Monday, July 13, 2009


Hi! My name is Alladdin. I am a cute cocker spaniel. I live in Chennai, India. I have gorgeous, glossy black, floppy ears, a long snout, a docked tail and beautiful black and white fur. I am told that I have a perpetually mournful expression, but I am anything but mournful. I am a happy-go-lucky dog with a great temperament. I love the people I live with. It is only sometimes that I feel sorry for myself. At those times, I am awash with self-pity and feel like I am being treated like a dog in this house.

Who says that dogs don't have goals? I have a list. First on my list is to get inside a closed bedroom door. I can stand and whine outside a shut door for hours until I am let inside. Once inside, I will climb onto my mistress's lap and nuzzle until I am petted and feted. Then and only then will I flop onto the cool mosaic floor and take a nap.

Second goal by priority on my list is to eat. I can eat anything. And I can do anything for a morsel - jump, not jump, roll on my back, sit still... you name it.

My third goal is to race my mistress to wherever she happens to be going. For instance, if she plans to go up the stairs, I can race her to the top without stopping to worry that I may trip her up. So what if she is a spoilsport and decides not to ascend the stairs after all because I win the race every time? I can race her to the bottom of the staircase too!

My most important and top secret goal is to stowaway in the car when my mistress plans to go for a ride. I have mastered the art of stowing myself in the car every time she decides to go out without me. While she carelessly keeps the car door open and continues to talk with the watchman, I can slink inside in the blink of an eye.

All I then need to do is hide on the floorboard, close my eyes so I cannot see her until the car starts off. By the time she notices me, I am already in and its too late! There can be no turning back, can there? I have tried this multiple times and though I manage to get into the car each time, she somehow manages to catch me stowing away before the ship leaves and gets me to disembark every time. That doesn't stop me from trying this every time she goes out.

My hero is Abraham Lincoln. I have heard that he tried and tried and tried to become President of America and failed many times until he finally won. I'll finally win at this too! There will be a time when she won't notice me until the car has started and I'll be on my way!

Here is a picture of me in the car, camouflaged in the grey floorboards, my eyes half shut so no one can see me! Wish me luck in my achieving my most important goal.

Yours truly,

Monday, June 29, 2009

Charity begins at home

My tryst with the 3 Rs was no different from what many Indian school children undergo. Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmatic was rote learning. The rote didn't do much harm: I consider myself reasonably well read, reasonably able to write and reasonably able to add 2 and 2.

The rote, however, left some lasting impressions on my mind. Predominantly, it left some sayings seared in my memory.

As a 7 year old, I remember that stern looking teacher in a starched white sari, hair tightly wrapped in a bun, ordering us to learn 100 sayings "by-heart" over the weekend and come prepared to recite them on Monday. I remember spending hot Sunday afternoons, hastily reciting them aloud over and over, so I could escape the lashes on my open palm from the skinny, excrutiatingly painful cane on Monday.

Of all those hundreds of sayings that I learned "by-heart", the first one springs to mind with explosive force when I read about the hullabaloo being created by the Congressional Budget Office, the private health care insurers, the sundry uninformed junta and the republicans about the cost of the GREAT HEALTH CARE REFORM proposed by the Obama administration.

It was called, "Charity begins at home!"

And I FINALLY understand what that means. What it means is something similar to the Airline lifejacket rules: If you have a child or an elder sitting beside you, first place your own lifejacket and take care of yourself in the event of a disaster, before you help the child or the elderly. There is a good reason for this: if you become disabled, you cannot help anyone, so help yourself first. Before you give to Charity, first ensure that your plate is full.

And this is exactly what we, as Americans have failed to do. No one, not one senator or congressman really, truly, opposed the Bank Bailout or what is really the beautifully disguised Great American Transfer of Wealth. There were no rallying cries about cost and debt. Public opinion didn't matter. They gave to "charity".

No one really opposed Bush's built-on-sand war on Iraq that cost and still continues to cost us a big chunk of change.

No one opposed Bush's tax cuts for the rich that cost us and continue to cost us a bomb. There were no stentorian shouts of injustice, unfairness or unlevel playing fields.They gave to "charity".

But wait, when it's Charity for home

- When it is money for the Stimulus bill to help the unemployed who have been at the receiving end of the Banks deceit that brought the economy crashing?

- When there's talk about universal health care for everyone in the richest country in the world?

THEN, it's time to shout about debt, deficit, spending and cost.

When will we learn that Charity SHOULD first begin at home?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ayan - Tamil movie review

I run a company called "Dash of Masala" and frequently have people ask me what "masala" means. I generally struggle to explain the meaning of this ubiquitous and uniquely Indian word, just because it is so pervasively used in India, not just to signify that perfect blend of spices that whet your appetite and add piquancy to your dish, but also to signify any kind of perfect, finely-honed blend.

And "masala" is the word that sprang to mind when I watched "Ayan" the tamil movie, last night. Why? Because it was the perfect entertainer. I am one of those people who prefer movies that are light, fun and exotic. I am also one of those people who love to watch beautiful people dressed in clothes that cannot be carried off by the hoi-polloi, prancing to throbbing music, beating up bad guys and becoming good by the end of the movie. So, by definition, I am a masala movie fan. And the movie "Ayan" was all that and more!

Take a large dollop of two extremely beautiful, young, vibrant, gorgeous, drool-worthy specimens of humanity. Saute that in a story line of drug lords, African diamonds, movie piracy, diamond smuggling, international travel, customs officers and a gory murder. Add a large cup of a steamy love affair, a back-stabbing brother-in-law, a huge lover's tiff, a big misunderstanding, and a wonderful making up. Stir fry for about 3 hours. Add a garnish of a couple of sentimental scenes with a widowed, doting mother. And you got it! A masala movie!

Surya, as the hero, is the ultimate droolable male. Beautiful, with greek god chiseled features, gorgeously muscle bound, 6 pack abs, and wonderful emoting abilities, he commands the screen. Tamanna is his lissome love interest, she of the pouting lips, creamy skin, large doe-like eyes and a slender, curvaceous figure. Her role is that of a playful, flippant young college going girl, who is very sure of her beauty and her appeal. All other protangonists are a foil for this beautiful pair - you cannot take your eyes off the screen when either one or both appear.

No Indian movie is complete without the song and dance sequences. And this one has it in abundance: fabulous music, hip-shaking gyrations, gorgeous costumes, lots of supporting dancers, opulent scene settings, and above all, the Indian male's dream - the heroine wearing the floating chiffon saris complete with beautifully cut backless blouses.

The scenes set in Congo were simply breathtaking with rugged landscapes, undulating deserts and vast rocky mountains.

Ok, now to cut to the chase: here is the story in all of one paragraph: Hero is a bad man who smuggles diamonds, indulges in movie piracy but has a good mom (Oh, glorious womanhood!), meets heroine, falls in love, dances with her, fights with her, makes up with her and then suddenly switches sides to help the cops catch a rival thug. So, he becomes a good guy and his mom asks the cop who worked with the hero to help her son become a good guy. So he becomes a good guy and makes his mom happy. End of story. :)

Rating: 5 stars, if you like easy-on-the-eye actors, glorious settings, fabulous dances, fantastic costumes, lots of fights, hot chases, and a forgettable story line.

If you are a girl, go see it for Surya's glistening muscle-bound hot bod.

If you are guy, go see it for the curvy cute Tamanna's beautiful pouty smile.