Himesh Reshammiya’s Radio changed my life

Not Himesh Reshammiya’s radio itself, as I haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced to it. But the movie Radio, where the peerless Mr. Reshammiya does yet another star turn.

Because Himesh is all modern and shit, he (or some dogsbody on the production unit) has set a facebook page up to allow us to worship and shower praise on that most nasal of Gods.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Radio-Himesh-Reshammiya/82426824598?v=wall&story_fbid=186976568914

Because Himesh is all democratic and shit, he (or some dogsbody on the production unit) asked us acolytes to tell him what we thought of the movie.

And I jumped to the task, and have drafted a wee review:

Dear Mr. Reshamaiyya, your movie opened my eyes. My life has changed thanks to this masterpiece of yours.I wish you had made this movie in 1938; it’s beautiful message would have made Hitler repent, and we wouldn’t have had to suffer World War II.
So, do you, dear reader (if there are any readers at all, dear or otherwise), think I should mention that I haven’t watched the movie?

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Old memories…

I just watched the trailer for a movie some people I know made. This led to my harking back to my four-year stint at a fifth-rate “educational” institution in Chennai – punishment for having read Harold Robbins between the covers of my textbooks during the run-up to my board examinations.

Watching the movie trailer (it seems absolutely horrendous, but that’s a moot point) brought back a whole flood of memories. As I organised them in my head, and repeated them to a friend of mine who does not know a single one of the protagonists and has never been to India, I was amazed at how surreal all of these thoughts were.

As I feel too lazy to elaborate, I shall write an obfuscated account down. If you’re in the know, you can piece the pieces of this puzzle together.

A repressed, intellectually and lexically challenged homosexual, pinched nipples, a pimping Computer Scientist, loose, generously endowed women, conspiracy theories, Guy Kawasaki, and a liquor baron – they all tie in together. Add in the University of Edinburgh, the anthropormorphisation of a beating heart, and me, and we’ve got my poor friend from the land of Viv Richards tied into this surreal mess. Along two paths, even.

Dane, I hope you understand this. On the plus side, you’re only four degrees of separation from the (allegedly) loose and (definitely) generously endowed Indian lassies that feature in this tale.

P.S.: Contrary to what the reader that lacks discernment may think, I’m as sober as a Calvinist during Lent. If Calvinists celebrate Lent, that is. And if Lent is meant to be celebrated, that is.

Important questions rising from Michael Jackson’s death

Several important questions arise due to the sudden death of Michael Jackson. Questions that need asking – especially so that I can pretend to be a smug, superior cunt who couldn’t be bothered by Michael Jackson’s death while exploiting it to get a few hits.

1. How long do I have to wait before I start the rumour that he’s not really dead?

2. When is Barack Obama going to tweet about MJ’s death? I’m waiting, Mr. President. So far he’s been going on and on about trivialities like the healthcare reforms bill being debated in the U.S. Congress today, or the situation in Afghanistan. Christ! I demand that he at least pen a ‘Respect, brudda. Rest in peace, homie – BO’. Now!

3. When is Gordon Brown going to do a cover of Michael Jackson on Youtube? I suggest a cover of You are not Alone with Peter Mandelson (Mandelson just might enjoy it).

4. When is Speak You’re Branes going to start posting the reactions of the professional grief athletes on the BBC’s message board?

5. Is Michael Jackson actually a cunningly disguised Baldrick? Or vice versa?

I just heard the rumour that Michael Jackson has moved into Bal Thackeray’s autographed toilet. FACT!

A (prosaic) ode to BBC Radio 4

As those in the know know, I have been quite a traveller these days. Commuter would probably be a better description, but it is rather hard for one to refer to a 360 mile drive through four motorways and three quasi-motorways as a commute.But for those who came in late, I drive down to Liverpool most weekends to spend some time with the unfortunate popsy (who seems to have become rather a recurring theme on this blog).

The route is not what one might describe as fun – being as it is an endless series of twisting motorways that take me diagonally across Scotland and through much of North-West England. If you’re at all cartographically inclined, you might want to take a look at the map: http://tinyurl.com/dcvgpe

Google Maps tells me that the journey ought to take 6 hours and 37 minutes. The GPS tells me that it should take 6 hours and 21 minutes. The fact that I drive a Ford Mondeo tells me that I should be selling more curtains in Dundee, Carlisle and Lancaster (okay, that’s neither here nor there).

However, it usually takes me between 7 and 8 hours of mind-numbing tedium. I find it impossible to focus on the road for much longer than an hour at a time without seeing visions of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Gordon Brown dancing in their underpants on the outside lane.

But this time around, by complete happenstance, I managed to forget my iPod at home. I dreaded the 350 mile drive, bereft as I was of the company of Rahman, Eminem, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Rihanna*. It had to be the radio. The radio! Just like how old folk who already held driving licenses way back in the 20th century crunched the miles.

I experimented with several radio stations on the way. I found that the tripe played on local radio stations was ephemeral. Every few miles, the station would degenerate into crackles, hisses and pops – though it did much to improve the quality of the pop music, it was rather annoying.

While BBC Radio 1 wasn’t ephemeral, it also mostly played tripe. And there are only so many annoyingly cheerful RJs and excitable hairdressers from Wolverhampton calling in to win tickets to a Kanye West concert that one can tolerate. And additionally, any presenter who plays the Atomic Kitten’s absolutely awful cover of Rahman’s Jai Ho deserves to go on to Bush’s axis of evil.

I tried listening to Classic FM. But five minutes into Herr Drickler’s exciting composition on the cornfields of Schleswig-Holstein found me driving like those little old ladies who think causing 20-mile long tailbacks by driving at 40 mph is a perfectly pleasant way to spend a Friday evening.

It was then that I decided to, almost by default, listen to BBC Radio 4. While BBC Radio 1 is for airheads,  BBC Radio 2 is for airheads incapable of tuning into Radio 1, and BBC Radio 3 is for, well, nobody, BBC Radio 4 is the thinking man’s radio station.

As I passed through the M6 trying to avoid the boy racers doing 90 in their Renault Clios, I learned of how the 2008 vintage from Bordeaux is now the bees knees. As I overtook endless rows of trucks on the M74, I discovered that I live among a whole community of people whose idea of fun is living in disused railway stations. As I cursed my way through a 40 mph speed limit on the A80 (thanks to non-existent roadworks that the boffins say will take 2.5 years to finish), I discovered a whole new career path – industrial automation in sewage treatment. Addendum: Did you know that the human poo produced in the UK is used to grow vegetables in Devon? And that, if properly harnessed, the shit produced by the populace of these isles could heat and power 400,000 households? As I grudgingly negotiated my way through the speed-camera infested stretch of the A90 between Dundee and Aberdeen, I learnt more about Somalia than I had in the last 25 years of my life, including the definitive answer to why my mother dropped cryptic references to kids in Somalia whenever I refursed to finish a meal.

Halfway through the programme on Somalia, just as an ostensibly unemployed ex-US Marine General was waxing eloquent on how a few B52s could see Somalia join the Iraqi-Afghan arc of freedom, democracy, and prosperity, I found myself at the gates of my humble homestead.

I looked at the time, and found, to my surprise, that I had got home in exactly 6 hours and 21 minutes, in spite of:

1. having stopped for dinner for 20 minutes.

2. not having broken the speed limit at any point**.

The British may love to grumble, perhaps even more than us Indians do. But if there is one thing they can (and should) be proud of, it’s the sheer quality of programming on the BBC. Thank you, BBC, I think I’ll be putting my iPod in cold storage now.

* Yes, my taste in music, while eclectic, does in parts leave much to be desired.

** No, 71 mph in a 70 zone does not count).

My resolve!!

If there’s anybody still out there, my apologies. I have been incredibly tardy. The last few months haven’t been the most pleasant of my life; in fact, least pleasant might be rather more apropos. But I’ve decided – with a little help of the unfortunate popsy I have spoken so much of – not to let circumstances weigh me down and turn me into a grumpy old sod (and those in the know will know how easy it is under present circs to turn into a grumpy old sod 😉 ). I’m going to fight back with an action plan to keep me chirpy, cheerful, and all that kind of thing.

This blog is going to – I promise – metamorphose into a travel blog. I have done quite a bit of travelling lately, starting with an account of the Wales trip I waxed eloquent on a few months ago.  Punch me in the tender nether regions if I fail to keep it up.

Anyway, these are the posts y’all can look forward to in the next few weeks:

1. My trip to Obamaland (when it was still Bushland, for a few weeks more anyway). Including how I scared myself by walking into a bar full of rednecks in cowboy hats in a bar in a hick town somewhere in Texas.

2. Our journey through Cymru, and how I pretended (and continue to pretend) to knowing how to pronounce Welsh sounds right. Including my long conversation on the evils of Thatcherite free markets with a Welsh woman whose husband subscribed to the Morning Star.

3. Our journey to the heart (depths is probably the wrong adjective, though it does sound cool in a rather ominous sort of way) of Herriot country. Including my ‘drive’ in an Austin Seven.

4. Tales from the M6: Memoirs of a itinerant curtain salesman wandering up and down the M6, the M74, and some nasty roads that pass for motorways out in the sticks where I live.

… and more to come.

If anybody does still read this blog, please give me a shout on the comments box. It would help motivate me to fight my way out of these dry, dark times.

Note: In spite of Robert Peston’s best efforts, Siddhu Warrier has not allowed the light at the end of the tunnel to be switched off. Even if it is just a wee, flickering candle.

The Great (and Hastily Planned) British Roadtrip

The Great (and Hastily Planned) British Roadtrip

Preamble:

Thanks to those lovely people at Easyjet, our Swiss trip came to an end before it even began – at Manchester airport’s departure lounge. I cannot deny that I was incredibly worried about the value of the monopoly money Galiya and I earn our keep in (also known as Pound Sterling) in Switzerland, and was fretting and fuming over how much the whole thing would cost.

The previous night, I dreamt that we were going to Zimbabwe, and we were buying Zim $s from Robert Mugabe himself. We handed him our Pound Sterling, and Mugabe said, “Pound Sterling! Ha!!! I’ll get you 20 Zim $s for a quid. Now, if on the other hand, you had Euros, you’d get five million Zim $s to a Euro.”

But no amount of fretting over the costs could make up for the braindead moron at the Easyjet desk in the departure lounge not allowing Galiya to board the flight. She said, “This is a German visa, and you’re flying to Switzerland.” No amount of explaining that a German residence permit was valid in Switzerland inspite of it not having the magic ‘Schengen’ word on it would budge her, and because she was a complete moron, she refused to call Swiss immigration.

Hence, it was a very despondent couple that ended up on the train to Wirral to pick up our car from Jon’s house, where we’d stowed it away. As we walked through the gates, neither of us had particularly pleasant thoughts running through our minds (or rather, Galiya’s mind, and what passes for a mind in my case). But then, an incredible act of kindness on the part of Jon’s mum changed it all!

She invited us to Christmas lunch – an offer we could not possibly refuse. It was far better than moping about at home ranting loudly about how unfair life was.

And better still, Jon and his family helped us plan what promises to be an incredible trip through Cymru (that’s Wales for the anglophiles among you, you imperialist pigs!). The trip also promises to be far cheaper, as Wales uses the same play money we earn our little all in. And this trip is what this blogpost is all about:

And now, I can talk all about our planned trip to Wales, after all of the circumlocution that is my hallmark.

The primary actors in this trip are:

a) Siddhu Warrier: Intellectual prostitute extraordinaire, who pretends to be a writer.

Intellectual prostitute - and bore - from India

Intellectual prostitute - and bore - from India

b) Galiia Khasanova: Russian dyevushka unfortunate enough to be betrothed to yon Warrier.

A Russian Dyevushka who is kind to Indians who whistle incessantly while blogging.

A Russian Dyevushka who is kind to Indians who whistle incessantly while blogging.

c) Vladimir Illyich Micranov: Japanese Samurai with socialist leanings, as evidenced by the duct tape on the roof.

Vladimir Illyich Micranov - soldier of the socialist revolution

Vladimir Illyich Micranov - soldier of the socialist revolution

d) Cymru/Wales: A beautiful little principality to the west of England.

Cymru - Welsh for "This is not England, goddamn you bleeding foreigners!"

Cymru - Welsh for "This is not England, you bleeding idiot!"

The trip is spread over four days, and each day’s itinerary follows. Forgive me if this is boring, but consider this my initiation into the world of travel writing. Since I do seem to do so much of it, it doth make sense I try to write about it.

The routes we plan to take during this trip remind me of an old chestnut by G.K. Chesterton – Paradise by way of Kensal Green,
because I think it is the circuituousness of this route (and of the
roads therein) that make this whole trip so quintessentially British.
To misquote (horribly, historically inaccurately, and out of context) from the poem,

Before
the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,

The
rolling Welsh drunkard made the rolling Welsh road.

A
reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the Sir,

The
night we went to Aberytswyth by way of Betws-y-Coed
.

The
night we went to
Llanelli by way of Hwlffordd.

The night we went to Caerdydd by way of Aberhonddu.

Day 1: Liverpool to Aberystwyth by way of Betws-y-Coed

This is where we shall pass through during our first day (click on ‘View Larger Map’ to see the actual route we’re taking):

This night, we are staying at a guest house called the Shoreline guest house in a Victorian seaside town (now a university town) called Aberystwyth – it’s hard enough to spell, so don’t ask me exactly how it’s pronounced. WLe couldn’t find any pictures online, but the reviews on tripadvisor were good enough to convince us to take the risk. Also, the price, at £50 for the night, is pretty damn cheap (that’ll probably be worth about €1.50 in a couple of weeks, so please come over, spend money in the UK, and help Gordon Brown save the world, oh ye continental Europeans).

Day 2: Aberystwyth to Llanelli by way of Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire)

This is the route we shall be taking on Day 2:

Llanelli (pronounced – I think – something like Crhlanelli) was picked merely because of the sheer quaintness of this little B&B (Bed and Breakfast) we found there, called Beudy Bach (pronounced something like Baidy Bach). It’s not terribly expensive at £60, but not too cheap either. But then, we’re on our Gord-given mission to save the British economy, aren’t we?!

The route to Llanelli was chosen because it goes through a national park that was strongly recommended by Jon’s parents. Pembrokeshire was also the site of some WW2 era prisoner-of-war camps. I can’t remember where I read it, but some of the Italian POWs integrated so well into Wales during their time there that they decided not to go back upon the cessation of hostilities.

Day 3:  Llanelli to Caerdydd by way of Aberhonddu:

The route we plan to take on this day is:

In the Brecon national park is present a mountain range called the Brecon Beacons. They are named thus because of the beacons the Welsh lit when the English came-a-invading. To paraphrase a Welsh person, the difference between the English invasions of Scotland and Wales was that the highlanders fought the English punch-drunk on whisky, while the Welsh went into hiding. From the looks of it, the fighting didn’t make much of a difference, except for the creation of a large Scottish population in America. But I digress.

We spend the night in Cardiff in rather an unromantic place – the Hotel Ibis. But £39 for a night is too good a deal to pass up on, especially when it comes with free wireless internet access! 😉 We look forward to Cardiff (Caerdydd for those of us who’d like to pretend to be Welsh) because of all that Jon has told us of its vibrant nightlife.

Day 4: The Return (or the detour to England)

We haven’t quite planned Day 4 just yet, and aren’t yet sure if there will be a Day 5. We will try to keep you posted.

The weather seems to be uncharacteristically sunny for all of the days we plan to travel – God’s (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s) way of making up for our Swiss disaster, perhaps?

Updates on Twitter:

For those of you who might be interested in tuning into (hopefully) regular updates on the progress of our trip, I should be updating my status fairly regularly on Twitter at http://twitter.com/siddhuw . Yes, I’m trying desperately to build up a following on Twitter.