Sunday, November 8, 2015

Tyrion or Littlefinger or that sharp-witted Raven?

Rafi saab, Zindabad!

I saw Akshay Kumar, live. Like 20 feet away. Beat that in an update post. 'Course it was disorienting as hell. I've almost never seen celebrities up close. Except Andrew Symonds who I saw prowling on the boundary line, while I sat at the topmost row, and probably because of the ambience and the distance, that didn't feel very weird. I never bump into celebrities in airports and shit, possibly because I hardly give them a chance to bump into me. But Akshay Kumar, and Ayushman Khurana, and Vishal-Shekhar, whose concert was just phenomenal. True to word, the Flipkart Fly High party was one for the ages. Flipkart's an amazing company. There's smart people, and lots of parties, and lots of perks, and Macbooks, and very smart people who're very passionate about the work they do. Man, if stupidity is contagious, then intelligence is inspiring. You're not restricted from doing anything in office, so you'll find people reading, sleeping, playing, goofing around, arguing, working intensely and brainstorming just for the kicks. Its refreshing to be among a bunch of people who like coming to work, if you can call it that, every morning. I love this place. I'm sure my IQ must've increased atleast by a couple of points since I came here.

Apart from that, Bengaluru's been fun. Sravani took me to a couple of Carnatic concerts, but in tradition of my adherence to Donkey-Perfume proverbs, I didn't even know what the hell was even going on. But we're going to a Karthik Iyer concert in a couple of weeks. I hope he plays a few Raja- Rahman covers, otherwise it's going to be another waste of seat space. I also take part in the film discussions between Sandeep and Shravan, who make Kannada short films. I ( almost ) wrote a satire script for a 4-5 minute movie with Sandeep in it, but again, never got around to actually finish it. Never share a flat with somebody who's very committed. He yells at me every couple of days for not seeing anything to the finish. But then again, like that popular Telugu adage Birth- Habit- Cemetery so subtly puts it, its hard to overcome inbuilt vices. Very.

Talking of vices, I'm still not finishing most books I start. A recent exception being The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which despite the unimaginative and fairly generic writing, packs a punch in that climax. It wasn't as big a voila moment as the Gone Girl revelation, but I have to admit it was a bit of a surprise. I also met Purnima Tammireddy , who I had been acquainted through Kinige Patrika and we spent a great two hours talking about Saramago, Kundera, Meheranna, Calvino, Telugu Bloggers, Mullapudi and urban writing in Telugu. A complaint both of us had was that there was hardly any good urban writing in Telugu since the 1980s. Sure, there was political writing and casteist writing, and preachy writing and a lot of phony writing masquerading as well-intentioned, but there was hardly any these-are-our-lives-and-this-is-how-we-live art, in both cinema and literature, based on which our children could know the lives we lived. And a couple of weeks later, she lent me Cosmicomics and Cardus on Cricket, two books I've been meaning to read for a long time but haven't gotten around. I have partly read both of them, and as much as Cardus is a pleasure, I'm still not getting very comfortable with Calvino. I've never been a big fan of smart writing, if you know what I mean. The kind that plays around too much with the form, that is very self-conscious of its existence, that revels in its own wit and intelligence. The bits of Infinite Jest that I've read, for instance. While I claim I appreciate highbrow art, I suppose my tastes are tuned to middlebrow. Eventually, for me all art should come down to this- a conversation with a fairly intelligent, interesting man as he narrates anecdote after anecdote in a voice grizzled with age and experience, with a twinkle in his eye. It probably is a very limited way to look at it and that's why I'm trying to broaden by spectrum.

My tryst with audiobooks so far has been incredible. Perfume, read by Sean Barrett. A Free Man, read by Vikas Adam. The Harry Potter series, read by Jim Dale. Ushasri Ramayanam, read by Ushari. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, read by Jonathan Oliver. And the book I'm having an amazing time now with is The Game of Thrones, read by Roy Dotrice. GRRM's writing is extraordinary. I don't know how he manages to flesh out real human characters in just a couple of lines. To give you a recent example, there is a portion of the book that I heard yesterday where Catelyn Stark must convince a cunning, mean old man called Walter Frey and in just a couple of paragraphs, you get an idea of what this man must've been like to live with. And almost every one of Tyrion's lines is a gem that'll make even Aaron Sorkin green with envy. And Dotrice takes this material and fuses the narrations of the characters with life and energy and emotion and identity. If the purpose of art is to transport you to another world, these two magicians are to be listed among its greatest practitioners. Outstanding. To pick my favourite voice acting among this extraordinary collection is a tough task but as much as I love Tyrion and the Old Bear's raven, the honours should go to Littlefinger. Dotrice's voice drips with mockery as he voices Littlefinger. Astounding. Next on my list of audiobooks is Robert Hardy's version of the abridged version of Aubrey- Maturin. For those of you who've not heard of them before, I can't recommend Peter Weir's Master and Commander enough. Bromance at its best.

Yet its not just all been good films ( loved Talvar and the visceral experience of The Walk ) and great books. I've also been doing a bit of Android Programming and I must admit its quite tough, more so because my Java has always been below par. But the OS part was fun, thanks to good old trusty Linux. But I got a lot of homework to do. That's that then. And oh, Vikranth recommended this fascinating course a couple of weeks ago and I'm just starting on it. Quite interesting.

And for now, that's all folks.

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