song I can listen to, without grunting and manhandling the worn Next button. Across the Universe. Nothing cracks me up more than the “Jai GuruuuuuDeyyyva” quickly followed up with the “Om”.

What was our idea of spirituality, back then? Finding inner meanings to things. Nonsense lyrics were dissected, in hope that like the innards of a frog held tightly under-skin by tension, meaning would spring out at us, deliver us from certain consumerist doom.

How different were we then, from the libs back in the sixties? Thinking the giant corporations were out to pinch us out of our money, our freedom and our souls, one bra, one PSP, one burger at a time.

Over time, the reasons why we listen to some music, shift well and out of the realm of purely musical. The song of the first kiss. The song of the rains. The song of the night before exams. The song of the first time I really felt life is cruel (Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah. I still find it cruel that this man is dead.)

And in the event of such evolution, The Beatles are a strict no-no. Especially when you’re simply cruising to an uncomplicated love song about an effervescent woman like neon lights. Or about CIA peeking into my backyard.

Imagine, you’ve just finished a heart-rending viola about the shades of nothing. And then comes along some cheeky boy knowing how to get a kiss out of you.

Down with Sinusitis, I was pondering the meaning of life

and then I got bored, and decided to waste away before the tube.

What an opportune weekend I had chosen. It seems that most of IMDB’s 100 worst movies were playing on this weekend that man upstairs decided to acutely stuff my sinuses with green stuff.

I was reminded of exactly why I stopped watching TV.

A (sort of) brief review of the movies that I, I’m not sure why, subject myself to.

Maid in Manhattan:
Yes. I watched this movie. I’m amazed at J. Lo.’s acting abilities. She, who feels compelled to deliver a simple overture of love by a complex lock-pop of the head routine, with a mean “uh-uh, whatchoo lookin’ at?” And then, with careful thought adding, “sista”.

Oh, the Hollywood moment of the film wasn’t its uncanny resemblance to Pretty Woman or the 83,64,53,196 other movies with similar the same story-line. It was how the writers artfully slipped in a reference to J.Lo.’s autobiographical Jenny from the Block. Aww.

No Country for Old Men.
Actually, the last few minutes of No Country for Old Men. Which was as random as the beginning of it. I’d encountered that on an occasion where I’d tried to coax a DVD bearing the same title, to merely show me the movie.

Tommy Lee Jones dies? Aww.

Terminator 3:
Arnie proves why he is THE man. His facial dexterity has been consistent through three Terminator films.

Consistently absent.

The cleverest line in the whole film appears somewhere towards the end, after a lot of bombs have gone off. Arnie, surprisingly still functional, shows up and says, “I am back.”

From Hell:
I’ve watched this Jack the Ripper chronicle before. The first time I watched it for Johnny Depp, who looks impoverished and incredibly stoned. I’m not sure why I put myself through it for the second time. Maybe I’m a sadist, or rather, a masochist.

Or maybe my eyes had glazed over and I had matured as a tuber.

I loved this film. And I loved how neatly it was handled given it had every ingredient for to turn into flick-monster with three heads that spewed green goop. It had Patrick Dempsey outside of his scrubs. It was mixing film styles, time-spaces, narratives. It was doing abominable things like questioning Fairy Tales, dangerously close to becoming a History of Perspective, Deconstruction Theory & Other Such Brain Chow lecture. But it never forgot to be light-hearted and simple. The spirit of the film was just right. PD was pretty cute, and dances quite well.

Ok, I could go on and on. It’s more fun trashing films. So, onward.

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na:
I actually waited to watch this film, and marked it in my calender.

It took some getting used to. The over-the-top style, given most of the cast spoke like full-time Channel [V] VJs who REALLY REALLY LOVED their job yaa! TEE HEE! Also the fact that the plot took two days to progress.

Apart from the annoyingly frequent commercial breaks with terribly un-entertaining commercials, I quite enjoyed this film. Some patches took themselves annoyingly seriously, and some of the acting, well, showed. I totally loved the pet rat and the innuendo ridden dialogue.

Danny the Dog:
Morgan Freeman. And high-fly Kung Fu, courtesy Jet Li. The trailer even had funky-jazzy swoosh-swoosh haiyy-ya flashbacks. Adequately baited, I watched.

I could count the number of reasons why Morgan Freeman even chose this film. The drama of playing a blind father. Blind step-father. Blind widower step-father. Blind widower of a car-crashed best-friend-turned-wife step-father. Blind widower of a car-crashed best-friend-turned-wife step-father who plays piano.

Added incentive could be that he was easily the highest paid star in the cast.

Quite the ho-hum. Suffice to say I slept peacefully after.

I hope that in the future, when I have these impromptu movie-marathon urges, it’s a little better timed. Oh well.

Tonight, I shall treat myself to the foolproof Yo Momma! After all, what could go wrong with mom cussing contests? If all else fails, there is always sure-shot entertainment, on the ever reliable America’s Next Top Model.

So what if it’s called Tiny Girl Town?

It still manages a couple of larger-than-life beautiful waterfalls and potent, mean cups of coffee.

For those dazed by my literal obscurity, I went to Chikamagalur (henceforth, Chikax) this weekend.

New photographs, friends and the discovery of nicely-photographable friends were the chief exploits of this trip.

Oh, the head-chief exploit? The kind of adventure that comes when thirteen madcaps board a tempo-traveller type vehicle, or fit themselves into (sort of) a jeep meant for six people. But more on that later.

Junta from Hyderabad and hometown bumped along one Friday morning, down the National Highway Number 4, and turned somewhere along the way to Chikax. (I wouldn’t know – I was busy straining my neck muscles, sleeping in absurd postures. This is the problem with having painfully long limbs (PLLs). Another recurrent problem with PLL is that I am left with a very restricted choice of eligible men. But that is another post.)

This knot of crackpots then proceeded to swarm two reserved “serviced apartments”. (read, owners of said apartment on vacation, therefore, to-let)(does anybody remember the times when large, recently done-up office-spaces had makeshift cardboard signs reading ‘to-let’ and you’d wonder what kind of moron it takes to misspell a simple word like ‘toilet’?)(or was that just me?)

But doing no disservice to the service apartments: they were very comfortable, with enough space for the many humans who turn into corpses minutes after lights-off.

Hotel Soundarya in the heart of Chikax made pots of money because of one motley crew of starved youngsters who overworked their staff, by ordering two of everything on the menu.

Do not be surprised if in the near future you are accosted by headlines of an uprising, screaming, “chefs in mini M’lore burn aprons in protest”.

Post feeding our faces, some of us decided to uplift ourselves from the status of the grubby and impoverished by a simple mechanism called “having a bath”. God bless you, M/s. Cold water!

However, since the “some” that opted for this simple mechanism were female, the boys and I (who finished early, having stuck to the “simplicity” of the mechanism) had enough time to finish one languid drink, and three utterly going-nowhere games of Uno.

We then haunted the M/s. Channakeshava & Co. temple. Lovely looking from the outside – where I stood. Going by the spate of pictures in Picasa, I gather it was just as beautiful on the inside.

Then it was return to the dwelling in the dark, followed by a beautiful, nearly-full moon that was blotted by frayed clouds.

The night was then rounded off with very many pegs. The nailed, hammered and smashed then proceeded to play Uno, Fuzzy Duck (and other highly inaccurate just-how-drunk-ARE-you? games) and generated lots of noise. And after objection from someone living three buildings away, it was decided the ambiance was perfect for… ghost stories!

Everybody swore by everybody’s relatives on both maternal and paternal sides. A few dared to put a few living ones at stake (I suppose they don’t favour these relatives).

Skid marks and dubious smells later, half the party left to chase recently-made-elusive sleep. Many drunken giggles and tummy-clutching laugh sessions later, the rest of us went to sleep. Surprisingly peacefully.

Morning came at around 11:30. Ambitious plans made the night before, to start for nearby Kemmanagundi at 6:00AM (HA HA!) were justly junked. After – literally – raiding Hotel Soundarya, we went to Kemmanagundi, or red earth hill(/hell/planet/button).

A breathtaking ride – and I don’t mean just the nausea a few of us lily-stomached had.

The hills were as scenic as ever. And as usual, every photograph taken of these scenes was as cliche and redundant as “failed to do justice”. The last red and golden tinges of autumn clashed with the fresh green tendrils of spring. An explosion of baby flowers amongst listless, dying leaves. Phoenix trees that were being constantly being reborn from ash.

A trek from the hilltop to the nearby Abbey falls, was just as pretty. With red earth coating everything into a breathing, throbbing sepia. Aptly punctuated with rivulets of cool water (special respite for my unequipped-for-trek feet that came armed with a pair of humble white “Rockster” chappals).

I think the biggest reason why the grace of the Abbey Falls – or any waterfall – cannot be replicated in a photograph for me, is because of the conspicuous absence of one crucial detail: the spray and the mist that I feel against my skin. In the era of NGC, GettyImages and FlickR, the reality of the picture-perfect scene is what is the most awesome about it.

Many many awe-struck and jaw-dropped moments later, Hemanth, a dear friend, decided to make more of the jaw-drop. Having slipped from a slippery rock in an act of, let’s see, sheer stupidity, he managed to make quite a spectacle of his upper-lip and forehead. (Not to worry. To his own wonder, he is alive, coherent, and can type perfectly sound sounding SMSes.)

After this, heaven-knows, bad sign, we slowly trundled back toward motorable road to get back to civilization, just in time for an elaborate dinner and a repeat telecast (with improvements) of last night’s tonnes of fun.

Ha ha.

Our guide, as it turned out, was scum. Sorry. A festering colony of scum caking a fetid pond. Many leers and gruesome stories of rape later, he arranges for us, an excuse for a jeep that shows up very late.

Thirteen of us. In a box of a jeep meant for six. Do the math.

Since we weren’t naturally born contortionists, two of the more daring of us decided to position themselves on the hood of the overheated jeep. I think it was steam that obscured the vision of the inebriated driver, and not the boys themselves.

I was precariously perched atop two people’s laps, my PLLs sticking out of the jeep. I tried very desperately to remember the “Guru Brahma” chant my mother taught me many years ago, since faith was the only thing available for me to cling on to.

As expected, for every overheated uphill RPM the wheel managed, it successfully did five backward and downhill into pitch darkness. And like every really old bugger of a manager, overworked RJ and over-abused motor should, the jeep gave up.

Our second-ride showed up in no-less mint condition. By that time, I think we’d covered much of the road by foot, and most of the guide’s family tree. I believe each of us imagined torture techniques that would make Hitler shudder. Varun’s was probably the most vivid, given his very, very sore toes.

Oh, and there was a fight about what the guide must be paid. After a lot of name-calling, abuse-hurtling, and being on the verge of nobody reaching respective hometowns in condition other than mince and/or gurney, we bailed.

Lovely ride back with an eerie, full moon. Back in time for salty dinner, accounts, more jokes, a couple games of Uno, before everyone decided sleep was the best idea they’d had all evening.

The next morning, we bounded back homeward. Bright, sunny day, and realization that hometown had turned hotplate over the weekend. Ta-ta, bye-bye to the Hyderabad junta at Railway Station. A nice full-stop to the trip was weird tasting pasta, but brilliant cold coffee at local adda, La Casa.

Everybody has reached home fine, more or less.

Varun has hopefully seen a doc about his toes.
Hemanth has seven stitches.
Abhinand and Pranav, I believe, are still nursing burnt bottoms.
Aditya has now gone to Hyderabad for some serious chill therapy.

I, however, am recovering from severe blows to my bank account.