Thursday, December 29, 2005

high tech toilets

on route, the asiana folks dropped us off at a hotel outside seoul for half a day to rest up. while i can't say i can see much of korea, i can say america is way behind in its bathroom technology. this hotel room is a serious gizmo force. it took me about 5 minutes to learn how to operate the toilet. i was a bit worried about pushing all kinds of buttons with phrases like 'rear cleanse' without making sure a rear was available for cleansing. the last thing i need is to be staring inside this toilet while i learn whether the massage feature is jet spray driven (it is).

the first thing that comes to my mind upon leaving india and entering a new western land is innevitably how clean it is. i've been to india so many times i can't count; i would expect this epiphany to fade, especially given that i'm so conscious of it. nonetheless, wow, its so clean out. i am staring out the hotel window looking down into an empty lot strewn with trash, and all i can think is wow, its so clean. this room is so clean. i get to drop my stinky shoes and change into cute little slippers on entering our room. ananya can roam freely and i don't have the usual paranoia driven urge to rub cleansing solution on everything.

i often spend time thinking about what actually causes the dirt in india. i've come to the conclusion that the causes are so multi-factorial. you have the obvious stuff: the fact that everyone throws their garbage out the window, the fact that pigs, cows, dogs, peacocks and people, being without access to massaging hi-tech toilets, take advantage of the roads and side walks. and of course there is the climate itself, brutal sun, sandy dirt, etc. the more time i spend in india, the less i want to think about this particular issue, mostly because i've thought it to death, and the topic gets so tiresome. but when i'm stuck in a taxi mulling over the choice between: staying inside with a driver that has not discovered the freshness of old spice, the waft of urine stenched air driven by the public avoidance of the even fouler public restrooms, and leaving all of our luggage unsupervised ( a definite no-no), its tough not to.

night air

well we're back in seattle. we got in yesterday morning after a brutally long journey.

i woke up from one of my many naps, disoriented and lucidly waxing pseudo-logic; i was convinced it must be really late, since the neighborhood was abnormally quiet. it was 6PM and cars were returning home from work.

i've been staring into the night for hours now waiting for the sun to show up. it's raining, and i'm standing outside in our front yard just completely in awe of the quality of air i'm breathing. it strikes me that our impressions of the world are so relative to our experience. i'm sure 3 weeks from now, this air will seem slightly polluted and far inferior to the fresh breeze up in the mountains.

Monday, December 19, 2005

painting away

art: here are a few photos from the past few weeks. they're all taken on masi's cotie where we've been painting.


sukhi and gurpreet paji took me to a little buffalo house in a field of dirt with buffalo dung scattered about. i wasn't quite sure why. we walked in, and i saw many sadhus clad in orange robes, orange turbans, and long beards. for the uninitiated, sadhus are holy people, typically old men, that have left there families and all material possessions to wander from holy place to holy place.

we chatted with one of the sadhus for a while, then wandered into the buffalo house. one of the sadhus was wearing a white outfit and had no turban. gurpreet paji introduced me as the cousin from abroad, and said i had a deep spiritual question for the baba. then he and sukhi both started laughing. basically, i was left to put together the situation on my own. the baba breaks out in perfect english and says, "why are you here? is this a joke for you?" i stumbled for a bit trying to recover the situation, then asked him the first spiritual question that came to mind. basically i said something like "many religions: christianity, sikhism, hinduism, islam, have some notion essentially saying "God is everywhere and in all things." so, if this is true, then it means God can be in evil as well as good. is this true? he thought for a moment, went on a bit of a tangent, then i asked the same question again a few times. eventually he said something like, God is in you, that is the most important thing to focus on, purify yourself, and you will find God. that is the only path to God.

we wandered back to the open field area where lungar was being served to about 10 poor kids from local villages. my cousins introduced me to a rather large and old baba. he smiled and said, roughly translated, wonderful little one, what a great thing that you have come. this is a phrase that old people in villages often repeat over and over again to any young visitor. anyway, the main baba (holy person), smiled and walked away, then a few moments later, returned and said to my cousins, this means he is sant's sukha (true) nephew. we all nodded, then he got very excited, hugged me repeatedly, and started ordering everyone to get me milk, give me food, get me a manja to sit on, put parshad in my mouth, etc. sant mamaji (my mother's brother) and his father, my grandfather, gurbachan singh, had been going to this baba for many years. it turns out these sadhus, and this baba are rather unique, they are followers of sikhism, but also are devout hindus. many sikhs, and adherents to the later gurus, reject hinduism with its idol worship, and well, practice of asceticism. it turns out, the baba was given this land by someone many years ago to live in. he visits with villagers and they feed him and feel honored that he showed up. once a year, a group of sadhus from haridwar spends 14 days with him on route during a pilgrimmage to, i believe, rishikesh; but the details are foggy since my punjabi is not that hot, and i lose things when people are talking really fast.

in any event, i returned a few more times over the course of a few days. ameen came as well. we both loved it. i felt like it was such an incredibly authentic situation. there were only a few people in a field; there was no money, no press, no hope for anything bigger to happen, no drive to gather more people, convert anyone, or make this worship anything other than what it was.

i pulled out my camera one night - when the flash went off, the babas were all anxious. someone explained what was going on. they got incredibly excited that "the one whos returned from afar" was shooting pictures. someone had donated a car for the night to drive the main baba (the world leader of this group) to a prayer. on rare occasions they randomly show up at someone's house. they showed up at gurpreet paji's. everyone was thrilled, its considered a sign of good luck. i asked sukhi why - he said it happens on occasion - not many sikhs support them, and have houses free of meat, eggs and alcohol. he added while laughing, "well actually we have a few bottles lying around (for guests); we're just smart and keep them hidden."

Sunday, December 18, 2005


the past 3 days we've been in sukharan, my maternal ancestral village, staying with gurpreet paji (my cousin) and my mamiji (mother's brother's wife). it's been a blast and it appears nayan's intestinal friend is on its way out. sukharan is a small pind, about 70 houses surrounded by flat and fruitful farmland. we've spent a good part of the day chatting with all of our village elders about our family and the village history.

sukharan was started about 150 years ago by my grandfather's grandfather's grandfather himat singh. himat singh's father, fauja singh, lived in a yellow house in rotinda. i doubt the house was yellow some 200 years ago, or had a soccer ball water tank on the roof as it does now (we drove by the other day). anyway, fauja singh is the last of our lineage that my cousin sukhi can remember off the top of his head. without blinking, sukhi informs me of over 150 years worth of family lineage. he tells me that my grandfather gurbachan singh, had 2 brothers, one shiv singh, who's grandson is gurpreet. the other brother, banta singh, had one son charanjit singh, who's wedding pictures, all black and white, show photos of me, a spitting image of nayan at 5 years of age. his son is sukhi.

sukhi lives in another yellow house that himat singh first built when maharaja ranjit singh gifted him 500 acres of land for being a 'brave and fearless' brigadier general in the raja's army. for those who don't know, maharaja ranjit singh was the first and only sikh king to conquer all of the punjab, modern day punjab, haryana, himachal, much of kashmir, pakistani punjab, and lands into afghanistan. his reign rendered one of the few moments of calm in an otherwise violent punjab history, as much of the conquering was done via clever negotiation. after many more mukhi de rotis, our complete line was revealed: i.e., himat singh was the son of fauja singh, and father of mehtab singh (a colonel in the rajas army), father of gopal singh, father of inder singh, who was the father of our 3 grandfathers.

while writing this, i'm realizing this all reads like the introduction to a shakespeare play. anyway, over dinner, one of my mamijis reveals that himat singh's masi's (mothers sister) daughter was maharani jind kaur, the 7th (and i'm told most beautiful) of 7 wives of the maharaja. so it seems, her parents, after discovering a babe of a daughter, saw an opportunity to expand the family fortune. they convinced the maharaja that 6 wives was not enough, and that he should check out their daughter. well i guess it all worked out, since himat singh was made a general, and our family prospered. another interesting tid bit, himat singh, on leaving the army, and taking land in lieu of a pension for his service, left his home in rotinda, and travelled about 2 kilometers to build a house on his new land. he brought with him his faithful servants. the servants, now politically correctly referred to as 'aatarmi', or the oppressed ones, it seems have far outbred the jats.

we jats form the warrior caste (and farmers, since warring used to be a part-time profession) within hinduism. none of this caste stuff should matter since caste-ism is officially banned in both the indian constitution, and the sikh faith, but alas, it certainly does. nearly all the punjabi jats became sikhs beginning around the 15th century. i'm informed that now only 5 out of the 70 houses in the village are "ours," though nearly all of the land is. as i roam the village, everyone knows who i am. its a serene pastoral place; no buzzing scooters, sputtering auto rikshas, black cloud bellowing trucks, or skanky red paan stains. the local police are annoyed that there's "no money to be made in sukharan." translation: everyone gets along, no drunken fights followed by law breaking, and the need to bribe the police to get off. it's also true that i'm related to everyone (jats) in the village. we drink chai, and eat barfi at each of our 5 houses, the members of which all fit somewhere in the lineage down from himat singh.

sukhi informs me that in rotinda, all the jats are gosals. they're often called 'billean', or the cats, beacause nearly all have green eyes (a rarity in brown eyed india). only 1 of the gosal lines in sukharan got the bille gene. i am eating with one of my more distant mami's (mother's brother's wife) and i nearly jump out of my seat. i suddenly recognize her eyes, from 30 years ago. she was then veiled in black wearing garlic over her mouth, and red chilli peppers around her neck, screaching through the village chasing us children (its an old wedding tradition in our village). i was terrified. my sister, cousins and i lied shaking under a bed for hours.

sukhi says the gosal line moved to rotinda about 450 years ago. he's going to rishikesh this summer, where our family pundit can track our lineage back many more hundreds of years.

haveli and barbecues

so the kooseriah showed up again today asking about whether my cousin's had a son. ameen said yes, so even more drama ensued. ameen misunderstood them, and thought they were referring to veena's ( our cook) daughter's son, who indeed was born the day before.

today has been a relatively uneventful day. we painted in the morning for a few hours, then went to niko park, a local little kiddie park.

last night we went out to eat at haveli and rangala punjab. i suppose if anything represents the progress of india, it might be this place. some local entrepreneurs decided to make a restaurant w/ decor typical of old punjabi villages. the design work was extremely well done. they had handmade munji's that many of us remember from our pre-capitalism visits to india. the restaurant was so successful, that the founders expanded the company to reproduce an entire village. they went to villages and bought bricks and doorways from old houses being demolished. they also created a complete village using clay and other interesting materials. it has a bunch of random stuff thrown in, like the monkey guy that has 2 monkey's that do this ridiculous but engaging rendition of a monkey wedding, a magic guy, an entire bazaar, camel's and horses, bangra dancers, and my favorite, a parrot that predicts your future. what i thought was great about haveli was the quality of the execution. in punjab its pretty rare to see someone meticulously create a service business that doesn't eventually have the equivalent of duct tape everywhere, i.e. wires strewn about, decaying concrete, 70's foam ceilings, paan spit, bands of dudes staring blankly at you. here the bazaar was well done, the items for sale were all handmade crafts that are a dieing trade and tough to find, surdars serving food (an absolute rarity in india) with a smile and really great customer service. the place was also hopping w/ people.

of course it was topped off only by nayan screaming that it was a terrible place and he wanted to go home (we made the mistake of waking him up from his nap). the tantrum lasted well into this morning. it ended only after we brought out the usual "cops here beat little kids that cry with really big sticks." trick. to which he replied, "there's a cop, bring him over here, i want to barbecue him." after our driver, while laughing, agreed to go get him, nayan declared that he was just joking. so, it appears, our certain-to-psychologically-impare-our-son tactic of using the police threat to stop tantrums, appears to still work.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


i haven't gotten a chance to post anything in a while. i do have a number of blog additions though. some are in long hand in my journal, others on my laptop. its such a pain to transfer them up. anyway, spent the day painting. nayan is finally off his antibiotics. things seem to be holding up, though he now seems to have come down with a cough, thankfully nothing serious. the baby is fattening up quite impressively. we're now on our way to mohalon to visit my thiaji as well as my cousin and family from the states.

its amazing the number of random people that show up at my masi's house during the day. the other day it was the 'koorah wallah' who wants cash for picking up the garbage. we also had the chonkidar show up demanding money for protecting the house; after repeated vists and much gafawing, we managed to convince him that no one lives in the house. the toy seller dude lingers sometimes for an hour in front of the house, blowing this dying goose sounding horn in an attempt to get nayan to start whining for a plastic gun. today the 'kooseriah' showed up demanding to know if my brother had a son. the kooseriah are the local eunach's, snipped and transvested, they arrive on the birth of a son to offer good blessings if well compensated, and threats to dance in the street naked if the cash is insufficiant. the dollar amount is amazing, like 500$ US, which is well over the average annual income. urban legend has it some of them cruise the streets in loked out mercedes. anyway, we managed to convince the kooseriah that i was not related (which is of course a lie, the father at issue is my cousin, which here certainly qualifies me to pay up), and that no son exists. we successfully convinced them only after repeating over and over and over that my cousins wife just got to the US a few days ago, so the requisite 9 months of baby incubation time had not passed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

the kids

wow what a pain to post a picture with this brutally slow connection. anyway, here's a picture from the other day at wonderland. this would be moments before nayan was to encounter his intestinal friend which is sadly still with us, though fortunately not slowing him down much.

Monday, December 05, 2005

painting and nana devi

art: just got back from masi's. spent the morning painting. pretty happy with how things are turning out. i got inspired by a francis souza painting. was an abstracted cityscape with heavy black outlines - bright and colorful inside the lines, lots of scratching and textural contrasts. i can't seem to find an electronic copy of the painting (its on the back of this month's art in india magazine for anyone motivated) - here's a link to some of souza's other work: since the subject matter is pretty convenient, i've been painting a lot of building facades borrowing a similar style. 3 paintings are nearing completion. still waiting for more of our canvases to arrive. a bunch of them were warped so we had jan bhai, our local art contact, redo them.

on other notes, it gets pretty cold here at night. the lack of heat and marble floors makes it more pronounced. its such a contrast from our hot days of painting outside on the cotie. we went to mohalon, my dhaadkes for a few days. we also cruised up into the himilayan foothills to visit naina devi. the road was terrible, but the views amazing. nayan had a great time w/ the many many monkies, though he learned quickly to stay close to us - they're extremely aggressive.

Monday, November 28, 2005

cogs in motion

we've finally started to settle into a routine. spent the past 3 days setting up our studio in the city at my masi's house. this has been more work then i might have guessed.

my masi lives in the states, so her house is boarded up much of the year. they're tearing up the road out front, so there was a couple inches of dirt piled up everywhere. veena, our nanny/cook/caretaker/cleaner extra-ordinaire, has had to spend a lot of time getting the house in shape. oddly, the biggest pain has been arranging for the heating gas (locally called sill-ANDER) - apparently the indian government rations the amount of cooking gas available to people. you have to apply, then wait in line for 30+ days. of course this wasn't an option. since the economy here is quite creative, the black market usually supplies, but even the black market can be taxed. apparently the wedding demands on black market cooking gas are extreme this time of year (we're in the peak of wedding season, and typical punjabi weddings have many hundreds if not thousands of people eating many meals over many days). after some hemming and hawing and connection pulling, we now have our gas.

we have begun painting a lot. started out with a lot of sketch work. i ordered a bunch of canvases, and they're starting to come in now. we spend our days on the kotie with chairs and munjis and paint and cha. its a lovely day. ameen and i are worried our work is melding together since we're staring at the same stuff. we've spent the past few evenings cruising the back gulliahns snapping photos CIA style of random things here. its amazing how much just being here makes me want to paint - i think its a combo of the new sites, huge time blocks, and local materials.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

returning to health

the mystery medicine appears to be working. today nayan downed a bowl of cereal, 2 cookies, and a piece of toast. even though he can't quite partake, he waxes enthusiastically about returning to the chase, and once again, tearing through these palatial halls after his cousins enforcing the residential nayan-approved boli.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

toilets and tund

nayan woke up with the shakes and a temperature. soon he was sprinting toward the toilet. escaping the "loose motion" is a western traveller's fantasy, but the reality involves much more mystery healing and porcelain. ameen and i were struggling to isolate the culprit. was it the milk? no - all of our milk on the farm is boiled. what about the yogurt - nope, made from the boiled milk. what about the 8 french fries he ate at a dhaba 5 days before? doubtful, given that he was sprinting through the halls screaming 'punjabi bolo nay tha chundi' non-stop since he ate them. what about his fingers that explore the dirt on the floor, then roam inside his nasal passages, and on occassion, find themselves yanking on his tongue - this is my running theory at the moment. mamiji et. al. are convinced 'tund lagai' - translated: the cold got to him. this is a mystery illness i can't quite seem to buy into, but there must be something to it given that everyone takes it as WHO and NSF supported fact. there exists a theory here, that since the temperature difference between sunny realms (about 80 degrees) and shadey locales (about 72) is so significant, people need to wear a coat and socks. by this theory, since nayan was sleaveless and sandled, "the cold got him". this theory seems odd, especially given that our temperature differences at home are more extreme (50 degrees outside, 70 degrees inside), but nonetheless, in the quest to retain solid stools, nayan will be thoroughly socked and sleaved. taking advantage of the situation, we've also scared him silly about his roaming fingers.

Friday, November 25, 2005

wide awake

it's 4 AM, 5 days after arrival - significantly past the typical jet lag recovery date - so, why am i still lying here wide eyed? the room seems to have exactly one mosquito savoring its thanksgiving feast. we've created colorful homemade mosquito nets for the kids out of ameen's chunnis, but alas, the little-uns toss and turn, and the delicately balanced teddy-bear-cum-tent-post repeatedly falls over, transforming the net barrier into a circus tent, where the trapped carnivore is blissfully free from distractions of the prowl, and can now focus on the face at hand. ameen, with pundit-like foresight, added a second defense - little mosquito killer devices plugged into the wall and filled with some aromatic mystery juice. ameen, usually relatively cautious of 3rd world toxins, assured me with the same line reserved for the locals, translated roughly from punjabi, "chill out - everyone uses these things, and they're all fine." to which i respond, "well that's just because everyone eats their parathas with 3 tablespoons of butter." so the device buzzes on, the clock ticks loudly, and i stop writing.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


well after many days of travelling, we are finally here in jallandar, punjab, basking in lovely 80 degree weather, and perfect sunshine. travelling with 2 kids is more difficult than i would have guessed. this, despite the fact that nayan was an angel on the flight. ananya hardly slept a wink, but thankfully, nor did she cry. yesterday was a lovely day. we took the kids (my 4 niece/nephews) to "wonderland" - an entertainment testament to india's new rise as an economic power - an emerging middle class in jallandar can now bask in their very own theme park. i was braced for the worst - the usual muck and laisez fair work attitude applied to theme park rides w/ jerry rigged welds, flowing slop, etc. i was shocked, the place was great. due to the lack of cheap plastic, abundance of cheap labor, and random sources of wonder, wonderland - the place where a sign told me i would find my soul, somehow wound up done eco stye w/ amazing landscaping and handmade mosaics. the fact that the middle class hasn't quite risen as high as the new international investment levels, left the place blissfully uncrowded, maybe a hundred or so people. we had a hoot. ameen was particularly excited by the bhangra blasting everywhere and the high fashion sense - we both had forgotten how indians love to dress up for this sort of thing. just so things don't sound too wonderful, we drove past a crowded buffalo pasture that had caught fire by our farm the night before - it was a horrific sight - many buffalo's charred and burned alive. some just standing black stumps, others still smoking.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

dilwale dulhania le jayenge

movie review: just saw Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge last night. i'm sure i'm veering out of the desi mainstream when i say this, but this flic was just too steriotypically blah. i honestly felt guilty when it was over for wasting so much of a beautiful sunny sunday afternoon. here were my problems: i was shocked when intermission showed up, i could have sworn we were wrapping up, but alas, we were simply leaving england for the punjabi homeland, which we certainly could have done sooner. the lamborghini/motorcyle/fight w/ the juts/prancing switzerland business is so stereotypically bollywood - its been done over and over and over again. i also tire of the 'i love india' speeches, and the brainless 'east is west, punjab is best' type one liners. still, some things were good - for one, we were spared shahruhk's stomach gurgling 'i'm so sad' acting. less cynically, the songs are pretty good, as are the dance scenes. perhaps i'm just feeling ready to trash a film since the past few i've seen have been so good. had i seen this last year when i was wallowing in a long string of muscle-flexing-junior-high-school-machismo-bollywoods, i might have been more sympathetic. for now, i give it 2 1/2 stars, while seriously contemplating dropping it to 2. more at:

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

a future of contentment

desperate for a new perspective - pick
up the bed, pop in a skylight, rotate the car.
talk about lawn mowers and real estate.

tots and toys control my view,
conservatism grows with wrinkles.
angst arrives in waves,
so do journal entries and paintings.

sitting in a belgian pub
in the spanish city on the bay - smoke
and glasses, grins and gaze,
16 years after highschool graduation
with my first belle, the conversation
shocks me. we were confidantes
basking in the radicalism of youth.
the foreshadow would have suffocated me,
despair in the materialistic, the selfish bore
of talks real estate and project management,
corporate context rolling out like breakfast.

i miss the absoluteness of a destination, my life
airy with greatness - i breathed consequence. now,
the embrace of roaming above the black sea
guides me, graces me with rhythm.

i know about cutting grass.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


movie review: i really need to do more than write about the movies i've seen. alas, that seems to be the only thing driving me to the computer at night. anyway, saw parineeta last night. i have no idea why we've had such great luck w/ films lately. its especially odd given our process for picking films. basically we live in a mostly white-neo-hippy-dip-only-slightly-hip corner of the city, in other words, hardly a brown skinned person for miles (since the grand pop up mansions are more readily affordable elsewhere). so, we drive to this dump of a store on aurora that sells meat in little plastic baggies with protruding bones, random spices, and the occassional packet of naan. behind a broken glass counter lies a stash of semi-bootlegged dvds. i typically ask the guy in punjabi for some 'ARRRT' film. he says, "oh they're all so terrible these days - too much hip thrusting and not enough brooding. i have nothing.' then i plead w/ him to show me something, anything. he sighs, slowly bends down, reaches inside without taking his eyes off me, grabs a handful of DVDs, and throws them on the counter. he shakes his head and wanders away to cut some more meat. anyway, so... the movie. it was really good. set in 63' calcutta - my guess is the scene bares little resemblence to the real calcutta - as i've never seen a jazz club in india, let alone one as cool as that in the film. the setting, fantasy or real, is beautiful. well shot, w/ nice touches to 'date' the film in the right era. what i liked especially, is parineeta's classic bollywood, w/ the singing and dancing and love story and propensity for melodrama, but its well done. i give it 3 1/2 stars.

and for the spiders: movie review

Monday, October 03, 2005


movie review: saw yahaan, a film by shoojit sircar, last night. was a very touching film. not a typical bollywood film. best one i've seen since chameli. the cinematography was very interesting. was shot in almost black and white with very sparing use of color. i really wish i had seen it on the big screen as opposed to my crusty laptop. i hadn't realized how long its been since i've seen so many images of kashmir. its a shame kashmir has suffered so much these past 10+ years. the story of hope through love is a compelling one. for a more synopsis-y type review, see: this link. i think she was a little harsh though. i thought the pace of the film was fine - i had no problems moving between the various movements. i also thought the action scenes were well done - and with the exception of the ending, not overly so as many b/h ollywood films tend to be. something that struck me was how difficult this film would be for an american to make now. in the 40s, no problem. now, we're so jaded in our 'love' stories, atleast on the artsy side of the film spectrum, that honest love as simple is this would be too foreign for its audience. it would certainly require raw sexuality, or something twisted, and less first sight type warmth. on the whole, i give it 3 and 1/2 stars. i'd have given it a 4 if it wasn't for the slightly overly 'action-y' ending. still a definite should see.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

smashed teeth

last night i dreamt i brushed my teeth. on the second pass, my 2 front teeth fell out. i pondered life with no two front teeth, and decided it was bearable. i proceeded to brush. as i brushed all the teeth in the right side of my mouth spilled onto the sink counter. i looked down and saw them sprawled out like a pomegranate. blood rolled out of my mouth in waves. i tried asking my wife to call her nephew, as he's a dentist, but words failed me. just air and gum residue flowed forward. i got nervous, and began thinking. i tried in desperation to think of a solution - perhaps they would quickly grow back like a smashed nail - perhaps cosmetic dentistry could help. soon i realized the gravity of the situation.

Monday, September 26, 2005

flight plan

movie review: just saw flight plan last night. jodie foster was great and a perfect match for the role. she plays this grieving-wife-who-may-be-losing-her-mind part real well. the picture was a pretty harrison-ford-john-grisham-like thriller. lots of tightly fitting plot construction mixed w/ some nice story telling technique. if you haven't seen the movie, i'd stop here. oh, i'd give it 3 stars out of 4 - mostly just because to get more than that from me a picture needs to have significant artistic merit beyond just being well told and executed.

and for those who've seen it, or don't fret whether a review 'ruins' the film, i really bought into the idea that her daughter indeed had died w/ her father and took foster for a coo coo bird. so much so, that i was almost annoyed, like the rest of the crew w/ her obsession. it is curious that we have air marshalls in the air these days, and trust them to not be crazed loons and loose cannons. i hope they do some serious psychological screenings of these guys.

other tid bits, if the arab guys on the plane weren't the ones looking at her the night before she left, who was? are we just supposed to assume they were other 'evil' arab dudes? also, if one were to hatch such an extreme plot for $, it seems they would see the many risks of this plan as extreme. why not just kidnap a rich person's kid and skip the complications w/ the airplane. anyway, i have more on that line of thinking, but i have things to do. on the whole, great escape movie.

Monday, September 12, 2005

ek hasina thi

movie review: saw ek hasina thi last night. definitely not your typical bollywood song and dance film. read a great review of it here. i was all set to write about the film, then i read this - it captures 95% of what i was going to say. i also agree w/ the 3 star rating, as well as the assessment of the strong first half vs. more formulaic, though still engaging, second half.

what else, we just got back from watching the sunset over puget sound at the park. our neighborhood converges at this one lovely point anytime the sunset looks promising. this evening was no exception. also learned a new trick w/ my son - normally, we play helicopter, and i swirl him around and round by holding onto his hands while he stares at the ground. today, we flipped him on his back, and i held his ankles while he could gaze up at the sky. minor change, certainly a bit less safe, but he was dizzy and giddy and clearly preferred our new found form.

tablet pc art

art: was over at my masi's the other day. spent time playing w/ my cousin's tablet PC. they're kind of fun to sketch w/. certainly doesn't have the nice texture of real pens or brushes or paper, but has some cool features. i've included a couple of the quick 5 minute sketches i put together. the tablet pen was reasonable to work with. pretty responsive. the paint brushes aren't very practical for sketch work. you need to really take your time - fast, quick strokes overwhelm the paint algorithms. of course the color and texture are no where near the quality of real media, but atleast you don't have to wash your hands afterward.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

the constant gardener

movie review: saw the constant gardener last night. what a terrific movie. i give it 4 stars out of 4. plot was energetic and exciting. the cinematography was original and well done. there were lots of scenes where the camera was intentionally bouncing around, or struggling to focus - all adds well to the tension. they also did some great things with the color. the opening murder scene in the desert has some interesting color effects. the setting was in kenya. lots shot in the slums. this film left me really struggling to piece together all the details. i even woke up in the middle of the night because i forgot one. also got me thinking - biopharm companies must really be moving their human testing to poor locales. there was a great quote in the movie, something like ' you can test lotions made of battery acid here if you pay the right folks off' - that's so sadly true in the third world. i'm ignorant of any american laws that prevent this from happening, but my sense is abuse exists in some form. i suppose weird drug testing happens even here. i had a friend who funded his entire graduate school by volunteering. he was particularly proud of a trial where his body was used for stress testing the impacts of mixing a cardiac arrest prevention drug with ibuprofen. they wanted to see how high the doses could go before significant side effects manifested themselves. he was excited because it paid 4 times more than the regular trial. he ended up going into a mild coma for a few minutes and walked out w/ 4K$. i shudder to think what the extreme poor would do for 4K$ in india, or africa.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


movie review: last night we rented bewafaa. was pretty good. i'd give it 2 3/4 stars out of 4. the story line was good, not too cliched. the music was below average for a bollywood flick. too much of that mid tempo brooding singing that was common back in the 70s. not enough catchy big fashion flash. a lot of this was due to the plot, though. tough to be happy and dancy when melancholy is required. also, found the half western/half eastern thing poorly executed. the main girl's mom's white, dad's punjabi, and that somehow had something to do w/ who the girl was. the only way it tied in was this singer guy from montreal specialized in 'fusion' music. only problem was 'singer guy' wasn't western at all, nor was his music. started thinking about this whole 'marry your sister's husband in the event of her death' thing. if it wasn't for my instinctive western discomfort w/ the idea, it actually makes a lot of sense - keeps the family together, kids get to be truly loved, and as the film explores well, the problem's in the touchy husband / wife dynamic.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

weekend at whistler

had a great long weekend up at whistler. took the family up and the dog. still sore days later. lots of mountain biking fun. perfect weather. since we go up there a few times a year, it's a stress free trip. whistler's too gentrified for my taste, and the outdoor 'mall-like' atmosphere made me nervous in my youth. but w/ kids, and the best downhill riding around, i've evolved. i once bought microsoft stock just so the word would stop annoying me so much. something reassuring about just giving in to the world and accepting its evolution, good or bad. youth, with all its energy and time, has the luxury of idealism. age, with its responsibility, forces us to choose our battles. it's a reality i never thought my progressive youth self would accept - that in age conservatism reigns. perhaps it's not conservatism directly, but a focus on the inner world first.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

sunny sunday

yet another perfect day. global warming is treating us well in the normally soggy northwest. in a few more years we'll have completed the swap w/ LA for its weather pattern. spent a few hours in the morning riding bikes w/ my son jas. he's 3 and a half, but getting pretty good on his bike. most importantly, he wants to ride. we were racing around the local school's playground. i think dad's of this generation are so lucky. previous generations across cultures and throughout millenia, fathers were stuck adhering to a serious image -- one who'd long since left the childhood freedoms of meandering and tinkering and fantasy. modern american fathers can jump and play and be goofy; we can experience childhood through our kids eyes anew. i showed jas how to jump off stairs and ride on concrete walls. he was thrilled that papa could pull of such daring feats and vowed when he is "big and tall" he'll be flying far. one of the greatest things of fatherhood is having such an uncoditionally wide eyed audience. i'm hardly the hero of anyone else's day.

Friday, August 12, 2005

another day. its evening. just watered the new grass and plopped the child in front of elmo. i find elmo rather annoying, but these days, its all about cutting a deal with my son to get him to go to bed, wake up, whatever. i spend all day at work herding techy cats, then i get home and its just 1 really wily one. today was a stunning day. nice and sunny. went for a lovely walk at lunch down along the harbor and across into town.

went out for a beer last night w/ a friend. had a heated discussion about religion. drank some lovely black and tans. at the people's pub, funny to see a guy walking by w/ a red shirt saying CCCP on the front, and a hammer / sickle on the back. i blinked to verify that this wasn't a dream, and it wasn't 1988. reds are so rare these days. a chinese friend of mine was telling me about his childhood. his family was black listed by the commy party because his grandfather was part owner in a business prior to the mao revolution. this meant both his parents were banned from getting 'food credits' which were apparently the only way to get food. growing up, each member of his family had a 1/4 lb allotment of meat per month. they had to ration even further to cover his grandparents. the black list followed his parents and down to him. apparently after 2 generations the descendents were freed. was interesting to hear how crazy things actually were. growing your own food was forbidden, and resulted in a prison sentence. despite the ridiculousness, i was surprised to learn that a black market did not arise.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

staring out the window

yet another day in corporate-land. spent a good portion of the day staring out my window at a group of guys scuba diving. its a little marina in the middle of the city. they rent out yachts. been wondering what the heck they're scuba diving for. read a little more about the 1984 mass killings in delhi. certain things about india truly dumbfound me. how on earth could 3000+ people be murdered without somone being held accountable? as much as i love india, this really makes me nauseous. here's more than enough news on the subject.

also, why on earth is it 'a start' when some guy who supposedly orchestrated these mass killings simply steps down from office 20+ years after the fact. i mean really, how on earth can the media call this anything other than ridiculous. there were thousands of witnesses. people need to be in prison, not simply out of work. my feeling is the opening up of india's economy is possibly the only thing that has a shot at altering this age old acceptance of innocent deaths. when the risk of mass capital flight faces the leaders, perhaps they'll pay more attention. but then again, i've been saying that since before the gujarat riots.

also, perhaps someone should start a website outlining in detail who was involved and how. people could submit evidence online. perhaps this would atleast serve the purpose of publically shaming them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


just starting this blog. not sure what to write.
standing here typing into an old junky lap top while
listening to diam by baby toure. a great african
singer i just stumbled across. some woman down the
street is a critic for some great labels including
realworld (peter gabriel's label for world musicians).
she has periodic garage sales charging a buck a CD.
quite a score. what else, the dog makes a lot of noise
licking herself. we just put in a new yard in the
back, so we're training her to make her deposits in
one little corner. this is starting to work, after a
prolonged period of protest. looks like we may finally
get some rain. its been many days w/o. not bad - i
love the heat we've enjoyed, but the rain feels more real.
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