Saturday, January 27, 2007

Movie Review: Salaam-e-Shit

We couldn't even bear to stay past the intermission of Salaam-e-Ishq.

All the 12 star-cast in this Love Actually rip-off film are annoying. Not much was expected from the likes of Ayesha Takia, Sohail Khan or Anjana Sukhani (who is she anyway?), but even Salman Khan, Akshaye Khanna and Priyanka Chopra are disgracefully annoying in the film.

Vidya Balan, the best actress in the film, could have given it some hope but is linked to John Abraham, the worst actor in the film, and is put into a coma right in the beginning.

Not to mention that they all look their worst in this movie. Vidya Balan looks fat, and John Abraham's ultra-poker straight hair is all you see. You can see Ayesha Takia's blackheads and a scar on her upperlip that is in more focus than anything else. Priyanka Chopra is not the glam girl I thought she would be on screen, Soheil Khan is just ugly and Salman Khan you just want to slap.

Ishaa Koppikar is the hottest but hardly has a role, and Juhi and Anil Kapoor actually look ok for their age.

The only exception was Govinda. He is awesome. He stays true to his reputation of really knowing how to make the dummest thing look genuinely funny. He is complemented by his onscreen American girlfriend Shannon Isra - who is a gori (white-chick) in a Hindi blockbuster who, for a change, can actually act. Or maybe our actors surrounding her in the film were so crap, that she was tolerable.

The script is awful, the scenes tried too hard to be funny. I laughed a lot, but at the film and at the people laughing with the film rather than at the film. More amusing than anything were the English subtitles. The movie name is translated to 'love's sweet salute,' need I say more?

The music is the only saving grace. Great songs and the full-of-energy dance sequences are actually fun to watch.

As much as I was interested to see how all the 6 couples get 'connected through fate and love', I decided that reading the ending would be less excruciating than sitting through another two hours of absolute crap.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Deep in conversation with a close cousin of mine last night, I think he hit the bullseye on one of the [many] million dollar questions in my life: 'why haven't I been able to keep a boyfriend for more than 3 months?'

He said: "You are the guy's best friend, confidant, and lover. You are a laugh, do not nag, do not expect flowers, and you prefer to maintain most aspects of your independent life. You like few people, and when you do, you do everything to keep them in your life, selflessly, with minimum drama.'

For me, the above is effortless. To me it is how I want my partner to be. You get what you give, right?

Apparently not. You need to be slightly possessive, you need to express your feelings - no matter how stupid they are. You need to be less accommodating and less available. You need to stop giving them the benefit of the doubt. You need to let them know that if you aren't treated right, you will not be around.

You have to make it about YOU, because if you don't, it never will be and you will remain everybody's taken for granted sidekick.


Recommended solution: I need to inject some ego into my system and take a high intravenous dose of self-pride.

Real blogging from WEF: straight from the horse's mouth!

So the point of my post below is now redundant after I received an email today from Jeff Jarvis of the Buzz Machine - one of the official bloggers for the '07 WEF.

He wrote:

'No, the WEF is doing nothing to our posts; they go up automatically after we post them on our own blogs. I don't know what happened in the past but note that your link to Ethan is from last year...'

Excellent to know from someone on the inside.

NB: do read his bio - he has phenomenal credentials.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Closed Doors in Davos Open to Bloggers? But Are They Really?

Logging on to the Huffington Post this morning, I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued to see Arianna Huffington's post from Davos's 'Blogger Nightcap' that was held last night.

In the 36-years of WEF, this is the first time 'official' bloggers have been invited to cover what used to be a private, closed-door forum of 2000 odd world leaders and key media titles. The Davos Conversation Page has been created to service dialogue with the masses, through these bloggers. This is 'historic' according to Klaus Schwab, the guy who created the WEF.

Not surprising with 100 million blogs out there, YouTube and the recent surge of companies using the Web 2.0 platform. The need to be in the blogosphere and allow that interactivity on world issues in real time, has become fundamental.

Despite the solid reputation of the blogs/bloggers who have been invited to blog from within the close doors (Huffington Post, Guardian, DayLife, Buzzmachine, BBC), it seems that all blog posts are first edited by WEF's 4 blog editors before they go live. Correct me if I am wrong.

Hmm. Doesn't that go against the whole purpose of blogging? How is blogging here different from traditional media reporting?Infact, if I am not wrong, traditional media (eg Reuters, AP, NYTimes) don't get their stories approved by WEF monitors, so perhaps here they are more honest and less untainted sources of information at the WEF.

Sure, what is being discussed at WEF is sensitive, sure there is probably a political, social and economical agenda behind almost every official news source out there; but the fact that blogging is (was?) free from all these restrictions and agendas is what makes it powerful, effective and involving of the masses.

I am not a cynical person, and I think the fact that WEF has opened doors to bloggers, demonstrates the significance that the opinion of the masses holds today in this incredibly shrinking world.

In a short video posted here from the 'Nightcap' I loved it when Arianna Huffington said the fact that Davos has opened a conversation page for bloggers, means the end of blogging!

Perhaps in the beginning there will not be explosive or 'true-to-the-spirit-of-blogging' blogging from this internationally volatile platfrom, but as Huffington says as well, it's definitely a beginning.

Perhaps 'YOU' being Time's person of the year needs to get more credit than it has been given.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Black eye and bleeding nose

After over four years of salsa dancing, I was just thanking my stars the other day, when I saw a fellow dancer pull his back on the dancefloor, that, although I have been stepped on and hit a million times, I have never suffered more than a bleeding toe-nail.

Looks like I jinxed myself with that thought. Yesterday, just when I was having a particularly good time on the dance floor, I got elbowed under my left eye, and then elbowed on my nose. The next thing I see is blood all over my hands, and I run to the bathroom.

Stayed in the bathroom a good 10-minutes waiting for my nose to stop bleeding. It had not yet hit me that I had just been badly hit.

Anyway, to be honest, I don't care that I got hit. These things happen on the dance floor - no big deal. What bothered me the most was that, although I ran across the dance-floor mid song with blood all over my hands, nobody came to check on me! Even the guy I was dancing with didn't care to follow me, or ask me if I was OK. And I have been dancing with these people for years! How horrible is that? what sort of people am I dancing with!? Perhaps nobody saw me, or realised what had happened, that's what I am hoping anyway. That's me - giving the benefit of the doubt. Pretty dumb huh.

One girl came in a bit later to see if I was OK; it felt horrible to be so alone in the corner of a club bathroom with blood everywhere, especially when you know over half the people at the club. That's what put me into tears more than the blood.

When I came out, the dude (asshole) was still dancing. He could have atleast called me today to say sorry. Atleast!


Saturday, January 20, 2007

New writing gig - Written Road

I have just started to write for one of my favourite travel-writing blogs - Written Road.
Originally Jen Leo's weblog and part of the Bootsnall Network, I feel encouraged and lucky to be in contact with Jen and Sean Keener, director of Bootsnall and current editor of Written Road.
Will be posting atleast twice a week, so stay tuned! And incase you stumble upon any cool information for travel writers, feel free to send me an email.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Movie Review: The Prestige ****/*****

'That was crazy!' was my response at the end of this movie. Yes, it is a good movie, but very far fetched. And that is what ruins it for the film.

The movie has an interesting and original plot that revolves around the lives of two magicians, whose rivalries escalate into an obsession to outdo the other, resulting in one disaster after the other.

Lies, secrecy, betrayal and dirty tricks are weaved into most of the movie, that ends with an unpredictable twist - which I guess lead me to the 'that was crazy' reaction.

A magician's life (even in the Victorian era) is fascinating, so unless you find magic boring, it will keep you entertained from beginning to end. But, as much as the film will grip you throughout, there is enough time for conversation during scenes.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, the sets, art direction and cinematography is very well done with tremendous attention to detail; and although the acting overall is excellent, the English accents of Michael Caine and Christian Bale in the film are raw and annoying. Scarlett Johansson is at her sexiest, Rebecca Hall is a fine actress, and Hugh Jackman is gorgeous.

Worth it, as long as you are watching closely.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dubai: The Las Vegas of the Middle East?

An excellent article on Slate by Seth Stevenson on Dubai that talks about skiing and Cyclone. For an outsider writing about Dubai, he couldn't be more accurate.

Some excerpts:

With not much indigenous culture to promote, it would take some modern sort of attraction to bring in foreign visitors. But how on earth do you lure rich tourists to a desert in the middle of nowhere? It seems like an impossible problem … until you remember that someone's already solved it. Viva Las Vegas!...

...This is the brand identity Dubai is cribbing from. The announcement of each new fantastical project (man-made islands in the shapes of continents; the tallest tower in the world; a theme park where the theme is to aggregate theme parks) keeps Dubai in the news. And it all sounds so very strange that we simply
must see it for ourselves. Hey, that's what brought me here.

Read the whole article here.

Bollywoodized. Fully.

Ever since I have come back from India all that has been exciting me is Bollywood. I am watching Star Gold, Channel V India and Zee Movies. My computer is playing soundtracks from Guru, Salaam-e-Ishq and Kabul Express; I was pretending to be Aishwarya Rai's choreographer for Tere Bina in my room; I watched Kabhi Al Vida Na Kehna yesterday and all I want to do now, is watch Guru.

What's happening to me? I used to be allergic to Bollywood. I used to consider it a waste of time and brain activity; only rarely enjoying offbeat Indian cinema. Now I'm loving all the jhatkas and matkas, dancing around the bushes and the cheesy dialogues AND I can sit through an entire 3-hour movie!

Actually, come to think of it - this always happens to me when I get back from India. Perhaps it is patriotism sprouting from my subconscience all of a sudden after being locked away for so long.

I mean, all of a sudden I am checking out sari blouse designs of Susmita Sen because I want similar ones. I think I even told my parents the other night not to worry as I will probably land up spending my life with an Indian man. Not that I know any one that I fancy...but just an expression of this thought is playing shehnai in my mum's ears and my dad cannot wipe a grin off his face.

Scary huh.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It does happen!

A little bit of perseverance and scouting out good yet approachable sources when you are a beginner, can get you published! Managed to get an article featured on UK's TravelMag website - take a look here!

Formentera in Mediterranean Spain and Abha Malpani has a cunning plan. Cut costs by dossing where she can. Hardly a formula for a quiet weekend away but a succession of strange men with homes of their own provide a vivid insight into island life.

So encouraging!

Losers and jerks only?

There is a guy I know from the dance floor. He is one of those who are only tolerable in very small doses. He stands roughly at 4 foot 9, so when he dances in close hold with me, my chin is on his head. He is bald with a pot belly. He spells minutes - manuites - and although he dances well, likes to be spanked while dancing (please do not ask me to elaborate). I have nothing against him, but a conversation of any sense is practically impossible with him and he seems perpetually desperate.

So he calls me last night, completely out of the blue and this is how the conversation goes:

Guy: Hi sweety! how are you babe? where have you been? why don't I see you these days, I miss you!

Me: Hey! yeah I've been busy with guests in town.

Guy: Ok, so when am I going to see you?

Me: Guess I'll see you Thursday on the dance floor, right?

Guy: Well, I was hoping you would see me not only on the dance floor.

Me: (silent)

Guy: How about a candlelight dinner, some drinks, followed by a conversation of sweet nothings, dancing and then my place.

Me: (silent)

Guy: (silent)

Me: And what do you have planned for your place?

Guy: DVD's ofcourse!

Me: Ofcourse.

Guy: Come on Abha, you are single, I am single - why can't we get to know each other better?

I was truly hoping he was taking the piss, but turns out he wasn't. Now when you are not at all interested, and somebody so bluntly has this conversation with you - what do you say?

I landed up laughing it off and saying that I will put him on the list of people who 'want to get to know me more', and when his turn comes I will call him. Yeah, conceited and stupid - but do you have a smartypant yet polite way to answer that?

My spontaneous thought to this was - freak, get off my back, it's never going to happen, you are a loser. However, my post conversation thought was: sure he was trying his luck, why shouldn't he, and at least he has the guts to be so upfront and direct about it. When was the last time that happened to me? I don't think it ever has.

Now, the fact that whatever happens to me (like the above), happens with guys I want nothing to do with, ever, is more of a burst in confidence than boost and is a different story all together. It always leaves me wondering: why are the losers the ones who always try to get with me?

Sometimes I feel like I have a sign stuck to my forehead that says: losers and jerks only. *sigh*

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Book Review: Bird by Bird - Instructions on Writing and Life

220 odd pages later, I sit here and write rather rejuvenated about the whole process of being a writer, any sort of writer. Bird by Bird - written by Anne Lamott is a pure, soulful, deep yet incredibly funny and informative book on the art of writing and living a full life.

As self-helpy and therapeutic as that sounds, that is not how it reads. She doesn't give you lectures or tells you what to do and how. You don't feel like you are a loser reading this book because you are lost and desperately need direction. She just tells you everything she knows about being a writer in the most raw and crude, yet inspiring manner.

She makes you want to reach deep down inside of you and write; turning yourself inside out in the process. She touches on every emotion you feel at every stage of writing - from writer's block, to writing shit, to feeling fucked six ways (her words) to the elation of completing a piece and getting published.

The whole book is also filled with moving anecdotes from her life and other peoples lives. If I could throw a penny for each time I read a line and felt overwhelmed, I'd be bankrupt.

One of the many thoughts in this book:

'Writing and life are like driving in the dark. You may know where you are going, but you can't see past the headlights.'

A must read for anyone who writes, or wants to write.

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Guardian Travel Site

Some new features, a blog, podcasts and tonnes of travel stories and resources for us vagabonds, the Guardian's new Travel Site is revamped and lookin' good!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Under your skin

Every once in a few years I meet someone who has the ability to get under my skin. Someone who's effect on me is so profound that it leaves me with a knot in my stomach, perpetually confused - not understood.

Always a man, something as little as two words can do everything from giving me a pounding headache to making me feel like the most beautiful woman on the planet.

I can get nervous when he calls and I will stutter when I speak. An sms from him can give me goosebumps and a hug feels warm and tingly. His authority over me and huge ego makes me hate him most the time. An abrupt conversation can leave me lost in thoughts for days.

I want to doubt him and his motives so I can keep distant but it doesn't work. He knows how to play with my mind, I can just hope it is unintentional.

I have deep respect for him, perhaps that and his raw charisma is why I surrender to his controls. There is relief when he is gone, but a desperate desire to hear from him when he is around. He is unpredictable, dangerous, incredibly intelligent, narcissistic and unavailable.

This isn't a love story, far from that infact. Beyond it - almost transcendental. The line of friendship (if that's what it can been called) hasn't been crossed and never will as the result will be my own self-destruction - or mutilation rather.

I hate to admit that I enjoy being under this convoluted spell. Besides, I don't know how to repel it. Perhaps I don't want to.

THE wedding

You know when you see a wedding in a Bollywood movie, you think - wow that looks awesome. And then you think, ofcourse - it's a movie and that's what weddings look like in movies. Well, the wedding I recently attended in Mumbai would give Bollywood movies a run for their money.

There were about 30 mehndi (henna) putting ladies, clothes made of fresh flowers, gold studded dresses, 1-carat diamond jewellery, 95 performers for the sangeet (the dance night before the wedding), and over 3000 people including a bunch of filmstars and politians.

Hospitality is a big deal in Indian weddings, almost a competitive ground for being talked about.
From the minute I checked into the club I was staying at, to the moment I left, every need of mine was taken care of. I could have ordered male strippers with marshmellows and I would have got them.

A tray of Indian food, fruit and gifts was in my room when I arrived, with a personal welcome letter from the family. It informed me of the programme, a car and driver I had at my service for the three days, and gave me a list of contact numbers should I need anything - from wanting to shop, to visiting the zoo or to sorting out my departure flight details.

The wedding was of the sister of my best friend in India - someone I have known since I was 10. Since we had grown up together, alot of friends were common so the wedding served as a 10 year reunion aswell. I met a whole bunch of classmates and lagori buddies I hadn't seen since I left school - all with their second halves (wive's/husbands) and some with little ones. Was like everyone had moved on with their lives and I was stuck in a time-warp.

The nerds had blossomed, the once-upon-a-time dunce hat guys had become happening DJ's, the hot ones looked hotter and the juniors had become adults who worked in investment banks and participated in Gladrags competitions. But the best thing was, the old bond remained. We were all so delighted to see each other, it was as if we had been in touch all along. Also met a friend I knew from Dubai, who I hadn't met since he left the emirates 3 years ago; he happened to be a close friend of the groom. Never would I have imagined bumping into him at this wedding. A jaw-dropping though great blast from the past.

Met a whole bunch of new people at the wedding aswell. A lot of warm crazy people who knew how to have fun. One of the guys did catch my eye, but I don't think I caught his. Story of my life!

We all departed from the wedding with vows to keep in touch and open invitations to each others houses. Hopefully it will not be after another 10 years.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Resolutions and Wishes 2K7


Read more: A book every two months, atleast. (Knowledge is power bla bla)

Finish the books I begin to read: Last year I started to read 9 books, didn't finish any

Write. And write. Anything.

Get one piece of travel writing published.

Quit chocolate: I think it is the cause of my regular bursts of acne.

Stop doubting myself: Need to have more belief in myself and what I can do. Need to stop depending on others for that boost.

Get a job I actually like: Hmmm.

Finish the journalism correspondence course from the London School of Journalism that I started over 7-months ago.

Be certified in Spanish.

Stop wondering too much about what when how why and where.

Run at least 3-times a week.



Do the Inca Trail in Peru.

Go to the Dominican Republic.

Audition to be a VJ on Channel V.

Fall in love.

Not have random wishes so that I can concentrate on my resolutions.


Wish you a wonderful 2007.
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